Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Donald Trump and the Politics of Resentment

Of all the predictions I made for the new year in my post two weeks ago, the one that seems to have stirred up the most distress and derision is my suggestion that the most likely person to be standing up there with his hand on a Bible next January, taking the oath of office as the next president of the United States, is Donald Trump. That prediction wasn’t made to annoy people, entertaining as that can be from time to time; nor is it merely a reaction to Trump’s meteoric rise in the polls and the abject failure of any of his forgettable Republican rivals even to slow him down.

The rise of Donald Trump, rather, marks the arrival of a turning point I’ve discussed more than once in these essays already. Like the other turning points whose impending appearance on the stage of the future has been outlined here, it’s not the end of the world; it’s thus a source of amusement to me to recall all those Republicans who insisted they were going to flee the country if Obama won reelection, and are still here, when I hear Democrats saying they’ll do the same thing if Trump wins. Still, there’s a difference of some importance between the two, because in terms of the historical trajectory of the United States, Trump is a far more significant figure than Barack Obama will ever be.

Despite the empty rhetoric about hope and change that surrounded his 2008 campaign, after all, Obama continued the policies of his predecessor George W. Bush so unswervingly that we may as well call those policies—the conventional wisdom or, rather, the conventional folly of early 21st-century American politics—the Dubyobama consensus. Trump’s candidacy, and in some ways that of his Democratic rival Bernard Sanders as well, marks the point at which the blowback from those policies has become a massive political fact. That this blowback isn’t taking the form desired by many people on the leftward end of things is hardly surprising; it was never going to do so, because the things about the Dubyobama consensus that made blowback inevitable are not the things to which the left objects.

To understand what follows, it’s going to be necessary to ask my readers—especially, though not only, those who consider themselves liberals, or see themselves inhabiting some other position left of center in the convoluted landscape of today’s American politics—to set aside two common habits. The first is the reflexive resort to sneering mockery that so often makes up for the absence of meaningful political thought in the US—again, especially but by no means only on the left. The dreary insults that have been flung so repetitively at Donald Trump over the course of his campaign are fine examples of the species: “deranged Cheeto,” “tomato-headed moron,” “delusional cheese creature,” and so on.

The centerpiece of most of these insults, when they’re not simply petulant schoolboy taunts aimed at Trump’s physical appearance, is the claim that he’s stupid. This is hardly surprising, as a lot of people on the leftward end of American culture love to use the kind of demeaning language that attributes idiocy to those who disagree with them. Thus it probably needs to be pointed out here that Trump is anything but stupid. He’s extraordinarily clever, and one measure of his cleverness is the way that he’s been able to lure so many of his opponents into behaving in ways that strengthen his appeal to the voters that matter most to his campaign. In case you’re wondering if you belong to that latter category, dear reader, if you like to send out tweets comparing Trump’s hair to Cheese Whiz, no, you’re not.

So that’s the first thing that has to be set aside to make sense of the Trump phenomenon. The second is going to be rather more challenging for many of my readers: the notion 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 lines of division in society that Americans like to talk about, whatever their attitudes to the people who fall on one side or another of those lines. (Please note, by the way, the four words 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 lines of division just named important? Of course they are. Discriminatory treatment on the basis of those factors is a pervasive presence in American life today. The facts remain that there are other lines of division in American society that lack that anchor in biology, that some of these are at least as pervasive in American life as those listed above—and that some of the most important of these are taboo topics, subjects that most people in the US today will not talk about.

Here’s a relevant example. It so happens that you can determine a huge amount about the economic and social prospects of people in America today by asking one remarkably simple question: how do they get most of their income? Broadly speaking—there are exceptions, which I’ll get to in a moment—it’s from one of four sources: returns on investment, a monthly salary, an hourly wage, or a government welfare check. People who get most of their income from one of those four things have a great many interests in common, so much so that it’s meaningful to speak of the American people as divided into an investment class, a salary class, a wage class, and a welfare class.

It’s probably necessary to point out explicitly here that these classes aren’t identical to the divisions that Americans like to talk about. That is, there are plenty of people with light-colored skin in the welfare class, and plenty of people with darker skin in the wage class.  Things tend to become a good deal more lily-white in the two wealthier classes, though even there you do find people of color. In the same way, women, gay people, disabled people, and so on are found in all four classes, and how they’re treated depends a great deal on which of these classes they’re in. If you’re a disabled person, for example, your chances of getting meaningful accommodations to help you deal with your disability are by and large considerably higher if you bring home a salary than they are if you work for a wage.

As noted above, there are people who don’t fall into those divisions. I’m one of them; as a writer, I get most of my income from royalties on book sales, which means that a dollar or so from every book of mine that sells via most channels, and rather less than that if it’s sold by Amazon—those big discounts come straight out of your favorite authors’ pockets—gets mailed to me twice a year. There are so few people who make their living this way that the royalty classlet isn’t a significant factor in American society. The same is true of most of the other ways of making a living in the US today. Even the once-mighty profit class, the people who get their income from the profit they make on their own business activities, is small enough these days that it lacks a significant collective presence.

There’s a vast amount that could be said about the four major classes just outlined, but I want to focus on the political dimension, because that’s where they take on overwhelming relevance as the 2016 presidential campaign lurches on its way. Just as the four classes can be identified by way of a very simple question, the political dynamite that’s driving the blowback mentioned earlier can be seen by way of another simple question: over the last half century or so, how have the four classes fared?

The answer, of course, is that three of the four have remained roughly where they were. The investment class has actually had a bit of a rough time, as many of the investment vehicles that used to provide it with stable incomes—certificates of deposit, government bonds, and so on—have seen interest rates drop through the floor.  Still, alternative investments and frantic government manipulations of stock market prices have allowed most people in the investment class to keep up their accustomed lifestyles.

The salary class, similarly, has maintained its familiar privileges and perks through a half century of convulsive change. Outside of a few coastal urban areas currently in the grip of speculative bubbles, people whose income comes mostly from salaries can generally afford to own their homes, buy new cars every few years, leave town for annual vacations, and so on. On the other end of the spectrum, the welfare class has continued to scrape by pretty much as before, dealing with the same bleak realities of grinding poverty, intrusive government bureacracy, and a galaxy of direct and indirect barriers to full participation in the national life, as their equivalents did back in 1966.

And the wage class? Over the last half century, the wage class has been destroyed.

In 1966 an American family with one breadwinner working full time at an hourly wage could count on having a home, a car, three square meals a day, and the other ordinary necessities of life, with some left over for the occasional luxury. In 2016, an American family with one breadwinner working full time at an hourly wage is as likely as not to end up living on the street, and a vast number of people who would happily work full time even under those conditions can find only part-time or temporary work when they can find any jobs at all. The catastrophic impoverishment and immiseration of the American wage class is one of the most massive political facts of our time—and it’s also one of the most unmentionable. Next to nobody is willing to talk about it, or even admit that it happened.

The destruction of the wage class was largely accomplished by way of two major shifts in American economic life. The first was the dismantling of the American industrial economy and its replacement by  Third World sweatshops; the second was mass immigration from Third World countries. Both of these measures are ways of driving down wages—not, please note, salaries, returns on investment, or welfare payments—by slashing the number of wage-paying jobs, on the one hand, while boosting the number of people competing for them on the other. Both, in turn, were actively encouraged by government policies and, despite plenty of empty rhetoric on one or the other side of the Congressional aisle, both of them had, for all practical purposes, bipartisan support from the political establishment. 

It’s probably going to be necessary to talk a bit about that last point. Both parties, despite occasional bursts of crocodile tears for American workers and their families, have backed the offshoring of jobs to the hilt. Immigration is a slightly more complex matter; the Democrats claim to be in favor of it, the Republicans now and then claim to oppose it, but what this means in practice is that legal immigration is difficult but illegal immigration is easy. The result was the creation of an immense work force of noncitizens who have no economic or political rights they have any hope of enforcing, which could then be used—and has been used, over and over again—to drive down wages, degrade working conditions, and advance the interests of employers over those of wage-earning employees.

The next point that needs to be discussed here—and it’s the one at which a very large number of my readers are going to balk—is who benefited from the destruction of the American wage class. It’s long been fashionable in what passes for American conservatism to insist that everyone benefits from the changes just outlined, or to claim that if anybody doesn’t, it’s their own fault. It’s been equally popular in what passes for American liberalism to insist that the only people who benefit from those changes are the villainous uber-capitalists who belong to the 1%. Both these are evasions, because the destruction of the wage class has disproportionately benefited one of the four classes I sketched out above: the salary class.

Here’s how that works. Since the 1970s, the salary class lifestyle sketched out above—suburban homeownership, a new car every couple of years, vacations in Mazatlan, and so on—has been an anachronism: in James Howard Kunstler’s useful phrase, an arrangement without a future. It was wholly a product of the global economic dominance the United States wielded in the wake of the Second World War, when every other major industrial nation on the planet had its factories pounded to rubble by the bomber fleets of the warring powers, and the oil wells of Pennsylvania, Texas, and California pumped more oil than the rest of the planet put together.  That dominance went away in a hurry, though, when US conventional petroleum production peaked in 1970, and the factories of Europe and Asia began to outcompete America’s industrial heartland.

The only way for the salary class to maintain its lifestyle in the teeth of those transformations was to force down the cost of goods and services relative to the average buying power of the salary class.  Because the salary class exercised (and still exercises) a degree of economic and political influence disproportionate to its size, this became the order of the day in the 1970s, and it remains the locked-in political consensus in American public life to this day. The destruction of the wage class was only one consequence of that project—the spectacular decline in quality of the whole range of manufactured goods for sale in America, and the wholesale gutting of the national infrastructure, are other results—but it’s the consequence that matters in terms of today’s politics.

It’s worth noting, along these same lines, that every remedy that’s been offered to the wage class by the salary class has benefited the salary class at the expense of the wage class. Consider the loud claims of the last couple of decades that people left unemployed by the disappearance of wage-paying jobs could get back on board the bandwagon of prosperity by going to college and getting job training. That didn’t work out well for the people who signed up for the student loans and took the classes—getting job training, after all, isn’t particularly helpful if the jobs for which you’re being trained don’t exist, and so a great many former wage earners finished their college careers with no better job prospects than they had before, and hundreds of thousands of dollars of student loan debt burdening them into the bargain. For the banks and colleges that pushed the loans and taught the classes, though, these programs were a cash cow of impressive scale, and the people who work for banks and colleges are mostly salary class.

Attempts by people in the wage class to mount any kind of effective challenge to the changes that have gutted their economic prospects and consigned them to a third-rate future have done very little so far. To some extent, that’s a function of the GOP’s sustained effort to lure wage class voters into backing Republican candidates on religious and moral grounds. It’s the mirror image of the ruse that’s been used by the Democratic party on a galaxy of interests on the leftward end of things—granted, the Democrats aren’t doing a thing about the issues that matter most to you, but neither are the Republicans, so you vote for the party that offends you least. Right? Sure, if you want to guarantee that the interests that matter most to you never get addressed at all.

There’s a further barrier, though, and that’s the response of the salary class across the board—left, right, middle, you name it—to any attempt by the wage class to bring up the issues that matter to it. On the rare occasions when this happens in the public sphere, the spokespeople of the wage class get shouted down with a double helping of the sneering mockery I discussed toward the beginning of this post. The same thing happens on a different scale on those occasions when the same thing happens in private. If you doubt this—and you probably do, if you belong to the salary class—try this experiment: get a bunch of your salary class friends together in some casual context and get them talking about ordinary American working guys. What you’ll hear will range from crude caricatures and one-dimensional stereotypes right on up to bona fide hate speech. People in the wage class are aware of this; they’ve heard it all; they’ve been called stupid, ignorant, etc., ad nauseam for failing to agree with whatever bit of self-serving dogma some representative of the salary class tried to push on them.

And that, dear reader, is where Donald Trump comes in.

The man is brilliant. I mean that without the smallest trace of mockery. He’s figured out that the most effective way to get the wage class to rally to his banner is to get himself attacked, with the usual sort of shrill mockery, by the salary class. The man’s worth several billion dollars—do you really think he can’t afford to get the kind of hairstyle that the salary class finds acceptable? Of course he can; he’s deliberately chosen otherwise, because he knows that every time some privileged buffoon in the media or on the internet trots out another round of insults directed at his failure to conform to salary class ideas of fashion, another hundred thousand wage class voters recall the endless sneering putdowns they’ve experienced from the salary class and think, “Trump’s one of us.”

The identical logic governs his deliberate flouting of the current rules of acceptable political discourse. Have you noticed that every time Trump says something that sends the pundits into a swivet, and the media starts trying to convince itself and its listeners that this time he’s gone too far and his campaign will surely collapse in humiliation, his poll numbers go up?  What he’s saying is exactly the sort of thing that you’ll hear people say in working class taverns and bowling alleys when subjects such as illegal immigration and Muslim jihadi terrorism come up for discussion. The shrieks of the media simply confirm, in the minds of the wage class voters to whom his appeal is aimed, that he’s one of them, an ordinary Joe with sensible ideas who’s being dissed by the suits.

Notice also how many of Trump’s unacceptable-to-the-pundits comments have focused with laser precision on the issue of immigration. That’s a well-chosen opening wedge, as cutting off illegal immigration is something that the GOP has claimed to support for a while now. As Trump broadens his lead, in turn, he’s started to talk about the other side of the equation—the offshoring of jobs—as his recent jab at Apple’s overseas sweatshops shows. The mainstream media’s response to that jab does a fine job of proving the case argued above: “If smartphones were made in the US, we’d have to pay more for them!” And of course that’s true: the salary class will have to pay more for its toys if the wage class is going to have decent jobs that pay enough to support a family. That this is unthinkable for so many people in the salary class—that they’re perfectly happy allowing their electronics to be made for starvation wages in an assortment of overseas hellholes, so long as this keeps the price down—may help explain the boiling cauldron of resentment into which Trump is so efficiently tapping.

It’s by no means certain that Trump will ride that resentment straight to the White House, though at this moment it does seem like the most likely outcome. Still, I trust none of my readers are naive enough to think that a Trump defeat will mean the end of the phenomenon that’s lifted him to front runner status in the teeth of everything the political establishment can throw at him. I see the Trump candidacy as a major watershed in American political life, the point at which the wage class—the largest class of American voters, please note—has begun to wake up to its potential power and begin pushing back against the ascendancy of the salary class.

Whether he wins or loses, that pushback is going to be a defining force in American politics for decades to come. Nor is a Trump candidacy anything approaching the worst form that could take. If Trump gets defeated, especially if it’s done by obviously dishonest means, the next leader to take up the cause of the wage class could very well be fond of armbands or, for that matter, of roadside bombs. Once the politics of resentment come into the open, anything can happen—and this is particularly true, it probably needs to be said, when the resentment in question is richly justified by the behavior of many of those against whom it’s directed.


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pygmycory said...

When it comes to class, I think you are understating the role of the top end of the investor/rentier class in creating the current problem, and overstating the role of the bottom end of the salaried class in recent years. The top end has been improving its position, not holding steady. I think they hold a significant part of the blame for the destruction of the waged class.

Ceworthe said...

I haven't read the other comments yet, but what bothers me about Trump and hence my remark on last week's entry regarding having Canadian coin at the ready in case of bug-out is that he is appealing to the baser instincts of the wage class, rather than saying what he would do to help other than trickle down. IMHO he is egging on those who would bully and/or physically harm people different from themselves, such as saying his supporters were passionate people when asked about two who had roughed up someone who they thought was an illegal alien. What I fear is the development of "Krystallnacht" type events against persons of color, different beliefs, different orientations, etc. Trump is playing with fire, and he may not be able to control it, even if so inclined.
As far as people of the left or people of the right wanting to go to Canada (guess the right leaning people didn't check out what was going on in Canada themselves first-Universal healthcare anyone?) I gave up on the political parties long ago. As far as I'm concerned the only thing you get from registering for a party is being dunned by them constantly for funds.
I'm adverse to whatever riotous behavior might ensue. Too bad someone hasn't come up with a way to help the wage earners that appeals to everyone's better natures, more like say FDR

buddhabythelake said...

I must admit to a fair degree of fortune in my circumstances. Most certainly of the salaried class, in addition to being employed in a more-stable-than-most industry (at a municipal utility). My wife and I live frugally, however, and I continue to seek further "collapse" in our lifestyles. My workplace recently (last year) instituted an "Employee Committee," of non-management personnel to collect ideas to improve our workplace and to help us attract and retain the next generation of workers. (It has proven to be an uphill battle, but we labor on.)

@Bill Pulliam -- Similar to TN, Wisconsin has an open primary. I, too, will be monitoring the state-specific polling as mid-April nears, so that I can cast the most effective ballot. I prefer to vote for Bernie, but I will support Trump against Cruz if necessary.

Twilight said...

It a good time to ask "And then what?"

While I don't believe that the office of the presidency is all that strong a power base, or that the occupant of the office matters all that much, let's assume Trump gets in. There isn't all that much the billionaire could do for his wage class supporter even if he were so inclined, which he won't be. He's just manipulating them for his benefit. They'll get to experience (again) being a captured constituency, something they've probably felt before at the hands of the Democrats or Republicans.

So then what? To me the real turning point will be when people recognize that the lever in the polling booth isn't connected to much of anything and isn't a tool that can be used to effect change, and go looking for other tools.

Anthony Romano said...

@ Bill Pulliam

"I'm afraid the disdain towards the wage earner and the tradesman goes vertically upwards as well, children to parents. Boys around here may worship their dads, but they dont want to have to work like he did, they want something "better." When I come across young guys (sometimes now as old as 40) who can't even change a tire, much less prime a carburator when the truck runs out of gas, I think about how sad this must make their fathers..."

Some interesting stuff there, in my case I'd say it worked the opposite way. My dad was a carpenter by trade (but knew how to do a bit of everything), and as a little kid I naturally wanted to learn his trade and be a carpenter too.

However, my dad drilled into me the mantra of "work with your head, not with your hands/back," and pushed me towards getting good grades, going to college, etc. Eventually it sunk in, and I spent my teen years much less interested in learning from him.

Now in my late twenties, I find myself wishing I had learned more of his craft. I'm not sure what is best in the long run for an individual.

My dad wound up with a broken down body by his mid-forties from too many hours of overtime. I on the other hand,despite my education, found myself doing manual wage labor for three years after finishing a M.S. I only recently found an entry level salaried job. Too much of either seems like a bad thing for a person.

John W. Riley said...

JMG. This was such a great post. I never really thought about these classes, but you're absolutely right. I think what's most interesting is that, as others have pointed out, this is not strictly an income thing. I'm an engineer, and I work very closely with people in the skilled trades like electricians and welders. They typically make about as much money as my fellow engineers and I, when you consider they get paid for overtime and we don't, but being around them is different than being around the other engineers in a way that feels like a class difference. We get along great. I like being around them, and we respect one another, but the talk is just different. I realize income does enter into it with less specialized wage earners, but there's surely more to it than that.

Given my fondness for the guys I work with, I really am sensitive to exactly the type of belittling attitude I get from some of my social acquaintances about the wage class. I got together for an evening with one of my high school friends over the holiday, and he happens to work in the financial industry in Manhattan. I mentioned that I occasionally see one of our old classmates at work because he is a pipe fitter now, and my friend responded with something like, "well he always was kind of a moron." I didn't argue because I only see the guy once and year and didn't think it was worth it, but the fact is, the characterizations of "pipe fitter" and "moron" literally cannot be applied to the same person. It takes significant intelligence to visualize pipe runs in three dimensions and get the angles of all the twists and turns just right. That's the attitude among a lot of the salary class though, even those with brainless jobs.

I got my first degree at a small liberal arts college before returning to a state school for engineering several years later. I can tell you the "liberated" minds of my friends from that first school cannot reason their way through a problem as well as any of the electricians I work with. Electricity is brutally rational, and if your logic is slightly off it will kill you. You don't succeed in that field by being stupid. Yet, many people I know seem to think that's the case, simply because they get to work in climate controlled environments for a fixed salary, and electricians don't.

Anyway, you've given me a new perspective on many of my work and personal relationships.

frijoles junior said...

I've got to echo Friction Shift's critique of the "how do you make a living" rubric as misleading and unfair to lower-class salaried schlubs here. As a librarian married to a teacher, I've spent my entire career surrounded by low-salary "professionals". My wife and her colleagues served breakfast so the cafeteria staff could get by with less people, and we joke that next year they'll have her cleaning the toilets as well. Where I work we have professional librarians that make less per hour than graduate students that they "supervise". I recognize that a barely-scraping-by cataloger is still quite lucky by many people's standards, yet it's not clear that their grouping under the rubric of "administrative and professional" is actually conveying them any material benefit.

