No One is Coming to Save You: Why Gen Z is Giving Up on Democracy

by Russell Dobular

“You get up on your little twenty-one inch screen and howl about America and democracy. There is no America. There is no democracy.”

Arthur Jensen, Network

For years, leftists have been digging through the internet archives to prove that when Democrats are in power, they never actually deliver on their promises to the voters, even when it’s fully within their power to do so.  It’s been a tough case to make, especially to Blue Magaworld, for whom Barack Obama is something akin to a secular saint. Try to talk about how he abandoned the public option before negotiations on Obamacare even began, or about how he put pressure on Senators who refused to vote for the bill without it instead of on the ones who dug their heels in on having it included, and the most common response from Democrats will be, “But the Republicans!” Never mind the fact that Obamacare passed without a single Republican vote, which means the Democrats could have done anything in theory, right up to and including Universal Health Care. The idea that the party, or God forbid, Obama himself, might have anything to do with the band-aid-on-a-gunshot-wound nature of the policy is anathema to most Democrats. Any attempt to persuade them otherwise is quickly vaporized by their repeated exposure to brain-melting doses of Morning Joe.

But now we’re seeing it all play out in real time in ways that are difficult for even the most mimosa-addled brunch liberal to ignore. No one can now deny that when Democrats were given a once in a generation shot to raise the minimum wage, not even to the $24 it would be if it had risen with inflation and productivity growth over the past 50 years, but to just roughly 60% of that wage, they hid behind the Senate Parliamentarian, an excuse so laughable that they might have been better off just telling the truth: the donors don’t want you to have a living wage, so we ain’t doing it. The refreshing honesty may have scored them more points than the transparent bullshit they ultimately went with. And as if to drive the point home, when Bernie introduced a $15 per hour amendment to the latest Corona relief package, 8 Democrats voted against it, apparently without fear of consequence from the White House, or from the voters. 

They know their suburban base could give a flying fuck about what the person who hands them their order at the drive-through earns, and if the White House really wanted it, they would have rained down hellfire on any Dem who threatened to hold up relief to stop it. So now we know there will be no living wage for American workers for at minimum a generation, at least not without a mass uprising, or general strike. And if the Democrats won’t provide that most basic of necessities, what hope is there for free college or universal health care? Zero, to none.

Enter, Gen Z.  Even the most open-minded, and thoughtful person, is inevitably bound to understand the world through the lens of the past. This is intrinsic to how the brain works: we create conceptual frames as a shortcut to having to evaluate each new experience and piece of information on its own terms. That’s why you don’t have to figure out what money is when you’re in a foreign country, with a currency you’ve never seen before, but it’s also why we tend not to fully understand the world we live in as we get older. Our frameworks grow increasingly disconnected from the cumulative changes of our lifetimes, until eventually you’re a boomer watching Joe Biden, but seeing FDR. Or a millennial or Gen Xer, still believing in political solutions to our problems. As the non-fight over the minimum wage demonstrates, there are no political solutions under our current system. We’re simply the neighborhood people forced to pick between two rival gangs, both of which are going to extort us, and either one of which might destroy us if we defy them. No help is coming. We’re on our own.

The next generation, unburdened by the distorting lens of the past, have already figured this out.  Far from being the left-wing, big-government, identitarians that we’ve been led to expect, Gen Z is shaping up to be a cohort of politically incorrect, bootstrap-pulling, libertarians.  According to a recent study, 77% of those 14-21 report that they earn their own money working, and 21% had a savings account before they were 10. And while as the most diverse generation in history, they have liberal views on cultural diversity, with 78% describing themselves as liberal to moderate on social issues, they are also deeply skeptical of the woke project, with 79% calling “political correctness” a problem.

This jog towards the right is an inevitable consequence of having grown up in a world where banks and large corporations are able to get away with murder, literally in some cases, while our elected officials do little to nothing to improve the lives of average citizens.  It’s also a natural response to the endless and seemingly unresolvable culture wars to conclude that the best way to address such irreconcilable differences would be to fall back on the libertarian solution of letting everyone go their own way. What else is a young person to make of how our society functions, other than: cover your ass and don’t expect any help from anybody, least of all the government.

The modern left, unlike our 60’s forbears, has been nursing a dream not of an impractical Marxist utopia, but simply of the U.S. joining the rest of the Western world in providing basic necessities like education and healthcare. We really haven’t contemplated the idea that the U.S. will continue to go its own hyper-capitalist way, cementing its status as the gun-toting, feudal, corporate-governed freakshow of the West. In the end, we’re still Americans, and as Americans we’re predisposed to believe that the good guys will come out on top in the final reel. But the kids ain’t buying it. Which means our related assumption that the cavalry is coming eventually in the form of generational change is probably misplaced.

The only thing that may shift the trajectory is the total and inevitable economic collapse that will result if Modern Monetary Theory (MMT) turns out to be a lot of horseshit.  Our national debt is now greater than our annual GDP. MMT holds that a country with control of its own currency can’t go bankrupt, because it can issue more currency to pay its debts, along with new debt to cover the old debts.  But MMT doesn’t consider a scenario in which no one wants to buy the newly issued debt, and it ignores the fact that every country that has ever tried to money-print its way out of debt, went into a death spiral of hyper-inflation.  It’s hard to be a libertarian in a world where you need a wheelbarrow full of cash to go to the grocery store, so such a scenario could cause Gen Z to rethink the wisdom of bootstrap economics.  But then again, they could see it as an opportunity to just go full Mad Max. I’d be lying if I said I couldn’t see the appeal of roaming the plains of an ungoverned America in search of opportunity and adventure. Maybe join up with a thief, a strongman, and Karen Allen, for some kind of black market smuggling gig, while occasionally rescuing enslaved Amazon workers from the mines.

