'Intelligent discontent is the mainspring of civilization.' -- Eugene V. Debs

Thursday, August 30, 2007

How to Post About Labor Unrest in Chile . . . . 

. . . without ever using the words Allende, socialism or neoliberalism. But, then, that would require evaluating events in Chile outside the constraints of duopoly politics in America. It might also encourage people to compare the neoliberal economic system of Chile with the emerging nationalistic, more socialistic one in Venezuela, which would break the liberal blogosphere boycott against praising anything Hugo Chavez does.

Furthermore, the protests described in the post are about a lot more than just the declining living standards of the Chilean middle class. Not to mention that, by analogizing the Chilean middle class to the American one, the post obscures the fact that middle class Chileans, indeed, all Chileans, live much less prosperous, more insecure lives than their purported American brethren.

Perhaps, this is why liberal discourse is so narrow and uninspiring, as it appears incapable of acknowledging the existence of social movements except as manifestations of middle class discontent. For example, consider this post about infrastructure and Hurricane Katrina, which emphasizes the need for increased spending for levee protection so that middle class people elsewhere around the country do not lose their homes as well, while ignoring the existence of thousands of impoverished displaced people, living in conditions of rural social isolation, who cannot return to New Orleans in the absence of new housing constructed for them.

When progressive liberals expunge the poor victims of Katrina from public discourse by reference to a simplistic form of class analysis that cannot admit their existence for fear of having to address their dire situation, we can be certain that they are doomed, at least as far as establishment politics and governance is concerned. Rest assured, however, that they are supposed to magically appear on election day to vote for Democratic candidates. With that said, though, I probably wouldn't have heard about the protests in Santiago otherwise, at least until someone over at Lenin's Tomb mentioned it later in the day, so, maybe, I shouldn't be so ascerbic.

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