“To speak of pro-corporate populism is to raise one of the great political enigmas of the last thirty years.  Hisotrically populism was a rebellion against the corporate order, a political tongue reserved by definition for the non-rich and the non-powerful.  As historian Michael Kazin summoarizes it, populism contrasts an immensely idealistic conception of the nation and the common people with visions of a malevolent, scheming elite.  As the “common people” were once easily defined as managers of industry, populism first arose as the vernacular of a series of insurgent labor movements (the Farmer’s Alliance, the CIO).  Populism was the American language of social class.

But beginning in 1968 this primal set piece of American democracy seemed to change its stripes.  The war between classes had somehow reversed polarity:  It was now a conflict in which the patriotic, blue collar “silent majority” (along with their employers) faced off against a new eliete, the “liberal establishment” and its spoiled flag burning children.  the new ruling class – a motley assembly of liberal journalists, liberal academics, liberal foundation employees, liberal politcians, and the shadowy powers of Hollywood-earned the people’s wrath not by exploiting workers or ripping off family farmers, but by showing comtemptuous disregard for the wisdom and the values of average Americans.  The backlash erected an entire new social hierarchy according to which the “normal Americans” were at the bottom as usual, but the people at the top weren’t the millionarires or the owners, they were those sneering kids who dodged the draft, along with their liberal parents and the various minorities and crimianls those parents seemed so determined to pamper.  Enunciated memorabley in the speeches of Spiro Agnew and in the movies of Clint Eastwood, backlash populish proved immensely powerful and for 30 years Ameircan politics seemed  mired in the same imargery and cultural questions, with rightwing populists forever reminding “normal Americans” of the hideous world that the “establishment” had built, a place where blasphemous intellectuals violated the principles of “Americanism” at every oppotrunity, a place of busing and crime in the streets, of unimaginable cultural depravity, of epidemeic disrespect for men in uniform, of judges gone soft on crime and politicians gone soft on communism.  The backlash became a fisture of the American scene as our never subsiding mad as hellness elected wave after wave of conservative politicans who warred on the liberal media, the welfare queens, and the “countercultural McGoverniks”

DAMN! written 7 years ago too