But I digress.  The left is in what Allen Ginsberg called, “diamond hell.”  Hard edges and unyielding realities on every side: in front of us, a government that can’t be reformed through democratic means, and behind us, a generation that’s given up on trying. To one side we have the option of rainbow fascism, and on the other, the more traditional variety. This is normally the place in the article where you’re supposed to offer some kind of call to action, or way out of the problems you’ve laid out, but honestly, I got nothing.

A modern country whose system of government is so broken that it can’t raise the minimum wage, even with the “left” party in charge of all the House, the Senate, and the presidency, is a country that has already effectively become a failed state. The only question now is; when does the curtain fall, and how do we respond when it does? Regular order democracy under these circumstances is the little button they put on New York City lampposts that are supposed to change the red light to green. They don’t actually do anything. They’re only there to make people feel like they have a say.

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After a Progressive Sweep, Did the Nevada Democratic Establishment Just DemExit?

Progressive candidates swept control of the Nevada Democratic Party on Saturday, March 6th. With the backing of the local DSA chapter, Judith Whitmer was elected chair of the state party, and four other Left candidates also prevailed in their respective races. Immediately following their victories, they received word that the entire staff of the state party was quitting, and terminating their contracts with independent consultants as well. The Intercept also reported that before Saturday’s election, the Nevada Democrats transferred $450,000 out of the party and into the DSCC, which will work to re-elect incumbent Democratic Senator Catherine Cortez Masto in 2022. Whitmer, in her appearance on the Deconstructed podcast, did not confirm or deny that, but she said that she has enlisted an attorney to try and prevent any similar shenanigans.

Ironically, prior to the vote, the Harry Reid machine‘s slate of candidates billed themselves as the “Progressive Unity Slate,” and criticized the socialist-backed roster for being too divisive to unify the party. But for all their talk of party unity, the establishment in Nevada made clear that unless the Democratic party serves the corporate interests that fund it, it’s of no real use to them. They essentially DemExited within 24 hours of realizing that the party would no longer be aligned with their agenda, and are now, according to The Intercept, setting up “an independent shop.”

Jon Ralston, the Nevada reporter who falsely claimed in 2016 that Bernie Sanders supporters erupted in a violent fit of chair-throwing rage at the state convention, lamented the fall of the party establishment, which he called “the most effective Democratic Party in the country.” Ralston also wrote that “[the] machine will still be there next year…it just won’t be called the Democratic Party.” As much as we might not want to admit it, he’s right about that. The same machine will still be there, just under a different banner.

This is the problem with progressives’ inside-the-party strategy: by the time the Left does “take over” the party, the infrastructure that makes the party so powerful will likely have been sold off, rendering the party an empty shell of its former self. The money, the personnel, the consultant relationships, will all be gone, and we’ll essentially be tasked with creating a new party anyway – because the Democrats, as they demonstrated in Nevada, will bail on the party, and immediately create a proxy party, if it comes to that, on a national level.

Are we not better off just creating a major new party right now? Why waste time wrestling over the name “Democrat,” which is toxic to so much of the country in the first place? Why ask permission from Democrats to control their institution, if they’ll gut the party so it’s of little use to us if and when we do eventually win?

We discuss all of this and more on episode 109 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

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Rainbow Bombs and Broken Promises: Things are Finally Getting Back to Normal

by Russell Dobular

I’ve been holding my fire, ’cause fair is fair; we had to give Biden a little time to either break his previous mold or prove to be the war mongering corporate stooge he’s always been. The latter was always more likely but there was a slim chance that a man of his advanced years would want to be remembered for something besides mass incarceration and making it harder for people to declare bankruptcy. I know exactly two voters who thought Biden should be the president on his own merits, and not just relative to Trump, but I know a lot of people who got caught up in the “Dear Leader,” state TV style coverage of the inauguration. Those folks are mostly silent now as Biden demonstrates the kind of bait and switch “leadership” that’s made the Democratic brand so toxic since the Clinton era. Let’s take a look:


Silence on the Amazon Union Vote, Then a Half Endorsement

The self-described “union man” remained entirely silent as Amazon workers voted to unionize in Alabama, until under pressure from even friendlies in the press, he finally issued a lukewarm statement supporting the vote.  Not the union necessarily, just the vote. This is inarguably an improvement over his old boss, who took $400 million from organized labor then screwed them over for 8 years like it was his job (which, along with a 22% spike in Obamacare premiums in several swing states right before the 2016 election, is a criminally under-examined element of Trump’s victory),  but it seems like a union man might want to be a little less ambiguous about his support for the most important union drive since the 30’s.  The fact that Jay Carney, Biden’s communications director in the Obama White House, is now doing the Lord’s work as Amazon’s chief PR flack, ain’t helping the optics among those who are paying attention. Like the workers taking the vote.

Hiding Behind the Senate Parliamentarian to Avoid Increasing the Minimum Wage.

This is a classic Democratic Party maneuver: pretending that you can’t do something that you actually can do because of procedural obstacles or Republican opposition. That’s how Barack got away with dropping the promised public option from Obamacare, after making a secret backroom deal with insurance and drug companies. In reality, Harris can overrule the Parliamentarian.  So why doesn’t Biden have her do it? It goes back to the General Unifying Theory of the Democratic Party: the donors wouldn’t like it.  Most of the time when Democrat politicians say one thing and do another, all you have to do is follow the money to figure out what they’re doing and why.  

Bombing Syria

‘Cause why not? Especially on a Friday. Just a little TGIF love to all the defense contractors.  And let’s face it, nothing says, “America’s Back Baby!” like bombing the fuck out of a Muslim country.  And when you pluck a Defense Secretary right from the board of Raytheon, you’re kind of telling people straight out that we’re going to be finding lots and lots of pretexts over the next four years for making lots and lots of bombs. At least we’ve got a black man bombing brown people now, which is surely a great comfort to them.

Going Small on Student Debt

Biden claimed at a town hall that he can waive $10,000 in student debt, but not $50,000, once again using the procedure excuse. There’s actually no legal basis for that claim. He just doesn’t really want to waive student debt. Which should come as no surprise, given that Biden is as personally responsible for the system of student debt peonage we have today as any living politician.