Not to mention that those of us who made the foolish decision of college educations that saddled us with debt as well left us much less well situated than kids with less ambitious parents. I'm sure my blue-collar, electrician cousins probably will be able to support their children better than I would have been able to for my own.

For people at the bottom, salary is a scam to avoid paying overtime. Some of my worst jobs have been salary jobs. There is nothing magic about not having to punch a time card.

Anthony Romano said...

@Friction Shift

"I worked as a dishwasher, construction grunt, farm grunt, and pushed a hand truck around a liquor warehouse. A close friend of mine, who is of my generation, had a summer job all through high school picking beans in the fields outside Portland, Oregon. Those jobs would all be seen as far beneath a middle class white kid in 2016."

I have to disagree with that, necessity dictates those things. The majority of my friends in high school were white middle class kids from the Chicago suburbs. Most went to expensive colleges. I remember vividly when my cohort wrapped up our Bachelor degrees in 2008-2010. I had friends taking jobs as pizza delivery drivers, sandwich makers at Panera, ticket punchers at the zoo, retail stockers, bar tenders, coffee makers, holding stop signs at road construction sites, and so on.

I went back to the educational trough and earned an M.S. in 2012 and spent the next three years felling trees, mucking out ditches, digging post holes, stretching fence,mixing and spraying herbicides, etc.

Necessity dictates these things. I don't buy the notion that people (even middle class white kids) wont deign to do that sort of hard work if no other options are presented. When you need to make ends meet people find they have much higher tolerance for pride swallowing than they originally thought.

Whether they wanted it or not, a lot of millennials are becoming well acquainted with manual labor, and the reality that the old economy is not the same as the current economy.

Blueback said...

"Given that the US has tried to stage color revolutions in all three countries, there's also a matter of old grudges..."

When I had heard that the Dubyobama administration actually tried to foment a Color Revolution in the People's Republic of China back in 2011, which was promptly crushed by the authorities, my jaw hit the floor.

How could these people be that stupid? Did they not realize the CCP has had a long history of ruthlessly crushing anything that looks like a threat to the ruling elite, including the Tienanmen Square and Falun Gong movements, and that this would make an enemy out of the Chinese? Imperial hubris doesn't even begin to describe it.

As for the attempted color revolutions in Russia and Iran, those attempts failed just as miserably. There's going to be some really nasty payback sooner or later for all of those color revolutions, rent-a-mobs and astro-turf protest movements the US government has been organizing around the world.

Kutamun said...

Investor class - air -watch it evaporate
Salary class - fire - burning with envy
Wage class - water - yep, theyre under it
Check republic- earth - stuck where they are

I was queueing to board a plane the other day , the economy line parallel to business . The suit in front of me was staring over at the wild looking heavily tattooed young fellow opposite . Suddenly , young fellow snarled loudly " dont look at me just because i'm not wearing a suit mate !!!". Fortunately the line moved and i nearly shoved the guy in front down our tunnel , amidst shocked silence .
"Cashed up bogan" is the derisory sneering aussie term for our wage earners , who as a class still have not been completely destroyed because we are a huge mineral rich continent with small population . The American Influence over our media has ensured these people hate muslims / immigrants etc , but at the moment because of our " archaic" labor laws and unions , subsidised education and health care these people are not entirely frozen out and disaffected . Hence we are ( at the moment) fred halliott free .
Fascinating to see the switch back to the left in west australia since the implosion of the gas/ iron ore boom to china , all talk of secession from the aussie federation has ceased .
Wonder if Fred Halliott in the US in 2020 will have an Amerindian Votlkisch Blud und Boden bent ??

michael menkevich said...

This is really right on point, your best essay on current politics.
We really do need to see what is going on behind the curtain.
I have been on both sides, and there is a clash of cultures. The lawyer can not fix his drain, but he can sue his plumber. You know what we need to do with the lawyers

Alexandra said...

JMG, I think you nailed it. You’ve put into words what I have been struggling to articulate. I apologize in advance for a rather long-winded comment:

Though a few members of my family have managed to scrabble their way into the salary class, most of us—yours truly included—are and have always been in the wage class. I also spent a decade working as “contingent faculty,” who are the illegal immigrants of the academic system. Academia is a microcosm of the class system as a whole, where the tenured full professors are the investment class and the grad students and adjuncts are the illegal immigrants—too desperate to turn down any work, believing the lie that if we suffer now we will climb that ladder in the future, yet by accepting jobs without benefits, collective bargaining, or security of any kind, effectively making $3-$6 per hour in a faux-salary format, we undermine our own position and drive wages and opportunities down for everyone. (I am currently unemployed. The “good” news is when you are that poor the student loan people literally won’t let you pay them a dime. You just have to make sure you stay poor until the loans are eventually “forgiven” as you can never hope to catch up to the interest that accrues. But I digress.)

The other day I “overheard” a Facebook comment so ridiculous that I had to laugh, viz. that Sanders doesn’t have any “depth of understanding” and can’t grasp diversity because he keeps coming back to class issues! This person supports Clinton because, to use your very apt assessment, JMG, Hillary focuses on biologically-linked identity politics, which apparently are “deeper” than class. I have also repeatedly seen the argument that one shouldn’t vote for Sanders because he can’t actually make the changes he proposes, rather one should vote for Clinton because she won’t bother to make any changes at all. Which basically translates to “I got mine, the rest of you go under the bus”. And that attitude, my friends, is how you divide and conquer.

Indeed the great irony is that all the hand-wringing over “social justice” has effectively been nothing but a wedge used to divide and conquer wage earners who would otherwise have found common ground in spite of different skin colors, gender, or sexual orientation. All the ink and tears spilled over the evils of racism/sexism/homophobia has done nothing but turn those very real problems into nothing more than a rug under which to sweep all our class differences, as well as whatever criminal shenanigans the government and military-industrial complex get up to. It’s been so effective that one might be forgiven if, in asking “Cui bono?”, one began to see conspiracies behind every bush. If I thought it could be directly attributed to a person or group, I would say the “naturalization” or “biologization” of these identities was diabolically brilliant, since it has made them seemingly immutable and eternal so they can continue to divide us for generations to come!

Even some of the comments here, and this is an unusually intelligent and well-informed commentariat, betray a tendency to view the wage class as baffled dupes at best, hopelessly ignorant at worst, ever ready to vote against our own interests. But if history shows us anything, it's that people motivated by anger and resentment are usually happy to do whatever it takes to upset the status quo in the short term, and deal with the long-term consequences later. When your only tool is a hammer, everything becomes a nail. Et voila, Trump.

YVRinhabitant said...

This is the first time I have ever read this blog and I am totally blown away by how true it is. I have so much to say I don't know where to begin. I am a member of the wage class in Canada. I think your class divisions apply to Canada as well. I am in the Vancouver area, born and raised here. My ancestors have been in North America for 400 years--ancestors fought in the American Revolution and Civil War. The issue here is extremely rich immigrants from China and foreign investment from China buying up the real estate and pricing local people who work here out of the city. You can't even imagine how insane it is here. Dumps are worth millions of dollars. Hardworking people, even professionally employed people are living in basement suites and far flung suburbs because we simply can't compete with the corrupt money being laundered in from China. Old character homes are demolished and sent to the landfill while Vancouver installs bikelanes and proclaims to be the greenest city in the world. Nobody is allowed to criticize this--as soon as we speak out against foreign ownership we are branded racists and dismissed by the professional class and the left wing. Our NDP (social democratic party similar to what Bernie Sanders represents) says nothing at all about this. In America, your immigrants are poor. Imagine how it would be if your cities were being overwhelmed by uber rich corrupt Chinese officials smuggling money in from China to get around their capital controls. It's a whole other dynamic here.

The Canadian economy is crashing as I type this but Vancouver real estate is guaranteed to have another banner year because it doesn't matter what's happening with the Canadian economy when the money is coming in from China.

We do have poor immigrants too. A lot of them are not permanent, they are temporary foreign workers (TFW) working minimum wage jobs at McDonald's and Tim Hortons. The corporations bring them in and treat them like slaves. They can work for lower wages than Canadians and they are much more compliant labour. When this blew up in the media last year, the NDP, who are supposed to represent working class Canadians, seemed more interested in the rights of the TFWs than low wage Canadians.

Our universities are over-run with international students. Canadian students pay subsidized tuition but international students pay the full rates so they are a cash cow for the government. Chinese people are obsessed with sending their kids to Canadian universities because it's a ticket for the parents to move here and it's a way to transfer money into real estate through their and get money out of China. It harms domestic students in many ways. It takes seats away from domestic. The university I went to had a student society that offered union jobs in the student stores that paid about $20 an hour. I was the first person in my family to go to university. I was a shoe-in for one of the jobs but it went to an international student instead. The left leaning student society had a policy of giving preferential treatment to international students because with a student visa they cannot work off-campus, they can only legally work if it is on campus. So the student society gives them the jobs first. I had to take a minimum wage non-union job off campus that semester. I am concerned racist simply for talking about this experience.

I could go on and on and on. I get nauseous when I watch how the media villifies Trump. The Jon Stewart show when Bush was in power seemed to be so radical and a voice for criticism of state authority. Now that show seems to back up state authority and criticizes working class people who are simply critical of the state.

Moshe Braner said...

Another relevant recent article mirrored on Naked Capitalism:
- with nice intro comments by Yves Smith.

Excerpt: "The bigotry now spewing forth from Donald Trump and several of his Republican rivals is an extension of this old race card, now applied to Mexicans and Muslims – with much the same effect on the white working class voters, who don’t trust Democrats to be as “tough.” All true, but this isn’t the whole story. Democrats also abandoned the white working class."

onething said...

Mr. Bystander,

Very true, a lot of salaried employees, at least at the lower end, are essentially giving 20 or more hours of free labor a week. Lots of managers are expected to put in 60 and 70 hour weeks.
Well, obviously if Sanders loses to Clinton, then Trump should take him as his running mate.
*** A slogan like Make America Great Again makes me gag, but worse, I know it is insincere. And if he hangs out with Palin that's a deal breaker. This opinion doesn't come from media propaganda, I watched her and her idiot daughter open their mouths.

Ozark Chinquapin said...

Your analysis makes lots of sense. If Trump wins the nomination, I'm wondering how he'll change his talking points for the general election. Especially if he's facing Clinton, I think his appeal will broaden to a decent number of people who usually vote Democrat as well. On many issues he's pretty liberal for a Republican, and I think he'll start putting more emphasis in that area if he wins the nomination.

I read a little while ago that there are some Democrats in states with open primaries are planning to vote for Trump in the hope that the Democratic nominee will have a better chance of beating Trump than another Republican. That's a strategy that's likely to backfire. Of course, the Trump campaign may actually be putting that idea out there as a way of getting more votes. Or possibly some of them secretly do want Trump to win but won't admit it to others or even themselves.

The biggest question in my mind is what will Trump actually do if he becomes president. Or Sanders for that matter. Both candidates appeal to people who want change, but then so did Obama and his supporters were mostly quite disappointed. Will Trump the bilionaire really enact any policies that are in the interests of ordinary Americans? Will Sanders the career politician do anything significantly different than Obama has done? If so, will the change help or make things worse? I bet if either Sanders or Trump ends up winning, they will end up with lots of disillusioned, angry ex-supporters a few years later, even if they do manage to change some things, as the trajectory of America's decline and fall continues. A possible exception is if the economy tanks severely before January 2017, then the new president could be seen as a hero for picking up the pieces if they can manage a short-term economic recovery during their first term.

Actually, my position in national elections for a while now has been that the worst outcome is the presidency and congress being controlled by the same party is the worst outcome, as one party having that sort of mandate has just produced fiascos such as Obamacare. Enough gridlock to keep anything major like that from either party seemed the lesser of two evils. This election definitely is more interesting than any other in a long time, but I'm still very unsure where I stand this time around. Both Sanders and Trump have in my opinion some pretty good ideas and some very bad ones. None of the options are all that great, but some may be better than others.

The other Tom said...

@Bill Pulliam. "Perhaps this is an adaptation of the former wage class to the new realities of work."
Yes, I agree, this is a major trend of the destroyed wage earning class, with so many people shifting to very unconventional ways of living. I think it's very important for more of the people who still have conventional jobs to understand how pervasive the cash economy has become, and how many participants are quasi-homeless, sometimes by choice. I have noticed that people living on cars or vans, or camping has become far more common here in eastern Connecticut. You see them parked in the same places every night or catch a glimpse of a tarp in the woods. I am guessing that most people do not want to see this, but whenever it is appropriate I try to strike up a conversation with them to see what is going on in their lives. What I am hearing over and over again is about a kind of drastic, strategic downsizing. Several people have told me it is better to be really organized and live in a van than to try to work three or four jobs. These people are not addicts or drinkers or deranged. Their only way to keep some quality of life is to give up living in four walls. At least they have time to read, talk, and enjoy a cup of coffee. I believe this is something new, for people to go off the economic grid on this scale. Whenever the economists speculate on why so many workers have given up looking for a job I laugh, because this adaptation is invisible to them.
People can only be squeezed so far before they start doing whatever they have to do. Many have become refugees in their own country.

Nathan Donaldson said...

In our local paper (Hagerstown) I read an article a couple months back that quoted a guy at the Social Services office claiming that the number of people collecting food stamps had skyrocketed the last five years and most of them had jobs. More people are now working low paying, often demeaning customer service jobs with no security for a lifetime and then also having the indignity of being on the dole. The line between the underclass and the working class in becoming gray.

Why should anyone be resentful about that?

Adrynian said...


To add to your compelling analysis of Trump's popularity via wage class outrage, I have recently discovered 'monetary circuit theory' economist, Steve Keen, of Kingston University, London.

(This is an excellent seminar outlining his position:)

In 1992 he discovered a model of debt, wages, and employment that accidentally predicted the Great Moderation & Great Recession. A key takeaway from his analysis is that rising private debt levels underpin rising GDP at the expense of wage's share of output, even if it's the investors/capitalists who take on all the debt. Banks - which create loans without having the money to loan out in the first place, thereby violating the 'loanable funds model' that is popular among mainstream economists - capture this lost wage-share as private debts rise exponentially. This is a structural feature of economies using bank deposit currencies that is derived from three identity statements, an impressive feat of realistic economic modeling.

When private debt levels get above ~50% of GDP they become destabilizing to the economy, because changes in debt levels start to have overly large impacts on changes in GDP. Furthermore, if debt levels climb above ~150% of GDP, the impact can be so large that when deleveraging occurs it actually crashes the economy. This is followed by a long period of economic stagnation or high inflation until private debts are reduced. The problem is global and recurring and Japan offers a best-case scenario of a low-inflation outcome - as they lead the world into the largest and most recent private debt bubble by ~20 years - but that includes a lost generation. The last time this happened, we had the Great Depression and WW2.

Larry Menkes cSBA said...

Again, JMG posts a very insightful article, and I don't disagree. There's much truth in that.

When the wealth of 62 of the world's billionaires equals the wealth of the poorest half of the world there is more going on than the relative power of the non-wage earners in oligarchic America. John Michael, please address that point.

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

In some cases, "salaried" employees can be worse off than hourly-- When I graduated from Pharmacy School 30+ years ago, hourly pay was common and overtime was paid above 40 hours a week. With time, more and more of us were redefined (as 'managers' or 'exempt professionals') to make us salaried, meaning that we would work the overtime but not be paid for it. We often found that the 'exempt' part meant being exempt from taking a lunch break or a bathroom break. It seems to have escaped upper management's attention in the large chainstore HQ that hunger, fatigue, and having to pee while juggling dangerous medications is a recipe for endangering the public.
Things are better in small, local pharmacies like the one where I have recently started working. The pay is not as good, but working conditions are so much better! I hope I can continue to carve out a niche that's helpful to the community around me and keeps a roof over my family's head.

Emmanuel Goldstein said...

Replying to your interracial marriage info request, JMG-- In Glen Burnie MD, where I worked until recently (a lower-middle-class suburb of Baltimore), interracial marriages were quite common. We saw not only Black/White marriages, but Black/Latino, Asian/Latino, Latino/White couples, and they all seemed to get along well with each other and everyone else. Interestingly, 10 miles away in Cherry Hill (and closer to Baltimore) there was some interracial marriage but not nearly as much as we saw in Glen Burnie. Both areas have a similar economic mix, but Glen Burnie has a more southern look and feel.

Shane W said...

Wow, day 2 and already we're on page 2
Nobody ever sends ME a 55 gal. drum of lube. sigh. (back to the highbrow content)
Everyone who's been sneering that Trump won't do anything better HOPE that he does SOMETHING, and that that is effective enough for the wage class, otherwise, it will get ugly...
regarding Bundy & his cohorts, I'm sure all that you say is true, and I'm sure that he's a bad messenger, but I don't think that invalidates the message. The issues are there, even if the messengers are quite tarnished. I'm reminded of the Lawrence decision by the Supreme Court invalidating sodomy laws. The guy was quite a character, drug addict, with many arrests, I do believe, and it's not at all clear that he actually had sex the night he was arrested, but, nonetheless, Lawrence is the Supreme Court case that invalidate sodomy laws.

Cherokee Organics said...


I'll keep this one brief as you are one busy Archdruid Emeritus!:-)!

It surprises me that no one seems to discuss the simple fact that Universities (and Colleges I assume - although I don't understand the difference because that word has a different meaning down here) have been a wonderful method to offload the cost of training onto the individual by business. Back in the day, my profession used to be taught by apprenticeship and there are still plenty of them kicking around. It is an arrangement that has a use by date because people generally like to see a return on their investment and if the herd does not get that, then it will be deemed a waste of time.



John Michael Greer said...

Good heavens.

This post has now gotten more comments in the first day or so after it was posted than last week's got over the course of the entire week -- and last week's got what I'd normally consider a good lively discussion going on the comments page. I thought this one would get a vigorous response, but I wasn't expecting anything quite this vigorous.

Not that I'm complaining, you understand.

Between that and a couple of projects closing in on deadlines, I'm not going to be able to follow my usual custom and respond personally to everyone's comment. To all of you who posted to thank me and note your agreement, you're welcome and thank you -- please circulate this wherever you think it might do some good.

To the many people who posted comments insisting that it's unfair to discuss the complicity of the poorer end of the salary class in what happened to the wage class, or to point out that the wealthy end of the investment class also benefited substantially from the destruction of the wage class, I'd point out that every class contains people who benefit to a greater or lesser extent from any set of changes, just as it contains people and categories of people who carry more or less of the costs of those changes. A class analysis is always a simplification; it's useful solely because it reveals broad patterns that a fixation on individual cases can conceal. The fact that the salary class as a whole benefited from contracting wages, that is, doesn't mean that everyone in that class benefited equally, nor that everyone in that class took an equal role in making the decisions that made it happen. That said, I'd ask those who insist that they had nothing at all to do with it -- what did you or your parents do to oppose it? Did you, for example, boycott sweatshopped goods from overseas, go out of your way to patronize locally owned stores and businesses even when it cost more, or anything like that? Passive complicity is still complicity, you know.

Now, on to whatever specific comments I have time to make...

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

william fairchild writes, "What the Dubbyobama consensus (establishment politics) really fears is a candidate who can speak to the wage class as a whole and bypass the coded racism. So far, no one has fit the bill."

The last candidate to fit the bill was Robert F. Kennedy (though he was a supreme opportunist who waited to make his move until Gene McCarthy opened the door for him). RFK got as far as he did because he was the brother of a martyred President. There has been no effective challenge to the class structure of the USA since the multiple assassinations of 1968. The people who could get a hearing haven't been willing to die for the cause and the people who have died for the cause didn't get a hearing. I've been immune to promises of "hope and change" since 1968.

In a complex society, leaders cannot be much better than the organizations that back them. An organization that allows talent to rise and that models personal decency, ethical behavior and competence among its members will develop good to great leaders out of ordinary people. The USA has not had good political organizations (I'm talking about all political organizations, not just political parties) at the national level for a long time, so we don't have many good candidates for President, and the good ones don't get far.

That's not the only reason, of course. But looking at all the Presidential elections from 1952 onward, it seems to me that the electorate decides not on ideology but by sizing up the character and talents of the candidates, and usually chooses the better of the two choices offered to it. If the choices are crappy, we're not going to elect a Lincoln.

I'm with Bob Dylan on this. Don't follow leaders; watch your parking meters.

John Michael Greer said...

Nicholas, exactly. It's a dynamic at work everywhere that the same policies were adopted.

Avery, if not a Caesar, than certainly a Crassus!

Bill, no, I haven't read it. I'll add it to the get-to list.

Dot/Mallow, that depends on whether the European left is willing to deal with the legitimate grievances of the wage classes of the European nations -- in particular, by recognizing that opposition to immigration can't simply be roundfiled as racism, but can reflect very real economic issues that the salary classes like to ignore. More generally, the left throughout the western world has become detached from its roots among the laboring classes and the working poor, and until and unless that connection is reestablished and policies that help the wage class become central to the policy proposals of the left, the laboring classes and the working poor are going to be fair game for neofascist politicians.

