Wednesday, January 18, 2017

The Hate that Dare Not Speak its Name

As the United States stumbles toward the last act of its electoral process two days from now, and the new administration prepares to take over the reins of power from its feckless predecessor, the obligatory caterwauling of the losing side has taken on an unfamiliar shrillness. Granted, the behavior of both sides in the last few decades of American elections can be neatly summed up in the words “sore loser”; the Republicans in 1992 and 2008 behaved not one whit better than the Democrats in 1980 and 2000.  I think it’s fair, though, to say that the current example has plunged well past the low-water mark set by those dismal occasions. The question I’d like to discuss here is why that should be.

I think we can all admit that there are plenty of reasons why Americans might reasonably object to the policies and appointments of the incoming president, but the same thing has been true of every other president we’ve had since George Washington’s day. Equally, both of our major parties have long been enthusiastic practitioners of the fine art of shrieking in horror at the other side’s behavior, while blithely excusing the identical behavior on their side.  Had the election last November gone the other way, for example, we can be quite certain that all the people who are ranting about Donald Trump’s appointment of Goldman Sachs employees to various federal offices would be busy explaining how reasonable it was for Hillary Clinton to do exactly the same thing—as of course she would have.

That said, I don’t think reasonable differences of opinion on the one hand, and the ordinary hypocrisy of partisan politics on the other, explain the extraordinarily stridency, the venom, and the hatred being flung at the incoming administration by its enemies. There may be many factors involved, to be sure, but I’d like to suggest that one factor in particular plays a massive role here.

To be precise, I think a lot of what we’re seeing is the product of class bigotry.

Some definitions are probably necessary here. We can define bigotry as the act of believing hateful things about all the members of a given category of people, just because they belong to that category. Thus racial bigots believe hateful things about everyone who belongs to races they don’t like, religious bigots do the same thing to every member of the religions they don’t like, and so on through the dismal chronicle of humanity’s collective nastiness.

Defining social class is a little more difficult to do in the abstract, as different societies draw up and enforce their class barriers in different ways. In the United States, though, the matter is made a good deal easier by the lack of a fully elaborated feudal system in our nation’s past, on the one hand, and on the other, the tolerably precise dependency of how much privilege you have in modern American society on how much money you make. Thus we can describe class bigotry in the United States, without too much inaccuracy, as bigotry directed against people who make either significantly more money than the bigot does, or significantly less. (Of course that’s not all there is to social class, not by a long shot, but for our present purposes, as an ostensive definition, it will do.)

Are the poor bigoted against the well-to-do? You bet. Bigotry directed up the social ladder, though, is far more than matched, in volume and nastiness, by bigotry directed down. It’s a source of repeated amusement to me that rich people in this country so often inveigh against the horrors of class warfare. Class warfare is their bread and butter. The ongoing warfare of the rich against the poor, and of the affluent middle and upper middle classes against the working class, create and maintain the vast disparities of wealth and privilege in contemporary American society. What upsets the rich and the merely affluent about class warfare, of course, is the thought that they might someday be treated the way they treat everyone else.

Until last year, if you wanted to experience the class bigotry that’s so common among the affluent classes in today’s America, you pretty much had to be a member of those affluent classes, or at least good enough at passing to be present at the social events where their bigotry saw free play. Since Donald Trump broke out of the Republican pack early last year, though, that hindrance has gone by the boards. Those who want to observe American class bigotry at its choicest need only listen to what a great many of the public voices of the well-to-do are saying about the people who votes and enthusiasm have sent Trump to the White House.

You see, that’s a massive part of the reason a Trump presidency is so unacceptable to so many affluent Americans:  his candidacy, unlike those of all his rivals, was primarily backed by “those people.”

It’s probably necessary to clarify just who “those people” are. During the election, and even more so afterwards, the mainstream media here in the United States have seemingly been unable to utter the words “working class” without sticking the labels “white” in front and “men” behind. The resulting rhetoric seems to be claiming that the relatively small fraction of the American voting public that’s white, male, and working class somehow managed to hand the election to Donald Trump all by themselves, despite the united efforts of everyone else.

Of course that’s not what happened. A huge majority of white working class women also voted for Trump, for example.  So, according to exit polls, did about a third of Hispanic men and about a quarter of Hispanic women; so did varying fractions of other American minority voting blocs, with African-American voters (the least likely to vote for Trump) still putting something like fourteen per cent in his column. Add it all up, and you’ll find that the majority of people who voted for Trump weren’t white working class men at all—and we don’t even need to talk about the huge number of registered voters of all races and genders who usually turn out for Democratic candidates, but stayed home in disgust this year, and thus deprived Clinton of the turnout that could have given her the victory.

Somehow, though, pundits and activists who fly to their keyboards at a moment’s notice to denounce the erasure of women and people of color in any other context are eagerly cooperating in the erasure of women and people of color in this one case. What’s more, that same erasure went on continuously all through the campaign. Those of my readers who followed the media coverage of the race last year will recall confident proclamations that women wouldn’t vote for Trump because his words and actions had given offense to feminists, that Hispanics (or people of color in general) wouldn’t vote for Trump because social-justice activists denounced his attitudes toward illegal immigrants from Mexico as racist, and so on. The media took these proclamations as simple statements of fact—and of course that was one of the reasons media pundits were blindsided by Trump’s victory.

The facts of the matter are that a great many American women don’t happen to agree with feminists, nor do all people of color agree with the social-justice activists who claim to speak in their name. For that matter, may I point out to my fellow inhabitants of Gringostan that the terms “Hispanic” and “Mexican-American” are not synonyms? Americans of Hispanic descent trace their ancestry to many different nations of origin, each of which has its own distinctive culture and history, and they don’t form a single monolithic electoral bloc. (The Cuban-American community in Florida, to cite only one of the more obvious examples, very often vote Republican and  played a significant role in giving that electoral vote-rich state to Trump.)

Behind the media-manufactured facade of white working class men as the cackling villains who gave the country to Donald Trump, in other words, lies a reality far more in keeping with the complexities of American electoral politics: a ramshackle coalition of many different voting blocs and interest groups, each with its own assortment of reasons for voting for a candidate feared and despised by the US political establishment and the mainstream media.  That coalition included a very large majority of the US working class in general, and while white working class voters of both genders were disproportionately more likely to have voted for Trump than their nonwhite equivalents, it wasn’t simply a matter of whiteness, or for that matter maleness.

It was, however, to a very great extent a matter of social class. This isn’t just because so large a fraction of working class voters generally backed Trump; it’s also because Trump saw this from the beginning, and aimed his campaign squarely at the working class vote. His signature red ball cap was part of that—can you imagine Hillary Clinton wearing so proletarian a garment without absurdity?—but, as I pointed out a year ago, so was his deliberate strategy of saying (and tweeting) things that would get the liberal punditocracy to denounce him. The tones of sneering contempt and condescension they directed at him were all too familiar to his working class audiences, who have been treated to the same tones unceasingly by their soi-disant betters for decades now.

Much of the pushback against Trump’s impending presidency, in turn, is heavily larded with that same sneering contempt and condescension—the unending claims, for example, that the only reason people could possibly have chosen to vote for Trump was because they were racist misogynistic morons, and the like. (These days, terms such as “racist” and “misogynistic,” in the mouths of the affluent, are as often as not class-based insults rather than objective descriptions of attitudes.) The question I’d like to raise at this point, though, is why the affluent don’t seem to be able to bring themselves to come right out and denounce Trump as the candidate of the filthy rabble. Why must they borrow the rhetoric of identity politics and twist it (and themselves) into pretzel shapes instead?

There, dear reader, hangs a tale.

In the aftermath of the social convulsions of the 1960s, the wealthy elite occupying the core positions of power in the United States offered a tacit bargain to a variety of movements for social change.  Those individuals and groups who were willing to give up the struggle to change the system, and settled instead for a slightly improved place within it, suddenly started to receive corporate and government funding, and carefully vetted leaders from within the movements in question were brought into elite circles as junior partners. Those individuals and groups who refused these blandishments were marginalized, generally with the help of their more compliant peers.

If you ever wondered, for example, why environmental groups such as the Sierra Club and Friends of the Earth changed so quickly from scruffy fire-breathing activists to slickly groomed and well-funded corporate enablers, well, now you know. Equally, that’s why mainstream feminist organizations by and large stopped worrying about the concerns of the majority of women and fixated instead on “breaking the glass ceiling”—that is to say, giving women who already belong to the privileged classes access to more privilege than they have already. The core demand placed on former radicals who wanted to cash in on the offer, though, was that they drop their demands for economic justice—and American society being what it is, that meant that they had to stop talking about class issues.

The interesting thing is that a good many American radicals were already willing to meet them halfway on that. The New Left of the 1960s, like the old Left of the between-the-wars era, was mostly Marxist in its theoretical underpinnings, and so was hamstrung by the mismatch between Marxist theory and one of the enduring realities of American politics. According to Marxist theory, socialist revolution is led by the radicalized intelligentsia, but it gets the muscle it needs to overthrow the capitalist system from the working classes. This is the rock on which wave after wave of Marxist activism has broken and gone streaming back out to sea, because the American working classes are serenely uninterested in taking up the world-historical role that Marxist theory assigns to them. All they want is plenty of full time jobs at a living wage.  Give them that, and revolutionary activists can bellow themselves hoarse without getting the least flicker of interest out of them.

Every so often, the affluent classes lose track of this, and try to force the working classes to put up with extensive joblessness and low pay, so that affluent Americans can pocket the proceeds. This never ends well.  After an interval, the working classes pick up whatever implement is handy—Andrew Jackson, the Grange, the Populist movement, the New Deal, Donald Trump—and beat the affluent classes about the head and shoulders with it until the latter finally get a clue. This might seem  promising for Marxist revolutionaries, but it isn’t, because the Marxist revolutionaries inevitably rush in saying, in effect, “No, no, you shouldn’t settle for plenty of full time jobs at a living wage, you should die by the tens of thousands in an orgy of revolutionary violence so that we can seize power in your name.” My readers are welcome to imagine the response of the American working class to this sort of rhetoric.

The New Left, like the other American Marxist movements before its time, thus had a bruising face-first collision with cognitive dissonance: its supposedly infallible theory said one thing, but the facts refused to play along and said something very different. For much of the Sixties and Seventies, New Left theoreticians tried to cope with this by coming up with increasingly Byzantine redefinitions of “working class” that excluded the actual working class, so that they could continue to believe in the inevitability and imminence of the proletarian revolution Marx promised them. Around the time that this effort finally petered out into absurdity, it was replaced by the core concept of the identity politics currently central to the American left: the conviction that the only divisions in American society that matter are those that have some basis in biology.

Skin color, gender, ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability—these are the divisions that the American left likes to talk about these days, to the exclusion of all other social divisions, and especially to the exclusion of social class.  Since the left has dominated public discourse in the United States for many decades now, those have become the divisions that the American right talks about, too. (Please note, by the way, the last four words in the paragraph above: “some basis in biology.” I’m not saying that these categories are purely biological in nature; every one of them is defined in practice by a galaxy of cultural constructs and presuppositions, and the link to biology is an ostensive category marker rather than a definition. I insert this caveat because I’ve noticed that a great many people go out of their way to misunderstand the point I’m trying to make here.)

Are the divisions listed above important when it comes to discriminatory treatment in America today? Of course they are—but social class is also important. It’s by way of the erasure of social class as a major factor in American injustice that we wind up in the absurd situation in which a woman of color who makes a quarter million dollars a year plus benefits as a New York stockbroker can claim to be oppressed by a white guy in Indiana who’s working three part time jobs at minimum wage with no benefits in a desperate effort to keep his kids fed, when the political candidates that she supports and the economic policies from which she profits are largely responsible for his plight.

In politics as in physics, every action produces an equal and opposite reaction, and so absurdities of the sort just described have kindled the inevitable blowback. The Alt-Right scene that’s attracted so much belated attention from politicians and pundits over the last year is in large part a straightforward reaction to the identity politics of the left. Without too much inaccuracy, the Alt-Right can be seen as a network of young white men who’ve noticed that every other identity group in the country is being encouraged to band together to further its own interests at their expense, and responded by saying, “Okay, we can play that game too.” So far, you’ve got to admit, they’ve played it with verve.

That said, on the off chance that any devout worshippers of the great god Kek happen to be within earshot, I have a bit of advice that I hope will prove helpful. The next time you want to goad affluent American liberals into an all-out, fist-pounding, saliva-spraying Donald Duck meltdown, you don’t need the Jew-baiting, the misogyny, the racial slurs, and the rest of it.  All you have to do is call them on their class privilege. You’ll want to have the popcorn popped, buttered, and salted first, though, because if my experience is anything to go by, you’ll be enjoying a world-class hissy fit in seconds.

I’d also like to offer the rest of my readers another bit of advice that, again, I hope will prove helpful. As Donald Trump becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States and begins to push the agenda that got him into the White House, it may be useful to have a convenient way to sort through the mix of signals and noise from the opposition. When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously. When you hear people criticizing Trump and his appointees for doing the same thing his rivals would have done, or his predecessors did, odds are that you’re getting the normal hypocrisy of partisan politics, and you can roll your eyes and stroll on.

But when you hear people shrieking that Donald Trump is the illegitimate result of a one-night stand between Ming the Merciless and Cruella de Vil, that he cackles in Russian while barbecuing babies on a bonfire, that everyone who voted for him must be a card-carrying Nazi who hates the human race, or whatever other bit of over-the-top hate speech happens to be fashionable among the chattering classes at the moment—why, then, dear reader, you’re hearing a phenomenon as omnipresent and unmentionable in today’s America as sex was in Victorian England. You’re hearing the voice of class bigotry: the hate that dare not speak its name.


1 – 200 of 522   Newer›   Newest»
Marcu said...

The first meeting of the Green Wizard's Association of Melbourne, for the new year, will be
held on the last Saturday of January. All interested parties are invited
to attend. For those people who are unsure about the nature of our meetings, imagine a long descent support group with some intentional living discussion mixed in.
If you are interested in joining us, meet us on Saturday the 28th of January 2017 at 13:00. The venue is, Vapiano, 347 Flinders Lane, Melbourne Victoria, Australia. Apologies to everybody who is tired of Italian food! One of the items of discussion this month will be alternative venue choices.

Send queries and comments to limitstogrowth1972[at]

Just look for the green wizard's hat.

I have created a webpage where I will post the details of the next
meeting and any further details for those who don't frequent the
comments here. The webpage can be found at

The Cloudwalking Owl said...

Great post.

I suppose one of the many things that confuses people about class is that it doesn't really just boil down to how much money you make. I work at a very good unionized workplace that has "jobs for life", benefits, and, pensions. (Not many people can still make this claim.) But I work with the odd person who identifies with Donald Trump for what I can only assume are cultural reasons. These are folks who think of themselves as "hillbillies" and hate anyone with any sort of education or worldview that is informed by any more than the simplest of self-interest. (One of these people once told me about my concerns about climate change "your problem is that you want to save the world---all you really should care about is your family and nothing else".)

This is the sort of issue that really muddies politics is that race/class/culture all bleed into each other. As you rightly point out (IMHO), lefties in general have a "tin ear" to these subtlties, which means that they cannot come up with any sort of program or agenda that is appealing to the majority of people who are suffering under the status quo. Hilary Clinton seemed particularly unable to understand these people, which is why so many folks didn't bother voting.

Clay Dennis said...

Here in Portland, the local entertainment weekly paper devoted its "seen around town" section to pictures and two line quips from millennials on the street regarding which inauguration day protest they would be attending. Apparently there are any number of protests to choose from , from women's marches to health care rally's. The interesting thing is that from an income and economic insecurity standpoint ,all the folks interviewed would be categorized as working class. But so powerful has the democrats focus on identity politics been that these young bar tenders, uber drivers and hair stylists have been sucked in to carrying water for the Salary Class. The current democratic party will be truly doomed once this generation of urban dwellers begins to identify with the actual working class.

Joel Caris said...

I have to say I enjoyed this one. I have some serious problems with Trump, but I'm also fascinated to see what he does over the next four years--and I'm hopeful that some of it will live up to his better promises and improve this country. If he wants to normalize relations with Russia, start extracting us from the mess in Syria, implement some tariffs and trade barriers to encourage home-grown industry, bully corporations who are moving jobs overseas, and push through a big infrastructure bill--sign me up for all of that. I'll be thrilled. I don't trust him on health "care", despite the fact that I despise our current health insurance system, and I worry that he and Republicans are going to throw a number of people under the bus and cause a good deal of unnecessary pain both there and in other realms. But honestly, one of the things I'm fascinated to see is how he interacts with Congressional Republicans, who in many regards are pushing a VERY different agenda than him. Sometimes he seems to be going along with it, and then suddenly he pulls the rug out from under them. I find it compelling.

Some of the reaction to the election has seemed completely over the top to me. The Russia nonsense is embarrassing and, I have to admit, slightly infuriating to me. Let's say that Russia did indeed conduct the DNC and Podesta hacking and released the documents purely to harm Clinton and help Trump. So? What's your point? This country has been jaunting all over the world for how many decades now undermining democracies, overthrowing governments, starting color revolutions, meddling in the affairs of any country we so desire to, and now that someone MAY have turned around and done a very mild version of the same to us, we've gone into complete meltdown hyperventilation mode and are screaming at the top of our lungs for blood. Are you kidding me?

The hypocrisy is disgusting and contemptible. The level of propaganda that has emerged after this campaign is a mixture of hilarious and terrifying. Frankly, I'm sick of all of it.

(too long for one post, continued below...)

Joel Caris said...

(...contined from above)

I'm pretty sure Trump is going to do some terrible things over the next four years. With luck, he'll also do some of the good things he's talked about doing and put in place some good people who would never stand a chance under a traditional administration. I'm pretty sure Congressional Republicans will attempt far worse than him; I'm popping some popcorn in anticipation of the fights between them and Trump. But I don't think all those actions are going to tear this country apart over the next four years--at least any more so than we've already been slated to tear ourselves apart. And the sheer hyperbole and terror of his term is bizarre to me. Just listen to the guy: he's a narcissistic blowhard who talks a huge game in order to brilliantly manipulate the media and rally his supporters to his side, with some good ideas and some bad ones thrown in the mix, and who very consistently walks back the most extreme statements he makes and likely won't follow through on most of them to the rhetorical extremes he states them. That's a mix of unnerving and entertaining, but I don't find it terrifying, and I think the obsessive focus on worst case scenarios is weird and self-defeating (and also virtually guarantees an impotent opposition for him; if Democrats can't focus on winnable issues and instead play the "Trump is evil and we must scream about every breath he takes" game, they're going to lose, and badly).

In addition to class bigotry, I think there's also a good share of mental breaks over the hit to the idea of progress. Believe me, I've talked to people who are all in on Obama and all out on Trump, and some of them have stated quite clearly their disillusionment at the break in their religious (progress) beliefs. They simply did not believe this could happen, they are trying to regain their footing, and the battle against Trump is essentially a religious one: the fight to put progress back in place. It's messy out there on the leftward end of things right now.

But I'm still fascinating to see where this all goes. I just hope it doesn't go too far awry, because everything feels a little dangerous to me right now.

(P.S. I hope you don't mind if I ask people to go check out the latest blog post at Into the Ruins and contribute their thoughts about what they plan to do in 2017 to help mitigate the many crises facing us. Contributions will be considered for printing in the fourth issue of the magazine as a letter to the editor. Also, I'm offering free shipping on issues of the magazine this month as well as discounts on issue bundles; click here for more, if you haven't already checked out the magazine or want to gift it to a friend or spread the word amongst potential readers.)

Patricia Mathews said...

And yet --- my friends include a number of people whose class standing is all over the lot, clear on down to a pre-school teacher on tiny wages, and someone on the gig economy who cleans houses among other things, and a woman whose entire background and work history is far more typical of the Trump supporters.

The note they are sounding, all but the one whose experiences have so toughened her that she out-Stoics the Stoics, is fear. Panic fear, despair, and doom, enough that they are doing ritual against these negative emotions. Not so much fear of losing their privileges, though those with Social Security and Medicare are indeed afraid of losing those, but terror of the entire 80-years-ago-in-Germany scene. Seriously. That I'm hanging in there to see what actually happens with what result, seems to put me on the "she doesn't get it yet" side of the fence.

Of course, the parallels are there if you look, as are the parallels to the days when Big Julie made himself Dictator-for-Life in Rome over 2,000 years ago. Or France in the 1790s. Or ....

But in this particular crowd, there is none of that "Oh, that nasty, vulgar mob" sentiment the way there is among some who have been most freely quoted and whose heads deserved to be knocked together hard. Most of us either work or have worked in just that milieu. Including my ex, when the Army got him out of the bubble he was born into to his surprised delight, back between Korea and 'Nam.

This is, of course, off topic, since the topic is the very real class hatred of today's rich for the average folks. But just to round the picture out a bit among the Nonaffluent Aging Hippie gang. Who may simply be today's equivalent of the cast of La Boheme.

Justin said...

Cloudwalking Owl, in fact, as a member of the coastal liberal class, "we" really hate it when "those people" make good money. I saw plenty of this vitriol during the oil sands boom in Canada, when a 19 year old with a year of trade school could easily make $100,000 a year 'out West'. Of course, part of the irony is that trade schools, at least where I am, being relatively underfunded compared to universities, at the time had a 2-year backlog - so you had to sign up in Grade 10 to get into a trade school straight out of college. So for those of us in the salary class who were learning from our parents to have a bit of disdain for the 'less educated' types who knew when they were 13 they were going to trade school and not a four-year college, suddenly realized that many of them would be handsomely outearning them. So of course, there was all kinds of bashing of those who were making big money in Alberta, claiming that they were too stupid to spend the money 'properly' and would only come back with a coke habit and a lifted truck (there's certainly an element of truth there, but this behavior was hardly universal). A very working class high school friend of mine did that and now owns a house, an automotive garage and has kids as a result of a relatively frugal three years in the oil sands. Most people who were like me in high school and had a similar familial background are perhaps decently compensated, but nowhere near enough to escape the rental treadmill unless there is a major housing price collapse.

Jbarber said...

I am still waiting for the next installment of your proposed "How to Learn" series of essays; unfortunately I have to skim through another post about your disdain for the American left. Ok, I get it. May I suggest that you create another blog for purely political posts, in the same vein that you created The Well of Galabes for more occult posts? I am looking forward to getting back to learning from you, and I am getting no new information from the several anti-left posts of late. Unless there will be similarly scathing criticisms of the American right? I would be interested in reading critiques of both sides, as I think both extremes need raked over the coals. A compare/contrast of the failings of both sides could be eye-opening to many readers.
Meanwhile, I am trying to read The Iliad!

Bob said...

As someone who is dismayed by the policy platforms of our political parties, I find it difficult to understand the motivations of those who still bother to vote. Something to do with hope?

The hate fest against Trump might die down if he leaves the wealthier portions of the electorate alone. He may even offer them more tax cuts, or public private partnerships. Only mad dogs and Englishmen will insist on biting the hand that feeds them.

The intelligence and geopolitical arms of government do not trust Trump. They are worried that he will disturb their plans for cold war with Russia. They'll use whatever means they can to control him or bring him down.

If Trump does not deliver to the working class what they yearn for, the Old Left will say: told you so! Of course, the New Left will say the same thing.

Ordinary people are remarkably patient compared to activists and armchair analysts. Makes for miscommunication and frustration all around!

Damaris Zehner said...

This was a satisfying article. I was worried, at the beginning, that you were saying that disapproval of Trump's policies and even his character as so far displayed was an inevitable sign of class bigotry -- but you weren't. You were making a more nuanced point, and I think you're right in what you say. A few years ago, I wrote an article on the internet analyzing what was behind the mouth-foaming hatred against the "takers" and "parasites" among us. The tide of vitriol, willful misunderstanding, and frustration that greeted that post was in fact a perfect proof of what I was saying. (It's here:

I also wanted to mention that today on NPR I heard of research conducted that showed that it is possible for hackers to interfere with the operations of cars not their own -- disable brakes, mess up speedometers, etc. When the "expert" being interviewed about the issue was asked what we should do, he could only suggest piling on more layers of technological complexity as protection. The interviewer then asked if we shouldn't start cutting back on our reliance on this sort of high tech; the expert gasped and said, "You can't turn back progress!" I marked that one on my Bingo card.

Pantagruel7 said...

