Know Your Enemy: The Right Kind of Worker, with Gabriel Winant

Know Your Enemy: The Right Kind of Worker, with Gabriel Winant

Gabriel Winant joins the podcast to discuss what the populist right gets wrong about the history of the American working class.

Members of the United Steelworkers of America Local 8888 on strike (Wisconsin Historical Society)

Know Your Enemy is a podcast about the American right co-hosted by Matthew Sitman and Sam Adler-Bell. Read more about it here. You can subscribe to, rate, and review the show on Apple Podcasts and Stitcher, and receive bonus content by supporting the podcast on Patreon.

Since Donald Trump was elected president—partially on the strength of white working-class support in the Rust Belt—we’ve heard that the GOP is a working-class party; that liberals sold out American labor to globalized capital; and that American workers are too socially and culturally conservative to remain within the increasingly progressive Democratic tent. According to the populist right, the culture war is itself a class war, waged on behalf of real workers against a secular, libertine professional elite who control the commanding heights of the economy, government, and media.

What’s wrong with this story? Labor historian and essayist Gabriel Winant joins Matt and Sam to answer that question. Using Gabe’s award-winning book The Next Shift: The Fall of Industry and the Rise of Health Care in Rust Belt America as a guide, we tell a different story about working-class formation in this country, about the forces that led to the decline of America’s industrial base, and about the prospects for renewing labor’s power relative to capital. Along the way, we take on figures of the newly labor-curious right—Oren Cass, Sohrab Ahmari, and others—explaining how their vision is based on ideologically motivated elisions that seek to resolve rather than energize class conflict.  It’s a hot one, folks!

Sources and further reading:

Gabriel Winant, We Live in a Societyn+1

Professional-Managerial Chasmn+1

Coronavirus and Chronopolitics, n+1

Strike WaveNew Left Review

Sohrab Ahmari, How America Kneecapped Its Unions, Compact

Julius Krein, The Real Class War, American Affairs

Alexander Riley, Labor Betrayed by the Progressive Left, Chronicles

Landon R.Y. Storrs, The Second Red Scare and the Unmaking of the New Deal Left, Princeton University Press

Melinda Cooper, Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservatism, Zone Books

Alice Kessler-Harris, In Pursuit of Equity: Women, Men, and the Quest for Economic Citizenship in 20th-Century America, Oxford University Press


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