At the Intersection
If you’re heads buzzing with the debate about privilege, class, power and how to talk to each other that’s been running before and through the Trump victory (‘Trigger warning: The Left can’t connect with the working class’) – then this piece by Jessica Valenti (‘Vote shaming’ Trump supporters is fair. What they have done is shameful’) – won’t really help at all, but read it anyway:
“The same people who wear shirts that read “fuck your feelings” and rail against “political correctness” seem to believe that there should be no social consequences for their vote. I keep hearing calls for empathy and healing, civility and polite discourse. As if supporting a man who would fill his administration with white nationalists and misogynists is something to simply agree to disagree on.”
Neither will this by Laurie Penny ‘Against Bargaining’ but read it anyway:
“The trouble with the five stages of grief is that one of them is bargaining. As a rogue’s gallery of far-right ideologues, white supremacists, and howling authoritarian sociopaths line up to take control of the White House, bargaining is what well-meaning liberals have spent all week doing—at least, those who have not already been personally threatened into silence. They’ve hopped from denying a Trump win was possible to telling themselves and each other that maybe it’ll be alright, just as you might soothe a child in a storm shelter. Maybe the federal government will save us, or moderate conservatives, or Jesus.”
So here we are, at the Intersection, staring in mutual incomprehension.
One of the problems here is that, as Stevie Anderson commented: “…all the ways we hurt do matter. Hard to find a segue from that to doing politics that matter.”
It seems to me that we have lost any sense of collective action – and the two parts of that sentence are intimately connected. A culture of blame needs to be replaced by a culture of solidarity but to do this we need genuine dialogue rather than closing down debate and discussion about the ways forward. And, if the left is in disarray then thinking differently and considering different ways of being and doing seems inevitable.
The debate about language and privilege seems to be the wrong one. If you’re talking to someone face to face (and) as an equal then sophisticated language isn’t a problem. It only becomes a problem if you are talking down to people.