Ben Shapiro Works Those Feelings

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Andrew Donaldson

Born and raised in West Virginia, Andrew has since lived and traveled around the world several times over. Though frequently writing about politics out of a sense of duty and love of country, most of the time he would prefer discussions on history, culture, occasionally nerding on aviation, and his amateur foodie tendencies. He can usually be found misspelling/misusing words on Twitter @four4thefire.

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132 Responses

  1. Avatar Pinky
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    “I suspect Ben Shapiro the media figure is a different thing from Ben Shapiro the husband and father….But maybe I’m wrong, and the Ben Shapiro of college debates is the same at the Shapiro family dinner table.”

    Couldn’t pass this up:

    Report

  2. Avatar Chip Daniels
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    When I think about Ben Shapiro, I have one of those “There but for the grace of God” moments.

    Because at 18 I was also a precocious Reagan conservative, and could argue well, and to be honest, I was callow and cocksure of myself and my view of the world, the way young men who have never experienced life can be.

    How lucky I am then, that there wasn’t a massive grift machine and welfare circuit that could groom me, supply me with a platform, and flatter and fan the flames of my self regard into an inferno of noxiousness.

    Like boy bands, the political world has an insatiable appetite for new talent so in all likelihood Ben’s moment in the spotlight will be over soon.

    If he’s lucky, he will discover other ways of looking at the world.Report

  3. Avatar CJColucci
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    I haven’t been able to avoid hearing about Ben Shapiro, but I have been able to avoid paying attention to him. Nothing I have heard suggests that I have missed anything by not paying attention to him.Report

  4. Avatar Aaron David
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    That 8-10 second clip doesn’t bother me in the slightest. I don’t agree with it, but that is part of life. I don’t agree with many people, politically. Anyone outraged that people often think like this probably lives a pretty sheltered life. Half the country is more conservative than the other half, and this often bleeds into an opinion of what people are responsible for in their lives.

    I don’t agree with Shapiro much if any of the time, and that is OK. I think “owning the libs” is no different than “shocking the bourgeoisie” or “freaking the squares.” In other words, it’s normal and healthy to make fun of the entrenched ruling class. He does, however, have enough of a different take on things than I get in my small college town that I do want to hear him. There are lots of idiots out there, left and right.Report

  5. Avatar Mike Schilling
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    That could have been said more sympathetically, but part of his brand is being short with people.Report

    • Avatar Oli in reply to Mike Schilling
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      His brand is being short, generally.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Oli
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        Sigh.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Oli
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        says:

        I’m really disgusted that it is still considered acceptable to mock men for being short. Even among people who claim to be oh so enlightened and into body positivity, they just can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to implying men below a certain height are simply failures by virtue of their height.Report

    • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Mike Schilling
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      Ahh, yes, acknowledging that short people got no reason to live is so very un-PC I’m surprised Ben hasn’t made that argument yet.

      Report

    • Avatar veronica d in reply to Mike Schilling
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      Can we not do this?

      I get that it’s a joke. I also understand that Shapiro is a callous fucknugget who deserves to be mocked. However, his problem isn’t his stature; it’s his character.

      When you mock his stature, you won’t hurt his feelings. Honestly, he’s the sort of person who gets off on being despised. By contrast, you might hurt other short men reading this, many of whom have fine character, but who too often get reminded that society perceives short men as “less than.”

      Cut it out. It’s bullshit.

      By all means mock Shapiro. Please do. He’s an amoral goon. However, mock him for the correct reasons.

      Don’t be the kind of person he is.Report

      • Avatar C in reply to veronica d
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        What exactly makes him amoral? Seriously this whole article and all these comments were nothing more than verbose ways of saying you don’t like him. But no actual refutations, everything he said was true. It’s no one else’s responsibility to give you a better lifeReport

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to veronica d
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        Thank you. As a short man, I’ve noticed that many people really can’t seem to help themselves when it comes to making jokes about short men. Lack of height is used to imply a mean quality in humans, especially men. Sessions was frequently referred to as little when people rightfully wanted to criticize him to.Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw
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    In 2011 or so, Ben Shapiro called American Jews who vote Democratic and/or are liberal, “bad Jews.” The Jewish vote for Democratic presidential candidates is between 69-80 percent depending on the year. This is more for Congressional elections. Right now there might be 2 GOP Jewish congresscritters.

    So Ben Shapiro is willing to get up there and say most of his co-religionists are “bad Jews.” Pardon me if I don’t give any Fs on people who attack him.

    More broadly, I think this shows a deepening divide between the right and left in America. There is something very puritanical and Calvinist in Shapiro’s statement which is odd because such sentiments are not found anywhere in actual Jewish philosophy. Like it or not, Shapiro has a huge following and is quite wealthy from it. This thought is reflective in a lot of the voting population and a big chunk of the rest of the population (including me!) finds it morally odious. People like Shapiro are avatars for voters at large.Report

    • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Saul Degraw
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      I’ve been fiddling internally with a rough concept of conservatism going more Calvinistic than it’s traditional interpretation, but was thinking that was too niche for a wider audience. Maybe I should rethink that.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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        I don’t know enough about Calvinism itself to say whether what Shapiro is stating here is close to real Calvinism but it is roughly in line with a kind of bastard Calvinism/puritanism. I’m old enough to remember when Bush II complimented someone for working two or three jobs. He was (deservedly in my opinion) mocked by the left for this but he was at least sincere because he was praising the person for doing what needed to be done and showing hustle.

