I found this posting just fascinating. Recall that displacement is an economist’s word for that moment when you wake up and discover that your job, community, culture, etc. have been displaced by some alternative; typically through no fault of your own. Some examples. The hurricane floods your neighborhood; Home Depot sucks the life out of your family’s hardware store. The landlord decides to displace tenant farmers off lands they have occupied for generations. That was this original example, he was make way for more profitable sheep.
The victims of displacement react with rage. “The rage of the small property holder – the peasant, the artisan, the stall-keeper – against his inexorable ruin by the competition of bigger capital is given a face … to hate: a physical particularity that stands in thought for the abstractions of ‘finance’ and ‘the market’ and ‘the banks’.”
This rage can be a powerful tool for shaping group solidarity. What the posting illuminates is how the rage often lacks a focus. If your neighborhood has been flooded by the hurricane you can quickly to organize the citizens into a posse, but you can’t get a rope around Mother Nature’s neck. Potent rage versus a diffuse unnamed other makes for a, ah, interesting situation.
Clever social activists will work to assure the group’s rage is dissipated. They directing the rage toward an available target. Consider some pairs:
Tragic suicide at the high school? Focus the rage to invigorate the after school activities?
Traditional society finds it is being displaced by more modern and economically vibrant societies. Focus the rage on first world nations and their citizens?
‘The Jew’ has often become the focus of this rage, as the quote above goes on to say. Rage seeks a concrete focus. Displacement rage often grows and festers until it finds a focus. Political actors know this. The rage is an opportunity to solve problems. But the rage is also dangerous, since it might turn on them. You can’t hang Mother Nature, but you can hang the Mayor.
Bush et. al. refocused the rage against terrorism (a very diffuse threat) onto Iraq. They were acting as perfectly rational political actors. They believed was a constructive goal. But they also saw the risk the rage would focus on something they cared for, say Saudi Arabia.
The posting goes on to suggest that the displacement rage of the Left has yet to find it’s focus. Personally I think Republicans are a fine focus. Republicans are the new Jew.
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