Having voted for a third party candidate in the general election, I've tried to remain silent regarding the winner of this mess. The losing side, Obama/Hillary Clinton, combined neo-conservative foreign policy with neo-liberal economic policies. How's that for confounding the left/right continuum? If policies like these are today's "liberalism" I think I'll stop identifying myself as a "liberal." Perhaps I'm a conservative socialist!? One of the groups with which I'm quite familiar is the local Quaker meeting. Judging by their parking lot, today's Quakers are liberals - you're much more likely to find a row of Prius's than a row of pickup trucks parked there on a Sunday morning. The NRA is anathema. Lesbian couples are numerically at least on a par with the heterosexual couples, though I haven't actually tallied them up. Historically, the Quakers were supposed to have been pacifists, but most were supporting Hillary Clinton last year despite her record over the previous eight years. How can that be? I admit that some may have been holding their noses, given the alternatives, but many were actively supporting her candidacy. I think they were willing to accept some perceived advantages to themselves (perhaps having to do with "identity politics") in exchange for tacitly endorsing endless war, globalization, tax cuts, privatization of the public sphere, and the list goes on. End of rant. We'll see what we will see. Unless we don't.

Clay Dennis said...

I have found that some of the most strident anti-trumpf folks are academics. This is because they see themselves as Salary class but are quickly being driven in to the same income and insecurity as the working class but with downwardly mobile anxiety. It is also a profession where they have very little contact with the actual working class short of bumping in to the landscapers or janitors on campus. I would guess that as a group college professors ( plus lecturers etc) were one of the most solid support groups for Hillary. Probably ,even more so than the ethnic or gender groups touted as 100% backers of Clinton.

jessi thompson said...

Archdruid Greer and Community,

I thoroughly enjoyed this post, and I hope it sees a very wide audience! I particularly hope it gets circulated among the Kek worshippers, because this sentence speaks volumes:

"The next time you want to goad affluent American liberals into an all-out, fist-pounding, saliva-spraying Donald Duck meltdown, you don’t need the Jew-baiting, the misogyny, the racial slurs, and the rest of it. All you have to do is call them on their class privilege."

I can't sit through 30 seconds of an alt-right diatribe because of all the racism and misogyny, but if they took your advice on this one, I would certainly grab the popcorn. I might even chime in to agree with them on occasion. I've seen how quickly the relatively affluent rise to the bait and how blind they are to even the most obvious evidence of unearned privelege.

I did want to mention (I know you already know this, as do your regular readers, but if any new readers are here it might help broaden understanding): While a lot of the left-right differences can be explained by class differences, most of the rest is clearly a cultural divide based on urban vs. rural life. On the Hispanic vote, I wonder how long it's been since anyone in the media mentioned the interests of legal immigrants. Just a thought, since illegal immigrants can't vote.

Jessi Thompson

Doctor Westchester said...


I started noticing just before the turn of the century that the stories that I was being told weren’t fitting very well with the reality on the ground. Were all those internet startups really worth more than the underlying brick and mortar business on which they were leveraged? The first housing bubble seemed so obvious. As was the observation that most people in this country around this point were starting to be pushed to wall financially.

I bought into the story that the George Bush administration might possibly start a Fascism overthrow of our democracy. Then the Obama administration come along and the ugly reality of the bi-partisan censuses because obvious. What was even uglier was how most people I know are in totally denial of it.

Amazing how we have forgotten right now about the evil, evilly, one percent, who are responsible for all of the suffering of common folk (which naturally includes us too). It’s so frustrating listening to people, who know they always are on the side of right, be bigots.

My church is giving a “De-Escalation and Non-Violent Resistance Training” this weekend. It is for people who are “looking for tools to disrupt and de-escalate hatred and bigotry” and “are searching for non-violent ways to resist the growing culture of dehumanization”. I don’t plan to attend. I would have too great an urge to ask why this wasn’t given four or even eight years ago, to point out the hate that dare not speak its name.

Island Poet said...

Thank you for making this critical point! I have always said that all social violence comes down to economic violence.

I do question your line, "As Donald Trump becomes the forty-fifth president of the United States and begins to push the agenda that got him into the White House..." Do you see ANY signs that he actually intends to push anything remotely resembling his populist promises? It looks just the opposite to me.

I think he played the working class for chumps and will do nothing but enrich HIS rich friends at the expense of the environment and everyone who isn't a billionaire buddy of his. He genuinely admires Putin and would love to emulate him. Unfortunately for Trump, Putin is a genuine wolf (Warlord) and Donny is just a pampered rich boy with delusions of adequacy.

Shane W said...

Queer wage/working class Trump voter here.
Excuse me, but I thought we had a pretty well elaborated feudal system here in the South at one time, I thought we were feudal Europe transplanted to the New World?
JMG, I'm wondering why you've abandoned the welfare, wage, salary, investment class hierarchy you outlined in the post you linked to? I thought that was one of your best ideas.
Sigh, I'm just old enough to remember conflict and debates amongst the queer community for "selling out", "assimilating", and "going corporate" as the original Mattachine/GLF (Gay Liberation Front) hippie elders gave way to the desire for "respectability" and "upward social mobility" as the elite finally deigned to let openly queer people into their club.

Sven Eriksen said...

Meanwhile in Europe, working people are desperately trying to avoid being recognized as (and thus treated like) "those people" by identifying with the attitudes of the American affluent classes with even more verve than the affluent themselves. They are even competing amongst one another to see who can scream the party line at the highest volume (mostly online, and mostly in the form of memes, but still...). This is of course particularly true of millenials, who are now dropping dead like flies from suicidal depression induced by severe levels of cognitive dissonance. It really does seem that the more fracked over they have been by neoliberalism, the more intensely they will chant along with the anthem of their abusers (if necessary I'm sure the lady with the Phd. in gender studies who works at your local Burger King will provide an example).

It's getting absurd, really, like Stockholm syndrome or something.

James M. Jensen II said...


I've felt for a while now that the Left would be much better served with a "class-first" approach to issues. That is, without denying the reality and importance of other issues, try to explain as much of a situation in terms of class as you plausibly can before moving on to anything else. While that no doubt will introduce a bias in favor of class issues, it seems like a worthwhile correction right now.

You might be interested to know that there's a small movement of people calling themselves the "Alt-Left" or "Realist Left" who advocate for social-democratic and socially liberal ideas but against identity politics and the excesses of the social-justice bullies. Some links and a brief manifesto of sorts can be found here:

While the movement still seems really small, what makes me think it's worth watching is how many people in the "anti-SJW" crowd lean left-wing overall.

Adam Jarvis said...

A salient post. Would you then see the trend/movement which might be encapsulated as the 'attack on free speech' as primarily an attempt to avoid the inherent contradiction of the ideology, or could I draw you into comment on other aspects of it?

Jay Moses said...

the issue of class in the u.s. now coincides in substantial part with another of the great divides in our history; that of urban v. rural. rural residents are very much more likely to own guns, serious workboots and pickups, to be religious and to have jobs that are more concrete than abstract such as agriculture, mining or retail rather than finance or law. this lends the conflict a cultural dimension. certain issues thus become articles of faith as with gun control, globalization and raising the minimum wage (likely to hurt more poor people than it helps in the long run).

the electoral map of the u.s. is clear. cities both large and small, voted for clinton. rural areas and small towns voted hugely for trump. this division between rural area and urban has been with us since the federalists duked it out with the democratic-republicans. it has become more intense as rural areas have become progressively poorer and cities wealthier over the last 200 years. the contempt for the countryside goes back to the origins of the u.s. and can be seen in william bradford's 1620 description of the "hideous and desolate wilderness" outside the puritan settlement. i expect that hillary clinton would agree with that assessment.

i suspect that the conflict you write about will only become worse. congresswoman maxine waters has already demanded impeachment hearings, even before trump is sworn in. progressives who, until very recently, knew that the intelligence agencies were not to be believed or trusted are citing their assertions of russian electoral influence the way that fundamentalist christians cite the book of revelations. cognitive dissonance is hardly an adequate description of what's happening today and i can conceive of no way to bridge this gap. to the modern, urban, affluent class formerly secure in it's cultural and economic superiority, trump represents the greatest threat in recent memory.

Ray Wharton said...

Here in rural Colorado even the leftist understand the deeper issues, and even though they really despise Trump, the Class Bigotry isn't serious. My friends who relocated to major cities how ever are pretty feisty. One buddy posted:

Ann and Tom were friends. Tom voted for Trump. Ann refuses to normalize Trump and stopped being Tom's friend. Be like Ann.

Weird, but my ear on the ground suggests that that fringe is imploding rapidly into mutual blame. The seriousness of opposition to Trump coming from mainstream institutions raises my eyebrows much more. They are acting like they don't know how much of their own credibility they are spending on the hysterics. Especially strange with the bluntness of the Spook factions which are, uncharacteristically, drawing alot of attention to themselves.

Oh, this seems like a valid place to mention my expectations of the Trump Presidency.

1. Trump will rock the boat, and potentially either stall or even reverse a lot of the catastrophically stupid policies that were dictated by the departing Globalist faction.

2. Trump and his appointments will Banana Republic the country a bit, and cozy up with power centers looking to run profitable, and potentially exploitative, industries in America. Basically running the country like the third world country it is. I cannot really put a value judgement on this, because I really anticipate a lot of unfair and unwise profit motive, but I don't know how that compares to the violence caused by the old policy of trying to force a 3rd world country to act like a Nation-State Messiah. Probably a wash.

3. The on going Red Queen race of decline will continue, and America's necessarily eroding position in Global affairs will be very rought on America's total prosperity. Many will attribute the effects of this cause to Trump, which will cause confusion and frustration for all with in shouting distance.

4. Powerful segments in American government will death grip onto the old order, and though the fate of the Global regime is settled, factions will try to follow it to the grave, causing many problems and unless a lot of people get a clue quick this is likely to gum up the more sensible policies that Trump might pursue. No calling what will gum to a halt, and what Trump will push through, likely to be very case by case.

5. The conflict mentioned is 4. will absorb so much attention from Trump's critics that it will hobble proper practices to resist corruption and Fraud snuck through by Trump, or his less socially minded allies.

6. No idea how the rest of the world will arrange to reflect these changes, it looks like Russia and China have some idea about how to divvy up the spoils of an American withdraw. But, refering back to point 4. I am concerned about insane freak outs from American Exceptionalists and other 'western powers'. Ideally America could pull a 15c China or a 20c Brittan... but frankly that is a tough needle to thread at this point, and even if it is attempted (which I don't think is a smal dunk yet) things could fall into a stupid war all too easily.

W. B. Jorgenson said...

I have another point to add: I'm aware of a few members in the LGBT community who had to deal with people questioning sexual orientation/gender identity, all because to them, members of the LGBT community can not be anything other than horrified by Trump. Of course, many of the people doing it were actively complaining about other people doing the exact same thing. The cognitive dissonance Trump creates in people is frankly incredible.

Different topic, but in regards to the wealth pump comment last week, if you read the comments on the article, it's fairly depressing. The general consensus is that this gives the average person in the societies benefiting from the wealth pump no benefit. Sigh.

SamuraiArtGuy said...

As usual, an insightful, if subtly terrifying post. But it is consistent with what I have been seeing and experiencing out there. The howling and rage on the part of my Left side antiscience is startling, and the revealed contempt is dismaying. Tho' the "suck it up you lost, libtards" chest-beating is not helpful either.

"When you hear people raising reasoned objections to Trump’s policies and appointments, odds are that you’re listening to the sort of thoughtful dissent that’s essential to any semblance of democracy, and it may be worth taking seriously." – it's likely to be drowned out by the screaming. There's a lot of noise out there, precious little signal. I've picked up a fair amount of abuse for suggesting that Trump voters weren't ALL racists, bigots, misogynists and proto-fascists, that they might have legitimate grievances and fears, and it might be insightful to discover why they feel that the notion of "more of the same" under Sec. Clinton was intolerable.

However, my concern is that they have choosen a poor champion in Donald Trump, who seems his own special destructive snowflake. As a former NYC dweller, there is a yiddish word, "shyster." But like a good con man, he sized up the marks and fed them the tale they wanted to hear. And as a sector of the electorate exploited and betrayed by the Establishment Right, and kicked to the curb and derided by the Affluent Left, it was a fertile audience.

Be that as it may, the divisiveness, the "Enemies Game" is the path to civil war. That worked out really well last time, given the lasting wounds self-inflicted on the Republic.

Vesta said...

Great post.

It speaks to the most remarkable feature of this election among many of my With-Her Democrat friends (mostly affluent), which is straight-up hysteria and a forthright refusal to discuss issues, while in the same breath ironically insisting that anyone who voted for Trump must be incapable critical thinking.

Another interesting pattern I've noticed is that discussion of the role in the election of class privilege and predation by the affluent on the working class is immediately met with the familliar assertion that "everything I have I earned". This from people who routinely ridiculed the exact same argument when it was used by their political rivals to object to handouts based on approved bio-class distinctions.

These and similar patterns I've noticed following the election require degree of mental compartmentalization and internal hypocrisy that I simply can't comprehend. How this is possible among folks who otherwise seem self aware, and what conditions enable it generally, would be make a fascinating post...

Thank you-

dfr2010 said...

"the illegitimate result of a one-night stand between Ming the Merciless and Cruella de Vil,"
Oh now that one is priceless! I even read it aloud to hubby just now, and he agrees it's quite good.

Greg Belvedere said...

First I heard people saying, "don't normalize Trump." I'm not totally sure what they meant by that, but I'm pretty sure his election did more to normalize him than anything else anyone does or says. Now people are calling him illegitimate. This sent me to the dictionary to make sure I hadn't misusing this word. I'm pretty sure his stake to presidency meets the definition of being lawful. In any case, when I hear this kind of talk my translator comes back with : I hate Trump and can't handle that he is going to president (a sentiment I have cribbed from you).

The identity politics of the left is known for virtue signaling; showing how enlightened and tolerant they are towards disadvantaged groups. The alt-right reacts against this and engages in vice signaling by trying to be as offensive as possible just to push buttons.

I find it funny that dems are debating whether they need to spend more time getting out the vote in cities, or if they need to focus on rural white male vote. If they were paying attention they would realize they need to become the party of the working class again and they would solve both problems. But they have to squeeze everything back into the box of identity politics.

Rita said...

A member of a discussion group I am part of (we discuss each issue of The New Yorker) actually used the phrase "those people" in reference to Trump supporters. I told her it was offensive and she responded "its meant to be." Then I reminded her that the term "those people" had been applied to the ethnic group she was part of and asked how that felt. No response.

Splitting the working class by letting some have prosperity and labeling them middle class instead has worked very well for our elite. We are told over and over again that America is a middle class country. Part of this is based on rates of home ownership. But of course few actually own their homes, as mortgages take decades to pay off. And, I have noticed from commercials on the morning news show my mother watches, that the "use your home as a bank" meme is starting up again in ads for equity loans. Also seeing more ads for reverse mortgages.

I figure that so long as you rely on a paycheck and will lose your home and car and security if that paycheck stops, you are working class. Even people who are highly paid tend to have insufficient savings or investments to weather a prolonged period without a job. I realize that this collapses your categories of wage vs. salary, but back in the 70s when Boeing was laying off employees it occurred to me that the engineers would end up in the same line for unemployment checks that the janitors stood in. So I don't think that earning enough to make payments on a car, a boat, a RV, etc. makes someone middle class.

There are a few comments on lower class whites self-identifying as an ethnic group in the last chapters of _White Trash_, but the book was researched and written well before the current election. It mainly discusses such identification at the semi-serious, "proud to be a redneck" level.

I just finished _The Year of Voting Dangerously_ by Maureen Dowd. Comprised of her columns on Hillary Clinton and on Donald Trump, some dating back to the 90s. A lot about Hillary's political faults, including her willingness to attack the women with whom Bill dallied, the mistakes she made with the plans for a health bill in the 90s, the disastrous demolition of the Libyan state, and the whole email thing. Also some columns quite critical of Obama's failures to step into the political fray and fight for the causes he advocated. Even things as simple and obvious as inviting Congress members to meals and events at the White House were neglected.

I am frankly disgusted by those who act as though Obama has been the greatest president of our times. But I suppose it is impossible to criticize the first Black president without branding oneself a racist because his most vehement critics are genuinely racist. In a way the crazed racists have done him a favor.

Jason B said...

While I agree with your analysis of the history of the left in US politics, I wonder why you don't introduce statistics showing that the average Trump voter makes more than the average HRC voter (in order to counter those arguments). Based on my small sampling of Trump supporters, they seem generally to be of white and middle class stock. How does your analysis square with this, for instance:

Also, it does seem that Trump's cabinet appointments might be a bit more outrageous than would HRC's picks. Steve Mnuchin, for example, has strong ties to George Soros. I suspect that the potential outrage from the right, were HRC to nominate someone of his ilk, might dissuade her from doing so. I saw a good interview on this subject on the Corbett Report with the interviewee being Micheal Krieger from Liberty Blitzkrieg. I guess if anyone's interested they should google it.

You're really doubling down here JMG. I've heard from a few 'people of color' now who are just flat out innervated by the divisive tone that Trump constantly sets forth with. He certainly seems to be sending strong signals not so much to working class voters but to middle and upper middle class white voters who might have moved to gated communities to escape the rabble.

I am related to people like that (upper middle class white gated community Trump supporters), and to working class folk in flyover country who say they would never ever have voted for someone like Trump. I guess we just hold differing realities.

J. Gamer said...

Thanks for the laughs tonight John Michael. Bludgeoned about the head and shoulders indeed. Personally, I’m finding myself more and more sandwiched between the sparring factions. Members of my fairly well-to-do family and more than a handful of friends from university become apoplectic whenever I start to question the current narrative that the Russians tipped the election. On the other side of the coin, I have a number of ‘working class’ co-workers whose dander is raised more than a little whenever I start critiquing several of Trump’s appointees. The chips on their shoulders become visible from miles away.

Unknown said...

Excellent post as always JMG,

The topic of class bigotry makes me question whatever happened to the concept of noblesse oblige. It seems like somewhere along the line, the American elite stopped seeing the middle and lower classes as their fellow citizens that they had some level of obligation to lead and help("with great power comes great responsibility.")

I wonder if it is just a consequence of the old-school WASP power class who were homegrown in America for the most part being replaced by a rootless global elite that views countries as temporary bases of operation rather than as homes to be protected and bettered. Perhaps this explains some of the Donald's success, as he does a good job of projecting the image of the elite from a century ago that at least the older generations of the working class still have memory of.

Justin said...

JMG, I'd like to thank you for your critique of Marxism: It's altogether too rare to find critiques of Marxism which aren't rooted in capitalist cheer-leading, conspiracy theories or antisemitism.

I wonder if you'll do an article on the postmodern deconstruction of gender. After all, the entire alt right, and probably 90% of Trump's online base is disaffected young men. I imagine that women are similarly disaffected, but for a variety of reasons I don't think it's resulted in as much radicalism.

Of course, this whole notion that women and men are on separate teams (and yet gender differences are a social construction) is absolutely tragic, and I'm glad that so many women are seeing through it these days.

John Michael Greer said...

Owl, those who profit from the status quo very often have a hard time coming up with a program or agenda that appeals to people suffering from it! As I see it, that was the great weakness of Clinton's campaign -- she aimed her appeals at the minority that benefited from the established neoliberal order, and ignored or vilified the majority who suffered under it.

Clay, I'm glad to hear that it appeared in the arts and entertainments paper, since protest marches without grassroots political organizing are nothing but entertainment. Do the people who will be deciding which march to attend really think that Donald Trump gives a rat's posterior how many people parade down a street in Portland yelling about this or that cause?

Joel, I ain't arguing. One possibility that's emerged in recent days is that Trump may pursue a major nuclear weapons reduction treaty with the Russians; he's floated the proposal that the Obama administration's sanctions could be taken down as part of a strategic weapons treaty, and the Russian government has made cautiously optimistic noises about that as well. If Trump manages to cut a deal sharply reducing both sides' nuclear arsenals and thus decreasing the risk of nuclear war, I can easily imagine the left suddenly deciding to march in favor of nukes...

Patricia, fair enough. What do you think motivates the absolute conviction that Trump is evil incarnate among the people you know, then?

Jbarber, if the only thing you're getting from this post is the notion that I disdain the American left, may I suggest that you might want to work a bit on your reading comprehension?

Bob, on the other hand, why not vote? It doesn't cost anything, and can sometimes lead to the most entertaining results.

Damaris, thank you for getting my point! Of course there are valid reasons to disagree with Trump, or for that matter with any other politician (cough, cough, Hillary Clinton, cough, cough). Those valid reasons don't justify the convulsive hatred being flung at Trump, any more than they justify the bizarre heroine-worship being directed at Clinton by some of her more breathless fans. Thank you also for the anecdote about self-driving cars -- that's priceless.

Pantagruel, I'd be much more confident about the future if we had conservative socialists! More generally, the attempt to force every imaginable issue into the Procrustean bed of a rigid binary division -- all these things belong to this party, all the opposite things belong to the other, third options aren't permitted -- has played a massive role in creating the mess we're currently in.

Clay, that certainly fits my experience. I wonder if they've realized that there's going to be payback. At a time when the academic industry is perched on the top of a massive financial bubble propped up solely by federal loan guarantees, and more dependent than ever before on other sources of government funding, that kind of rigid partisanship was a bad move -- and the insistence by various universities that they're going to flout federal immigration law just hands Trump the excuse he needs. After all, it would take him all of one executive order to make every "sanctuary campus" ineligible for federally insured student loans, federal research grants, etc., etc.!

Tower 440 said...

Greetings to the assembled Wizardren!
The Spring joint meeting of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440 will be held at 12:30 PM on Saturday, March 18, 2017. Our location is Ruko’s Family Restaurant, 9385 Mentor Avenue, Mentor, Ohio 44060, (440) 974-1914. Shining the Green Light! Public Welcome! Tables for Failed Scholars. Look for the table topper with the Green Wizard Hat. Contact us at
Our speaker will be Green Wizard Gene Ainsworth, the first member of Tower 440 to travel with a GWB&PA issued “passport.” (Email us for the template.) Gene will report on his People to People trip to Cuba, particularly his research and interviews with the Cuban People to learn about how they have coped with the difficulties, of the electrical grid, lack of utilities and refrigeration.
Many thanks to John for the posting space on his blog.

patriciaormsby said...

Oh, heavens! "Gringostan" is lovely! Lots of nice quotable bits here. I do love your advice to the alt-right.
Thank the gods I've been too busy to pay any attention at all to politics for the past month. A job I love--good grief I am so lucky! We were in Thailand the last month for my husband's health (and it did him a lot of good, too, I may add), and although he is addicted to TV, he kept it on nature programs and Korean dramas that you can sort of follow even if you cannot understand a word of what is being said. Back in Japan now, I immediately noticed on Shinobu's TV and a read-through of the titles in Rice Farmer's latest news that nothing has improved at all in America, and in fact it appears they've bullied Trump into going along with the story that Russia hacked the DNC, something I thought had been long discredited. One thing seems clear to me: they absolutely desperately need a war with Russia, and by golly, they're going too do whatever they can to get it. Massing tanks along Russia's border? And humorists noting that Hitler did the same thing (and seeming to approve of this)? Turning on the TV is like finding a can of food that you opened and left out somewhere for a month and having somehow to deal with the contents. I put up the screen and put in my earplugs. Shinobu occasionally fills me in on the latest worm's turning.
I am pretty sure Putin has some plan or other if the tanks make a move, so none of it really interests me in the least.
Still, if I weren't so busy, I'd probably pop up some good home-grown corn and...rather than watch TV, read up again on how to make a decent bunker in a wet climate.

onething said...

Cloudwalking Owl @1/18/17, 3:38 PM

I find myself feeling a bit defensive at your post: '(One of these people once told me about my concerns about climate change "your problem is that you want to save the world---all you really should care about is your family and nothing else".)'

I wonder where you live. If I don't live with the true hillbillies, who does, and yet I wonder what rock you found such a person under? I never hear such sentiments. Although of course there are always a few people of any type, they are not typical.

Paulo said...

regarding working class:

I am one of those people with feet in different camps. I have been a carpenter for almost 40 years, a pilot for almost as long, and a high school teacher for 17, (Shop...carpentry, electronics, and metalwork/welding). No, I am not 100, but instead drifted back and forth between the careers, and often did all three somedays.

