Working class whites, especially in the South, used to vote solidly Democratic. They probably still would except the Democratic Party for years now has basically pissed in their faces, insulted their culture – then was shocked, just shocked when that once-reliable voting bloc turned Republican. Who could have ever imagined if you insult rural whites, allege their family trees don’t fork, that they might ditch you and find new friends. Clearly, this thought never even dented the skulls of urban liberals.
Joe Bageant grew up redneck in Winchester Virginia, escaped to the city, became a “godless commie,” coke dealer, friend of Hunter Thompson, and leftie journalist. He moved back thirty years later, and wrote this book about it.
The book is subtitled “Dispatches from America’s Class War.” Bageant looks at the people he grew up with. Most are in debt way beyond their means, have serious health problems, and have been grinding away for 30-40 years at no-future jobs that pay next to nothing. The redneck class helped put George Bush in the White House. How, Bageant asks, did this happen? Why did they stop voting Democratic?
Because the Democratic Party stopped caring about them, that’s why. That left a void the Republican Party promptly filled. Yes Virginia, there was a time the Democratic Party stood for the working class, for minorities and the poor, for unions, but those days are long gone. Bageant thought the Democrats cluelessly and stupidly stopped trying to appeal to poor whites. Me, I think it was quite deliberate. But the result was the same, as Tuesday’s midterm election showed.
In 2010, Bageant said we’re all in this fight together and it is indeed a class war. It’s the elites vs. the rest of us, and not Red vs. Blue.
If you hang out much with thinking people, conversation eventually turns to the serious political and cultural questions of our times. Such as: How can the Americans remain so consistently brain-fucked? Much of the world, including plenty of Americans, asks that question as they watch U.S. culture go down like a thrashing mastodon giving itself up to some Pleistocene tar pit.
Neither populist, nor authentic movement, the Tea Party may yet prove historic, however, by seriously fucking things up more than they already are. Spun entirely from manufactured spectacle (and thus void of cohesive political philosophy or internal logic), the Tea Party lurches across the political landscape bellowing at the cameras and collecting the victims of cultural ignorance in sort of a medieval idiots crusade. But to the American public, seeing the Tea Party on television is proof enough of relevancy and significance. After all, stuff doesn’t get on TV unless it’s important.
Progressives also fancy a revolution, one in which they participate through the Internet petitions, and media events such as the risk free Jon Stewart Rally to Restore Sanity, where no one risked even missing an episode of Tremaine. Seeing people like themselves on television was proof fighting the good fight. The Stewart rally was nonetheless culturally historic; we will never see a larger public display of post modern irony congratulating itself.
What America really needs is a wall-to-wall people’s insurrection, preferably based on force and fear of force, the only thing oligarchs understand. And even then the odds are not good. The oligarchs have all the legal power, police, jails and prisons, surveillance and firepower. Not to mention a docile populace.
However, the US has no recent experience with revolution (even though the country was founded in violent revolution) and views revolutions as Marxist even though they often aren’t. A good start would be to decondition ourselves .
if we are talking change through revolt, we’re necessarily talking about deconditioning because the thing we fear already has a life deep in our own consciousness. Deconditioning from cultural ignorance is at the heart of any insurrectionary politics.