Only Partly?

It’s nice to see someone on the Left take this issue on. Even as badly as it’s done by the author of this In These Times piece:

How did separateness, which the Warren Court understood as the root cause of inequality in America, acquire such intellectual currency and legitimacy? Liberals and progressives are partly to blame. We fetishize multiculturism—celebrating increasing diversity in government, universities, corporate boardrooms and popular culture—while tacitly tolerating rampant inequality, poverty and informal segregation.

No, not partly — completely. It’s easy to be a cultural radical on matters of race, gender and whatever, since that allows issues of class and social power to remain unaddressed. (And unaddressed they are!) It allows the cultural radicals to think they can and are truly changing a society even while they snuggle down comfortably in bourgeois professions and don’t actually challenge ways and means and ends of power. (Gramsci was wrong; radicals do not really change institutions when they march through them, they merely accept using institutional power for their own ends, which is just as exploitative and abusive as the ends they seek to replace.) It allows for the ridiculous to become radical — that all people are entitled to become bourgeois professionals (so long as they retain radical outlooks) with mortgages and health insurance and comfy managerial jobs pushing paper around.

Still, while I appreciate Davis’ gumption in writing this piece, I’m hardly inclined to accept his solutions, which are a state-centered society in which any mediating distinction between individual and state — and any intervening identity — is annihilated. Davis would likely be the first person to complain about rampant individualism (as the Left is constantly wont to), but his cure for the problem is the atomization of the human being to individual citizen alone and isolated before the state. Can’t have progressive citizenship without that, because you cannot have “the people united” without that. Not wanting individuals, all that is left is the mass of the citizenry — equally subject to the whim and caprice of the state.

Not an equality anyone should want.