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Rightwing Populism’s failure to adapt to the Realignment on Class and Biopolitics
While Anthony Oliver’s, Rich Men North of Richmond is untimely, it is still relevant to ongoing political and social issues. Despite the song being adopted as a MAGA anthem, Anthony Oliver stated that neither party represents him. He slammed partisan Republicans for hijacking the song, because Republicans are also “Rich Men North of Richmond.” If anything, Oliver seems like the kind of non-aligned populist who would support RFK Jr. over Trump or Biden. The song’s lyrics deal with themes including, wage slavery, inflation, the centralization of power, Jeffrey Epstein’s Island, and obese women on welfare. Responses to the song from the left, range from dismissing it as MAGA propaganda, to being racist, conspiratorial, and even having antisemitic dog whistles. However, there was a New York Times Op-ed about why liberals should be more open minded about the song’s message on class struggle.
While Anthony Oliver has some talent and the song is not bad, it’s not exceptional either. Melancholy country music can be great, but the melody and chord progressions feel too generic, and don’t invoke a strong emotional response. It is part of a formulaic new fad of adding a political message over generic country music melodies. I don’t have anything against Oliver, and he seems fairly humble. His canceling of a concert over a ticket price hike, demonstrates a kind of overly principled, perhaps naïve, earnestness. What I found annoying is the cringe responses, among partisan Republicans embracing the song. The arts, including music, need not be overtly political, but rather more intuitive rather than analytical. Conservative art often fails because it is overtly political, while liberals are successful at subtly propagandizing, by manipulating peoples’ subconscious, going back to Edward Bernays.
Source: @AndrewSmithClub Twitter
Even if Anthony Oliver does not align with conservatism, the song’s lyrics show certain intellectual flaws with rightwing populist narratives, while also getting close to the truth. For instance, romanticizing despair, victimhood, defeatism, and feeling aggrieved and disrespected, as the elites get away with their crimes. The populist right prefers a good moral tale rather than any serious winning strategy. It is easier to view the oppressor as morally evil rather than Darwinian winners, or to take a realistic look at power dynamics. An explanation for conspiracy theories is because liberal egalitarian individualism is so engrained in American culture, including on the right, that any extreme power dynamics will seem conspiratorial, once people become “redpilled.” I am not excusing those in power, and if anything, this slave morality prevents populists and dissidents from taking measures to successfully fight their adversaries.
Source: MatthewParrott Twitter
This also applies to another political country song, Try That in a Small Town, which is more overtly conservative. Try That in a Small Town is a cope that it’s still like the 1950s, where small town hicks can pull together a posse and carry out vigilante justice against transgressors, like BLM and Antifa. It’s a feel good anthem but does not reflect the reality that if small town conservatives actually tried that, the Justice Department would come down hard on them. Much of small town America will be wiped out economically by the consolidation of the banking system and flooded with migrants, and its citizens will likely sit back and take it, holding on to these anthems that make them feel morally vindicated. This mentality also applies to Jan 6th defendants, who behaved more like religious martyrs than revolutionaries, like the Founding Fathers. Not to mention QAnon types, who are all about trusting the plan with blind faith in Trump and being rewarded in the afterlife, rather than productive action.
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Bioleninism is a dissident right theory used to describe the Left, as far as less genetically endowed people organizing to gain power over their genetic betters. Youtuber, Martin Goldberg, has a video making the case that there is also a rightwing version of bioleninism. For instance, low status men who get involved in rightwing politics, in hopes that it can be a vehicle to attain power. Basically people who struggle to make it socially or economically in society, start to think “how can I work with others like me to seize power so that I can improve the life circumstances of myself or of my ingroup?” However, the Right fails at bioleninism because they are new to the game, and until recently, the right has been about rewarding winners, including their adversaries who succeed under the current system.
Smug liberals will say that rightwingers, who oppose immigration, are losers who can’t compete under a meritocracy, and the right comes short at offering a strong rebuttal because they have internalized their enemy’s framework. There are parallels between downscale White populists, who feel morally superior because they are oppressed by evil cosmopolitan globalist elites and intersectional types and non-Whites who feel morally superior about being victims of White Supremacy. It is harsh to admit that your ingroup has inadequacies because people naturally want to view their group as superior. While country club republican types are awful politically, they are probably on average, higher IQ and better looking than the populist demographic. Even liberal elites are mostly not the ugly, tattooed, blue haired freaks that the Right portrays them as.
