Ben Boyce


The clear and present danger

Posted on November 1, 2023 by Ben Boyce

The core value proposition of this column from Day One is to turn liberals into progressives. This mission has felt critical at times. Now is one of those times. We have less time than we expected before the coming series of crises overwhelms our inadequately constructed democratic defenses.

It is nearly impossible to mobilize a low-information electorate composed of vague cultural liberals who have no real political analysis, no understanding of the actual dynamics of power, and who make bad collective political decisions based on cartoon maps that got imprinted on their brains in puberty. They have not evolved to meet the evolutionary challenge.

Progressives (who do have an ideology, agenda, and policy plans) understand the basic power dynamics in this country and in the world, and can be mobilized to action through recognition of a common threat, which we can identify clearly. We are determined to claim state power for the first time in American history and reset the social contract.

That’s the dream, but the deterioration of the national capacity to respond in a unified and coherent manner with the instruments of the administrative state to a natural catastrophe, future pandemics, accelerating climate change, and a steady culture war attack on a wide range of civil rights is unsettling.

That national administrative state, which is the only realistic means to do policy at scale, is now largely irrelevant to the emerging global techno-feudal overlords and multi-national corporate power. The conservative movement has realized that democracy demographically will no longer work for them.

The 250 year reign of the rickety American electoral system has been targeted for demolition by a Republican Party dominated by fossil-fuel and land-based regional oligarchs, libertarian small business tyrants, and medieval men and women who are locked in a fundamentalist millenarian death cult that cannot be reconciled with modernity.

The dominant Confederate faction of the Republican base has been trying to end the federal government since 1860. The activist wing of the Republican base is currently attempting to finish the job through lawfare, backed up by the credible threat of private militias armed with guns, sanctioned by the Federalist Society dominated Supreme Court.

Do we have the will and the resources to deal with a more skillfully executed coup attempt the second time around?

I don’t see it in the current complacent Democratic liberal class or the PMC identity politics rad-libs who are busy canceling each other, fretting about their personal carbon footprint, and being the unconscious foil to the Q moral panic brigade in keeping the culture war pot boiling.

The social democratic labor progressives need to distinguish our structural and materially grounded political agenda from the myopic radical liberal focus on social manners and consumerist environmentalism, with an attitude of hedonistic pessimism and de facto indifference to the rapid class immiseration.

I get the sense that the liberal class is assuming that ‘the fever will break’ or that the Republican Party will snap out of the Trump trance and come to their senses. That lazy assumption may prove to be very costly.

You have to be ready and willing to resist Steve Bannon and the national network of right-wing activists, the legion of propagandists on Fox Inc mega-network and the newly emboldened MAGA brownshirts bent on ending functional democracy. This is a concerted national project to make 2024 the last credible election and then rule by fiat dressed up as the law of the land.

The real left is focused on expanding labor power and nationalizing the energy sector in the U.S. to finally put a responsible hand on the oil tap so that a rational drawdown can help decelerate climate disruption.

The social democratic progressives do not have the same project as our liberal allies, but we could all share the same fate if we fail to stop the slide into 21st century neo-fascism.

Sonoma Sun | Sonoma, CA