Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Of course they aren't blips. The global trend they are part of can be summed up as empowered billionairs, weakened labor and (upper-)middle class resentment.
The first point needs no explanation, money means power in capitalism, leading to more money. A very obvious runaway feedback loop.
Overly focusing on a slight shift in rethoric would be a mistake. Yes, the dog whistle has been replaced by a bullhorn, slightly scandalising the upper middleclass in the process. Dogwhistling just doesn't work as well as it used to, the deludge is unceasing in the new media environment. No time to colour in the missing parts. And while they value civility, the prospect of having to pay your live-in maid, as former president Rousseff would have it, made them livid. Bolsonaro's VP is literally a general, and a lot of his statements are just things the dictatorship literally did. As an aside, there are two kinds of VPs in these kind of systems. The "small plane insurance", example being Haddad's VP from the communist party and whoever Nixon's VP was. The other version is the representative for the main power in the ruling coalition, see Cheney for the oil conglomerates and Biden for finance.
So yeah, middle class resentment is also obvious. And long lasting, it's still driving southern politics in the US.
Finally, why is labour weaker than it used to be? I hear trade union membership in Brazil is down by half. The Economist would argue robots, but you shouldn't believe anything you read there. A better answer would be finance. For one, you have to pay back your foreign debts or the US will just blatantly steal all your stuff on the high seas. In the best case. Worst case you get Democracy&tade;. For a lot of the rest of the world you got outsourcing. We know that the economic case for that was often rather dubious, but moving production into countries where you can just have the workers shot did wonders for the class war so finding funding for that was never a problem. Look at Uber. You can burn money indefenitely if your buisness is destroying the livelihood of working class people. Or look at Amazon. Probably the company that had the biggest influence on people's daily live in the last few decades. And it barely breaks even on the transformative parts while introducing best praxis third world military dictatorship working conditions to a country near you.
This is already getting too long and rambly and could definitely use another work over, but I'm running out of time.
Obscurantine Lobster psychology will never not get a rise out of me. Some things improved, some got worse, but talking about an overall progressive era is mostly end of history nonsense. We are also still very much in a regime of artificial scarcity (and abundandance). We'll get to the real fun part in due time.
by generic on Thu Nov 1st, 2018 at 03:21:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Labor histories are among the saddest, discouraging accounts of human civilization one would ever know, were this body of knowledge and experience held to esteem. Leisure histories by contrast are ubiquitous, anachronistic models of human labor: everyone a king or pharoah, a tyrant, philosopher or homeowner, a fat and content spectator of horticulture and blood shed.

When industrial action against Ryanair picked up, I tried to catch up on aggregated numbers. (I did learn a little about the varieties and structures of trade unions' associations in the EU, by comparison to US custom, never mind their places in complementary "black" histories.) In this industry sector, interstate unions' coordinated planning has been a crucial, enforcement tactic in successfully mediating employment relations --in general and specifically.

But to start with mass is only to conceive the political significance --read, "market power"-- of a particular group enterprise, in the sense merely of numbers of "organized labor" members. I was disappointed not only because the usual international suspects (eg. OECD, ILO, etc) and press demons seemed to have abandoned periodic reporting, but what is published enforces an intuition about declining membership. The people in Brazil are not alone. A statistical claim, for example, that Iceland and Ireland represent the greatest ratios of union membership in the world challenges credulity. My cursory appeal to sacred "empirical data" informs me:

Ideology of an individual, the "self-interested actor," has been as wildly successful --in terms of propagation, socialized adoption-- as any money per se representation of extrinsic value in disorganizing political precepts and action against exploitation of human functions. The evidence is all around us. Braced by the anthologies of which I speak, I think, the mass is as responsible as any one person for accepting imagination of "weaker labour." Or no labor. This is a prerequisite for the leisure which people crave: rest without work, product without function, power without responsibility to or responsibility for one another. "Socialism" is a dead-letter in a value system for which "society" contains no properties or functions but anathema.

Diversity is the key to economic and political evolution.

by Cat on Thu Nov 1st, 2018 at 05:57:48 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Occasional Series