Deep structural changes that our understanding has not fully kept up with.
1) Since the right wing basically is offering a return to what America was before the breaking-apart of the 1960s, they don’t need to understand. A left wing pointing to the way forward does.
2) The right wing is actually aligned with core groups within the current power structure and always has that wind at its back (money and media). The left wing has that wind in its face.
Some of the structural changes:
- Job insecurity and increased competition for real jobs. “Dropping out” was based on the ease of dropping back in later.
- Rise of student debt peonage (as many have pointed out) But if this were as big a factor as my gut tells me it is, then why isn’t there a strong youth left in European countries where university tuition is free? More freedom yes, but it is not exactly the 60s in Scandanavia either.
- Fractioning of experience with shift from Big 3 networks to micro-media. Even the “mainstream” has become more like a river delta with many parallel streams than a single big wide river.
- General intensification of competitiveness in ordinary life as dissolving of life-long employment and clear career tracks opens up more possibilities both for advance and for being stepped on and left behind.
- Split between working class political interests and middle class political interests from the 1960s.
- Outsourcing and renewed immigration in the US (was unusually low from early 1920s until late 1960s) and rise of immigration to Europe instead of from Europe.
- More full incorporation of formerly semi-independent power structures. The big 3 networks in the US used to be a semi-independent part of the power structure. Now they are direct corporate puppets. Universities were partial refuges and incubators of alternatives but are now corporate vocational and research centers.
- Commodification of youth culture and incorporation into corporate structure. Rebellion against social structure converted into rebellion against uncoolness. Partially due to dissolving of much of former sexual restrictions on the middle class. Testosteronal “smash the state” becomes “fight for the right to party”.
– The left in the 1960s was aided by the rise of youth culture, which was fairly new. (I think youth have separate music from the rest of society starts roughly with the young Frank Sinatra in the 40s.) Now “youth culture” too has split into smaller fragments.
- Maslowian alienation: Middle-class left tends to frame issues in terms of social justice but have hard time making straight out economic demands. A “chicken in every pot” has become “health insurance for the uninsured” rather than “free post-secondary education/training”.
Generally, diversity has broken up solidarity based on uniformities. Developing a higher level solidarity based on uniqueness rather than uniformities is a difficult task. (Which the right-wing does not face because it is by instinct pro-uniformity)