The Point Left Unprotected

This book will surely be widely denounced.  Its merit, which is considerable, is suggested by the vast coalition who will want to deride it: the corporate elite, Republicans, Clinton Democrats, neoliberals, the politically correct lobby, libertarians, neocons.  Any author who can provoke such an array of enemies must be onto something.

Walter Benn Michaels’ argument can be summarized as follows: A vast gulf of inequality is growing between the richest Americans and everyone else; it is a serious problem; no one is doing anything about it; and the reason for this inaction is the current American obsession with race and the politics of identity, which has substituted a faux egalitarianism for the one that really matters and a phony threat (racism) for the real one (economic inequality).

Both sides, liberal and conservative, play this game.  “What the right wants are culture wars instead of class wars, because as long as the wars are about identity instead of money, it doesn’t matter who wins.”  Corporate America has embraced the diversity agenda with enthusiasm and cash: “What CEO doesn’t find it easier to respect his employee’s culture than to pay them [sic] a decent wage?”  Meanwhile, the left prefers fighting “racism” and other forms of “intolerance” instead of poverty, because it is easier and because so many leftists...

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