Monday, March 19, 2012

also CT:

Salient 03.18.12 at 6:57 pm

geo, lots of love and all as always, but we might have to go toe-to-toe on this one.

have persuaded people who are, rightly or wrongly, unhappy with the state of popular culture and social morality that everything wrong with the world is the fault of un-American liberal elite

Everything wrong with the world is the fault of un-American liberal elite. These voters have not been misled in any way. Their definition of ‘wrong’ predated any kind of Republican reclamation, and in fact ‘we’ exploited them far more crassly for forty years not quite one century ago, in order to install a welfare state.

And we really did dump a massive and ongoing categorical betrayal on the ‘working class’ (which, c’mon folks, in America means ‘white male bigot’ class, and nothing more than that—ever notice that approximately zero females or persons of color are pointed out as representatives of the American working class? ever wonder why? ever notice that a waiter or bus driver is not under any circumstances American working class? There’s a reason white male plumbers have been the quintessential American working class person for some time now, and it has a lot to do with a not-well-acknowledged stereotype of plumbers as ‘no-nonsense’ ‘common-sense’ ‘ordinary-guy’ bigots.)

The problem is twofold. One, these folks have wised up to our misleading of them in the early 20th century, and two, their understanding of the world is now getting accurately acknowledged and explicitly catered to by the conservative party. What’s actually the matter with Kansas is (1) their definition of ‘wrong’ is awful, and (2) there is now a party that is willing to acknowledge their perspective and represent it accurately.

Just because we managed to trick them for a couple of generations into fighting for the wrong side doesn’t mean we’re entitled to their alliance.

whose worst offense, by the way, is that they want to interfere with the workings of the free market

No. The worst offense is that a black man can marry their daughter and there’s fuck all they can do about it now. Our country’s culture has become absolutely insufferable, and that ‘worst offense’ example sums up exactly what’s so insufferable about it. Try thinking about it for a minute. A black man. Marrying your daughter. Doesn’t it make you feel sick inside? [If it doesn’t, either your imagination is failing you or you’re not trying hard enough. Occupy the mindset in which this is the worst future for your daughter that you can imagine.]

Anyway, the rest of this writes itself. The second-worst offense is, of course, that we let a pregnant woman interfere with God’s plan for a fetus in her body (unless a black man inseminated a white woman who now expresses appropriate regret for her malfeasance; you might be surprised what a large contingent of staunch ‘pro-life’ working-class people will feel honestly conflicted about the prospect of aborting such a monstrosity).

And, of course, the third-worst offense is that we tricked them into supporting a welfare state that treats black people and women like human beings that are not beneath them. This idea that conservative economics conflicts in any way with the desires of social conservatives is obviously wrong. If your societal goal is to reinforce bigotry, then your economic goal is to reinforce bigotry. This is exactly what conservative economics does: it attempts to destroy the welfare system that we tricked them into enshrining into law.

Doesn’t make sense?

Makes perfect sense. ‘We’ want a world that ‘they find repellent. Might as well acknowledge that.


Salient 03.19.12 at 1:14 am

Salient (38.), I’ll be rude and say this reads like an exercise in essentializing to me.

Neither rude nor incorrect. You might say it’s counter-essentializing, in the direction opposite to the essentializing that Thomas Frank does.

The biggest of the problems with what I’m saying (and there are several) is that I’m whitewashing the fact that ‘white male bigot’ and ‘American lefty social-democrat’ are categories that overlapped extensively and gradually decoupled over time and then got blown in different directions during and immediately after WWII. There are still a number of white male bigot American lefty social-democrat folks, but they’re a relatively small and completely unorganized and somewhat marginalized subgroup of lefty folks at this point, composed of folks who are generally speaking quite chronically self-unaware of their own racist or misogynist streaks, and testy about getting called on ‘em.

Salient seems pretty upset in 38. I take he or she is channeling conservative Republicans.

I do write in a style that sometimes sounds much more upset than I actually am (something I’ve been working on correcting for years, with only slow and partial progress) but the second sentence is probably accurate, I am channeling the white male bigot, just in a kind of indirect way.

I guess academics are liberal elites in the US. But, here in Ghana we are unionized so we are definitely working class.

In America, being ‘working class’ has nothing to do with being working class, and everything to do with being a prig. Yarrow’s got a perfect example of someone who is literally working class, but not ‘working class’ in the evocative sense the phrase is used by, say, David Brooks.

I suspect I’ve missed a good many subtleties in the rest of your comment, which would render this reply to the above sentence nugatory.

In what follows I try to use brackets to be clearer about the subtleties, but I’m struggling to express them successfully, so it might take me a couple tries…

But just to be literal-minded about it: by “liberal elites,” Republican propagandists mean

…wellll, let me pause there, the whole thing we’re arguing about (or at least the whole thing I’m on about) is whether this is something deviously implanted in the white male bigot’s mind by crafty Republican propagandists, or whether this is something in the white male bigot’s mind that is explicitly acknowledged and catered to by modern-day Republican operatives who want to undo the damage [to white male bigot security and comfort and supremacy] that liberal elites inflicted [by pursuing the establishment of civil rights].

In other words, we’re disagreeing about who is leading whom. Did the Republican operatives mislead the white male bigot, or did the Republican operatives read the white male bigot mindset and decide to represent it accurately? You would say the former, I would say the latter—and yes, this definitely includes the vast majority of the Republican businessman’s platform both in letter and in spirit (but I feel a need to try to be clear about my basic perspective before getting into that, so I don’t say much about the details of that).

The pre-1950s are the archetypal time that [white male bigot] Americans wish to revert to because at that time [white male] Americans got all the advantages of a fully functioning welfare state [read: the GI bill, the GI bill, the (white) Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, and the GI bill] but didn’t yet have to contend with any of the destruction that liberal elites [e.g. civil rights activists] inflicted on [white male bigot] America in the decades that followed [by extending the goodies of the welfare state to persons who were not white male veterans; seriously, the heyday of the white male bigot began in 1944 and ended less than a decade later with Brown v. Board of Education].

By this definition, you are an un-American liberal elitist. I am an un-American liberal elitist.

(nodding) … are you trying to suggest we’re not? I’d take that as an insult.

But we are not responsible for all the ills—both real and fancied—that afflict Kansas and the rest of the Republican base.

…but we are. If it wasn’t for us [so to speak], they’d be able to contentedly enjoy the spoils of the GI Bill welfare state, without any trace of concern that colored persons or WMB-unapproved women would be eligible to compete for them. What ills are you talking about? There’s only one ill, and it’s the provision of opportunity to people who shouldn’t get a share of the opportunity [because they are not white men].

[Given that in these comments I’m conceding the language to the white male bigot crowd without conceding the correctness of their perspective,] I am personally quite proud to be an un-American liberal elitist [which means ‘supporter of undermining white male bigot supremacy’], I am pleased to be in some way partially responsible for at least some of the ills affecting [white male bigots in] Kansas [such as the unprecedented destructive horror of women having more extensive control over their own reproductive, marital, and economic fates], and I’m thoroughly relieved that liberal elites destroyed this country [for white male bigots] as far as they were able. I see the work of destroying [white male bigot dominance in] America [by extending civil rights, security, privacy, and liberty, to persons who are not white male bigots] as an important and explicit goal of my political self.

(Brackets throughout are a kludge, and probably are so obviously redundant as to be painful to wade through, but I wasn’t sure what else to try. I tried to go back and put scare quotes in to emphasize this, but I ended up with nearly every word in everything I’ve typed scare-quoted, making it illegible. Which brackets probably also did. This stuff is hard…)

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