Democracy Against Capitalism: Conclusion of the Conclusion

Index to all posts in this series.

My original plan for the multi-part conclusion was to show the differences between the analysis of Ellen Meiksins Wood in Democracy Against Capitalism and the views of Bruce Scott in Capitalism: Its Origins And Evolution As A System Of Governance. I quickly found a number of similarities in their views of capitalism and its dangers. I expected to find differences in their views of democracy, that Scott would edge away from Wood’s view that democracy is failing us, based primarily on what appears to be an early draft of Chapter 13 of his book. I was wrong. Scott also believes that democracy as practiced today is failing at the task of controlling the excesses of capitalism.

As evidence, this is from the very last paragraph of the epilogue:

This brief look at the role of the firm in a capitalist society suggests that achieving accountability for firms is a vital aspect of a successful, decentralized system of decision-making. At the same time, it suggests that achieving such accountability on a continuing basis as conditions change is anything but a simple task. As a result, market frameworks can be expected to be continually contested between the firms, the regulators, and other societal interests that are affected. We should expect that some measure of distortion is the rule rather than the exception.

That’s from page 639, so not really a brief look. Scott blames neoliberalism, though he doesn’t use that term. Instead, he argues with Milton Friedman’s Capitalism and Freedom throughout the first part of his book, so effectively that the reader cannot take Friedman’s neoliberalism seriously. In a scholarly work such as this, the following counts as invective.

A second view, and arguably a very influential one among US economists, was that capitalism is a self-regulating system based upon voluntary transactions among consenting adults. This view, which has drawn little benefit of any historical perspective, is perhaps best exemplified by Milton Friedman and the Chicago School. P. 12.

In Scott’s telling, the US chose to separate the economy from the rest of society, and turned over management of the economy to the private sector, subject only to rules enacted by the political arm. That led to frequent financial crises and then to the Great Depression. Scott sees the New Deal as the government’s response to unbridled capitalism, and bases his model on the interregnum.

But then he confronts the obvious: beginning in the 1970s the political arm wrecked the regulatory framework of laws, regulations and institutions that held capitalism under light but firm control. Without controls, capitalism now threatens to democracy itself as firms have once again become strong enough to control governments at all levels, just as they were from the 1870s through 1932. In his discussion of the Great Crash of 2008, he again criticizes neoliberalism, this time Alan Greenspan. According to Scott, Greenspan’s ideology has no basis in reality or values, and it caused damage to millions of Americans.

As to the impact on democracy, Scott says:

Democracy is premised on the notion of moral equality among individuals and the freedom of self-determination; inequalities beyond some limit become incongruous. Capitalism, on the other hand, is premised upon the notion of granting individuals economic freedoms to develop their talents and resources, as well as “the primary freedom of choice in the market place.” Though individuals are subject to governance through regulated forms of competition, those who excel in that competition receive higher rewards, which they are allowed to retain and build upon to achieve still further advantage. How can two systems based upon such differing premises manage to be mutually stabilizing let alone mutually supportive? P. 96; fn omitted. The quote is from a third party.

Scott doesn’t offer a path to change, but then there’s no reason he should in a scholarly history of economics. Wood believes that nothing will change unless the working class leads the way. I took up the issue of class in the Marxist sense here, but I think the Marxist definition in terms of relations to the means of production is nearly useless today. Instead, I propose that the working class consists of those who must sell their labor to live. It includes a large number of managers and professionals who have not accumulated wealth, and those who suffer the stress of trying to live a middle class life when the things that life requires steadily increase in cost while wages and salaries remain stagnant. With that definition Wood is right: no change will come without the insistence of the workers.

And here’s the fun part: they seem to agree that capitalists are the problem. Wood is a Marxist, so her view is expected. Scott is a genteel defender of capitalism, as a review of the section on the Great Crash reveals. He thinks it was caused by

… mistaken ideas and beliefs among the major actors themselves. These mistaken ideas led to repeated policy mistakes. P. 616, fn omitted.

As a side note, bland justifications like this are sprinkled throughout the text, and that’s why I see Scott as a defender of capitalism. Anyway, by “mistaken ideas” he means neoliberalism. He says bluntly that the capitalists caused the Great Crash and were not held accountable by being fired for incompetence, but he ignores the their fraud. P. 639.

Neither Wood nor Scott engages with any of the theoretical ideas I took up in my discussions of Polanyi, Arendt, Veblen, the Frankfurt School, Foucault, or Pierre Bourdieu.

