I’m heading west this weekend for another heroic 36 hours not talking about politics. Lefty thinkpieces about your racist uncle, your DT-voting parents, your post-C-ville family ties don’t help much when you have one non-abusive, basically accepting parent who’s getting older, whom you very much want to get along with, and who maintains a Don’t Ask Don’t Tell stance on her 2016 pick-a-card-any-card blue state throwaway GOP vote.
Adam Kotsko’s sensitive discussion of political dissent within families actually helps. What if the smug liberal elite that so many parents/grandparents have heard mocked for decades in conservative media are their kids and grandkids? How must they feel?
Andrew Solomon’s Far From the Tree finds love and care in families with parents and children radically different from each other–either in ability or in social experience. There was no chapter on post-polarization political differences. And whatever we learned from family structure transformation since the 60s–the hippie movement, the divorce boom, marriage equality (but mostly I’m thinking of hippy runaways like in Joan Didion’s essays who I guess later reunited with their parents and reset capitalism anyway)–isn’t translating over to contemporary political polarization. But if political positions have become identity positions, such that evidence and evidence and evidence and evidence doesn’t convince people on the right that structural racism is a thing, a harmful thing, then some kind of framework for understanding disjunctive identity positions within families would help us navigate treacherous reunions.
I’m curious, though, about Kotsko’s claim that the neoliberal order is crumbling. How and why? Doesn’t it seem that global order is still structured by the assumption that unregulated markets are better for all? He’s an academic with a Wikipedia page and I am not, so maybe I’ve missed some analysis since I’ve been away. Here’s my guess:
Is it that in 9 months the 45 era has catalyzed the inevitable destruction of the US’s moral, economic and political power? And the US had been the key pillar of the neoliberal world order since WWII? In which case the result of neoliberalism–a destruction of political discourse, a transmogrification of politics into rigid identity positions–is its own end. Neoliberalism begat Donald Duck. Donald Duck ate neoliberalism. A structural kind of socio-oedipalism that would have made almost no one actually think of Freud. Poor bedraggled Freud. Speaking of parents.