January 2, 2017

Word: ditching the white working class

Michael Phillips, Jacobin -   Trump’s rise ... has unleashed a cascade of contempt for white working-class voters. In the aftermath of the election, Kali Holloway, a senior writer at AlterNet, treated racism as a disease pandemic among the white proletariat, asking in one column that people “Stop asking me to empathize with the white working class.”

Writers like Holloway spent 2016 depicting Trump’s electoral successes as symptoms of white working-class dysfunction, ignoring that Trump voters earned a higher-than-average median income (about $70,000), that Trump won a plurality of voters earning $100,000 and above, and that Trump carried the votes of more white college graduates than Hillary Clinton.

Demonizing the white working class as disproportionately prone to white supremacist thinking serves a reactionary political agenda. It delegitimizes the economic pain suffered by the white working class in an age of mounting debt, downward mobility, decreasing life expectancy, and shrinking opportunity. (“Be happy for coal miners losing their health insurance. They’re getting exactly what they voted for,” Daily Kos founder Markos Moulitsas proclaimed in one recent post.) It makes it easier to dismiss the grievances of white workers as racial backlash, mere tribal scapegoating.

Too many imagine that the occupants of what Clinton called “a basket of deplorables” toil in vanishing Rust Belt factories, auto plants, or Christ-haunted and gun-toting farming communities.


Anonymous said...

1860 = 2060 the break up of union? Very possible if the Republic desends into third world chaos.

Anonymous said...

I seem to remember a Kremlin Prediction sometime back that the United States was destined to break up into 5 distinct autonomous regions based mostly on culture: West, Central, North East, Northern, & Southern. Alaska would most likely fold into Canada or back into Russia and what was left of Hawaii after sea level rise would be quasi western / independent.

To my reconciliation, this prediction was made several years after the Soviet collapse before the hunger games book.

It is self-professed doctrine by the Christian Dispensationist's / Reconstructionist's that their divinely ordained duty is to bring about John's Revelations (although they don't seem to be to concerned about following the biblical order of the tribulations, mark of the beast, antichrist, and the non-scriptural rapture).

Wars and rumors of wars. It certainly seems the unmitigated global climate change brought by the Mammon worshipers will establish hell on earth for the vast majority of the worlds population.

I know every generation thinks they are in the 'end' times. As an atheist I believe man chooses to make their own heaven or hell. Interesting times indeed!

Louis Massano said...

A very thought-provoking article, Sam. Thanks for including it.

Years ago in college (I'm 70 now ) I read most of "One Dimensional Man" by Herbert Marduse, and recently when I tried to remember what I could about that book (which I read, didn't like because of its turgid writing and fragmentary analyis, and which I didn't therefore add to my personal library) I looked for a memory-refresher about its main points. The Wikipedia article on Marcuse was the best I found - and I think it's a very good article overall.

Here's a lengthy quote from that article that I think very relevant to this Pro Rev item. In it, under the heading "Marcuse and Capitalism," the reader finds:

"Most important of all, the pressure of consumerism had led to the total integration of the working class into the capitalist system. Its political parties and trade unions had become thoroughly bureaucratized and the power of negative thinking or critical reflection had rapidly declined. The working class was no longer a potentially subversive force capable of bringing about revolutionary change. As a result, rather than looking to the workers as the revolutionary vanguard, Marcuse put his faith in an alliance between radical intellectuals and those groups not yet integrated into one-dimensional society, the socially marginalized, the substratum of the outcasts and outsiders, the exploited and persecuted of other race and other colours, the unemployed and the unemployable."

I think that quote, along with the rest of the section on "One Dimensional Man" under "Marcuse and Capitalism" in that Wikipedia entry on Herbert Marcuse - a thinker often characterized as the founder of the New Left (but I think C.Wright Mills really was) - encapsulates nicely the favorable economic environment of the U.S. working class around the time the book was published, a time when unions were much more powerful, millions of workers had jobs in the industrial and trade sectors of the U.S. economy - jobs and benefits that were gutted under Reagan and later on, under Bush Senior and Clinton. The eventual disconnect between the left and workers who work with their hands eventually rendered the New Left into the mostly academe-bound, largely bubble-dwelling New Left it is today in the U.S.

Thirty -six years after the beginning of Reagan's "reign" (as Donald Trump might put it) the resultant ascendancy of Trump and Trumpism - what Robert Reich has nicely called "authoritarian populism"- in our country has some menacing similarities to the rise of fascistic dictatorships in Germany, France and Italy.

The void left of by a disdain by the left and many (not all: think Bernie Sanders and, of course, Sam Smith) progressives for skilled manual industrial and trade union and manufacturing "Blue Collar Aristocrats" (title of a very valuable 1980's book by a social worker) combined with their disconnect from urban and suburban American life , except of course for the Left's continuing concern for the groups Marcuse identified; the destruction of the New Deal Coalition engendered by the collapse of unions, city and state machines, and further enabled by the deindustrialization of the U.S. economy; and the rise of globalized cheap-labor industrialism in Asia- all of those late 20th century developments - have set the stage for a even more violent America in the future.