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Producerism is a term used in academic circles to describe a minority viewpoint within political conservatism (as well as by some liberals) who stake out a "radical center" or "Third Way" course, which views a strong middle class as the productive element in society. This middle class is seen as under threat from both above - big business and unregulated capital - and below, from what are viewed as "non-productive" elements in society (which may include illegal immigration, crime, people on welfare, or to use a Marxist concept, the lumpenproletariat.Wikipedia's W.svg)

[edit] Eat the rich, and the poor

Conservatives who tend toward producerist views therefore will tend to support trade unions and governmental regulation of big business, while viewing small business favorably; small business being seen as part of the productive middle class, and big business seen as parasitical and regarded with some disdain. Unlike left-wing unionists though, producerism tends to see workers and small capital as natural allies. On the other hand, producerism tends to oppose globalization and free trade. Social conservatives may hold producerist views on the grounds that the middle class is a stabilizing force and a repository of traditional values while big business (e.g. Disney) and the lower classes both promote moral degradation. This is distinct from the majority Republican position in which the interests of big business and unregulated capital are given priority.

Liberals who tend toward producerist views will often speak in terms of "the rich getting richer, the poor getting poorer, and the middle class being squeezed from both ends." Producerism is often seen as the main ideology behind such splinter center-right movements as Ross Perot's Reform Party in the United States, and some beliefs underlying the post-New Deal in the 1950s and 1960s (which built a strong middle class but left some groups from below out, making the civil rights movement necessary). It is also often conflated with populism (as it touts the virtues of the "real" people, i.e. the middle class). A more radical sort of producerism might uphold a largely agrarian and small-town society (as proposed by Thomas Jefferson) as the ideal, holding urban society (with both its large capitalist "from above" and lumpen "from below" elements in full display) in disdain, and envision an economy entirely of small businesses and small producers: see distributism for example.

[edit] The dark side

There also exists a white supremacist use of producerism. In this version, the productive middle class is really a stand-in term for white people, and the threats to the middle class from above and below are code words respectively for the international Jewish conspiracy and people of color. Any explicit racism may be further muddled with additional dog whistles: international bankers or the plutocracy to really mean Jews (also the Hollywood establishment and tenured Marxist university professors), and an ever-present threat to the silent majority from crime, drugs, gangs, illegal immigrants, voter fraud, Willie Horton, anchor babies, Ice-T's "Cop Killer", Sista Souljah, graffiti, Mike Brown, and single moms on welfare driving Cadillacs.

For an example of this sort of rhetoric with the racist overtones moderated into mere undertones, see Richard M. Nixon, particularly his Southern Strategy and appeals to the "Silent Majority". For a more radical and explicit example, Willis Carto made a career of (barely) disguising his hardline anti-Semitism and pro-Hitler views as populism and standing up for "the forgotten middle class" using producerist framing.

[edit] See also

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