The Left Killed the Working Class

The typical story that the left tells about the relative decline of the American working class is that it was the outcome of inevitable technological and historical processes. You can see many of the shells of old factories all around the “rust belt” yourself. Formerly great industrial cities like Detroit have become ruins with governance more typical of war-torn African countries than those you would expect in the West in the matter of few short decades.

The claims about the ‘obsolescence’ of industrial work are entirely false. There’s still an enormous amount of mass industrial labor going on. It just happens in Asia, with Asians doing the work for the pay that is appropriate for their jobs. This has happened repeatedly, especially since the 1970s, as the United States has made it harsher and harsher for businesses that have anything to do with the physical world to create businesses here that employ people.

If ‘automation’ has resulted in mass unemployment, then why does Foxconn employ so many goddamned people in their factories? Why are there so many factories in South Korea manufacturing items like televisions which America used to lead the world in? Why do Japanese auto makers enjoy an advantage in an industry America once lead?

The answer is that they employ so many people because it’s legal to do so, economical, and effective, even when it’s thousands of miles and an ocean away from the final market for the products that they manufacture. American entrepreneurs take long flights, endure language, cultural, and legal barriers, pay enormous shipping fees, and deal with irritating port problems because the legal environment in the US is so harsh for manufacturing.

If it can be said to have an ‘environmental impact,’ then it’s usually better to do it overseas, unless it’s absolutely necessary for the process to be completed near the final point of sale (such as meat or dairy processing). Any business that employs large numbers of people must also comply with diversity legislation and a host of other labor regulations.

In China, when a regulator doesn’t like you, he just has you shot and takes your factory. This is relatively straightforward compared to how the Americans will treat you if you try to start a factory here, if they even permit you to do so without bribing a dozen different alphabet agencies and the local politicians besides. Better a bullet in the base of the brain than a decade of your life wasted in court. At least that’s direct and honest.

American progressives have a certain ideal aesthetic for work. It doesn’t involve the working class, whom they loathe and consider to be deficient. They hate working class life patterns, they hate working class workplaces, they hate dirty factories, and basically anyone who doesn’t work in the realm of ideas and spreadsheets. Those industries they pretend are either outmoded or morally deficient, and push them into foreign countries.

Bourgeois Americans tend to be relatively happy with this state of affairs. Fewer factories mean for cleaner air, fewer strange smells, and a society that has largely pushed those social roles onto foreigners whom they never see. They never have to fear their children winding up working in factories, because all those jobs belong to foreigners now. They instead push their children, even the stupid ones, into college in the hopes of winning white collar jobs in business or the bureaucracy.

But dirty jobs still need to be done. The left has long since abandoned the pretense of being the friend of the working class, whom they have transformed into a handout-class of dependents, deprived of pride, honor, family, culture, and independent livelihoods. The promise of labor legislation was that it would lead to better quality of life for the working class. Instead it has lead to lumpen-prolification, and a further spiritual diminishment, even as the physical infrastructure in the country becomes more hideous, useless, and inefficient over time.

Hand-workers and technicians are not somehow worse than white collar workers. Many of them are capable of earning large salaries, because their productivity is worth quite a lot to their employers. What most people tend to think of as the ‘progress’ of the 20th century has often really been an enormous regression, redefined into goodness.

People on the right should not shrug their shoulders at the needs of the lower orders of people for meaningful, productive work. Knowing that they can’t be made into high-end ‘knowledge workers’ by education alone (because intelligence has biological roots), we ought to aim to roll back bureaucratized nature-worship and throw away the fossilized legislation of the New Deal both — without turning the country into an industrial sewer in the process.

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27 Comments

  1. Exactly! The Left hates the Proleteriat despite claiming to fight for it. Leftist wants everyone to pass through Leftist Indoctrination Camp University, and abhors the working classes. But even if everyone ended up, not with a gender studies degree, but with an engineering degree, there would still be a need for farmers, craftsmen, truck drivers, garbagemen, plumbers, factory workers, etc. they all have their place in Society, and the Right recognizes that. Actually I’m pretty sure that average farmer, craftsman, truck driver, garbageman, plumber, factory worker… has a much greater value to Society than most people with PhDs. Case in point, Bootleeg Girl, ’nuff said.