        Now it looks like we have reached a point where conservative speaker is telling people that it is their fault for needing to work more than one job without any view at broader economic factors or societal trends.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Saul Degraw
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          Its entirely possible that you put more thought into this one comment, than Shapiro put into his entire radio show.

          None of their shtick even seems to have the veneer of anything approaching a principle or coherent worldview. Its all just free form, off the cuff tough guy poses and snarling memes or tee shirt slogans.

          Its like one of those analyses of classic fascism, where they aren’t trying to win anyone over with arguments, but sheer force of emotion and intimidation.Report

          • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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            “None of their shtick even seems to have the veneer of anything approaching a principle or coherent worldview.”

            “We believe freedom is built upon the twin notions that God created every human in His image, and that human beings are capable of investigating and exploring God’s world. These notions were born in Jerusalem and Athens, respectively.
            “Those twin notions – those diamonds of spiritual genius – built our civilization, and built us as individuals. If you believe that life is more than materialistic pleasures and pain avoidance, you are a product of Jerusalem and Athens. If you believe that the government has no right to intrude upon the exercise of your individual will, and that you are bound by moral duty to pursue virtue, you are a product of Jerusalem and Athens. If you believe that human beings are capable of bettering our world through use of our reason, and are bound by higher purpose to do so, you are a product of Jerusalem and Athens.
            “Jerusalem and Athens built science. The twin ideals of Judeo-Christian values and Greek natural law reasoning built human rights. They built prosperity, peace, and artistic beauty. Jerusalem and Athens built America, ended slavery, defeated the Nazis and the Communists, lifted billions from poverty, and gave billions spiritual purpose. Jerusalem and Athens were the foundation of the Magna Carta and the Treaty of Westphalia; they were the foundations of the Declaration of Independence, Abraham Lincoln’s Emancipation Proclamation, and Martin Luther King Jr.’s Letter from Birmingham Jail.
            “…The ties that bind us together are fraying.
            “Those ties were forged through fire and water, reason and prayer. The journey to modernity was a long road. That road wasn’t always pretty – often, it was violent. The tension between Jerusalem and Athens is real. But removing the tension by abandoning either Jerusalem or Athens collapses the bridge built between the two.”

            Giant quote taken from the introduction of his latest book without permission, but I don’t think Ben would mind.Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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              “You think you’re an intellectual, don’t ya, ape!

              “Apes don’t read philosophy.”

              “Yes they do Otto, they just don’t understand it!”Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky
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              He doesn’t know what the Treaty of Westphalia was, does he. (Hint: there was nothing uplifting about the Thirty Years war, including its end.)Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Mike Schilling
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                I assume he’s thinking of the Treaty as the beginning of denominational freedom in the West.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Pinky
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                It’s certainly a major milestone for western civilization on that front. We’ve mostly ended the phenomenon of sectarian civil war spilling into or bringing in other powers based on creed. Yea there are semi-exceptions (Northern Ireland, the Balkans if we want to consider them honorary members) but all you have to do is look at the ME to see how bad it could be. Sunnis and Shi’ites can’t share a country without a dictator holding one group down and every conflagration brings in belligerents and irregular armies of religious fanatics from outside.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to InMD
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                It was a return to the pre-war status quo ante in the Holy Roman Empire, that each ruler therein could choose to establish Catholicism, Lutheranism, or Calvinism (it did add the last as a valid choice.) It didn’t prevent Lous XIV from later outlawing Protestantism in France, nor the persecution of unapproved denominations like the Anabaptists.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Pinky
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                Like, maybe.

                But, um, I think that points to a deeper problem with Ben Shapiro’s argument in The Right Side of History than simple historical ignorance. It was laid out pithily by a guy named Ben Shapiro on Twitter some years back:

                “Right side of history” may be the most morally idiotic phrase of modern times. History is not God, and has no morality.

                Now I rarely agree with this Ben Shapiro guy but I think he’s got a point about this one. And really, if you’re looking for Western values and tracing them back to “Athens and Jerusalem” [1] you really kind of need to take the good with the bad.

                Which means you also get the 30 Years War, and chattel slavery, and the horrors of both Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia, and Belgian colonialism in Africa, and the list goes on.

                It kind of reminds me of an old joke about the C++ programming language: C++ is almost powerful enough to let you fix all the problems with C++. Same with Western Civ, I guess.

                Or not. Maybe it’s a profoundly flawed way to view history, and a perspective on culture that flattens culture out to nothing but a few banalities.