Going Big on Neera Tanden

While soft-pedaling it on every key policy promise, he’s still pushing corrupt political hack and professional asshole, Neera Tanden, for a job which she is completely unqualified for, while hiding behind claims of racism and sexism as the nomination blows up in his face. Someone told me after the election that the “smart money” was on Biden appointing some progressives to his cabinet in a spirit of reconciliation. Given that Biden wouldn’t even hire them for his campaign, the real “smart money” knew he wouldn’t put any in his cabinet. Instead, they’ve tried to rebrand people like Tanden, who in the past has advocated for cutting social security and Medicare, and invading Libya for their oil, as progressive. Not like the Blue MAGA’s are going to argue.

Turning $2,000 Checks into $1,400 Checks

When you stand up in the middle of Georgia and loudly declare that if the voters elect Democrats to the Senate, they’ll be getting $2,000 checks “immediately,” most of them think that means they’ll be getting $2,000 checks immediately. Not $1400 checks eventually. If you don’t understand why that might piss people off, you’ve probably never really, really needed money right away, or been in a position where $600 was all that stood between you and homelessness. That being the case, your political opinions here are about as useful as fishing tackle in the Mojave. For the sake of not making more Republican voters, you might wanna sit this one out.


That’s an incomplete list of some of the lowlights of the new administration. I ain’t gonna go so far as to say that the new boss is the same as the immediately preceding boss, but the new old boss is definitely shaping up to be the same as all the Democratic bosses we’ve had from Clinton on down. Which is disappointing, but shouldn’t come as a surprise to anyone who looked into Biden’s record before they voted for him, a group that presumably excludes most of the people who did so in the primaries.

The difference for Biden from the most recent Democratic presidents is that he has assumed power in a much poorer, sicker, and more desperate America, with an organized left that’s paying attention. Sure, the suburban base would watch Biden take a shit on the desk in the Oval Office and call it ice cream, but the number of people who are that mindless has dwindled in direct proportion to the share of national wealth that ends up in the hands of the citizenry. That’s the thing about crooks: they never know when to leave well enough alone. They always have to push it, until they break it. America has been driven to a breaking point by its oligarchs and a corrupt political system whose primary purpose is to serve their interests, and Biden is the last person to summon the imagination or political will to either understand what America finally snapping is going to look like or do what would need to be done to prevent that from happening.

‘Sides that, unlike Slick Willy, and Barack, Biden is a congenital moron, with the speaking skills of an angry drunk two steps into the program.  Imagine Uncle Joe trying to sell people on the idea that the meaning of “is” is up for debate, as Clinton did, or fake-drinking poisoned Flint water to convince people that its safe, as Obama did in a bit of black-on-black prop comedy violence. While the press has been applying the same kind of obscurantism that critics deploy to convince us that crappy modern art isn’t crappy to Biden’s God-awful speeches and town hall appearances, there’s only so much they can do to cover for a man so intrinsically dumb that he had to drop out of his first run for the Presidency after getting caught plagiarizing a speech, without even bothering to change its biographical details.   

Given that he wasn’t the sharpest knife in the drawer in his prime, putting a sundowning Biden in charge of a crumbling America was always bound to look something like this. Cabinet appointments that often feel like they were produced in a process that involved shaking up two paper bags, with one labelled, “Donors We Have To Fellate” and another labelled, “Members of an Identity Group,” then affixing the results to a corkboard; identity politics deflections from all questions about or criticisms of said appointments (the real purpose of the aforementioned corkboard selection process); bullshitting about what he can and can’t do without Bill and Barack’s ability to really convince anybody; picking the kinds of pointless fights that angry drunks pick, like the one currently unfolding over Tanden.

And we haven’t even crossed the 100 day mark yet, after which things always get a lot harder, even for a President who didn’t Forrest Gump his way into the job.  We’re rushing quickly towards the day when the North Korea-style press coverage, can no longer credibly paper over Biden’s deep flaws and personal defects.  Which is why reports of the demise of the Republican Party should be regarded as greatly premature.


We discuss these topics and more on episode 108 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

Subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player!

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this content, you can help us create more of it by making a secure donation via PayPal, or become a member at Patreon.com and access exclusive patron-only content. Thank you for your support!

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Will Democratic Voters Make Harris Pay for Caving on the Minimum Wage? Don’t Count On It

by Keaton Weiss

When Barack Obama took the lead in the 2008 primaries, many of us who supported him at the time were surprised to learn of people called superdelegates: party big-whigs who got to cast their own heavily weighted votes in the Democratic primaries. At the beginning of that race, a great majority of them had pledged their support to Hillary Clinton, and it seemed possible that if they remained committed to her, she might prevail over Obama in the end, despite losing the pledged delegate count. Chris Rock famously joked that “nobody had ever heard of a superdelegate until it looked like a black man was about to win the nomination,” a humorous nod to the idea that whenever it seems something good might be on the horizon, some unexpected obstacle presents itself and threatens to thwart progress.

Fast forward to this week, when Elizabeth MacDonough, the Senate parliamentarian, ruled that Democrats could not make a $15 minimum wage part of the coronavirus relief package that they are attempting to pass through budget reconciliation. It’s difficult not to be reminded of Chris Rock’s joke, because just as many of us hadn’t heard of superdelegates until they became an issue in 2008, almost none of us had any idea what a “Senate parliamentarian” was, until this recent ruling of hers against the minimum wage provision. Once again, it seems that just as we’re about to achieve something meaningful, some annoying little thing materializes out of nowhere to stop us.

