The left has given up on ordinary people. By Batya Ungar-Sargon, the deputy opinion editor at Newsweek. She has written for the New York Times, The Washington Post, and Foreign Policy. She has appeared numerous times on MSNBC, NBC, the Brian Lehrer Show, NPR, and at other media outlets. This from an interview with Brendan O’Neill.
I consider myself a left-wing populist. Routinely, people on the left would say that I’m a conservative and that the points I make are conservative talking points. I always laughed at this because, first of all, I don’t think ‘conservative’ is an insult. People expect you to act like somebody just called you fat.
The other point is that it’s basically an admission that caring about class is now a right-wing position, and that being on the left no longer means caring about class.
This comes out in some funny ways. For example, when Elon Musk fired a lot of Twitter staff. We now know that those people were totally superfluous to the operation of Twitter, because the site is still completely operational. It turned out that a large number of people who worked there did an hour or two of work a day and then spent the rest of the time drinking matcha lattes. The average pay was $160,000 per year, for these funny-sounding jobs that didn’t seem to entail much work at all. A lot of Twitter employees were also working from home, and when Musk demanded that they come in at least once a month, they refused to. When they were fired, the left took up their cause like it was some great labour catastrophe — as if the real working class is made up of content managers at Twitter.
You see this a lot in the media as well. They take their unionising very seriously at these knowledge-industry jobs, where the average pay is $100,000 per year. I’m not saying those jobs shouldn’t be unionised, but don’t tell me you’re the proletariat if you sit behind a desk and make $100,000 a year. You’re part of the elites, you’re in the top 20 per cent. You’ve taken a bigger share of the economic pie and, as a result, you believe you deserve a bigger share of the political pie. That’s really what it comes down to.
You shouldn’t speak up on behalf of working-class people just because you agree with their opinions — you should speak up because a democracy requires sharing power. Throughout history, shared power has been tied to shared economic success, to upward mobility and to the middle class. If you don’t have a working class that has access to a middle-class life, then all political power is going to get funnelled to the top, and to the elites. Unfortunately, that’s how the leftist elites like it. …
On the recent World Economic Forum meeting at Davos:
It was amazing to watch. In any other era the left would have seen Davos for the sort of disgusting display of conspicuous consumption and elite vanity that it was.
But instead those claiming to be progressive looked at Davos and saw their values being represented there. In a way, it’s genius. Through the green movement, the elites have created what the left always accused the right of doing — they have created a value system that makes the difference between the billionaire class and the educated elites fungible. Both of these groups are on board with the idea of this apocalyptic vision. They agree that the most important thing is the climate, and that we’re all going to die if we don’t solve it. …
On climate activists:
I don’t think you can look at Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, and not see somebody who is deeply sincere.
The only thing that makes me think that they don’t believe it is the private jets. If you believed so deeply in man-made climate change, surely the first thing you would do is ban private jets. But on the whole I do think they believe it. It would be very hard to pull off at this scale if they didn’t.
The way the elites think of the economy is very related to green ideology. They picture an economy in which the top 20 per cent keeps making over $100,000 a year and lives in nice neighbourhoods and nice cities. All production is done in China. All service-industry jobs are performed by slave-wage Venezuelans brought in by cartels. And everybody making under $100,000 a year — who used to be the working class — is on universal basic income. That’s the view that a lot of so-called progressives consciously or unconsciously have of their ideal economic system. ….
Climate activists don’t believe in cars, they don’t believe in trucks, they don’t believe in farming. They don’t believe in the jobs that we actually rely on to survive. They’ve essentially given up on America. They’re definitely not proud of America, they’re ashamed of it. They hate conservatives, religious people, Republicans, people who voted for Trump. To them, those people are anathema to the good life.
More and more people — even this leftie author — are getting it.