The Less Fortunate And More Frustrated

Someone commented that, “there’s just something about alt-right that is extremely draining. I’m not even sure if it’s my own personal reactions. It’s just such a negative, cynical, and above all hopeless lens to view things from. Friends say it’s not healthy to get immersed in it, but I wonder if it’s also unhealthy for the alt righters themselves, not just for outsiders.” I agree, but I’d put it in context.

It’s draining because it isn’t natural, far from the normal state of humanity. It’s not tribal hate. If alt-righters ever met actual tribal people, the two groups would not recognize or understand each other’s worldviews. Alt-right isn’t really about tribalism, any more than it really is about race or any other overt issue. What it is about is frustration, anger, and outrage.

That isn’t to deny the racism. It’s just to point out that we have a severely messed up society where racism is inseparable from other forms of oppression and social control that harm most Americans. Very few people are privileged enough to entirely escape the shit storm. Heck, even the wealthy are worse off in a society like ours, as has been shown in the research on economic inequality. This is not a healthy and happy society.

Part of me has a lot of sympathy for these lost souls. I understand what turns the mind in such dark directions. We live in a society that chews people up and spits them out. Nothing in our society is as advertised. Many people actually want to believe in the American Dream of upward mobility, of a growing middle class, of the good life, of each generation doing better than the last. People can only take all of the bullshit for so long. Alt-right gives them a voice, in a society that seeks to silence them.

Such things as alt-right are an indication of societal failure, not just individual failure. If we had increasing upward mobility instead of worsening downward mobility, if we had a growing instead of shrinking middle class, if we had no severe poverty and extreme inequality, if basic needs were taken care of and people had a sense of their own value in society, if people were supported in their aspirations and could live up to their potential, no one would ever turn to ideologies like the alt-right.

The average alt-righter isn’t a poor rural hick, hillbilly, or redneck. The alt-right tends to draw from the middle class, which mostly means the precarious lower middle class. Many people in the alt-right are those who want to be part of the liberal class, to live the liberal class dream, but something failed along the way.

There is a white guy I know. He is in academia and, though liberal in many ways, he became drawn to the alt-right. He wasn’t making much money and he felt stuck. He didn’t want to be living here and yet couldn’t find good job opportunities elsewhere. Even as he technically was in the liberal class, he was economically struggling and his life was not going according to plan. Worse still, there is little hope that the economy is going to improve any time soon for people like him.

That is type of person in the failed liberal class that the rest of the liberal class would prefer to ignore. What the liberal class doesn’t get is that their dream is desirable for many people even outside of the liberal class. But when it becomes unattainable for most of the population that leads to frustration. There are many poor whites who would love to go to college or send their kids to college, to have professional careers, to work toward a better life for themselves and their families, and to have all the good things that are available in liberal class communities such as nice parks, well-funded schools, etc.

If the liberal class is serious, they shouldn’t be supporting policies that make it harder for people to join the liberal class. New Democrats like Clinton support tough-on-crime policies, mass incarceration, privatized prisons, endless wars, growing military-industrial complex, corrupt corporatism, international trade deals that harm the lower classes, and all the other ways that screw over average and below average people. Why is it that the liberal class can’t understand that supporting neocon and neoliberal candidates is actually self-destructive to the liberal vision of society?

Liberals often like to pride themselves on not being racist or whatever. I call bullshit. If many of these liberals ever faced the threat of serious economic problems, downward mobility, and constant frustration of their dreams and aspirations, the majority of them easily could be swayed toward racism and other similar forms of bigotry. Research shows that such biases lurk just beneath the surface. What the liberal class lifestyle allows is for such people to not just be oblivious of what is going on in the world but also oblivious to what is hidden within their own minds.

After a period of societal stress and economic uncertainty, if an authoritarian came along promising progressive economics along with law-and-order rhetoric, most in the liberal class would support him. That is what the liberal class did in Germany when they supported Hitler. You are ignorant of history and human nature if you think it can’t happen here. As I put it in an earlier post:

“By the way, if your concern about Trump voters relates to right-wing authoritarianism, there is a key point to keep in mind. Groups like the Klan and the Nazis drew their strongest support from the middle class. That shouldn’t be surprising, as it is the middle class that is the most politically engaged. One would predict almost any political movement will attract many from the middle class. Also, it’s not so easy to pin this down ideologically. What you should really fear is when the liberal middle class (AKA liberal class) submits to the authoritarian trends in society, as happened in the past. Never forget that the Klan and the Nazis were rather progressive in many ways. Hitler rebuilt infrastructure and promoted policies that helped many ordinary Germans. The Klan supported child labor laws, public education, etc.”

I could add much to that, as I did in some comments to that post. Consider the Progressive Era. Many progressives supported eugenics, immigration control, and similar policies. The New Deal institutionalized racial biases that impacted the generations following.

