A strange thing took place in New York politics at the end of November 1999: Lenora Fulani, the Black activist from Harlem, has endorsed Patrick Buchanan's Reform Party presidential candidacy, declaring that she will try to bring him to Harlem and mobilize the voters there on his behalf. While both partners admitted their differences on a number of key issues, they stressed "their common economic populism, and particularly their antipathy for free trade." Wherefore this pact between Fulani, the far-left espouser of Marxist-Leninist politics, and Buchanan, a Reaganite cold warrior and the leading Right-wing populist figure?
The liberal common wisdom has a quick answer to it: extremes - Right and Left "totalitarianism" - meet in their rejection of democracy, and especially today, in their common inability to adapt to the new trends of the global economy. Furthermore, do they not share the anti-Semitic agenda? While the anti-Semitic bias of the radical African-Americans is well-known, who does not remember Buchanan's provocative designation of the US Congress as an "Israeli occupied territory"? Against these liberal platitudes, one should focus on what effectively unites Fulani and Buchanan: they both (pretend to) speak on behalf of the proverbial "disappearing working class." In today's ideological perception, work itself (manual labor as opposed to "symbolic" activity), not sex, becomes the site of obscene indecency to be concealed from the public eye? The tradition which goes back to Wagner's Rheingold and Lang's Metropolis, the tradition in which the working process takes place underground, in dark caves, today culminates in the millions of anonymous workers sweating in Third World factories, from Chinese gulags to Indonesian or Brazilian assembly lines - in their invisibility, the West can afford itself to babble about the "disappearing working class." But what is crucial in this tradition is the equation of labor with crime, the idea that labor, hard work, is originally an indecent criminal activity to be hidden from the public eye.