When I was attending UBC to obtain my teaching certification at age 40, (5th year), I asked a guy who had returned for his masters degree what his school colleagues actually thought of shop teachers? His reply, "Well, for the most part they think we're a bunch of knuckle-dragging dummies, until they need their car fixed. Then, it's a whole new ball game". Sound familiar?

At my school one of my colleagues asked if I could help her? Her new SUV had a 'low tire pressure warning light' come on. I told her to send her son down to the shop at lunch and grab a tire gauge to check all her tires.
She replied, "He won't know how to do that" (a grade 10 academic student).
I said, "Sure he will, it's the same as his bicycle. Every kid knows how to check a tire on his bike".
She replied, "Noooo, I'm pretty sure he won't know how to check the tire pressure. He's never done it".
So, I sent one of my 'dummies' (probably thought to be a school deplorable....usually referred to by academic kids as a 'skid'), up to the parking lot with a gauge and portable air tank. Just who was the dummy, anyway?

When my own son was casting about for a profession I suggested 'electrical'. He completed an apprenticeship and was one of the 'dummies' making more than our 60 year old school superintendent with a PhD. Son now runs his own business and is quite successful at age 33.

I did 6 years of university but consider myself to be a 'working man', and proud to be one. My son asked me last year if I considered myself to be a pilot, teacher, or carpenter? My reply was, "Builder".

I have never ever understood the lack of respect the so-called educated have for working people. Take physics, for example. Who do you think knows more physics, the instructor, or the school dropout faller cutting down 200' old growth douglas fir year after year. I have a friend who can drop a tree and pound down a stake with it.
Every worker deserves our respect. All work is worthy. Some, is just more honest than others.


patriciaormsby said...

(Addition to a too-long post)
One thing I noted in Thailand (I was not in a hermetically sealed environment after all) was that at a temple we frequented for a mountain climb with appropriate respects paid, there was a steady stream of foreign female visitors, all Caucasian, all dressed inappropriately in an identical fashion, as if it were some sort of uniform: tank top and extremely short shorts. Any guidebook will tell you this is offensive to the Thai at places of worship. The guys they were with, ironically, dressed with reasonable, if minimal acceptability: knee-length shorts and short-sleeve t-shirts. It's a hot climate.
The problem was bad enough the shrine had taken to stationing police at the entrance, who would blow the whistle on offenders and provide them a sarong and shawl to cover up, on the presumption they were sincere about worship, just misguided. Their efforts couldn't catch more than about 50% of these ladies.
Now I am unphonely, so I don't twitter, but it looked just like a coordinated assault. The only ladies among them I managed to talk with were American, one asking me if she really needed to keep the sarong on while climbing the sacred mountain (I suggested climbing out of sight, then doing what she needed). My impression was it was European, Australian and American women, 20s to 40s. The reason I bring it up was it struck me as an imposition of social mores from a group of people who have become quite callous toward divergent, more conservative views. And it goes beyond America, being international Anglo-European. Amazingly, there is a visible racial component to it, though the ladies may not be aware of it.

onething said...

Clay Dennis said:

"But so powerful has the democrats focus on identity politics been that these young bar tenders, uber drivers and hair stylists have been sucked in to carrying water for the Salary Class."

Hmm, it would seem that the Republican side of the salary class got a chunk of the erstwhile democrats by playing the Christian card, and now the Democratic side of the salary class is getting a different chunk by fanning flames of resentment with identity politics.

Because neither of side actually wants to represent them.

Repent said...

Excellent essay ! You've put to words many things I have felt as someone who is a middle age white male, working class, blue collar sub-human.

How many times when I was raising my kids did the thought come up 'Why can't I afford to take my kids to Disneyworld?' With silence as my only response.

At work I recently heard the comment, "He's so NEW money". Meanwhile, his dad was also a real estate mogul, and he was born rich. How OLD money do you have to be in order to qualify for the stiff upper lip social elite?

'Sore loser' is too tame a result for his attackers. Michael Moore, who has various social critique movies to his fame, is poster child for these antics. Why can't this guy figure out that this vote was as much of a 'Throw the bums out' vote than anything else? As you have written previously, in this case the devil you know was by far the worse vote than the devil that you do not know.

Most of the attacks don't attack his policies either, but focus instead on character assassination; like this not so subtle one:

I was thrilled recently when he wouldn't give CNN a question at a formal press conference because they aren't a real news organization. It is worth some personal economic pain and suffering coming down the line from his policies; just in order to see him 'Put them in their place' for awhile.

Trump is the Zorro of his age, the one who betrayed his class for the people. I can see political cartoonists portraying him as Zorro before long.

John Michael Greer said...

Jessi, me too -- I've got a modest number of readers who identify with the Alt-Right, and I hope they give my advice a try!

Doctor W., I wonder if it ever occurred to the people in your church who are talking about de-escalation that the best way to start that process is to stop roaring extreme insults at their political opponents. Oh, I know, silly me...

Poet, in fact, yes, it does look to me as though he's gearing up to pursue several important aspects of the agenda he announced during the campaign. Border taxes on imported products are on the agenda; so is the enforcement of existing immigration law; so are sharply improved relations with Russia. The rest? We'll see.

Shane, nah, you had a protofeudal system in the South. People whose fathers had been dirt farmers managed to claw their way into the plantation aristocracy -- look at Jefferson Davis for a good example. You don't get that in a fully articulated feudal system. As for the class analysis, I didn't want to have to rehash that when I was trying to make a different point, thus borrowed the more common terminology for the sake of convenience.

Sven, I suspect there's another issue at work on your side of the pond. Western Europe has been able to fund a variety of lavish welfare state programs because the US has covered the cost of Europe's defense; if Trump gets his way and forces Europe to pay its own defense bills, a lot of Europeans are going to lose benefits they took for granted -- and so they're screaming like banshees at the prospect. That's my take, at least.

James, that's really good to hear. I was hoping that at some point, at least some of the left would come to their collective senses; an alt-left movement of the sort you've sketched out is a big step in that direction.

Adam, nah, I'd say the attempt to regulate speech and thought on the part of the social-justice left is a typical expression of the totalitarian side of leftist thought -- the sort of thing that, taken to extremes, gave rise to Stalin's show trials, the Cultural Revolution in China, and the killing fields of Cambodia. The left is just as susceptible to the totalitarian temptation as the right, after all.

Jay, I'd agree in part -- but I don't see the current situation as remaining frozen in place. As US global hegemony falls apart, we're seeing the beginnings of a transfer of economic and political authority from the coastal urban regions to the rural hinterland. As that accelerates, the current political establishment is going to be left twisting in the wind. More on this in a future post.

Ray, I've seen the same blamefest getting under way, too, so I won't argue at all. As for your predictions, they seem reasonable enough -- but we'll see, of course.

WB, that's priceless. "You can't be gay! You don't support my candidate!" -- as though there's some necessary connection between sexual orientation and political convictions. Bizarre...

Patricia Mathews said...

@JMG - I've been asking myself the same question - why they see Trump as evil incarnate, just as they did Dubya (who turned out not to be.) It certainly isn't any Marxist analysis of anything; they're more likely to believe in flying saucers or fairies. My guess is a combination of taking Trump literally, and identity panic with some roots in reality. That is, those who are gay see then entire GOP agenda as fanatically anti-gay, and most of them are old enough to remember gay-bashing times. The woman living on SS Disability knows she's be either out on the street without it, or back with a family that has treated her like a total incompetent and a nuisance. And so on.

Those of us who are women note Trump's bragging on groping women, and it sets off a visceral revulsion and fear rooted in the reality of jerks on all economic levels acting like that. Of course, the man who would have been First Gentleman is just as much a houn'dawg, but he doesn't go around saying so.

Then add the gut feeling of being not only in a crisis era, but at the very climax of one, with all the disorientation that brings. And wondering if they will survive it. I won't say that covers it completely, but it's all I can think of for now.

pygmycory said...

@Ray Wharton,
one of my friends posted that thing too - despite the fact that neither of us are US citizens or live in the USA. I was rather weirded out and didn't reply.

Mark said...

So why, then, do affluent Americans have trouble facing class issues straight-on? Back in my youth in the UK, certain members of the affluent middle and upper classes were quite straight-forward in their attitudes towards "the workers" - workers were considered, quite simply, to be coarse, grimy, unpleasant and generally to be avoided. Now this blatant snobbery was not a great way of dealing with a large segment of society, but it was at least more honest than wrapping-up basic economic and cultural differences in mis-directions of class and race, etc.

So do affluent middle class Americans just like to pretend they are beyond simple and irrational fear-based prejudices, or is there something else going on? Some guilt, maybe? Fear of losing their own privilege? It would be interesting to get to the root of it. I suspect it's mostly a base-level fear of rougher, grittier people who don't defer to middle-class touchstones (fancy education, fancy experiences, fancy this and that). I'm a product of an affluent middle-class upbringing myself, and for various reasons I live in a working class rural neighborhood. I work with my hands and can handle myself physically. I'm not particularly fancy. But I know I will always be out of place in this neighborhood. I use the wrong words, I laugh at the wrong things. I'm different and always will be. Class differences can't easily be erased and perhaps this fact bothers the progressive imagination.

KevPilot said...

As an ardent follower of this blog, I agree fully with Jbarber. I truly love this space as a safe harbor from the political raid apple throwing contest that is US media. I see this most as a philosophy blog.

While I do enjoy (in very small portions) the Left skewering, I think I'd like an order of right kebabs every now and again as well.

pygmycory said...

Today I went and talked to the Green party candidate in my riding for the BC election. It somehow turned into an in-depth discussion of automation and the likely impacts. His take is that you can't turn back progress, but I did suggest moving payroll taxes onto capital expenditures instead to discourage automation. I think it was the first time he'd run across that idea.

I've seen both worse and better candidates before. Now I need to find and corner the NDP incumbent and talk her ear off about housing policy... that email response she gave didn't satisfy me.

Cottage Crone said...

Thank you, thank you, John Michael Greer. Nowhere else have I read what you so succinctly write: this is indeed about class, and every "liberal" i know will deny it to their dying breath. Who, me? And in the next instant tell me again what a bigot, misogynist, etc., etc. that jerk-soon-to-be-in-the-White House is. Only their refined language is much more coarse.

Thank you again.

nuku said...

Re upward directed bigotry in social classes based on wealth:
I used to mentor teen-aged boys. I would sometimes hear the boys from lower and middle classes talking about this and that well known rich person, describing them as a----holes, and saying that “all rich people were bastards” et.
Interestingly enough I also heard them talking about what things they’d buy if they had heaps of money and their plans to get rich.
When I pointed out that they hated The Rich in the one hand, but one the other hand wanted to be rich themselves, and if they did get rich they’d be the bastards they hated, I got some strange looks. Some got it, others didn’t.
Hatred and envy, mixed emotions, climbing the social ladder by stepping on these below while currying favor with those above.
Basic primate behavior...

mtnmvr said...

Hi John-
First off, great piece. The left needs to hear this shouted from the rooftops. The left got away from it’s roots, got too establishmentarian, and finally got walloped for it. Good.

That said, I don’t see Trump as creating anything new. He too, is simply the latest establishment figure to dupe the masses. He’s putting a few cherries on top to pander to his base, but soon enough the “working class,” however you define it, will still find they are eating a neoliberal sundae. As I’ve said repeatedly over at Ian Welsh’s blog, Trump is just the newest shiny object dangled before the public’s eyes to get them to ooooh and ahhhh while the 1% (of which Trump firmly belongs) continue to rob them blind through rent extraction.

# Neoliberal Shock Doctrine -- Episode #367 “The Orange Oligarch”

# Never Trust An Ivy Leaguer -- Ever.

Les said...

Thanks for another mind altering instance of the ADR.
With your example of the lawyer and the "white guy in Indiana", is this hypothetical, or is there really some guy with a big mouth in Indiana that now has a legal eagle vampire squid stuck on his face?
An Australian pig farmer who prefers audiobooks to what passes as “news” is curious…

Carl Dolphin said...

Dear JMG,
Richard Spencer from the Alt-Right started a new web site on Monday : Already some interesting articles posted that some of your readers would like (snowflakes will be quickly melted).
He maybe reading you, as they're focusing on spearing the affluent elite and avoiding the "Jewish question" so far. He advocates a white state similar to what the Jewish people have in Isreal.
In the future, followers will be wearing green armbands as Richard S. is an environmentalist and against surburban sprawl and wonders why we don't have a public transportation system like Japans. If identity politics continues on its course, the Alt-Right will get stronger under Trump.

gwizard43 said...

Another insightful look into the maw of the American political system...I hope it gains a widespread readership!

Based on my experience of numerous friends who fall on the left side of the political chasm (the majority of my friends), I'm seeing two distinct responses: the foamers-at-the-mouth that you describe comprise the larger segment, but there are an appreciable number of leftists of my acquaintance who have honestly been shocked into a desire to truly understand what happened, and are now being hammered by the former group, so that they are really beginning to wonder about their former allegiances, and are being effectively driven out (purity politics in practice). No danger of them going to the right, but they really are seeking answers and realizing these are apparently, to their surprise, not to be found where they thought.

All of this to say that it may just be that we're seeing a serious (?) schism on the left which will lead to a sizable (?) number of disaffected liberal voters come next election cycle. I suspect if Sanders and Warren made noises about forming a new party, or even a new movement, offering a home to bewildered, baffled and bemused Democrat orphans, they make have quite a few folks taking them up on that offer.

In addition, I sure do hope the alt-right Keksters take your advice, and that this movement begins to shift toward something more pragmatic and engaging.

aNanyMouse said...

Gripping stuff as usual, JMG. But I wouldn't call this "The Hate that Dare Not Speak its Name", so much as "The Snobbery that Dare Not Speak its Name". The well-connected don't hate those lacking such connections, so much as they have contempt for the impudent rabble who Don't Know Their Place.
But I'll grant that, when the impudent rabble dare to point out the extent to which Their Betters became such through their better connections, it can turn to outright hate. Stay tuned!

Kevin said...

Good analysis, IMHO.

I can't help noticing the extraordinary flexibility acquired by the term "left" these days. How odd it seems to me that neoliberal globalist policies that export jobs and import cheap illegal labor for the undoing of the working class, that gift trillions in public money to unscrupulous Wall Street operators while millions of people lose their homes through dubious financial manipulations, that attack and destroy nations from Libya to Ukraine, and that aggressively seek out military confrontation with Russia, should pass as "leftism." To compound the last points, the alleged "liberals" now engage in anti-Russian rhetoric that, to my mind at any rate, is reminiscent of nothing so much as classic McCarthyite red-baiting. To suppose that these things are features of liberal policy strikes me as bizarre and grotesque in the extreme. It suggests that language and the meanings of words are more malleable by far than the softest sculptor's or potter's clay.

Am I the only one here old enough to remember that liberals once were, or at least purported to be, anti-war activists and free speech enthusiasts who were typically devoted to social and economic equity, and for whom social justice meant something other than screaming insults at those whom we wish to insist are racists, sexists, etc.? What happened to them? There is no left left, that I can see.

I think we may have come to the end of the line for the kind of activism that is based on the notion that "the personal is political." I have the impression that, as I think you have often suggested, economics and class interests are much more central and compelling at this time in history, in the United States and elsewhere.

A few days ago, as my much dented and diminutive jalopy took me across an Oakland overpass, I spotted an encampment of easily 100 tents, each presumably occupied by at least one homeless person. I gather this sort of settlement would once have been called a "Hooverville." I suggest that "Obama Village" would now be a more appropriate appellation.

Robin Datta said...

Among your many skills is basketweaving; in particular weaving the basket to hold the deplorable irredeemables like me. much needed, thank you!

John Michael Greer said...

Samurai, oh, granted. I'm hoping to encourage the less shrill end of the conversation by pointing out some of the problems with the other end, but I'm well aware that it may not do much.

Vesta, oh, I know! The state of mind that seems to be guiding soi-disant Democrats as they declare their absolute trust in the CIA and mouth anti-Russian slogans that would have warmed the cockles of Joe McCarthy's heart is, well, interesting. The problem with doing a post on it is that I'm still trying to make some sense of it, with very limited success so far...

DFR, you're most welcome.

Greg, maybe it's just me, but calling someone illegitimate used to be done with a somewhat more robust word. ;-) That the Dems are terrified of people "normalizing" Trump suggests to me that they're beginning to become aware that he might just become the new normal.

Rita, I remember the Boeing layoffs as well! Of course you have a point, but I'd note that the middle classes self-identify as different from the working classes, and support policies (such as economic globalization) that mostly benefit the middle classes at the working classes' expense.

Jason, statistics are inherently slippery, and never more so than when that weaselly word "average" comes into play. Democrat voters have lower incomes on average than Republican voters because Democrats get a lot of votes from the very bottom of the income scale, while the bulk of GOP votes come from the working classes, who are poor but not as poor as the urban-ghetto population. As for Trump voters, I've noted here repeatedly that my experience doesn't correspond to yours; the first place in town that got Trump signs was the poor mixed-race neighborhood south of my house, while the Clinton signs were almost entirely confined to the rich part of town.

Gamer, I get that. I wish it were possible to have both sides march off to Nevada or somewhere, batter each other into a collective coma, and leave the rest of us alone...

Unknown, thank you. I certainly won't argue about noblesse oblige: those who have privilege, to my mind, are obligated to give more back to society, which grants them that privilege -- but I know that's heretical in today's culture of entitlement.

Justin, you're welcome. One of these days, time and a book contract with a decent advance permitting, I'd like to do a book-length takedown of Marxism as a failed civil religion of secular apocalypse. With regard to the construction and deconstruction of gender, that's quite a can of worms, isn't it? I'll ponder the subject, and see if I have anything to say about it.

Patricia, I'm hoping that it's just a final middle finger to Russia from the Obama administration, and that the tanks and troops will be coming home as soon as we have a less feckless Commander-in-Chief. Still, we'll see.

Carlos M. said...

The recent developments around the anti-Trump "Women's March" illustrate perfectly the sort of hole that American leftists have dug themselves (and digging even deeper) into.

A few weeks ago, a protest organizer told prospective white attendees "listen more and talk less" and "check their privilege constantly." Then, a few days ago, pro-life women's group New Wave Feminists registered to be a partner. They were initially accepted, and the story was picked up the Atlantic. Not soon after, they were dropped since apparently you can't be "anti-choice" and "feminist" at the same time.

Apparently, this Women's March is about groups of women fighting off other women who don't think exactly like them. In order to be a check on Trump's misogyny and the abuses his administration, or something. If I was Donald Trump I'd feel very good about my prospects come 2020.

Incidentally, feminism used to be very closely associated with the anti-abortion movement. That remained so until around the 60's, after which the whole Progressive movement sold itself to the establishment. Old-school feminists considered abortion to be a social injustice, a way for powerful men to engage in sexual misbehaviors without consequence. So in a way, "New Wave Feminists" aren't pushing for a new thing at all, they're just bringing back an old thing which modern feminists stopped fighting for. We can't have that now, can we? If not, very soon the women might be demanding actual stuff that women need, like maternity leave, flexible hours, childcare...

Thomas Daulton said...

You didn't even bother to quote Noam Chomsky: "Just say the word 'class', and everyone falls over dead. 'There's some Marxist raving again.'"

John Michael Greer said...

Paulo, I won't argue a bit. The notion that real intellectuals ought to be incompetent when it comes to dealing with the material world is deeply rooted in our culture, and deeply mistaken.

Patricia O., that makes perfect sense to me. I'm not sure why the contemporary culture of toxic entitlement has made so much more of an impact on women than on men, but there it is: everybody I know who's worked retail, as I have, knows that your average middle- to upper-class white female customer is far more likely than her male equivalent to assume that the entire universe revolves around her and her alone. :-(

Repent, yep. The kind of treatment you've received is one of the core reasons why Trump will be standing at the podium Friday and Hillary Clinton will be glowering at him from a distance.

Patricia M., fair enough. I appreciate the data points.

Mark, it really is an interesting question! I think part of it is the way that the self-image of affluent Americans fixates on the claim of moral goodness. "We're the good people, the tolerant, enlightened, virtuous people; it's those awful people below us in the class hierarchy who are racists and sexists and so on" -- that's the implicit, and very often explicit, logic behind a lot of American class barriers. That said, I think you're right about some of the other factors.

KevPilot, I've served up regular orders of right kebabs here; do you recall my discussion of the Republican shibboleth of "American exceptionalism," for example, or my repeated comments about the Thatcher-Reagan counterrevolution? Or perhaps the piece pointing out that "Christian" Republicans behave like Satanists? Just at the moment, though, it's the left that's front-and-centering their idiocies, and they deserve their share of archdruidical jabs. In the meantime, just as I gave Obama the benefit of the doubt when he first took office, I'm waiting to see what Trump actually does once he's in the White House before passing summary judgment on him.

Pygycory, thank you! It's through conversations like yours that useful ideas might just get out into circulation.

Cottage Crone, you're most welcome.

Nuku, yep. Primates will be primates!

Mtmmvr, well, we'll see, won't we?

Les, nope -- the stockbroker in my example is based on people I've encountered in the peak oil and sustainability scenes, the guy in Indiana on my neighbors.

Carl, I have very mixed feelings about that. I'm not interested in living in an all-white country -- I was raised in a mixed-race household in a down-at-the-heels suburb that had plenty of people of different ethnic backgrounds, and I prefer that to lily-white monotony -- and I'd hate to see environmentalism get turned back into a cause of the extreme right. That said, maybe it's a transitional stage, and as identity politics dries up and blows away, the alt-right will mutate into something less shackled to the preconceptions of its opponents.

Gwizard43, I've heard the same thing: a significant minority of people on the left who are staring in disbelief at the bizarre things being said by the majority, and are beginning to say, "No, this is way overboard." It's possible -- at least I can hope for this -- that they and the people who've already gotten disgusted with mainstream corporate pseudoconservatism will get together, take over the abandoned center of American politics, and turn into the political mainstream of the future.

John Michael Greer said...

Mouse, what I'm hearing at this point sounds a lot more like outright hate than mere snobbery. It's getting pretty shrill out there.

Kevin, "there's no left left" -- that succint summary earns you tonight's gold star. You're quite correct, for that matter -- after all, that's what happens when the left gets entirely coopted by the affluent and privileged!

Robin, you're most welcome. My two favorite t-shirts on that theme so far: "Adorable Deplorable" (a woman's t-shirt, btw) and "I was Deplorable Before it was Cool." All we need now is the musical: "Les Deplorables" -- that would be "Le Dep" for short!

Carlos, if I were Donald Trump I'd already be making plans for my second inauguration. The increasingly savage infighting among the various anti-Trump factions is making his reelection campaign look more and more like a shoo-in.

Thomas, thank you. I don't usually read Chomsky -- his particular style of intellectual arrogance irritates and bores me -- but that's a good quote.

Gottfried Wilhelm Melvin Hicks-Leibniz said...


"Had the election last November gone the other way, for example, we can be quite certain that all the people who are ranting about Donald Trump’s appointment of Goldman Sachs employees to various federal offices would be busy explaining how reasonable it was for Hillary Clinton to do exactly the same thing—as of course she would have."

That's not certain at all.

Take all the people who voted or not at all, and you will have a statistically significant amount who would still rant about Clinton doing the same thing as Trump.

rapier said...

The Clinton and post Clinton institutional Democratic party of neoliberalism and neoconservatism was crafted to win elections by moving to the 'right' and so they did win. Not only that but the GOP while they despised the Clinton's and Obama, like Alabama fans hate Auburn fans so just because, they were as happy as can be to go along with the financialization and corporatization of the system and wars in the Middle East and beyond manned by Jihadists recruited from the masses indoctrinated by the Saudi ultra fundamentalist Islamic sect, and throw in bringing NATO to Russia's Western border.

It's impossible to say how Trump feels about the ultra liquid financial world and it's ever compounding debt but he has come out against all those foreign so called policy stances. However his party which controls congress is still in the thrall of the neocon consensus on the latter. (I admit neocon isn't the best term for it but will have to suffice) At any rate ascribing some overall strategic plans or goals to Trump is a fools errand. Giving him far too much credit for deep thought. He is likely to support perfectly opposite goals on any given day depending upon who he last talked to. His appointees have few or no unified goals and the aforementioned Congress just wants to piss of liberals, just because. Which is hardly a prescription for anything good. The cure of Trump is not going to be any better than the disease. The one saving grace is it finally will push the system out of its faux stability. That's good to the extent one thinks the bleaker future detailed here is good. Inevitable fine, but good?

