I first alluded to this concept in our Socialism/Communism discussion thread. It occurs to me that a closer look at this concept is probably in order. It ties together nicely themes also discussed in the Trump and his election threads, the Brexit thread, the France election thread, and my Rise of the Kleptocrats thread.
Put simply, it revolves around the question: Why do people vote against their own class interests?
The obvious answer being that they no longer understand those class interests.
Illustrative examples are:
1. Global warming. Other than workers directly employed in the fossil fuel industry, it should be very obvious that it is in everybody’s class interest that the government take strong action to address the causes of global warming and to help plan for the physical adjustments that will be made necessary by climate change problems. Yet, climate change denialists have taken over the White House and Congress is dominated by shills for the fossil fuel industry.
2. Health care reform. If you have been following this issue in my 2018 Senate Election thread or otherwise paying attention to this issue you will realize that the repeal of Obamacare that U.S. Senators are pushing would be detrimental to the very workers who voted for Trump and the Republicans in the Senate. Yet, only a handful of Republican Senators seem to think that supporting that piece of legislation will threaten their re-election chances.
3. Tax policies. There again, Trump and the Republicans are pushing hard for drastic tax cuts for the super-rich. This can only saddle debt repayment onto the shoulders of the working class or result in a drastic reduction of government services that benefit the middle class. Only the most arithmetically challenged of adults should have trouble understanding that such policies are not in their class interest, yet many of those same adults support Republicans who keep pushing this policy.
4. Brexit. Need I say any more?
These are but four of the most obvious examples. There is a fifth that I can think of, but it pertains to a country that is not predominantly English speaking, so I will hold off on that example for the moment.
So, in the United States at least, what accounts for this false consciousness?
This can partly be understood by following the rise of Fox news. This network was quite consciously created to counter the “liberal bias” of main stream media. Unfortunately, this “liberal bias” came to mean anything that smacks of respect for science, the scientific method, or just about any other form of rational thinking. The establishment of Fox News was thus crucial to establishing an alternative to a media that at least tried to employ ethical standards in its reporting, even as it packaged its presentation in a manner favoring the established elite. Opinion leading elites and their media conduits were thus undermined in their legitimacy. That was the first stage in the process. The second stage was to so completely substitute an ongoing narrative of current events that a President Trump can now dismiss this main stream media (excluding Fox news) as indulging in “fake news.”
Is the media reporting anything that is even faintly critical of the Trump administration?
The simple Trump answer: ignore the media and trust me, and only me. Thus we see the rise of the alternative right. An alternative right that seeks to displace the old elites and replace those elites not by a revolutionary push from below, but by another set elites that were just waiting in the wings for their chance to move in and take power. This alternative elite, somewhat uncomfortably, is embraced by the old guard of the Republican Party, who feel safe in the assurance that at least their taxes will be reduced and their economic advantages preserved by the new guard.
I have written before of the bubble of denial that Trumpians live in. Hopefully, my comments above will help to understand how that bubble came to be. Robbed of a dependence on a media that at least tried at some level to be truthful, a substantial segment of the working class voting population no longer seems able to think rationally about the issues of the day. Trumpians are stuck in a bubble, with no rational way out because the ability to think rationally no longer exists. The era of doublespeak and what to some is blatant hypocrisy is upon us.
The same sort of thing seems to be happening in Great Britain as well. Obviously, Fox News cannot be pointed to as the culprit there. Yet, I suspect a similar dynamic may be at work. Folks in Great Britain simply stopped trusting the elite that tried to explain to them that Brexit was a bad idea. Those that saw through the façade were simply not numerically strong enough to prevail when the matter came up to a vote. So here we are.
What to do? What to do?