Overt racist bigots and white supremacists would be a lot less powerful without the tolerant complicity and sometimes direct support of the liberal class. This can be broadened to the oppression that liberals so often allow and promote, such as their participation in anti-communist red-baiting and witch-hunts. Minorities (racial, ethnic, and religious) along with poor people and the political left have always been favorite targets of the liberal class, at least when they feel their privileged lifestyle is being challenged or there is a threat of social disruption. The liberal class, first and foremost, will always defend the status quo that makes possible their liberal good life… even when their defense betrays their stated liberal values.

The liberal class in a society like the US are among the fortunate few. Most of them don’t know what it is like to deal with tough times. They don’t know what is in their own hearts, what could emerge under much worse conditions. None of us ever knows what we are capable of until our back is against the wall, but many people are privileged enough to never find out. That is no reason for feeling self-righteous toward the less fortunate and more frustrated.

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9 thoughts on “The Less Fortunate And More Frustrated

    • All of this is common sense. That growing divides in society lead to divisiveness should not surprise anyone. Considering that people have been pointing out this basic problem of inequality for millennia, you’d think the well educated classes would have figured it out by now.

      Here are a few of the people who have discussed it, often in these exact terms: Aristotle, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Thomas Paine, Thomas Jefferson, Adam Smith, Henry George, Karl Marx, Abraham Lincoln, Eugene Debs, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King jr, Malcolm X, and hundreds of other well known figures could be named. Of course, Bernie Sanders could be added to that list.

      So, why are we still debating this? Why are both major political parties still promoting policies that make inequality inevitable? It should be obvious that those aren’t hypothetical questions. Those in power need to be forced to answer to we the public. They need to be held accountable for their actions in harming millions of people and harming our entire society in the process. This is not tolerable.

  1. Apparently the Democrats are calling now for the anti-war members of their party to be primaried out:
    http://www.bigcountryhomepage.com/news/politics/liberal-leaders-call-for-challenge-to-gabbard-over-syria-skepticism/689382757

    This was after this:
    http://www.cnn.com/2017/04/07/politics/tulsi-gabbard-assad-chemical-weapons-blitzer-cnntv/
    http://thehill.com/blogs/blog-briefing-room/news/327743-dem-rep-us-attack-on-syrian-airfield-short-sighted-reckless

    Yeah this is going to get worse. The left needs to start voting out the corporate Democrats too.

      • Sanders seems the closest thing to a leader. Anyways, he has been critical of the Democrats to an extent:
        https://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2017/apr/01/bernie-sanders-trump-voters-not-deplorable-clinton-warren

        A bit too mild though. Anyways here are his recent speeches (the Guardian also has his almost 2 hour long rally).

        It’s a long one about 1h and 16 minutes, and I don’t think the transcript was recorded.

        I think I told you about the Titanic one.

        Since ending his presidential campaign in July, Sanders, who caucuses with the Democrats in the Senate, had been managing the complicated task of redirecting the movement that materialized around his candidacy toward a Democratic Party with which he had a tetchy relationship. Schumer had created a post for him in the party’s Senate leadership, and Sanders had helped mobilize his grass-roots network for two rounds of rallies in defense of the Affordable Care Act. But earlier in the week, he said in a CNN interview that “a total transformation of the Democratic Party” was still in order, and that he had also not yet given the D.N.C. — which he called the “establishment’s house” — access to his campaign email list. “It’s not some magical system,” Sanders told me, disdain dripping off the word “magical.” “How do we bring in, how do you raise money from, those people? You know what? You’ve got to stand for something.”

        I asked him if he thought the Democratic Party knew what it stood for. “You’re asking a good question, and I can’t give you a definitive answer,” he said. “Certainly there are some people in the Democratic Party who want to maintain the status quo. They would rather go down with the Titanic so long as they have first-class seats.”

        In early February, Elizabeth Warren, in a speech to the Congressional Progressive Caucus, warned that while the Democrats were fashioning themselves into an opposition party, that was not enough to solve the problems that put them in the position of becoming an opposition party in the first place. “Men like Donald Trump come to power when their countries are already in deep trouble,” she said. “There are some in the Democratic Party who urge caution. They say this is a tactical problem: ‘We need better data. We need better social media. We need better outreach. We need better talking points.’ Better talking points? Are you kidding me? People were so desperate for economic change in this country that Donald Trump was just inaugurated as president, and people think we need better talking points? What alternative planet are they living on?”

        Yeah the Democrats don’t get it. Worse they don’t want to get it. Getting it would mean leaving their donors and the corruption behind.

        • Sanders and Warren are moderate liberals and old school progressives. They are far from radical left-wingers. Politicians like that should represent the center of the Democratic Party, along with a strong left wing to keep the party from endlessly being pulled right by big money.

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