Of course, this “ruling” by the “parliamentarian” is no ruling at all, but rather, a recommendation. Kamala Harris, as Vice President, has the power to overrule her. Several progressive organizations like RootsAction, Our Revolution, and the Sunrise Movement, are urging her to do just that. However, word from the White House is that she isn’t going to:

Should she “weigh in” and overrule the parliamentarian, it would require a 60-vote majority to rebuke her. Since there’s no possibility of 10 Senate Democrats breaking ranks, this would mean the minimum wage increase would be included in the $1.9 trillion coronavirus relief package. In this scenario, Democrats Joe Manchin and Kyrsten Sinema, who both oppose a $15 minimum wage, would have to vote against the entire upcoming stimulus in order to vote against the minimum wage hike.

If the $15 minimum wage is not included in the relief package, it will likely fail as a standalone measure, since in that case, it wouldn’t be tied to any other important initiatives like a crucial relief package, meaning that Manchin and Sinema could cast a No vote without the added pressure of having to reject a stimulus package – one that includes direct cash payments – in the process.

This is why the aforementioned progressive groups, along with writers at outlets like Jacobin and Common Dreams, are demanding that Harris overrule the parliamentarian, who David Sirota rightly points out is effectively an advisor to the vice president in this case. Robert Reich put it especially pointedly:

Good question. Of course, in his mind, he knows the answer – after all, he was among the most prominent progressives who made the case for voting Biden to oust Trump in 2020.

Progressives like Reich, Sirota, the Sunrise Movement, RootsAction, and Our Revolution, have three things in common as it pertains to this issue:

First, they all supported the Democratic ticket in 2020.

Second, they all will support the Democratic ticket in 2024, no matter who’s on it.

Third, and most importantly, they all seem to be under the illusion that Joe Biden and Kamala Harris can be goaded into doing the right thing, and be made to understand that they will suffer political consequences if they don’t.

Emma Vigeland, Sam Seder, and Alex Pareene predicted on The Majority Report last Friday that Kamala Harris will pay a political price if and when she seeks the Democratic nomination in 2024 should she not go all-in on the minimum wage. This is consistent with what many others in progressive media are insisting, which is that pressure can be exerted on Harris and that she will be held accountable if she fails to deliver.

As much as I would love to agree with them, the idea that Democratic voters will hold moderate Democrats responsible for their terrible decisions flies in the face of the recent history of Democratic politics. Progressives have been prosecuting the case against corporate Democrats’ abysmal records for the past six years, and yet the last two Democratic presidential nominees have been Joe Biden and Hillary Clinton. To believe that rank and file Democratic voters will turn on Harris in the 2024 primaries over her failure to fight for a $15 minimum wage is to believe that Lucy will finally hold still when Charlie Brown goes to kick the football.

In addition to recent examples, there is a decades-long history in the Democratic Party of voters giving their leaders a pass for one betrayal after another. What reason do Joe and Kamala have to believe this time will be any different? The progressives who are currently “pressuring” and “pushing” them, have proven to be reliable Democratic voters come general election season, and the liberal base of the party can be counted on to either defend, excuse, or altogether ignore these policy-based critiques. On issue after issue of material consequence to ordinary Americans, from the Iraq War, to the Bankruptcy bill, to mass incarceration, to corporate trade deals, the Democratic base has demonstrated their willingness, if not eagerness, to forgive and forget every policy transgression committed by their beloved party leaders.

So if past is prologue – and there’s still no reason to believe it isn’t – then neither Biden nor Harris will pay any political price for abandoning the $15 minimum wage fight. Sure, the Democrats will lose the midterms, and Harris could lose the general election in 2024 due to low base turnout. But losing to Republicans is a risk the Democratic Party has always been willing to take if it means stopping leftward momentum within the party.

Claire McCaskill, moderate Democrat from Missouri, lost her Senate re-election race due to low black turnout in St. Louis, and had a job as an MSNBC contributor waiting for her, where it’s safe to assume she earns a higher salary than she did as a Senator. This is one of many examples to signify that in a corrupt system of revolving doors and neoliberal hegemony, loyalty to the system itself will always be rewarded, one way or another.

The system offers no incentives for politicians to commit procedural faux pas like “overruling the parliamentarian” in order to pass a living wage. What we must now realize is that Democratic primary voters are as much a part of this system as anyone else. Liberals have become such useful idiots that they may as well be co-conspirators. No matter what, they can be relied upon to flood the voting booths and pull the lever for whichever party favorite the media tells them deserves their support. They are the true gatekeepers of the status quo, the foot soldiers for the elites. They ensure that establishment politicians are protected from negative consequences that, in any healthy democracy, would result from reneging on core campaign promises and selling out core constituencies.

Will this time be any different? I’ll believe it when I see it. In the meantime, I have a few predictions to make:

First, progressive champion Nina Turner will lose her primary to party loyalist Shontel Brown, who will go on to become the next Congresswoman from Ohio’s 11th District. Second, John Fetterman, the only statewide office holder in Pennsylvania to endorse Bernie Sanders in 2016, will lose his Senate primary to the Biden-backing Malcolm Kenyatta, who will then lose the general election to the eventual Republican nominee. Third, Kamala Harris will cruise to the Democratic nomination in 2024, and lose in November of that year to whoever the Republicans put forward.

I very much hope I’m wrong, but I don’t think I am. I don’t say this to depress you, but rather to save you the time and effort you might be thinking of expending in the hopes that Democratic voters might finally be on the verge of waking up. Because they’re not.

The best we can do as progressives now would be to back as many efforts as we can whose successes don’t depend on convincing Democratic voters to vote the right way. The current union vote by Amazon workers in Alabama is one great example. Such a victory, if it’s replicated throughout the country, could politicize enough working class people that a viable threat to the Democratic establishment can be levied from the Left.

Unless and until that happens, we’re just pissing in the wind, because the bottom line is this: there’s no persuading the liberals of anything – they’re too stupid, selfish, and superficial to absorb any substantive arguments about why they ought to turn on the party bosses. They can be outnumbered, eventually, if we organize effectively. But progressives who still, after the past six years, invest in any project to convince the Democratic primary electorate, as it’s currently constituted, to hold Joe Biden and Kamala Harris accountable, are wasting their time.

