The great inversion: “deplorables” versus intellectuals

Eric S. Raymond wrote a very thought-provoking article a few weeks ago, analyzing how socialist and Marxist ideology has moved its support base from workers to intellectuals in both the UK and the USA.  Here are a few excerpts.

There’s a political trend I have been privately thinking of as “the Great Inversion”. It has been visible since about the end of World War II in the U.S., Great Britain, and much of Western Europe, gradually gaining steam and going into high gear in the late 1970s.

. . .

To understand the Great Inversion, we have to start by remembering what the Marxism of the pre-WWII Old Left was like — not ideologically, but sociologically. It was an ideology of, by, and for the working class.

Now it’s 2019 and the Marxist-rooted Labor party in Great Britain is smashed, possibly beyond repair. It didn’t just take its worst losses since 1935, it was eviscerated in its Northern industrial heartland, losing seats to the Tories in places that had been “safe Labor” for nigh on a century.

Exit polls made clear what had happened. The British working class, Labor’s historical constituency, voted anyone-but-Labor. Only in South Wales and a handful of English cities with large immigrant populations was it able to cling to power. In rural areas the rout was utter and complete.

To understand the why of this I think it’s important to look beyond personalities and current political issues. Yes, Jeremy Corbyn was a repulsive figure, and that played a significant role in Labor’s defeat; yes, Brexit upended British politics. But if we look at the demographics of who voted Labor, it is not difficult to discern larger and longer-term forces in play.

Who voted Labor? Recent immigrants. University students. Urban professionals. The wealthy and the near wealthy. People who make their living by slinging words and images, not wrenches or hammers. Other than recent immigrants, the Labor voting base is now predominantly elite.

This is the Great Inversion – in Great Britain, Marxist-derived Left politics has become the signature of the overclass even as the working class has abandoned it. Indeed, an increasingly important feature of Left politics in Britain is a visceral and loudly expressed loathing of the working class.

. . .

It would be entertaining to talk about the obvious parallels in American politics – British “gammons” map straight to American “deplorables”, of course, and I’m not even close to first in noticing how alike Donald Trump and Boris Johnson are – but I think it is more interesting to take a longer-term view and examine the causes of the Great Inversion in both countries.

. . .

Tony Blair it was who first understood that the Labor Party’s natural future was as an organ not of the working class, but as a fully converged tool of the international managerial elite. Of those who think their justifying duty is to fight racism or sexism or cis-normativity or global warming and keep those ugly gammons firmly under their thumbs, rather than acting on the interests and the loudly expressed will of the British people.

Now you also know why in the Britain of 2019, the rhetoric of Marxism and state socialism issues not from assembly-line workers and plumbers and bricklayers, but from the chattering classes – university students, journalists and pundits, professional political activists, and the like.

This is the face of the Great Inversion – and its application to the politics of the U.S. is left as a very easy exercise.

There’s more at the link.  Recommended reading.

I think Mr. Raymond is spot-on in his analysis.  Think back to Hillary Clinton’s offhand, throw-away, contemptuous “basket of deplorables” comment, and it sums it up right there.  She paid for that attitude at the polls, just as the Labour Party did in the UK last month.

Personally, I think we need a lot more deplorables in the USA!

Peter

6 comments

  1. This relates to the practice problem of Marx, I think.

    As I understand, Marx didn’t really give a great how-to for accomplishing his vision.

    Thus, it came down to people like Lenin, Mao and others to interpret and derive a how-to solution.

    Leninism, as I understand it, is a top-down approach to implementing Marxism. In his “What is to be done,” he said:

    “Class political consciousness can be brought to the workers only from without;…”

    Thus, it left to societal elite to be “without” the workers and bring about “political consciousness. His doctrine proposes an elite class communicating to the workers, and mobilizing them to the “glorious” revolution.

    So, what is being described is the Menshevik and Leninist approach.

  2. The elites can’t have people thinking and doing for themselves, insufficient opportunity for graft (as Instapundit is fond of remarking.)

  3. One thing I have noticed in reading about Marxists/Socialists past and current is that they always seem to be elites, educated in elitist institutions, trying to enforce their beliefs on the “lower classes”. Very rarely do you find a blue collar actually rising up to lead his fellow proles on their own.
    Dig deeply enough and you will find that almost all communist leaders were from well off families and probably never did a day of real labour in their lives.

  4. Having lost the confidence of the people, they set about importing replacements. This shall not end well for them or the imports.

  5. I’ve read that Marx himself noted that the workers didn’t support the “workers revolution” because they were well aware on whose backs, the “workers revolution” would be balanced. But that is the insidious feature of “from each according to his ability, to each according to his needs.” (note this is a self view) Since they are part of the elite, they have more “ability” than those ‘deplorables’ and are more qualified to tell the ‘deplorables’ how to live.

    The problem occurs when the ‘deplorables’ refuse to do what the ‘elites’ want them to. If the political power structure is such, it goes from “suggestions” to force, and force has always been a hallmark of any Communist country.

    I am indebted to The vision of the anointed for point this out to me in much more detail.

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