And finally, neither Scott nor Wood offers a path forward. Regulate capitalism or die, they say, but they offer nothing to those of us trying to figure out what is to be done.

As I see it, there is a general agreement running across all these writers that capitalist ideologies, first laissez-faire and now a more sophisticated neoliberalism, is a serious problem for democracy. In theoretical terms, it seems to me that neoliberalism is imposed by the capitalists on society as an act of what Bourdieu called symbolic violence. The ideology offers the dominant class (capitalists) a tool for maintaining their position while the dominated class (everyone else) accepts that dominance as right and just, because it is the outcome of the ideology they accept and follow.

This suggests a strategy for serious change. Attack neoliberalism directly and forcefully as a theoretical ideology with no factual basis, just as Scott claims. In doing so, you aren’t condemning markets or competition. You are attacking an invented theory used by the dominant class to pretend that its dominance is natural and just. A good bit of what I’ve written in these posts is directed at ways to attack neoliberalism, but I’m no Frank Luntz and do not know how to turn these ideas into practice. Still, that’s what I think we have to do.

22 replies
  1. Richard Turnock says:

    Based on Polanyi: On one side we have the movement of laissez faire — the efforts by a variety of groups to expand the scope and influence of self-regulating markets. On the other side has been the movement of protection — the initiatives, again by a wide range of social actors, to insulate the fabric of social life from the destructive impact of market pressures. The movement to impose the utopian self-regulated market system on society generates a counter movement to protect society from the devastating consequences of markets: homelessness, refugees, poverty, mass starvation, environmental degradation, and destructive economic cycles.  There is no such thing as “free market”.
    Government enforces laws, based on policy and strategy, to implement feedback loops in the economic system that protect society from the devastating consequences of markets.

  2. earlofhuntingdon says:

    The devastating consequences are not those of the “market,” an economic fiction.  They are imposed by the concentrated economic and political power of the wealth elite.  Their courtiers interpose the “market” as a cutout, to diffuse and to distract from accountability.

    Attacking neoliberalism as an empty vessel is important and useful.  It is the current dominant religion among economists and has become an independent thing itself, as well as acting as a tool for the powerful.  It is also an indirect way to attack the powerful, because they will invent other tools to impose their will.

    • skua says:

      “It is also an indirect way to attack the powerful, because they will invent other tools to impose their will.”

      The implication here is that direct focused attacks on the powerful would pressure them into hurried invention.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        It’s indirect because a direct attack the wealth elite have pushed beyond the Overton Window.  In this country, the window is the size of a walnut.  But pitchforks are still pitchforks.  Villagers should be ever mindful that their security is one levee, one tax collection, one bad harvest away from disappearing.  Unlike the Monster, which always seems to rise from the grave.

  3. mike says:

    Thomas Jefferson: “”I believe that banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies… If the American people ever allow private banks to control the issue of their currency, first by inflation, then by deflation, the banks and corporations that will grow up around [these banks] will deprive the people of all property until their children wake up homeless on the continent their fathers conquered.” The last time I checked, the 5 largest US banks controlled 43% of all US banking activity.

    Chomsky on Adam Smith: “He’s pre-capitalist, a figure of the Enlightenment. What we would call capitalism he despised. People read snippets of Adam Smith, the few phrases they teach in school. Everybody reads the first paragraph of The Wealth of Nations where he talks about how wonderful the division of labor is. But not many people get to the point hundreds of pages later, where he says that division of labor will destroy human beings and turn people into creatures as stupid and ignorant as it is possible for a human being to be. And therefore in any civilized society the government is going to have to take some measures to prevent division of labor from proceeding to its limits.

    He also made remarks which ought to be truisms about the way states work. He pointed out that its totally senseless to talk about a nation and what we would nowadays call “national interests.” He simply observed in passing, because it’s so obvious, that in England, which is what he’s discussing — and it was the most democratic society of the day — the principal architects of policy are the “merchants and manufacturers,” and they make certain that their own interests are, in his words, “most peculiarly attended to,” no matter what the effect on others, including the people of England who, he argued, suffered from their policies. He didn’t have the data to prove it at the time, but he was probably right.