    1. Exactly. I’m a college dropout with no interests in higher “education” than some night school classes on computer repair, and I managed to debunk nearly all of her bullshit. It’s honestly amazing how “education” doesn’t even care about APPEARING to be factually right anymore, it’s all about being ideologically right. It’s embarrassing.

      1. I’m not american, but my impression is that the problem with USA is that University is pedastalized while honest work (that built the country) is derided. Just look at all the slurs directed at the salt of the earth americans by the Brahmin americans: redneck, hillbilly, white trash, etc. and it’s used nonchalantly, despite being actually insulting unlike the infamous “N” word. It’s probably because Left can’t stand that white working classes are probably the most right-wing segment of society.

        1. They hate the bourgeoisie, also — except when it’s election time.

          This transition in the US happened around the Nixon administration, when the modern US left began to take shape.

        2. It goes back to the “loop” Moldbug was talking about: if you wanted to participate in Plymouth Bay society, you had to be educated by the church. The American working class can participate in American society without being educated by the Cathedral. Thus, they develop a disdain for the one group that could bring their agenda to a grinding halt should they ever be properly programmed.

  2. But globalism and free trade became Republican causes before Democrats got on board.

  3. How was pollution handled in the pre-industrial age? This may be a helpful question in formulating non-prog solutions. I bet libertarians have done some work on this that may be useful.

  4. Not only are working class some of the most conservative, but also loyal and traditionalist.

    This is timely as I was just reading how Tory conservative (i.e. for the rich if you subscribe to leftist propaganda) Enoch Powell lost the support of the liberal middle class (in the late 1960’s) after he gave the “rivers of blood” speech. That speech was mocked and ridiculed by the left for being a racist fantasy projection from a mad men, yet 50 years on proved to be an accurate prediction of the disembowelment of the white population in the UK (and all Western countries) due to open borders immigration policies.

    As an aside, it’s fascinating if you watch old interviews with Enoch how red pilled he was, his answers to questions would seem current “new” thinking on any current day NRx blog. Contrary to many people’s thinking that progressive liberalism started in the 1960’s, interviews with Enoch are real tangible proof that progressive liberalism was actually very well established (by the 1960’s) in the middle class, well organised in trade unions and well established on university campuses.

    The left absolutely hate the working classes, because the left has always been for the elite.

    This is a familiar pattern on the left. The left makes a promise that is often too good to resist, and in exchange it only asks for your dignity.

    With workers it’s the promise of more money for the same work (minimum wages), which sounds good, until you realize the only jobs available are flipping burgers and all the rest go overseas.

    Feminism promises a young mother a life free of want and hard work, in return they must trade the happiness of their families and especially children (and often have to bury their children in their own lifetime too). Or promises the loyal wife a life fulfilled with all the things she missed out on in her twenties, but in return she finds herself living in poverty and all her options used up. Or the jet setting career women who is promised the glamour of executive management without the decades of learning the ropes to get there, but in exchange she trades her happiness and fulfilment too, and denies the men who did work for decades in the hope of being considered for those jobs, and ironically denies other women the ideal husbands they so long for.

    Leftism has always been about the elite. Feminism for example is sold as opportunities for poor women, but in reality it’s about opportunities for already middle class women taking the opportunities that men would have taken (from the poorer classes) to rise up. Feminism seeks to prevent the social mobility of working class men (and their families).

    1. In case you haven’t seen this already, here is Sean Gabb talking about Powell: http://www.henrydampier.com/2015/03/three-words-get-fired/

  5. “If ‘automation’ has resulted in mass unemployment, then why does Foxconn employ so many goddamned people in their factories?”

