Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Tweets Against The "Tipping Point"

Just on a radio show w/ some smart liberal (not left) activists. They kept talking about the "tipping point" toward Dem victories.

Thing is, "tipping points" aren't actuall *things.* It's a marketing slogan for Malcolm Gladwell. History doesn't work like that.

The "tipping point" is age-of-globalization speak for the Cold War concept of a paradigm shift. That turned out to be faulty, too.

The mythical "tipping point" is a rhetorical escalation from the Cold War "paradigm shift": It's a subtly apocalyptic narrative

To screeching of GOP--world as we (read: white people) know it is ending--dem "tipping point" narrative says, "Yr world is ending!"

For Dems to claim "tipping point" based on demographic changes is to conflate ideology & issues. RW issues will change; ideology, no.

So conservatives & liberals both claim a coming "tipping point." Meanwhile, the center slouches rightward, whoever's in office.

By "center" you mean the DC ruling elite, right? Not some collection of policy views widely held by the electorate, right?

. Yes. I should have put "center" in scare quotes. Another mythical beast.

The the problem w/ "tipping point" narratives, left or right: They all perpetuate a reactionary idea of history.

Establishments *like* "tipping point" narratives. They're sort of like singing "The Sun'll Come Out Tomorrow!" Well, yes, and...?

Establishments also like "tipping point" narratives because they *seem* populist even as they depend on a theater of the elites.

I don't blame people for believing in "tipping points." The idea seems to make so much sense! Sort of like the "good ol' days."

All kinds of activists want to believe in "tipping points"; idea is like megaphone booming at people living in ordinary flow of time.

Idea of a "tipping point" erases radical dissent. Replaces the work of an ideological break w/ illusory tide of demographic change.

The "tipping point" narrative isn't just neoliberal: It's a kind of social darwinism, an idea of politics as ultimately "natural."

Off twitter: That seems like a heavy charge, but the problem with viruses such as Gladwell's "tipping point" narrative is that you can carry them without knowing it. Liberal "tipping point" apostles aren't deliberately preaching social Darwinism, and they're legitimately excited about demographic shifts in the U.S. population that will, we hope, bring an end to the still ingrained culture of subtly supremacist whiteness. But that doesn't mean reactionary politics will disappear. Backwards-looking conservatism and capitalist neoliberalism will take new forms -- and appeal to new demographics.

Not because they're a natural part of some generalized "political mind," but because they're there, and ideas don't change themselves. They need changing. That's long, slow work, the kind of work Christian conservatives began undertaking in the 1930s to achieve their victories of today.

Some liberals will say, "What? The Christian Right is dead!" Tell that to women in the rapidly increasing number of states that are legislating Roe v. Wade out of existence. The anti-abortion movement is finally winning, not through a big sweeping law but by telling its stories, over and over, for decades. There was no "tipping point"; rather, a political, cultural, moral narrative piled up on top of the truth bit by bit until it grew as big as a mountain.