    This truism was, a century later, called class analysis, but you don’t have to go to Marx to find it. It’s very explicit in Adam Smith. It’s so obvious that any ten-year-old can see it. So he didn’t make a big point of it. He just mentioned it. But that’s correct. If you read through his work, he’s intelligent. He’s a person who was from the Enlightenment. His driving motives were the assumption that people were guided by sympathy and feelings of solidarity and the need for control of their own work, much like other Enlightenment and early Romantic thinkers. He’s part of that period, the Scottish Enlightenment.

  4. Eureka says:

    I am thinking about this and the comments to date.  In the meantime, a few stray thoughts:


    This suggests a strategy for serious change. Attack neoliberalism directly and forcefully as a theoretical ideology with no factual basis, just as Scott claims. In doing so, you aren’t condemning markets or competition. You are attacking an invented theory used by the dominant class to pretend that its dominance is natural and just.

    What is the operational definition of neoliberalism you/one would use for this purpose?

    The word ‘neoliberalism’ has got to go.  It’s both nebulous and partly understood as something else.  Stand outside a grocery store with a clipboard and ask passersby what neoliberalism means, and you’d get the basis for the attack on the attack on neoliberalism by the Frank Lutzes of the world:  chaotic disinformation and blaming the left.

    Even co-opting older concepts like laissez-faire/caveat emptor (e.g. as Richard Turncock comments) are better at giving a clearer gestalt as to what are the problems-of-address (as are, not coincidentally, non-English phrases/key words).  Recapitulating (via attack or deconstruction) an icon of something that doesn’t exist is futile (cf. (on) Bourdieu as Ed discussed in linked post).

    While an attack on neoliberalism would be founded in indexical icons pointing to things that DO exist or are desired, the old myth needs also to be replaced by a new myth.  A new myth compatible with some new conceptual name and also other aspects of deep structure (see e.g mike above on Adam Smith re a cooperational rather than competitive society).  (And will add I am too tired to get into the bullshit of ‘evolutionary’ ‘market forces’/processes analogies, but concepts of cooperation and competition are entangled there as well.)  Here, I mean myth in the broad sense, not sensu scheming fakery (of course!).

    All of this, I mean towards a larger conversation beyond academic and intellectual debate-type discussions, which I assume was the intention here as well.  In that case- as in many- I think the key is to change the terms of debate.  Else the pre-set terms will severely curtail change.

    • Ed Walker says:

      That is excellent advice, and I’ll start working on it. Neoliberalism is an ideology, but it manifests itself in a constellation of specific ideas about the nature of human beings, markets,  government and other institutions. Philip MIrowski identifies some of these, but in language that seems too academic for the purposes you describe. So maybe the first step is to clarify those ideas into simple sentences like: markets pay you what you are worth.

      I agree that we need a coherent replacement as well. Perhaps that can be seen by replacing those sentences with the ones we like, and then abstracting into a coherent world view with a name that reaches into history and touches the same nerves that are manipulated by the neoliberals.

      Thanks for the insights.

      • Eureka says:

        This all sounds very exciting- promising.

        I just came across a great example of neoliberalism-in-use on twitter that dovetails with one (or more) of Ken Muldrew’s items below.  I’ll relocate it and post hopefully tomorrow.

        • Eureka says:

          Here is the twitter convo I had referenced.

          Kathy Griffin says: “These people are evil…… “

          She is quote tweeting a screenshot of some asshat saying

          ~”I’m sure the guy in the wheelchair will be net-positive to the economy.  # ShutItDown”

          The asshat is himself quote tweeting a “newz”? outlet with a picture of someone in a wheelchair near the US-Mexico border.

          The replies (to the KG tweet/whole situation) are differently ordered now and with additional points of view, themselves instructive.  That night I had seen these supportive reactions at the top:

          1-(Someone posts a GIF of Stephen Hawking)

          2-“Yeah, what has someone in a wheelchair ever done, EVER?… ”

          3-“And even if they’re not one of the greatest physicists in the world, they still deserve dignity and compassion.… “

          The steps it takes well-meaning people to get to the worth of human life…from social/economic capital value ‘vs the market’ to ‘just because we are human.’