Zachary Braverman said...

Such a good point about the "breaking the glass ceiling." How is it that that's an expression we all recognize, but "raising the glass floor" is non-existant as a phrase and, practically, a concept?

Justin said...

JMG, that's an interesting way of thinking of Marxism, that it's repackaged apocalyptic millennialism with a prophesied golden age afterwards. It seems to me like the kernel at the heart of it all is "We think the universe should be fair (which means everyone should be identical), and therefore the only reason why it's unfair is nefarious behavior on the part of those who are luckier (or different) than others". Of course, that's often true, but on the other hand Pareto distributions are rooted in the fundamental nature of statistics. The history of communism, and the tendency of some of those who are more equal than others to end up fabulously rich as a result of worker's revolutions suggests that attempts to put a boot on the Pareto distribution ends up creating massive discontinuities on both ends of the distribution even if the middle is fairly flat (the ones on the poor end are the ones who starve to death in gulags for some real or imagined thoughtcrime).

Again with the Jordan Peterson stuff, about one of the strangest parts of 2016, our friend Pepe:

Note that part one, although interesting, is not necessary to watch this video.

Steve said...

>you don’t need the Jew-baiting, the misogyny, the racial slurs, and the rest of it.

They don't need it, but they don't need to commit it either to get accused of it. So how much of it is actually real?

I'd wager the actual incidences of this are very low, and the rest is mostly projection, with a little oft-ignored box to the side for false flags. If men are gathering, it's misogynist. If white people disagree with oppression rhetoric, they are being white supremacists, and if Islam is criticised, it's xenophobia. If the accused try to defend themselves, they are denying their privilege and are labelled even bigger bigots. This is so common that the typical progressive activist can't even coherently explain the difference between alt-right, MRA, PUA, gamergater, or any other instant-spray-on tar and feathers. But if it turns out that a graffiti spaztika was planted by a left wing activist, then the outrage cycle is all out of fucks to give, and if you still insist, it was just an "art project" meant to "start a conversation", and the real problem is structural and symbolic aggression perpetrated by the white patriarchal complex.

The fact that it was the progressive left who pioneered the shaming and mobbing tactics on social media has also conveniently been swept under the rug, despite years of behavior to look back on in many different online communities.

It would be comical if it wasn't all taken so seriously.

My favorite incidence of this is how the Guardian proved how their female writers were being uniquely harassed by aggressively deleting any comment that disagreed with them, and then considering every deleted comment to be harassing. This was published as a full on report with fancy looking graphs and everything, shared by a bunch of well meaning folks in my network, none of them noticing what was up.

Chester said...

I've tried to keep my own thoughts/fears/hopes filed away so they don't get unduly influenced by the hyperbole going on in D.C. about inauguration. A man literally tried to set himself on fire the other day to protest Trump. It's at a fever pitch, and will only get more interesting.

In any case, I wanted to offer a belated thanks, having finished Twilight's Last Gleaming a month or so ago. It was awesome to see non-federal D.C. and our long-suffering reps in Congress finally get a nod SOMEWHERE.

Mean Mr Mustard said...


Same over here, it would seem...



Nestorian said...

I do not think it is accurate or fair to label those who objected to the results of the 2000 election as "sore losers." The fact is that Gore ought to have won, but the Supreme Court refused to allow all the votes in Florida to be counted on patently political grounds. That is simply a grievously outrageous state of affairs, and objecting vehemently to it ought not, in justice, earn one the label "sore loser."

By contrast, Trump clearly won the 2016 election "fair and square" according to the rules in place for adjudicating elections.

The elections of 2000 and 2016 are light years apart in the crucial area of basic justice, and abiding in good faith by rules of fair play.

Justin said...

Another thought:

In terms of class warfare, what professions are perhaps the most guilty of all? On a per capita level, probably C-level executives, but there are relatively few of those. I think university professors and administrators are probably the worst of the bunch, because their salaries and campuses, in addition to a whole lot of government money are primarily funded by wasting years of 18-24 year old's time and putting them in debt for life or until we simply write off student loans. There's a specter haunting America, and it's not communism, it's higher ed.

(I'll make a prediction that student loan forgiveness will be a major issue of the 2020 presidential elections - in fact it might come up in the 2019 elections in Canada). Of course, whatever coalition forms that represents the interests of the coastal elite will be against it, because it would be the death knell for at least 75% of post-secondary education (and much of what will survive will be trade schools).

Andrew said...

Paulo. Thank you for your post. I reminds me of something that David Fleming said, that craft work teaches a certain honesty because you can't make the materials lie.

One other thought on all this. I've seen a few commentators crying wolf because the poorest of the poor didn't vote heavily for Trump. It reminds me of Toynbee on the internal proletariat - actual economic wellbeing is less important than the feeling that they have been deprived of a birthright. Such as a 'great' America, perhaps?

drhooves said...

Another fine post, JMG. The caterwauling of the losers is absolutely more shrill this election, which I believe will only get more shrill as time goes on and it becomes apparent to more and more liberals that their views are economically nonviable and that yes, unfortunately, man is basically evil. Conservatives will also soon be more vocal, as "making America great again" stumbles down a far different path than what they had in mind.

And while the Marxists may have lost out on some of their theory, the left has definitely left an imprint of government solutions being the preferred way to address problems. Obamacare won't be repealed, but will be "replaced" - and is far more likely to occur versus The Donald's wish to reduce Federal employees by 20%. Social bigotry is definitely a characteristic of crossing the Rubicon on our way to an even worse version of a police state, one that's more poor and more violent.

asr said...

I agree with you're overall point. That there is an element of classism, but I think it's more cultural. It should be noted that Trump won by the largest margin among those who make between 50 and 100,000 a year. Those making less than that went to Clinton by significant margins and incomes above were basically split according to this exit poll. Are people in the 50-100,000 income group the working class when I believe the median household income is 53,000 a year or so?

asr said...

I do note however, that when I clicked back to look at the exit polls for 2012 and 2008 Trump did significantly better among those who made less than 30,000 and between 30 and 50K. His margins were similar to what George W. Bush earned in 2004.

Bill Ding said...

All that middle class and working people want is a fair shake. That must be why they vote for Republicans year after year.

Bob said...


I don't want to vote for an entertainer. Bland is fine if it includes policies that will help ordinary Canadians. Our current crop of politicos are about as entertaining as watching paint dry. This would be tolerable if they could think outside of the box that mainstream economics has placed them in. Along with the myth of progress we have the myth of austerity.

Phil Knight said...

The state of mind that seems to be guiding soi-disant Democrats as they declare their absolute trust in the CIA and mouth anti-Russian slogans that would have warmed the cockles of Joe McCarthy's heart is, well, interesting. The problem with doing a post on it is that I'm still trying to make some sense of it, with very limited success so far...

My take on this, FWIW, is that the West had the choice of two mutually-exclusive options when it came to its energy policy: either pro-Russia or Pro-Saudi Arabia/Gulf States.

The neoliberals and Neocons went in hard for the latter option, which meant the West has had to generally adopt pro-Saudi and pro-Sunni Islam policies and anti-Russian ones. This, to me, goes a long way to explaining much of the very odd behaviour of Western leaders, such as supporting the Jihadists in Syria, and facilitating large influxes of Muslims into Europe. It is noteworthy that Theresa May's first state visit as Prime Minister was to the Gulf Co-operation Council, and the UK remains particularly hawkish towards Russia, even with Trump as president:

I find that if you view global policy not as the US vs Russia or China, but as the Arabian Gulf vs. Russia, things tend to make a lot more sense.

Mark Homer said...

Two things to add. I note the relative paucity of Harvard/Yale folks in the administration, and the disavowal of Trump by Penn (especially Wharton School) as being representative of its brand. I do think Trump does represent Philadelphia's relatively fluid mixing of the classes.
Second, many educated white men were reminded by the stridency of the Democratic rhetoric of their loss of career opportunities and self-respect since the seventies and eighties. Why sign up for a repetition and further loss?

MichaelK said...

Even though I don't agree with all your points and conclusions, as usual there are many worthwhile obsevations and arguments.

I married into a family who, I suppose, qualify as southern aristocrats. For the older members, Sherman's march to the sea, seemed like a recent occurance. They were rather sceptical of me because they assumed for some reason that I was a Marxist. In truth I had read an awful lot of Marx, Engels, Hegel, Lenin, Gramsci, but I'd read a lot of other stuff too, and I wasn't a Marxist. The political philosopher I identified with most closely was... Machiavelli. Anyway my beautiful southern belle's family warmed to me after I said that Sherman's march would be decribed today as something like a warcrime or even a bordeline case of genocide, or even terrorism that is, an attempt to wipe out a people or way of life, though it was aimed at a specific geograhphical area. Wow! That did he trick. I was in and part of the family and more importantly the US class system. I liked being near the top, rather than the bottom. But being a European meant that I observed most of it from the outside.

Class in the United States is a very strange beast indeed. Trump is an extraordinary character in the American political narrative. Here's a child of privilege and a billionaire, who somehow has become a champion of the people against elite rule, which is some kind of paradox.

The number of liberals who looked at me in stunned amazement when I said I thought Trump was 'on to something' and stood a good chance of winning the election, well, I lost count. Fascism, I was informed, wasn't coming to the United States!

It's been a strange year, a year in which the two candidates with the most enthusiastic support, were a 'fascist' and a 'socialist' respectively, that's some change. I don't think one should take these labels too seriously, because elections here are so full of partisan rhetoric and wild emotions that it's like people have gone temporarily crazy indulging in a wild political carnival.

Though my ex-wife's family were clearly southern aristocrats I also got on really well with people way down the social and economic scale, the so-called 'deplorables', isn't that what one labels them now? It's strange. For some reason I've always been able to go up and down the 'class ladder' with relative ease. One needs to show people respect and interest, and be cautious. Like when somebody tells you that the tavern isn't a place for strangers after the sun goes down.

Perhaps it was because I was a foreigner that people gave be some slack? What I alwasy found appalling was the attitude of well-off liberals and leftists towards the 'white working class' especially those in rural areas and extra-especially in the South. I found their prejudices close to a form of 'racism' that was... okay to express, and that troubled me a lot.

So Trump's triumph didn't surprise me at all, on the contrary, I'd been expecting it. The big question is, what happens now?

Bob said...

OK, I will take the bait. While I can't claim to fully represent my Leftist Coastal Elitist Social Bigots, I can at least express my own personal views on this post. I tend to assume that the average American voter, regardless of their preferences, is uninformed, misinformed, uninterested in policy details, and guided primarily by emotions. Yes, my friends and I would scoff at working class Republicans voting "against their own economic interests," as if the Democrats had their back somehow, and how these same voters were distracted by abortion and other issues - essentially tricked into helping the rich. Fair enough. But this actually is something different, and we all know it. One way to cut through campaign rhetoric is to look at a person's history. Hillary has plenty to atone for, but Trump - who is not a very good businessman - spent his entire life amassing wealth and attention, and helping no one, despite having ample opportunity. Why assume he is capable of anything new? Why choose the blowhard over the Neoliberal liar? Trump voters may have bought his lie about wanting to help the working class, but no one else did. Do I think Hillary was going to? No, but she acknowledges climate change, can find Jordan on a map, and so forth. You speak of Trump's tweets and the Alt-Right's overt bigotry as tactics, when I have zero reason to believe they are anything but representations of genuine personality flaws and disgusting beliefs. He sure is using that tweeting move a lot AFTER winning, yes? A question that I have is: what separates the working class Americans who voted for Trump from the ones who voted for Hillary? Where do their beliefs diverge? The answers I come up with disturb me. And I am not alone:
Elections bring out the worst in our country, and the bar has been lowered.

Unknown said...

Thanks for once again making my week with your insightful writings. One measure of Trump's success may well be how angry he makes both the Republicans and Democrats. After all, the DC swamp has both alligators and crocodiles and both must go in order to save the country. One of my favorite books "How to have fun at work" - Livingston explains in detail how changing an organization as large as the Federal Government is impossible unless you implement the changes immediately. Otherwise, the establishment will erect barriers that can not be breeched.


Greg Belvedere said...

Another thing this week's blog made me reflect on was my own class prejudices towards the ultra-wealthy. While Trump represents the working class for many people, to me he represents the top .01% as much as Clinton or Obama. Matt Taibbi commented that when he would criticize Trump during the campaign he would immediately get inundated with tweets from Trump supporters denouncing him. He has not received this when he has pointed out that Trump is appointing people from Goldman Sachs (an organization Trump criticized his opponents for having ties to). It will be interesting to see what his supporters think of him next time around. The way the dems are doubling down on their failed approach it may or may not matter.

MichaelK said...

Chomsy has done some really excellent work examining the structure of the US mainstream media. Like, why does it inform people so poorly? Why doesn't it reflect the views and attitudes of the population more accurately? The concept of 'manufactured consent' is also rather interesting.

But I'm not a slavish acolyte of Chomsky by any means. I'm really disappointed that he and most of the left, haven't reached out to Trump's supporters and attempted to form an 'anti-estblishment' alliance. If one were to combine Sanders' 'socialists' with Trump's 'fascists', that would be, potentially, a powerful political force for 'revolutionary' change. It's bizarre to see Trump being demonized as Satan incarnate by the left, in a way that's so similar to the methods used to demonize Saddam Hussein, Gadaffi and Putin! Are we being prepared for 'regime change' here too?

That Chomsky has nothing to say about the attacks on Trump, calling him 'Putin's puppet' implying he's a traitor and a Russian agent, is extraordinary. The rhetoric of the political coup has come to the United States and the left and liberals are so sanguine about it, it's scary. It's gotten so bad that if Trump was assassinated an awful lot of people would say he had it comin'. Which is an awful state of affairs. A coup against a democratically elected leader, is still a coup, even if one doesn't like the guy. Or maybe the left think a coup is justified because, though democratically elected, Trump is really an outlaw?

Joseph Bloch said...

One of the many things that unnerved the left so much about Trump was the way he approached racial minorities. He didn't treat them as such. He just treated them like he treated any other group of Americans, and they responded better than anyone expected. Blacks and Hispanics want jobs, too, and that speaks to issues of class rather than racial identity politics, just as you lay out in the OP.

Scotlyn said...

@pygmycory I am fascinated by your suggestion of working payroll taxes into capital expenditure to disincentivise automation. I wonder could you provide, or link to, a worked example?

It reminds me if a suggestion I once heard that if you put a company's shareholders down as a cost in your P&L sheet, and put liability to employees on the balance sheet, you might quickly turn around the drop in share of profits labour has been getting for decades. There must be other tweaks to accounting conventions that would reveal unexpected ways to reckon & apportion costs & benefits.

Carl Dolphin said...

JMG, I saw yesterday that Project Veritas undercover filmed far left anti faststs planning on disrupting the Disploraball in DC on Friday. Sulfuric acid, sprinklers coming on on building, chaining metro doors. Doesn't sound too PC to me. Not much in the MSN about it. If it was the far right planning this terrorism it would be all over the news.

redoak said...

JMG, Great post as usual! In my experience coastal blue state elites tend to emphasize trivial grievances while ignoring luxurious privileges. What qualifies as "hard work" in my particular "industry" (higher education) is simply a bad joke. But the water cooler talk is always about how hard everyone is working, please... that's not work! Not being apocalyptic here, but I'm convinced my peers will not understand their privilege and consequent responsibilities until they see it in the rear view mirror of the Joad family truckster.

Eric S. said...

One of the things that I have the hardest time understanding regarding today's politics is the way political opinions have been flattened out into all or nothing positions. When I ask people on the left why pursuing policies that could help out the working class, such as the trade stances Trump is adopting or policies that haven't yet been explored such as legislative penalties on the pursuit of increased automation in the industrial sector those questions are unthinkable... meanwhile, on the other end of the political spectrum, there are some issues that affect low income Americans just as strongly that are just as unthinkable to discuss, such as say, a slight increase in the minimum wage so that people with full time jobs can actually afford to live in a home, buy food, and receive basic healthcare or barring that, something to help keep people whose jobs can't provide them these things from becoming homeless or dead. I just have a very difficult time understanding why keeping people employed and keeping poor people from dying are mutually exclusive goals in today's political discourse. I can’t exactly talk to friends who are very poor and currently looking at their medicaid, food stamps, or income-based housing and wondering if they’ll still have them this time next year about the completely unrelated things the party in power is doing that might help the working class. Or in the case of environmental legislation, attempts to avoid a tragedy of the commons are usually seen as opposing goals to offering jobs, as though we can either have basic quality control, clean air and water, and national parks -or- employment, pursuit of both is off the table. It’s frustrating. We can talk about helping the poor or we can talk about helping the working class. We can talk about maintaining the commons through basic business regulations and maintenance of public lands, or we can have a functioning economic system that actually employs people. I know a lot of these things are beyond policy of any sort. but at the same time, it does seem to me that politics could pursue many of the working class oriented goals of the Trump administration with a bit less callousness, and that the left's interests in protecting the commons and providing assistance for the poor and vulnerable could be pursued with a bit less cluelessness, but things have gotten to a point right now where even so much as discussing a path forward that addresses both sets of concerns is just not an option.

As for the volatility of this transition: one thing that I am finding very interesting with this whole thing is the way that Trump seems to be using social media to direct and channel that volatility towards his own ends. Some of the comments he's gotten the noisiest about on Twitter are fairly typical criticisms you'd see from certain outspoken left leaning celebrities under any Republican president, and would usually have fallen into obscurity, but by being as affronted as he is at anyone who speaks out against his good name, he's managing to galvanize his opponents and supporters alike, with one group rallying behind the lukewarm and not particularly unusual words of celebrity X as though they're a special degree of hero, while the other group organizes itself into boycotts and outrage protests of every single person who speaks out against Trump's good name. And in doing so, he basically identifies all his opponents with a few high-brow celebrities his supporters never cared for anyway, while maintaining his image as a martyr to the snobby over-educated elites. The big question is what would be the long game on this? In the short term it generates a lot of attention and keeps his core narratives as the people's candidate who is having to resist the suits at every turn. But in the long run that sort of crowd thaumaturgy could easily backfire.

Breanna said...

I have been reading everything from my usual left wing sources through the lens you recommended - that of interests versus values - to see if it really was a values-driven movement, and virtually everything I've found is extremely based on interests. I tend to read more niche blogs than mainstream media, but the overwhelming bulk of the articles are things like "here is how X Trump policy or Y Trump cabinet pick will materially harm me or my family."

Also the vast majority of left people I know personally, and many sources I read, are not at all clueless about the rural right - over and over, they say "I was born there, my family all holds these views, and I had to leave to the city due to being harmed directly by these attitudes."

So as other commenters have noted, I'm not seeing hate so much as moderately well-founded fear.

Also, a question: Are you going to do a post of predictions for 2017?

Dammerung said...

Whatever may come, I don't think the white identity genie is going back into the bottle. A declaration to make 2017's defining narrative separating white identity from Jewish identity, in order to emphasize the latter's rather disproportionate influence in finance, media, and politics, was met with a broad consensus on /pol/. Donald Trump is going to continue to face mounting attacks, not from the left but from the right. The only thing I can even imagine capable of sending this rarefied strain of right-wing politics back into quiescence is a thorough buy-out by the Powers that Be. Even then, it's starting to dawn on young white males that when they partner with anything other than a white female, the resulting offspring has a noticeably dissimilar phenotype from one produced by hundreds of generations of white European mating pairs. Oh well - it looks like the CIA needs to be replaced root and branch. Maybe there will be some job openings for an entrepeneuring - terrorist is such a strong word. Let's say political activist.

pygmycory said...

you're welcome. The more I've thought about that particular idea, the better it seems to me, so I thought I'd give it some airtime. Beyond its potential usefulness, it works to make people think beyond 'automation is inevitable, we must learn to live with the consequences even if they scare both of us silly', and realize that they have some choice in the matter. So I think I may see if I can air that particular idea some more. I like it.

Sheila Grace said...

Thank you JMG for your words and insights. Thank you for sowing the seeds that have attracted some of the most thoughtful and brilliant comments by (repeat) readers I have seen anywhere on the blogosphere.

I offer this link:

Uranus-Pluto, Correspondences in the 2010's by Bill Herbst is a fascinating piece as it contains echos of both the AD posts and the workings of Well of Galabes and walks us through the relationships of the last go-around in the 1800's and early 1900's, and the go-around we've entered (set point 1961) through all four phases, to the last quarter finish line in 2077.

Perhaps even subtle illuminations of the energies involved in forging Lakeland: "As more and more people realize and face the fact that they are on their own
and must fend for themselves, we may see a re-emergence of what might
appear similar to the communal movements of the 1960s. The differences
between then and now will be profound, however. In the 1960s, communes
were largely youthful experiments in alternative culture based on naïve idealism.
In the 2020s, these bandings together will be practical rather than experimental,
based on necessity rather than idealism. Alliances will not be age-related — the
generational polarity of the 1960s will not repeat. Instead, millions of people of
all ages will find a common purpose in helping each other through local
reorganization by sharing and resuscitating commerce to keep alive the
exchange of goods and services required for survival."

I'd wish to add; thrival :) and grounded practical optimism

David, by the lake said...


Minor data point, but much in the PoliticalWire commentariat re looming cuts to NEA, NEH, and CPB. Philistines, barbarians, destruction of culture, etc, etc.

I pointed out that federal taxpayer funding brings certain liabilities and that perhaps purely state and public funding may be a better model. As an example, Wisconsin Public Radio is, I believe, celebrating its centennial, which means it predates the CPB by 50 years. Perhaps we just fund the things ourselves, sending money to support the things we value? (Which, for the record, I do for both WPR and WPT.)

Myriad said...

I've put a lot of thought over the years into why there's so much contempt (not just in present times, but at times throughout history) for "honest" (read: strenuous, dangerous, and/or uncomfortable) work, however skilled the work and however necessary to society that it be done. Contempt for the work itself turn seems to be one of the fundamental root causes of contempt for the people who do it.

There's a dangerously fine line between applauding people who better themselves or their children via education and professional careers, and contempt for those who do not, have not, or cannot do so. Of course, our present society went careening across that line in a spinning wheels-locked skid a generation or two ago, as the routine yet actually reprehensible use of the word "better" in the previous sentence reveals. It's okay, nowadays, to have an ancestor who scrubbed floors, but only if it's "so her children wouldn't have to." God forbid she did it to support a tolerable life for herself (which present economic policy implies she has no right to be able to do).

And yet, floors still need to be cleaned, by somebody.

The driving emotion behind this commonplace attitude, I've tentatively concluded, is fear of the unknown. "If I had to do that work under those conditions, I'd be throughly miserable every moment. That justifies whatever I feel I have to do to make sure that can't possibly happen." One way to be certain it can't happen is if only an altogether different variety of human being can possibly do the work. Hence, caste systems in all their variety, overt and masked. Fear leads to hatred, or however Yoda put it.

JMG, I've encountered a number of present-day people with attitudes similar to yours and mine (and most people's, if you go back those two generations) about the compatibility of an intellectual life with getting one's hands dirty. In just about all cases, they've been people who have actually experienced comparable (though greatly varied in detail) transitions between such different lifestyles. In many cases that experience came from military service; in my own, it accompanied one of three events in my life that I believe I can call "initiatory" in the sense you'd use the term. Specifically, academia and I became disillusioned with one another at just about the same time, resulting in my socioeconomic status changing from elite university student to young day laborer in a Dickensian eye blink. What seems to start out as a cautionary tale instead taught me counterintuitive lessons that stuck. (One of the lessons has ever since been one of my Laws: "There's no such thing as an unskilled job.") Most counterintuitively of all, it became one of the happiest, most serene, and most creative periods of my life, and the shed fears stayed shed. In fact after long subsequent stretches in much more prestigious (yet, as per the times, increasingly dubious) economic sectors, my latest career change, as of a few months ago, has me once again professionally acquainted with the mop and pail.

Without being so forward as to actually ask, I'll comment that this makes me curious about where in your background you acquired your own perspectives on such matters.

Ursachi Alexandru said...

Forget about Trump, Brexit, and all the rest of it. The Archdruid has uttered the word "kek." It can be now said with utmost certainty that times are, indeed, changing.