    Because it has been purchasing competing manufacturing firms within the past two decades, streamlining its processes along the way. Now, the people who work in factories are NOT directly involved in the manufacturing process. They work in ancillary entities—packaging, transporting, clerking. Chinese factories are based on old factory model cities of late 1800’s America—everything is there in one fail swoop for the worker-consumer. 


    “American entrepreneurs take long flights, endure language, cultural, and legal barriers, pay enormous shipping fees, and deal with irritating port problems because the legal environment in the US is so harsh for manufacturing.”

    
Indeed, let us celebrate those slant eyes who are severely underpaid and endure extremely hazardous workplace conditions, with jackboots on their faces as badges of dishonor for daring to challenge authority, with the modernity they churn out that has significantly contributed to the Tower Of Babel and the decline of traditional civilization. Hear, hear, to the masses who are mindless zombies with their gizmos. Let us work to tear down brick by brick the legislation by leftist zealots—minimum wage, 40 hour work week, worker compensation, etc.

    Indeed, let us all celebrate the chink savages for taking the business methods of Carnegie and one step further and creating a new wave of corporatists, which in effect has expanded the banking cabal of Jews. Rest assured when global regime change is implemented, and the monarchists have secured their rightful place as heads of state, these leaders will protect the workers from the machinations of corporate overlords.

    “How was pollution handled in the pre-industrial age? This may be a helpful question in formulating non-prog solutions .”

    That is an easy question to answer. It wasn’t handled at all, nor should it be. Fascist legislation now has made it illegal for companies to dump toxins into the air and waterways.

  6. Dampier,

    Your basic premise, that the implosion of heavy industry in the United States has devastated white working class communities, is certainly true. Almost to the point of being beyond dispute. This implosion, combined with the the sexual revolution (which was both cultural and technological) was a societal disaster for the working classes. Your second point, observing the smug joy the effete bourgeois have taken in the this disaster on both fronts is likewise completely accurate and it is appropriate to feel nothing but contempt for this attitude. So far so good.

    That being said your conclusions are more than a bit off base. The answer is not making the United States more like China, and thus racing to the bottom. Besides the fact that this is probably not practical, it is also in no way desirable. Saying this of course is not the same thing as saying that, manual labor is not extremely desirable and rewarding work for many. The idea that the working class can be transformed into paper pushing “knowledge workers” is the pinnacle of delusional, Neo-Liberal wish thinking. But is the “manual labor solution” you seem to be suggesting really to be found in a return to the enormous, soviet tractor works style factories of mid century Detroit? I do not think I am alone in questioning the wisdom and practicality of such a “solution”. Alienation of Labor is a genuine phenomenon that should not be ignored. It was only with the rise of labor unions that enabled the working class to win back the dignity it lost when it was forced off the farms and guildhalls and into the factories. If we should attempt a “return” to anything (i’m afraid my paleoconservative sympathies are bleeding through here) it should be the genuinely masculine labor of the farm field, auto shop or woodworking bench. Not the servile wage slavery of the capitalist sweatshop. The 1850’s are a far better model than the 1950’s for moving forward.

    Your other suggestion, environmental deregulation to decrease the cost (for capital) of doing business, is even further off the mark. You cite the bourgeois/hipster affinity for clean air and environmental regulations that can be (admittedly) unattractive to heavy industry as a kind of proof to their undesirability. The implied logic, so it seems, is that this attraction must come from a kind of decadent nature worship which is inherently effete and elitist. Ironically the reality is that this very argument is itself a kind of internalized elitism. You have lost the plot as soon as you buy into the elitist bourgeois premise, namely that they actually are capable of genuinely appreciating nature in any meaningful way. The hipster bourgeois is inherently incapable of participating genuinely in any activity or ideology outside of consumption. Environmentalism, Intellectual life, the act of creating art, politics etc can only ever be participated as a superficial act of attempting to establish cultural capital. Thus to reject any possibility of a proper and genuinely reactionary environmentalism (since any such desire is inherently effete, or unmasculine etc, etc, blah blah blah) is to hand a victory to the enemy. We must not buy into the enemy’s own ridiculous pretensions (that they are serious and profound artists, intellectuals, writers etc) . This error is very similar to the disease of anti-intellectualism which plagues so much of the mainstream right wing in the United States. As soon as the right rejects a good ( environmentalism, the role of the intellectual etc) by associating it with the enemy, it admits it’s own inferiority. We end up cutting off our nose to spite our face. This concession is a disastrous strategy and is most certainly one of the main causes of the sorry state of the Right in the United States at present. There must be a place for environmentalism (properly understood as the wise stewardship of the natural world, not the ridiculous earth worship of the hippie left) on the Right.

