As the Wisconsin recall election looms today, I cannot help but think of the divorce of class/economic interests and politics in the United States. At no point in my lifetime has it been more crystal clear that the US State is the domain — the wholly owned subsidiary if you will — of a finance-capital ruling class. This class, in its ever-increasing need to evade public scrutiny and regulation, has unselfconsciously devised evermore rapid mechanisms of exchange, transaction, organization, and hence profit — mechanisms that move so rapidly that no government, let alone political system, would ever be able to catch up. At the same time, the Citizens United ruling has only “legitimized” and expanded the capacity of this class to express its own narrow interests (unmitigated greed) on the political level.
All other interests have been excluded, or nearly so. This has been accomplished, I believe, through the exclusion of economic interests that do not pertain to the finance-capitalist class from the US political arena. Workers’ unions have long been banned outright from direct political representation, and while Citizens United also permits the unions to pour limitless cash into political advertising, the unions, even taken in aggregate, will never be able to spend as much as Wall Street (which is but one albeit large faction of the finance-capitalist class).
More troubling than the prohibition of direct political representation of workers’ and middle-class economic interests, however, is the mere fact that neither side of the political spectrum in the US actually believes that class economic interests can even be represented in the political arena. On the left, the Occupy Movement, such as it is, refuses to form itself into a political party (or several). This is a reaction to the current facts of political discourse: the economic interests of the 99% cannot now enter into real political negotiations with what amounts to the ruling class. The only viable option remaining is leftist jacobinism, a vociferous expression of discontent, but without the development of a political alternative. The left continues to vote Democratic in large part, knowing full well it does so only to prevent utter madness on the right.
Speaking of which, the Tea Party should be a conduit for economic angst amongst the wage-labor classes on the right-wing, and in fact it should be a political party in its own right. But the Tea Party steadfastly fails to represent the economic interests of its core-constituency, which should be (as a right-wing popular movement) demanding improved real wages over a sustained amount of time, diminution of their take-home pay (not that of corporations), and diminution of living expenses like health care coverage. Instead, the core issues of the Tea Party have been: reduction of taxes on corporations and the wealthy; diminution of voting rights among members of their own class; elimination of abortion rights; racist and nativist surveillance and punishment against immigrants (particularly brown ones).
Why is this the case? The seats now held by Tea Party activists in the Congress (a considerable cohort) were by-and-large paid for by the finance-capitalist class seeking to co-opt the movement into the Republican Party. More importantly, however, the Tea Party not only disavows the expression of class economic interests as political concerns, it also actively rejects any effort by the government to even address the economic concerns of its own consituency. That is, the ban on the expression of economic interests in US politics (other than those of finance capital) has become absolute as a matter of fixed and rigid ideology. According the Tea Party, not only mustn’t the US government redress economic woes of the vast majority of the US population, the government must be dismantled to such a level of dysfunction that it will nevermore be able even to act in the US economy. Thus does the Tea Party express the economic interests of finance capital by engaging in attacks effective economic policy by the government, while mandating radical social policy at the same time. Since economic politics is absolutely verboten, politics can only be social and cultural.
War is messy business. This is why businessmen seldom fight them. Instead they pay their workers (especially the ones they’ve just laid off) to fight them as surrogates. The best surrogates are those who believe absolutely that it is in their divinely mandated political interests to do so.