Meanwhile, on our side of 2017:

I am less willing to give our new-old corruption-ridden government the benefit of the doubt, but wait and see we shall. Also, it bears mentioning that Central-Eastern European NATO members Poland and Estonia are among the few member countries meeting their defense spending quota requirements:

Anon-y Mouse said...

Great article. Thanks.

I'd add something additional: the elite class has become so accustomed to being culturally and politically ascendant, that the threat to that ascendancy represented by Trump is making them more anxious than Trump himself. What I mean is: the innumerable articles I've read about Trump's racism/sexism/etc. etc. haven't, for a long time, seemed to me to express a concern that actual racist policies might be enacted. I mean, there's never any specificity. Instead the message seems to be: "what are you doing? We told you he was racist! Why are you still voting for him? The issue is closed!"

It's this hurdle that I think needs to be overcome before we can start to have a conversation. Take a look at FiveThirtyEight today. It's headline article ("The Real Story of 2016") against makes the assertion that "racism" played a big role in the way Trump voters voted. But "racism" is never defined, and I suspect it means stuff like "is distrustful of welfare programs". That attitude needs to change.

I think a lot of us have enjoyed watching parts of the Left meltdown over the past few months (and I say this as a Leftist). But the rubber meets the road tomorrow, and I'm not nearly as sanguine about the next four years as I think you and your readers are. I'm glad to see the forgotten people in our country finally speaking up. I think, though, that Trump may end up being a very serious disaster. But here's hoping.

Vadim said...

Mr Greer,
I can not help mysef but eagely read your new post again.
And I am quite disappointed again.
Allow me to point your attention to the fact, that most “media and pundits” got it right as to the number of the people (or, proportion of the total vote) that would (and did) vote for Trump. It is outside of my competence and would be too time-consuming to discuss here how he became elected with such a few people voting for him.
Your take on the “Coalition” is, as the saying is, would be funny if it was not so sad.
The biggest trait for a Trump voter is not a gender, income or education. Reasonably so, because that agenda lacks any ideological, social, economic or scientific base. What it has is slogans, promises and feel-good rhetoric. Somewhere earlier in the year there was a research published (I may remember the source wrong, but would say, based on Gallop polling) that indicated the major predicting question for the Trump vote was about the corporal punishment.
Most of the people that do not accept it as a way to discipline children are better educated, white, better off and mostly residing in the coastal areas, or, as you call us, left-liberal elites. As to the Why and how this phenomena happened, and what will come out of this election cycle, we will wait and see.
What bugs me, is, How you and many smart folks around me do not see it, and what else you got wrong. BTw, of the few Trump voters I’ve met personally, all are with advanced degrees and doing very well moneywise, one is black, two are immigrants.

Herbert Pagg said...


Have you read any of Richard Rodriguez' works? He is from a "minority" (Mexican parents, grew up in a mostly white-middle class suburbia, brown skin color), got affirmative action on his behalf but turned down the prospects of Academia and began a career as a writer instead.

The link is to an interview which I think is relevant to this weeks' post.

Another link, more related to culture than class but still tangiable to the post this week:

To give just one quote, "[There is in America] the dilemma of those who speak the private language of the lower class in a society where one must speak the public language of the upper class to participate.

In America, we tend to discuss such issues in bureaucratic terms, in statistics about race or ethnicity. By doing that, we totally ignore the whole drama of social class that's implied by the educational journey."

Vesta said...

@James M. Jensen II, et al,

Thank you for the link, and thank goodness, it's about time!

As a working-class, queer-friendly jew married to an ethnic minority and living in Seattle, it's become nearly impossible to discuss a whole range of important topics that have become rigid ideologies on the left, but are being fruitfully and vigorously re-examined by the alt-right. I've been frozen out by at least 2 friends as a result of trying.

A visible alt-left movement could be a great tool to broaden the discussion and help to pry loose some fixed minds among self-identified liberals. I expect it would pull many people like me from the alt-right, who may not share their ideology, but go there because we are interested in their treatment of certain key issues.

Interested readers should follow James' link and help shape the movement while it is still young and small, lest it be co-opted.

My best to all-

anton mett said...

I would like to know what a "good trump presidency" looks like. Most of the things Trump campaigned on are already being thrown out: build a wall, lock her up, repeal and replace (Obamacare), drain the swamp, etc. The only thing he's stuck with the entire time is "Make America Great Again". Are we going to have a greatness-meter?
"Make America Great Again" sounds like another pile of buzz words (or thought-stoppers) that we'll never be able to assess, much like the "War on Terror" or "War on Drugs". i.e. Do we have more or less terror now? Are our strategies helping or hurting terror? How will we know when we've beaten terror?

There's been a lot of talk of personal responsibility, but from what I've seen so far, we are not setting up an expectation for results.

What are the outcomes that we should expect?
How will we measure if they've been achieved or not?

It appears America's plan is to flounder about nebulously for the next four years, then everyone will move the goalposts to suit their own talking points.

BoysMom said...

I think part of what Robin is getting at, perhaps, and certainly something that would have cemented me strongly in never-Clinton, had I not been there already, is that calling a great many people 'unredeemable' is a religious statement. The mainstream media didn't quite grasp that, perhaps because most of them aren't particularly religious and especially not of the Christian religion. The general Christian belief is that everyone is redeemable, and that only God can know who is and who isn't redeemed. I doubt it cost her the election--she made plenty of other missteps, but it did energize some voters who otherwise leaned towards staying home or voting for neither of those two. Calling people 'a basket of deplorables' is bad enough (though the Les Deplorables memes have been hilarious, I know enough French history to wince--also my French was once good enough to read Les Miserables) but 'unredeemable' is a synonym for 'permanently damned', and I mean that in the Christian theological sense, not the common cuss word sense, and is a status reserved among the living for those who have committed the sin of blaspheming the Holy Spirit (which Christians have argued about precisely what that means ever since). Mrs. Clinton abrogated to herself the power of God, and as someone raised in and attending an United Methodist Church she really ought to have known better even if her speech writer didn't.

If I had to pick a political group to throw my hat in with, I'd have to pick the alt-right, specifically the alt-west branch. Yes, they have their fair share of jerks and spoilt brats, but they have more room for a traditional, Christian, one-income, home schooling, mixed-race, family with six kids than the more mainstream political movements have. I've known some of them for internet values of known for years, as a site I've frequented since the early 00's has become one of the intellectual homes of the alt-right over the last couple years.

I had to point out to a friend recently that while she may comfortably call herself a feminist as an elementary teacher, feminists have only sneering hatred for women who put family over career. It's a divide that shouldn't, as we both have young children and grew up together, have to be there, but she can be a feminist and even if I wanted to, I can't. Which I have no interest in being.

Patricia, what do you think of Hillary Clinton enabling her husband's behavior towards women and helping him intimidate his victims? I think she would have had somewhat more support from the young women of my generation had she divorced him back in the '90s, when we were all learning about things one could do with a cigar thanks to him and NPR. We got a pretty mixed message: on the one hand, support your girl friends if they tell you about something bad a guy has done to them, on the other hand, the First Lady supports her husband who is doing and has done plenty of bad things to plenty of women, and that's okay.

Brother Greer, I realize I used a word that may be inappropriate for your blog, though is precisely what I mean to say. If so, I have copied and saved this comment, and if you choose not to post it, will try to find another, less concise, way to say the same thing.

David, by the lake said...


Slightly OT, but a quick personal impression.

I was just at one of my favorite local diners for lunch (locally-owned, which I like to support, plus the food is healthy, well-prepared, and the owners -- who also work the kitchen -- are very good people). They have a modest-sized flat-screen TV high on one wall (sound muted, CC on, so less intrusive), tuned as usual to a news channel. As I sat at my table, I happened to catch live footage of Trump arriving at Andrews base. He and Melania descended the stairs and I watched as he returned the salute of the military officer (looked AF, which I assume it was, as Andrews used to be purely an AF base) waiting at the bottom. He and Melania then stood there, chatting with the officer and several other personnel for several minutes before entering the waiting vehicle and heading into DC.

I don't know if this was his first salute (certainly not as President, since he isn't President yet), but I had a sudden awareness that I was, in much more than a conventional sense, witnessing history. This country is at an inflection point -- for good or for ill, our course has been changed. (Given that the status quo would have been less-than-good, change is not necessarily bad, though as you've pointed out, not all change is good either.) Whatever these next four to eight years bring, at a fundamental level, things will not be the same after this.

I will be curious to see. I wonder what future historians will make of this.

mh505 said...

I'd like to do a book-length takedown of Marxism as a failed civil religion of secular apocalypse.

JMG - if and when you get there, you may want to keep in mind that Marxism almost certainly was the invention of Engels and that therefore, in a "true" sense, Marxism never existed.
Marx himself, in his last years, is reported to have stated: "I am not a Marxist", this of course in German.

As to Donald Trump preparing for his 2nd inauguration - how can we be sure he will last that long?

pygmycory said...

I work retail and find that my most aggravating regular customers who spring to mind are a)a middle/upper class east-indian? middle-aged woman with kids, b)a white man with spiky hair, c)a couple of asian men with very strong accents who wear hospital scrubs and d) an asian man. I'm not counting the children who throw temper tantrums on being told they can't have an x. I've never had any of the women get threatening or demand discounts with the words 'don't you know who I am?'. They're also less likely to demand to see the store owner or my male coworker.

PunditusMaximus said...

A lot of us have LGBTQ friends and are frightened by the idea of our abusive uncle that we try to avoid even at Thanksgiving being in charge.

Sometimes the simplest explanation is the best.

PunditusMaximus said...

I have experience with New Wave Feminists. They're deeply difficult to work with and are basically a trolling group. Letting them into the Women's March is the functional equivalent of inviting the Westboro Baptist Church to your interfaith seminar.

Owen said...

Praise Kek. You should write something about Meme Magic. It's something that you're a professional at, after all. Magic, that is.

I found it amusing the amount of defensive whining that went on when a journalist asked his peers whether they had ever owned or know someone who owned - a pickup truck.

I can only imagine the drama if he ever asked them about country music.

Sigh. These cultural/economic divisions have always been there, it's just all the decades of bad decisions and mismanagement has brought society finally to the breaking point. And the cities and the rural areas no longer have much in common.

I dunno, maybe the coastal cities need to break away and find their own path?

NomadsSoul said...


Excellent essay.

For those interested, Frontline has an excellent two part special called Divided States of America available online for viewing.

It focuses on the politics of the last 10 years ending with Trump's election.

Very instructive in the context of your thoughts.

Owen said...

Re: "*those* people" -

Ploughboy said...

So right you are, in your description of the so-called left’s failed exploitation of perceived (if not actual) class divisions. I acknowledge your purpose, which is to shed light on the dynamics that placed Donald Trump in the White House, but let’s not stop there. Let’s also acknowledge this is the lingua franca of American politics. It is because (to crib a line by Mr. Sutton to paraphrase) this is where the money is.

Having the perspective I do as a resident of a “blue” enclave…which is to say a community with many black voters… inside a “red” state in the heart of Dixie, I believe your point about biology bears emphasis. It intersects of course with the politics as practiced in the South for centuries, on both sides of the divide, but the role it played in electing Trump was not lost on anybody down here. The difference is only that class bigotry can still be given a pulpit while the racial kind has largely been driven to whisper in the corridors. Not that it has gone away entirely, or is ever likely to, but the pundits who saw this element in some of Trump’s constituency as purely a racial bigotry missed the obvious. It is more about class, and always has been. (It is also about rural vs. urban, as many commenters have noted) That your face might be brown is only a convenient and handy way of identifying you as the competition. Largely, it ain’t personal, it is just business. For the Republicans this time around, the Southern Strategy went national. It is just a quirk of the electoral map that the coalition of class-threatened and class-exploiting Republicans eclipsed the Democrats’. It is of course not a fool-proof strategy and there will always be those who will want to throw in with the predicted winners, regardless of the abysmal historic record predicting they will not likely get what they want, and many did that in this election too. This has given Trump supporters a degree of cover, but like I said, nobody I know is fooled, on either side.

I’ve spent some time in your necka Mr. Greer, and these forces are always just below the surface there too, I believe. As your thesis predicts though, the descent of any society brings this ever to the fore. We will all be pitted against one another, fighting over the scraps as we collectively become a poorer society.

BFM said...

Unfortunately, we've never found even the beginnings of a good way to talk about class in the USA. Income levels as a determiner for class are increasingly irrelevant in Britain -- with a plumbing contractor who proudly calls himself "working class" making twice as much as a book editor distantly related to a duke -- but the UK still has class consciousness, which makes the whole topic at least easier to discuss without falling down a slippery hill of semantic non-agreement, as is the case in the US. I'm not saying that class consciousness in itself is some noble thing, but rather that at least it leads more directly to the working class looking out for the economic self-interest of those who share a similar economic history and background.

In a country like the US, where everyone (at least traditionally) believes that they can become rich, and in the meantime that they are middle class (barring a particularly economically deprived background one choose to highlight as part of one's life story), what is the motivation for voting for "working class" interests? (The very term "working class" itself was rarely found in the US outside of textbooks, until recently.) Voting like a "poor person" only increases the difficulty of personally becoming rich, because doing so increases taxes and regulation and only really helps those that are "truly" poor, or so I believe the reasoning goes in a great many cases.

It's true that many decades ago, "blue collar" folks could be counted on to vote reliably for Democrats, but we've also seen how easily this was disrupted when non-economic issues were added in to the mix. In other words, economic self-interest is easily trumped (pun not intended) by a galaxy of other factors. In contrast, I believe the (usually proudly) self-declared working classes of the UK stayed reliably on the Labour side of the ballot for economic interests alone -- at least until about the 1990s. Political alignment has changed there now as well somewhat, partly at the moment due to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership, I'm aware, but my point is that the working class had always self-identified as thus, and therefore weren't deluded as strongly or as quickly as Americans of lower incomes into supporting platforms and policies designed to help the wealthy.

On another note, how insane and ridiculous is it that a man who almost literally can't bear to spend a night away from his gold-plated faucets in midtown Manhattan is the hero of conservative, lower-income, interior America? You honestly can't make this stuff up. Yet now we have to live with it all.

Crow Hill said...

Paulo: "the school dropout faller cutting down 200' old growth douglas fir year after year. I have a friend who can drop a tree and pound down a stake with it. Every worker deserves our respect. All work is worthy. Some, is just more honest than others."

I don't find this example is a good one for the kind of manual jobs we need to create; extractions from the biosphere are already much too great.

John Christensen said...

One thing I told a lot of my liberal family members over the phone in regards to a Trump victory the weekend before the election is that "just because something has not yet happened does not mean it will never happen." And one way I would respond to many commenters here is "just because America has never slid towards autocracy does not mean it will never become an autocracy." That is to say, I think there are a lot of valid objections to the incoming administration, and, considering the team he's assembled, I think it's doubtful that Trump will follow through on most of his campaign promises, most especially his promises to disrupt the neoliberal consensus and replace Obamacare with something better. We are a late stage democracy muddling through late stage capitalism, and, as Plato demonstrated two thousand years ago, such a scenario provides ideal conditions for tyranny. I have a feeling that many people applauding Trump at the expense of Clinton, be they die-hard Trump supporters, bemused centrists, or spiteful Bernie bros, will be disappointed, and possibly even remorseful, in four years. That's not to say that Clinton would have been a benign sheep, but just because a candidate campaigns against the status quo does not make that candidate the default best choice (such an attitude would have a hard time gaining traction in a place like Germany).

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

I truly appreciate your stand against the speech of hate and for the speech of reason.

Re class: In my life I have noticed that class can be a slippery notion, and one can have the experience of being in different classes at different periods of one's life, or even--and this has happened to me--that of being in several classes simultaneously!

Furthermore, I think the term "working class" might be something of a misnomer. Many of the "working class" people being discussed are folks that at one time were once middle class, like my brother, who have suffered since 2008, forced into ever lower-paying jobs. The real "working class" people I see are in the urban area where I live: mostly people of color, they work at retail, med tech and other low wage, low status jobs, and make the kind of money that "working class" aka formerly middle class folks used to disdain.

Furthermore, I know folks who grew up poor and who now, well-to-do, look down on those less fortunate than themselves more than do some born-affluent folks I've met. Then again, there are those who left their small towns to come to the city, and embrace urban life to the fullest. Their relationship with what they left behind can be very problematic. So I see class as a very complex set of constructs.

Which by no means obviates the need for discussion, but in fact begs for it.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Regarding the election: climate change is not stopping.

It seems unfortunate that, regardless of what we may think about Trump, his cabinet nominees appear hostile to the concept, much less the facts, and thus do not seem likely to do anything to help our nation deal with that large, complex, threatening situation and the challenges it is already bringing.

To me, this is a very big deal, speaking not as a "liberal environmentalist," whatever that label means (different things, according to who's using it), but as an earth-centered person aware of the scientific data that's been locally "groundtruthed" by my own and friends' observations and experience.

Adrian Ayres Fisher said...

Regarding anti-abortion, pro-choice, and feminism:

It is possible to be pro-choice, anti-abortion and a feminist all at the same time--without one's head exploding.

JMG used to encourage readers to practice non-binary thought. This example offers a good opportunity to exercise that ability.

Unknown said...


Just let me note that I don't consider the observational premise correct: partisan vitriol hasn't been more acrid than expected, taking all trends into account. It also hasn't been particularly sided - there has been quite an army of trolls calling Hillary Clinton any kind of insult that you've ever heard, and then some. To the point that Trump called her the devil. Class bigotry runs both ways - you can easily find people willing to rant about "the elite" directing their lives too.

On a different subject, the EU currently spends 1,4% of its GDP on military. Upping it to the NATO target of 2% would merely be the difference between a good and bad economic year - marginal compared to the average of 17,5% spent on social expenditure (ranging from 13 to 30%) (

For comparison, that's 37% of the USA defense budget, or 342% of the Russian budget. It's more than adequate for defense. The only problem is the structure that makes it hard to coordinate.

Eric S. said...

@Jbarber: One thing I'd consider as far as the left bashing goes, is that for many of us, especially the older readers (there are a few readers who came new to the blog over the course of the last year or so since the initial conversations on Trump came forward), are active in alternative religions, the environmental movement, the permaculture/organic gardening/sustainability communities, or all of the above, and those are movements that have a tendency (though not universally) to lean left, and be subject to many of the very issues that are being put up for display in some of these posts. So for a lot of us this isn't so much a dragging of the American Left over the coals, as it is advice on how some of our movements (that have historically been captive left wing movements for various reasons), can avoid the same pitfalls we're seeing in things like the current presidential election. The posts on the failure of the climate change movement, for instance, are pretty specifically directed at climate change activists, who make up a decent portion of the blog's original audience so that they can achieve small goals even if the broader movement implodes. And, for the people on the left who are willing to listen, the basic bit of advice that is being repeated here over and over again (if you want to achieve your goals, you have to appeal to those outside your base audience, and sometimes purity politics has to be abandoned and you have to be willing to work with unpleasant or unlikely alliances to advance a goal), all of which is useful and constructive advice that people on the left can use to rebuild from the ground up and avoid the mistakes the party leaders have been making. That's one of the things that's interesting about this blog to me, it's one of the only places I know of where active members of the alt-right, leaders in the progressive left (one of the regular contributors here if I recall correctly was one of the leaders in the Coffee Party movement at one point), and everything in between coming together to discuss common solutions... And since many of the people here are leaders or contributors to grassroots movements that are attempting to get off the ground or already have, looking at case studies like contemporary politics to see what fails and what works (even when we don't like or agree with the things that seem to be working), is a useful way to avoid making those same mistakes.

brokeboater said...

He hasn't even been sworn into a first term and already he's shoo in for a second. Count me among those with apparent reading comprehension problems.

Stuart Jeffery said...


While I have often disagreed with your stance on left / right politics, I think you have summed up neatly the key reason that I am uncomfortable with much of the rhetoric of the liberal middle classes that talk about liberation groups yet seem to somehow sneer at the working classes.

I particularly liked you drawing attention to the glass ceiling effect as a focus for feminism. This is completely the wrong focus IMHO, for example it is failing the women on very low incomes who are in poverty looking after a child or two after the father has left. Poverty is a far more important feminist issue that somehow gets less attention than the glass ceiling.

Thank you!


Mark Luterra said...

Certainly there is plenty of bigotry directed toward the working class from the top, but too much of the bigotry of the working class is directed farther down the ladder rather than toward the top. This needs to change before we can see structural reforms to address wealth inequality.

I've said this before, but I see Trump as very talented at harnessing working class anger and directing it in all of the wrong places. He has an exceptional sense of entitlement and has never personally experienced anything like the daily struggle for survival experienced by the working class. I appreciate your unpacking of the emerging class war in the United States, and I agree with most of your ideas, but if you are going to convince me that Trump will be some sort of warrior for the working class rather than yet another con artist promising hope and change while enriching the privileged and immiserating the masses, you will have to work harder.

I would also like to say that it is not necessarily hypocritical to malign Trump for behaving the same as Clinton. Clinton, as a representative of the salary class, could be expected to fill her cabinet full of corporate fat cats. Trump, elected by the struggling working classes, ought to appoint a cabinet that will uphold the interests of his electorate. If he doesn't, then the hypocrisy is on him...

NomadicBeer said...

Another great post that takes me back to the time when I first started reading this blog.

The reason your writing resonates with me was my difficulty to express the problem that I saw in the rich leftist Seattle when I first moved here. I discovered that all the leftist slogans sound nice and match my background (Egalite, Fraternite and all that) but in real life they end up just being a pretense to support aristocratic privileges. US is one of the most classist societies that I have seen (and also historically based on credible research).

I still have problems explaining that to my friends here - I even pointed them to this blog and all I heard back was crickets. I think the denial runs very deep here. Same people that shop around for a cheap illegal Mexican gardener have no problem spending millions on a McMansion.

On a different subject, can you talk about how the class war in US fits with the larger context of the empire?
One subject that you touched on is Europe not paying for its own defense. I disagree completely - Europe is far enough from the center of the empire that it pays to US much more than it gets back in defense. By the way, I consider Britain separate from Europe, they obviously get a lot of imperial benefits!

Thank you!

RAnderson said...

In one of MLKs very last speeches, I believe it was at Riverside church, he was beginning to turn his attention to the matter of civil rights for, and the rampant injustice and discrimination against, ALL of the poor underclass in this country, pointing out class division as being ultimately the most important issue facing our society and the actual cause of unrest. Shame he did not have the further opportunity to provide further leadership in opening the eyes of the elite to an issue whose chickens have finally come home to roost.

wagelaborer said...

I still remember the mix of feelings I had as a teenager, when they took us on a field trip to a play, and the teacher, who was sitting behind me, said to his student teacher "These kids are upper lower class and lower middle class, and this is probably the only play they'll ever see in their lives". His arrogance was unsettling.

I just had a long argument with my friend, who wants me to go to the anti-Trump women's march. I told her that I am not in the mood to be around people frothing and screaming about the horrible, racist, xenophobic, misogynist white male haters, who need to learn to be tolerant and loving.

Maybe if the Hillary supporters would go back to the anti-Bush days, and be anti-war and anti-repression, I would go. Unfortunately, the same people on the anti-Iraq war bus I took to Wash, DC, who also signed anti-Patriot Act petitions, are now fully on board with the over-the-top demonization of Putin and Russia, and fully support censorship of the media and the internet, because, you know, it was the release of information that got us Trump. Information sharing must be stopped now!

No way I'm going to go march around screaming "What do we want? War with Russia! When do we want it? Now!" She'll have to go without me.

On your observation about nuclear weapons....already been there, done that.

Apparently, Trump tweeted something about modernizing nuclear weapons, which caused a great uproar among the democrats. See? He crazy! He must be stopped. He's going to get us all killed! When I pointed out that Obama has already started a trillion dollar nuclear weapon program into motion, you should have seen the skid marks, as they backtracked. Well, we can't have old nuclear weapons, don't you know? It just isn't done. We must have the newest, shiniest nuclear weapons on the block. That is not the same thing as what Trump wants.

It's just all too much.

Keith Hammer said...

Worrying about stuff we have no control over is a bad idea.So said Epictetis a Roman slave whose wisdom was probably hard earned.For me a white working class guy who did not vote for trump his inauguration falls into that catagory.That said I can see where his presidency could be highly amusing- until it isnt.What you see in this caracter baffles me.There is no way he can bring back middle class jobs to us wage earners. That train has left the station.If Obama was the place holder who kept the system limping along with duct tape and chewing gum trump is going to be the bag holder.

streamfortyseven said...