Will, "coin operated charlatans" is a keeper! Many thanks. Me, I'd be satisfied if economics was redefined as a religion, since it's so obviously justified by faith rather than works, and the separation of church and state was then applied to keep its dogmas from influencing public policy.

Bill, no, I managed to miss that. You may not know that I get a lot of that language -- it's apparently unacceptable in many circles that I have a community of readers who like what I say, prefer it to the conventional wisdom, and say so.

With regard to the substantive dimensions of your comment, of course there are people who don't fall into the four classes I outlined -- I thought I made that clear in the post. As yet, they don't seem to have much more clout collectively than the royalty classlet to which I belong. Down the road, of course that'll change; the rise of what I suppose might be called the subsistence class, those people who do a little of this, that, and the other in order to get by, and increasingly do so outside the official economy, is another massive shift that's just now getting under way, and those people will become the largest class before the process winds down and they morph into different classes -- peasant, craftsperson, warrior, and so on.

Phil, I don't expect a Trumpenjugend, but I could be mistaken. It's the people who come a little later on who may find a use for that, colored shirts, et al.

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

Leah, none of those people, based on your description, are members of the wage class, which is what I was talking about.

Eric, one way or another, northern Mexico and the southwest US are headed into the normal process of warband formation, and are well advanced along that road already. That's baked in the cake at this point. The question is whether, before that runs to its end, other policies (such as massive fines for employers who hire illegal immigrants) might give the wage class some of what they've lost.

John Michael Greer said...

Nastarana, of course Trump is a creature of big money -- that's the world in which he lives. My guess is that's what'll reconcile the GOP to his candidacy, and a good many wealthy Dems as well, if the alternative is Sanders.

RogerCO, if Sanders is doomed to fail -- and I'm not certain that that's the case -- it's because his proposals would pop the bubbles that prop up Wall Street and the hallucinatory economy of finance. People are desperate enough that, as I've predicted in the past, a lot of them may be willing to give socialism a second chance.

Aunteater, I know it's no consolation to you that there are millions of other people in the same boat you are, and it's just going to get worse. I hope you can find something.

Joe, yes, I saw Friedman's article. For Friedman, it was remarkably clear-headed, though he did babble about the fracking miracle et al.

Carl, thank you, but up here in the mountains we're expecting maybe a foot, maybe less. It's down along the coastal strip that they're really going to get clobbered!

Matilda, I'm quite prepared to think that Trump originally entered the race as a favor to his friends the Clintons, with the intention of doing for Hillary what Ross Perot did for Bill. My guess, though, is that Trump's soaring popularity and Hillary's total failure to mount a viable campaign changed that calculus, and when the Clinton campaign goes down, Trump will send a sympathy card and go on to the next campaign stop.

Dan, of course there's more to the argument than that. I was summing things up, not presenting a detailed discussion. In a longer discussion, I'd point to historical data to show that a supply and demand analysis accurately models the effect of immigration on wages.

Grandmom, Palin retains a following precisely because the salary class hates and despises her so much. That's enough to make her a heroine to large parts of the wage class.

Laylah, thanks for this. You're quite right -- "the senility of the elites" describes that reaction perfectly.

Avalterra, well, we'll see!

Sven, nah, if I did an essay on Hillary, it would have to be titled "Hillary Clinton and the Politics of Entitlement."

Coboarts, and here I'm stuck having to let that pass for now! Thank you, though.

Rising-moon, the question of what the salary class could to do help the wage class is a question best answered by people in the wage class, which I'm not. I suspect if you forwarded this post to some of your wage class friends -- especially if they like Trump -- and posed the question to them, you'd get an earful.

John Michael Greer said...

Pygmycory, the situation of the welfare class here in the US has always been bad -- I'm not sure it could get much worse without substantial dieoff -- but I haven't done a detailed survey of recent changes.

Kendo, whether Sanders can convert his current groundswell into a viable campaign in the general election is one of the big questions of this year. It's a long shot, but I'm far from sure it's impossible.

Unknown, I have indeed read it. I tend to see Trump as a forerunner of our future Windrips rather than a Windrip himself.

Cherokee, bingo. One obvious way Trump could satisfy the wage class without overturning the economic applecart is by throwing a good chunk of the salary class to the wolves. That plus some very modest improvements in wage class conditions would likely have the whole wage class on his side come the 2020 elections. Not a pretty sight, but a possible one...

Larry, I hadn't. Bright gods. If the GOP doesn't disown the guy who said that, they may have just handed the nomination to Trump.

Agent, I don't think Trump is Fred Halliot, though he might just conceivably become Halliot depending on what happens. We're a bit ahead of schedule for that -- as you'll recall, I had Halliot winning in 2020. Put another way, Trump is a symptom of the approach of Halliot season...

Andy, it's more complex than that, of course, but the pathologization of dissent on the American left is uncomfortably familiar to those of us who remember how the Soviet Union used to do the same thing.

John Michael Greer said...

Blueback, exactly. Those who play with fire generally end up with their own houses burning down.

Alexandra, I don't think that the fixation on biological categories was a deliberate scheme, but it doesn't have to be -- you can get exactly the same result by having hundreds of thousands of individuals making decisions in their own lives that allow them to focus on what they want to talk about and avoid the things that make them uncomfortable. That happens just as much among those who believe they ought to be concerned with social justice as among any other group, and when it's combined with a set of standards for interpersonal behavior that justifies bullying and a range of other abusive behaviors, you get a social justice scene that enthusiastically hands its worst enemies all the rhetorical ammunition they could desire.

Adrynian, most interesting. I'll have to look into his ideas; at first glance, they do look compelling.

Emmanuel, thanks for the data points!

Shane, well, that's probably because you haven't taken over any wildlife refuges recently. ;-)

Cherokee, dead on target. When we begin -- at long last! -- talking about education, a post on the impending doom of the US academic industry will be one of the first I'll make, and the way that universities have inserted themselves into the job qualifications market will be one of the core themes.

Mean Mr Mustard said...

JMG and all,



Rita Narayanan said...

Amazing how the educated elite loves to love Democracy as it chooses....somekinds of revolution are ruthlessly pushed down society's throat and other times it becomes an anathema.

Here too in India the hip educated class make the same noises about Trump for them Hillary/Sanders would be *the way*.

Belated 2016 wishes to JMG & everyone here :)

team10tim said...

Hey hey JMG,

You should definitely look at Steve Keen's work. He basically uses double entry bookkeeping to model the economy. He uses accounting identities and applies them to the national economy. He then tracks the transactions with computer models.

There is an excellent summary of his, and other's, work in:
"No One Saw This Coming" Understanding Financial Crisis Through Accounting Models*(PDF warning)
Which summarizes the 13 (I think, from memory) economists that predicted the financial crisis with a model and a time frame. It turns out that they all used a very similar model.

If you want a better understanding of what happens in a bubble this paper is a must read. It also discusses some of the various divergences in economic thought from its first beginnings amoungst the French phisocrats if I recall. In the wake of the financial crisis this should have been a hugely important paper, but basically no one in economic academia has read it. I remember talking to my economics professors in grad school 2009-2010 and getting eyes glassed over/cold shoulder.

It's based on Irving Fisher's debt deflation (yes, that Irving Fisher. His pre crash work (which is garbage) is much more heavily cited than his post crash work (where he actually understood what had happened). Steve Keen even rebukes Ben Bernanke's graduate thesis for failing to understand Fisher (Ben criticizes Irving in a way that makes it clear he didn't actually understand what Irving was talking about)) and Hyman Minsky's financial instability hypothesis. I believe he named his computer model after Minsky.

Steve Keen wrote a book called 'Debunking Economics' and he knows about peak oil, but his focus is financial systems and neoclassical fallacies.


PS There is a lot of fine work in economics out there like Schumacher, Keen, Ayres and Warr that gets ignored.

Ron Payne said...

Insightful and sobering! You've made this salary class retiree pause in my estimate of Trump supporters as ignorant Duck Dynasty Bubbas; makes me kind of ashamed of myself for so arrogant a dismissal of us (as in Trump is one of us).

edde said...

Good morning John Michael,

Great post - your assertion that "the left" in the USA ignores working class issues, to its detriment, is right on. Same with Democratic Party leadership vis-a-vis Sanders, who raises class issues.

Trump a winner? We'll see in a month or so after major state primaries.

No doubt, class in USA is fluid and difficult to pin down. You might find Don Hodges' "Class Politics in the Information Age" (published in 2000) an entertaining read. He points out "professionals and managers" benefit more from wage labor (profits), than owners of the means of production. Does your "salaried" class fill a similar role?

Best regards,

Patricia Mathews said...

@Debra Johnson - a friend in eastern Oregon reported:

"Yup. They tried to outsource the custodians at the county school district, and then someone brought up, ‘are all the employees of the outsourcing company going to be fingerprinted so we don’t end up with any pervs? Who will think of the children?’ Oops…

Jean Lamb"

As far as I know, the University of New Mexico has done no such thing - yet. But to paraphrase the Gospels - "You spend millions of dollars on Women's Studies and Chicano Studies and every kind of Victim Studies and Oppression Studies, and neglect the very workers under your own roof. Woe unto ye, hypocrites....."

But then, how else are they to pay their million-dollar football coach, without which they can never hold their heads up among the Big Universities they aspire to join?


Shane W said...
speak of the devil, seems like they are threatened. BTW, regarding comment volume, most all of a very high quality, substantive, quantity AND quality

YVRinhabitant said...

look sie said: "I am also a Gay man and I can tell you that most Gay men on both sides of the border are poster boys for the kind of blinkered thinking you've described in this post."

I am a gay man also and you are 100% correct. What is a gay member of the wage class to do? I was an activist and I was the first out gay person in my high school in the 1990s. There is a tendency in gay politics to villify specific high profile individuals who become poster-children for homophobia, like the Jerry Falwell types. I think this carries over to other people and gay people start villifying other people on the right with the same degree of gusto they give to Falwell. I'm thinking about Rob Ford and how the gays in Toronto just absolutely hate him. He actually saved that city by cancelling the Olympic bid. If Toronto would have gone ahead with an Olympics, imagine how much more housing and rents would cost there and how much worse the homeless situation would be. I know, I've lived through what the Olympics does to housing and gentrification here in Vancouver.

I am loyal to my wage class background and my wage class parents and family members. I cannot turn my back on them (or my own wage class needs) in favour of gay identity politics. If I have to make a choice, I choose class politics over gay politics. That is because, in my experience, class is such a fundamentally more oppressive thing than being gay. I live a good life as a gay person. Gays are protected in the Canadian Charter of Rights and we have same sex marriage and we are good to go. I went through terrible harrasment in high school, but as they say, it gets better. All I had to do was come out and admit to being gay when I was young and most of the harassing stopped. They couldn't call me gay as though it were an epithet because I had already admitted to it so I took the sting out of it by coming out. I have not been able to escape my class oppression so easily as I escaped oppression on the basis of sexual orientation. I'm the first person in my family to go to university and I have essentially nothing to show for it other than debt and I never experienced upward mobility, I am still a wage class member. I was told all the time I had white privilege-- a lot of good it's done me.

When I was in high school, most of the anti-gay harassment I experienced came from immigrants. Immigrants from Asia, by and large, are not nearly as open to gay people as North American/European culture is. The left is silent on this issue. They only criticize homophobia if it is coming from white wage class members. The Chinese immigrants who are buying up real estate in Vancouver are homophobic. The Vancouver School Board brought in genderless washrooms to accomodate transgendered kids. There was a strong backlash from the Chinese community. There were even arguments that genderless washrooms in schools would pop the real estate bubble in Vancouver because Chinese will stop buying here if we accomodate LGBT this much! The left in Vancouver is generally silent on this. Could you imagine if, instead of Chinese millionairs and billionaires buying up our city, it was white Texas evangelical oil tycoons buying up real estate in Vancouver on mass. Guaranteed the left in this city would not put up with that and would not hesitate to criticize homophobia from Texas oil tycoons. So why do Chinese State-Owned-Enterprise tycoons get a free pass on homophobia? Same dynamic at play with Muslims and their intolerance of gays and their patriarchy. We can criticize Christian patriarchy and homophoba til the cows come home but not a peep on Muslim patriarchy. Those head scarfs are liberating for women, dontcha know! Look how the media suppressed the rape stories in Germany from the Muslim men on New Years and the mayor of Cologne blamed the women for getting to close to the men. WHere was the left wing backlash? Where were the slut walks? Patriarchy from Muslim men gets a pass, but if you are a white man you better not spread your legs on public transit!

YVRinhabitant said...

Alexandra said: "All the ink and tears spilled over the evils of racism/sexism/homophobia has done nothing but turn those very real problems into nothing more than a rug under which to sweep all our class differences"

Absolutely brilliant insightful comment. I agree 100%. This is my problem in a nut shell. I want to remain committed to gay rights and women's rights and I do not support racism. But I also want to remain committed to my class and to advance working class people. Class should be a uniting force that bridges our identity politics divides along race/gender/sexuality. I don't know what the solution is.

I love this discussion. If anyone wants to respond to me, I would be so delighted.

I was so excited to find this blog yesterday. It feels like an oasis of intelligent discussion in what is otherwise a vast desert of propaganda and polarized partisanship.

onething said...


"So, for all of the wonderful analysis, I'm not sure what you hope to achieve with this sort of thing. The problem isn't a political one, it's a philosophical one."

A brilliant and succinct analysis of the problem's deeper layers. These "beliefs based on precognitive emotional states" means that most people are walking around with little understanding of their own reality. We can fight it, successfully, but we must have a will to do so, and to have that will requires at least a small crack in the wall.

Just as an aside, it would appear that this is the true subject of the novel Moby Dick.

FiftyNiner said...

You are at your very best in essays like this. I could not read this post until Thursday evening due to having lost the internet here in the woods for two days. Things are changing so fast. Bernie Sanders filled Boutwell Auditorium in Birmingham the other night. Think of that: A Socialist speaking to a packed house in Carpetbagger City!
Your essays do make us think. What has become clear to me is that everyone knows that a big change is in the offing and will come one way or the other. The question then becomes how do we get from where we are to where we are going with the least cost to ourselves. This is where the "conservative" impulse of self-preservation kicks in. No truly rational person would ever want chaos to reign in his own society for more than a short season. As Jefferson observed: "Men are more disposed to suffer evils while sufferable than to right the wrongs to which they have become so long accustomed."
I have actually felt since this political season began that we would end up with Trump or Sanders if the election were fair. I'm not so sure that the oligarchs understand this time how important it is that the election appear fair whether it is or not. My prediction: If the powers that be in the two parties snatch the nominations away from Trump and Sanders, the chaos that will follow will be unlike anything in our history.
On a personal note: I voted for Nixon in 1972, then Carter, Mondale, Dukakis, Clinton, Gore, Kerry, and Obama. The earth is more likely to be hit with a gamma ray burst than I to vote for Hillary Clinton! To me, both the parties have forfeited any claim to represent me in any way that truly matters. The only reason that I hold out a little hope is that I believe Trump and Sanders have within their reach the ability to change things in a positive direction for people like me, of whom there are millions.
I recently received an email from the Obamacare website that I am in danger of a significant penalty if I do not sign up for health insurance. I also received a letter from the Director of Personnel Management of the US that all of my personal data was compromised in the hacking supposedly carried out by China. Curious that the letter from OPM listed the data points item by item, as if I would not know what was in my file.

I did a shopping trip yesterday in pouring rain and talked to three women, two whom I know and one I did not, all of them elderly, at least older than my 63 years. Interesting that health issues came up and two of the women admonished me to stay away from doctors if at all possible. One even said that "they" will kill you with medicines. She was the one I did not know prior but we began talking as we looked at low priced coffee makers. She went on to tell me that she is 85 years old and had been bowling the night before and frequently goes hunting with her grandchildren. Her advice to me was to "keep moving". Southern women are amazing!
One of the two that I know told me that she and her husband had been on a European vacation and were in Brussels very near where the Paris terrorists were apprehended. She seems to think that the Europeans and ahead of us in their thinking and response to terrorism. She didn't have time to elaborate, but the next time I see her I will ask.

Unknown said...

Agree with everything, but want to point out that the salary class is next with the Trade in Services Agreement (TISA) which will do to it what NAFTA did to the wage class. Also, the uber wealthy have gotten much much more uber wealthy since the 70s and have therefor benefited. Which means that the critique that says the power and problems resides with the .01% is closer to the truth than you admit here. The salaried class, too, has their share of the blame, but I wouldn't say that they are the only ones to have benefited from the destruction of the wage class and the phenomena you describe.

On Trump, as you say, I don't think he's going to be it this time. I think it will be someone worse within the next 4-8 years, which you also put forth as a possibility, so I would say we are in agreement there.

YVRinhabitant said...

By the way, when I was a kid in the 1980s, this province BC was basically a vassal state of the US empire. Most of our exports were to USA. Canada (and each province) has always been a resource-periphery. We were a resource periphery for the British empire in the 19th century. We were a resource periphery for the American empire in the 20th century. Now in the 21st century we are becoming a resource-periphery (and capital destination for real estate) of China. I usually think about this from a Canadian perspective but if I think about what that means for America, I guess it speaks to the fall of the American Empire.

Nastarana said...

It is beyond dispute that the lower ranks of salaried employees are hurting also, not least from the attentions of their sociopathic supervisors. Deliberately inflated housing and utility prices is beast which preys on all of us and then add on the required personal expenses for wardrobe and cosmetic enhancement and so on, and I wonder how some low level clerks manage to get by at all. Nevertheless, that does not excuse the often contemptuous and disdainful attitudes such clerks have.

I am thinking of, for example, insurance company clerks who refuse to take cash payments--because they can't count? When that happened to me, I made a point of announcing that I would immediately change insurance companies. Or the clerks who take payments at city offices who hide their snarls behind bullet proof glass. When I make the trip in below freeing weather to make my water payment in person, and have never been late in five years, I would like to be greeted with something other than a sniff and a sneer. Parking tickets in this town are $50. each, rising to $100 if you do not pay within THREE days. When I went downtown to pay mine, the same day as received, and waited over an hour for the only person authorized to take the payment, I figured that as a taxpayer and voter I had to right to point out that this insane policy targets those who can least afford it. "Oh, but it has always been that way and it's not my fault". Well, yes it is your fault if you benefit from it

There are two sides to supporting local business, which is something I do whenever possible. I also need to see the business supporting local employment, and, sorry, 'local employment' does not include cousins who just got off an airplane from the proprietor's country of origin.

Troy Jones said...

Excellent essay, and I'm thinking this one may be on track to be your most-commented article to date. If you don't get around to responding to my comment, that will be totally understandable.

While I think your analysis of the Trump phenomenon is spot-on, there is one last card the Republican party's leadership has left up its sleeve. And that is, they can change the rules of the nomination process at any time. Even if Trump wins every single state primary and caucus, the GOP leadership could simply refuse to seat any of his delegates at the convention and put up Jeb Bush as the nominee regardless of what the rank and file of the party actually want. Of course, doing so would essentially be handing the general election to Hillary (assuming she gets the nomination), but I am sure the powers that be understand that. Establishment Republicans would much rather have an establishment Democrat in office than someone like Trump (or even Ted Cruz). Some establishment Republicans (e.g. John McCain) have even said so, pretty much in so many words. It might even mean the end of the Republican party, but I don't think even that prospect would necessarily stop them. They may not go through with it, and I'm sure they are hoping Trump will self-destruct before it becomes necessary to even lay plans about how to make such a move, but I think it's a real possibility.

Lawsuits might be filed, but at the end of the day, the Republican party is a private organization and is free to organize themselves as they see fit. At any rate, it will be interesting to see what happens for sure.

Barring something like that though, I think you are right. Trump has the best chance to be the next President.

YVRinhabitant said...

I am watching The View right now. I watch The View every day. Don't ask me why. I realize it is propaganda. Maybe I am trying to kill the thinking part of my brain because thinking too much causes me stress. Ignorance is bliss.

Anyways, there is a marked shift in the tone of the political discussion on The View this morning. They are not talking about Trump at all--whereas he has been a focal point of Hot Topics almost every day up until now. They are talking about Jeb Bush and his new campaign ad with Barbara Bush. They are giving Bush the kid glove treatment, usually much harsher on Republicans on that show.

