Why the Left is Hopeless (bourgeois feminist edition)

Distinguished Professor of Economics, History, English and Communication at University of Illinois at Chicago Deidre McCloskey participating in Kathleen Geier’s excellent new colloquy, The Curve, in The Nation:

“What is not a feminist issue is raising the minimum wage to, say, Seattle’s $15.00, since it is women, and especially women of color, who will be first to be shown the door—or, silently, not hired in the first place. And I don’t see dumping on Hillary Clinton as a good idea. She is at present likely to become president. Do we really want to be seen as opposed to the first woman president on account of her imperfect feminist purity?”

Here’s where McCloskey is right: Raising the minimum wage is self-evidently not a feminist issue since it is about raising wages for ALL low wage workers. But notice how she contradicts herself: her claim is that it IS a feminist issue since, according to her, it will disproportionately disadvantage women.

It is likely that the opposite is true: the $15 minimum wage will proportionately benefit low wage women workers. But it is obvious that she doesn’t care one iota about this demographic: for her feminism is primarily about “breaking the glass ceiling”, promoting nongendered access to positions of extreme wealth, power and privilege, hence the single minded obsession with electing Clinton.

This is not my fight to engage in as I don’t consider myself a feminist-at least insofar as the term now means what we used to call “bourgeois feminism” represented, as we see above, in the pages of The Nation and, for that matter across the board of the establishment left.

I would love to be proven wrong about this. If I am, those who consider themselves feminists will need to reclaim feminism from those such as McCloskey who have often succeeded in redefining it as an adjunct of neoliberalism-fully compatible with the bipartisan austerity agenda.

That’s a strategic objective around which I can offer one bit of advice: writing and promoting books about “mansplaining” won’t be the slightest help in achieving it.

Of course, this advice is sure to be dismissed out of hand insofar as it is not entirely ignored.

Yet another indication of how profoundly unserious the left has become through having allowed itself to be defined itself by a depoliticized multiculturalism accommodating itself to the neoliberal state, as McCloskey’s remarks nicely demonstrates.

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