Chances are good that that identification will never occur; the history seen for the last 70 years or so (see Vance Packard, in "The Status Seekers") is that they recoil in horror from the working class from which they arose, being themselves "temporarily embarrassed millionaires". And, due to the ballot access laws which the Duopoly have had enacted in each state, short of revolution, it will be impossible to replace either the Republican or Democratic wing with anything else. Perhaps if they were to organize themselves along the lines of the Wobblies, and brought back the notion of a General Strike, they might have some success.

Esn said...

@JMG: "he's floated the proposal that the Obama administration's sanctions could be taken down as part of a strategic weapons treaty, and the Russian government has made cautiously optimistic noises about that as well"

Actually, while the Russian government has indeed made "cautiously optimistic" noises about weapons reduction treaties (though they also said that Trump should study why previous ones have failed - that is, the US's attempt to attain nuclear primacy with the missile shield installations in Europe and Qatar), they also stated that the sanctions will be off the table during any negotiations - that the US can add more sanctions or remove them as they like:

This may be a sign that the political forces in Russia who're in favour of continuing to try integration into the Western system, and those who want economic and political independence (which the sanctions are helping with) are finely balanced right now. More elites are in favour of the former, while the population is massively in favour of the latter. Both sides are willing to compromise for the sake of avoiding conflict (the comparative lack of which has been very good for everyone).

It's worth remembering, perhaps, that despite the economic shocks caused by the sanctions and counter-sanctions, many Russians still have the best quality of life in living memory, with enormous, visible improvements in just the last 10 years. When I visited Russia in 2015 (I visited a whole bunch of cities and towns, northern and southern), the quality of life for average people seemed comparable to that in Canada, though different to be sure (e.g. people had lower wages, but much lower costs too. Urban design was VERY different, and I would say better).

There also seemed to be not a hint there of the sort of worry about the future that I see in some people around me here in Toronto, and on your blog - about the stopping of progress, the potential for collapse, the worry that society has reached a dead end, etc. I guess people think that Russia will continue to have plenty of oil/natural gas even if most other countries run out, and global warming didn't seem to worry people at all (actually, most seemed to find the idea kind of campy, and suggested that it might be a good thing to make Russia warmer). The number one anxiety, rather, was that the West will eventually declare war and invade (as they seem to do periodically, once or twice per century). Western views about Russia are widely broadcast and debated, with people becoming steadily more and more worried.

Professor Pan said...

You are correct, but I think you are overemphasizing the class/social elements of the resistance to Trump and not giving enough emphasis to the other reasons so many are appalled by the incoming president—his appointment of nitwits and people with zero experience to head federal agencies (including one, Perry, who didn't realize the DOE actually does, and one, Carson, who previously claimed his lack of governmental experience would disqualify him), along with those who have stated their distaste and desire to eliminate the agencies they're going to head; Trump's blatantly authoritarian pronouncements and actions; his refusal to release his taxes or follow laws designed to prevent being compromised by foreign business dealings; the continuing disgust over his rape-y comments caught on tape (which would have derailed any other candidate); and so on and so forth.

There are enormous reasons to be very, very afraid of what this man can do to our country, particularly as he is abetted by Republican control of Congress.

So I applaud your calling to attention to the hypocrisy of the salaried class and identity-politics-driven liberals, I think there is a very principled, thoughtful opposition growing in response to what many of us see coming down the pike as we watch the ongoing transition.

streamfortyseven said...

The argument that the two parties should represent opposed ideals and policies, one, perhaps, of the Right and the other of the Left, is a foolish idea acceptable only to doctrinaire and academic thinkers. Instead, the two parties should be almost identical, so that the American people can ‘throw the rascals out’ at any election without leading to any profound or extensive shifts in policy.” Carroll Quigley, Tragedy and Hope, 1965

And, for the Establishments of both Republican and Democratic wings of the Duopoly, this holds true and was dramatically illustrated by large numbers of Republican Establishment types - including the Bushes - endorsing Hillary after Trump became the Republican nominee. I don't know what they would have done if the Democrats had had a democratic nomination process and nominated Sanders. The usual Left-Right analysis no longer applies, things break along class lines and along rural vs urban lines as well (see

Clay Dennis said...

As if on que from your previous post, one of the weekends planned protests in Portland is called " We are not going back". And if that didn't make your point clear enough, it is sponsored by the LGBT community who is apparently not aware of the its own history as per your post.

Joe said...

I don't usually read Chomsky -- his particular style of intellectual arrogance irritates and bores me

A perfect example of the pot and kettle.

Michael Cain said...

I smiled through most of this -- it's the same things I've been saying for years, although I tend to use "torches and pitchforks" more often than you. The question at this point in time is how well the working class will do economically given: (1) the Cabinet-level nominees that will presumably set economic policy for the administration have spent collective decades pandering to the wealthy and fighting the whole idea of a "living wage"; and (2) the Congressional Republicans seem inclined to their long-time policies of tax cuts for the wealthy and decreased spending on programs that benefit the working class and down.

Glenn said...

" Carl Dolphin said...
Dear JMG,
Richard Spencer from the Alt-Right started a new web site on Monday : Already some interesting articles posted that some of your readers would like (snowflakes will be quickly melted).
He maybe reading you, as they're focusing on spearing the affluent elite and avoiding the "Jewish question" so far."

You seem not to have heard of the specifically anti-Jewish march he's planning in my wife's birthplace of Whitefish, Montana as payback for locals boycotting his mother's business because of his Nazi beliefs. Needless to say, there will be counter-protesters from all over the Northwest.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

latheChuck said...

Re: homeless camps

Here near Washington DC, we have some species of tree (a flowering pear, I think), that sprouts up in thickets wherever it isn't regularly cut back. A typical location is in the loops and wedges within highway interchanges. Local homeless people have found these thickets to offer shelter (from the wind, the sun, and prying eyes). I'd begun to notice narrow trails leading into some of these thickets, and a rare flash of tent fabric in the brush. Now the highway maintenance crews have cleaned out the undergrowth, leaving just a carpet of splinters and a few mature trees. As I told my teenage son... they can't catch and remove homeless people, but they can destroy their habitat.

[And, on "consciousness"... as I edited the paragraph above, I changed "the homeless" into "homeless people". I'm somewhat stunned at the difference in feeling, within myself, that results from even such a small change in language (applied according to my will, so to speak).]

Glenn said...

The difference I see between the upper middle and upper class British and the same in the U.S. is the presence or absence of an official class structure. The British are secure in their place. Even if they go broke, they are shabby gentry, but gentry, none the less. In the U.S. we are more defined strictly by income. So for the middle class, and to a lesser extent, the rich; it is a constant Red Queen's race to maintain one's position. Whereas us poor folk have no place to fall, and are more secure, miserable though we might be. That, I think, is part of the root of the hate, and the reason for not saying it out loud, right or left, from the top towards the bottom.

On the right, there is the added factor that the very existence of the poor, whether undeserving "welfare queens" or poor shlubs working three jobs to make ends meet, reveals the lie of the free market meritocracy where anyone can succeed through hard work. They thus resort to Social Darwinism, Ayn Rand philosophies and the concept of the undeserving poor to justify their positions and wealth.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

Mike said...

JMG, I'm afraid you have a terrible blind spot here. Your impulse to claim "both sides are equally bad," and your resolute contrariness with regard to whatever you think is the received wisdom of most people, have led you astray. This is not just another "R replaces D" or "D replaces R" changing of the guard, with the attendant normal feelings on both sides. This is far beyond the range of normality in our society. I'm surprised you haven't noticed that Trump is seriously mentally ill, that he's a stunningly corrupt con artist, that he's habitually dishonest, that he's extraordinarily volatile, that he's scatterbrained and has no attention span or ability to focus, that he's wholly ignorant on most of the topics he talks about, and that he's so mean-spirited that one of his main motivators seems to be personal vengeance. He has all these qualities in doses that are vastly larger than any previous President. This is a very, very, dangerous man. The people who are angry and sacred about what happens next to our country aren't expressing bigotry toward the working class, they fear for our nation in the hands of a madman. And this is without even discussing the horrible polices he apparently supports, or the amazingly unqualified people he wants in his cabinet. This is a new and awful threshold we're crossing here. and to try to minimize or normalize it is really unwise.

pygmycory said...

It looks like the student loan bubble situation is coming into the open.
Behind a paywall, so I couldn't see most of it.

Owen said...

>calling a great many people 'unredeemable' is a religious statement

Nah, that's standard SJW M.O. They *are* religious. Left wing fundies.

However, some of the people they've demonized? They're really good at playing demons, much to their downfall and chagrin.

Cherokee Organics said...


Oh my! So many comments. You've clearly hit a nerve here. Nice one, and I'd call that a knock-out blow. :-)! The champ is against the ropes and down…

The thing is that distraction techniques get used all of the time. And speaking of time, they are time wasters, which is what they intended to be in the first place. I've seen community groups descend into chaos and endless bickering, meanwhile there are people in the background quietly benefiting from that arrangement. A recent charity which I support seems to have been hijacked. They are definitely going to score a letter.

In the particular case that you wrote about, the endless bickering over approved subjects is a smoke screen designed to hide the fact that with a declining resource base and increasing population, benefits for some are costs to many others. It is not a one for one arrangement at all.

The correct response that does not end up with lamp posts is really to share the pain as far and wide and as evenly (not necessarily fairly as we don't seem to expect that as a species) as possible, and also to communicate that strategy. You still end up in the same place, but to arrive anywhere with good grace seems to be the more palatable option to me.

Hey, I have been rather bemused by the mainstream media of late and I wonder how many of their advertisers have captured the opinions of the editors and owners of the media and what that means to them as people turn away from that mainstream media. Even Blind Freddy can see if they continually keep predicting major events the wrong way then eventually someone has to wake up and ask the hard question as to who is consuming this media where money is being spent when clearly the majority that matter aren't? Just sayin...



Carl Dolphin said...

it was a different group planning that protest. They postponed to next month. The story's a little more complex then you make it out to be. Basically, his mother was bullied to sell her property when she has nothing to do with his political beliefs. Lots of Freedom of speech issues going on. Carl

latheChuck said...

Dolphin- Re protesters using "sulfuric acid" as an anti-personnel weapon, I think there's a technical misunderstanding. I believe that I saw the same new article, and the organizer was referring to BUTYRIC acid, not SULFURIC acid. What's the difference? Butyric acid occurs naturally in human body odor, vomit, and rancid cheese. (See Wikipedia's entry for details.) I have no idea where protesters could acquire it in pure form, but it's been used as an agent of protest before. (It's also used to make artificial fish bait attractive to carp.) Sulfuric acid, of course, can cause severe burns to exposed skin... and is easy to get, for lead-acid batteries, and extreme drain cleaning.

Armata said...

Speaking of Social Justice Warriors, circular firing squads and the Oppression Olympics, have any of you seen this yet? It seems there are people in the "fat acceptance" movement who are attacking "smaller fats" for not being obese enough.

Sounds like something The Onion would come up with, doesn't it? These days, truth is often much, much weirder than fiction, especially when one is talking about the postmodernist Left.

latheChuck said...

Re: Trump's use of social media. A friend of mine claims to have heard that Trump dislikes using Twitter, but explains that only when he keeps his communications Twitter-short can he get them delivered to his mass audience without them being distorted by the media. That makes a lot of sense to me. If the news media have only enough time/space for crawling headlines and sound bites, the news "source" might as well personally edit his message to fit. It seems like a natural consequence (i.e. blowback) of reporters selecting what to present to their audience.

When we were told that automation would make many occupations obsolete, we didn't think that a robot could write a news story. It turns out, Twitter (with the help of biased, clueless reporters) made the short-form news story itself obsolete.

Patricia Mathews said...

@Michael K re " Here's a child of privilege and a billionaire, who somehow has become a champion of the people against elite rule, which is some kind of paradox."

The Tyrants of ancient Greece were all members of the aristocracy. Julius Caesar was a patrician born, as was the populist demagogue Publius Clodius - who became a plebian to further his political career. It's a fairly common pattern.

JacGolf said...

To all of te gay, oppressed, yadda yadda yada people out there, this is not about what is between you legs or the first 1/4" of your is about what is right and wrong. If you only justify your cause with who you choose to sleep with or the pigment in your skin, get over it...get onto what your actual dreams are instead of
fighting against a class or race that you feel 'oppresses' you. I am a white male, I feel the same thing when 35% of the money I negotiate and earn for myself is stolen by the feds. In the end we all want to do what we love. JMG is better at writing about it, but in the end, truth is better than fiction.

anonymous said...

Millenial checking in here. Perspicacious as usual, Mr. Greer. To amplify your points, it seems appropriate to indicate I was born in the last year of Mr. Reagan's presidency; 9/11 happened when I was thirteen. Therefore, the term "American prosperity" is utterly meaningless to me. All I have born witness to in my adult life was a phantasmagoric five act German opera of fecklessness on the part of the "liberal" and "conservative" elite--as you often say, God knows what either side seeks to liberate or conserve.

Frankly, I consider myself lucky in that the 2008 crisis made it so that I did not graduate from college; I was forced to go to work and become something of an autodidact-- or dilettante to put it in uncharitable terms. The vast majority of my friends, doctors and lawyers all, are now trying to tread water in a sea of debt knowing they are a bad case of pneumonia or car accident away from utter destitution--that effectively can never be discharged. Ever. Furthermore, by the time the pay it off, if they ever will, they'll be in their late forties--so, in a few years, forget about consumer goods purchases that actually drive an economy. And they are the lucky ones! As for me, I work for a large commercial bank and would be on food stamps if I had children. I, too, am a lucky one-- God help you if you are cast into the outer darkness that is food service or home healthcare or temp work.

Meanwhile we are treated to condescension and outright hatred from the preceding generation-- caricaturized as spoiled special snowflakes who don't have the sense to get a job with a pension. Nevermind any objective metric indicates we are more productive, work longer hours (if we can), are paid less, and may not live as long as our parents. This should make us more sympathetic to Mr. Trump's followers, but I think too many of my generational brethren are too well educated (in the Stalinist sense of the phrase). That said, we shall see if Mr. Trump delivers on the populist side of his policies given the state of the congress. If the smug glee on the face of Speaker Ryan's face is any indication we ain't seen nothing yet.

Howard Skillington said...

Looking back upon my childhood as a kid whose default mode was to question authority, I am mystified as to how I could have been duped by the hoary civics class myth that America is a “classless society.” It’s easy now to understand whose interests are served by preempting class resentment in as many young proles as possible, but it certainly did not serve me well to enter college, still oblivious of the extent to which class would undergird the rules of the game in the bigger world out there.

I remember regarding the Brits as quaint and silly for persisting in seeing the world through the lens of an elaborate class system. Now it strikes me as a definite boon to be given that understanding upfront – whether to acquiesce in it or resist it.

John Michael Greer said...

Well, that seems to have hit a nerve! One comment before I start: I fielded several posts that included profanity, and they were deleted. You know the rules, folks; if you want your comments to be put through, keep 'em clean. If those who sent in posts with profanity want to clean them up and resubmit, I'm fine with that.

With that out of the way, on to the comments!

Gottfried, I'd have believed that, too, until I watched Democrats who spent eight years denouncing George W. Bush for drone strikes, human rights violations at Guantanamo, and regime-change operations spin on a dime and spend the next eight years excusing Obama for doing exactly the same things. I'm far from sure there's any hypocrisy too extreme for the Dems at this point.

Rapier, obviously I disagree. One of the things that's amused me repeatedly about the last year is the efficiency with which Trump gets the intelligentsia to treat him as stupid, and then uses that against them.

Zachary, that's an excellent point!

Justin, exactly. Marxism, like all prophetic faiths, starts out with the assumption that there must be a real world more congenial to human cravings than the one we actually experience around us, and then sets up some more or less elaborate scheme for getting from here to there. The thing that differentiates it from other prophetic faiths is simply that it uses the language of political economy, rather than that of theology, to frame its prophecy of salvation.

Steve, er, I've spent enough time lurking on 8chan and other alt-right forums to know from ample personal experience that there's no shortage of Jew-baiting, misogyny, racial slurs, and the like in the alt-right scene. (I encourage anyone who doubts this to go there; the board you want to visit is /pol/.) Mind you, you're correct that the social-justice left also loves to fling accusations of antisemitism, racism, misogyny, etc. at any convenient target, but that doesn't mean all such accusations are by definition wrong, you know.

Chester, you're welcome!

Mustard, doesn't surprise me a bit.

Nestorian, election fraud is as American as apple pie. Both parties engage in it constantly. Thus I do think that the tantrums of the Democratic Party in the wake of the 2000 election class them as sore losers.

Justin, the impending collapse of the academic industry is a huge issue, and one that's going to get at least one post here. I have friends and readers who work for a tolerably wide range of universities, and they regularly forward me harrowing details about what's going on in that industry. That is to say, you're almost certainly right, and the student loan bubble is going to be only one of several overinflated things to come crashing down to earth in the not too distant future.

Drhooves, I suspect you may be wrong about the size of government. As the US moves into the post-imperial period of its history and loses the ability to cover deficits with the printing press, sharp cuts to federal bureaucracies are going to be on the agenda; certainly The Hill is reporting major steps in that direction by the incoming administration. But we'll see.

Jbarber said...

@Eric S
Thank you for your response, it actually helps me very much. I too belong to an alternative religion, am an organic food consumer, and I consider myself an environmentalist; however, while I lean left I do not buy the entire platform. I think guns are useful, some forests need cut down to avoid wildfire dangers and provide a renewable resource, those are some of my thoughts that would make a liberal elite go pale! So I will read JMG's political posts in order to parse out what the movements I hold dear can do in order to avoid the pitfalls of the far left.
@JMG, I am sorry you think I need to work on reading comprehension, I need to work on writing more than anything. I am not good at getting my thoughts presented. Like I said in my original comment, I did not read this post, I skimmed it. Your tone has gotten very acidic and I don't care to read that no matter who it's directed towards. That's from a personal conflict avoidance trait of mine, not a political preference. I am not one to spit furious venom at Trump or his supporters; in fact, it was one of your posts that convinced me to avoid that behavior! I am not optimistic about a Trump presidency, but I am not a doomsayer either. Either he does good things for most of the country, or things go downhill like they are going to anyway once the oil runs low.
So I am going to re-read the previous posts that I skipped or skimmed, keeping Eric S's words in mind. In addition, my "Classics" reading list compiled from your suggestion has grown to include The Tale of Genji, works by Voltaire, Lovecraft, and Tacitus(really looking forward to that one). Since I am borrowing them from the library, I was able to pick the oldest editions available. I am hoping to avoid modern dumbing-down that way.
I'm fairly sure I won't be able to find any response from either of you by scrolling through so many comments, but I want to thank both of you for your words of wisdom.

SCA Heretic said...

JMG, I respect and admire you and your work. However, I have to say that you have repeatedly pointed out the error of others thinking that "its different this time." It seems to be that this week's post is you saying that its different this time.

Ray Wharton said...

As I think about it I am less and less convinced that class in an economic sense is the most precise way to identify the axis of bigotry. As I think,one by one, of friends of mine who cannot comprehend someone voting for Trump a very clear pattern emerges among that set. Bigotry against the uneducated. The assumption that ignorance or lack of education, or inadequate esteeming of education, is the root of all Trumpism. In this perspective correct media is a form of education. That is to say that I perceive the prejudice on precisely religious grounds, it is built around the assumption that the detested has failed to internalize a true and redeeming creed.

Among my age mates I know very few wealthy enough for class to mean a tinkle. Pay check to pay check is as it does. But, the divide based on education level holds strongly if I adjust for my friends who have joined me in disparaging the value of university. Beyond my age group the cases I can think of are fewer, but considering teachers, trades folk, elder relatives, and neighbors the loudest critics of the Trump are educators or people who are proud of being educated.

The cases of actual hate speech from Trump critics are in fact a very loud and very tiny fraction of all the people I can think of, even in those cases there is a sense that Trump support is irrational or ignorant.

Consider how Trump used the tactic of addressing the non-rational mind, I think that offended those folks whose ego is founded in their value as a rational being.

John Michael Greer said...

Asr, exit polls are notoriously inaccurate, not least because it's so easy to massage them statistically. Furthermore, do you notice any attempt to divide working class from welfare-dependent poor in those numbers? No, I didn't either -- and I did specify the working class, not the poor as a whole, as the basis of Trump's support.

Bill, but they don't vote Republican year after year. A lot of them voted for Obama in 2008, and would likely have voted for Sanders if the DNC hadn't rigged the nomination process against him.

Bob, true enough. I'd be happy to see some austerity being applied to the people who can actually afford it, i.e., the affluent.

Phil, hmm! That's an intriguing analysis, and I'll want to think it over.

Mark, two solid points. Thank you.

MichaelK, thanks for this. I'm sure our class system looks pretty strange from a European perspective! As for what happens next, though, that's a heck of a good question, but we may not have to wait too long to find out.

Bob, of course Trump's still using his Twitter account. He knows he needs to keep an open channel with his constituents, so that he can use them to bring pressure to bear on the political system in DC, and he's also extremely good at using Twitter rants to impact the political system directly. Oh, and of course people on the left are still insisting at the top of their lungs that the people who voted for Trump must all be Nazi storm troopers or what have you; doing anything else would force them to confront what the policies they've supported have done to millions of Americans in the working classes. It's so much easier for the left to keep on flinging hate speech at the people they despise...

Unknown PRC, we'll see!

Greg, no question, a lot depends on how Trump's policies play out over the next four years. If he's able to mitigate the permanent depression in the flyover states, back away from the permanent Mideast war of the Bush and Obama years, and get rid of the Obamacare mandate, I suspect he'll have no trouble rallying his supporters in four years -- though you're right that the way the Democrats are doubling down on a failed strategy, he may not have to worry.

MichaelK, people on the left are calling for a coup because many of them don't actually care two farts in an EF-5 tornado about all those fine ideals they like to parade around. We've seen that clearly enough over the last eight years, as Obama's fans rushed to excuse him for everything they denounced to the skies when done by George W. Bush.

Joseph, a very good point.

Carl, of course it would be. "But we're the good guys!" is the left's refrain, even when their actions are indistinguishable from those of the people they hate.

John Michael Greer said...

Redoak, thank you. I hope you have plans for another career when the academic industry falls on hard times; that may not be too far in the future, you know.

Eric, good. That kind of frozen opposition is very common in political systems on the brink of convulsive change; once change hits, everything is up for grabs, and the alignments that come out of it are usually unrecognizable from those that existed beforehand. As for Trump's long game -- to be honest, I have no idea. Could his tactics backfire in a big way? Of course -- but they could also succeed in catalyzing an extensive political realignment, in much the same way that the New Deal did.

Breanna, fair enough. That's a data point I'll add to my analysis. As for predictions, I did the closest you'll get to that at the beginning of this month, and my main prediction was that we're entering a period of convulsive change in which no accurate prediction is possible.

Dammerung, that's too bad. From my perspective, an abstraction based on skin color is a very weak foundation for a meaningful identity, and it also forecloses a lot of potential alliances. That said, the alt-right, like the rest of us, gets to make its own decisions and take the consequences thereof.

Pygmycory, I'm very glad to hear it. I'll probably do another post focusing on the way tax policies subsidize automation, just to try to stir up some more interest.

Sheila, thank you -- I'll check that out as time permits.

David, yes, I've been hearing the same thing. The National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities are slush funds controlled by little cliques of cognoscenti, and the sooner they're given the axe, the better. All the great ages of artistic creation have taken place when artists had to convince non-artists to pay good money for their creations.

Myriad, of course you can ask that! I figured out in my early twenties that I wanted a writing career, but it took me quite a few years to break into print. In the meantime, I worked in a variety of poorly paid service jobs -- nursing home orderly, microfilm photographer, copy-machine operator, dry cleaning drop-shop clerk -- in order to help make ends meet. That experience taught me a great deal about class and American society, among many other things. Now, fortunately, I make a modest living from my writing and don't have to compete in the job market -- but I haven't forgotten.

Ursachi, that's good to hear. As NATO comes apart, I hope the nations of eastern Europe will look to their own defense collectively; it seems to me that everyone would be safer if Russia was counterbalanced, not by a declining United States, but by an alliance of eastern European nations.