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Judas and the Black Messiah is Essential Viewing for the Modern Left

“The Black Panthers are the single greatest threat to our national security,” proclaims Martin Sheen as J. Edgar Hoover at the beginning of the new film, Judas and the Black Messiah, “Our counter-intelligence program must prevent the rise of a Black Messiah from among their midst – one with the potential to unite the Communist, the anti-war, and the New Left movements.”

He then cues up a video of Fred Hampton reciting his famous quote, “We ain’t gonna fight capitalism with Black capitalism – we’re gonna fight capitalism with socialism.”

The new film by Shaka King is worth watching for a number of reasons, but it’s essential viewing for the new “New Left” – especially the first half. The latter portion of the movie focuses more on the mechanics of the FBI’s mission to infiltrate and debilitate the Black Panthers through informant Bill O’Neal, and eventually, to murder Hampton. This makes for compelling cinema, and provokes the appropriate amount of righteous anger in the audience. However, it’s the film’s first hour, which establishes why the Black Panthers, and Hampton in particular, were deemed such a threat to begin with, that makes Judas and the Black Messiah such a must-see.

Hoover makes the point quite plainly in the film’s opening sequence: what made Hampton so dangerous to the status quo was his “potential to unite” disparate factions of the broader anti-capitalist movement. Hampton, in his efforts to build, strengthen, and expand mutual aid programs throughout Chicago, sought to form relationships with seemingly unnatural allies. The most notable example of this is depicted about 40 minutes into the film, when the Panthers appear at a meeting of the Young Patriots Organization, an activist group of poor whites who immigrated to Chicago from Appalachia, and were facing many of the same problems in their neighborhoods that the Panthers were in theirs.

The Young Patriots ended up forming an alliance with the Panthers and a Puerto Rican turf gang called the Young Lords, which became the original “Rainbow Coalition.”

As much as the modern Left talks about our goal of uniting poor and working class peopl across racial and ethnic lines, many self-described Leftists seem unwilling to even explore the possibility of forging the kinds of partnerships that Hampton and the Panthers found so necessary. Many on today’s Left would be quick to label a group like the YPO as “toxic,” “problematic,” and “fascistic,” and dismiss out of hand the prospect of any collaboration with them. They view such people as being obsessed with their own “whiteness,” and “afraid of losing their status and power” over people of color. Fred Hampton realized that despite their white skin, the Young Patriots didn’t have any meaningful status or power to lose, because they were poor. In spite of their disparate cultural attitudes, their material challenges and interests were sufficiently aligned to the point where they felt they could pursue a political partnership.

At first, Hampton even accepted their use of the Confederate flag as a symbol, understanding the power of such imagery and symbolism as a recruiting tool. In short time, the Young Patriots would wear Panther buttons and hide their Confederate flag imagery out of respect when the Panthers were present. Eventually, more and more YPO members retired the Confederate flag altogether, recognizing it as a symbol of oppression and slavery.

It’s almost impossible to imagine such evolution in 2021. Of course, the siloing of American politics in general is largely to blame for this, as the media landscape is such that people nowadays are rarely exposed to opposing viewpoints. But the tendency on the modern Left to deliberately narrow its ranks by sniffing out those who they deem impure and ostracizing them from the movement cannot be dismissed.

Many on today’s Left seem more interested in establishing their own bonafides as “true Leftists” than they are in growing a vast and powerful Left movement. They seek to bolster their status within an increasingly select group by figuring out ways to prove that their peers in the movement aren’t as “radical” or as “genuine” as they are. They fail to grasp what Fred Hampton understood, which is that the most radical act of all is the acquisition and wielding of power through mass politics. Hampton’s legacy is a testament to the power of class solidarity as an organizing tool, and his willingness to build coalitions with the unlikeliest of partners is what made him so threatening to the establishment that the FBI ordered his assassination. Judas and the Black Messiah is an indispensable document of Hampton’s vision, and a chilling reminder of the ruthless evil he was up against.

We discuss this and other topics on episode 107 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

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Photo: Judas and the Black Messiah, Warner Bros. Pictures

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Liberals’ Dismissal of the Washington Post ‘Economic Anxiety’ Study is Predictable and Wrong

Last week, The Washington Post published an article entitled “A majority of the people arrested for Capitol riot had a history of financial trouble.” The article found a pattern of bankruptcies, tax liens, and defaults on loans amongst those charged with breaking into the Capitol on January 6th. This revived a fairly old debate over what is the driving force behind Trumpism – is it racism and white nationalism, or is it economic anxiety?

The either/or nature of this debate is itself a false construct; I’ve not heard a single person on either side of it deny that there’s a strain of bigotry and nativism that runs through the Trump base. This article doesn’t attempt such a denial either. According to its own findings, it cites that “nearly 60 percent of the people facing charges related to the Capitol riot showed signs of prior money troubles,” meaning that over 40 percent didn’t show signs of prior money troubles.

Still, the article received backlash from several predictable – but some not so predictable – sources. Unsurprisingly, mainstream liberals like Joy Ann Reid and John Pavlovitz scoffed at the study, as its findings defy both their reductive analysis of Trumpism and their aversion to class politics. Others were more nuanced in their takes, like Nikole Hannah-Jones, who pointed out that “most people charged with a crime had prior or ongoing money problems,” and lamented that the same sympathetic treatment isn’t afforded to petty criminals who act out of desperation to feed themselves and their families.

But even some progressives like Qasim Rashid and Benjamin Dixon took issue with the piece, feeling it excused the actions of the rioters by attributing them to economic insecurity. Of course, the piece made no such excuse. Correlations between economic despair and crime, as Jones herself points out, are nothing new. To cite them is not even to ascribe sole causation for the behavior, much less excuse it.