                [1] Which, I mean, you could also do if you were trying to trace the notional origins of “Islamic values”, another reason I take issue with the overall approach.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to pillsy
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                The book’s title is an obvious joke.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Pinky
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                It’s an obvious pun, but nothing in the passage (or elsewhere) made it obvious to me that it was a joke (i.e., not meant seriously aside from the wordplay which I think is kinda clever actually).

                But I retract that part of the comment.

                Still have my problem where there’s a tremendous amount of bad mixed in with the good in stuff that Shapiro characterizes as “Western values”.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy
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                The worst enemies of “Western Civilization” are those who most vehemently defend it.

                Western Civilization is a long tangled chaotic mix of cultural diversity of the very sort that the Ben Shapiros of the world detest.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                “cultural diversity of the very sort that the Ben Shapiros of the world detest”

                Care to back that up?Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                Glad to!

                Western Civilization stretches from the Hebrew culture of the Old Testament, to the pagan culture of Athens and Rome, to the barbarian cultures of Northern Europe. It includes mysticism of the Persian religions, to the art and culture of the Muslims in Byzantium and Spain.

                It isn’t a single coherent thought, its a long process of accretion and assimilation and conquest, of wildly diverse and contradictory ideas.

                What do you think the Romans like Cato and Cicero thought of the religion of Moses and Abraham?
                What did the Celtic tribes think of Cato and Cicero?
                What did the Christian missionaries think of the Celtic religions?

                These people all despised each other as either uncultured savages, or imperialistic slavers.

                There are still surviving writings of the second and third century Romans sneering at the new Hebrew cult of Jesus as it was rising in popularity.

                Christianity in their eyes was an affront to civilization, the religions of uncivilized and inferior people. They looked at Christianity much the way Ben Shapiro looks at Islam.

                The history of Western Civilization is a palimpsest, a thick overlapping of waves of conquest and Great Replacements, as one culture was overrun by another, but the resulting mix containing thread of both.

                You can see the stupidity of Shapiro’s view in the occasional awkwardness that results when white supremacists try to create something “pure” out of it- Like when someone suggests white culture is Christian, while another guy nearby waves a symbol of Odin or some Norse mythology.

                Or the absurdity of 19th century WASP culture that saw the study of Virgil as the essence of erudition, while they despised the actual living descendants of Virgil as an inferior race.

                Ilhan Omar is as much a part of Western Civilization as Ben Shapiro is.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to Chip Daniels
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                You misunderstood me. I’m aware that Western culture is diverse, both in its content and its willingness to engage with other cultures. My problem is with the idea that “the Ben Shapiros of the world” detest that kind of cultural engagement.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Pinky
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                Then I really am confused.
                Is he welcoming of an invasion of lower IQ people from shithole countries?

                If so, then I retract my criticism.Report

              • Avatar Pinky in reply to pillsy
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                The phrase is a classic of the left. It implies a Hegelian or Marxian view of history, and was an Obama staple. The premise of this book, as I understand it, is that history doesn’t follow a straight line; we are capable of free action, and that includes the destruction of the best things we inherited. So either Shapiro is so stupid as to choose a book title from the speeches of his opponents, a phrase that he as previously condemned, a phrase which implies that all of his beliefs are wrong, and is surrounded by people who didn’t catch the mistake, or he is making light of the phrase.

                As to the rest of your comment, do you think that Shapiro is unaware that the West’s journey to modernity wasn’t always pretty? I’m going to guess he’s aware of it. I’m going to guess that a guy who refers in passing to the Treaty of Westphalia has heard of the Thirty Years’ War. I’m going to guess that an Ashkenazi with an IQ over 60 has heard that life can be dangerous.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Pinky
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                So either Shapiro is so stupid as to choose a book title from the speeches of his opponents, a phrase that he as previously condemned, a phrase which implies that all of his beliefs are wrong, and is surrounded by people who didn’t catch the mistake, or he is making light of the phrase.

                Like I said, it wasn’t obvious it was a joke.

                As to the rest of your comment, do you think that Shapiro is unaware that the West’s journey to modernity wasn’t always pretty?

                I don’t know. But the sheer ugliness, conditional and often ephemeral nature of the changes for the better, and general fact that some of the things he cites as good are maybe two generations old tends to seriously undercut the argument that this is all the “heritage of Jerusalem and Athens” once you include how much the exact opposite of the virtues he espouses are also part of that heritage, and historically have been justified in identical terms, and continue to be justified in those terms.

