For some white liberals, anti-racism is a smoke screen for class prejudice.
This captures the dynamic perfectly as it applies to individuals. The college-educated people heroically renouncing their whiteness would give up anything — even their own children’s dignity — to have a different skin color, and they’ve finally found a socially acceptable way to express their sadism and contempt for the poor.
The new racism couldn’t prevail, though, if it catered only to the perverse desires and anxieties of individual elites. Neoracism will win because it answers the need of institutions like Wal-Mart, Microsoft, private colleges and the military to prevent working people from liking each other enough to organize for better pay, medical and dental care, and secure housing.
I genuinely wonder why so few of the broke baristas in the DSA left don’t understand this. Until fairly recently, I was active in left-wing politics (attending meetings, knocking doors for local candidates), but as soon as progressives started dabbling in race-essentialism, confession, and ancestral guilt (or keeping silent while this happened in front of them), I was out. (The first time “progressive stack” was used at a DSA meeting, I was like, “wait—what?”)
I’m not a genius, but it seemed obvious to me that reverting to a medieval understanding of race — or pretending that we were all living in apartheid South Africa — would be harmful to people who have to work for a living.
People who were serious about organizing and empowering the “proletariat” wouldn’t constantly insult and alienate IRL proletarians with terms like “privileged,” “fragile,” and “cis” (or, in my majority-Latino part of the country, “Latinx”). You don’t organize the working class by scolding them, policing their language, or demanding that they renounce their values and common-sense beliefs. You don’t organize working-class Americans by telling them that their country, their flag, and their cousins who died in needless wars in Iraq and Afghanistan were always worth less than shit. You don’t tell them that masculinity is inherently shameful or evil. Hey, look: masculinity may BE shameful or evil, whites may be morally inferior from birth, and religion might be strictly for morons and losers, but you still don’t say those things to people when you’re trying to talk them into forming a labor union.
I guess my “socialist” friends sensed, correctly, that people like Adam Johnson, who were willing to play along, would continue to be valued members of the tribe, while people like Michael Tracey and Glenn Greenwald, who held on to their principles, would become pariahs. I have a Japanese friend (a first-gen immigrant) who has been working more and more references to “white men” and even, very occasionally and carefully, “racist jews,” into her conversation. I understand why she’s trying to reset her moral compass, but I don’t think the trick will work for her.
Ironically, the year that Swarthmore and Sarah Lawrence grads donned their forever-masks will also be the year they went mask-off. It required one anomalous, narrowly decided election between an unusually genial Republican and an unusually off-putting Democrat for social-justice leftists and their friends in academia, government, and media to pathologize and slander the entire state of Virginia. When Arizona and Georgia tip very slightly back to the GOP in 2022, voters in those states will get to hear what the clever people thought of them all along.
As a highly educated native West Virginian, I started libertarian, ended up liberal/progressive about halfway through college to 2020, then ate a giant black/red pill. I have a tremendous tremendous amount of spite and thirst for vengeance for the professional managerial class for everything from our summer of love in 2020 to masking my fucking two year old in preschool. I will do literally anything in my power to legally and morally make these bastards pay, and I will never again vote for any of the people who foisted this upon us.
I disagree with the comparison between poor rural whites and welfare queens. The term welfare queen points at the importance of incentives and unintended consequences of government actions. If you pay people enough to have babies, well some people are going to have babies rather than work. So despite good intentions, the policy fails. and in fact has deleterious effects. On the other hand, poor whites aren't suffering from policy directed at them with good intentions. They're suffering from policies that disregarded them.
Also, what are the Lee Atwater dog whistles the right routinely sounds? And why do you think the
partial Republican embrace of populism is faux?
Between you and Antioine Doinel, I feel much less crazy. For a long time, I've been telling people the elites (both sides) are trying to foment a race war to avoid a class/caste war. So whatever you do, don't buy into the race hysteria. Yes, there are problems, but one of the most egalitarian places you'll find is a trailer court. Everyone just wants to get by.
Thank you for another wonderful article. You make so much more sense than the establishment "thinkers" on either side.
How and why do the poor and working class whites wear the mantle of "white privilege," and "white supremacy?" The "anointed" are using these non-provable little phrases to say "it ain't us." They're saying to minorities that the reason their lives are miserable isn't because of us, it's because of them. Who, after all, controls the major institutions in this country? Academia, entertainment, sports, etc., are all dominated by the left, so when "white whatever" is uttered, they're pointing their fingers at themselves.
See also https://slatestarcodex.com/2014/09/30/i-can-tolerate-anything-except-the-outgroup/