They are coming out strong in favour of Hilary Clinton over Bernie Sanders. Up until now, Joy Behar has gushed praise every time Sanders was discussed. She was always saying that she is turned on by him because he is a Jewish socialist. In one show, she even tried to explain to the audience that Sanders represents democratic socialism similar to what they have in Norway. I distinctly remember Joy Behar saying a few weeks ago that Bernie Sanders wants to bring democratic socialism to America. Now today, she is saying: "People call him a socialist. I don't know why. He's just a Liberal. He's as Liberal as Obama. He's not going to nationalize industries, we are not going to have state-owned industries"

What nasty propaganda this is! This is what makes my skin crawl about the liberal American media.

I don't know what Bernie Sanders is promising to do. Democratic socialism can come in many different forms. It doesn't necessarily mean nationalized industries. Canada doesn't really have nationalized industries anymore (although we do have province-govt owned car insurance, hydro utility). It may just mean bigger welfare state, more social programs, more public housing, the public option for health care instead of involving private insurance companies, subsidized tuition. None of that involves nationalizing industries.

Joy Behar used to praise Sanders for being a socialist and now she says he is not a socialist, he is a liberal like Obama. The implicit message is: Americans, forget about socialism, it's not on offer, he's just like every other do-nothing liberal Democrat, so you might as well vote Hilary. She also said he is not anti-establishment because he was in the Senate for years. They are saying that with Hilary you get two presidents in one because you also get Bill Clinton. Excuse me, but isn't that a little sexist. If Hilary does become president I am sure she can stand on her own two feet and won't need to fall back on her husband.

They just asked: "Will the millenials even vote for Bernie? Will they even get out of bed to vote?"

What a sneering comment. It is a put down to millenials, implying they are lazy.

You can sense they are getting scared so there is a dramatic shift in tone in favour of Clinton and Trump's name isn't even being mentioned on The View this morning.

Shane W said...

you're very spot on with my experiences. i'm on green wizards, if you want to shoot a msg.
Off topic, but I'm guessing that the porn industry is why lube comes in 55 gal drums. one of the few things I remember from being on social media is that lube is dispensed from commercial sized pumps of the kind you find in public restrooms in the porn industry in the San Fernando Valley. Southern Calif. is a bizarre place, I tell you...

Ray Wharton said...

I have been staying with my girlfriend's family this last week. Her Dad is a wage class retiree and a very solid man. My progressive friends wouldn't put up with him, but he is too busy helping his neighbors to care. He is excited about Trump, mentally doesn't believe him, but shows giddy excitement at every gain Trump makes. Hates Hilary with a passion that is sad to witness, I have no respect for Hilary, but still I am soft hearted about witnessing true hate. I think he considers Bernie the best candidate, but doesn't spend much hope on him making it to the general election. Just some date points, my own wage class Dad is similar, but more detached from it all, less emotionally invested in the whole soap opera.

I agree with Bill the Bird Watcher about the importance of those who have fallen out of the four categorize. I would contend that the subsistence class, which I would be a part of, is already both numerous and developing the first strings of self awareness, largely refugees from the collapse of the wage class it is also host to people who have left the other classes named, and other folks. Another group that is large in the younger generation is the parental welfare class, housing support from my family helps me afford my current practice in the subsistance class while I learn the ropes. There are very many voters who live off their families, or more to the point family units that are in one or another class with many members who are specifically in the home or non economic sphere.

These are useful categories you have presented JMG, I am thinking though of how they partially overlap with categorize which would follow similar lines. For example categories of value, I think often about the way that working class elders (which nearly over lap with wage class elders, but not quite) value work ethic and strength. Very Western is that Spengler sense of the right and duty to work. My friends in that group love to talk of their working acheivements, and are proud even of their losses from working hard. I also know many. who reject those values from looking at the wretched condition of the working class retirees (in economic terms) relative to what they put in, and see it as though work itself were refuted. This refutation of work, of the value of work, drives many of the salary or management class values. Also the question of the value of work divides the welfare class from their wage class neighbors.

The value of work is strange to me on both sides, and never mentioned is the VALUE of the work. Work as an abstraction is praised by my work loving friends, even if that work is clear cutting of a forest and the friend a woodsman and lover of wild places. Isn't a tablet of virtues a list of accomplishments indeed! Conversely getting off ones rear and planting trees is sneered at by the most green washed of the non working classed, be they managers, designers, or lay abouts. Work is so strong an abstraction that it can be hard to ask what the work is accomplishing, merely whether it is better to create or export "jobs" be they what they may. If the work accomplishes no good, then it is better to enjoy leisure, but if something needs done than one must be willing to work.

Uniting the warring tribes to esteem the temperance of work, leisure, thoughtfulness, intentionality, design, and sound management. Well that is surely off topic for a post about today's politics ;)

Mean while, the mushrooms grow, and I am eager to find what the subsistence class shall become.

Ray Wharton said...

On a side note, the investment class is an easy target for though blinded by abstractions, most of their wealth is tied up in infrastructure investments for the modern world or imaginary money. Though there are many who live a shamefully consumptive life, and employ many of the other classes in bad work thereby, their relative decadence is only a small fraction of the many magnitudes of advantage they have in SYMBOLIC wealth.

The investment class has not really grown, it has shrunk, but seems far worse as the rest has shrunk more quickly and is close to breaking from internal pressure. External pressure meanwhile closes in on the futures of the investment class. Symbolic wealth collecting around them balloons to inconceivable levels, as economic pressures drive symbols of wealth to collect in those places where the least material wealth is needed to back them. Granted however members of that class, like Trump, can still turn that wealth into power if they are smart, as raw power does not need a resource backing, it is a largely social phenomenon.

Samson J said...

JMG, I am a new reader. I'm afraid I don't know if my comment will be useful - because almost all of what I say seems plain-as-the-nose-on-your-face obvious to me - but since I keep hearing and hearing from people who "don't get" Trump's appeal, it seems perhaps worthwhile to offer something.

The article is a good start, but it's only half-complete. The description of wage class, salary class, and Trump's appeal to the wage class, is very well-written. I note that consistently, folks with some connection to the wage class have an easier time understanding Trumpism. But there’s a lot more to it than just this class warfare.

What's missing from the entire analysis is Trump's large (and it is large) appeal to people like me: white, male, Christian, father of four children, very highly successful within the salaried class. What does Trump offer me?

Answer: victory against the SJW.

I would say that Trumpism appeals broadly to two different constituencies (as well as some smaller ones that might not seem intuitive, which is why he has a real likelihood of winning the election). The first, as you've stated, is the working class ("wage" class), for reasons you've outlined, and it is the biggest constituency. But then there are social "traditionalists" within the salaried class.

Observe that although salaried classes enjoy greater life security in general, it's been easy enough in recent years for SJWs to derail a salaried career over essentially trivial "infractions". You need to realize that white-collar, salaried conservatives are actually much MORE vulnerable to SJW witchhunts than wage-earners, and we know it. (The tally is lengthy; I think The Blaze or some other website was compiling a list a year or so ago, of all the people who have lost their jobs due to SJW "nonsense" infractions.)

Moreover, as Maslow's hierarchy of needs tells us, once a person is financially secure, he seeks fulfillment of other needs - like community, family, spirituality, moral values, etc. Trumpism appeals to those of us who see in him the strength to fight back against what we see as the SJW war against everything (BESIDES money) that we care about. Thus:

I must admit I've found it hard to figure out why The Donald appeals to so many and how at each outrageous remark his poll percentages go shooting up.

I pick this one comment, because especially here in Canada, I've heard any number of people say exactly the same thing.

Samson J said...

Here's why those "outrageous" remarks are appealing: fundamentally, what sounds "outrageous" to this commenter strikes many of us as plan-as-day common sense. For the wage class, these remarks may signal "Trump is one of us", as described in the OP. For the educated, intelligent, reactionary listener, they say, "Yes, there really is a politican who sees the same things as I do, and says so. There really is a man who fears not to tell the Emperor he has no clothes."

He isn't afraid of the SJW blowback. He’s saying, “We’ve had enough political correctness”, and he’s SAYING it, not dog-whistling it. Why is that attractive? Remember Osama bin Laden's wisdom about the horses: When people see a strong horse and a weak horse, they will naturally want to side with the strong horse - because fundamentally people are drawn to strength.

In short, Trump represents hope of combating SJWism of all sorts. If you too have had enough of the politically correct nonsense that threatens your salaried job, your family, your community, then this is enormously appealing. As I said in the beginning, it's hard for people like me to understand what people don't "get" about this.

And all of it, by the way, is why Trump is appealing while Sanders isn't as appealing. In point of fact I appreciate Sanders' concern for the wage class, and I enjoy ANYone who seems to be shaking up the entrenched political establishment. But I haven't heard Sanders stand up to the SJWs.

It may be argued that, like all politicians, Trump is saying things he doesn't mean, and, like people invariably do, they are projecting their hopes and fears onto him. All I can respond is: doubtless it's partly true, but what's different is Trump's willingness to say-it-like-it-is. It's hard to "project" or "hope" he means something else when he's so clear about what he actually means.

Samson J said...

A commenter asks:

What does Trump get for all his efforts and expenditure?

He gets to Make America Great Again. Is it beyond you to imagine that he gets satisfaction from believing he’s making his nation great?

Certainly for me this is part of the appeal. As a successful , socially-respected (because of career and community involvement, if not political views) man, I endorse Trumpism because I DO care about the wage class, and about my nation as a whole. That's what good leaders do.

And there we are. As I said at the beginning, I haven't got any idea whether my comment is of use to anyone, because virtually all that I've said is so obvious and intuitive to me. But there may be folks who benefit from this perspective.

On a final note, I've enjoyed reading a few comments from other Canadian readers. Someone observed that with the recent election, Canada has gone in the opposite direction from every other Western country. I’ve noticed that very thing, and spent much time thinking it over. I believe that to a certain extent, Canada is unique country where the normal laws of physics just don’t apply. I read an article today elsewhere arguing that, "C'est dommage, it's not only that we don't have a Trump here in Canada but that we couldn't." Perhaps true, although it remains to be seen. I'm fond of saying that Canadian politics is more interesting than it seems...

Blueback said...

Speaking of the coming payback for all those color revolutions and coups de etat instigated by the US government, did you see this news item?

After the US government instigated its latest color revolution in Kiev (the third in less than a decade), the Chechen government threatened to respond in kind by providing military aid to Mexico and to Hispanic separatists in Aztlan.

The Speaker of the Parliament of the Chechen Republic had this to say:

"I often ask myself, Why the American interest in Ukraine? Representatives of our country defended it from the Fascist invaders. More than three and one half million of our soldiers died defending Ukrainian lands from the Nazis. But at this very time, some NATO generals often showing up in Kiev today are representatives of countries that once, allied to the armies of the Third Reich, fought with the Ukrainian people.

The Ukrainian state arose out of the Soviet Union. It was together with the Ukrainians that Russians, Jews, Georgians, Chechens, and Armenians rebuilt that post-war Ukrainian Soviet Republic. Not one American dollar was spent of the development and rebuilding of Ukraine after WWII. Since ancient times, Moscow and Kiev built the state together; to this day, Russians and Ukrainians are fraternal peoples.

From this it follows that the US has no business advising Russia how to conduct itself with neighboring and friendly people. The supply of weapons to Ukraine will be viewed by us as a signal to act accordingly. We will begin delivery of new weapons to Mexico to resume debate on the legal status of territories annexed by the US, namely the American states of California, New Mexico, Arizona, Nevada, Utah, and portions of Wyoming.

We reserve the right to hold conferences in Russia, Mexico, and America with agendas about the liberation of these states from the US, and the supply of weapons to the partisans there." [empasis in the original]

He also noted the hypocrisy of American rhetoric about freedom of speech and human rights, saying to his counterparts in the US Congress:

“Dear members of the Congress of the United States of America. We often hear of the uniqueness of the American Constitution. In your basic law, everyone has the right to freedom of expression. The Supreme Court, wrote, in one of its interpretations, “we cannot repress political speech just on the grounds that it supports one side and not the other; nor can a citizen be repressed because their expression is false or dangerous."

"But your words are at variance with your actions; Bradley Manning, Edward Snowden, Julian Assange and several others have suffered for believing in a false American freedom of speech."

Akshay Ahuja said...

I also wonder about William's point that Trump doesn't cross racial lines well enough to get the non-white wage class behind him. The candidate he reminds me of (based on reading, since I wasn't alive then) is another very charismatic, funny, and smart campaigner who terrified establishment candidates: George Wallace. The country has changed demographically since Wallace, though, and I don't think you can win with only white support. I do wonder, too, whether there might be a repeat of that mysterious assassination attempt that ended Wallace's 1972 campaign.

Mister Roboto said...

Just a quick word about liberals and leftists who assume that those who seriously disagree with them are mentally ill: I find this to be an entirely forgivable fault on account of the sheer fact that there are just so many people who actually are seriously mentally ill out there these days, it's a very easy assumption to make!

YVRinhabitant said...

One more comment and I will back off for a while. An interesting example of how all these various issues intersect is the Trump Tower currently under construction in Downtown Vancouver. Vancouver is in the midst of a real estate mania boom like no other and the Trump Tower is one of the many flashy glass towers springing up marketed to offshore buyers in China. It is being developed by Holborn Developments, owned by the Tiah family of Malaysia. It is a luxurt hotel and Donald Trump has licenced his name to be used for the tower. It's not actually Trump's money building it. The capital comes from the rich Tiah family of Malaysia and the speculative pre-sale buyers largely from China. (By the way, Donald Trump absolutely knows about Chinese love for real estate and has made billions from it). There are big pictures of Trump and his daughter and sons all around this building on Georgia Street--one of the main streets in Vancouver. This tower is part of the wave of gentrification that is pricing local people out of the city. The City of Vancouver and its left wing city council are in full support of this tower and the real estate mania with condo towers springing up everywhere. But now that Donald Trump is running for president, there has been an attempt from the City Council to rename the tower and take the Trump name off of it. They say the Trump name is not consistent with Vancouver's global brand as a progressive, green city. Of course, there is nothing city council can do about it. There is no way the developer can legally change the name of the tower at this point. The tower is still under construction and it was a pre-sale. If they change the name of the tower before the pre-sale buyers take possession than that is a material breach of contract and the pre-sale buyers can get out of the sale if they want to. No way the developer is going to take that chance given that the luxury hotel condo market is pretty shaking right now and many pre-sale buyers may be looking for a way out of their contracts if they feel a market correction is taking place (condo prices are actually flat in Vancouver--the real price action is in Single Family Homes). Okay, I will go for a walk now. It finally stopped raining here in Vancouver.

عبد المنعم المشايخي said...

I just like to say that there is one major class that is the money renter class that need to be covered, being the most affluent class in society without tangible contribution to the real process of production,except its parasitic growth on the life of others.Thank you.

Joe Roberts said...

The only reason I am not convinced Trump will win is because he needs certain blocs of voters in certain states that he is unlikely to get. His comments about Latinos have alienated the great majority of them. While Texas will still vote for him and California won't, the balance in purple states like Florida could well be tilted by Americans of Puerto Rican (growing rapidly there) and Cuban heritage. Trump would have to do a lot of cozying up to these groups (sorry for the identity politics, but they are indeed influential in our current mindset/setup) before they'd forgive his racist comments, even if they were directed at another group of Latinos. As we've seen, close elections come down to a handful of states in the end, and in most of them, white wage-class voters (which do not vote all the same way anyway, of course) no longer constitute a clear enough majority to bring Trump to power. As recently as 2004, when Bush was elected, this constituency was large enough, and a sizable percentage of Latinos brought Bush a second term. I don't see that coalition working as well in 2016, and the demographics have shifted just enough in 12 years.

The caveat, which indeed may be applicable by November of this year, is a major financial meltdown (worse than what we've seen thus far) that would persuade enough voters in swing states to choose Trump's supposed business acumen and calming generalizations about "fixing everything."

Thinking more about the wage class vs. the salary class in my own company, it's rather striking (have thought about these things before but never quite in these terms). The wage class works at a completely different site in a different city about 60 miles away, where the company has a huge warehouse facility. They have their own holiday party and we have ours (partly attributable to being in a different location, admittedly, though not far enough away that we couldn't meet in the middle if that was a priority). Their last holiday party was in a big bar; ours was in a hotel. And so on and so forth: a completely different entity and group for all intents and purposes. If the geographical difference is clouding my point, think of, say, Target employees in their home city of Minneapolis. The salary class works in a fancy headquarters building downtown; the wage class works on the floor in the stores. The former does not look at the latter as equal partners in the enterprise, apart from perhaps in canned PR videos.

Bill Pulliam said...

Pondering Trump further, I'm not sure he is a genius, more like a savant. I think this all comes to him instinctively, not via design and planning. As a Reality TV star his gut tells him how to draw atttention and hold an audience. If he gets in office I expect actual governing may fall to his VP, much as it did with Bush II. So... Palin?

Andy said...

JMG Said: "Andy, it's more complex than that, of course, but the pathologization of dissent on the American left is uncomfortably familiar to those of us who remember how the Soviet Union used to do the same thing."
More complex, sure - no worries there. Speaking from the perspective of an old intel analyst that started his professional life studying and keeping eyes on the 'other side of the Iron Curtain', it was the realization that our politicians were using the same tactics we used to accuse the former Soviets of using that led me to leaving the Republican party. I didn't learn that the other parties suffered from the same disconnects until after I retired and had more time to look into such things. I don't think any member of any US party or segment of society has grounds to point any fingers at any other group at this point. Although...there are indications that one group deserves a few more "whacks from the principal's paddle" than the others. For an example - President Bush the younger requested assessments of extremist groups operating in the US. The paper prepared by "Homeland" Security (nice authoritarian name, that...) that described left-wing extremists (animal rights, environmental, social justice activists) was published, while the paper that described the right-wing groups was squashed and not released. The animal rights folks generally do not kill their fellow Americans, while it's very clear that right-wing extremists do regularly. Sigh.

Justin W. McCarthy: Two apologies if you please. First, I didn't mean to push back at you specifically when expressing my severe discomfort that not only is an armed insurrection happening in 'my' country but that it's being supported by Republican members of state and the US House. Second - My statement that none of the rump-militia are ranchers is incorrect. At least one, Finicum, is technically a rancher in Arizona. He's stated to the media that he doesn't make money from cattle, that he makes the income that supports his family from fostering children. Now that he's involved in various federal crimes, the children have been removed from his house. Again - I'm sorry for the push and the factual error.

Shane W said... "Andy,
regarding Bundy & his cohorts, I'm sure all that you say is true, and I'm sure that he's a bad messenger, but I don't think that invalidates the message. The issues are there, even if the messengers are quite tarnished."
Hi Shane. I hear you about the difference between the message and messenger. As I did with Ferguson, I've done my best to track every twist and turn of the uprising in Oregon from the beginning. So far I'm seeing the same type of messaging disconnects here than I've seen in other arenas. Bundy has his personal message and is learning how to use the media to get that message out. The former US Army rump-militia member that's been looking for excuses to go into camocosplay mode and bring along like-minded friends has found that when he contacts Bundy he's welcomed into the sandbox. Going deeper, ranchers have a strong disconnect with bodies such as BLM, as the BLM and Dept of the Interior are not the 'beef industry grounds maintenance division' that ranchers prefer - they have to maintain and preserve the land for all users, including hunters, hikers, birders, archaeologists, and the occasional grazing lease. Lots of different needs and messages out there. Some parts of some of the stories might actually be true, but finding the facts is like digging for gold...and the media seems to have a difficult time telling the gold and the grey rock apart.


Badbisco said...


Amazing post that clearly explains an issue that literally thousands of articles recently have failed to explain. It is spreading virally through my own social connections as we speak. Thanks so much.

PS - Paul Krugman's been attacking the Bern's single payer plan in his last few posts and the commentators are raking him over the coals. His comment that a "bronze plan is better than nothing" in particular has spawned countless clear explanations why that is not true. It's a great example of the disconnection and clueless nature of the elites. Krugman really does think that $4000 in annual premiums and a $6,000 deductible is of value to someone making $10 an hour!

DeVaul said...

Wow. I am a little impressed with your classification system of most Americans. It does seem to make sense to me in a lot of ways (not all, of course). It sure explains why I see certain groups supporting this or that candidate or political party. I had never given much thought to the existence of a "Salary Class", but it does exist and they appear to me to be in an unholy alliance with the super rich.

Most of the salaried class seems to include those people who oversee and maintain order in our society so that the super rich can move about freely without being robbed and killed. They include all politicians, all government employees, police, firemen, judicial officers, most lawyers, civil engineers, most corporate officers, the entire US armed forces, all independent contractors, and now even many medical doctors who actually work for a corporation that runs their clinic or hospital. I am sure there are more I cannot even think of.

Most of these men and women are upper middle class or remnants of the former middle class, and they are next on the list for "downsizing", and they know it. I have seen their panic with my own eyes at the law firm where I work as a lowly wage earner (so low that I am not even on the radar screen for those being considered for "termination"). They know their huge salary is not justified, but they do not want to give it up for any reason.