Mouse, of course the next four years are going to be a crapshoot. We've got an outsider taking over the executive branch, with a set of largely untested ideas about fixing the serious problems this country faces, and all the wider problems I've traced in this blog are still out there. I think, though, that there's a chance that ditching neoliberal economics and neoconservative foreign policy, and pruning some of the other excrescrences of the late bipartisan consensus, may give us a less dire future than we would otherwise have had. Still, we'll see.

avalterra said...

I'm glad you mentioned the alt-right as that was my exact thought when you mentioned relying on identity politics. The obvious response was "okay, if that's the game - we'll play it". But to that end it also struck me, as I read this weeks post, that human tribalism plays a large part in what is going on. All the way back to the deal made in the 60s and 70s - "we'll let representatives of your tribe into the elite as junior partners. You can identify with them and feel that your tribe has been given a seat at the table."

John Michael Greer said...

Vadim, then you're going to be disappointed repeatedly as this blog proceeds, because I disagree with what you're saying and I don't see any point in finessing that fact.

Herbert, no, I haven't. Thank you; I'll read the links as time permits.

Anton, what does a good Trump presidency look like? Try this: (a) we don't have a war with Russia; (b) US troops come home from the Middle East; (c) sensible tariffs and trade barriers stop the offshoring of jobs and bring manufacturing jobs back to the United States; (d) the federal bureaucracy undergoes a serious pruning. That's a decent start. Oh, and the repeal of the Obamacare mandate, so that people aren't forced to buy insurance at whatever sky-high rates the industry wants to charge, would also count as a big plus in my book.

Sister BoysMom, nah, you're fine. I have no objection to the use of the verb "damn" in its proper theological sense, nor do I object to the noun "hell" when it's used for the place (or condition of being). I'll leave it to Phil, the Prince of Insufficient Light, to darn people to heck. ;-)

David, yep. Of all people, it looks as though it's going to be Donald Trump's job to maneuver the US through the crisis phase of anacyclosis I talked about in an earlier sequence of posts. The world, and the US in particular, is going to look very different four or eight years from now.

Mh505, if that book ever gets written, I'll certainly talk about Engel's reinvention of Marxism, and the repeated re-reinventions of it by later authors as well. As for Trump, he might not -- but given the way the Democrats are mishandling their response to him, if he does make it to 2020 and the Dems haven't yet gotten a clue, he won't have much to worry about.

Pygmycory, interesting. When I worked at a dry cleaner, the customers we all feared were the overdressed, expensively made up women, for whom treating the counter staff like dirt was apparently routine. I've heard similar things from friends who work in restaurants.

Punditus, you do know that Trump's record on LGBT+ rights is considerably better than most of the politicians in DC, don't you?

Owen, good heavens, do you want me to give away my trade secrets? ;-)

NomadsSoul, thank you.

Owen, thanks for the link.

Dammerung said...

I have, over time, come to believe that race is more than just skin color. I think genetics influences things like time-preference, aggression, intelligence, and other traits that create meaningful cognitive differences between people. When you talk about dog breeds this is considered self-evident. When you try to apply these ideas to humans, most people take leave of their senses. What's more, I have a cornucopia of recessive traits that human beings tend to prize. In 300 years, I still want there to exist blue-eyed; fair-haired; and fair-skinned people. If we're going to preserve that phenotype, it's going to take some deliberate husbandry of the human genome and defense of white diversity.

As for how we became a noticeable political movement, I mean, words cannot express how baffled I am. If you asked me ten years ago which of my campus political activities - some of which, I hasten to add, were quite left wing! - was going to be the most effective and get the most splattered ink over a decade later, "posting Hitler did nothing wrong to an obscure hobbyist imageboard for people who love anime because it gives the lads a case of the giggles" would emphatically not have made my list. For all intents and purposes I'm one of the founding fathers of the alt-right (we prefer "National Socialist." Alt-right is controlled opposition.) I was a /b/tard in 2005. In chan-years, that makes me like a tottering old Mandarin sage who's got a Fu Manchu that reaches down to the floor and who claims to be 200 years old. I should be able to write a doctoral thesis on all this but I'm just as confused as the horrified journalists they occasionally send into our midst to try to figure out what the heck is going on.

If it were just internet Nazi frog wizards maybe I could still work my way out. But anime-loving internet Nazi frog wizards, it's just too much. When I was a kid, I used to set my alarm for 6am on Saturdays so I could get up and watch anime on the Sci-Fi channel, because that was the only time and place you could see it on American TV. You should check out the #AnimeRight hashtag on Twitter. It's 80% anime girls in MAGA caps, 20% anime girls in SS uniforms. I mean, how do you even? How do you even? It's both bewildering and hysterically funny, but it's also a counterculture that's so good at self-promotion that it's actually being addressed by the legacy media. They have to comment on anime girls in Nazi uniforms now! The kek business went from sekret club shorthand for LOL to a full-blown attempt to use Jungian psychology to weaponize confirmation bias and assume direct control over the Western noösphere. No wonder the conventional political establishment is at such a loss.

It's always interesting to compare notes on this with someone who's from a more, ah-heh, organized magical tradition.

John Michael Greer said...

Ploughboy, of course. As things heat up, though, expect strange alliances, and those who come out on top will be those who can see past the conventional wisdom and put together coalitions that the other side can't imagine.

BFM, I'll freely grant that we don't know how to talk about class in America! Social mobility is still too much of a factor, and again, the lack of a fully articulated feudal system in our past doesn't give us the vocabulary that, say, Brits have. As for the mismatch between Trump and his supporters, though, hasn't it occurred to you that gold-plated bathroom fixtures are exactly the sort of thing that appeals to the working poor? Trump is their ideal, the kind of rich person they'd like to be, so of course they place their hopes in him.

John, no doubt the boy who cried wolf could have made the identical case -- "Look, just because there wasn't a wolf the last three times I shouted doesn't mean that there isn't one this time." Since the only evidence anybody's offered for Trump's supposed fascist inclinations amounts to the usual partisan handwaving, I see no more reason to take this shout of "Wolf, wolf!" any more seriously than the last ones.

Adrian, an excellent point on class. It really is a complex phenomenon, and yes, it's also one axis of privilege among many others. As for climate change, I won't argue at all; in November we faced the unenviable choice between a candidate who dismissed climate change and a candidate who was perfectly willing to make the right noises on it, but would almost certainly have done exactly as much about it as Obama did -- that is to say, nothing. I'll be doing a post on the climate situation in the weeks ahead.

Unknown Mox, hmm. I well recall the level of partisan nastiness during and after the 1980, 1992, 2000, and 2008 elections, and this seems more extreme to me. As for NATO, the US currently pays 70% of NATO's operating expenses, and also maintains massive military formations and armaments on its own nickel that are only relevant to the defense of Europe. Europe is going to have to pick up those costs, because we can't afford it any more.

Brokeboater, apparently so. If you'd read more closely, you might have noticed that I was talking about the way the Democrats are doubling down on a failed strategy, which promises to hand Trump reelection on a gold-plated platter.

Stuart, exactly! To use Zachary Braverman's useful turn of phrase, raising the glass floor -- making sure that the poorest women have access to child care and economic opportunities -- is far more important than breaking any number of glass ceilings. If, to quote Madeleine Albright, there's a special place in hell for women who won't help women, what are we to say about the Madeleine Albrights of the world, who have done less than nothing for their poorest sisters?

Mark, if you think I see Trump as some kind of idealistic warrior for the working classes, you're quite mistaken. Of course he's in it for his own reasons -- but he was clever enough to realize that he could win power by discarding the conventional wisdom and talking to working class voters in their own language. His ego being what it is, it's a safe bet that he wants to win reelection -- preferably by a landslide -- and again, he's clever enough to know that delivering on at least some of his promises is the easiest way to achieve that. As for the rest -- well, we'll just have to see, won't we?

onething said...

"Most of the things Trump campaigned on are already being thrown out: build a wall, lock her up, repeal and replace (Obamacare), drain the swamp, etc."

I've seen a lot of commentary in this vein around the web, and while it appears quite possibly true, my question is, in that case why is nearly every one among our rulers so against him?

All this anti Trump hysteria - almost all of it was spoon fed via propaganda to the populace. I've lost most of what respect I had for people due to their amazing gullibility to all this propaganda but at least I can say that this loss is quite free of class bias.

Unknown said...

"Oh, and of course people on the left are still insisting at the top of their lungs that the people who voted for Trump must all be Nazi storm troopers or what have you; doing anything else would force them to confront what the policies they've supported have done to millions of Americans in the working classes. It's so much easier for the left to keep on flinging hate speech at the people they despise..."

True enough, but the Democrats had willing accomplices in that; Republicans. The electorate that voted for Trump seems to be missing half the picture. Besides, to me, it looks like a bunch of folks fell for a fast-talking New Yorker. Given the alternative though, it's hard to blame them.

John Michael Greer said...

NomadicBeer, the relation between social class in the US and US imperial hegemony is complex enough that it probably needs a post of its own. As for Europe paying for its own defense, er, you might want to look at the share of NATO's budget that the US pays, and the amount of our military that's specifically geared to the defense of Europe.

RAnderson, hmm! I'll have to find that and read it.

Wagelaborer, I could so easily imagine the protest marchers in their "pussy hats" chanting that!

Keith, I take it you don't ride trains much. When the train leaves the station, you just have to wait a while; it'll be back. Neoliberal trade policies, not any law or force of nature, caused industrial jobs to leave the US; more sensible trade policies can bring them back.

Streamfortyseven, except that they're in the process of taking over the Republican party. Now if someone sensible will simply do the same thing to the Dems...

Esn, of course. If Trump knows his business, and I think he probably does, he'll cut a very broad strategic arms treaty with the Russians, replace the misbegotten efforts toward US primacy with the stabilizing strategy of deterrence, withdraw the missile shield installations to our side of the pond, and then push for a bilateral trade deal. Such a grand bargain would benefit both sides and allow for a major reset in the international order -- one that would make our retreat from empire a good deal less traumatic than it would otherwise be.

Professor Pan, and that's why I mentioned in my post that there are valid reasons to disagree with Trump and to organize political opposition to his administration's policies. If more of his opponents would ditch the class bigotry and concentrate on actual issues, you might even have a chance at effective action.

Streamfortyseven, it's a commonplace of democratic politics that it sinks into that kind of bipartisan rut at intervals, and then gets jolted out of it by the rise to power of figures who ditch the conventional wisdom and reset the terms of debate. That's what's happening now.

Clay, now surprise me.

Joe, tastes in intellectual arrogance differ. If you don't like mine, why are you bothering to read this blog?

Donald Hargraves said...

Old news. I had a friend who was active in the pro-fat movement (before she got creeped out by some of the non-fat male hangers-on) and I saw two consecutive issues of a pro-fat magazine that intrigued me. The first had a pictorial of a 180 pound woman (with various levels of nudity, of course), the second had three pages of defense of that pictorial (seemed the readers thought she wasn't fat enough for a pictorial).

Donald Hargraves said...

"dilettante" has the same root word as "delight," and used to be a positive word connoting love of, if not the ability to live off of, an art form or scientific discipline. It's high time the word regained its positive connotations.

John Michael Greer said...

Michael, that's indeed the question. One of the things we don't yet know is whether sensible tariffs and trade barriers on the one hand, and enforcement of immigration laws on the other, will bring back enough jobs and put enough upward pressure on wages at the bottom end of the scale to counterbalance the inevitable giveaways to the already rich. I tend to think they will, but we'll have to see.

LatheChuck, typical -- instead of addressing the cause, we cover up the symptom. Nice bit of word magic, btw.

Glenn, that's a fascinating supposition -- and, I think, a plausible one.

Mike, that is to say, you've decked out a straw man you've named "Donald Trump" in a Ming the Merciless outfit and are thwacking him with gusto, and you think I have a blind spot because I won't join you in that sport. Sorry; I get my aerobic exercise in less useless ways.

Pygmycory, hmm! Fascinating. If it's true that the Feds have been falsifying those numbers, it could get ugly really fast. I hope those of my readers who work in the academic industry have made plans for a second career.

Cherokee, thank you. Blind Freddy is as astute as usual, I see! You're right, of course; one of the things I expect to see in the years ahead is a massive decrease in the amount of money going into advertising, as it becomes clear that ads no longer get the response they once did -- and what that will do to all those industries that depend on ad revenues for their survival (cough, cough, the entire internet, cough, cough) is again an interesting question.

Armata, once you set things up so that being oppressed is treated as a sign of virtue, of course you're going to get people competing for the prize of Most Victimized.

LatheChuck, that makes a great deal of sense to me. The way Trump uses Twitter to do end runs around the media and the other official channels of information is fascinating to watch.

JacGolf, remember that most people -- no matter what identity category they do or don't belong to -- take on the identities their culture assigns to them. It takes an unusual degree of self-awareness and self-knowledge to create an identity for oneself.

Anonymous Millennial, many thanks for the report from the trenches! The snowflakes I've encountered among millennials are a small minority, and most of them have trust funds. I'll repeat what I've said before: your generation has been screwed, blued, and tattooed, as we used to say in my misspent youth, by and for the benefit of the Boomers. If the new administration has the brains the gods gave geese, they'll recognize that, and take steps to dismantle some of the things (such as predatory student loans) that have been used against you.

Howard, excellent! Exactly; it's all very well to question authority, but when the entire issue you should be questioning has been erased from the collective conversation, how do you get around to questioning it?

Armata said...

Recent guest post from Dmitry Orlov's blog, arguing that Donald Trump was right when he criticized Reichskanzlerin Angela Merkel's failed immigration policies that she has forced on Germany and the rest of the European Union, with results that have indeed been "catastrophic", as Trump put it.

We can already see a huge backlash growing in Europe over the failed policies of the EU's clueless liberal elites. More and more, I think Lord Beria called it correctly when he predicted Marine Le Pen will probably be the next President of the French Republic and I think it very likely we will see other right-wing populist politicians and parties come to power in Europe in the not-so-distant future. Oh, and Le Pen has already said that if she becomes president, she will officially recognize Crimea as Russian territory. She has already called for a Frexit referendum. The Brits are quite right in leaving the sinking ship that is the EU before things get really bad and I suspect we will see several other European nations voting to leave within the next few years.

Trump also correctly pointed out something we have discussed on this blog, namely that the EU is little more than a tool for German economic interests and that Germany's beggar-thy-neighbor economic policies have been disastrous for the rest of Europe.

Things are changing very rapidly in America and in Europe, in spite of frantic and ultimately futile efforts by the senile elites to maintain the status quo.

Jay Cummings said...

You seem to have an especially cold place in your heart for those you see as classists. I agree that some of the noise coming from the left are wealthy elites, but I think you're missing a great swath of resistance coming from the left from two places - the Bernie supporters who are more aligned with unions and workers rights, Medicaid for all, free college etc. And a growing group of political actors who are eschewing party in favor of establishing common ground around the obvious - that Trump isn't a representative of the poor and working classes. Farther from it than any candidate I'm history by an order of magnitude. You say Hillary or whatever other Democrat would be putting people in place who are just like the ones Trump is choosing - but that begs the question of what news sources you follow because many of his choices are baffling in their outright obvious givaway to the 1%. That's perhaps not an error of kind (though debatable), but most certainly one of scale.

I know you think Trump fits into the mold of how you've broken down the world of American politics and etc etc. I also know you're better than anyone I've ever read at tearing down your opposition, and so my plea here will likely fall on deaf ears. Trump isn't like any president this country has ever seen. He just isn't. A great deal of what you refer to as good opposition is focused on just that fact. Robert reisch and dan rather are doing some good work, for example.

honestly, the angry, ascerbic tone you have in this post is so far outside what I've come to expect from your writing that I wonder if you're okay.

As what's uniquely aweful about Trump starts to translate into reality, look for more and more coalitions of everyday people coming together to demand an end to this surreal chapter.

I miss the archdruid who takes wry amusement in the things he sees as upside down. This new angry archdruid isn't so much fun.

Moshe Braner said...

I think there's too much of an emphasis on the presidency, both in mainstream American discourse and on this blog, while real power is in the hands of Congress. If there really is a "bipartisan consensus", then Congress can override the president's vetoes. It's going to be interesting, but I doubt that actual policies will change a whole lot very fast.

The gaps between the new president and the party that he is supposedly affiliated with will become clearer as the party's congresscritters overreach with the mandate that they now think they have. Smirk on Paul Ryan's face indeed! The dems may well regain some congressional power in the 2018 midterms, and then we'll be back to gridlock. Or not. It all depends on who gets the blame for the upcoming financial and military debacles.

Armata said...

Check out this headline from The Burning Platform: US Government Caught Massively Fabricating Student Loan Default Data.

Can't say I am in the least bit surprised...

Bob said...

...defense of Europe.

Against who?

John Michael Greer said...

Jbarber, my apologies -- that was snappish of me, wasn't it? Still, these posts aren't an expression of disdain. If anything, they're an expression of frustration with the left, which could be doing quite a few productive things if it wasn't so deeply caught up in class prejudice and a variety of other unhelpful habits.

Heretic, how on earth do you read this week's post as saying "it's different this time"? I'm simply pointing out that class bigotry plays a significant role in the way that some people are responding to the victory of a candidate who based his campaign on appeals to the working class. That victory was nothing new; Franklin Roosevelt and Andrew Jackson did the same thing in their day, and so did plenty of figures in the classical Greek and Roman republics -- and the shrieks of outrage because the candidate of the deplorables won are nothing new, either.

Ray, that's fascinating. I wonder if it's a regional difference.

Avalterra, right on both counts.

Dammerung, if you wanted to talk about actual ethnicities, I'm not sure I'd argue. I'm pretty close to half Scots by ancestry, and I can see a lot of the classic Scots national character in myself. But "whiteness"? To use your canine metaphor, it's as though you were to claim that all brown dogs have some special characteristics in common that set them apart from black dogs, gray dogs, etc. But that's neither here nor there, of course; we all choose the lines we draw.

With regard to the alt-right, though, may I encourage you to consider writing a narrative history of your experience with the whole current, from /b/ to the Triumph of the Frog this last November? It would be worth reading -- and should you want to see it in print, I'm pretty sure a publisher could be found in short order.

Unknown, I've met a lot of people who voted for Trump with open eyes, saying, "He may turn out to be a complete disaster, but there's no way he'll be worse than Clinton, and he might just be better."

Donald, understood. It so happens that my tastes in femininte pulchritude tend toward the unfashionably plump; it also happens that my broader attitude toward body size is that it's nobody's business but the person who happens to wear that particular body. But yes, I've seen a lot of weirdness.

John Michael Greer said...

Armata, if Le Pen does win the French presidency, it's all over for the neoliberal world order. I don't have a sufficiently good sense of reality on the ground in France to know how much of a chance she's got, so won't hazard a prediction, but if that happens, it's game over.

Jay, nah, I don't find class bigotry any more offensive than other kinds of bigotry, though the hypocrisy with which so many class bigots cloak their hatred does jar on me more than a little. I'd also point out that this is hardly the first time I've had plenty of sharp words for people with whom I disagree -- but of course a good many of those have been on the rightward end of things, so you may not have felt stung by them, as you clearly do by this week's post. Finally, you're right, of course, that I think I understand where Trump fits in the landscape of US politics, and that my analysis differs sharply from the establishment view that you're repeating here; I don't consider that a particularly powerful argument against my take, though.

Moshe, the balance of power between Congress and the executive branch is one of the more complex issues just now. The last two presidents have massively expanded the reach of the executive branch, using executive orders, findings, and other dubiously constitutional gimmicks to enable something close to rule by presidential decree. How that will play out over the next four years is one of the major unanswered questions just now.

Armata, speaking of game over! I'm going to have to move my post on the coming crash of the academic industry up on the stack, or I may just be behind events...

Bob, depends on the exact shape of events over the next few decades. The one certainty in world politics is that if you don't prepare for war, you're more likely to get one.

Armata said...

This just out: Donald Trump has announced his plans for his first day in office.

Among the top ten things on his list:

— Freeze hiring for the federal government to reduce payrolls, although the military, public safety and public health agencies would be exempt.

— Ban White House and congressional officials from becoming lobbyists for five years after they leave the government.

— Announce plans to renegotiate the North American Free Trade Agreement with Canada and Mexico or withdraw from the deal.

— Formally withdraw from the Trans-Pacific Partnership.

— Stop all federal funding to "sanctuary cities," places where local officials don't arrest or detain immigrants living in the country illegally for federal authorities.

Ray Wharton said...

I think that it is a perspective from my specific view of the world. In person I ooze philosophical blather and code shift from hill billy roots to sophisticated phenomenological existentialist and back again in a paragraph, and can pull it off with folks from most classes equally well. My friends know me as that guy who rants about learning and philosophy... basically my default relationship with people brings to the front the topic of education and learning and such. So, I assert that the data that I described previously is presented honesty, and believe that it represents a real part of the picture (in Colorado and from my Coastal friends) but this picture is taken with a 'polarized' lens; opinions on education and ideology pop out in my view of the world at the cost of other details.

Eric said...

Dear Archdruid, et al,
Thanks for this article, I think it is a good start. I live in the little blue electoral map dot surrounded by a sea of red in northeast Kansas, and I have seen a variety of Trump reactions. They run the gamut of tone and volume that you have described. To say that the divide in our society breaks along class lines is as good a way to address the issue as any, I guess, but to say that class strata correlates with wealth or income is very much an oversimplification. I know working class conservative Republicans who hate Trump so much that they voted for Gary Johnson. I know salary class Democrats who voted for Trump. Many of my friends earn a paltry living that would get them labeled “working class” but they identify as artists or educated creative people like the Portlanders in the comment above, and vote for Democrats mostly. The people I know who are in the solid floor of the manual labor class mostly don't vote. The majority of the successful small business owners that I know voted for Trump, but don't want to talk about it. Nearly everyone at the University voted for Hillary with their nose held, but really wanted Bernie. It is complicated out here.
Perhaps because party politics got even more complicated this year. Donald Trump isn't a Republican. He has donated to the Democrats for years, and the Republican establishment threw everything they could at him trying to stop him. The favorite candidate in the Democratic primary wasn't a Democrat. Nobody was enthusiastic about Hillary in the primaries. Everyone wanted Bernie to win except the people with power in the party. But even those partisans weren't enthusiastic about Hillary.
Anyway, enough election post-mortem, we are all sick of it. I think the important thing to remember is that politics is team sports, and you will never get a Red Sox fan to root for the Yankees. So how to pick your team?
We have two parties who naturally are based on the guiding principle of our nation, which is theft. This nation was begun by the theft of land and labor from the natives. When the locals got wealthy enough they stole the loot from their king so they could have more for themselves.
One of our parties relies upon theft for its wealth and protects its favored thieves, but feels guilt and believes that we need to apologize for theft sometimes when someone catches us at it. There is never any interest in giving up the thieving or the loot. Just act sorry every now and then. This is the party of Jefferson Davis and the Confederacy. We call them Democrats.
The other party believes that theft is morally wrong and must be punished in the strongest way. One of their founding platforms was ending the theft of the labor of enslaved Africans in the South. This is the party of Lincoln, we call them Republicans. Unfortunately, they also rely upon theft and protect the thieves, but since their identity requires a sense of moral purity, they must define their theft as the will of God or Manifest Destiny, or some other pleasant lie that allows rich people to continue stealing the land and wealth of the continent and the world. It is not possible to steal what is already yours, and the Republicans believe that all wealth is rightfully theirs.
So you pick your party. Do you prefer fine moral outrage or the pretense of being a caring person? Pick your party and hate the other one. Quibble about the details of the distribution of the loot.
None of us are interested in giving up the benefits of the founding theft of this nation or the continuing theft that is driving our present lifestyle economy. If anyone tries to say anything about the rot that this whole country is floating in, either ignore them or shout at them. The shouting is a sign that the walls of denial have a crack or two, but all of us are steadily denying the true nature of what we are doing here.
Thanks for listening.

Bob said...

