Tuesday, January 24, 2012

Burying the Lead: Governor Christie's Plan to Use Diversity Against the Diverse

Today's New York Times gushes:
Gov. Chris Christie made a broad stroke for diversity on New Jersey’s Supreme Court on Monday, nominating one man who would be the first openly gay justice, and another who would be the first Asian and first immigrant to serve.
For the moment, I am going to skip over the fact that I'm pretty sure they meant a "bold strike for diversity." Perhaps the preposterousness of a statement linking Christie with progressivism (which will become clear soon enough) scrambled the language centers in their brains over at the NYT. Instead, I would like to focus on the odd structure of this article--an elaborated version of the story circulating at a variety of newspapers, blogs, and online magazines.

The official story (pre-packaged, it seems, by the identical language of the news outlets) is that Governor Christie is heroically leading the charge to diversify the New Jersey Supreme Court. The fact that he was, in fact, responsible for the whitening of the Court is buried and camouflaged in the currently unchallenged story of triumph. So, too, is the fact that his actions are a clever, subversive response to Democrats in the State Senate who implored (be careful what you ask for) that Christie "appoint a racially diverse court that looks like the state of New Jersey." The fact that this "diversity" will actually have terrible consequences for the diverse is drowned out by the imperative to celebrate.

While it is certainly possible Christie's "firsts" may pull their version of "Clarence Thomas's First Day" as envisioned by In Living Color, I don't intend to hold my breath.

Because the language of diversity and inclusion has taken over the language of justice, equality, and reparation in a weakened Democratic party, "liberals" have no response to Christie's move. It's diverse. It's inclusive. It's just that the gay/immigrant/multiracial symbolism covers a multitude of sins....

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

The Ghost of Thatcher Past?

In a campaign season when Newt Gingrich experienced at least a brief resurgence by claiming that he is "unconventional," in the mode of Thatcher or Reagan, the type of analysis offered below, from Germaine Greer, is especially urgent. I was especially struck by Rupert Murdoch's integral role in the rise of Thatcher (a prehistory rarely told in the US) and by her explanation of the downfall of trade unions in Britain. Might some of the same be said of failings of unions in the US that predisposed sectors of the public to believe conservative rhetoric aimed at obliterating them?

The alliance between the Maggie machine and the Murdoch media made possible the ultimate defeat of the print unions and the modernisation of the newspaper industry. And another brick was added to the rising edifice of Thatcherism.

Thatcher's strength derived directly from her limitations. If she had been better read, if she had been afflicted with imagination, if she had had a sense of humour, if she had had anywhere near as much insight into the lives of ordinary people as she claimed to have, she would have been unable to pursue her headlong career, riding roughshod over the consensus towards the property-owning debtor economy in which we now struggle. If socialism had been in better shape, she would not have been able to turn it into a dirty word or confuse it with totalitarianism and state monopoly capitalism. If the trade unions had not betrayed their own class, if they had understood the importance of organising all workers, including women, including those in the service sector, if they had not institutionalised inequality, the people might have defended the cause of labour. 

Thatcher thought that she and Reagan overthrew the Soviet Union, but the fact is that, like old Labour, it simply fell apart. The Thatcher phenomenon was only made possible by the weakness and indecisiveness of the opposition. It is justice of the most poetic kind that Thatcher's is now the evil empire and Thatcherism a dirty word.