The buying power of the salary class might also explain a conundrum I have had since the year 1988, when I was with a group of law clerks and one loaned me a pencil and I noticed it was made in China. I wondered aloud why we needed pencils from China when we could just make them ourselves in a small factory right outside of town. One answered that they would cost more, and that it was cheaper to make them in China. I asked her how that could be and whether the cost of the pencil included the damage to the environment from the unregulated Chinese factory, the huge port facilities on both coasts, the voyage across the ocean by a supertanker tossing its trash right into the ocean, and then the huge warehouses and fleets of 18 wheelers needed in America just to bring the pencils to every store in the country? Her only answer was that it was cheaper, and that was all that mattered. All of the clerks were sons and daughters of salaried men, some even holding important positions in the city where I lived. They were all middle class or higher.

Cost was the only thing that mattered to them. Quality was irrelevant, and the cheap and toxic materials inside the Chinese pencils did not matter to them. Instead of owning an American made pencil and taking good care of it for several years, they wanted cheap, disposable pencils that required no maintenance or care on their part. Was it the salaried class that really brought us "crapification"?

I can only wonder now. A rich person would not care how much a pencil cost as they could buy one for a million dollars, and probably do. They might care if they are a CEO in a company that makes pencils, but beyond that, no.

Anyway, an interesting theory, and one that kind of follows the old police method: "follow the money".

John N. said...

@Larry Barber

Regarding Rick Wilson's inflammatory insult, I thought it might be helpful to point out that it wasn't merely the ramblings of a mad man, but has some context. He wasn't talking about bread-and-butter Trump supporters, but the subset concerned with white identity politics. This short piece touches on the anime connection. Of course, your point still stands. The contempt and panic of the out-of-touch establishment is on bare display, and his statements do his cause no favors.

Blueback said...

@ YVRinhabitant

You and certain others on the activist Left complain about all those “homophobic” Chinese and “patriarchal” Muslim immigrants, but who was it that insisted on opening the floodgates in the name of equality and human rights? Yes, that’s right: it was the “progressive” liberal left. The old saying about being hoist on one’s own petard comes to mind…

“The Vancouver School Board brought in genderless washrooms to accommodate transgendered kids.”

You do realize how bizarre that sort of thing sounds to most of the rest of world, don’t you? After all, middle class white liberals only make up a tiny percentage of the world’s population. Many of the things Western liberals have been pushing in the name of “equality”, “human rights” and “diversity” are regarded by most people in Asia, Africa, Russia and Dar al-Islam as further evidence of the moral and cultural degeneration of the West and the vast majority don’t want any part of it. In much of the world, genderless washrooms and slut walks are seen as a sign of Western decadence and moral decay, not progress.

Moreover, there are a great many people around the world who tend to see attempts by Western governments to pressure other cultures into adopting the current Western liberal orthodoxy on gay rights and same-sex marriage as yet another example of Western cultural imperialism, which is a major reason why there’s been a huge backlash against LGBT rights in places like Russia, sub-Saharan Africa and the Islamic world.

I never cease to be amazed at how self-referential and blinkered Western liberals really are. Just because Chinese and Muslims have different cultural values does not make them inferior or backwards, merely different. But to Western liberals, if you don’t agree with whatever the current politically correct orthodoxy is, that automatically makes you a “homophobe”, a “racist”, a “patriarchal oppressor”, a “fascist”, a beneficiary of “white privilege” or some other category which by definition makes you an evil person in the eyes of the post-modernist Left.

And given present demographic trends and other circumstances, who do you think is going to win in the long run: the “progressive” Western liberals and the LGBT crowd? Or all those East Asian, Latin American and Muslim immigrants who Western liberals have allowed to immigrate into their countries en masse and who tend to take a very dim view of such things on moral, cultural and religious grounds?

Cherokee Organics said...


Thank you. No need to reply. I look forward to your take on the education industry. Certainly there has been a lot of professional capture going on. It is a barrier to entry really. In the past, I’ve run a graduate program for a big corporate so I’ve certainly seen some interesting things.

As to Trump, well, I reckon that strategy is his most likely strategy. It worked in the past and he certainly has a lot to personally lose if inflation bites hard and deep - which it will anyway, he is just buying time. ;-)!

Respect for writing this entry and I shall not hassle you with further comments this week. I will respond to others comments though.



whomever said...

@YVRinhabitant: Your post about the changing role of Canada as a resource pump is very interesting, because I'm an Australian. And Australia is actually very similar to Canada in almost any way that matters (vast country, most of which is hard to live in, ex-UK colony that separated peacefully, etc etc). And the exact same vibe goes down in Australia. 19th century: UK prison farm. 1942: Hmm, there goes Singapore...bugger. Hey, Uncle Sam! Hello Sailor! And now it's so linked to the Chinese economy that it's likely the current events there will SERIOUSLY cause some pain. This was probably inevitable due to geography and so forth, but still...I suspect in about 10 years our leadership is going to have the awful realization that for existential reasons, we'll have to come on down on the side of China in some sort of China/US thing.

By the way: For the Americans reading: Australia SHOULD be your natural ally. We fought in Korea. We were so stupid we actually also sent troops to Vietnam (yes, really, not that any Americans realize we were there). And yet all the recent polls are showing that the US is....not very popular, especially after the debacle in Iraq (which, again, we were stupid enough to go there).. Think carefully, because if you lose Australia, who's left as your friends? Even the Canadians weren't stupid enough to follow your last few adventures.

YVRinhabitant said...


I think you are seriously misunderstanding my comments. You accuse me of being on the "activist left" and part of the "progressive liberal left".

My comments are highly critical of the activist left and the progressive liberal left! I am pointing out the hypocrisy of the left. I don't support allowing all these Syrian refugees into Canada. I don't support rampant immigration and TFWs. I want a ban on foreign ownership of real estate in Canada--hello, that is totally not in the discussions in the left wingin Canada. I said I am a member of the working class/wage class in Canada and I was talking about the NDP, social democratic party. I am a socialist, not a liberal. I would never vote for Democrats or the Republicans because neither of those parties represent my beliefs, except perhaps Bernie Sanders if he truly is about democratic socialism. I am also rooting for Trump for many of the reasons that the JMG explained in his blog post.

With all due respect, this is the thing that can get really difficult when speaking politics with Americans. You Americans have had your political discourse not fully developed because you only have 2 parties. How can 2 parties represent the diversity of 300 million people? That is why everything is so polarized because everything is black and white or red versus blue. In Canada we have lots of different political parties to pick from, although we are moving more toward an American style for politics here too. This 2 party system is why every issue is portrayed as a binary. Take abortion. You're either pro-life or pro-choice. Can't someone have another opinion besides one of those two opinions? I have a third opinion or a fourth opinion that doesn't fall into one of those two boxes.

You are lumping me in with liberals because you can't see that there is a difference between liberals and socialists. Liberals to me are right wing. Especially that word has different meaning in Canada (but I've been using it with the American meaning in this discussion).

When I said I was an activist, I meant I was an activist in the sense that I came out in high school in the 90s when it was very difficult to do so. I think every out gay person in the 90s was an activist because they helped bring it into the mainstream. I'm not really some big gay rights activist. I don't have time for activism because I am a wage slave and I have to go to work. And as I said, I'm more interested in class politics--not that I'm doing an activism on that front either.

John Michael Greer said...

Mustard, a fine example of the sneering mockery I discussed!

Rita, it's one of the embarrassing features of globalization that the tame intellectuals of so many other societies have taken to aping the bad habits of ours.

Tim, so noted and many thanks for the link! Double-entry bookkeeping sounds like an unusually honest way to analyze an economy -- no wonder it's so unpopular.

Ron, glad to hear it.

Edde, exactly. As I noted in a previous comment, the salary class in recent decades has pulled off an economic coup d'etat against the investment class; where corporations were once tightly managed by boards of directors elected by the shareholders, salaried executives now run them pretty much at will, resulting in the culture of executive kleptocracy that's running so much of what's left of the US economy into the ground.

Shane, yep. The GOP establishment is as scared of him as the Dem establishment is of Sanders.

FiftyNiner, one way or another 2016 seems guaranteed to end in political chaos here in the US. As for the elderly women advising you to stay away from doctors, I'm delighted to hear that word is getting around. They're quite correct, of course, and one of the very few things that might force America's fantastically corrupt, dysfunctional, and dangerous health care system into meaningful reform is if consumers of medical care simply stop consuming it. (The fine for not buying into Obamacare, btw, is considerably cheaper than the cheapest premium my wife and I can get, btw, and since the insurance that buys doesn't cover enough to keep us out of bankruptcy if we have to use it, I know which I'd rather pay.)

Unknown, I didn't say that the salary class were the only ones to benefit; I said that they'd benefited disproportionately from the forcing down of wages. That the bottom end of the salary class is next on the chopping block is another matter, of course, and may explain a lot of Sanders' support.

YVR, it does indeed. I'm sorry to say that when Canadians sing that line in "O Canada" about "the true North strong and free," people elsewhere in the world snicker.

Nastarana, I recommend living in a town where there's a lot of poverty. I routinely pay my utility bills at City Hall in person, and the clerks there are perfectly pleasant.

Troy, of course that's possible, but there are at least two drastic downsides to any such action. The first is that it would likely mean the end of the GOP -- not just its defeat in one election, but the organization of an alternative party that would sweep into power in its place four years later. The second is that at this point, I'm far from certain Hillary Clinton will be the Dem candidate -- her campaign is astonishingly inept, and she herself is all but phoning in a candidacy. If Sanders gets the Dem nomination, do you really think the GOP establishment will stand aside and let him get into office? Au contraire, I think they'd hold their nose and vote for Trump, just as the Dem elite will hold its nose and vote for Sanders, to keep the other from moving into 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

YVR, that is to say, the salary class is losing its cool. It's starting to sink in that their pet candidates are being shut out by a pair of rebels who have figured out how to appeal to the masses.

Blueback said...

If you any of you want some great unintentional comedy, go have a lot at the National Review's website. It's filled with anti-Trump diatribes every bit as bad as anything you would expect from the liberal end of the salary class. Check it out, it's a real laugh riot!

Here are some sample headlines:

- Against Trump: Trump is a philosophically unmoored political opportunist who would trash the broad conservative ideological consensus within the GOP

- Donald Trump Is a Recent Conservative Convert — It’s Too Soon for Him to Lead

- When Conservatives Needed Allies, Donald Trump Sided with Obama

- Conservatives Should Ask, ‘Does Trump Walk with Us?’

- Donald Trump Is Not the Moral Leader We Need

Oh, and it looks like pseudoconservative establishment is starting to go after Sarah Palin as well for the crime of endorsing Trump. It looks like the Republican establishment is beginning to panic.

The smell of desperation is in the air from both the liberal and conservative wings of the salary class. The more I see this kind of shrill demagoguery, the more it makes me and a whole lot of other people want to go out and vote for Trump. Most of my conservative friends are definitely rooting for him these days.

John Michael Greer said...

Ray, good. The different classes have different cultures, and thus different values; it'll be interesting to see what kind of culture and values the subsistence class evolves over time.

Samson, interesting. I'll want to see whether your take is as common as you believe it is, but I admit it wouldn't surprise me if that were the case; in the one field where I keep an eye on the social-justice scene, the field of science fiction writing and fandom, I've seen quite a bit of abusive and bullying behavior on the part of those who claim to be standing up for social justice -- and yes, careers have been destroyed there, in ways that frankly justify your term "witch hunt." (And I say this as a close friend of witches.) If in fact your views are widely held, Trump's ascent could be even more rapid than I've anticipated.

Blueback, yep, I saw it when it first came out last year. I took it as a very Russian kind of joke -- and evidence that whatever proto-insurgent groups Russia may be funding in the US, Mexican separatists in the Southwest aren't among them.

Akshay, good question. Myself, I wonder if people of color in the wage class are as offended by Trump as the salary class is telling them they should be...

Mister R., granted, but when it's being used as a way to divert attention from the real and justifiable grievances that, for example, Trump supporters have, it needs to be recognized as an evasion.

YVR, when I was going to college in Bellingham, WA in the early Eighties, Van was already wildly overpriced in terms of rent and housing prices; I don't even want to think about what it's turned into since then. Have you considered relocation to some other place less insanely expensive?

(name I can't parse), I covered that class in my post -- it's a subcategory of the investment class, of course.

Joe, here again, you're assuming that people will vote in blocs according to the biologically linked categories I discussed in my post. Yes, I'm aware the media has been insisting on that at the top of its collective lungs, but it might have occurred to you -- and it certainly has to me -- that the media, which is staffed by the salary class and reliably reflects its take on things, might have, ahem, an agenda to promote in making that claim...

Bill, that's possible. As for his veep, nah -- my guess is that he'll pull a Dubya and choose a running mate who's got decades of experience in government and plenty of street cred in the GOP.

Andy, I probably need to do a post someday discussing the ways that policy toward dissidents here in the US follows the logic of counterinsurgency. Groups that are heavily armed and well organized, like the militia currently holed up in Oregon, get handled with kid gloves because a display of government force could trigger a full-blown insurgency; groups that are marginal, poorly organized, and poorly armed, like African-Americans, get stomped with all available force to try to terrorize them into submission. Here again, assume that the federal government expects to fight a full-blown domestic insurgency right here on US soil, and is frantically trying to delay the inevitable and position itself to survive once the roadside bombs start going off.

Badbisco, you're welcome and thank you. I'd say that Krugman is the Marie Antoinette of today's America, but that much-abused queen doesn't deserve such an insult.

DeVaul, excellent. It really does clarify things, doesn't it?

Blueback said...

One more thing:

Vladimir Putin has made it clear that he believes Donald Trump is the front runner in the 2016 presidential contest and that he has a great deal of respect for Trump.

Putin said:

"He is a bright personality, a talented person, no doubt about it," the Russian leader said. "It is not up to us to appraise his positive sides, it is up to the U.S. voters. but, as we can see, he is an absolute leader in the presidential race."

Putin added: "He is saying that he wants to move to a different level of relations with Russia, to a closer, deeper one. How can we not welcome that? Of course, we welcome that."

However, Putin said it was "not up to us to make judgments" on Trump's remarks on U.S. issues or "other means he uses to boost his popularity."

John Michael Greer said...

Blueback, yes, I saw it, and chuckled. The salary class is the salary class, and it's not just the leftward end of it that resorts to shrill mockery in response to any questioning of its self-appointed privilege!

One other comment -- as YVRinhabitant pointed out, you leapt to all sorts of unwarranted conclusions in your response to him. I know a lot of gay men and lesbians, and it simply isn't true that all of them subscribe to the kind of leftward ideology you assumed he must have -- quite the contrary, their views on most subjects are as diverse as those of, say, heterosexuals. The assumption that all gay people form a single monolithic voting bloc is exactly the kind of fixation on biologically derived divisions I critiqued in my post, and it's just as misleading when applied from the right as from the left. 'Nuf said.

Tidlösa said...

Could be of some interest. The Republican magazine National Review devotes an entire issue to attacks on Trump by leading conservatives!

After reading JMG´s analysis (sorry for the sycophancy!), we all know why, don´t we?

John Michael Greer said...

A general comment: I meant to say in response to those who've commented on the number of comments here -- I just checked the post that currently holds the all time Archdruid Report record for most comments, The Heresy of Technological Choice, and yes, we're right about on track to rival or surpass that post's total of 413 comments. Keep it civil but keep 'em coming!

YVRinhabitant said...

Yes, I said it. I'm a gay socialist and I support Donald Trump. Put that in your pipe and smoke it, Hilary Clinton!

YVRinhabitant said...

"Have you considered relocation to some other place less insanely expensive?"

I dream of it all the time. Vancouver has turned into a hell hole. There was a survey out recently that showed Vancourites are the most unhappiest people in Canada. It really is a terrible place, socially speaking. It used to be a really cool, unique city in the 80s and 90s. The things that made it cool have all gone away with the speculative real estate mania and the rampant immigration.

Where would I go?

Only a handful of cities in Canada where it's safe to be gay and where there are jobs and infrastructure. The entire country is in a real estate bubble so the housing prices are almost as bad in Toronto. I don't speak French so Montreal is off the list. Ditto for Ottawa because you can't get a job with the federal government unless you speak French. The oil economy is crashing in Alberta so that takes Calgary and Edmonton off the list. What does that leave? Winnipeg is a mosquito-infested city that feels like it's in Siberia. But the real estate is cheaper there, maybe I should go. Or I guess there's Halifax. Somtimes I dream of going to the USA. I would love to even just live in Seattle or somewhere in California. But the US won't let me in because I don't really have job skills that they need. And actually, to tell you the truth, I would be scared to live in the US right now. I also have family connections in Vancouver that make it difficult to leave.

Wendy Crim said...

I don't disagree with anything written here and I don't give a hoot which puppet becomes the next president.
The only thing I take issue with (and maybe it's a typo) is the line close to the end about "he's only saying what you'll hear people say in wage earning taverns and bowling alleys whenever Muslims come up", etc. ( I know that's not the exact line.) Did you mean the Salary class is saying those things?

Now, I'm a wage earner and I sling lunches at a place that serves $15 an entree plates to the doctors, surgeons and hospital CEOs that work across the street. I over hear their conversations everyday. They are the biggest bunch of bigoted redneck loudmouths ever. Yes, the college educated salaried class. And they love Trump. All of them love trump. I just figured he was the rich guys candidate, not the poor mans. Maybe it's because I'm in the Midwest?

Meanwhile, we poor schleps on the serving side consist of multiple "illegals" from Mexico, Cuba, Dominican Republic and Hondurus. And we've got gays and lesbians, too. And none of us can afford to hang out at bowling alleys! We are too broke. (Maybe that's bc we don't even earn a wage but work for tips. What class does that make us, I wonder?). So we do things the people we serve find quaint- read for fun, grow gardens, help each other out and think for ourselves.

But I 110% agree with everything else. The salaried class have not done much good and I just have to smile when I'm cleaning a table and next to me the white guy is talking about having to cut his recent European trip short because they might need to redo the kitchen. They are just "too strapped" right now. While I hope to make enough to walk over and pay my electric bill next week. True story.

Those educated salaried types love Trump here in middle America, though, they really do. I hear it everyday. And my experience, the more "educated" they are, the more prejudice they get. People always let vitriol fly when they think no one is listening. And even if I was, I'm just the help. So the CEOs and surgeons from the suburbs come into the city to work and talk about golf, how scary brown people are and how much they love Trump over lunch. I guess someone has to do it, I'm just glad it's not me.

Greenie said...

Very nice post, JMG.

" I just checked the post that currently holds the all time Archdruid Report record for most comments, The Heresy of Technological Choice, and yes, we're right about on track to rival or surpass that post's total of 413 comments."

Two high-comment posts within months ! It looks like you understand the pulse of the nation fairly well. You even made Stoneleigh to comment in this one.

I read only three of your books, and need to finish more before the system shuts down.

YVRinhabitant said...


Yes, I am aware of the similarities between Canada and Australia. Most Canadians are ignorant of the fact that, in many respects Canada has much more in common with Australia than the US. We're basically sister countries. Our currencies move in the same direction too as we are both natural resource countries. I would love to go to Australia or even move there. But then again, it has a lot of the same problems as Canada and Vancouver. The only other city on Earth that matches Vancouver for Chinese investment in real estate is Sydney. I would be heading for more of the same problems there too. I love Australian people. Also, I think it is much healthier to live in the southern hemisphere. It is much less polluted than the northern hemisphere.

Nastarana said...

Mr. Greer, I do live in a city which has high poverty, and blocks of abandoned factories. I think you for your analysis and understanding. What I am trying to express is that this is not theoretical. Working people are subjected to a barrage of daily insult and abuse from supervisors, personnel managers, police, school officials, and God help you if you tangle with the tin gods at CPS. A close relative had children taken temporarily into placement, which needed to happen, and she needed to get her act together, but such a lot of incompetent, condescending, opinionated fools and buffoons I hope never again to encounter all gathered into one place.

look sie said...

This comment is directed to Blueback. Mr. Greer's post this week touches on the smug dismissiveness and knee-jerk responses that characterize so much of what passes for discourse in American political debate. As many Canadian posts have noted, the same could most certainly be said of Canada (and Europe!). Yet you have displayed this very same behavior in your response to YVRinhabitant. If you took the time to actually read his posts you would realize that not all Gay men are reflexive and unthinking leftie progressives. Believe it or not, some of us are capable of independent thought. I tried to make that clear in my post above. Although I recognize your valid points on the obtuseness of so much of the Left, believe me, pal, many Gay men also share your concerns. We are genuinely apprehensive when we try to gauge what effect the introduction of 50,000 Muslims will have on Canadian society. For those of us who are older (I'm nearly 60) and remember how free we felt in the Amsterdam of the 80's and 90's before the coming of so many Muslims, the tenseness you feel in that city now is both sad and a warning. You want to hope for the best but you are not blind to the facts on the ground. To YVRinhabitant and Shane, I'd like to share something a very wise old Gay man told me when I first came out in the mid-70's. I remember him fixing me with a cool (in the sense of dispassionate) stare and saying, "It never behooves a homosexual to be a fool. Never has, never will." Words to live by, gents, and a consolation when you find yourself in a roomful of fools.

look sie said...