John, can't I do both? Can't I lament the failure on multiple levels of the Democratic party and the American Left AND be angry at those who voted in someone who I expect to do irreparable harm to our democracy? You joke about "deplorables," as if the fear my non-white friends are experiencing is irrelevant (and they are not "special snowflakes;" they are working families legitimately afraid for their safety - and, to be clear, they are not afraid of Clinton voters.) I happen to believe that Trump will not improve the employment situation of the poor or working classes AT ALL (at best, we will see a temporary boost that may last until the 2018 elections, but you know much more than I do about bubbles), and that those who believe he will are deluded or, yes, stupid. Clinton would've been a lousy president, but Trump thinks his first work day after the inauguration is Monday. He is, in a word, incompetent. I didn't believe most of what came out of Clinton's mouth during the campaign, as I understand what campaigns are. You seem to embrace much of Trump's rhetoric as honest when it comes to Russia and job creation, but as strategic insincerity when it comes to attacking Mexicans, African Americans, Muslims, and women. Why? Why is he to be believed about caring about working class Americans, but given a pass for everything else? He has had decades to promote an agenda that shows he cares about America, as some other business leaders do, but he has done nothing but promote himself and his children. Why do you believe in him? Why do you excuse his supporters as "disillusioned" and "neglected" when he will throw them under the bus as soon as it benefits him? "Throw the bums out" is never a sensible voting approach, and this year, it will prove to be a highly dangerous one. I have no problem whatsoever with rejecting politics as usual; that is why I voted for Sanders in the primary. But this man openly mocked a journalist with a disability, asked more than once why we have nukes if we don't use them, refused to denounce the KKK, and wants to modify the first amendment, and his voters were okay with all of that. They are willing to sacrifice the environment, the Supreme Court, the Bill of Rights, voting rights, the social safety net, net neutrality, and more, for the PROMISE of more and better jobs from a man who refused to release his tax returns. Forgive me if I don't feel a strong need to reach across the cultural divide and get to know them better. I saw their behavior at his rallies during the campaign, and want to hear their side of the story as much as they want to hear mine.

Shane W said...

I have to ask, Dammerung and others, was it really the alt-right that punked the legacy media into reporting on Trump, prostitutes, and golden showers in the Russian hotel presidential suite. I never thought I'd see the day that that would be considered fit for MSM. Truth really is stranger than fiction these days.

nuku said...

JMG and others,
I’m interested in that old staple of the America’s vision of itself, “The American Dream” or “unlimited upward mobility“, and how that intersects with the concept of class in America.
I was born in the USA in a family with 4 grandparents who were immigrants. My father worked at a shipyard during WW2 as a draftsman. After the war, he started his own business, and I grew up in a household of increasing middle class affluence. Both my parents had a strong desire that I get a university degree so I could be a “professional” (doctor, lawyer, scientist). It was assumed that anyone with intellectual aptitude would naturally choose such a career over that of a tradesman. It was both a money thing and a status thing, and it seemed to fit in perfectly with the meme of America as the land of unlimited opportunity, where your birth class wasn’t a life sentence.
It was unthinkable that anyone would be content to remain in the working class or even middle class if they could possibly rise out of them through education, hard work, and luck.
Maybe class in America is becoming more fixed in the sense that people don’t have the opportunities for upward mobility they once had in an expanding economy.

PunditusMaximus said...

"when the political candidates that she supports and the economic policies from which she profits are largely responsible for his plight."

What keep striking me about these posts, and one can take or leave this, is that as truly unacceptable as the Democrats are, the Republicans are either just as bad for white working people or so much worse.

The place where I keep seeing this most strongly is health care. One reform that legitimately improved the lives of millions (including me) was the Medicare expansion under the ACA. Yet, it was almost struck down by a Republican SCOTUS and dozens of Republican governors refused to implement it out of sheer loathing for their constituents.

The top 10% doesn't profit, exactly, from gottundamerung capitalism. It is true that an African-American female stockbroker massively benefits from social programs, implemented over many years, that allow her to exercise her talents in a way that lets her be more satisfied with her life and enjoy a much higher standard of living than her parents did. But a lot of what the 10% does is run constantly in place, and their working conditions are generally awful. This is one of the deep weirdnessness of life in the 10%.

This is the one area of the blog where I can't go on this journey -- Trump is going to be much worse than Clinton in every area that people were rightfully upset with Clinton about (with the possible exception of the TPP). All the discussion of the "good" Trump Presidency is fantasy, it just is. The man is deeply abusive in both his day-to-day life and his business dealings. He's removed from ordinary people's lives in an even more profound way than HRC was.

Working-class voters have had the opportunity to abandon the Republican Party and its transparent loathing of them for decades to work with the pro-working-class faction in the Democratic Party that has no equivalent in the GOP, and they keep voting their racism. This is a big deal, and it's impossible to understand the learned helplessness of the Dems without it.

Joe said...

Joe, tastes in intellectual arrogance differ. If you don't like mine, why are you bothering to read this blog?

I check in from time to time to possibly see more of the brilliance like that found in, say, "The Wealth of Nature". Sorry to say it but, in recent months, that kind of insightful analysis is getting more and more sporadic. I'll check back in a few months when you've gotten all the venom out of your system.

Crow Hill said...

JMG: “Patricia O., that makes perfect sense to me. I'm not sure why the contemporary culture of toxic entitlement made so much more of an impact on women than on men, but there it …your average middle- to upper-class white female customer is far more likely than her male equivalent to assume that the entire universe revolves around her and her alone.”

According to these observations, it would seem that women better than men fit the description of Homo economicus (Femina economica here?), one of the basic concepts of neoclassical economic theory which lies at the heart of the “contemporary culture of toxic entitlement”:

He is individualistic. He has insatiable desires. His satisfactions come from the commodities he consumes. He has no ethical values and no concerns for other people’s satisfactions or sufferings unless these can be mediated through some market transaction, like buying a gift etc.

Maybe women are more ruthless in their consumerist urges than are men because they are more targeted than men by publicity/branding that aims at making them feel insecure if they don’t get product X now. Publicity/branding actually promotes the model of Homo economicus as an ideal.

John Beasley said...

Dear JMG,

Excellent column as usual, but I wanted to make a couple quick comments. First, as someone else noted above, I also wish you'd used your own class divisions in this piece. I saw your comment above about your good reasons to do so, and thought I would add that when I talk about the wage/salary class divisions to people, they seem to understand it intuitively without me needing to explain it.

On your main point though, you may be interested to hear that last night, here in Chevy Chase, a bunch of LGBT protesters decided to host a loud protest in front of Mike Pence's new house - on a school night in a residential neighborhood! While just about everyone who can stand to live here already agrees with the protesters (if they don't, they know better than to let anyone else know), everyone I talked to agreed that this was over the line.

If I were Pence, I'd seriously consider taking up residence in a Zeppelin or something out of range of protesters, just for some peace and quiet. One thing I'm sure he's not considering as a result of the protest is nice ways to reconcile or compromise with the LGBT community.

Crow Hill said...

Unknown: I very much appreciate your reminder of the concept of noblesse oblige.

Asher the Basher said...

Thank you, John. I'm a new reader, but your writings help me to make sense of a confusing world.

While off-topic for this week's post, I've also linked below to a recent HSBC report on the state of global oil production that might be of interest to many people here. It paints a stark picture about the realities of oil production in 2016 with a damning long-term forecast.

Kevin Warner said...

You talk about hatred towards the wage class but I wonder if at heart what is actually going on is a deep fear of them in play here. Other commentators like Breanna & Myriad have also noted this fear-hate mix. What triggered this idea for me was the reaction to Trump's win by a New York editor that made the rounds several weeks ago that was beyond bizarre ( This man was actually frightened for his safety, especially because he was jewish. At the end of it all he did not blame his fear on his own over-reaction but blamed Trump's voters for it. So, no self-examination needed.

At the moment there seems to be no real focus for those who oppose Trump and all these clumsy attempts to depose a president-elect have all the elegance of a beer hall putsch. The Democrats are still in denial while making a dash for cash and all this crazy talk about how Trump is guilty of treason because Russia stole the election for him is just making America a global laughing stock. One example has become emblematic for me why liberals will always stuff themselves up. A facebook mob was set up called Pantsuit Nation which had some 4 million people sign up. As a focus for an opposition it could have been invaluable. Instead, taking a leaf out of the Clinton playbook it was monetized as a coffee book of stories - "A book of YOU. A book BY YOU. A permanent, beautiful, holdable, snuggle-in-bed-able, dogear-able, shareable, tearstainable book." Gaach!

Sorry guys, but some of the reactions to Trump to me is hilarious as an outsider. The Washington press corps, for example, is in meltdown with demands that everything stay the same as it was and Trump, whose guts they hate, should follow their protocols. When it was announced that they were being moved to a larger room as more alternate media was going to be invited to form part of the press pool they went ballistic ( Personally, I love the sound of breaking rice bowls in the morning - it smells like change.

PunditusMaximus said...

Medicaid, rather.

John Michael Greer said...

Armata, it'll be interesting to see if he follows through on all of those.

Ray, fair enough.

Eric, I suppose that's one way to think about it. Simplistic, to my mind, but your mileage may vary.

Bob, by all means keep whacking that straw man. I'm sure you'll find it very comforting.

Nuku, I think that's exactly it: the long era of economic expansion that made the American dream possible is over. Young people in the US today by and large make less money and have fewer opportunities for advancement than their parents did -- and that's a huge shift, one that has only begun to shape our collective dialogue.

PunditusMaximus, au contraire, the top 10% profits directly and massively from neoliberal economics. Wages go down but salaries don't, meaning that people who earn salaries pay less for the goods and services they want; furthermore, the less business earnings are paid out in wages, the more can be diverted to the pockets of the affluent. The "learned helplessness of the Democrats" is simply a reflection of the fact that they sold out their ideals in the backwash of the Sixties, and threw the working class under the bus in order to prop up the lifestyles of the affluent.

Joe, that is to say, when my jabs don't hit you in quite so sensitive a spot. Got it.

Crow Hill, good question. All I know is what I've observed, and what people I know in other retail and service industry jobs have mentioned to me.

John, so noted. The post where I introduced the wage class/salary class distinction is the most read post in the history of this blog, with two and a half times as many page views as the next runner-up, so odds are the concept is getting out there -- but I'll see about using it elsewhere as we proceed.

Asher, many thanks for that. If that's correct, we may get the next oil price spike sooner than I expected -- I was figuring 2020 or 2021. If the spikes and crashes start hitting closer and closer together, the economic damage is going to accelerate pretty remorselessly...

Kevin, I saw that article. If the plumber had been black, and the writer had used an equivalent set of stereotypes to justify his terror, you know as well as I do what the media reaction would have been. As for "Pantsuit Nation," I hadn't heard of that. In a bleak sort of way, that's priceless -- can you think of a better emblem of the self-worship (autolatry?) of the people involved. Gaach indeed!

Unknown said...


You might find this piece by JOhn Pilger about Obama's presidency and what it leave Trump interesting. It is certainly a stinging rebuke by a very left leaning journalist of the old school.

A sample, but Democrat supporters be warned, you will definitely not find it pleasant or soothing.

"The seedbed is Obama’s Weimar Republic, a landscape of endemic poverty, militarised police and barbaric prisons: the consequence of a “market” extremism which, under his presidency, prompted the transfer of $14 trillion in public money to criminal enterprises in Wall Street.

Perhaps his greatest “legacy” is the co-option and disorientation of any real opposition. Bernie Sanders’ specious “revolution” does not apply. Propaganda is his triumph."


eagle eye

Phil Knight said...

Phil, hmm! That's an intriguing analysis, and I'll want to think it over.

I should have added that it's no accident that the two most prominent non-Western national "propaganda" channels are Russia Today and Al-Jazeera. Both Russia and the Gulf Arabs are in a proxy political war for dominant influence in the West, with the "populists" being backed by Russia, and the status quo establishments being heavily backed by Saudi Arabia and the UAE. The level of Qatari investment in the UK is enormous, and its purpose is to keep the UK "onside". Here's an example of what this war looks like:

I should say that personally I don't have a dog in this fight, but it is one of the reasons why the battle between the populists and the neoliberals is so bitter. Many influential Westerners' wealth is reliant on the largesse of the Gulf Arabs, while for the Arabs themselves, their very existence is probably dependent on the outcome of this struggle.

Crow Hill said...

pygmicory: “.an in-depth discussion of automation and the likely impacts” Here is a link to an entertaining article about automation:

The author reaches the interesting conclusion that : “if the human population remains the same, and all those humans are still eating and holidaying and so on, then adding a population of robots on top of them certainly does not lead to an overall efficiency…So…when the claim is made that robots will be better overall, ecologically speaking, what the speaker has in mind, either consciously or unconsciously, is a society where robots are not merely replacing human labour; they are replacing some humans altogether.”

JMG, Paulo, Myriad:

Retrotopia in the Alps ? (… well, on the apprenticeship versus academic issue maybe…)

Article: Focus on apprenticeships –
the Swiss system proving a successful export

Extracts from the article that may be of interest re the education/class discussion:

Two thirds of all young Swiss people opt for an apprenticeship over pre-university education spent entirely at a grammar school.

Interestingly, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) is a regular critic of the Swiss education system. It complains that the rate of those obtaining entrance qualifications for higher education is the lowest of any European country. While well over 60 % of all young people achieve such qualifications on average in Europe and then go on to enrol at university, the rate only stands at 20 % in Switzerland.

From an historical perspective, the Swiss dual track vocational education and professional training system has been developing for over 200 years – emerging from the guild system that put great emphasis on and took pride in craftsmanship. Artisans’ professions shaped their identity and ensured social status. That continues to apply today.

But the success of training is heavily dependent upon its prestige. Whereas Swiss apprentices proudly point to the education pathways open to them, there are often huge reservations about application- led training in the destination countries of the “educational export”. Trades are often seen as having a lower status and offering few prospects. In 2015, the USA signed an agreement with Switzerland on vocational training.

Scotlyn said...

@Dammerung - I don' know any other way to find out what I want to know than not to hold back on the question that's at the tip of my tongue. And it is this:

When you posted "Hitler did nothing wrong" was it *only* for the KEKs? Or do you believe it is true? Or do you have a reason to want others to believe it is true even if you don't?

And if you do give this question your considered attention, I will thank you. I can't think of any other forum where I could even ask that question and have a hope of getting a reasoned answer.

Best, Scotlyn

Scotlyn said...

@JMG such a lot of comments in the 48 hours I've been mulling my response to your post. I thank you for it. I feel one of the "left behind left" just now, and class (well, wealth pumps of every hue) covers much of what I want to focus on and I appreciate your treatment of it. Like yourself, I also do not appreciate the kind of discourse that backs everyone into corners they cannot emerge from without fighting and annihilating the other.

You have defined bigotry as follows:
"We can define bigotry as the act of believing hateful things about all the members of a given category of people, just because they belong to that category."

It strikes me that "the act of believing... things about all the members of a given category of people, just because they belong to that category" defines how the human mind works - we create low- resolution categories into which we can fit a lot of random incoming information that we are not ready to closely examine just now, and as we make mental maps of the world and its features and terrain, our minds are full of such low-resolution boxes in which whole swathes of people may appear in a short hand such as "Aussies - stubbies, Crocodile Dundee, Ned Kelly, koalas". "Yanks - loud voices, chew gum, clueless" Or, as one of my own early, evangelically formed low-res category boxes would have unpacked, "Catholics - candles and incense, idols in church, weirdly obsessed with wombs". (This was before the evangelicals became weirdly obsessed with wombs, too).

Ideally, at some point we get the opportunity to focus on the contents of such a category box and repack it with higher resolution and more accurate detail - in my case by dint of long living in countries with high populations of Catholics and running up against hundreds of examples of complex and unique individual Catholics and getting a better sense of what they are about, both jointly and severally.

However, given that we can't ever have the chance to unpack all our low-res category boxes in that way, and given that some of the stuff packed in there at any given time could be described as "hateful", under the terms of your definition it's a pretty sound bet that any one of us could be called a bigot about somebody at any given time.

The thing is that the prejudices others hold about me cannot hurt me at all, provided (and this is a biggie), they themselves have no power to hurt me. What turns racial bigotry (which can go two ways) into a system of racial oppression, or class bigotry (which can go two ways) into a system of class oppression (also known as a wealth pump), is the power that helps you ensure that the other class of people must give way to yours on any of a number of contested grounds - living space, means of production, access to extractable resources, access to education and opportunities, access to decent wages, the terms of discourse, morals, meaning, etc, etc, etc.

Coupled with that power, any background bigotry can become the ideological justification of why it is just and good that "they" should cede to "you" and that "you" may leverage "their" effort to your benefit and pass "your" cost off onto "them" in a disproportionate manner.

It is the disproportion in the relations of exchange between two groups that power alone can create, and this is why, although it is true poor people may hold as bigoted a view of what rich people are like as vice versa, poor people are unable to leverage their prejudice into a class advantage, and money and resources therefore flow away from poor people and towards rich people.

That is why addressing bigotry or prejudice alone are insufficient to halt the operation of a system of oppression. Bigotry can be found everywhere that the human mind is busy working as a human mind does, but most of the time is completely impotent, and therefore of no consequence to anyone but the holder of the bigotry (who may be missing out thereby).

Nestorian said...


OK, but if election fraud is indeed endemic to the system (an assertion I tend to agree with, by the way), then why bother voting at all?

Under such circumstances, it seems like an act that is worse than useless, since there is a decided element of self-abasement in willingly participating as an easy mark in a confidence game that involves being made an object of manipulation and contempt by those who orchestrate the frauds.

Doc Tim said...


While your premise that much of the divide is class warfare has a lot of merit, I think your secondary case that this is primarily tied to money is somewhere between off the mark and oversimplified. I'd argue that as much a part as money is formal education and what we often refer to with a broad brush as "intellectualism". I'm hesitant to use the word intelligence as I've met many highly intelligent people with limited formal education as well as those with doctorates who were less than impressive. While academia comes with its own baggage of questionable things in its narrative, there are clear correlations with understanding in the scientific process and belief in various superstitions and formal education although it is not as strong as many would think. I've seen the studies that argue that the highest predictor for Trump support was an authoritarian view on life.

As one in the pro-education camp, I'll admit upon self reflection that I have biases against Trump voter. The strawman that forms in my head though when I think of one isn't that of someone who is poor (as I know many highly educated folks who are not very wealthy such as those with advanced degrees in literature) but one who is anti science and holds a variety of odd superstitions (think climate change, Pizzagate, the Obama birther controversy, etc.). The counter strawman to this argument is that of Hillary supporters being out of reality eggheads who don't understand the real world. Surely as you often note, there is plenty of room for the excluded middle here, but I'd argue that this is more of a factor than purely the amount of money one makes. Surely there is a correlation with education and salary/wealth, but I'll argue that the the view of formal education and science are a better indicator of divides.

Bob said...

John: straight, white males in this country (like you and me) have a long and storied history of minimizing and looking the other way when marginalized groups are getting screwed. Yes, poor and working class white Americans are marginalized, but you seem to want to downplay or ignore the role that xenophobia, racism, sexism, and religious bigotry played in this election, arguing that if people say they voted based on the jobs issue, then that's good enough for you. You know more about cognitive bias than I do, but seem to be focussing your awareness on the affluent left, as if poor and working class white Americans are immune to self-delusion, and are the only rational voters in the electorate. Time will tell how emboldened White Nationalists become over the next four years, and how much Trump plays to them in his desire for re-election, but your tacit acceptance of that group - by acknowledging them only in passing in your essays, and occasionally chumming up to them in the comments section - is, frankly, not a good look. I don't know much about Burkean Conservatism, but I assume inciting violence at political speeches is not part of the philosophical framework.

David, by the lake said...


In terms of anacyclosis and the patterns from our previous rounds, would you then parallel Obama with Buchanan and Hoover, respectively?

It is going to be interesting, without doubt.

Mister Roboto said...

Every worker deserves our respect. All work is worthy. Some, is just more honest than others.

This line from a commenter really hit home for me. I work for a grocery-store chain that has a penchant for hiring really, really bad managers (which is just one reason young people in the urban county in which I live are taking their grocery business to other stores). Seriously, a good many of these brain-dead screw-ups would be either starving to death or wards of the state in most other countries in the world. But throughout our society, the socio-economic tyranny of the salary class gives these people relatively well-paying jobs with benefits while people who are genuinely talented, valuable, and useful are in such dire straits financially that they are rolling the dice with a personality-disordered charlatan such as Donald Trump. Every day I ask myself how did we go so very wrong? The reason I read your blog is you provide much more credible answers to that question than anybody else on the Internet, at least of whom I know.

Bill Pulliam said...

The average Trump voter was middle income and suburban, So how is this a class thing? I think you may be stretching the narrative to fit your hypotheses

Bill Pulliam said...

P.s. I have no argument that the downwards class bigotry is very real and have been talking about it myself for many decades. But I don't think that is the real story underlying Trump

NZ said...

Enjoyed the post very much. Thanks.
One thing I am noticing more is the forced duality in everyone's thinking. When discussing political matters with my co-workers, inevitably, any positive statement about possible Trump policies is attacked, not on the merits of the policy, but as a statement of belief. Trump=Bad. Breaking through this conditioning in maddening, but a positive exercise in patients building. The same can be said for trying to discuss the failures of the left- you are immediately branded as a right wing ignoramus. This line of attack only makes me feel sad though. In less stressful moments, it can become humorous in a tragic sort of way. The same tactic is also exploited by the right. Liberal=Bad. Thus leading to unthinking support for endless war and unchecked corporate greed. This duality and polarized thinking only leads to negative outcomes, but individuals are too heavily invested in the status quo and seem unconcerned about coming to a compromise position.

As your post illuminates, class consciousness, in all its forms, is key to getting things done in society. It's difficult wading through all the hubris and hypocrisy though. What should be first and foremost in everyones mind thought is to prevent outward violent class warfare. This is where we are headed. The shrillness of the left can almost be ignored as the truly militant, and violence capable factions have been eliminated, or are recognized and quickly dealt with. Trump must deliver relief for the working class though, or the formation of violent groups to achieve political ends will most certainly form.

I would also agree that if Trump succeeds in lowering tensions with Russia and reduces nuclear arms, his presidency should be
viewed positively. No sane person could object to those goals. However, the underlying class tensions will remain and only increase- the positive will be to gain more time to work out a solution instead of blowing ourselves to pieces.

Patricia Mathews said...

The "Pantsuit Nation" book and blog --- are you sure that isn't a crude parody put out by someone who honestly sees us as "the precious little dears" he thinks infests the female left? Or Mad Magazine? (Too crude for The Onion.)This is marketing to Da Littul Woman with a vengeance, and the editors of a 1960 written-by-the-advertising-department women's magazine would gag at that sales pitch as OTT, even for their view of Little Jenny Housewifey.

You can't make this stuff up, I swear.

Owen said...

Re: academic bubble

If'n I had to advise a youngun in this era, I'd tell them don't bother going to college, unless it's clear from your incarnational karma that you were destined to be college material in the first place. And even then I'd say think about it very carefully, especially if it puts you in debt.

In this era, just stay out of debt. That's all you need to do. Stay out of debt and you win. In fact, I'd take that one step further and also advise a youngun - stay away from banks. Go "Mexican" and go unbanked. With the stupid immigration policy of this godforsaken country, they've made it very easy to get by without needing a bank account.

redoak said...

JMG, Agreed with your comment to Armata regarding the accelerating troubles in higher education. I've been a beneficiary of this system for 20 years. That it is so pleasant a life is evidence enough that it cannot last. That said, the spending these institutions do from beer and pizza to massive construction projects is pretty unbelievable and essential to many forms of "business as usual." As this spending continues to tighten up, either by fiscal constraint or the inevitable realization that for most students a BA is not worth $100K in debt, the knock off consequences are potentially pretty significant. (For that matter, I'd suggest the same about the eventual unraveling of "big Med.")
I think a post on this topic would initiate a very cool series of responses from your many readers in the "soon to be abandoned" front lines of higher ed.
On a personal note, yes, I've been diligently attending to my post-salary future building community, skills, and cultivating a modest hill farm. Many thanks to your work and steady encouragement to face this future with eyes open.

Bob said...

The one certainty in world politics is that if you don't prepare for war, you're more likely to get one.

Why then is the US of A involved in so many wars?
One definition of a defensive war is one fought on your own territory. None of the wars America is involved in is taking place in your homeland.

Taxpayers should be skeptical of wasting resources on the military. I believe that sentiment is prevalent in Canada. I hope that Europeans will consider the opportunity cost and resist calls to militarize.

p.s. Most likely invaders of Canada? Yankees!

«Oldest ‹Older   1 – 200 of 522   Newer› Newest»