Class Politics and Cultural Politics

Pragmatism Today 10 (1):23-36 (2019)
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After the 2016 election of Donald Trump, many commentators latched on to the accusations Rorty levels at the American Left in Achieving Our Country. Rorty foresaw, they claimed, that the Left's preoccupation with cultural politics and neglect of class politics would lead to the election of a "strongman" who would take advantage of and exploit a rise in populist sentiment. In this paper, I generally agree with these readings of Rorty; he does think that the American Left has made the mistake of putting class on the political backburner. However, I suggest that this position follows from his view that economic security is vital for solidarity. Because economic security is under increasing threat in contemporary America, so too is solidarity. If greater solidarity is a goal of liberal democracy, then class politics, aimed at ending selfishness, ought to be as much a priority for the American Left as is cultural politics, aimed at ending sadism.

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