Karl Marx knew the peculiar dynamics of capitalism, or what he called “the bourgeois mode of production.”

He knew that reigning ideologies—think corporate capitalism with its belief in deindustrialization, deregulation, privatization of public assets, austerity, slashing of social service programs, and huge reductions in government spending—were created to serve the interests of the economic elites, since “the class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production” and “the ruling ideas are nothing more than the ideal expression of the dominant material relationships . . . the relationships which make one class the ruling one.” The acceleration of deindustrialization by the 1970s created a crisis that forced the ruling elites to devise a new political paradigm, as Stuart Hall (with cowriters) explains in Policing the Crisis.

This paradigm, trumpeted by compliant media, shifted its focus from the common good to race, crime, and law and order. It told those undergoing profound economic and political change that their suffering stemmed not from corporate greed, but from a threat to national integrity. The old consensus that buttressed the programs of the New Deal and the welfare state was attacked as enabling criminal black youth, welfare queens, and social parasites. The parasites were to blame. This opened the door to an authoritarian populism, begun by Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher, which supposedly championed family values, traditional morality, individual autonomy, law and order, the Christian faith, and the return to a mythical past, at least for white Americans. Donald Trump capitalized on this perceived threat to national integrity and authoritarian populism to take power. Read More