And so why the hostility to the article, even from more left-leaning people who have, in the past, been willing to admit that economic anxieties were at least in part to blame for the rise of Donald Trump? Their sudden denial of such class dynamics suggests they are more invested in judging and condemning the Trump base than they are in understanding some of the underlying factors that motivate them. Rep. Ilhan Omar tweeted the following in response to the article:

First, the piece she refers to neither “dismisses” nor “normalizes” white supremacy in any way whatsoever – it simply claims, and backs up with its research, that economic anxiety is a possible second explanation for what happened on January 6th. Second, Ilhan Omar has been one of the strongest advocates in Congress for working class voters, and, as Domenica Ghanem pointed out in her great Newsweek op-ed, she has often fought for policies that would benefit white working class voters in particular (to name one specifically, she introduced a bill to prevent people from being evicted from their mobile homes). She seems to understand better than most that people in financial trouble don’t feel they have much “status and power” to lose.

That mainstream Democrats and rank and file liberals would dismiss this article is no surprise at all – they are committed to the “they’re all racists” angle because it both reinforces their sense of superiority and absolves them of responsibility for their complicity in the economic deterioration that led to Trump’s election. But to see many progressives buy into this denial is considerably more troubling, because they’re the ones who offered such economic deterioration as a main explanation for Trumpism in the first place.

We discuss this more thoroughly on episode 106 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Listen to our full discussion by clicking the player below:

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Photo: Pablo Martinez, AP

The ‘Bernie’s Mittens are White Privilege’ Essay Shows Liberals, Not Leftists, Have Gone Crazy

by Keaton Weiss

For a brief few days after the inauguration, it seemed as though the country actually had been unified. Not by Biden’s speech, or the pageantry, or the poetry, but by the virally memed image of Bernie Sanders, sitting by himself in his winter jacket and giant mittens, with his cheap blue mask on crooked, arms and legs crossed. His attire and attitude reflected the opinion that yeah, electing this asshole was probably necessary, but man, is this some bullshit. This is a mainstream opinion in America, as post-election polling shows that even a vast majority of Biden voters are more thankful to have ousted Trump than to have elected Biden.

And so of course, the politician who embodied the dominant sentiment amongst the general public would steal the show, as opposed to the vapid pomp and circumstance that was everything else. Everyone, it seemed, even many on the Right, were delighted by Bernie’s wardrobe and demeanor, creating and posting their own Bernie memes and inviting each other to share a good laugh.

By now, Bernie supporters have come to wait for the other shoe to drop whenever he gets any positive press, and this week, we finally heard from the one faction of the American electorate who found no joy or comfort in his mittens, his coat, his mask, or his posture – the humorless Blue MAGA liberal wokescolds.

These are the people who really were smitten by Michelle’s burgundy coat, and Joe’s “presidential” speech, and who embraced this moment as a genuine “triumph of democracy.” They loved the orchestra, and the poetry recital, and the video of George Bush, Bill Clinton, and Barack Obama bonding over their shared reverence for the “peaceful transfer of power.” To these people, Bernie’s get-up was a disturbance – a glitch in the matrix that, for an instant, threatened to snap them out of their blue pill (pun intended) reality.

One of these unfortunate people is Ingrid Seyer-Ochi, a high school teacher who saw Bernie’s presentation as a display of “white privilege.” In her essay published on January 30th by the San Francisco Chronicle, she paints precisely the picture I speak of, describing hers and her classes’ view of the inauguration as follows:

“We took in the meaning of the day, the vulnerability of democracy, the power of ritual, traditions and the peaceful transition of power.

We talked about gender and the possible meanings of the attire chosen by Vice President Kamala Harris, Dr. Jill Biden, the Biden grandchildren, Michelle Obama, Amanda Gorman and others. We referenced the female warriors inspiring these women, the colors of their educational degrees and their monochromatic ensembles of pure power.”

But then, of course, like a splash of cold water to the face:

“And there, across all of our news and social media feeds, was Bernie: Bernie memes, Bernie sweatshirts, endless love for Bernie. I puzzled and fumed as an individual as I strove to be my best possible teacher. What did I see? What did I think my students should see? A wealthy, incredibly well-educated and -privileged white man, showing up for perhaps the most important ritual of the decade, in a puffy jacket and huge mittens.”

Before we go any further, there’s much to be gleaned from these two excerpts. The most revealing words amongst them: “pure power.” Pure power seems to be the fixation of mainstream liberals, who see power itself as the ultimate goal, especially when such power is secured by race and gender groups who are underrepresented in government. How they obtain that power, and how they wield it, are distant secondary and tertiary concerns.

Here, Seyer-Ochi saw Michelle Obama, Jill Biden, and Kamala Harris as symbols of this “pure power,” and therefore, it was their “monochromatic” wardrobe ensembles that should have been the talk of the nation in the days and weeks following the ceremony. When Bernie, in his Vermonter ski jacket and handmade mittens, with his mysterious manilla envelope and paper receipt in hand, won the day, she “puzzled and fumed,” and she “thought her students” should do the same.

And then, the conclusion:

“I am beyond puzzled as to why so many are loving the images of Bernie and his gloves. Sweet, yes, the gloves, knit by an educator. So “Bernie.”

Not so sweet? The blindness I see, of so many (Bernie included), to the privileges Bernie represents. I don’t know many poor, or working class, or female, or struggling-to-be-taken-seriously folk who would show up at the inauguration of our 46th president dressed like Bernie. Unless those same folk had privilege. Which they don’t.

The absurdity of her argument is truly a wonder to behold.

The very reason people responded so favorably to the image of Bernie on his chair is precisely because it represented the underprivileged person who never in a million years would dream of scoring an invite to a presidential inauguration. The fact that he showed up looking like “struggling-to-be-taken-seriously folk” was exactly the point. The vast majority of Americans, who aren’t so deranged as to be moved to tears by Michelle Obama’s golden belt buckle, got a kick out of seeing someone in the audience who dressed just as they do when they make a grocery run.

