Here’s the question I’m working on right now: given the collapse of the US economy a couple of years ago, why aren’t masses of people coming to the obvious conclusion that the capitalist economic system is unsustainable? Instead, we get the Tea Party demanding that the state regulate capitalism even less.
Here are some possible answers:
1. People are coming to that conclusion, but the media aren’t telling us about it. (E.g., the Tea Party convention got tons of coverage, the US Social Forum gathering in Detroit, which was much bigger, got almost none).
2. The collapse of the Soviet bloc has made the Left stop talking about socialism; as a result, hardly anyone even knows what socialism is — so that, for example, the government bailout of the big banks is perceived by many (especially, again, the Tea Party) as a “socialist” measure — because it involved the government. If people understood socialism as control of the state by the working class, they would see that this is just the opposite — control by the biggest capitalists.
Probably there are other answers as well — I will be looking for them (and at them) in the book I am writing now, working title: Minor Parties and the Crisis of the American Party System.