                Like to rip out one particularly egregious bit from the passage you quoted, this is severely dumb:

                “If you believe that life is more than materialistic pleasures and pain avoidance, you are a product of Jerusalem and Athens.”Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Pinky
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                Yeah, it really ended anti-Semitism once and for all.Report

        • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Saul Degraw
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          This is of course referring to theological, what I would call Seminary, Calvinism and not our rank-and-file reformist friends: There is a real nihilist strand of thought that runs through the heart of true Calvinism, that once you accept there is no free-will or agency of man whatsoever you start getting into excusing off all sorts of things as “just how it is” as opposed to mankind holding responsibility themselves. It’s not meant that way, of course, but is at the heart of it if you drill down enough. If you talk yourself into following a a cult of personality, I suspect a similar line of excuses runs through the mind, if thought out at all. A socio-political Deus Vult, for the politically simpleminded or grifter enabled.Report

          • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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            I don’t think people are thinking about it that far. Maybe it is more of a prosperity gospel thing. The Good Lord Helps those that help themselves. What it is though is not Jewish. These are the eight levels of charity according to Maimonides:

            https://www.chabad.org/library/article_cdo/aid/45907/jewish/Eight-Levels-of-Charity.htm

            The highest level is: “[1] The greatest level, above which there is no greater, is to support a fellow Jew by endowing him with a gift or loan, or entering into a partnership with him, or finding employment for him, in order to strengthen his hand so that he will not need to be dependent upon others . . .”

            Notice that this requires the giver of charity to commit positive action. Maybe it is ultimately “anti-welfare” in the long run or scheme of things but it is certainly far from Shapiro’s latest cruel rant. It also might require some sacrifice by giving someone a gift or entering into a partnership (possibly to your detriment).Report

            • Avatar Andrew Donaldson in reply to Saul Degraw
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              This is where I, Christian who has long despised prosperity gospel and all it’s adherents and acolytes, differentiate between sincere practitioners of the faith who by and large are immensely charitable, and what I call “Christianity, Inc” the business driven eco-system that tries to create a parallel religious world that mirrors the secular one but with way more Jesus-branded stuff to sell. That latter group very much falls under what you are proffering here with “help those who help themselves” since they feel entitled to all the help for themselves.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Andrew Donaldson
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        Around the Great Recession or the early Obama administration, the New York Times had a series of articles about some Evangelical Pastors going into a more hardcore and pessimistic Calvinist direction as opposed to their more usual brand of Christianity.Report

  7. Avatar Slade the Leveller
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    I suspect Ben Shapiro the media figure is a different thing from Ben Shapiro the husband and father when the mics, cameras, and lib owning are not turned on. Most people in such positions are just that, playing a character that is some aspect of themselves but cranked up to 11 for marketing reasons.

    Rush Limbaugh is more my generation, but I always had the feeling that he knew he was peddling toro poopoo, and laughing all the way to the bank. Shapiro, and his ilk, have the advantage of the internet echo chamber, and much cheaper production costs.Report

  8. Avatar Damon
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    It’s funny all this internet ink about what some guy on the internet thinks….and likely no one reading this site has ever met him. He doesn’t impact your life but his opinions matter to you. Frankly, my interpretation of what he said was “if you’re not where you want to be in your life you should be working to get there and not complaining on the couch about how your life sucks. That’s a fair comment. I know a lot of people who prefer to complain than actually change their circumstances.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to Damon
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      He’s like an Internet punditversion of a Kardashian: famous because he’s famous. And yeah, like a number of people who have a sort of self-sustaining celebrity, he’s got a genuine talent for self-promotion.

      This is not unique to Shapiro: it’s pretty common in punditry.[1] Shapiro, as much as I think his views are awful and his affect is annoying, has played the game extremely well. And despite my distaste for him, I routinely play along and talk about him.

      Like now!

      [1] If you think people spend too much time and attention on Ben Shapiro, let me tell you about a guy named David Brooks….Report

    • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Damon
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      I suppose there are a number of things you can say about someone working two or three jobs to make ends meet but “complaining on their couch” ain’t one of them.Report

  9. Avatar InMD
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    I don’t follow the guy but the comment about accepting a low paying job sounds like one of those pithy memes shared by your grandma. Maybe there’s a little truth to it but it’s not something someone with any experience or actual perspective in the modern job market would say. It’s definitely the kind of sentiment boomers can (rightly) be mocked for.

    Beyond that I don’t know enough about the guy to have much of an opinion. I’ve always assumed he was part of the bias confirmation industry that patronizes people into thinking they know more than they do but really I have no idea.Report

    • Avatar pillsy in reply to InMD
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      I agree with all of this except for the part where I actually do follow him because let’s be honest, I’m an absolute sucker for the bias confirmation industry that patronizes me into thinking I know more than I do.Report

      • Avatar InMD in reply to pillsy
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        Sometimes I feel that way about myself too. But then there are other times that nothing infuriates me more than someone saying things I basically agree with.Report

      • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to pillsy
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        Here, follow this milennial guy instead. Will be better for your health, and give you a better steel against which to sharpen your sword of liberaldom.

        As far as I can tell, Shapiro is kinda the Hannity of Milennials… not worth the airtime or ink.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Marchmaine
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          I’d bet Shapiro’s core audience is much older than he is.Report

        • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine
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          Yeah MBD is… often horrifyingly wrong about things I didn’t even know you could be wrong about, but also much more likely to write something that’s actually worth reading and thinking about and arguing with than Shapiro is.