Another irony of her thesis: she implies that Bernie takes for granted that he’ll be taken seriously no matter what, yet most liberals like her don’t take Bernie seriously, and never will. If I were an identity politics-obsessed liberal myself, I think I could make a pretty strong case that there’s a fair amount of anti-semitism in the liberal class’ dismissive categorization of Bernie Sanders as a “stubborn,” “loud,” “finger-waving” socialist who’s unelectable in a national race. That aside, the establishment liberal media’s treatment of Bernie ranges from indifference to contempt, as he himself understands (Seyer-Ochi even employs a dismissive tone in her article, i.e, So ‘Bernie’). The main point, though, is that the way Bernie presented himself at the inauguration has nothing to do with how he wishes to be perceived, but rather, is a fitting metaphor for how most Americans perceived the event itself.

Of course, this was an insult to liberals who were invested in viewing this inauguration through rose-tinted glasses. These are the same people who share articles about the Bidens’ dogs, unironically promise to get more sleep now that Biden is president, and whose admiration for Biden’s press secretary Jen Psaki is just downright fucking creepy. They had been desperately and anxiously anticipating January 20, 2021 since November 9, 2016. To them, this was a glorious day whose memory should be cherished until the end of time, not soiled by the image of a curmudgeonly old man like Bernie, who many of them blame for Trump’s victory in the first place.

Personally, I love that Ingrid Seyer-Ochi is so upset that Bernie ruined the inauguration for her, and I love that she felt compelled to embarrass herself and liberals like her in front of the entire country by writing such an insipid and transparently fatuous op-ed. I love that the San Francisco Chronicle debased itself by printing it. Because the article proves something I’ve been saying since the first Bernie campaign in 2016: that liberals, not leftists, are the ones who have lost their minds in their obsession with identity politics. In this case, as has been the case several times over the past five years, America’s furthest Left candidate, and his Left supporters, have been targeted by identity politics-crazed liberals, whose actual material agenda is anything but “Left.”

I hope that independents and conservatives who have swallowed the establishment propaganda that the “Left” has gone crazy, will take note of this op-ed, and realize that it’s the centrist liberal establishment Democrats and their media allies like whichever imbeciles at the Chronicle who thought this piece was worth printing, who have gone utterly insane both in their lust for power and their seething hatred for anyone who challenges it, which includes Bernie Sanders and the actual, real-life Left.

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Photo: Brendan Smialowski, Getty Images

Chris Smalls on Building a Labor Movement Against the World’s Most Powerful Company

Christian Smalls was a supervisor at Amazon’s JFK/Staten Island warehouse until Spring of 2020, at the beginning of the coronavirus pandemic. When he noticed workers had been falling ill on the job with severe flu-like symptoms, he approached his local HR department to inquire about workplace protection measures against Covid-19.

As he describes it, the company was unresponsive, merely giving employees the option to stay home without pay if they felt unsafe at the warehouse. Upon returning to work, Smalls noticed a visibly sick worker who, when he approached her, informed him she had gotten a Covid test. He sent her home, and hours later, a meeting between supervisors and managers, and learned of another positive case in the building two weeks prior. Upper management instructed Smalls not to alert the other employees, for fear of “causing a panic.”

That was Smalls’ last day on the clock at Amazon. After that, he took it upon himself to start organizing his fellow employees, who held a protest on March 30 outside the warehouse. Hours later, Smalls was fired.

His story got national press, and he was therefore the subject of a smear campaign orchestrated at the highest levels of Amazon, including Jeff Bezos himself, as well as former Obama press secretary Jay Carney, now senior VP at Amazon, who tweeted the following in response to Bernie Sanders’ criticism of their handling of Smalls’ case:

The irony, which makes this Tweet especially Orwellian, is that Smalls’ protest was specifically designed to achieve a safer workplace environment. To then fire him on the grounds that he “repeatedly violat[ed] social distancing rules” is beyond absurd.

After being fired, Smalls became a full time activist and labor organizer, whose efforts continue to this day. He’s appeared on numerous podcasts, television shows, and online programs, and has been interviewed by dozens of major publications about his journey thus far and the path forward.

He founded the Congress of Essential Workers, who have organized several direct actions over the past year, and whose campaign continues in 2021. He also hosts the Issa Smalls World YouTube show and podcast.

He recently joined us on our podcast to discuss his journey, the upcoming Amazon union vote in Brimingham, Alabama, and the challenges and opportunities of building a 21st century labor movement. Listen to our full conversation by clicking the player below:

Subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player!

Photo: Michael Nagle, Getty Images

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The Kids Are Alright: Wall Street Bets is As American As Butch and Sundance

by Russell Dobular

“We like the stock.” – Jim Cramer, January 28, 2021

Except for a few rare moments of populist uprising big enough to force concessions from elites (the labor movements of the late 19th-early 20th century), the story we tell ourselves about our own history, is mostly the story of the upper classes.  Thus, when we think of the 60’s, we think of hippies at Woodstock, even though there were never more than 500,000 hippies, and they were mostly drawn from middle to upper-middle class homes. The majority of young boomers at the time were too busy working, raising families, and fighting in Viet Nam, to be cheering on Hendrix at Woodstock. 

Similarly, when we think of millennials and Gen Z, we think of fragile, wokester snowflakes, more concerned with pronouns and speech codes than systemic corruption in our political and financial system. But this only represents a small fraction of their generational cohort and it’s mostly the fraction that’s fortunate enough to have gotten through two decades of endless war, financial ruin, and now a once-in-a-century pandemic, without ever having to work at a Wendy’s. 

The media never tells us what the two-thirdsrds of people under 30, without a 4-year college degree think, except to represent them as quasi-human, Trump-loving, 4-chan using, white supremacist, troglodytes.  But a perusal of Wall Street Bets on Reddit, where the greatest frontal assault on Wall Street in its 232-year history was conceived and hatched by a bunch of broke kids, many of them with low wage fast food and retail service jobs, tells a very different story.

