Unfortunately, Greenwald’s reference to “the amorphous and trans-ideological politics driving both the Reddit uprising and the reaction to it” falls far short of a coherent systemic understanding. His comments show how Americans – even the most astute among us – are failing to interpret the political landscape with anything approaching accuracy.
To resolve this dangerous limitation, commentators will need to embrace a premise they might find unpalatable …… that an adequate understanding of the political paradigm can never be developed through words alone. Instead, the first step in any serious political analysis is the visualization of a properly constructed spatial model.
The term trans-ideological lies at the crux of Greenwald’s blind spot. It reflects our human penchant for adding length to a description when we don’t quite understand its pattern. Sporting seven syllables, this word’s definition is particularly fuzzy. We can only assume that Greenwald asserts a Nietzschian framing: “beyond left and right”.
It’s not wholly incorrect to use a term like “trans-ideological.” But to pair it with the term “amorphous” is to confess no knowledge of an alternative. A better model does exist, though.
For example, neither party in the Gamestop dispute is energized by issues regarding values …… the traditional battlefield between left and right. They reside instead, as Greenwald correctly notes, in the field of rational endeavor. This orientation toward the practical concerns of business and finance causes conflicts about power ….. not about values.
The two main combatants in the Gamestop conflict do take diametrically opposed positions. The financial oligarchy sits at the top of the political circle, while the Redditors reside near the circle’s bottom pole. This reflects an ordering of positions more consistent with the majority of recent American conflicts ……
The hedge funds might, or might not, function as the apex predators of today’s financial hierarchy. But they do rely on an understanding of (and exert influence on) today’s highly centralized system of banking, trading, and regulation. In contrast, the Reddit group relies on emergent self-organization, with citizens free to act as individual agents.
This gets to the crux of a misunderstanding that vexes even the most insightful observers in America today. Yes, it’s true that wallstreetbets members might lean slightly to the left or the right. But their primary loyalty isn’t horizontal; it’s vertical. They proudly practice a citizen-empowering politics.
The unacknowledged tendency to frame disputes as left versus right remains entrenched in mainstream thinking, even as some pundits attempt to form language describing another dimension. Values explanations might have been adequate in the past. But they’re counterproductive today, when the machinations of top down power dominate.
To assess the twenty-first century’s political crisis in terms of left and right – without clarifying their relationship to top versus bottom – is a conflation of the highest order. It’s a mistake from which recovery will be difficult, if not impossible. An alternative framing must be considered.