The New Class War, by Michael Lind, the author of numerous books of nonfiction, fiction and poetry, anchors itself firmly in the why-is-this-happening genre. Unfortunately, because its theory seems to have predated, and been awaiting, this moment, it takes a great amount of jamming to fit Lind’s peg into the hole of the present situation. And the explanation that results is marked by an appalling minimization of the most dangerous administration in our lifetimes and a highly distorted portrait of Trump supporters as victims ... Lind’s heart genuinely hurts for those shafted by oligarchy. But he is limited by conceptual blinders. And he seems to have an outdated (if widely shared) idea of who is a working-class person. When he thinks about what the oligarchy has done to America, he tends to think of white men as the principal victims. And when he begins to detail how these supporters of populism have been oppressed by the schoolteachers-to-billionaires overclass, things get really weird ... Look, writing a book about Trump-era populism without a lens of racial awareness must be hard ... what is missing from the book, and might have saved it, is actual human beings ... what is missing from the book, and might have saved it, is actual human beings ... This is a book written from the brain more than from the collision with the complexities of experience. It is a book that would have benefited from getting out there, interviewing people, testing theories against reality, heading down to the border, unearthing documents showing how companies think about the issues in question ... The New Class War lacks the texture and earth and seduction of real portraiture.
The New Class War is a breath of fresh air. Many on the left have been incapable of coming to terms with Hillary Clinton’s defeat. The result has been the stifling climate of a neo-McCarthyism, in which the only explanation for Trump’s success was an unholy alliance of 'Putin stooges' and unrepentant 'white supremacists.' To Lind, the case is much more straightforward ... Lind rightly complains all throughout the book that the old mass-membership based organizations of the 20th century have collapsed. He’s coy, however, about who would reconstitute them and how. At best, Lind argues for a return to the old system where party bosses and ward captains served their local constituencies through patronage, but once more this leaves the agency with entities like the Republicans and Democrats who have a combined zero members.
In The New Class War, inspired in part by James Burnham’s now classic The Managerial Revolution...Mr. Lind takes up the current unrest sweeping the world — he calls it 'native working-class populism'— whether here, England, France, Germany, in each case with immediately identifiable 'issues' of concern — immigration, sovereignty fuel prices. But these issues are symptoms, he writes, and the real issue is power.