Funny, irreverent, self-effacing, generous, savvy, pissed-off, and decidedly un-PC, the Wall Street Bets community reads a lot like what you might have gotten if Abbie Hoffman had written the screenplay for Oceans 11.  They’re pulling off the heist of the century and they know it.  And the best part is the people they’re stealing from not only deserve it but have all directly or indirectly had a hand in creating the land of no opportunity that is the only America they’ve ever known. WSB is full of stories from young adults who experienced the 2008 financial crisis through the eyes of a child who helplessly watched their parents lose the house, or the family business go bust.  And it’s also rife with stories of people donating a portion of their windfall to charity; children’s hospitals are a favorite recipient.

One lucky winner who swore he’d bring bags of peanuts with $100 bills taped to them and give them out to the workers at his local Game Stop if the stock price hit $60, did just that.

There’s a fierce determination not to be like the greedy hedge fund assholes they’re robbing that’s completely unexpected if you’ve only been exposed to media accounts of the sub-reddit, which predictably attempt to paint its users as unusually finance obsessed Nazis.

And then there are the kinds of pranks that a bunch of teenagers and twentysomethings flush with more money than they’ve ever seen in their lives and animated by a loathing for institutions would pull.  After Robin Hood shut down trading on Game Stop, AMC, and a host of other WSB targeted stocks, one newly wealthy Game Stop investor hired a private plane to fly over Robin Hood’s San Francisco headquarters for an hour, trailing a banner emblazoned with the legend, “Suck My Nuts Robin Hood.”

Renting out billboards and filling them with taunting messages aimed at the hedge funds they’ve gone to war with, has also been a favorite use of Game Stop winnings.

In the face of overwhelming odds, and in many cases, deep personal hardship, the WSB community has used their ingenuity to find a way to strike back at the system that’s screwed them all their lives and make a lot of money doing it.  With can-do spirit, cynical humor, and stick-to-itiveness (“diamond hands” is a favorite phrase, which means, a person who will never sell, even if the price dips wildly), they’ve taken on the whole financial establishment, and exposed its corruption in a way that no social movement of the past several decades has been able to achieve. 

In other words, this army of retail investors, some of whom are buying just one or two shares of Game Stop, in order to support the cause, better exemplify the qualities of individual initiative and outside the box thinking that have always been at the heart of the American myth, than anyone or anything we’ve seen represented in our politics and media for a long, long time. 

Turns out the American spirit isn’t dead, its just not on the TV.  To find it, open yourself a reddit account and wander on over to Wall Street Bets.  The self-described “smooth brained monkeys, autists, and pranksters” over there will probably bring a smile to your face, maybe for the first time in awhile. Unless you own a hedge fund, in which case, you should probably cover your short now; I haven’t personally examined them, but as far as I can tell from the price action, these folks have diamond hands.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this article should be construed as financial advice.  The author holds positions in AMC and Sundial and plans on opening a position in Game Stop at market opening, simply because he likes the stock.

For more on this topic, listen to episode 104 of the Due Dissidence podcast by clicking the player below, and subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player:

Images: Twitter, Reddit

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Traders of the World, Unite: Reddit, GameStop, and What Comes Next

The “short sell” is a somewhat common practice on Wall Street. It’s a technique in which an investor will borrow a stock and instantly sell it at the market price, in the hopes that when the stock is due to be returned, it will have declined in value. At that point, the borrower buys the stock for the reduced price, and the transaction is completed. The difference between the market price at the time the stock was borrowed, and the lower price at the time it was returned, is the investor’s profit.

Of course, this technique involves betting on companies to fail, and encouraging divestment from the stocks being shorted. Hedge funders recently attempted such a scheme with GameStop, a struggling brick and mortar video game retailer, but were thwarted when a motley crew of Reddit users decided to defy the short sellers by banding together and collectively inflating the value of the stock.

Because there is technically no limit to how much a stock’s value can increase, the potential losses incurred from attempting to short-sell are infinite. The larger the stock grows in value, the more the short-sellers lose. In this case, they’ve lost billions.

For many years, retail investors have speculated on what might happen if they all banded together and bought the same heavily shorted stocks, at the same exact time. But it wasn’t until the pandemic created a perfect storm of millions of new, young, social media savvy investors with lots of time on their hands, that it became an actionable plan. “Operation GameStop,” if you will, was a proof of concept. The tactic was then applied to other heavily shorted stocks like Bed Bath and Beyond, Blackberry, Nokia, and AMC.

But it wasn’t long before the empire struck back.

First, on Wednesday afternoon, TD Ameritrade raised its margin requirements for trading several stocks, including Gamestop and AMC. Then the next morning, Robin Hood went a step further, banning the trade of those specific stocks on their platform. Subsequently, Robin Hood began removing any stock targeted by the unruly mobs, as soon as it began to gain momentum.

Meanwhile, the financial press has been losing its mind, apparently terribly concerned about stock manipulation, now that isn’t respectable billionaires, but the hoi polloi, doing the manipulating. It didn’t take long for the notoriously anti-regulation denizens of Wall Street to begin calling for new regulations, specifically aimed at shutting down the retail investors who are targeting short sellers. Even newly appointed Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen took notice, offering words of condolence and promises of regulatory scrutiny to the now butt hurt fat cats who make up her core constituency.

Reddit was also not immune from the wrath of the Wall Streets titan’s, with Wall Street Bets, the forum that started it all, going private in fear of attracting anymore attention from the people who really run things around here.

And if half of that was Greek to you, don’t worry, we’ve got you covered. Russell Dobular, aka “The Socialist Day Trader,” and Keaton Weiss are here to break it all down on episode 104 of the Due Dissidence podcast. Click the player below to hear the full conversation:

Subscribe to the Due Dissidence podcast on Apple, StitcherSpotifyCastbox, Google Podcasts, or any major podcast player!

Photo: Michael M. Santiago, Getty Images

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