The history of socialism being one of high hopes and rude repudiations, everyone could see that Bernie Sanders was about to bounce off the Blue Wall in Michigan’s Democratic primaries. Everyone, that is, except for the Bernie faithful. The high hopes of socialism are, historically speaking, little more than the sentiments of the Gospels applied to political economy. As politics go, socialism begins in articles of faith and ends in them. But faith is impervious to reason, just as voters are impervious to the more stringent forms of socialism and hence have to have it forced upon them for their own collective good.
Which means we are stuck with Bernie’s followers after their aging shaman has tottered off the stage. As this plague season reminds us, the virtual world of entertainment, voyeurism and snark lies over social reality like one of those weighted blankets which are designed to force the over-stimulated into passive sleep. But reality exists, and reality now and then awakes us from our idiot slumbers. The Michigan primary exposes the falsity of Bernie Sanders and his followers: the public, even the public in a Democratic primary, has no time for their cant of class war and common purpose.
Sanders’s idea of manual labor is raising his arm in a feeble impersonation of a Black Panther. The reality is that the real value of lower-middle class wages has risen modestly under the Trump presidency. Give the credit to President Obama if you like, give it to Raul Castro if you really must, but over in the real world this is a small reversal of a negative trend that began around 1980. This remarkable improvement was achieved without recourse to Cuban or North Korean measures, or any of the other forms of actually existing socialism.
The repudiations of reality mean nothing to the Bernie bros and the Squad and the hordes of virtual affiliates who clog up Twitter. This is because they have no interest in reality. In fact, reality is a positive encumbrance, a fatal obstacle to their dream life. They are engaged in a virtual popularity contest, so they value ‘likes’ more than votes. The Bernie bros of Brooklyn are more interested in manscaping than the landscape of a job market they are doing their best to avoid. The intellectuals, or the pastiches of intellectuals that shelter from more useful employment in our graduate schools, are more interested in shirking their student loans than in starting new businesses.
Much of the media echoes their posturings, because the media is the quintessence of the fake world of entertainment, of which politics, as everyone knows, is merely one arm, and because of the ingrained conviction that young people are the biggest market. This might have been true when Frank Sinatra was starting out, but the elderly are now the only people with disposable income, coronavirus notwithstanding.
First we were told by no less an authority than Rolling Stone magazine that the future of the Democratic party, and of the American nation, was defined by the rapprochement between Nancy Pelosi and the Squad: public intellectual Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the terrorist’s friend Rashida Tlaib, family-friendly Ilhan Omar, and the Other One from Massachusetts. Then we were told that another has-been, Bernie Sanders, would occupy the senior role on this socialist school trip.
The public, meanwhile, remained uninterested in the tribunes of wokeness, if not offended by the Squad’s spoilt anti-Americanism and blatant ignorance. It’s obvious that the DNC and the party’s managers are almost comically distant from the people they purport to represent: the spectacle of Joe Biden collecting black votes in South Carolina and Michigan as if by feudal right while his son and brother benefit from his political connections is the sort of ground game that, were it used overseas, the New York Times would denounce as kleptocracy and corruption. And truly, it seems identical to the electoral strategies of the late Hosni Mubarak. But it’s now also no less obvious that the woke wing of the Democrats, the socialist realists, are also utterly unrealistic, but in their own stunted way.
Just look at the absurd stridency with which the Squad advance their carefully curated list of obsessions: the urgent need to reorganize language and social life around the requirements of a minuscule number of transsexuals; the conviction that anyone with doubts about ‘democratic socialism’ is a ‘white supremacist’, even though the black voters of Michigan clearly have doubts of their own; the curing of the failures of bureaucracy by adding more bureaucracy; the morbid fantasy that Donald Trump spends his waking hours thinking of ways to control women’s fertility; the indubitable splendidness of Islamism; and of course the wickedness of Israel, which is always the sub-theological giveaway of socialism’s grand theory of resentment.
Much of this falls where it originates, in the realm of collective delusion and the virtual world of entertainment that sustains it. None of it has anything to contribute to the issues that matter to American voters. And despite all the pettiness and nastiness and agitation, none of this has achieved anything in reality. Except of course, to rebuild the Blue Wall in Michigan, to the benefit of recidivist class enemy Joe Biden. Squad goals!
Dominic Green is Life & Arts editor of Spectator USA.