          That piece is a good example of the latter.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw in reply to Marchmaine
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          I read that essay. I can sort of see the point but on the other hand, I think lots of people (left and right) valorize a lot of the factory jobs on the mid-20th century (but for different reasons). I remember hearing a quote from a Ford worker about how he was about to become the 51st nut, after bolting the 50th nut every day for months/years on end. Such was the monotony of factory work.

          What conservatives seem to miss about such work is that it seems “manly” to them and less effete than being a barre instructor. What liberals miss about the era is that a variety of factors (which might have been historical anomalies) lead to people in such grinding or dulling work getting reasonable incomes.

          So this is a weird dichotomy split.Report

          • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Saul Degraw
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            He’s specifically critiquing the pure nostalgia (naming himself along the way) to get at an exactly opposite point you suggest:

            “It’s remarkable, the instinct to defend a labor market drifting toward service work for the rich. As I keep saying, the left-of-center won’t be vindicator of workers’ interests, its platform will be built around upper-class priorities and redistribution.”Report

            • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Marchmaine
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              I guess I should elaborate, since maybe it’s less clear from the outside… but its a conservative concurrence with an essentially left-side critique of “free-markets” generating an unsustainable income gap [Published on NRO, no less]. Where it differs is that it contains a New Rightist critique that simple re-distribution a’la New Deal-ish stuff probably won’t work (but the fulllness of that assumption is not worked out in this essay).

              This has nothing in particular to do with bringing coal back, or simple industrial jobs or anything of the sort. As I say, it is something the left should grapple with because the quotation (by Oren Cass, I should probably have noted) will form the basis of re-alignment (should it ever come)… and the Left will wonder what hit them.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
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                What policy tools does a new right really have on the table though? I don’t think there’s any way to get around some redistribution and serious efforts to evolve the way we think about and value work.

                The basic sentiments in that essay could’ve come from Bernie Sanders or maybe even Elizabeth Warren, but as you say it never gets to the policy conclusion.

                We aren’t in a true post work world yet but we are swiftly approaching a world that is post work as we’ve known it since the late 19th century. Funnily enough I was discussing this very issue over beers with a conservative friend of mine last week and he concurred with the conclusion but had no answers.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to InMD
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                I think the best plan is the one he dismisses as “redistribution”.

                Like I get his discomfort with the idea of a country that’s all middle and working class people providing services for rich people, but somewhat richer middle and working class people would consume more services while somewhat poorer rich people would consume fewer services.

                Which is better as I see it. Imperfect, but what isn’t.

                As for the cultural thing? I dunno. Maybe that’s not solvable, or not solvable by public policy, or maybe everybody will get used to it.

                EDIT: Am I open to policy approaches other than redistribution? Absolutely. But most of them would just allow more people to succeed and make a decent living in the service economy.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to pillsy
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                The mid-20th century economy contained historical anomalies that aren’t coming back. Robotics was in its’ infancy so most goods still had to be made by hand, unions were strong, and industry was really emphasizing consumer goods over capital goods. When you combine this with a growing consumer market, you have the right package for the golden age of the factory worker.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to pillsy
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                Mine isn’t dissimilar and true neoliberals would call my preferences middle class welfare because they kind of are. The idea should be to keep people free to contribute and participate in a market economy but attack the holes that have everyone but the ultra rich living precariously due to high debt, minimal safety net, and cost disease on a handful of basic necessities.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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                Well, I’d concur that there’s not really a plan on offer from the Right, new or old. Some of that is still a hang-over from ditching the Libertarians and Neo-Lib/Cons… they’re still playing the old mix tapes and just feeling kinda sad – well the one’s who aren’t binge-ing on rebound sex with Trump.

                Personally I think there’s a possible path forward in a new Solidarity movement that would look like Labor Capitalism where the corporate charters acknowledge both Capital and Labor. Those shoots are still pretty green and very tender… but that’s what I’m hearing in my LeoXIII Rerum Novarum circles.

                Interestingly, since you mention Warren, her Accountable Capitalism (40% of Board Seats go to Labor) is something we take note of – but ultimately reject for being exactly the sort of Upper Class priority plan that would quickly be co-opted for the benefit of the board sitting class. Now, carve out 40% ownership fractionally for all workers and let them vote as any other shareholder? That’s a possibility with legs.

                Either way, we’re re-defining corporate charters, trade agreements and many of the things that surround markets so that the distribution of wealth is more broad at the point of creation. Good news, there are still winners and losers, rich and poor… but cultural and politico-economic shift is towards flattening the curve.

                How is this different from re-distribution? Because in order for re-distribution to work within the current system (a’la old-school liberalism) it will always be minimal and negotiated at the behest of the capital class… lest it break the system. A solidarity movement bends the system so that the rewards still go to the collective organization (corporation) that provides the best goods/services but those rewards are distributed more broadly… and decisions are taken with a different and more invested shareholder class.

                But, since you asked… that’s what it would smell like, if not exactly what it will be.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Marchmaine
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                Sure, and Ben Shapiro would call it socialism.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to North
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                Heh, we can undermine Shapiro’s arguments from the right… so we’re not afeared.