Source: alwaysadblock Twitter
Rich Men North of Richmond, negatively portraying obese prole women on welfare, is a way to moralize a negative reaction to people’s psychical appearance. It is more socially acceptable to talk about the poor as moochers than implying that some people are inherently undesirable, or to say you hate being around poor people. This is because people can’t help their genetics, though obviously unhealthy lifestyles are a byproduct of poverty. Even though welfare for the rich is far more egregious, complaining about welfare use is often a dog whistle for dysgenics, or perhaps responding to a subconscious reaction while lacking the proper dialectic. Leftists are right in that Republicans use welfarism as a scapegoat and distraction from harm caused by economic elites, to get middle class Whites serving the oligarchy.
Source: @KyleKulinski Twitter
It has actually gotten stricter to receive welfare since Clinton’s neoliberal reforms. For instance, food stamps are something measly, like $250 per month, and were recently scraped by the last budget deal. Granting bureaucratic make-work jobs to favored demographic constituencies is far more parasitic than welfare, which is why I am sympathetic to scraping means testing burecracy in favor of UBI. Even the dysgenic aspect of welfare is exaggerated by the Right, as fertility for the native born underclass, across racial lines, is now close to, or slightly below replacement level. By far, most of the growth of the underclass is from foreign migration. I would prefer honest discussion about hereditarianism, tweaking policy to be less dysgenic, permitting freedom of association, and looking at demographics and resource allocation in a more practical manner, than hearing conservatives rant about welfarism on moral terms. There is no need to either morally fetishize the poor as the salt of the earth, nor to vilify them as lazy.
The working class, and increasingly middle class, resent being exposed to the underclass, which they find demoralizing. Not to mention that men with low economic and social status resent the caliber of women in their social class. In contrast, those with access to beautiful and high status people can virtue signal about equality, and good looking well-adjusted people are more likely to be content with the status quo, thus less likely to be dissidents. While the downwardly mobile middle class are victims of neoliberalism and class oppression by the 1%, this sense of disgust triggers a more reactionary direction (eg. right-populists who detests the poor), rather than support for egalitarianism. This can motivate people to strive but also makes people who fail much more bitter. There is a lot of White downward mobility and no existing ideology or paradigm has really adapted to that trend. However, Anthony Oliver seems solidly middle class, having a good management job at a factory. Basically this high prole demographic, that is middle class but culturally prole, is the core of MAGA.
The Left called out Rich Men North of Richmond as hypocritical for punching down, as well as protesting against those at the top. However, that dichotomy can be explained by the political ideology of Producerism, which holds up members of society who are engaged in the production of tangible wealth as beneficial to society. In contrast, speculative financial elites, aristocrats who inherit wealth and status, and the lumpen proletariat are viewed as parasitic. Examples of Producerism in politics include, Ross Perot, Pat Buchanan, the Middle American Radicals, European nationalists such as France’s LePens, and even Donald Trump. Though the ideology goes back much further to the US Founding Fathers, the British Diggers of the 1640s, and even elements of Plato and Aristotle.
A Tablet Mag article by Duncan Moench, has some good suggestions for producerist policy reforms including, recognizing that “all wealth derives from its producers—not from bureaucrats, bean-counting bankers, nor CEOs or middle management.” Moench calls for banning “all wage labor that does not include a substantial stake in the private enterprise’s profits, governance, and leadership,” embracing “the principle that all politics are local and all governance should be as well,” the banning of “absentee ownership of businesses”, replacing “consumption and wealth accumulation with craftsmanship and artistry as the center of the new producerist culture,” banning “profits from “day trading” and financial speculation,” ending “liberal utility-based pricing of goods and services” and replace with “a currency and pricing structure based upon hours worked,” taxing “all trade transport based on mileage traveled from origin to final destination,” banning “all private (or state) profits from compounded interest,” and greatly limiting “the number—and value—of residential real estate holdings any one person or corporate entity can legally own for purposes of residency.”
-LIBRARY OF CONGRESS
Unlike many Producerists, this proposal does not “punch down,” and certainly a lot of wealth is parasitic, especially the extraction based economy of the DC-Wall Street-Silicon Valley axis. I agree with just about all of this platform, which could have crossover appeal to both right and left leaning populists. Not to mention that it is much more coherent than anything from MAGA populists. While Producerism is now more aligned with the Right, there were Producerist strains amongst old school Democrats. Basically those who embraced labor unions and FDR’s New Deal, while opposing LBJ’s Great Society, welfare state. In contrast, today’s Democratic Party is a top down coalition that includes both pro-oligarch shills and socialists who want to redistribute wealth from the top down.