    I hope I have not misunderstood and/or mischaracterized your positions. Bottom line: we can do better.

    -Carlo

    1. Nyet my comrade, no one has forced workers off the farms and guildhalls and into the factories, people were dirt poor before Industrial Revolution, and would’ve died of starvation were it not for those “evil” industrialists and “Robber Barons”, and then there would be no one to complain about hardships that had to be endured (not to mention that labor legislation came only after the productivity increased so much, that people already worked less and in better conditions – so in actuality labor unions and legislation really didn’t matter, similarly with banning work for children, it was only legislated after children have already generally stopped working). It’s similar to how there’s no one to complain about Arabic slave-trade of Africans, ’cause the African slaves in Arabic lands were mistreated so badly that there are no descendants of slaves there. Feed the dog to bite you, as the saying goes. Well, I for one am not a Marxist, and will not praise labor unions or happily exclaim “Long live the Stalin and Word Revolution!”, but maybe I will exclaim “Long live the Capitalism and Robber Barons!”.

      1. To clarify. What I meant about Arabic slave-trade is that blacks in the USA are still going on and on about American slavery, while they should be happy about it, since they (the descendants of slaves) are far better of than blacks in Africa. And no one is complaining about Arabic slavery, because no one survived African slavery.

        1. Mistake, it says “because no one survived African slavery”, and should say “because no one survived Arabic slavery”. Can’t believe what’s happening to me this morning, so many hardships with single comment … well. I guess sleep deprivation is finally catching up to me.

    2. Carlos —

      I don’t share the disdain for either the bourgeoisie nor the workers. I’m also largely anti-intellectual — we tend to be pretty solidly opposed to both rule-by-prole, rule-by-bourgeois, and rule-by-priest here at SM. If you’d like to talk about this more, you should send me an email @ henrydampier@gmail.com

  7. Reactionary Expat March 18, 2015 at 1:35 am

    My experiences working in public education systems (mostly in lower and underclass schools) in three different countries (two in the Anglosphere and one in Asia) have truly shocked me, and are a large part of what has formed my reactionary world view. It used to be that the Old Left expected the lower class to have high levels of literacy and numeracy, and to be generally educated beyond that, regardless of whether they were going to work in blue or white collar jobs. The past half century of education has been an utter betrayal of the lower class in this respect. It is all busy work and excuse making for children now.

    Several times I encountered adolescents who were slower at arithmetic whilst using a calculator than I was at mental arithmetic. I once encountered a class of adolescents who quizzed me on the meanings of words from a student dictionary. I could tell them the meaning of 100% of those words, yet the students freely admitted that they had not even encountered 50% of those words before. Such a situation would not have been the case a couple of generations ago. None of my grandparents came from the middle class or above, yet they were all better educated than their equivalents two or three generations later.

    I used to live in perpetual fury and frustration at my colleagues with their lax academic and behavioural expectations. My SWPL friends — many of whom received better educations — always argued for the most absurd of public policies, the very type that have contributed to the present situation. Whenever I told them of my experiences and observations in the education system, they either dismissed them as anomalies or simply pressed on and doubled down with the same failed policy prescriptions. Many also used to mock me for simultaneously having quite right wing views and working in public education. I used to tell them that I at least put my money/noblesse oblige where my mouth was by getting dirty down in the trenches. Many of the New Left are completely morally bankrupt in this regard. Yet this is not just a Western problem. I believe it is making its way to Asia also, at least to Taiwan. This country is perhaps only twenty to thirty years behind the West, I believe.