                Now, memes? Of those we’re afeared.Report

              • Avatar Jesse in reply to Marchmaine
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                says:

                Nothing personal, but all this sounds like is you want a ‘solidarity’ movement that’s social conservative, instead of the current labor movement that’s aligned with left-leaning movements.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jesse
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                says:

                Thank you… absolutely no offense taken.

                And I assure you that there will be nothing personal about it when we take about 1/3 of your coalition because your current labor movement is mostly in hoc to “upper class priorities.”Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t see how a solidarity movement accomplishes that sort of thing without use of the state to get there, which is inherently redistributive, and to some degree always subject to some capture.

                On the contrary, it seems to me that the people who would most need to be convinced are under every pressure in the world to have less and less solidarity with their compatriots. The upper echelons of Davos man are more aligned with other Davos men than anyone else, including the upper middle class with pretensions of joining the club.

                To me this sounds like trying to get to a Liz Warren-like outcome by expecting an unprecedented opt-in by the people least interested in it. It isn’t very realistic.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to InMD
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                says:

                Agreed, all plans are unrealistic until they aren’t.

                But, one thing that I think you may be overlooking is that the days of “not using the state” to accomplish things are likely over… for good *and* for ill. That particular consensus is dead.

                In a positive light, I’d hope that the Solidarity approach is properly gradual and a systemic approach to opting workers in to the productivity gains even if that means that the Davos crowd only remains fabulously instead of obscenely wealthy.

                But, see point #1… the changes to corporate charters and trade agreements and other items will be *also* actions of the state. Remember… we’ve already ditched the libertarians… that’s not a purity test anyone cares about anymore.

                As for co-option…and opt-in… of course, all of politics are nothing more than co-opting and opting in… the strangest coalitions will be co-opted in ways we didn’t think possible.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                Well yes, it seems that things are going in that trajectory verbally when you look at what Trumps GOP tends to be saying and emphasizing. And it’s true that true libertarians definitely got shellacked in the last election above and beyond any other group (even Hillary liking liberals like me).
                But when you look at what Trumps GOP has done, what they’ve accomplished? That’s a different story. The true deficit/size-of-government libertarians have been thumped electorally and policy wise but the glibertarian/republitarian/well-kept-poodles-of-the-tax-cut-desiring-wealthy type libertarians? They got every single thing on their primary wish list. In fact, Trumps only significant legislative accomplishment; A huge deficit exploding tax cut for the wealthy. Hell, the way things are looking it appears that the true libertarian voters are astonishingly miniscule in votes and fiscal compared to their GOP loving hypocritical libertarian-in-name-only brethren.
                And those bought and paid for by the wealthy libertarians in name only who are pulling the strings in the GOP are NOT gonna be in favor of anything that discomforts the wealthy and benefits the working class. Those resources are needed for tax cuts and stock buy backs.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to North
                Ignored
                says:

                When I talk about these things as rumblings on the right I don’t mean to imply that they are the rumblings of the Republican Party or Trump – they aren’t.

                I’ve said before that I suspect we’ll look back at Trump as a failed realignment… maybe the so-called disjointed presidency that preceded the realignment we all positively knew was coming right after it comes.

                I’d say that Trump intuited the disconnect and exploited it without really knowing exactly what it was he was exploiting, and worse, what he ought to do about it. I’ve also been explicit that absent the groundwork of building a political movement that includes some policy thought, ideally some policy experiments, and some early coalition outreach there’s no real hope of any sort of political capital and know how to execute any sort of agenda change. Incidentally, I’d place Obama in this category as a similar, though very different failure.

                So, by all means, criticize Trump and the Republicans for governing as they have… if there were a Solidarity party those would be exactly the sort of criticisms we would level at him. But neither the Republican nor the Democratic party is a Solidarity party.Report

              • Avatar North in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                Interesting thoughts Marchmaine.
                I think I see what you’re hinting at with Obama but I’d push back (and of course I would since Obama is from my specific liberal tribe) on the idea that Obama was a failed transformation President. Obama may have exploited people craving transformation to defeat Clinton in the primary (via his vague let people project their desires on me schtick) but he never set out to transform the entire party nor do the Dems necessarily have the burning need for transformation that the GOP is suffering.

                I third the request that you consider expanding your thoughts and putting them down as a post. Especially when presented from a rightward PoV that’d be really interesting.Report

              • Avatar Jesse in reply to Marchmaine
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                says:

                The problem with the whole “we’ll create a fiscally populist, socially conservative party” is that it’s a good idea in theory, and I’ve actually said a few times, it could be an alternative, but there’s one slight problem, that’s not as much of a problem, as in say, Hungary or Poland or other places where it’s been somewhat successful – race.

                In order to actually win, you need lots of non-white votes who fall in the socially moderate to conservative, but fiscally populist bucket, that currently vote for Democrats.

                The problem with having a Trumpian argument without doubling down on race, is that there’s no evidence it actually works and more importantly, it’s incredibly likely that if you try to make the argument without the racial argument, you lose some of those voters, who will vote for the guy who will screw them on economics, but who will be racist.

