Mystery analyst Scipio Sattler provides a fascinating account of the professional-managerial class (PMC) and its ideology in the context of Liz Warren's 2020 backstabbing of Bernie Sanders, and the embrace of her by what passes for the Left in America. Sattler lays bare Liz Warren's neoliberal roots and technocratic soul, but more significantly exposes and delineates the class divide that separates the PMC (or professional class, in Sattler's terminology) from the working class. Class in the USA is an obsession of mine, and clearly an essential consideration to moving past capitalism. This is one of the most compelling analyses of the PMC which I have ever read.
The PMC formulation was originated by Barbara and John Ehrenreich in a 1977 essay, which remains of interest today. Ehrenreich expanded and updated the notion of the PMC versus the working class in her classic 1987 text Fear of Falling: the Inner Life of the Middle Class. Other worthies have added to the analysis over the years, although the terminology has been far from consistent. I've been heavily influenced by Christopher Lasch, Bill Domhoff, Thomas Frank, and, lately, Michael Lind, among others, and I've formulated my own skeletal model of class in America for help in understanding the context in which we operate.
Sattler brings the analysis up to the moment, tying up Sanders' defeat, cancel culture, wokeness, and the hopelessness of America's Left in a devastating critique that will likely be met by a wall of silence, disguising a furious scurry behind the scenes to unmask this heretic voice. Read it while you can! Meanwhile, to whet your appetite, here's a snippet or two. Lots of other good stuff at the Collide site as well.
Here's Sattler's thumbnail definition for the professional class (PMC, according to my preference):
The professional class is a distinct social class, antagonistic to workers and amenable to elites. Downwardly mobile, but elite aspiring, professionals tear each other down like crabs in a bucket as they climb up the corporate ladder. The bottom-up anarcho-orthodoxy of professional ideology is more effective than a top-down imposition of an orthodox party line as in the late Soviet Union or present-day China. At least the American version provides the illusion of freedom.
Perhaps the most compelling point in an article with many compelling points is Sattler's definition of cancel culture (emphasis in original):
Cancel culture is not a complaint aboutpeople being too PC these days,nor is it aboutdismantling oppressive structuresas its orthodox interpreters suggest. Cancel culture is the ideological mechanism by which the professional class expands its role within public and private bureaucracies. The state and private corporations are called to subsidize diversity officers, investigators of the latest NGO crusade, to address howthe whiteness of ____ is a problem, or thatx department should have more people that look like y.Whatever minority group cited — female, black, etc, or trauma or harm that justifies it is a cipher to smuggle in more woke professionals to work more bullshit jobs. This is a clear departure from a working-class interest. Professionals never cancel to ask for manufacturing jobs back in America, and they never cancel to get the minimum wage hiked. Nobody has ever beencalled outto end at-will employment or to cancel right-to-work laws. Once in these positions of power, professional class protect their influence and wield cancel culture against workers, against fellow professionals, and against elites. The measure of all the professional's opinions and pushed narratives all rest on how well they comport with their elitist Brahmanical speech rituals. Opinions and arguments never rest on their own merit, but on how well the argument follows professional manners. Failing that, professional arguments rest on the spurious claim that they are the voice of the victimized, marginalized masses. The communities they claim to represent don't actually share the professional's opinions or interests, but you'll never hear that from them. The professional class uses the partitioned masses as leverage in its war to replace the old elites with themselves as the new elites, to operate the NGOs, the non-profits, the movements, the colleges, the media, the corporate, and state bureaucracies.
Sattler links professional class ideology to the wokeness that characterizes the modern university's content and culture:
The distinct class ideology of the professional class is critical theory, social justice, intersectionality, identity politics, political correctness, in a word, woke. Professionals are nearly all college educated, meaning the class has been drenched in woke orthodoxies propagated by the modern university. After soaking in specialized identitarian discourses, the professional class spreads its ideology through the media, NGOs, nonprofits, human resource departments, and all aspects of the information economy. . . . A discourse that claims to represent the marginalized is disliked by the marginalized; the less college educated, lower income working class. At the same time, politically correct discourse is favored by the higher-income, and college-educated — two identifiers of elite-aspiring professionals. To be conversant in woke is a status symbol. It is a signal to employers, contacts, and potential partners that the woke person is well-educated, docile, earnest, and a safe choice. . . . The professional class will never admit that they are a cadet branch of the capitalist class, that sides with elites at every turn and identifies as middle or working-class when it suits them. The professional claims their non-productive labor makes them experts in the subfields of the professional's personal race/gender/sexual identity and claims to speak on behalf of their respective identitarian communities as if those groups were monoliths. Professionals insist on subdividing the diverse working class as a child separates their jelly beans, by color, gender, and creed. The targeted marketing schemes employed by professionals does the heavy lifting for elites, who easily conquer what professionals have already divided intersectionally.
I won't even touch on the Warren/Sanders material. That's a useful piece of the puzzle around why Sanders' 2020 performance was so much worse than 2016. But for my purposes, it's the class analysis that really makes this piece a must-read and worthy of rereading and reflection. Many thanks to Scipio Sattler, whoever you are!