I just finished posting my comment and I see now that the Archdruid has also (very civilly) chastised Blueback for jumping to conclusions.

Chester said...

Thanks for this, JMG.

I'm a salary class stereotype -- a new media journalist with a Master's degree living inside the Beltway. And I have been sneering at the Trump candidacy from the getgo, though acknowledging that he and Bernie (who I like) have a lot in common.

I just finished "Open Veins of Latin America" by Eduardo Galearno and from his descriptions of class conflict, I feel like the American salaried class now more accurately describes the dwindling technocrats of your typical banana republic.

Got to make sure I keep the blinders off.

pygmycory said...

With reference to transgendered people and bathrooms, I know that not all that many people are affected, but having had a member of my family get attacked by a security guard for the crime of attempting to go to the toilet, I find it a hard issue to ignore.

furiousxgeorge said...

This is an excellent analysis that I wish basically everybody who talks about politics in America would read and absorb.

However, I think you completely skipped over the issue of most importance with the destruction of the wage class. You blame both the left and the right for the destruction, but how can you possibly write an article about the downfall of the wage class and not even once use the word UNIONS!? That oversight is a fatal flaw in your conclusion of cross-party/ideology blame.

The labor movement was THE vehicle for the political power of the wage class. They lack influence now because ONE side, not both, actively destroyed that vehicle. One side is even today going to the Supreme Court to reduce the power of unions even further! It's not the left that destroyed the wage class, it's the people who eviscerated organized labor through legislation.

Joaquim Conde said...

I worked for a guy who employed illegal workers, who possessed a good amount of skill at what they did. The fact that he underpaid them caused everybody's wages to be lower then they should have been. He got away with it because the staff developed relationships and became empathic of the illegals situation and no one would ever blow the whistle on him. This is one dynamic that I can attest for, and I'm certain that there are thousands of work places like this. Anything like a housekeeper all the way to a highly skilled too&dye maker. The reality is that the investor class has no interest in building any kind of social equity and the Salary class is completely permissive of the practices.
Great work John.

Justin said...

Regarding the pushback against SJWism - I think if a candidate found an effective way to capture just how sick most people are of SJWs without suggesting that the advances in equality for LGBQ+ people, women and nonwhites be rolled back to some mythical past state of patriarchal, homophobic, racist bliss they would get broad support.

For example, in Canada, there is currently a big furor about the plight of missing and murdered aboriginal women - which is great, except the uncomfortable truth is that aboriginal men and boys are murdered at double to triple the rate of aboriginal women. Trudeau 2 has appointed a gender-and-race-balanced Cabinet, because 'its 2015'. We sold 15 billion dollars worth of armored vehicles to a country that beheads people for being gay. Trudeau was on the radio talking about how he's raising his son to be a feminist. It is racist to question Islam even though I would lose my job if I said that I expect my future wife to be an obedient homemaker - never mind what would happen if I said I expected my future wife to have sex with me whenever I wanted. (Not that these ideas are exclusive to or universal in Islam!)

We have an anticulture here in Canada (and elsewhere in the West), which entirely consists of a big list of things that one does not say, do, or ideally, think. At least not in polite company, although I am noticing a change here. It seems to me like people have a powerful need to belong to a group, and are quite willing to make sacrifices for the betterment of the group. Trump and Sanders, and the demagogues that the NDP and the Conservatives (and possibly a fringe party) will deploy in the next Canadian election, are tapping into peoples desires to form groups that don't have anything to do with sports teams or irrelevant political parties like the GOP and DNC.

I really can't predict the future of Canadian politics. Trudeau has a majority, so if he keeps his MP's in line as effectively as Harper did, he can avoid an election until 2020 if he wants to. In the States, as much as I like Bernie Sanders, I don't expect to see him participating in the election. Regarding the notion of Trump being in cahoots with Hilary at one point or another - well, it makes sense. Create a false dialectic to polarize voters against each other in a way that splits them along imaginary divisions while ignoring the actual issues. The ruling party then creates the illusion that ideas most people don't like are associated with a certain class of people whose political interests oppose that of the ruling class. A vote for Trump is a vote for racism, not a vote for pulling back the treaties that eviscerated the working class. A vote for Hilary is a vote for feminism, not a vote for more failed imperialistic policies.

If you take the conspiratorial viewpoint that the elections are a dog and pony show designed to channel people's anger, frustration and aspirations into the 'political process', then this election is nearly as perfect of a show as 2008. The evil racist white man who appeals to the working class vs. the woman who will send all our daughters to university to become app developers at facebook or whatever.

Of course, Hilary is so bad at her job - despite the tremendous resources deployed to help her - that it looks like the elites really are this clueless. I do really hope we'll see Sanders vs. Trump - it would be a fascinating election to watch, possibly the first interesting one in my adult life. If we see one of the interchangeable GOP suits vs. Hilary, well, that's going to be ugly.

Genevieve Hawkins said...

Great article I had to share. You mentioned something about class divisions that I had never seen before.
I should note my own theory about the rise of both Trump and Sanders. After two presidents who blatantly lied to the American people, from "Mission Accomplished" and "Weapons of Mass Destruction" to "If you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor," both have tapped into American's fear of another corrupt, bought off politician. Trump by saying he's a billionaire and can't be bought off while Sanders promotes his appeal to the little guy in an Occupy redo. Clinton's campaign is self destructing because she has no trust that whatever she says now is not going to change later other than the vague idea that maybe because she has a vagina she'll have a greater social conscience. Not a good strategy women change their minds even more often than men. :-P

Degringolade said...

God rest his soul, but the late Joe Bageant had a wonderful pre-article about just this subject.,_are_you_about_to_join_the_white_underclass

I do miss him....I could just imagine him in comment in this essay

Donald Hargraves said...

I actually read somewhere that, if it goes down to Hillary vs The Donald, around twenty percent of registered Democrats would vote for Trump. While it may have been Pro-Sanders scaremongering, I find it believable enough. After all, didn't the press and the Democratic Party try to coronate her once already?

And as for the health insurance, $4,000 in premiums with a $6,000 deductible would be a Silver policy. That's what I have, and only because of subsidies from various sources.

Justin said...

This might be of some interest. It's an interesting parallel between social justice progress and technological progress. Both really have nowhere to go even though they've given us a few good things, some of which we might even get to keep. But we need to decide who we are and where we're going first.

James M. Jensen II said...

Re: SJWs

One aspect of the SJWs that's going to help Trump is the left seems to me to be in the opening bouts of a civil war over its bullies, and Hillary's campaign seems poised to open the doors for that to spill out onto the campaign trail.

A lot of us on toward the leftward end of things are actually quite opposed to what we see as the hypocrisy and creeping authoritarianism of the SJWs. The pillorying of Brendan Eich is a good example here: a respected, experienced computer scientist was harassed into leaving his post as CEO of the Mozilla Foundation for the crime of having political opinions nearly half the country share and making a contribution to a political cause that failed. As I said at the time: can we lefties not even win gracefully?

Or consider the campaign against "cultural appropriation," which managed to reason itself from "don't be disrespectful of other cultures' traditions" into a half-baked cultural separatism. (I suspect this will be one of the accelerants of the downfall of the modern Neopagan scene, for obvious reasons.)

What really galls me is that this segment of the left is increasingly indistinguishable in its methods and mentality from the sort of far-right Rush Limbaugh conservatism I was raised in and angrily abandoned as an adult. There's a real feeling of betrayal when I see such blatant authoritarianism, double-standards, and "with-us-or-against-us" mentality from people I should be agreeing with.

I'm still hopeful that Sanders can (a) win the nomination and (b) stand his ground against (or at least successfully ignores) pressure from the social-justice bullies. If both those things don't happen, Mickey Mouse is going to start looking pretty presidential for me. I doubt I'm alone in those feelings.

Shane W said...

but Canada DOES have a Trump, and you all elected him before we did. How can you forget Rob Ford, same cloth, same constituency, however, not as shrewd or controlled as the Donald, IMHO.
Speaking of Ford, Trump, & minorities, it's entirely possible that Trump does better with minorities than the media says. Ford did really well with working class minorities in spite of comments about Orientals, etc.
it's a myth that Latin America is uniformly socially conservative. Argentina legalized same-sex marriage before the US. Same-sex marriage will probably become legal hemisphere-wide save a section of Central America in the near future, as countries that haven't yet legalized it grapple with it. Latin America is not THAT far off from North America & Europe on social issues.
For me, all the jokes regarding the wage class are laughing at pathos. Pathos is not funny. If people are sick because they eat over processed, cheap food full of crap, that is not funny, it's sad. If people resort to drug abuse and alcoholism, that is not funny. If people resort to violence, that is sad. If people who used to carry themselves with a sense of dignity, class, purpose, and grace no longer do so, that is not funny, it is sad. So all the redneck/white trash jokes are not funny, they're laughing at pathos.

Shane W said...

so right regarding different groups treatment. I've been watching the coverage of Flint, and for the life of me, I don't get what those poor people expect to accomplish waving posterboard around. I mean, really, do they think anyone who has the power to do anything is really listening? It just seems so clueless to me--I'd love to see them take up arms and storm city hall in Flint or the capital in Lansing...

Caryn said...

JMG & Friends;
Not to be too off topic, but 'Speaking of Climate Change!': Good morning from the snowy, winter wonderland of Hong Kong! We are very excited here to experience our first snow since 1868 this weekend. Bringing my terrace garden inside to avoid frost. Unfortunately yesterday, our school did our first student led roof-top garden planting. The kids were thrilled and did a great job. Bad timing, I warned the project leaders,(not kidding, HK is expecting snow this weekend), hopefully I and the weather-folk are wrong.

@JMG: Thank You again for this thoughtful baldly realistic analysis, No worries if you haven't the time to reply. I doubt I will add any controversy or pearls of wisdom my fellow commenters have not brought up already.

You've said so now a number of times, so, I confidently interpret your categorical divisions as more SOCIO-economic than strictly by means of pay, i.e.: time- clock vs. salary vs. dividends, etc. It's true there are sub-cultural distinctions in attitudes, daily lifestyles, political and socio-political beliefs passed down in families that often cross the lines of how one gets one's daily bread; nonetheless these 4 are very useful categories for discussion.

I've personally lived a fair chunk of time in 3 of these economic classes and dallied, arguably amongst the 4th, the top class as well. I guess that's not uncommon for an artist, (class-let!) or an expat. I often, almost always feel like an outsider, like some social anthropologist studying the strange, intriguing beliefs and habits of an alien civilization, never more so than in my interactions with the upper levels of the salaried class. (The investment class, like the welfare class don't talk a lot about money, the ups and downs of the economy or politics doesn't change either of their daily lifestyles much.) But the salary class: It always fascinates and amazes me how severe their general lack of understanding of the lower groups is, or their willingness to understand! That unwillingness, reluctance to empathize, (I guess you could say, that 'willful ignorance') is truly what baffles me. I don't mean that as a slam; I really do feel like an anthropologist when I talk these lucky members of the salary and investment classes, I am truly interested in understanding them without prejudice, as I think that's the only way TO genuinely understand anyone. I, like many fellow commenters here, feel more effortlessly at ease with my wage-class roots. I don't find them to be as alien to me. That's just my personal feeling and background.

Caryn said...


I do want to add: I've seen 1 article saying It's been analyzed scientifically, and Trump's popularity comes down to the fact that his speeches are all at the 4th Grade level of comprehension. Now, no doubt that was simply a slam at his supporters' intelligence and education. It did occur to me however that broad speeches on a simple and clear level are something all of us can appreciate. Working daily with 4th graders, it's not such a terrible slam as one might think. Their clarity, comprehension and connective/derivative skills are not bad, not beneath a good discussion. I mean, personally I like a good dose of ADR / intellectual discussion on my own, High-falutin', Ivy-League, post graduate level; but I can also appreciate a clear simple message, no complication when none is needed; Can't everyone?!

Another analysis said, (and I may have actually read it here, so forgive me if I'm parroting); The difference between Trump's message and Sanders's is that Sanders want's to help the Poor, but the Poor don't want to think of themselves in that demeaned, disparaged class. Trump never actually calls them 'poor'. When talking about policies that would help the poor, he calls them hard-working Americans or tax-paying middle class. Maybe that's another dog-whistle, but they know who they are, they get it. They prefer Trump's approach as it allows them some dignity in their plight.

I hope you are wrong in your prediction of his presidency, but I'm not going to take a bet. His use of easy scapegoats is frightening. My 4th graders could actually come up with better proposals than "I'm going to fix it. It really needs to be fixed, so I'm just going to fix it!" without any suggestion as to HOW?

Caryn said...


From the other side of the ocean, in Hong Kong, I am familiar with your concerns about the Wealthy Chinese buying up much of Vancouver, (and don't forget Whistler, "Who DOESN'T have a holiday home in Whistler?"!). I don't know if I have any insight that is helpful to you, but of course we see it here as well.
This has been accelerating since just before the Hong Kong hand-over in 1997. The wealthy were simply hedging their bets, getting a foothold, (and their money) OUT of HK before "it changed", before Beijing took over, before they couldn't. Apparently, the Canadian Govt. allowed anyone to immigrate as long as they brought with them at least $1 million Canadian. True? Well, since the hand-over, HK has changed somewhat, but not the Beijing crack-down, neo-Cultural Revolution everyone was fearing, so, now it's the wealthy Mainlanders who are either emigrating, or warehousing their money and assets, either here in HK or in Canada. Vancouver is definitely the city of choice. They are 'fleeing' potential economic collapse, or perhaps just laundering ill-gotten gains. As a very common thought is that there are NO Chinese billionaires who's fortunes were made without some serious illegality and probably a lot of blood along the way.

Beijing is definitely trying to put up road blocks to keep the assets here, and to be fair, they've made a show of jailing some billionaires and business tycoons caught doing things illegally.

Here we see many luxury apt.s and offices sitting empty, literally warehoused assets. I'm wondering if for all of the immigrants you encounter there, that the empty 'unsellable' luxury real estate is also owned by an even larger contingent of absentee owners? Just as you describe, probably worse - housing prices for actual residents are astronomical and create a real breaking point for many people.

OTOH: Your facing homophobia or prejudice from Chinese immigrants, while I can intellectually understand you; My experiences in HK are somewhat different. I wonder why this is? I mean, I'm giving it a wide berth, because I'm not gay, so I wouldn't experience this aggression first hand, but I have many openly gay friends here who have said they have not faced it at all, beyond the infamous Cantonese bluntness. IOW: everyone here receives indelicate 'insults' from the locals. It's just laughed off, it does not affect one's legal rights, or economic prospects, (unless you are Filipino, Indian or Sri Lankan - they are definitely prejudiced against these). I'm wondering if, and if so why these people would be different in Canada after immigrating. (?)

Caryn said...

Samson J:

"Observe that although salaried classes enjoy greater life security in general, it's been easy enough in recent years for SJWs to derail a salaried career over essentially trivial "infractions". You need to realize that white-collar, salaried conservatives are actually much MORE vulnerable to SJW witchhunts than wage-earners, and we know it. (The tally is lengthy; I think The Blaze or some other website was compiling a list a year or so ago, of all the people who have lost their jobs due to SJW "nonsense" infractions.) "

Can you give an example of this? I don't know what you mean. How are SJW's, ("Social Justice Warriors") ruining the lives of people, (white, salaried males only or any other demographic)? Who are being ruined? Can you provide examples please ?

Caryn said...

Oh, Last thing,

I did want to plug, for anyone who still has or watches TV, a documentary series called "Making A Murderer". It's gotten a ton of press and commentary, so if you do still have and watch TV you've definitely heard of it.

We just finished the series (Netflix). I would recommend it because it felt to me so packed with info on the class divide as experienced in the judicial system. For me there was also quite a lot of telling information on 'the Poor' and the divide socially.

It's not fun or easy viewing, but if anyone is interested, it's very informative. I recommend it.

PunditusMaximus said...

I'm related to a lot of the (white, male, cisgender) working class in person. While of course I want them to have reasonably good lives, good grief they are consumed by their hatred for people of color and women.

That doesn't mean I particularly enjoy my time around salary-class folks either; their cheerful condemnation of the great mass of humanity to endless drudgery is miserable to be near.

I have a few close friends I spend a lot of time with. Otherwise, I have a tough time hanging with strangers.

Hubertus Hauger said...

I compare Trump with public ridiculers of him, like Bill Maher. What I see, are entertainers, which use their loudspeaking talents ritualistically. So they help each other to gather an audience and earning their support. Promoting each other in a sort of bad cop good cop ritual respecivelly, for each of their followers.

As JMG has pointed out, Trump is a professional in promoting his bussines publicly. So is Bill Maher. They are in the same branch of industry anyway. And the agressive marketing strategies of today are rather not submitting bare matter of fact describtions. Most people would be bored by that. So they must be entertained with jucie drama. In order to lure their audience into bying their product.

Also I heard JMG frequently mentioning how many people he confronted with the the end of wealth due to peak everything, who then obviously been irritaded, returned to their own narrative or simply ignored it. Often we people react on bare facts like our hand bathing in muriatic acid. Terribly alarmed!

Our nervous emotional state needs constantly be soothed. Besides of our sleepy observance being attracted.

Quite a temptation, to us drama to get attention. But then how to return from the space of fantasy back to the bare reality. You may loose your customer, if you change of from the entertainment to education.

Anyway, that connection between fantasy and reality I see rather damaged. And I am less hopeful even. I consider being in stressful times, returning to the harsh reality is even less desired than under relaxed circumstances. So the bias will grow, until ... reality takes its toll.

beneaththesurface said...

An early closing at work today, due to a snowstorm that could dump of a total 2+ feet of snow in our nation's capital, has given me extra time to catch up on comments... So many!

After I graduated from college in early 2000s, I was unsure of my career path. I probably had the option of becoming a salaried employee at the time, but was not excited about the salaried job options, which I felt would confine my generalist, eclectic mind. So since then I've worked a series of mostly part-time wage jobs, with the idea that I'd pursue my intellectual and creative interests on my own. It's been a bumpy road, with a lot of uncertainty, but I'm finally feeling content in this path.

I haven't been in school now for almost as long as the 17 years I was in school, and this has helped rekindle my love of learning, reading, and discover who I am. It has given me a different kind of education, one that can only be experienced outside the academic industry.

Anyway, one thing I've often reflected on: Of the jobs I've had, there is an inverse relationship to how difficult, stressful, and tiresome a job has been to the wage I received for doing it (and its prestige). This realization is humbling, forcing me to reexamine my feelings towards people who do jobs I wouldn't want to do, who make my comfortable lifestyle possible.

My most stressful, exhausting job was at a hectic bakery soon after college. I was paid $7.25 an hour. I had to get up at 4 a.m. every day. I would stand up for many hours and the work was rushed non-stop. Breaks weren't allowed; if I had to go to the bathroom, I had to go as quickly as possible. The supervisor would constantly yell at workers for every slight mistake. Customers didn't show that much respect to us. Plus, I was never paid on time; I would repeatably present my boss a document I had kept with hours I had worked to remind him to pay me, and several weeks later he finally would. My co-workers didn't want to challenge the working conditions since many of them were illegal immigrants. I thought I might have had time outside of work to pursue hobbies, but I found when I came home I was too exhausted to do much else.

I remember how there were times when I went to social gatherings where it was obvious that people looked down on the work I was doing. I also think of an acquaintance of mine, who earned a hefty salary, saying that his boss gave him very little to do, so much of the day he would surf the Internet and pursue non-work projects, and still got paid. Yet, his job title carried way more prestige than mine then. An awareness of such contrasts certainly contributes to the resentment the wage class feels.

The job I currently have, working part-time at a public library, provides the highest hourly wage I've ever had. (While some people still might think it's not much, compared to my other jobs and for my modest lifestyle, I have nothing to complain about.) Of the jobs I've had, it is the most relaxed and enjoyable (the main stress I feel is being at odds with the direction libraries are going, but that's a different kind of stress; the day-to-day tasks are not tiresome). Sometimes the library is busy, but other times it is completely quiet while I sit at the reference desk, and have ample time to draw artwork for book displays, think, or glance at interesting books. I get breaks and paid vacation. It feels so different than the work I had to do to get only $7.25 an hour.

John Michael Greer said...

Tidlösa, some interest, or at least some amusement.