                We already saw this a bit in 2018 – yes, a bunch of Obama/Trump voters stayed w/ the GOP, because of fears of immigration and scary black people being violent.

                OTOH, there was another group of Obama to Trump voters, who did fall for his trade and jobs shtick, but once he doubled down on the racism, they moved back over to the Democrat’s in 2018.

                So, until there’s a candidate who can actually run a non-racist socially conservative, economically populist campaign and still keep the support of all the people who want the trade wars, and the racism, I actually won’t be too worried.Report

              • Avatar veronica d in reply to Jesse
                Ignored
                says:

                Why does it need to be socially conservative? Is hating gay people supposed to be good for the economy?Report

              • Avatar Jesse in reply to veronica d
                Ignored
                says:

                I don’t want it, but there is a segment of the population that wants socialism, but only for people like them.

                Marchmaine seems to want solidarity, but only solidarity with working people who won’t speak about silly things like racism, sexism, LGBT rights, the enviroment, etc. and I’m just pointing out that’s actually a math problem.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Jesse
                Ignored
                says:

                A Solidarity movement would be a cure for both Trumpism and Identitarianism. If you don’t grasp that, then you haven’t even begun to grapple with anything I’ve said.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                You should write up a post sometime about Distributism, Rerum Novarum, and the Solidarity Party/Movement. I think I have a pretty decent grasp on it, the exact opposite of Libertarianism but not quite the way one would think, but I’m on the outside looking in.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Road Scholar
                Ignored
                says:

                I second the motion.
                Distributist writings appeal to me, but seem to forever be on the abstract plane.

                Moving the distribution of wealth closer to its production sounds wonderful, I’m just not sure what it looks like.

                I’ve said for a while that the old debate between liberal capitalism and socialism has exhausted itself, so a new framework of how to look at social organization would be interesting.Report

              • Avatar Road Scholar in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Distributism is an example of the One Weird Trick school of political\economic paradigms, whereby it’s declared that if we make this one simple change all our problems will disappear. I don’t say that to disparage it in particular since practically all our named -isms operate that way. Big familiar ones like Libertarianism, Socialism, and Fascism, as well as more niche-y ones like Georgism, Syndicalism, and MMT all purport to be the answer to all our problems. They’re all wrong in that regard but they all contain important insights and at least some explanatory power.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Road Scholar
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                says:

                In this case, the One Weird Trick is organizing society based on economic principles.

                I mentioned that it was Marx’s victory that he got everyone to imagine that economics was the only proper way of ordering society.

                One of the ways I realized this was false was when I imagined the Jim Crow South from the lat 19 through middle 20th century, as adopting either socialism or libertarianism.

                In either case, how would the fortunes of the oppressed minority there have changed?

                I think it is obvious that their fortunes wouldn’t have improved or even changed much either way.

                Which is why I am so insistent on the point of racism and cultural chauvinism today.
                Those desires have so much power, that like a black hole, they bend and warp all the organs and institutions of society to their purpose.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Road Scholar
                Ignored
                says:

                I would be extremely interested to read such a post. I am only vaguely familiar with Distributism, but at some point I stumbled over this quote about socialism from GK Chesterton and it’s always stuck with me:

                “In short, people decided that it was impossible to achieve any of the good of Socialism, but they comforted themselves by achieving all the bad.”Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Marchmaine
              Ignored
              says:

              I think the current tendency to defend service work among liberals is because much of it is done by women and people of color while the old romance of the factory floor is associated with white men. They don’t like how blue collar work is being narrowly defined in their world view.

              Of course, there are large elements of the liberal-left that still valorize the higher end of craft at least if you ever saw the “not everybody can be a doctor” meme that depicts a very old white guy doing some rather elaborate wood work. My issue with this is that not everybody can be a craftsperson either. You need a lot of very fine hand-eye coordination and a good amount of creativity to do upper level craftsmanship. The safest non-elite career path for people in developed economies is a white collar worker of some sort.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to LeeEsq
                Ignored
                says:

                FWIW I just generally think it’s silly to valorize some kinds of work and disparage others as “not real work”.

                Like me personally I’m extremely fortunate that despite the fact that I have the work ethic and ambition of a basement-dwelling NEET video game addict, I have some a real knack for math and grew up in a stable home environment with parents who really valued education so I could turn that knack into marketable skills sometimes sort of despite myself.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq
                Ignored
                says:

                I wonder if in this context we’re conflating White Collar with Service work.

                What the article is going after is work that is purely a service to someone with (let’s say) a good White Collar job. And, further, these jobs are both anonymized and appified such that, increasingly, they don’t even work *for* anyone at all… that’s a drastic worsening of labor’s position that is happening right this very moment… and many of us are clicking the clicks to make it so. You can blame Trump if you want… but there’s no way anything is different today under PrezHillary.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                I want to share Dougherty’s view, and very badly want to share in the idea that say, being a steelworker was somehow better than being a pool cleaner.

                But I note that no one is envying the modern steelworkers in China, slaving in hellish conditions for poverty wages;
                No one is admiring the women assembling circuit boards in Malaysia, as if they were unionized Ford workers.