Rather than the socialist/state economy versus capitalist/free market binary, Producerists make the distinction between productive versus parasitic wealth. Both Producerism and Distributism, address the slippery slope fallacy which keeps the right supporting oligarchs, out of fear that socialism, in any form, will lead to the government taking their stuff. Producerism, and Distributism to a degree, are fundamentally petite bourgeois movements, and have their basis from the yeoman farmers and small scale craftsman. However, Distributists have much less dislike for the poor, because Distributism is based upon Catholic Social Teachings and Producerism upon the Protestant work ethic.
The film, Falling Down, does a far better job illustrating Producerism than any media from the populist right, even though its director, Joel Schumacher, is liberal. However, there is debate about whether Schumacher had some anti-White or anti-populist biases. Michael Douglas’s character, who is a recently divorced, laid off, Aerospace worker, feels that he can no longer live a decent life because he is being squeezed out from both the top and the bottom. He insists that society must be fair and just, as well as functional. His targets of rage include, immigrants, bureaucrats, hoodlums, the homeless, but also the wealthy. For instance, he confronts wealthy, geriatric, golfers for taking up space that should be a park for children, which may sound leftwing. Falling Down touches upon downward mobility of the White middle class, and you could make the case that it predicted the Trump movement. As an LA native from a White middle class background, though I was only 7 years old when the film was released, I find it fascinated that it deals with social, demographic, and class issues in LA.
While some liberals found it racist that Falling Down’s protagonist targets non-Whites disproportionately, he is actually ardent about demonstrating that he is not racist. For instance, he takes out a neo-Nazi and then finds comradery with a Black laid-off worker, in feeling obsolete, as this mentality is common amongst right-populists. There is a smear from the left that Producerism is a racist ideology, alleging that “parasitic elites” are an anti-Semitic dog whistle, the parasitic underclass as code for Blacks and Hispanics, while White Christians represent the productive middle that is squeezed out.
Taking the stance that both the top and bottom are parasitic is better than just looking downwards while ignoring the top. However, Producerism’s main flaw is that it still economically commodifies everything, like neoliberalism. For instance, the Producerist case for the middle class, being that they are more economically productive, could lend credence to arguments used by neoliberals to justify replacing Americans with immigrants. People having to prove their worth by economic output is bad from an identitarian perspective, if an outgroup is more economically productive. Producerist-based populism can lead the Middle Class in a reactionary direction, in hopes of returning to some 1950s utopia rather than acting tribally to adapt to a more cutthroat future.
Basing identity on per capita income rather than culture or ancestry is cringe, especially in a multiethnic society. Besides, having to justify one’s worth to society on economic terms is also bad for creating and maintaining culture, as the aristocratic value of leisure is needed for cultural, artistic, and even scientific innovation. Identity, genetics, nature, aesthetics, creativity, and spirituality are all very important, and should not be economically commodified. There are also downsides to fetishizing the middle class, who provide social stability, but are often too conformist to enact real change, as they have the most to lose. Petite bourgeois values replacing aristocratic values, at least partially, contributed to creating today’s neoliberal dystopia.
Overall, an upfront Producerist movement would be a tremendous net positive over existing GOP populists. The current GOP populists are Producerists rhetorically, but more focused on culture wars, have remnants of Reaganism, and lack any coherent message. This rising populism is much more cultural than economic, and I would prefer it if the reverse were true. While the GOP should shift towards caring about the average American’s wellbeing, that does not mean we should be needlessly worshipping the average schlub. The populist right have this anti-ideology, in which cosmopolitan rich people are evil but so is socialism, that wokeness is a cancer but liberals are the real White Supremacists. They still believe in bootstraps like Reagan, but also have this obsession with a totally fair system like progressives. The worst are those who are blank slatist, yet economically rightwing while fetishizing the common working man. However, there are positive signs that the right is now more open to class consciousness, identity politics, and hereditarian thinking. The essence of populism is pride in being a commoner, rather than overthrowing the elites and replacing them with new superior elites. I advocate for building up new counter-elites, offering nobles oblige towards the common man rather than populism that worships them, economic distributism, with cultural and spiritually elitism.