    The other point regarding globalisation that no one has mentioned yet is that many in the Western underclass are simply unemployable now. They have absolutely atrocious work ethics and general attitudes. They know enough to know all of their rights and how much they can get away with, but they don’t actually know enough to perform at basic levels of competency and civility. It’s all very well to say that jobs have gone to Asia, but who in his right mind would employ the average citizen of Detroit, for instance? I would suggest that even paying such a person well below minimum wage would still result in a net loss for many employers once the chaos caused by such an employee were taken into account. This was not always the case.

    1. Boko Haram!

  8. “They hate working class life patterns, they hate working class workplaces, they hate dirty factories, and basically anyone who doesn’t work in the realm of ideas and spreadsheets.”

    They hate white people. And yes, I know that most of them are white themselves. They hate any reminder that white people can themselves be the oppressed and the underdog.

    The transmogrification of the American left from a movement about economics and labor into a movement of race and identify is probably THE political story of the 20th and early 21st century. In a sense it is a key cause of the rise of the alternative right: whites who are finally willing to speak up for (among others) the white American working class.

  9. What are your opinions on wage subsidy, especially something like Morgan Warstler’s scheme ?

  10. I maintain that public education is really the root of many economic evils in today’s world.

    Here is the problem in a nutshell. Because of what is essentially (and explicitly in many cases) a compulsory public education system that caters to people from all walks of life with all sorts of aspirations, goals, and dreams or a lack thereof, the people churned out by high schools are essentially jacks of no trade.

    If you go to the son of the average carpenter today, he will be able to tell you some of the elements in the periodic table, how to play softball, some very basic algebra, the plot of Lord of the Flies, and the definition of latitude, but he will likely have a very mediocre knowledge of carpentry.

    In the Traditional world, a carpenter’s son would have been totally ignorant of the personally useless information above, but you can bet he would know woodwork inside and out.

    You do not become an expert in ANY field by going to school. Public school prepares you for Trivial Pursuit, not a career to support yourself and a family. This is especially true when now you have to compete with foreign workers used to a much more basic standard of living, the product of wretched globalism. Returning to a system of scholastics, family businesses, and guilds would revive a working class. As for what currently passes as ‘education’, high school diplomas and maybe 80% of college degrees aren’t worth the paper they’re written on.

    1. …And he would learn discipline, besides. More woodworkers like that boy would be able to give IKEA a run for its money, providing more high quality furniture at a more affordable price. If he’s a high school graduate (and even about 70% of Americans today do not get a BA) today, all he learns how to do is to smoke dope and parrot factoids.

      1. You sum up the high school experience well, Dampier. Almost as discouraging is the fact that various adults actually get paid to teach garbage day in day out, with the compulsory tax dollars paid to an illegitimate government that has only ever had the destruction of all that is ordered and works in its heart and mind.

  11. This is very much the case in Britain where large swaths of the country have been wiped out industrially. I live in County Durham in the north of England where many settlements were founded in a Klondike or California gold rush manner. As soon as coal was discovered, houses would appear – over time the whole village would be employed by the mine and the social life of the place would centre around brass bands, clubs and other organisations associated with the industry. When the jobs went, all of these social structures would be destroyed.

    When these declined during the twentieth century, large numbers of villages essentially were made redundant. In the earlier part of the century, prior to Thatcher, people would simply find employment in factories or would commute to mines elsewhere. When the coal mines were finally wiped out in the eighties, much of the indigenous industry had been completely destroyed – there were no jobs for them to enter. This isn’t a problem for clerks, bureaucrats and other middle-management types, but for less intelligent working class people there are practically no jobs for them. These people are not particularly suited to working in supermarkets and service industries. So you end up with this permanently unemployed lumpen-proletariat Chav class kept alive by money from the south-east of England.

