The Millennial Left has been subject to the triple knock-out of Obama, Sanders, and Trump. Whatever expectations it once fostered were dashed over the course of a decade of stunning reversals. In the aftermath of George W. Bush and the War on Terror; of the financial crisis and economic downturn; of Obama’s election; of the Citizens United decision and the Republican sweep of Congress; of Occupy Wall Street and Obama’s reelection; and of Black Lives Matter emerging from disappointment with a black President, the 2016 election was set to deliver the coup de grâce to the Millennials’ “Leftism.”
A Channel 4 News interview with the Slovenian philosopher Slavoj Žižek circulated on the internet during November 2016, just days before the U.S. presidential election. In the video, the leftist philosopher appears in his usual manner—twitchy, repeatedly rubbing his nose—as he answers the question as to who would win his vote if he were American. Without hesitation, Žižek belts out, “Trump!” Then he elaborates: Trump is not the better candidate, or even likable, but Clinton poses the threat of absolute inertia.
On April 7, 2017 the Platypus Affiliated Society hosted a discussion at its Ninth Annual International Convention in Chicago on the subject of “Marxism in the Age of Trump.” The event’s speakers were Chris Cutrone, President of the Platypus Affiliated Society and teacher of Critical Theory at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago; Catherine Liu, Professor of Film and Media Studies at the University of California, Irvine and author of The American Idyll: Academic Anti-Elitism as Cultural Critique; and Greg Lucero, a founding member of the Revolutionary Students' Union and a member of the Chicago chapter of the Socialist Party USA.
WHEN FIRST ENCOUNTERING the Impeach Bush movement in 2007 I responded, almost flippantly, “Why not impeach the system that gave us Bush?” “Otherwise,” I said, “we risk having someone in the White House who’ll make us long for Bush.” If prescient, my response was admittedly formulaic and evidently deficient. Not surprisingly, whiffs of a new impeachment movement are again in the air since the November 2016 surprise. Those blowing from the Left, however, are again devoid of systemic/structural thinking and, alas, to its peril. It is to those who are wary of being seduced by this crowd that this more substantive response is directed, rather than to the lesser-evil true believers for whom hope springs eternal.