          Then a pro-45-named account swoops in: 

          “You act like Trump zeroed in on the guy in the wheelchair. Why would you expect him to be treated any different? If he’s illegal he’s illegal. Come here legally.…

    • Ken Muldrew says:

      Attack the nonsensical idea of a “free market” and the ideology of public goods accruing from greed and the pursuit of money. Attack the fiscal conservatives and the ridiculous notion of a federal government having a balanced budget (and the even worse case of a surplus budget). Attack the idea that paying back debts is the highest form of moral behavior and that coercion based on debt is not immoral behavior. Attack the foolishness of believing that human interactions are based on an exchange that can be reduced to haggling over the price. Attack the idea that market competition is the primum mobile of technological progress (cooperation and parasitism are at least as important). Attack the view that equilibrium has anything at all to do with economics (as Engels already noted in 1843, a single innovation will render any such analyses dead in its tracks; economics is open ended (think of biological evolution with “survival of the fittest” being little more than a tautology)). Attack the idea that wealth is a measure of wisdom, and that those who have amassed great wealth should have any greater influence in political speech (and obviously, those who merely inherit wealth should be dealt with promptly and harshly, should they try to impose their will on others). Same for celebrity. Attack the idea that for crowded, industrial societies, there is such a thing as small government (offloading the functions of government to corporations or charitable giving or imaginary market forces (read criminal protection rackets)) doesn’t make the government smaller or less intrusive on people’s lives, it just makes it harder for people to have any influence.

      And death to Carthage…or nationalize anything too big to fail…or something along those lines…

    • Eureka says:

      I’ve got a few different topical strands to add before I forget.  These brainstormy/stimulative items are more for later as this project evolves- I do not want to bog your current thinking or process.  I’m just parking them here now as potentially useful resources, perhaps as stars scattered in a constellation pointing towards a new way.  Some of these things also may be of general interest re the current political climate.

      1-What do high school textbooks say/how do they talk about the matters at hand?

      2-Some social psychologists’ works/research programs often come to mind re these and other topics of the day.  I’d say they are complimentary with the likes of Foucault, Bourdieu, at different scales (and informative about how right wing/coercive propaganda and neoliberal  ‘caution’/fear (don’t hurt ‘the market!) would work in general.  In fact I am ‘certain in the bones’  that Cambridge Analytica/SCL/Data Propria/ various campaigns rely on these things and more).

      To spare over-linking, all of these folks/models have wikis:

      Terror Management Theory (with particular attention to Mortality Salience):  This body of work both predates and (for me) explains much of the reactionary aftermath of  9-11 (and of 45’s election); cf how RWNJ invoke ‘social’ mortality salience to shut down civil liberties, sow group division, fear of change, and to accelerate conservatism.

      John Jost:  Key ’03 paper “Political conservatism as socially motivated cognition,” but a quick glance at the list of his pdf-linked more recent papers suggests maybe greater relevance there.

      ●Need to belong:  wiki-wise, this goes to ‘Belongingness’ which didn’t have what I was looking for content-wise.  There’s a review paper I’ll have to track down that covers all bodily systems, hormonal/ immunological suppression, etc, cf. social/symbolic violence.

      ●(Amos Tversky and) Daniel Kahneman; Jonathan Haidt

      To be clear, my point here isn’t exclusively about knowing the badnesses, but seeing other, more positive and socially ethical motivating  ways.

      3-Classical anthropology/ethnology/sociology re different economic relations:

      ●Gift economies; kula ring (Malinowski/Trobriand Islands); potlatch (Pacific NW); Marcel Mauss’ _The Gift_.  Some of these strands come up into  work/folks I believe Ed has cited in the past.  The wikis for Gift Economy and Mauss, if I recall, had also cited some more recent synthetic writers.

      The point here is to just imagine and learn from different combinations of social-economic relations.
      NB to literalist readers:  I am not suggesting a conversion to a gift economy, LOL!?!?!

      Has anyone been to a party where all bring a gift (very modest, ideally something from around the house or homemade), and – after food and drink and conversation- numbers drawn from a hat decide the order of who picks from the pile?  Anyone who goes second or later can pick either from the pile, or a now-opened gift from a prior picker.  It has a name, I forget it now.  But have you noticed a different spirit of conviviality?

      • Eureka says:

        Trip and orion FYI- you may be interested in Terror Management Theory and Jost especially. Some of your convos ask/speak to the ‘whys’ embodied therein re folks falling for 45 admin’s shenanigans; I just haven’t caught them in a timely fashion to have added remarks about TMT and Jost in context.

  5. Wayoutwest says:

    I wonder why Marxism is ever included in a discussion of democracy. It only leads to one party dictatorship and has never produced a democratic government or economic institution.. Capitalism with all its faults has spread democracy, freedom and prosperity around the world. proven by the fact that there were 17 democracies at the end of WW2 and today there are 123 democracies in the world. Capitalism not only destroyed the utopian myths of socialism by lifting billions of people out of extreme poverty but also forced other types of dictatorships around the world to evolve into representative governments so their people could also share the growing prosperity.

