Is the economic story really that liberal elites have left their working class countrymen behind?
|Simple prosperity, in the eyes of people who feel they'll be abandoned for it|
If one is attending to Michael Moore or Chris Hedges or Robert Reich or ... pretty much every liberal right now, one is hearing that liberals have to acknowledge that the reason they were caught off guard by Trump is that they hadn't previously wanted to look at the extent of the economic hurt that was out there: they were in a bubble. They detached themselves from other people's suffering, and engaged with them only to hate them for their bigotry... for being the basket of deplorables they ostensibly only are. If one is listening to Thomas Frank and Chris Hedges and Andrew Sullivan, specifically, we are being made to understand that this was quite deliberate: that liberals have come to hate the people who've been battered most by the global economy that emerged since Clinton.
I think that liberals have wanted to detach themselves from an America they saw correctly as not being able to keep up with a more challenging, novel, and progressive world they wanted to formulate. But it wasn't just liberals' (or if you prefer, the liberal professional class's) own stranglehold connection to power that made everything that kept an empowered working class country in place, evaporate, but more the working class's desire to find themselves stripped of previously achieved security and status.
Here is Lloyd's fascinating counter to the argument that recessions and depressions -- the production of economic wastelands -- owes mostly to cruel negligence by those spoiling themselves at the top:
(3) Internal Sacrifice Solution--If the leader cannot find an external enemy with whom to engage in a sacrificial war, he often turns to an internal sacrifice, either a violent revolution or an economic downturn. At the end of the 1920s, for instance, as economic and social progress seemed to have gotten "out of control," world bankers—chief sacrificial priests of modern nations--pursued deflationary economic policies, trade barriers were erected and many other "mistakes" were made that were motivated to produce the Great Depression that sacrificed so much of the wealth of
the world. As Treasury Secretary Andrew Mellon said in 1929 as the Federal Reserve pushed the world into the Great Depression, "It will purge the rottenness out of the system." Business cycles, as William K. Joseph has shown, are driven by the manic and depressive cycles of group-fantasy, as manic defenses against growth panic are followed by depressive collapses into emotional despair and inaction. Indeed, most death rates car crashes, homicides, cancer, pneumonia, heart and liver diseases rise during prosperous, manic times and are lower during depressions and recessions. Only suicide internal sacrifice rises during economic declines, reacting to the prevailing group-fantasy need for internal sacrifice.
Depressions and recessions are thus not due to "the Invisible Hand" of economics but are motivated sacrifices that often kill more people than wars do, halting dangerous prosperity and social progress that seem to be getting "out of control." That growing wealth often produces anxieties rather than happiness can be shown empirically. From 1957 to 1995, Americans doubled their income in real dollars, but the proportion of those telling pollsters that they are "very happy" declined from 35 to 29 percent. Periodic economic downturns are the antidotes administered by sacrificial priests for the disease of "greed." Cartoons prior to economic downturns often portray greedy people being sacrificed on altars or children being pushed off cliffs, scapegoats for "greedy" childhood selves felt to be responsible for the trauma once experienced. Like Aztec human sacrifices, recessions and depressions are accompanied by national sermons, "cautionary tales," about how sacrifices are necessary to purge the world of human sinfulness.
The choice between these different solutions to growth panic follows cyclical patterns, wars and depressions alternating in group-fantasy cycles of varying lengths. The empirical historical investigation of these "long cycles" of group-fantasy will be examined in detail in the next chapter, "War and Cycles of Violence."
I think in a sense what has happened is that the time for suffering, for repenting previously accrued growth, has ended, and now the working class is using the economic destitution that they actually wanted staged and wanted, as it decreased the sense of psychic disintegration that was ensuing from being linked to an America that was progressing both materialistically and culturally, as reason to start a war on the educated -- on cosmopolitans, specifically. They told their elites to abandon them. They did so. And now they're telling elites that they are to be punished for having done so.
With Lloyd's way of thinking, if there had been no economic hardship during the last 40 yrs, if somehow everyone had during this time been guaranteed a living wage that wasn't sure to get tripped up when "the loans got called in," we'd still be in the age of Trump. Indeed, his numbers might be fewer: the psychic distress caused by profiting economically during a time when prosperity owed to liberal economic innovations, not conservative populism, would have rendered many of them total psychic discombobulates. Hitler gave his folk Volkswagens and employment, and they were enjoyed rapaciously. But they felt they were entitled to it, it caused no guilt, because nothing about their economy bespoke children distancing themselves from old folk ways.