Why White Progressives Lose
The Intercept, a noted progressive-leaning magazine, sums up why the left rarely wins with unusual and totally accidental eloquence:
This statement is patently, scientifically false. It is an expression of pure ideology absent any connection to cognitive science, a religious article of faith.
The material reality we all inhabit is what gives rise to language in the first place.
Writers and thinkers have an egotistical fascination with the written word. Through it, they see themselves as achieving a kind of immortality.
This self-absorbed intellectual wankery is typical of educated left-leaning thought in the English speaking world. It’s a key reason the progressive movement always loses even though its ideas are popular.
Let’s be clear — language is a tool invented by people to manage their material reality. The two are never separable, because you can never understand someone’s material interests without using language to interrogate them.
This arbitrary separation of mind and matter is part of a rhetorical ploy. The basic problem with Marxist thought is the obsession with dividing humanity into fixed classes perpetually at war over their material interests.
But how do people define those interests?
By talking to the people around them!
Methodological individualism is the key mistake made by all Western thinkers, including Marxists. Groups are created in this view by rational cooperating individuals who all want the same things. Class appears when capitalism rises as a function of the ownership of the means of production.
But real people don’t think and act at this level. They arrange themselves into groups — as Kropotkin understood — in order to achieve a degree of mutual self-protection. Ibn Khaldun, writing a thousand years ago, understood the same truth.
Class emerges from power inequalities that arise during the process of material accumulation. Class boundaries are created and negotiated by smaller groups that use class to advance their interests.
This is the exact same process that forms tribes and even nations. And communication, as cybernetic systems theory shows, is an intrinsic part of the process.
Their covert goal is to shift left thought and action away from issues of racial equality and back to more familiar terrain — pushing the fantasy of a massive anti-capitalist revolution. This will never happen, because most people are perfectly happy to be capitalists and incapable of realizing that they are incredibly unlikely to ever get rich themselves.
America is a grand casino, and humans are prone to making cognitive mistakes when gambling. Estimating the odds of things is never as easy as people think, but that won’t stop them from playing the game and hoping.
Right and Left, broadly speaking, fight over language because both rely on a Christianized worldview that sees converting people as a prerequisite to paradise. If they can get you to adopt the way they speak, in America’s broken political nightmare that’s a win, they have you on their side, attached to their moral universe.
What the whole thing is all about is, ironically, capitalist accumulation. Leftists in America are just another variety of capitalist, offering moral whitewashing services to the faithful.
If you truly care about fixing broken material systems in this world, language is key. Language and material concerns are intertwined, never separable.
Trying to split them apart is a tactic meant to assert the linguistic imperialism of one faction. It’s a classic move in European philosophy, which cannot stand true diversity or pluralism and instead fights to build a canon protected by the faithful.
A substantial chunk of the white progressive movement wants very badly for Black and Brown people to stop talking about race and instead focus on class, essentially subordinating them. They’re repeating the exact same mistake made by their parents back in the 1960s.
You want true progress and to expand the appeal of leftist politics? Back real social justice action.
Not by imposing your view of correct language or speech on anyone, but pushing badly-needed resources to the communities that need them most, have been starved of them for far too long.
But the dirty little secret of mainstream left thinking in America is that is has been infected and colonized by the pernicious Vanguard ideology that places power in the hands of a few national leaders. Self-described progressives are engaged in a capitalist enterprise, selling hope without any way to actually deliver.
When they fail — as they usually do — they blame people for not rising up when ordered to. It’s never the movement’s fault, always someone else’s.
There is a reason Pew Research has shown white progressives to be one of the smallest groups in the American political world:
A broken ideology that can’t understand people as they are will never be able to achieve anything lasting. It degenerates into religion, and fails.