YVR, understood. As a heterosexual guy with a portable job, I know I have a lot easier time relocating than many other people do, but I figured it was worth asking.

Wendy, thanks for the data point. As for where working-for-tips employees go, that's a useful question that would have to be worked out if this sketch of mine becomes a bona fide theory; I'd want to get some sense of how closely their interests match those of people in the lower end of the wage class, for starters.

Greenie, I tend to think of it as sheer dumb luck. But please do read as many of my books as possible. ;-)

Nastarana, fair enough; I'm not sure why my experience here is so different, then.

Look Sie, that's good advice, and not just for gay people.

Chester, you're welcome and thank you.

Pygmycory, understood.

George, the gutting of the unions was only one factor, and not the most important one, in the destruction of the wage class. I would have mentioned it if I'd had the space and the inclination to write a complete history of the fall of the American wage class, but that's a project for another day, and quite possibly another author.

Justin, that's a good point -- and if people on the leftward end of things were to be more vocal about drawing hard lines against the abusive and bullying behavior that's come to infest too much of the social justice scene, that might help as well.

Genevieve, I suspect that's an important part of it, yes.

Degringolade, I'd have been delighted if he could have commented here!

Donald, I suspect it'd be rather more than 20%, once people got into the privacy of the voting booth. Clinton is running an excruciatingly bad campaign, and doesn't yet seem to have noticed that if she wants to be president, she really does have to give the voters some reason to give her the office -- not sound bites, buzzwords, and cameo appearances by her Hollywood friends, but good reason to think that four years with her in the White House would mean something other than the prolongation of the same policies that have been running this country into the ground since her husband was in office.

Justin, I find Adbusters unreadable -- it has all the coherence and depth of a cheap music video -- so I'll pass.

James, no, you're far from alone in those feelings. The interesting thing is that Sanders is getting some cred by shrugging off the flurries of social-justice attacks he's gotten so far.

Shane, no argument there. I addressed this back in a post in 2012 about why protest has become toothless in today's America. Without either grassroots political organizing or firepower to back it up, waving signs doesn't mean a thing.

Caryn, most American media is written at a fourth grade level, iirc, so Trump is simply framing his speeches in the language familiar to his listeners. The fact that his rivals don't seem to be able to do the same thing speaks volumes about how detached they've become from basic political realities.

John Michael Greer said...

By the way, I'd like to thank everyone who's shared this week's essay with others -- it's getting rather more attention than I expected. Rod Dreher just quoted a chunk of it favorably in a column in The American Conservative reviewing the National Review's denunciation of Trump; as far as I know, that's not the sort of forum that usually hosts extensive quotes from archdruids, and I suspect the flurry of reposts and posted links from readers helped spread the word.

Mark said...

I am of the investing class, and I come from a long line of investors. Not. Just wanted to note there have been no such comments; lovely to hear all the comments from the salaried class though. Welcome to the fray!

Last summer during home coming, in the little town I live, there was a conversation of 8 or 10 alumni, one who had done well in the medical insurance industry. I recall introducing the concept of EROEI. No one had ever heard of it. The one done well had a strong reaction though, hit by a realization, seemingly, that he could be next to loose all he had worked and sacrificed for. I didn't press it. He was a nice guy, if a little defensive.

Then too, if the wage class had turned off the TV programming/entertainment, and stood up on their hind legs, and done their duty as citizens, 30 years ago, we wouldn't all be on the verge of loosing it all now. Time to suck-it-up, Uncle Sam! Stop worrying about who the president is, and figure out who you is! Because you is all you may be left with!

Caryn said...

@ Shane W.

"...Nobody ever sends ME a 55 gal. drum of lube. sigh. (back to the highbrow content)" HAHAHA!! I sputtered my coffee all over the computer at that. Ha! Very good one, Thanks for the quick wit and laugh. :)


"For me, all the jokes regarding the wage class are laughing at pathos. Pathos is not funny. If people are sick because they eat over processed, cheap food full of crap, that is not funny, it's sad. If people resort to drug abuse and alcoholism, that is not funny. If people resort to violence, that is sad. If people who used to carry themselves with a sense of dignity, class, purpose, and grace no longer do so, that is not funny, it is sad. So all the redneck/white trash jokes are not funny, they're laughing at pathos."

I could not possibly agree with you more. Well said. Thanks for that also.

Mean Mr Mustard said...

"Mustard, a fine example of the sneering mockery I discussed!"

And, by way of contrast, in today's Grauniad, a warning... Wonder if he reads the ADR?



Tidlösa said...

Only slightly off topic, the so-called SJWs seem to be "salaried class", some even close to the top (rich kids at expensive colleges, etc). Thus, they don´t really represent the "specially oppressed" (Blacks, Hispanics, gays, etc), which may (in part) explain their bizarre obsession with issues most "wage class" members would consider peripheral.

The number of Black science fiction authors or the lack of an openly gay character in "Star Trek" probably don´t feel *that* pressing if you are gay, broke and working-class! (Maybe a campaign to unionize science fiction print shops would do the trick?)

It was interesting to read the reflection that Trump appeals to the more conservative segment of the salaried class, due to his anti-SJW opposition. As for Sanders, he is in something of a bind here - some SJWs have already attacked him for his pro-Israeli positions (he´s also against gun control), but at the same time, he must appeal to the liberal segment of the salaried class to hold the Democratic vote together. And that´s where the SJWs are lurking.

On the positive side, the SJWs strike me as so absurd and surreal (a bit like Hillary Clinton on acid?) that a few critical statements by The Bernie may finally burst the bubble and straighten some of them out...

Well, I hope!

Tidlösa said...

This one is even more amusing. Yepp, National Review anti-Trump issue...again!


The publication of a special “Stop Trump” issue of National Review was heralded in a blaze of publicity. Editor Rich Lowry appeared on Fox News and was interviewed by Trump nemesis Megyn Kelly, where he proceeded to denounce The Donald as a threat to the intellectual integrity of the conservative movement....

All well and good: there are plenty of reasons for principled conservatives (and libertarians) to oppose Trump. However, there’s one big problem with this well-publicized blast at The Donald.

In March of last year, Politico reported that National Review was becoming a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, which would enable it to solicit tax-deductible donations: “Since its launch, the magazine has operated as a not-for-profit business, even as it came to rely on more and more donations in recent years. Starting next month, it will become a nonprofit organization, which will make it exempt from federal taxes. National Review also plans to merge with the nonprofit National Review Institute, its sister organization, according to a source with knowledge of the plans.”

Rich Lowry averred that the shift would be good for the magazine, which was fighting a costly lawsuit and had never been profitable anyway. “We're a mission and a cause, not a profit-making business,” he told Politico. “The advantage of the move is that all the generous people who give us their support every year will now be able to give tax-deductible contributions, and that we will be able to do more fundraising, in keeping with our goal to keep growing in the years ahead.’”

This anti-Trump issue of National Review is, in effect, a campaign pamphlet directed against a political candidate—indeed, the cover proclaims “Against Trump”—and, as such, is in clear violation of IRS statutes regulating nonprofit organizations.

The regulations are quite explicit that nonprofit organizations must “not participate in, or intervene in (including the publishing or distributing of statements), any political campaign on behalf of (or in opposition to) any candidate for public office.”



He he he....

Phil Knight said...

The SJW's are attacking the Oxford English Dictionary now.

I think this phenomenon represents a form of compulsive behaviour that justifies itself with ideology, rather than an ideology that promotes a certain kind of behaviour. Its proponents garner a distinct jouissance from the act of denunciation.

They're also blissfully unaware of the steamroller that's heading towards them, although not only they will be crushed by the backlash they are encouraging, unfortunately.

whomever said...

Kind of off topic, but for those discussing Islam and Homophobia: Some years ago I ran into a gay guy who had a second apartment in Istanbul. I was kind of surprised, but he said actually the gay scene there was great. I did some reading, and the Ottomans actually legalized it in 1858(!). So while the UK was prosecuting Oscar Wilde (though Wilde's real crime was betraying his class, a message that resonates with this post), people were hanging out not being harassed in Istanbul. I subsequently visited Istanbul and found it an amazingly sophisticated, cultural city with 1500 years of history, a great bar scene, amazing food and frankly, about as fundamentalist-Muslim as NYC is fundamentalist-Christian.

Since then, Erdogan has come to power at least partly on Trump-like rhetoric (not to mention by all accounts a bunch of fraud) and last year the gay pride parade there was shut down. So sad what was lost. My Turkish friends are all universally depressed about the situation. And yet all our money goes to our good friends the Saudis, a country still stuck in the 8th century.

YVRinhabitant said...

I'm not going to be able to be on here today because I have lots to do (but I will check back tomorrow). I want to say a few things...

I said: "You Americans have had your political discourse not fully developed because you only have 2 parties. How can 2 parties represent the diversity of 300 million people? That is why everything is so polarized because everything is black and white or red versus blue."

I apologize if that sounded disrespectful or condescending. I can't stand holier-than-thou Canadians who look down on America (there's a lot of that here). I was getting frustrated. I love America. I love that Trump wants to make America great again. I want America to be great again. I said that US is losing its influence in Canada and China is increasing it's influence (something to that effect). That saddens me. I'd rather Canada be dominated by the USA instead of China. I did my genealogy and my ancestors go way back in America on the East Coast-hundreds of years. I am related to you. Canadians who have roots in Canada (as opposed to the new immigrants), most of them, if they do their genealogy will see they have lots of roots in the US too. We are the same people, fundamentally.

My one fear of Trump is the nuclear issue. Can we trust him with his finger on the nuclear button? He is a hot head who shoots from the hip so my concern is he would be too eager to push the nuclear button in an international conflict.

I also want to say this is America's election and I don't want to meddle too much. This is for you guys to decide who to vote for. You have to live with the consequences more than I do (although who wins the presidency definitely has an impact on us Canadians too). In that sense, please take what I say with a grain of salt.

Ben said...

JMG - Not sure how much this adds, (I know furious George already pointed it out) but the gutting of unions was, as the Donald would say, YUGE. I think you might have underestimated its importance, but as you said in reply to George, it may be a topic for another author.
Second, I may have missed the clarification, but I would think CEOs would fall solidly in the investment class. After all, most of their compensation comes in the form of stock options, and many of them come from families that make money off invested money. Plus, much of the money pouring into the political system right now comes from corporations and the fabulously wealthy, and the favorable tax rate they pay comes of earned interest.
Third, in relation to the influence of money on politics, and Spengler's take on history; do you see the rise of wage class candidates who speak very openly about race and immigration as the first shots in the conflict between money and blood? I remember in the past you've mentioned that right now money is winning, that they always win the opening rounds, and we haven't gotten to the real fight between blood and money. Have we gotten to round one of the real fight? My guess would be no because Trump is clearly a product of the moneyed class, but has he opened the door for someone who is not?

Ben said...

PS - Going to share this essay on facebook, just to see what kind of reaction I can get. Always enjoy your unique take on things.

YVRinhabitant said...

@Caryn: Wow snow in Hong Kong! Vancouver only had a dusting of snow for one day this winter and no snow at all last year. They are calling it a "snow drought" here. Although lots of snow on the mountains this year, unlike last.

I lived through the Hong Kong immigration wave to Vancouver that started after Expo 86 in advance of Hong Kong's repatriation to China in 1997. I grew up on the West Side of Vancouver so I had a front row seat. There were controversies back then dismissed as racist as the new immigrants tore down character homes and chopped down old growth trees to open up their views and built monster box homes, originally known in the 80s as a "Hong Kong Special" although politically correct language has taken over and they are now called a "Vancouver Special".

Yes, we still have the investor immigration program. Millionaires can buy Canadian citizenship and health care--for a price. This post will never end if you get me started on that.

The Hong Kong immigrants coming to Vancouver in the 80s and 90s were nowhere near as disruptive as the current wave. Don't get me wrong--there were problems back then too. But not like now.
Now, we are getting immigrants from Mainland China. These are totally different people. Most Americans don't understand (and Canadians outside Vancouver don't understand), that there are many different kinds of "Chinese". The Hong Kongers speak Cantonese--which I picked up a bit on the school ground growing up. The Mainland Chinese speak Mandarin. They are a different culture. The Cantonese Hong Kongers and the Mandarin Mainlanders hate each other. One of the biggest ethnic tensions right now in Vancouver is between these two groups and has nothing to do with white people. Lefties think you can welcome the world into your country and everyone will get along. Even if all the whites love all the immigrants, the immigrants come from different countries themselves and they still hate each other when they get here. Multiculturalism is a failure.

Generally speaking, the Hong Kongers are more civilized than the Mainlanders. The Mainlanders can be very rude. There was a story about a Mainland Chinese woman at a mall in Richmond, in the food court, her 3 year old son had to pee so she held him up and let him pee in the garbage can in the middle of the food court, instead of taking him to the washroom. They are very corrupt. They think nothing of lying and cheating--it comes second nature to them as part of their culture. A Mainland Chinese lady was interviewing me for a job and she said, you don't have the right certificate from your school--let me print one off for your from my laser printer and I will put your name on it and you don't even need to take the courses!!! Corruption is second nature to these people. They look at you like you are a fool if you don't cheat the system.

So, no, I have not experienced much homophobia from Hong Kongers (but, some, yes). The example I gave about the genderless washrooms--that was a high profile example that came up recently in the media. And that would have been a backlash mainly from the Mainland Chinese, not the Hong Kong Chinese. When I said I experienced homophobia mainly from immigrants in high school, that would have been before the Mainlanders came here--it was mainly Indian immigrants, Russian immigrants, and, yes, Middle Eastern Muslim immigrants who I get the homophobia from.

Bruce E said...

Wow, great post, and thanks for pointing to the thoughtful Rod Dreher article. It is good to know the crossover appeal your observations have.

After my initial dissatisfaction with your post (it implicated me, being of the salaried class who has grown his salary a little bit faster than inflation for the last 20 years or so), I got over myself and find that your four-class heuristic has an incredible utility when it comes to explaining the appeal of both Trump and Sanders, and the pushback you get from their supporters when you push instead the establishment alternatives of Rubio (or Jeb!) and Clinton.

In particular, I found myself watching Sarah Palin endorse Trump the other night -- to be accurate I was watching excerpts of this endorsement mockingly narrated by Trevor Noah on the Daily show -- and mid-mocking-laugh I caught myself and thought of your article. It occurred to me that this mocking laughter of the liberal elite salaried class, as well as the backlash from the conservative elite salaried class such as the recent special-issue of National Review dedicated to bashing Trump, is exactly what Trump wanted, and he has cleverly calculated his message to get just that.

From the Dreher article: "If I were Trump, I would be reading this and gloating over my breakfast toast. To be attacked by elites in the conservative pundit class only makes him more powerful. I understand that a magazine like NR can’t stay silent on this matter, but it’s an indication of how weak the conservative Establishment is that even their protest against Trump redounds to Trump’s benefit."

Great stuff -- keep up the good work!

(Side note, I sent an earlier version of this comment before which you posted and took down. I'm assuming, but not sure, that you took it down because it contained at least one objectionable term that made it less than the civil discourse you want in these comments. If that is the case, please accept my apologies and know I will do better in the future.)

Doctor Westchester said...


I've noticed that there are apparently increasing issues with Clinton's use of a private email server while being Secretary of State. The FBI is now involved. I've wondered if this issue is the Democratic Party's "Eject" button for her. If a consensus forms among the elite of the party that she is unelectable, then it will be used and they'll shallow hard and go with Sanders.

Doctor Westchester said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Bill Pulliam said...

An empirical test of the demographic (biological determinism?) models of voting patterns will come in the exit polls from the Super Tuesday primaries. These cover a much larger and more diverse voting populace than Iowa or New Hampshire. You may say people will lie to the exit pollsters, but experience shows this is not really the case to a large degree. There are a lot of a priori predictions about how the demographic groups will behave, and they can be tested. My hunch is that the patterns will likely align with the conventional expectations better than many here expect, but not as well as the mainstream pundits predict. The average Trump voter WILL be a middle-aged white male who did not attend college, the average Clinton voter in the deep south WILL be African-American, and the average Sanders voter WILL be Euro-American, younger, and with more post-secondary education. But the real tell will be in how strong these averages are. Is it a 43% plurality or a 78% majority that fits these descriptions?

On a related note, those here who say that the LGBT community leans to the left, and those who counter that LGBT people span the entire spectrum of political, cultural, etc. views, well of course you are both right. On average the LGBT crew do vote mainstream left. And individual LGBTQLMNOP etc (the acronym keeps growing...) people can be found holding any views you search for. This is true of all collective statistics -- the individuals show great variation, the means are more consistent.

Using group statistics to make inferences about an individual is one of the first fallacies you are taught to avoid in Statistics 101. More people should take Statistics 101 (or self-teach the equivalent), especially journalists and medical professionals... But elections are decided by group averages, not individual variability.

And re: Latin America and marriage, Mexico got left out. They recognized same-sex marriage nationally long before the US did, though last I checked they could still only be performed in a limited number of areas. Comparing nations in such coarse ways is weird anyway, given their different legal, judicial, legislative, and cultural structures everything about attitudes, processes, and outcomes takes different patterns.

Shane W said...

@Nastarana, JMG,
perhaps a regional difference in norms of behavior explains it? JMG lives below the Mason-Dixon on the WV line, while Nastarana lives in the part of the country widely known for being the rudest. My guess is if she were on the other side of Lake Ontario in Southern Ontario, she'd find people way more civil and accommodating. If you can't stand the heat, get out of the kitchen...
perhaps if you could see past your apprehensions regarding rural people & homophobia, you'd find experiences are way different than the stereotype. I live in Kentucky, and I spent late summer & fall on a farm in Hastings Co., Ont., and I've found gracious & nice people in both places. Tweed & Belleville are very nice areas, & Hastings Co. has the cheapest real estate in all of Ont., and they're really trying to get organic agriculture off the ground there. Neighboring Prince Edward Co. is very lovely, along Lake Ontario. I really think if you set aside your fears and/or stereotypes, you'd be rewarded.
speaking as someone who was in that "scene" for many years (guess you could call me a "dissolutioned SJW"), at the base, deep down, these people believe that what they've accomplished over the years since the Civil Rights movement is very transient, that, at its base, people, especially the white working class "other", are very much just as bigoted as they've ever been, and it's purely the bulwark of government intervention, via SJW pressure, through the various branches of government, that keep this white "other" from acting on their bigoted impulses. That, absent that government intervention, it all comes crashing down in an instant, and we're back to the 1950's or earlier, full of lynching, etc. Witness how apoplectic they get over the South regaining its independence--it's an article of faith for them that once the Union fails, the South will be right back to slavery & lynching. I don't really feel that this is true anymore--I think, as JMG has stated, that society has STRUCTURALLY changed from hitting limits to growth, and that the changes in attitude regarding race, sexual orientation, gender, etc. are STRUCTURAL and not transient.

Debra Johnson said...

P.S. It took me a loo-ong time to read Donald and the Politics as I was captivated by the cover of The Weird of Hali: Innsmouth.

look sie said...

JMG - Thanks for the link to the American Conservative. Interesting perspectives. I was also intrigued by some of the comments. I'm assuming most of the readers of that journal are coming from the right side of the aisle but the opinions and concerns expressed are, at their source, not substantially different from those expressed here at the Archdruid Report. That seems to suggest that there is some common ground to work with. What is needed is someone who has the saavy to bring all sides together for a civil discussion. And, yes, I know that's where it all descends (ascends?) into fantasy land but a boy can hope. It also amply demonstrates the damage that the extremes (SJW types on the left and unforgiving social conservatives on the right) are doing to Western society. It's all interesting to observe in a train-wreck kind of way. But to those Americans (and others, including certain smug nationalities such as my own Canada) who often disparage American politics, I say, take heart, because the level of informed debate is way beyond anything we have in my country. At least you're talking and, as Churchill once observed, it's better to jaw-jaw than go immediately to war. Who knows - you may yet find that common ground.

Donald Hargraves said...

Actually I'd say the dislike of Hillary Clinton goes deeper. Remember, her husband gave us NAFTA, GATT, free trade with China, an abortive attempt at single payer healthcare and "the end of welfare as we know it." NAFTA, GATT and the China trade have gutted our industries (starting with textiles almost immediately), the healthcare "debacle" led us to RomneyCare 2.0 (AKA the ACA) and his welfare reforms are why WalMart can pay subsistence wages - "want to eat, here's your SNAP form."

Thing is, people remember these things even if they don't want to. It's why Gore was able to lose the 2000 election, it's why Obama was able to win the 2008 election, and it's why I predict that the Democrats will lose badly if they go ahead with their attempted coronation of Hillary this year.

Wiborg13 said...

Have you seen this ?
They're furious.

onething said...


