The drama of the so-called “culture wars” picked up recently with Congresswoman Marjorie Taylor Greene calling for a “national divorce” over supposed entrenched cultural issues. Setting aside how this would be a terrible deal for red states, how fundamentally unworkable the idea is (what happens to blue cities inside red states), or how bad a deal it would be for MTG herself (given how her own state voted in the last presidential election), let’s actually engage with the fundamental problem here: the culture war.
The culture war, more than anything else, serves to cover the failures of the capitalist system. People are angry. Real wages have been stagnant for decades as the cost of living rises. Jobs have become ever more precarious and workers’ rights are rolled back (including by our current “pro-labor” strike breaker president). The housing market has been a hellscape since 2008, we JUST got out of a two-decade long war, and soldiers coming home find a VA that’s unable or unwilling to meet their needs. All the while the rich keep getting richer. So-called “free trade” agreements have been struck over the last several decades promising jobs and using the rhetoric of free markets, while casting them aside in favor of statist privilege, capitalist control, and the decimation of labor movements, all in a search for ever more exploitable labor. Couple this with the increasing atomization and breakdown of community support structures we’ve seen during the era of neoliberalism post-1970s and you effectively have a large chunk of the population facing serious economic crisis whilst having far less support.
Rage is the natural and normal response to this. So, if you’re a rich scumbag looking to maintain your power, and the masses are increasingly angry with the system you benefit from, what’s your best option? Divert their anger. And so we get to the role of OAN, Newsmax, and the whole right wing media apparatus. They divert the anger away from the capitalists that own the system, and towards innocent BIPOC. And so we get armed hooligans showing up at drag shows.
So, what then is the right response to all of this? How do we get out of this constant cycle of outrage and spin in our media sphere? The answer is simple: Solidarity. Workers have real fears, real concerns, and very real anger. Speak to that. Not this blatant nonsense about “wokeness” masquerading as political discourse. Speak to class concerns. Because the only real way we are going to actually make change is by uniting as a class and seriously challenging capitalist power. Our strength comes in numbers. And when we work together, when we recognize that by uniting, we are stronger, we see humanity in others. Unity and solidarity help bridge the gap between “us” and “them.” It can very well help end the bigotry and phobias that pervade our national discourse today.
This has worked in the past and can work very well again. My personal favorite example of this comes from the UK: Lesbians and Gays Support Miners. CPGB activist Mark Ashton began collecting donations for striking miners at Pride events. This seriously aided the cause of the miners, who later on began to support gay liberation movements in larger numbers, culminating in the passing of a resolution by the Labor Party to supporting LGBT+ rights thanks to the block voting of the National Union of Mineworkers.
This radical mutual aid and solidarity overcame existing homophobia and created unity between different groups. Fred Hampton and the Black Panthers in Chicago managed something similar by working with the Young Lords and the Young Patriots until he was killed in a police raid. We can do that here and now, both as a way to combat the bigotry BIPOC so often suffer on a personal and systemic level, and the economic woes of those hurting because of capitalist failure. The statist thugs that killed George Floyd are the same ones enforcing private absentee ownership of the means of production and our so-called “free markets”.
Solidarity and mutual aid can overcome bigotry. Mark Ashton recognized this. As did Fred Hampton. To borrow a quote from Judas and the Black Messiah, “What if the overseer had banded with the slaves and cut the master’s throat.” That’s the power of radical solidarity, and it can liberate us from both the culture war, and statist capitalist oppression, far more so than the ballot box ever will.
Workers of the world unite!