In recent news from the land of dying honour, Angry Rich White Guys retain their curious pride in being angry, white and male. What they’ve just begun to fear, however, is the disappearance of their riches. These, they insist, are being stolen by the women, who will, being by nature greedy and deceitful, never be content with this theft alone! No. It doesn’t stop there. First, they appropriate your income, then, they’ll take your manhood.
This is not just another account of a “lecture” by “writer” Milo Yiannopoulos. It’s much more old-school.
You’d think we could expect something with the feel of pre-Breitbart subtlety from an angry white guy whose hobby has long been the preservation of wealth. Such a guy, James C. Green, a vice-chair in Utah’s Wasatch County Republican Party, has set his extreme ideology down in print.
In a letter to the Wasatch Wave, Green makes the case against an equal pay bill being considered by his state’s legislature. It’s great fun and is informed in equal part by Adam Smith — “Let the marketplace determine what free-market forces should prevail” — and the early work of Rodney Dangerfield. It is a perfect confluence of capitalist and sexist thought and out-and-out says that women should be at home having babies.
For years, the policy class has found ways to make the terrible structures they maintain sound lovely in public. If opposing participation in labour by women, they once used terms like “family values” or “a mother’s love”. When arguing against any new synthesis, the man who seeks no change was generally wont to say something magical, soft and vague.
You can’t just go and say what everybody knows you think to be true and hope to stay in power. The advice to say terrible things in a mystified way is as old as Machiavelli. If you want to keep women in the economic role you think that they should always play — in this case, reproduction — you don’t just go and say it, Jim. You make your brutality appear as a gift. Or, better yet, a “choice”, such as that allegedly and naturally provided by your precious free market.
There is, of course, nothing particularly “free” about a market legally permitted to keep its labourers in poverty. Nor is there anything “natural” about actively seeking slow growth in the wages of women so that they might go and perform their own natural acts. If the female urge to care for babies is so strong and the market itself such a natural expression of the ancient male urge to compete, why go about making such a clumsy case for it? If the market were capable of determining good things, for babies and man-babies alike, surely, it would have made them in the centuries we have so painstakingly built the foundation for its freedom.
But the invisible hand of the market is currently showing many Western workers its middle finger. Here in Australia, even our central bank has begun to see what is plain in the lives of many people: good-looking unemployment rates mask the ugly face of insecure work. In the US, as economist Richard Wolff and others have said, there is a lot of bookkeeping done to make the magic of the ideal 5% unemployment rate happen. “The number is largely a mirage,” says Wolff, who reminds listeners of his radio program nearly every week that the official US unemployment rate simply doesn’t count those tens of millions of wretches who have given up looking for work that doesn’t exist.
There are no jobs. So, even if the ladies of reproductive age do as Green and nature wishes and prepare for childbirth, they’ll have to wait. First, for the market to decide to create more jobs and then for the market to decide if it would like to pay men enough to support an entire family.
He argues that when you have more job seekers in a “free” market, you drive wages down. In the limited terms of his own logic, what Green says about “basic economics” is true. For about 30 seconds. It’s not good intergenerational thinking, though. If women abandon the workplace and get busy making babies, they’d better make sure not too many of them are born XY job seekers.
Yesterday’s moment of bare ideology is a hoot, which is, in part, why it has been so widely reported. Liberal and liberal feminist news services have been having a chuckle at Green, before going on to make the more serious point that, really, this is part of a wider problem. One, says Elle magazine, that won’t end until 2020.
There is this view that the old right has been reanimated by its alt- or its Trump expressions. I don’t think that’s true. Save for being angry, white and male, Green has no more in common with Trump than he does with Milo. As bad as this man’s logic is, it still follows some sort of order. To make an economic case for liberalism — and it is entirely liberal to say that the market should decide on wages — is not something you’re going to see Trump or any Breitbart type do. That’s their whole deal. They do not argue in terms, unlike Green, to which one might respond.
Milo is a guy who thinks popular non-thoughts out loud, like “women should worry that we are replacing them with vagina robots”. He then shrugs off criticism of such obvious outrage with the new libertarian response, “I’m literally Hitler”. We should not expect verifiable facts from Yiannopoulos, Trump or any of the willfully post-fact, non-thought leaders our era has created.
These guys deal only in the currency of scandal and do not need the things they say to be true or half-true; they only need someone to be foolish enough to refute the untrue things they say. It goes like this: I say an obviously untrue thing, which only a fool would bother to question. A fool has questioned the untrue thing. Look at this fool, they are foolish! I am wise. So very, very wise by contrast.
I never thought I’d miss the sound of tools grinding away at the remains of classical liberalism. At least you can read the books that have informed them and make a good case against the cycles of a “free”, but utterly constructed, market that causes such despair. But, you can’t argue with the sexism and capitalism of people like Yiannopoulos and Trump. They’re only doing it for the lulz, after all.
Which is what a lot of people said about this hilarious guy that they found very funny in another age of economic downturn. His name was literally Hitler.