    When you combine this with the sexual and cultural revolution, the destruction of education and marriage &c., you end up with a horrible situation. People forget that half of the population has an IQ below 100. If you take Britain, about 14% of a white population of 50 million has an IQ of between 70 and 85. That’s 7 million people with an IQ which debars them from anything other than manual work. The equivalent figure would be about 28 million in the USA. These people would do very well at agricultural labour, but that doesn’t exist anymore.

    1. I think your point about IQ is correct. Even if in one stroke we brought back the manual jobs being done in China today the underclass in our countries would not be able to perform the tedious, repetitive work required for those jobs i.e concentration, work ethic, communication, showing up on time. We have on our hands a perpetual underclass utterly incapable of being useful to themselves or society. I agree with Dampier as well that automation is not the root of all evil as the Left suggests but in fact we are dealing with dysfunctional populations unable to bring value of any kind.

  12. One current fantasy is that Silicon Valley will create a new generation of robots and full automation will bring manufacturing back to America. But what’s more likely to happen is that factories in China will continue to incrementally add automation and become the leaders in automated manufacturing too. Even if automation reaches a level where it makes sense to have the factories closer to the point of sales, the Chinese market is likely to be the largest. A far more likely scenario in 10-20 years is that Foxconn (which is aggressively automating) will own any factories in the US. Regardless, if full automation were achieved, one of the advantages would be the ability to scale rapidly, which would then be limited by how easy it is to build new factories, which is not a Western advantage.

    The loss of manufacturing also has knock on effects. First, it obviously leads to loss of related skills, which make it more difficult to build factories even if you want to. Loss of skills leads to the cost of manufacturing going up, since cost of training goes up. But it also gradually leads to a loss of secondary knowledge, so that investors, those providing services to manufacturers, etc, have skilsets that are rendered irrelevant as the manufacturing world changes and they have less access to experts ‘on the ground’. The dream of a ‘knowledge economy’ is a short term vision, where expertise left over from when Western countries were leaders in engineering and manufacturing appears to be freed from real world constraints for a time, everyone profits wildly, but eventually they’re faced with the problem that new developments are happening in Korea and China and they can’t keep on top of it. With each new generation of technology, Western companies relying on, or providing services to, Asian companies become less and less relevant.

    I think few people realise how bad the situation is. Companies like HP began by outsourcing manufacturing but now they outsource everything. They essentially buy ODM equipment in Taiwan and put an HP logo on it. Many American companies are now little more than a brand name. Eventually the brands will be sold off too (as has happened in the UK). Then you’re just left with capital, but you have to wonder how long investments will remain sound when nobody has access to foreign companies or relevant expertise. American companies tend to make a big deal of the innovation happening in their labs. That kind of stuff usually amounts to little more than PR though. Moreover, a lot of it is indirectly subsidised by the government. They bring in projects from academia. Google’s self-driving car was originally a project at Stanford. Boston Dynamics, the robotics company they recently purchased, was DARPA funded. A lot of this stuff is just bringing in whole teams of researchers and their projects from universities and then putting the company logo on it. I’m skeptical whether these kinds of prestige projects will bear real fruit; they have a terrible track record. Even when they work, it tends not to be the host company that benefits.

    1. Excellent comment.

      The loss of hardware manufacturing expertise also harms the quality of software engineering, in turn, at least from my understanding. If there are fewer ‘hardware guys’ for software guys to talk to about optimizing performance and such, it makes it more necessary to add layers of abstraction.

      University research is often optimized to bring in more government funding rather than usable work. If the PR that comes out of the labs results in more grants, then it’s a success. Actually producing usable stuff tends to require the market process to provide objective information about real conditions.

      The entire ‘knowledge economy’ pitch is a way to make the loss of competitiveness seem to be a huge ‘win’ for Western culture. It’s the corporate-governmental version of giving the loser a trophy because he tried really hard. Not only is the capital stock being depleted, but the stock of knowledge also.

      1. What does that leave us with? Pizza delivery?

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