26 responses to “Dear fellow educated bourgeois lefty white Americans:”

  1. anaisdjuna

    Right on. *nods and repeats Right on*

  2. everydaylloyd

    Yes

    Hear hear!

  3. stimps

    Yes yes. I just wrote a little movie review the other day that said basically that one ought to stop shouting no matter what “side” one is on. It can’t be overstated that one demeans one’s own opinion by resorting to snottery and insult. Even when you know that yes, you are more articulate about it than “those other people” and it makes you mad to not yell. If you really think you’re better, than start behaving better. Now.

    You say it better than I do though. =) Yay!

  4. sugarcollider

    Damn right. We are, ultimately, all stuck with each other.

  5. flipzagging

    My thoughts on this are kind of incoherent, but that never stopped me before.

    1) Yes, a thousand times yes. Even if it doesn’t result in immediate coalitions, being humble is the first step.

    2) In total contradiction to #1: Angry White Guy is this way because, let’s face it, he is pretty ignorant. And let’s not pretend that we can pander to their prejudices without any sacrifices. Sooner or later Angry White Guy is going to say something about those dirty mexicans and then you’ll start wondering if the next episode of This American Life has hit the podcast or not.

    So the ignorant have always been vulnerable to propaganda. Why, then, do they not act in their own interest?

    What’s missing here are structures and institutions. It’s not the ideology, so much as the existence of an organization at all. In the past, Angry White Guy had unions, or agricultural coops, churches, and so on. These organizations created structures that could then usefully form alliances, sometimes even with students and other Librul Elitists.

    Unions are mostly gone, and the ones that are still vital aren’t exactly blameless either. Farming, a trade which once produced networks of cooperation, is now an insignificant part of the economy. The mainstream churches in the US seem to have given up on the idea of social responsibility; they now focus on a believer’s “personal” relationship with God.

    In place of all these, the average individual’s leisure time is now almost wholly consumed by what Orwell called “solitary mechanical amusements”. The internet is changing this, although it’s uncertain how much.

    So, my point is, maybe individual outreach from Librul Elitists is not the answer. In fact, maybe trying to corral them into our styles of activism isn’t a good idea.

    Maybe what’s missing is a way for Angry White Guy to join meaningfully with his peers to address his interests. That kind of organization can make alliances, and will sooner or later have to get real about what is and isn’t important.

    The Tea Party should have been that force, but it seems to be already consumed by politics as usual.

  6. mlr

    That’s a pretty mean stereotype there.

    My boss is someone who casually fits this stereotype. You would be surprised how little anger is actually a factor in his life. Of course he played high school football, and he’s a Christian, and he hunts and own guns and drives a pick-up. But he’s no more a sucker for Fox news, etc. than his counterpart in San Francisco would be a sucker for Rachel Maddow or Chris Hitchens, etc. Though to someone on the opposite side of his politics (like myself), this is an assumption you would make.

    He is surprisingly intelligent. He’s doesn’t have an education beyond a state university bachelor’s. But he is very nimble: in business negotiations, in technical conversations, in most everything I’ve witnessed. I consider myself (like everyone on my friends list) fairly intelligent, but I am very alert when I am having a conversation with him, because in general he’s quicker with his mind.

    He manages to keep a small company of ten people in the cell phone industry not only afloat but profitable. He hired two gay people (one of which is me) and one Canadian who works remotely. He has never had the bad manners to ever make me feel uncomfortable or unwelcome. He is very challenging as a boss, but also very generous. (One rule in the company: there is no proscribed sick leave or vacation days. People are supposed to take what they need. It also clears his desk of all the B.S. that goes along with work time. You would be surprised what an efficient and effective policy this is for a small company.)

    He’s also fairly well travelled for a redneck in the red states, and not all the usual places: Papua New Guinea, Malaysia, Laos, Thailand. He just got back from Thailand where his second grandchild was born.

    Yes – big money has had it’s hand in our back pocket since the 1950s – and it accelerated greatly in the 1980s. And big money could not be more pleased that ‘politics’ for most Americans means name calling. That the country is supposedly ‘divided’ equally into two opposing groups suits their ambition like a glove.