                I don’t think it is the work we feel nostalgic for, but the wage and job security.

                If a barista could support a family, if an auto detailer could buy a house then I don’t think anyone would be nostalgic.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Chip Daniels
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                says:

                Yeah for me that “being a steelworker is better than being a waiter” is a view that I really can’t wrap my mind around unless you’re talking about how the job pays, the working conditions, and the like.

                Like you can accept the logic of capitalism on this or reject it and I kinda go back and forth TBH but this seems to be a particularly weird halfway point to end up in.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels in reply to pillsy
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                says:

                You know I actually was a union factory worker for a few years after high school, stacking boxes on an assembly line.

                The pay was great- triple minimum wage for a high school diploma, time and a half for overtime, triple time for holidays.

                But the work? Yeah, stacking boxes for eight hours in a hundred degree warehouse…I’m not nostalgic.Report

              • Avatar InMD in reply to pillsy
                Ignored
                says:

                I think it’s really a case of perception of the job itself being disconnected from the actual benefits of that kind of work, which was the basics covered plus a solid middle class lifestyle. It isn’t the job it’s the association with the good times. Few would mourn them if not for the loss of what went with them.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to Chip Daniels
                Ignored
                says:

                Honestly… I’m baffled at how you people are reading that article.

                “If a barista could support a family, if an auto detailer could buy a house then I don’t think anyone would be nostalgic.”

                But they can’t… and they have to have multiple jobs, at least one of which probably schedules work via an app such that their on-call time precludes anything other than working for a gig that is governed by another app so that they can remain available for the other part-time job.

                MBD’s point is that Labor’s lot is worsening… there’s no nostalgia. That’s it. Labor’s lot is worsening.

                [And y’all don’t know what to do either]Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                Two things jumped out at me.[1] First was this:

                In turn this led Oren Cass, a former Romney adviser and author of The Once and Future Worker, to respond, “It’s remarkable, the instinct to defend a labor market drifting toward service work for the rich. As I keep saying, the left-of-center won’t be vindicator of workers’ interests, its platform will be built around upper-class priorities and redistribution.”

                This seems to depend on some… very non-obvious meaning of at least one of “workers’ interests”, “upper-class priorities”, or, “redistribution”.

                It’s also not remotely obvious why I should be sure this is a bad plan. Not like an amazingly awesome utopian ideal, just a workable compromise that can improve over the status quo without anything too crazy happening.

                Next there’s this:

                There’s also the worry that the new service economy is a bad deal for middle-class and working-class men who are already in crisis. Being told you’re fired by an app seems like a recipe for alienation and discontent. The fact is, America’s trade, economic, and labor policies do shape the kind of work that is becoming available in America, and the work shapes the people who do it, their family life, and their politics.

                Total record scratch moment. Why men in particular? Especially since it’s not 100% clear that it’s actually men who are in crisis?[2]

                Maybe this is a case of reading through liberal eyes, but seeing random counter-intuitive assumptions about men in crisis creep is… extremely reminiscent of people having particular nostalgic attachments to certain kinds of work like making widgets in factories.

                [1] In both cases, the emphasis is mine.

                [2] ISTR that the major climb in death rates is among non-urban white women, for one thing.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                At least in modern liberal circles, when they talk about modern blue collar workers they mean service workers like fast food workers, cleaners, pedicurists, etc.Report

              • Avatar Marchmaine in reply to LeeEsq
                Ignored
                says:

                Maybe that’s it then…try not to read MBD through modern liberal circle lenses. He might not say something you agree with, but the disagreement will be clearer.Report

              • Avatar pillsy in reply to Marchmaine
                Ignored
                says:

                Eh, look, we seem to be racing to turn our world into the one from Minority Report as quickly as possible, so I assume I’ll be able to get some conservative eye transplants soon, but until then…

                …I think the part where our implicit and maybe not entirely conscious assumptions clash with someone like MBD’s is probably the interesting part and the part that really is worth considering happening both ways.Report

  10. Avatar Chip Daniels
    Ignored
    says:

    See, I’ve learned over the years not to be bamboozled by the rhetorical pyrotechnics of an argument.
    I’ve gotten to the point where I just look at the bottom line of what is being supported or attacked.

    Because all the flowery Bible verses, the erudite quotations from the Enlightenment philosophers- its all total bullshit if it is being pressed into service for something that is obviously and intuitively hurtful and mean.

    Like, calling a transwoman “Sir” or supporting the forced separation of families and infliction of cruelty.

    The Bible tells us to treat other people how we would like to be treated, and the Enlightenment tells us that every individual should be allowed to flourish as they wish.

    Addressing someone as they wish to be addressed doesn’t have anything to do with some deep philosophical premise- its just kind and thoughtful. Striving to keep families together isn’t some strange political theory- its just common decency.

    There is a core of meanness, and deliberate cruelty in Shapiro and this movement he calls home. All the rhetorical polish in the world won’t conceal it.Report

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