Trump and TLP

Handle points out that the emergence of Donald Trump has scrambled the model of the Three Languages of Politics. For example,

Even since Trump started his campaign, it seems to me that the progressives have been using “civilization vs. barbarism” rhetoric all the time. Not just the “breakdown in civility,” but also complaining about “chaos” and the potential collapse of the “international order” that was based on American strength guided by a progressive vision and set of values.

My thoughts:

1. I do think that Trump created a new axis, of Bobo vs. anti-Bobo.

2. I think that progressives want to throw everything possible at Trump at see what sticks. But they have certainly not given up on the oppressor-oppressed frame. They still make the “white nationalist” charge.

3. As Jeffrey Friedman pointed out long ago, libertarians go back and forth between arguing for liberty as a value in itself and arguing for it as instrumental to social improvement, particularly economic prosperity and growth. I don’t think we are seeing anything new from libertarians. They argue differently depending on the issue, putting more emphasis on liberty as a value in discussing free speech and putting more emphasis on economic consequences when arguing for free trade.

4. Libertarians have got to be feeling pretty badly these days. I cannot imagine anyone talking about a “libertarian moment” without being laughed out of the room. In Europe, it looks more like a “fascist moment” nowadays. In the U.S., referring to Google, Facebook, et al, Joel Kotkin writes,

Whether one sits on the progressive left or the political right, this growing hegemony presents a clear and present danger. It is increasingly clear that the oligarchs have forgotten that Americans are more than a collection of data-bases to be exploited. People, whatever their ideology, generally want to maintain a modicum of privacy, and choose their way of life.

And of course, everyone’s idea of fighting the corporate hegemony involves enhancing the hegemony of bureaucrats in Washington.

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12 Responses to Trump and TLP

  1. collin says:

    1. I do think that Trump created a new axis, of Bobo vs. anti-Bobo.

    No, Trump is a standard conservative but a stricter definition than the past administrations. (And any exit poll showed HRC won with families income lower than 50K) The great threat to the US and their populations is the hordes of Immigrants coming to:
    1) Commit crime (Heavy MS-13 campaigning)
    2) Lower the native wages and hurts the WWC/Anti-Bobos
    3) And Trump anti-trade rants follow 2 logic.
    4) And Trump complains about the ((globalist)) although he is not as strict as past ((globalist)) rants.

    Notice how conservatives are now talking about California and Arizona…They are now third world nations when you know their demographics of elementary school is majority Hispanic-Americans. (Note both states, especially Arizona, have a decent number of retirees so the voting demographics are still white majority.)

    • collin says:

      One very strange reality of modern economics and politics is how much conservatives now hate successful exporting businesses:

      Look at Hollywood, Silicon Valley tech and college education…These are very successful businesses that significant successful exporters to the world.

      • Handle says:

        Right, I mean, just look how much conservatives hate, Hate, HATE oil refiners and agriculture. Jesus collin, try to bring your A-game next time.

  2. Handle says:

    But they have certainly not given up on the oppressor-oppressed frame. They still make the “white nationalist” charge.

    To be clear, I agree that progressives still argue mostly in these terms, and mostly to the exclusion of the other political coalitions.

    The right tries to throw everything possible at the left too, and repeatedly fall into the error of thinking that leftist tactics could work for them too, but oppressor-oppressed arguments are never successful unless made on progressive terms.

    When the other groups try to use the language of oppression as if those terms were as neutral as they are purported to be and could be applied in some symmetrical fashion, the efforts always fall flat, mostly because the progressives are able to maintain social-semantic control over the real meaning (and thus appropriate and successful uses) of those terms.

    My broader point is that I think the general tone of “civilization-barbarism” language is along the lines of a “preserving the current social order of things and arrangements we like” vs. “disruptive change we don’t like” and that both traditionalists and progressives have conflicting social visions that, given the current state of social affairs, gives them similar ways of arguing in the same mode, with symmetric and opposing judgments regarding in which category particular conditions and institutions belong. Libertarians play this game too, vacillating between appeals to longstanding traditions of liberty, and calls for radical abandonment of longstanding arrangements.

    Unfortunately, “conservatism” as a term is associated with the right, even when the right wants to change things. So perhaps a better description of the axis is “Preservation vs. Disruption.”

    • Tom G says:

      It’s an excellent point that non-Dems will continue to fail when trying to use Oppressor-Oppressed language.

      While Reps can’t use the oppressor axis, the Dems can, and do, use the Civilization axis, and claim that their progressive ideas are more civilized, based on their social justice vision. Still, your Preservation vs. Disruption instead of Civilization-Barbarism doesn’t quite fit.