  7. mallorys_camera

    Love this.

  8. door

    Bravo! I love this post.

  9. taskboy3000

    Too close to home

    As this is a battle that plays out in my own family, I can tell you why this reasonable approach does not work.

    Facts. We got ours and they have theirs.

    Without a shared reality, we cannot design a solution.

    Who are the “greedy people” screwing us? Businesses? Unions? Democrats? Republicans? If you believe government is always the problem, it cannot be part of the solution.

    These are neo-anarchist days of deep self-delusion.

    I’m slowing getting pushed in the Fascism camp.

  10. springheel_jack

    I think to a degree you’re still doing it – the thing that separates us is that they’re missing a Big Truth, class. But why don’t, or can’t, they understand? It leads to the same place – their schools are worse, they don’t read, they watch bad things on television, they’re watching football or tinkering with their cars when they should be reading or organizing. Something about Them or their culture is worse.

    I don’t think that’s it at all. They’re not crypto-socialists from whom the truth is hidden. They in fact value something that is perfectly coherent but irreconcilable with what we want. We don’t have the same enemies.

  11. mcpino

    Required reading.

  12. smokeysizzlebar

    Good stuff

    This is one of my favorite things written by you.

    What the left and right both fail to understand is that markets rule the world, not shadowy cabals of guys who look like Mr. Burns.

    But I dare posit that, to most people, markets are an esoteric, abstract concept and both the left and right like definable, tangible bogeymen (e.g. George Bush; Obama; Big Pharma; Dick Cheney; Big Tobacco; drugs; bin Laden, etc.).

    The world is safer to them and less capricious that way.

    To face reality would scare them all silly and make them perpetually catatonic.

    I struggle with not savagely hating them for this cowardice.

  13. kafkateer

    i have been turning this over all day. all day!

    keenly aware that i’m not going to be able to add much to this discussion, but it certainly has me thinking

  14. gordonzola

    just thinking out loud

    Making it even trickier at times is when it’s done by people who actually *do* come from the same place. My workplace, for example, is full of freaks, but freaks who are mostly working class and not college educated. But man, they hate the people they grew up with. Often for very good reasons. It’s why they escaped to SF.

    If there was a coherent left, could these folks have a good reason to get over that? Should they?

  15. litch

    I’m having a hard time formulating my objections to this essay. There is snideness on the liberal side but it’s not unique, “they started it” but that’s lame & pointless.

    Maybe it’s this: you can’t change or control the the way you feel, you can only change how you express that but that quickly vears into inauthenticy. We do need to make common cause with the reasonable moderates and some do get turned off by the snideness but some also share the snark.

    Jon Stewart has brought more moderates to the left than just about anyone, he didn’t do that by sparing the snark, he did it by being authentically snarky while remaining vulnerable & approachable. So rather than trying to not be snark and giving off a phony vibe a better route might be just to make sure to remain open & approachable while still snarky

    1. torgo_x

      Stewart

      I worry that the absolute brilliantest bestest case scenario
      of what he’ll get from his really problematic guests is

      “http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-june-6-2006/bill-bennett-pt–2”
      >this
      .

  16. torgo_x

    Dunno

    I am authentically, seriously, and anxiously uncertain: I
    think that Angry White Guy twitches and yells, and worse than
    yells, at the idea that
    href=
    “http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in_the_United_States”
    >I could be married. And I think that
    when that parade (successfully) passed through half the states in the
    country to make my marriage unconstitutional, Angry White Guy invariably
    and numerously marched as close as he could get toward the front of that
    parade. I don’t know if he’s the leader, but I
    think he’s following as hard as he can.

    Because if what I think about Angry White Guy is true, then
    that means that even if he’s losing his house because of medical debt,
    then he decided to take me down with him, just out of
    “http://exiledonline.com/we-the-spiteful/” >spite
    — spite even against the sick.

    I have to know whether what I think about Angry White Guy
    is true, but I can’t predict what any answer would then make me want.

  17. torgo_x

    Daing

    This is a hard problem.

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