    Constructive criticism of the faults of capitalism is needed now more than ever but Marxist Statist claptrap is not constructive especially for democracy. We need new evolving thinking about how to correct the faults of capitalism while rejecting the degenerate regression being promoted by the globalists using the Chinese model for their NWO.

    • earlofhuntingdon says:

      Your description of capitalism’s benefits has a whiff of the grade school good citizenship award.  It leaves out the remarkable predation of unrestrained capitalism, which Adam Smith would have been the first to point out.  Had capital had its way, there would still be 17 democracies, not 123.  But capital has made do despite democracy having metastasized among the formally former colonies.  The so-called good faith and well-intentioned foreign policies of the West have had much to do with that – and much to do with keeping dictators in power, not overthrowing them.

      America’s textbook version of capitalism offers the perspectives of Rockefeller, Ford, and Edison, not the coal mine, automotive, and electrical workers whose labor made their fortunes.  It records the perspectives of Kissinger, Pinochet, Duvalier, and Baudoin, not those of Allende, Aristide, and Lumumba.

      If capitalism is “creative destruction” – the description offered by business schools – it is capital that sees the creative bit, the rest of the world that sees the destruction.  The Brits, for example, on being forced out of India after two centuries of imperial rule, lamented that Indians were ungrateful that the Brits had made their railroads run on time.

      I suspect Indians were happy about the trains, less happy about the bodies buried under them during construction and at being made to ride the cars by sitting on top of them rather than inside.  There’s also that the railroads delivered up Indian resources for export to and use by the Brits rather than for the benefit of those at home.  That’s a good nutshell description of capital.

      • Wayoutwest says:

        If you can accept the fact that modern capitalism has flourished because of the spread of the rule of law that comes with the spread of democracy I’ll accept that Marx was correct about the extreme predatory capitalism of 150 years ago. US foreign policy during the Cold War was used to stop the spread of Communism which can never lead to freedom or democracy and required we support and even help install some unsavory dictatorships. Through a long and difficult process most of these authoritarian governments were convinced to evolve into representative democracies because capitalist investment requires the rule of law to protect it from the capricious rule of man. Two examples of this evolution driven by the capitalist requirement of the rule of law under democracy are South Korea and Taiwan. Both of these countries were supported and protected by the US and both started with extreme authoritarian governments.  Both of these countries were encouraged to change and use the benefits of capitalist investment to become the economic powerhouses with democratic freedom and prosperity enjoyed by their people today. There are many other examples of this capitalism/US foreign policy driven economic and political evolution  in South America with varying levels of economic and political progress. The only metric that the Marxists can claim superiority in is political and economic corruption as seen in Brazil where their people used their democracy to reject the collectivists nightmare and are hoping for a better future.

      • earlofhuntingdon says:

        American policy in the post-Second World War period was devoted to expanding the reach of its military and its corporations – at home and abroad.  The US dramatically enhanced military spending, put the US on a permanent war footing, and enforced a rigid social and political conformity.  The Overton Window became a mousehole.

        Those policies succeeded so well that it is now hard to imagine pre-1940 America: ordinary food that would now be considered luxuriously “organic,” a lack of plastics and consumer goods, and the virtual absence of the military-industrial-educational-congressional complex and its elaborate security clearance culture – artifacts of the Bomb, the object around which America built its foreign and domestic policies.

        I agree that capital requires dominance over government to work its many wonders.  It uses that control to determine the reach (or absence) of the law to sustain markets and to impose its priorities.  The US, for example, devoted enormous resources for a decade to avoid adopting the European-style data privacy regime that the rest of the industrial world adopted two decades ago.  Fa**book and G*ggle would not exist in their present forms had they been launched under that regime  But then we wouldn’t be trying protect democracy from their worst excesses.

        The law and the overt coercive power of government have been consistently used to favor capital over labor.  Both were used to impose Jim Crow, which kept African Americans nearly as enslaved as they were before the unCivil War.  Both have been used for five decades to impose draconian drug laws which preclude full citizenship for African Americans and for those on the left, colloquially known as DFH.

