I haven’t read any of the essays yet from The 1619 Project from The New York Times that has conservatives flipping out across the internet.
It is my understanding that the mainstream media has finally ditched covering the news and has pivoted from the Trump-Russia narrative to the Trump-white supremacy narrative. This was admitted by executive editor Dean Baquet in a transcript linked to Slate:
“It got trickier after [inaudible] … went from being a story about whether the Trump campaign had colluded with Russia and obstruction of justice to being a more head-on story about the president’s character. We built our newsroom to cover one story, and we did it truly well. Now we have to regroup, and shift resources and emphasis to take on a different story. I’d love your help with that. As Audra Burch said when I talked to her this weekend, this one is a story about what it means to be an American in 2019. It is a story that requires deep investigation into people who peddle hatred, but it is also a story that requires imaginative use of all our muscles to write about race and class in a deeper way than we have in years. In the coming weeks, we’ll be assigning some new people to politics who can offer different ways of looking at the world. We’ll also ask reporters to write more deeply about the country, race, and other divisions. I really want your help in navigating this story.
If you’re independent, that’s what you do. The same newspaper that this week will publish the 1619 Project, the most ambitious examination of the legacy of slavery ever undertaken in [inaudible] newspaper, to try to understand the forces that led to the election of Donald Trump. …”
According to The New York Times, The 1619 Project “aims to reframe the country’s history, understanding 1619 as our true founding, and placing the consequences of slavery and the contributions of black Americans at the very center of the story we tell ourselves about who we are.” In other words, this has nothing to do with American history or the 400th anniversary of the arrival of the first slaves in Virginia. This is all about getting Blompf and the politics of the 2020 election.
Here’s my take on this:
1.) First, the forces that led to the election of Donald Trump are the same forces that led to the election of Bolsonaro in Brazil or BREXIT in the United Kingdom or Victor Orbán in Hungary or Salvini in Italy. It is part of an ongoing global surge in populism and nationalism and the breakdown of liberalism. The actual roots of this phenomenon trace back to the 1960s and 1970s.
2.) Second, this phenomenon has nothing to do with the “legacy of slavery.” In the aftermath of the Second World War and especially since the Cold War, liberalism has bestrode the world like a colossus. Liberalism crested in the 1990s when the Soviet Union collapsed. It was proclaimed at the time by triumphalists that liberal capitalist democracy was the “End of History.” The current era is breaking down.
3.) Third, the abolition of slavery in the 19th century was part of the historic upswing of liberalism and free-market capitalism. It was part of the triumph of industrialism over agrarianism.
4.) Fourth, it is important to remember that liberal democracy and free-market capitalism barely survived the 20th century. For most of the 20th century, liberal democracy and free-market capitalism were under siege by fascism on the Right and communism on the Left. Since the 1990s, liberal democracy and free-market capitalism hasn’t faced an ideological challenger and the system has spread across the world largely unopposed and the flaws in that model have become increasingly obvious.
5.) Fifth, the proper way to see “the forces that led to the election of Donald Trump” is that liberal democracy and free-market capitalism have peaked like a ball that has been thrust high into the air. Now, the ball is starting to fall and it is rapidly descending in the early 21st century and people are dissatisfied and turning away again from wealthy liberal elites and are searching for a new system that can foster greater order, stability, solidarity and cohesion in a rapidly changing society.
It was assumed by our liberal elites that after the fall of communism that liberal democracy and free-market capitalism would prove itself and satisfy human needs. We appear to be finding out that isn’t the case. Maybe our system will also go the way of communism when enough people stop believing in it and going along with it. Blompf is just a hiccup in the larger arc of this story.