The Soft Red-Brownism of Political Party Perceptions
Red-brownism is about far more than just propaganda and overt convergence of ideas.
One topic I have written about on multiple occasions is red-brownism — that is fascistic ideas and goals being peddled to leftists. For instance, apologia for a brutal fascist dictator can be pitched as “anti-imperialist,” most quintessentially in recent years with Bashar Al-Assad. However, red-brownism is more than the active dissemination of these ideas and goals. It is also about influencing people’s patterns of thinking.
In the United States, mainstream politics is almost entirely dominated by Democrats and Republicans — the latter of which has grown increasingly reactionary, anti-democratic, and fascistic in nature over recent decades. However, a certain brand of thinking frames the latter as unrealized socialists — downtrodden members of the working class who merely need to hear the Good Word of Jes— err, Marx.
While a number of Republicans can be fairly described as working-class — and others as affluent LARPers who signal working-class aesthetics through purchases like expensive pickup tricks — we are talking about adherents to a party that refuses to accept the results of a Democratic election, to the point of instigating an insurrection attempt in the Capitol. Since then, they have gone on the offensive against trans people on the state level.
Those among the MAGAs who would benefit from left-wing economic policies are so often conditioned to view government “handouts” as shameful, which is a mindset that should be dismantled throughout society, but getting someone to embrace socialism while shedding reactionary views is an untenable uphill battle.
If they are not already swayed by the economic messaging of the Democrats, it’s unlikely that a stronger left economic position will sway them. Instead, you start making concessions to social conservatism — a pattern present throughout recent history which is manifest in the recent victory of Pedro Castillo, a man surely better than the daughter of a deposed dictator who did not fall far from the tree but whose social policies are drenched in reactionary fervor.
A movement that throws marginalized groups under the bus in the service of winning over the “working class” is not a liberatory one — taken to its logical conclusion it would lead to a society with yet another working-class exploited by a formerly exploited class, much as the case was the bourgeoisie by the nobility and royalty.
Were the only way to the working class’s heart through such politics, proponents of it might have at least some semblance of a valid argument, but the reality is the coalition behind the Democratic Party includes an enormous amount of working-class voters as well — and they are far more diverse.
The logic of the soft red-brownist mindset is that, while the Democrats talk the talk with working-class support, it is the party of “elites,” and the Republicans represent the actual working class. But this simply does not hold up in reality, and the working-class voters who vote Democrat should be more appealing to those with leftist goals in every way — they’re more diverse, they’re more likely to accept government support, and they’re less likely to hold socially conservative views.
This sort of mindset is reflected in the “Force the Vote” phenomenon centered around social media personalities like Jimmy Dore, who are decrying politicians like AOC as sellouts for working with the Democrats while going on shows hosted by thoroughly fascist and racist personalities like Tucker Carlson in hope of pitching his messaging to Republicans.
Whether or not folks like Jimmy Dore are true believers in their actions, it normalizes a pattern of perspective and behavior that is counter to meaningful and intersectional progressivism — one where time is wasted pandering to people whose extremely hard-won support for social programs would dry up the minute that some conservative think tank dreams up this decade’s version of “welfare queens.”
As always, the point of countering red-brownism should not be to put Democrats above criticism, and we should always strive to make Democratic politicians do better and do more to represent the interests of the people — all while advocating and organizing for political change in other ways as well.
But, generally speaking, it is best to approach liberals from a position of them acting in good faith and wanting good outcomes and to be skeptical of your ability to reform reactionaries into something better. While we should hope that everyone improves and matures, politically or otherwise, it simply leads to better outcomes if your efforts are focused on those with whom you can easily find a lot of common ground.
Above all else, this should mean that anti-red-brownism includes deliberately viewing liberals as better potential allies and converts than conservatives. Simply stopping the flow of red-brownist propaganda is not enough — we also must recognize the ways that it has, without conscious self-awareness, affected the way so many people think.