The Book That Predicted Trump’s Rise Offers the Left a Roadmap for Defeating Him

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Conor Friedersdorf in The Atlantic:

Rorty wasn’t dismissing bigotry as unimportant. He was quick to praise the post-’60s Left for being attentive to racial injustice and recognizing that sadism against minority groups would have persisted even apart from economic inequality. Still, he criticizes the identity politics of the left for developing a politics “more about stigma than about money, more about deep and hidden psychosexual motivations than about shallow and evident greed,” because many of the dispossessed are thereby ignored.

Surveying academia, for example, he observes that “nobody is setting up a program in unemployed studies, homeless studies, or trailer-park studies, because the unemployed, the homeless, and residents of trailer parks are not the ‘other’ in the relative sense. To be other in this sense you must bear an ineradicable stigma, one which makes you a victim of socially accepted sadism rather than merely of economic selfishness.”

For Rorty, a Left that neglects victims of economic selfishness will not only fail; its neglect of class will trigger a terrible backlash that ultimately ill-serve the very groups that Leftist identity politics are intended to help. “The gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will very likely be wiped out,” he worried. “Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words ‘nigger’ and ‘kike’ will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.”

More here.