By Lambert Strether of Corrente.
Here’s what I think is the key exchange:
DIXON: … the unbelievable use of identity politics to undermine a class-based argument. You diagnosed this problem before we even got to this problem. … In this election, I’ve seen like a swift-boating of class-based arguments, using race to the detriment of black people.
REED [O]ne of the nice things about being an old guy — and there aren’t a lot — but one of them is that you see phenomena like this happening and you recognize what’s going on, and what’s happened now — and I think that this largely was consolidated by the Clinton administration — and subsequently the centrist or dominant wing, I should say of the Democratic Party as its been tightening its grip — is a disconnection of the notion of social justice from economic inequality and economic security.
And that’s a notion of racial justice that first of all fits very comfortably with the people in elite colleges where I’ve been teaching for the last 35 years because they’re all expected to be part of the upper class, but it also has meant that we have a national politics now. And this takes us back to the fault lines in the current race, that that we have a national politics now that has for 20 years at least, longer, given us two choices. And one of them is a party that’s committed to Wall Street and to neoliberalism and is deeply and earnestly committed to a notion of diversity and multiculturalism, and a party that’s committed to Wall Street and neoliberalism, and is deeply opposed to multiculturalism and diversity.
So, if we have to choose between those two, obviously for most of us who are committed to the ideals of justice and equality, the one that’s committed to multiculturalism and diversity is less bad than the one that’s opposed to them. But the deeper problem is that they’re both actively committed to maintaining and intensifying economic inequality, and as I and my friend and colleague Walter Benn Michaels have pointed out tirelessly over the last decade or so, that that ideal of a just society is one in which one percent of the population can control ninety percent of the stuff, but it would be just if twelve percent of the one percent were black, fourteen percent Latino, and half of them were women, and whatever percentage were gay, and what that means, then, is that most Black people, and most Latinos, and most white people, and most Asian Americans would would be stuck holding like the end of the stick with the stuff on it that I assume I can’t call by its right name.
Notice that if a “Reed Coalition” were to be created, it would encompass the 80% or 90% of the population that doesn’t own or control “all the stuff.” The “Obama Coalition” (so-called), which Clinton hopes to leverage, is necessarily smaller, because of conflicts and contradictions between the identity categories it seeks to assemble. Hence, Clintonian incrementalism is the flip side of identity politics; it’s just math.
The audio, from which the video is taken, is a good deal longer, so sit down with a cup of coffee; it’s well worth it.