      I’d argue it’s more stable Christian values vs fluid Secular Humanist values, as the current political axis. With the note below that too many Christians are not big fans of capitalism.

  3. Tom DeMeo says:

    “And of course, everyone’s idea of fighting the corporate hegemony involves enhancing the hegemony of bureaucrats in Washington.”

    While this may be mostly true as an observation, it makes me angry because it absolutely doesn’t have to be this way. There are plenty of ways where government law, policies and regulations increase corporate hedgemony too. We can start there and see how far we get.

  4. Slocum says:

    Libertarians have got to be feeling pretty badly these days. I cannot imagine anyone talking about a “libertarian moment” without being laughed out of the room.

    OK, I’ll bite. I can’t argue that things are generally moving in a libertarian direction. But I can argue that the status quo is more so than when I was a baby libertarian. Gay marriage is legalized and generally accepted. Marijuana has been decriminalized in several states with more on the way. These two things alone are big deals. Even conservatives seem to be getting sick of police abuses. Check out Instapundit. He self-identifies as libertarian, but his readers seem much more on the conservative side. He runs police abuse stories regularly, which isn’t a surprise for a libertarian, but check out the comments on stories like this one:

    Nobody is jumping in to reflexively defend the cops in these cases.

    What else? Well, there’s a lot for libertarians to dislike about Trump (walls, tariffs, etc), but it hasn’t been all bad. His administration’s rollbacks of regulations like net neutrality and waters of America have been welcome as have been Betsy Devos’s attempts to get rid of the campus sexual assault star chambers. Stopping the enforcement of the ACA mandate was a good thing too, which may have the effect of forcing the Supremes to overturn the mandate entirely (if the government isn’t collecting, it’s not a tax). The deficit expansion in the tax reform bill was very bad, but limiting the deductability of state and local taxes was positive. Over time, it should lead to more fiscally responsible state and local governments now that their taxpayers have to pay full freight.

    So, overall, I’m concerned but not morose.

    • cfh says:

      I see the marijuana changes as a defeat for libertarians- another state-controlled racket was created. One front in the drug war simply became another front on the tax war.
      Likewise gay marriage – a re-affirmation of state power over marriage. The “right” to marry is still a privilege granted or withheld by the Man.

      • Slocum says:

        Yeah, I’m not that much of a purist. Marijuana decriminalization is a (big) step in the right direction just as the repeal of prohibition was — even though both alcohol and pot are highly regulated. The same is true of gay marriage. Given that the state is already involved, recognizing the right of gays to marry is another big step in the right direction.

  5. Tom G says:

    Libertarians have got to be feeling pretty badly these days.
    As an ex-Lib now Rep, I do feel bad for Libertarians.

    I’ve always believed, and still believe, in Freedom with Responsibility.

    Reality shows that voters want to avoid the responsibility part, much like most Keynesian economists forget about reduced gov’t spending during the “good times” to reduce the debt. Voters vote to avoid responsibility for bad outcomes, almost none of which are entirely their own fault altho most of the problems have a big personal behavior component. So the normal workers, plus more gov’t debt, have to pay for mistakes. This will naturally lead to more seductive calls to reduce the freedom to make mistakes – as well as higher taxes to pay for the mistakes made.

    I’m so glad Trump did a big tax reduction, even if it does increase the debt.

    While Bobo vs anti-Bobo is cute, it’s really more the normal workers vs the elites. Less restrained elites will result in less liberty for the normals. The censorship on campuses follow the less publicized less strict implicit censorship by mostly Dem unionized K-12 teachers, who really do care about the kids, but are mildly or strongly anti-Republican / Christian / pro-Life / smaller gov’t.

    The elites in the Reps might send their kids to private schools, but few seem to do the homeschooling that many normals do. Most Libertarians are non-conformist elite wannabees, so few are actually among the elites. (I was at both 1984 & 1988 Lib National Conventions; never voted for Reagan nor Bush I).

    “Western Civilization” was created based on Christian morals, values, & tolerance, plus free market Capitalism. The rejection of Christian Capitalism is poisoning Western Civ, and Venezuela copying seems all too likely. Tho Chinese style crony-capitalism seems increasingly likely too, with the Clinton (bribery) Foundation a recent example.

    It’s also true that too many Christians don’t like Capitalism; too many Capitalists don’t like Christian morality.

  6. Robert Simmons says:

    I feel pretty bad for people who write “feeling pretty badly”. Am I doing a bad job of feeling?

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