The agony of the petite bourgeoisie

I thought this observation from Dylan Riley in the recent New Left Review was crucial for understanding the class politics of the pandemic. Particularly with regards to what I’ve come to think of as the lumpen-libertarian uprising which is unfolding as a reaction against elites, globalism and lockdown in a way which gets past the constraints which have held back the far-right:

My son and I had an interesting conversation with an ethnically Tibetan shop owner. He bemoaned the corruption of how government assistance is being doled out through the ‘Paycheck Protection Program’. H had tried to apply for a loan, but his bank could not even explain how to fill out the forms. He also denounced, however, the inconstancy of California’s stay-at-home orders. He described a restaurant owner friend of his who had spent thousands of dollars to build outdoor tables and purchase heaters; the investment was a total loss, as the restaurant had been forced to close again entirely after a few days of being open. Clearly the politics of this group, smallscale shop and restaurant owners, will be crucial in the coming period. The petite bourgeoisie feels squeezed between the connected fat cats served by the federal government, and public-health measures that threaten its economic survival. Great political intelligence will be needed to avoid its radicalization to the right.

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