        The foreign policy examples you list are also problems for your argument.  South Korea remained an authoritarian regime until quite recently.  Its heads of government even now are routinely convicted of massive financial and other crimes, a victory for democratic values and a lament at how often they are abused.

        In South America, economic, political and social progress arrive in spite of US interference, not because of it.  Indeed, the US consistently opposes progressive governments on the basis that their policies – designed to protect local workers, resources, and governments from US interference and US-imposed priorities – are detrimental to US interests.  The phrase is shorthand for describing policies of independence and resilience that lower the profits of US multinationals.

        Brazilians have not rejected a “collectivist nightmare,” they have fallen victim to a cynical rightwing one.  (So have those who favored Brexit, those supporting rightwing governments in Hungary and Poland, and those supporting Donald Trump.)  Bolsonaro, for example, was elected with campaign fraud that would make Georgia’s Kemp look like Jimmy Carter.  The left was assaulted by corrupt rightwing judges, who, in a fashion Trump would like to bring to a theater near you, imprisoned Bolsonaro’s chief electoral competitor.  Meanwhile, the massive corruption on the right carries on without let up, and the government declares open season on development in the Amazon basin, threatening the entire planet.

  6. Kick the darkness says:

    I’ve enjoyed the series.  It has made me revisit and rethink some things.  So, for me what I guess I’ll call a class-based view of US political dysfunction never quite seemed to fit.  It didn’t seem to mesh with the things we seem to fight about, the cultural divides in the political landscape.  I’ve been more inclined towards the cultural geography treatments of Wilbur Zelinsky and Colin Woodward.  I mean, its clear the growing inequality of wealth and opportunity can be viewed as primary root problems, but, if so, the political drama of the country seems fundamentally miscast.  And, if that’s the case, why is that?

    Poking around from reading your series I came across this work, by Peter Bloom, Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Globalization. Ultimately it’s stated goal is to understand political authoritarianism in relation to capitalism.  It goes over some of the territory you’ve covered here:  Fukuyama may have gotten a bit ahead of history, instead of reaching the end of it, in equating free markets with free people.  And, similar to that of Wood, pointing out some of the inherently undemocratic aspects of capitalism.  But Bloom’s main thing is to try and explore why the “class struggle” (again, for want of a better term-issues of political economy) tends to reveal itself as an authoritarian impulse, such that existing tensions in a society are exacerbated.  The serfs never have this “the people in the castle are the problem” moment and so fight among themselves.  To quote, there is a “displacement of social and economic dissatisfaction…onto a demonized internal or external other.”  Increasing inequality leads to authoritarian fantasies-that’s the idea.  He explores what these fantasies mean and where they come from.

    So that at least gives me some sort of mechanism, albeit a kind of fuzzy one, for how capitalism can run amok and yet not be identified, politically, as a culprit.  But I still end up with your frustration: it seems completely academic in a sense.  There needs to be some kind of Lakoff reframing of the issues.  From fantasy to the rational.  And it feels we are very distant from that.

    • Ed Walker says:

      Thanks for the recommendation; I’ll take a look. I think the question you raise, how come the serfs don’t notice that the castle gets all the good stuff, is fundamental to what I’m looking at going forward. I plan to start with Bourdieu’s view of symbolic violence, which I discuss in a post linked above. Here’s an interesting short piece by Bourdieu.\

      • Kick the darkness says:

        Thanks for the link on Bourdieu.  I also read your post on the concept of symbolic violence from January.  I came away thinking of it as the deliberate abstraction of policies, obscuring them behind symbols and “isms”.  Obfuscating masks so to speak, with the implication that such masks are purposeful fabrications by pseudo intellectuals in think tank spin rooms.  The Heartland Institute comes to mind on climate change.  Turning the blade the other way, perhaps even the idea that if progressives can defeat the symbol of Trump we will have defeated what he stands for.   At least I took it that way.  But I suspect Bourdieu is conceiving of something beyond just a form of cultural disinformation.

        A concept that does heavy lifting in Bloom’s book is Lacan’s views on social identity and fantasy.  A key citation can be found as a freebie here.

        A glance through this may help decide if you think Bloom’s book would be worth your time.  If it all sounds like hocus-pocus….maybe not.  And frankly as a “hard science” guy, well I struggle with it.  But you’ll notice the “semantic scholar” part of the link.  I would not be surprised if Bourdieu’s symbolic violence and Bloom’s treatment of politics as a shared (and malleable) cultural fantasy have congruent elements.

        thanks again

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