"I want to remain committed to gay rights and women's rights and I do not support racism. But I also want to remain committed to my class and to advance working class people. Class should be a uniting force that bridges our identity politics divides along race/gender/sexuality. I don't know what the solution is."

Start thinking, and getting others to thinking, about building those bridges. It's an information war. Lots of people, including young people, are hearing mostly a one-sided view which leaves them emotionally pre-programmed to emphasize the one at the expense of recognizing the other.

Unknown said...

- Mox

Another factor that contributed to the powerlessness of the wage class as a political factor is the curious notion that labor unions are the offspring of some unholy union of Communism and the Devil (just like the French).

Off-topic: it seems the US navy isn't completely blind to the pitfalls of high-tech dependency:

onething said...

@ Troy

" Even if Trump wins every single state primary and caucus, the GOP leadership could simply refuse to seat any of his delegates at the convention and put up Jeb Bush as the nominee regardless of what the rank and file of the party actually want."

Wow, I don't generally see this country as being close to revolt or secession as others seem to, but this could really be a sentinel event.


"So... Palin?"

Not hardly. If he wants to let his veep run things, he would have to pick someone less lazy. She hardly showed up to govern her own state, and quit mid term for no real reason.

Greg Belvedere said...

I thought this article was relevant to Sander's appeal to wage earners.

When the (probably salaried) union leaders vote on who to endorse they go with Clinton, when union members get to vote they go with Sanders.

BoysMom said...

One thing that may be worth considering in class identity is that many people who straddle the wage/welfare or salary/welfare line also get some income from profit. Those little blankets or hair bows or lawn mower repairs are the difference that lets folks buy birthday presents for the kids.
Since income source is a huge factor in identity, usually the first question asked after "What's your name?" is "What do you do?" The difference in how I get treated depending on if I answer 'Homeschooler' or 'Musician' is very clear. Who has higher status, my friend who is the receptionist at the mechanic's shop or my friend who designs and produces a line of children's clothes? It's the same lady in both cases, of course. The answer that is self-employed, the profit-class answer, gets polite treatment. The answer that is wage-class or unemployed gets treated rudely.
And from that perspective, Donald Trump, as a businessman, is one of the profit-income group. He *must* understand how frustrating it is. He deals with those confusing regulations, except of course he can afford lawyers to deal with them, while we have to take whatever the IRS says we did wrong and pay it.
At this point I don't know who I'll vote for: the last time I voted for a UniParty (or winning) candidate was back when that isolationist fellow won in '98, remember him?

Thomas M Schmidt said...

@John Riley and JMG,

This is a simply superb essay, original thought on a level not seen in the herd media. It reflects the fact that Trump is (or is advised by) an original thinker. A Political Thinker par excellence, and an innovator.

I must put in plug here for a book that captures the sense of where intellectual work really lies. Shop Class as Soul Craft is written by a man with a PhD in philosophy from University of Chicago. He went to work as a good member of the salaried class at a think tank. He found that he was well paid, but that the dedication to theory and abstraction meant that there was essentially NO intellectual content in what he was doing.

He found the challenge and camaraderie in being a motorcycle mechanic to be far superior, as indeed it must be. Reality is messy, and he was applying systems thinking, like E F Schumacher, as our Druidical Master introduced us to, rather than simplistic Progressive theory.

The funny thing is, my own mechanic and I got into a lengthy discussion of the book. It turns out that it was once of the best discussions of ideas I have had in years. Nassim Taleb has much the same commentary about a philosopher who works in a bakery in his book Antifragile. Both books are highly recommended.

As for me, I will be assigning this essay in my Innovation course.

Shane W said...

RE: SJW, I think it's all a ploy to keep minorities a captive constituency of the Democrats. Notice how it's always coached as a never ending battle to roll that stone up that hill? People are going to tire of that, eventually, and start to notice the big salaries of the people running NOW, NGLTF, HRC, NAACP, etc. And then there's the scapegoating of the white working class by said SJW's. In reading the article you linked to, I'm glad the captive constituencies on the other "side" aren't buying it anymore, either.
it really baffles me the people waving the posterboard in Mich. (or anywhere, for that matter) I mean, the didn't pay for Snyder or the GOP legislature, Koch et. al. did. Why do they think Snyder or the GOP legislature is gonna listen to their concerns, when they didn't buy or pay for them? Don't they understand how things work? Or is it of the same cloth as my other paragraph, intentional failure?

Shane W said...

Sigh, the left used to have a proud tradition of violence in the late 19th, early 20th century--there were all kinds of radical bombings, and the Pinkerton strikes, now they're reduced to waving posterboard...

buddhabythelake said...

@YVRinhabitant "I am a gay socialist and I support Trump. Stick that in your pipe and smoke it, Hillary Clinton!"

I just want to say "thank you", YVR. You have crystallized a decision for me that I've been wrestling with as I began gaming out the various general election combinations. The Trump-Clinton pairing had made me hesitate. I am not gay, but I am something of a socialist, and you have helped me realize (acknowledge to myself?) whom I should support in that instance.


An update on my run for city council -- I believe that I mentioned we will indeed be having a primary (!) as there are seven candidates (only six are allowed on the ballot by state law). I was invited to do a brief (10 minute) interview by a local radio station, which I accepted. Having never done anything like this before, it should prove interesting. If nothing else, it will help with a bit of recognition come primary/general election time, as I am sure that my presentation will be nothing like that of a conventional politico. Whether this is an aid or a hindrance will remain to be seen.

Shane W said...

OMG, I cannot make this up! I open the lately arriving daily paper, open to the op-ed page, and there are four political cartoons reinforcing EXACTLY what you said in this article! First, a cartoon reinforcing race division on the Flint water problem, second, a cartoon w/donkeys (Dems) fawning over Sanders in a car, with broken down cars in the garage/yard w/McGovern, Dukakis, and Stevenson plates, next, a cartoon poking fun @ wage class people in a bar supporting billionaire Trump, and, lastly, a cartoon making fun of the Palin endorsement! Honestly, I can't make this up!

Ruth Oskolkoff said...

Great insight about division of classes and why Trump is succeeding. I question the conclusion tho. Bernie is also tapping into the same angst but his supporters have different solutions. Which will win? Bernie will because this election is the urban answer to the angst s the rural answer. Because of the electoral college, I predict urban has more voting power.

Grandmom said...

Even as a member of the salary class, immigration is a tough issue. I worked for an extremely large financial services firm in the 1990's. To increase my chances of earning more I went back to school at night for a master's degree in information technology, getting loans to do it. The firm used legal immigration HB-1 visas to bring in hundreds of IT workers to fill available positions, offering these foreign adults and their families jobs with great pay, moving expenses, and bonuses. I was really angry that the company imported people to fill roles rather than develop from within the company. It's also frustrating that thousands of people in the surrounding community could have been trained for those IT jobs too with the money spent on bringing workers from halfway around the world.

onething said...

"With reference to transgendered people and bathrooms, I know that not all that many people are affected, but having had a member of my family get attacked by a security guard for the crime of attempting to go to the toilet, I find it a hard issue to ignore."

I'm guessing your family member has a penis, and was trying to use the ladies room?

Andy said...

John Michael Greer said...
"Andy, I probably need to do a post someday discussing the ways that policy toward dissidents here in the US follows the logic of counterinsurgency."

Bring it - I look forward to reading such an essay!

JMG Said: "Groups that are heavily armed and well organized, like the militia currently holed up in Oregon, get handled with kid gloves because a display of government force could trigger a full-blown insurgency;"

I disagree with the assessment that any of the widely scattered rump-militia groups are well organized. Some are better organized than others, but I haven't yet found anything that suggests they're anywhere near the level of organization or effectiveness of a small town police force or small motorcycle gang - certainly nothing on the level of a state police force or the actual formal or informal militia. I don't consider them to be 'heavily armed' either relative to any other gun owner in the US if they're using legal weapons. Military, state guard, and law enforcement, for example, are issued automatic weapons - M4s, M16s - while civilians are forbidden from owning automatic weapons (except for the tiny handful that were in private hands prior to the signing of the National Firearms Act in 1934). There are hundreds of thousands of gun owners in the formal/informal militia in the US and it appears they own about 100 million long guns - 20K-30K of those are AR platform - like the AR15s and side arms carried by the insurrectionists.

It appears the 'myth' of being heavily armed and well organized is much more at play here than the reality of the situation.

(Part 1 of 2)

Shane W said...

funny that the Japanese exchange student on the farm this summer echoed your exact same sentiments regarding Chinese rudeness--seems they see a lot of Chinese nouveau riche in Japan now, and it's very grating to the traditional Japanese sense of manners.

Doctor Westchester said...


That American Conservative article scares the frack out of me. It reeks of suggesting too much growing respectability for the ideas of a certain ex-Archdruid. :^)

Andy said...

(Part 2/final)

JMG Said: "...groups that are marginal, poorly organized, and poorly armed, like African-Americans, get stomped with all available force to try to terrorize them into submission." I'll agree here to a point. It appears that minority groups only survive to be terrorized into submission because they're not armed. They know from vast experience that once a non-white peaceful protester picks up a gun the responding police switch from bean-bag rounds to deer slugs and start shooting within seconds of arriving on scene. First Amendment rights of assembly and speech aren't effective when the protesters are dead.

"Here again, assume that the federal government expects to fight a full-blown domestic insurgency right here on US soil, and is frantically trying to delay the inevitable and position itself to survive once the roadside bombs start going off."

Yes, I've heard that from you and other groups, but I think that's messaging/propaganda/myth rather than reality. For the Oregon standoff, for example, the FBI and local police have continued to repeat that they have absolutely no intention of storming the facility or forcefully removing the insurrectionists. They've issued statements to that effect on social media, regular media, and on statements printed on paper and handed out to members of the community. They didn't fire during the first Bundy standoff, or during the subsequent two stand-offs this group orchestrated. Bundy, on the other hand, when his Gish Gallop symptoms ease, adds something about a government attack every chance he gets. The few 3% and rump-militia members that came from the NW claim they're there to be a 'security perimeter' to 'protect people on both sides' and to 'stop bloodshed'. (What they're actually doing is using personal information the Bundy mob gleaned from files and government computers in the refuge to stalk, harass, and intimidate local law enforcement and government workers and their families.) Just as it was with the insane response to Jade Helm, the gap between reality and the paranoid propaganda is huge.

The problem with all of this is that while most of 'us' are talking about and/or debating the outward message, a small group of domestic terrorists, already committing treason and insurrection, are one beheading away from being ISIS/ISIL/DAESH-Jr. on US soil. I don't know what's worse - that they're here, that some are trying to justify their existence, or that most people don't appear to care one way or another.


Justin said...

Shane, that makes sense to me that SJWs are deeply worried that what they've created isn't going to last. They've long since stopped addressing politics that actually benefits anyone except for salaried class people who aren't white, straight males. The other thing is, they also end up effectively taking over any kind of progressive or left-wing movement (which is the only kind of movement allowed if the participants want to ever have a decent job again) and derailing everything by making it about social justice, whatever that means now. So yes, a lot of the left does not like them either. However, the notion that we would somehow arrive back in the 1950s if they stopped, is well, problematic.

I have a hard time understanding why homophobia exists in the first place to be honest. Gay people aren't different-colored people from somewhere else, they exist in the communities they are shunned from as normal children until puberty. Sexism, well, I think there is conflict between the reproductive strategies of normal men and elite men that I think drives societies to force women into particular roles.

Andy said...

I dug out and re-read this little blast from the past:

"And so I have a message for my fellow filthy rich, for all of us who live in our gated bubble worlds: Wake up, people. It won’t last.

If we don’t do something to fix the glaring inequities in this economy, the pitchforks are going to come for us. No society can sustain this kind of rising inequality."

Would any of the Trump supporters help me understand how a plutocrat can possibly fix the underlying problems that are causing and feeding the discontent in the capitalist west?

Thanks in advance!

111DFC said...

Great post! JMG

I think to be poor in the US has cultural aggravating factors that make their situation even more painful, that is the reasons white middle aged worker have seen increased mortality rates in this part of the population in the lasts decades compared to hispanics or blacks in the same age range

You "need" to be a "winner" to have a good life. In other cultures you lose or win, but essentially your are not a "winner" or a "loser", even you do not have this terms in other languages (as in spanish). That put a huge pressure on the poor people and as Steinbeck said "socialism never took root in US because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporaly embarrased millionaires"

IMHO the "predestinationist" cultures, in this age of converging crisis, are headed to one form or another of fascim, probably in US and also in northern Europe. It is the "need" of strong leadership with a clear idea of where lies the "greatness" and the "destiny" ("make US great again") to unify the "people", in the fight against the internal and foreign enemies
Good luck

Mark said...

Quite a few of the commenters at Rod Dreher's place admit to reading both TAC and ADR. So maybe we are close to the paleoconservative/druidry fusion moment? Just kidding, although both communities seem to share some roots in Burke and common sense.

. said...

Thanks JMG. I wish I could see them doing that. The stock response they give to economic concerns is that divisions between native and immigrant are used by capitalism to divide and rule the working class. And that the only solution is for the workers to unite across the racial divide, join unions etc etc. All the stuff that they’ve been failing to persuade people to do for the past 30 years or so. The stuff that they’ll admit is made vastly more difficult by the different position that migrant workers, even legal ones, are often in.

And they absolutely can’t touch the cultural problems. An article by a liberal recently described the Cologne mass sex assaults as a ‘cultural quirk’. ‘European men rape too’ is all they can come up with really. And this new phenomenon is ‘the same but different’ as Germany’s pre-existing ‘rape culture’. It’s head-bangingly frustrating.

Some who genuinely value women’s freedom are managing to stick their heads above the parapet a little since Cologne and other similar incidents - usually on the grounds that upsetting the gender balance in favour of young males is never a good thing for a society regardless of the cultural background of the men in question. Those people are not willing to speak up too loudly about it though.

The core problem is that they see national-states as inherently racist concepts and therefore national borders enforced by states are racist. Hence the support for no borders. ‘Migration is a human right’ is the catchphrase. That’s a small group but they’ve got a lot of publicity since this all started because of the extensive reporting in the mainstream media about Calais and the Greek islands, where migrant solidarity groups are present and get interviewed.

I think there’s a relatively quiet split happening on the left across Europe but the result won’t be the emergence of a left that can cope with migration. It’ll just be weakness, infighting and lashing out at the mushrooming anti-immigration sentiment. The field is wide open for fascism.

Part of it may be just that they can see no way to resolve the current situation in a humane way. No one believes in the daft solutions of refugee sex ed classes that the liberal/left is putting forward. Calls for mass internment, turning the boats back, mass deportations – those are the solutions gaining support by the day. When I criticize the open borders people they ask (in between calling me a bigot in more or less direct ways;-) what I propose as an alternative and I just don’t have an answer. No one on the left seems to.

Andy said...

Here's a profile of the folks that are occupying the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon.

They believe in a 'special' version of the US Constitution:
"It includes all 4,543 words inscribed by the Founding Fathers...but...[it] contains some additional notations courtesy of an anti-communist conspiracy theorist named W. Cleon Skousen...[who] pairs the original Constitutional text with quotes from Founding Fathers about the necessity of religion in governance.

Its message: The Founding Fathers intended the United States to be a Christian nation, beholden to a Christian god, and never intended the federal government to have any power over its people."

Christian and Jewish extremists, racists, felons, a murderer, and a hobby rancher that wrote a novel about an armed standoff that ended in Waco-style bloodshed - all guided by an Army vet that believes slavery never happened in the US and that capital letters on driver's licenses means citizens are corporations.

Wheee...what could possibly go wrong?

Alexandra said...

JMG I shall be on tenterhooks awaiting your discussion of the implosion of academia! There's a reason (well, multiple reasons) I'm no longer in that field, though basically it boils down to me running for a lifeboat while my colleagues rearrange deck chairs on the Titanic.

In re: your reply to me, thank you and I absolutely agree. It makes me very sad that the people trumpeting "justice" the loudest are as quick to resort to bullying and suppress discussion--let alone dissent--as the most moustache-twirlingly-evil bigot they can imagine.

I don't actually believe that the biologization of identity politics was a deliberate decision, or conspiracy, but I certainly DO believe there are plenty of politicians and captains of industry astute enough to see which way that wind is blowing and willing to use it in the worst ways. I see the results in full effect among my friends and acquaintances, who are mostly just as blinkered and easily manipulated as they imagine Trump or GOP supporters to be. Maybe it wouldn't be so annoying if they didn't pride themselves on how well-informed and compassionate (they think) they are.

Thomas M Schmidt said...


I love this discussion. If anyone wants to respond to me, I would be so delighted.

I was so excited to find this blog yesterday. It feels like an oasis of intelligent discussion in what is otherwise a vast desert of propaganda and polarized partisanship.

I first stumbled onto TAR (wait! Got trapped like a saber-toothed tiger in a TAR pit. And LIKED it.) at the end of 2013, from a comment over at Kunstlers. I lost the next week of my life reading archives. I don't agree with some of what he says, and you and I would likely find ourselves at loggerheads over a number of issues, but your comment is spot-on. He runs the best shop on the Interwebs, and part of that is his once a week posting policy and his curation of commenting. Welcome to the club.

Given your comment, I strongly suggest you go back to 2013 and read what he has to say about the religion of Progress. I think only an adherent of an odd, non-mainstream, non-Abrahamic religion could have written such cogent and insightful commentary. He doesn't have a dog in the major-religion fight, and can and does call it as he sees it. Start with "Man, conqueror of nature, dead at 405", and backtrack from there. In addition, I assigned my students to read his essays based off Schumacher; just search for the primary, secondary, and tertiary economy and READ.

Then do as I have done, and will do again, and send the man a donation. Even from your wages, $5 will go to show you value an investment. I suspect he values your investment of time more than any dollars, and more than that your investment of heart and soul into meaningful change. What his thought has done for my own is not quantifiable, but I am at peace with so much more about the world for his teaching, and my students have benefitted from me in turn. Go, and do thou likewise.

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
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Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
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MawKernewek said...

I am surprised the precariat as a class haven't been mentioned in the comments so far.
In the analysis by Guy Standing you have the super-rich at the top, then the 'salariat', then the 'proletariat' (meaning the more stable end of the wage class), then the 'precariat' who are working insecure jobs, or 'zero-hours' contracts unsure from one day to the next whether they have a job or not. He also mentions another class he calls 'proficians' who have a professional grade job but not a salaried position who are freelance contractors of various sorts who are precarious in that they don't have job security and dependent on variable business need for their roles but have a higher income and more of a occupational identity than 'precariat'.

In some respects JMGs 4 class model is similar but with the dividing lines drawn a little differently. As a simple model it has flaws in the detail but useful as a way to start thinking about the issue. For instance it might not be much different at the lower end of the salaried class to being waged, not having any more autonomy for instance and having a similar level of income to a waged employee with the same number of hours, in economic terms having the same relation to the boss. A low-level salaried employee may be degree-educated but doing something completely unrelated to their education such that they may not have an occupational identity in their job.

I don't really follow American politics, so I'm not following the fortunes of Trump's campaign, but struggle to think of him in any way anti-establishment, in the same way Nigel Farage in the UK is still very much part of the political establishment.

Joe Roberts said...

I had never seen the term SJW before yesterday, and now it seems to be in every other comment! I'm not too proud to ask for clarification. I get that it stands for "Social Justuce Warrior," but I need a few concrete examples of what is meant by that and why it's raising so many hackles.

Aron Blue said...

I was telling people I think Trump will win. They didn't like it much so I stopped. That means reading this was especially cathartic. I think the class divisions mentioned are quite accurate. I also think a lot of Americans are secretly interested in class because it's kind of the great forbidden topic. I never thought much about class til I moved to NYC, and then I learned a lot.

@buddhabythelake you want a campaign jingle? i'll write you one :)

The other Tom said...

"...get a bunch of your salary class friends together in some casual context and get them talking about ordinary American working guys. What you'll hear will range from crude caricatures to one dimensional stereotypes right on up to bona fide hate speech."
I wanted to expand on that because this casual dismissal of wage earners sets up a mutual antipathy that exacerbates our disfunctional politics. It was very interesting to me that you brought up this issue because almost nobody will acknowledge this attitude except for those on the receiving end of it. I usually don't talk about this because to others it will make me sound oversensitive.
I know class consciousness is nowhere near as threatening or inescapable as racism, for example, but it has a similar, if diluted effect of keeping people in their place on the food chain.
In my work, I am definitely a wage earner. At various times I have been a carpenter, maintenance man, truck driver, underground miner, and have worked on offshore oil rigs. In other words, I've done what millions of people do, whatever is necessary. Outside of work, I think it is safe to say I have lived an unusual life, some would even say interesting, and I don't sit around being entertained.
I have friends from across the economic spectrum who judge me by who I am overall instead of by my occupation. But over the years I've developed social survival skills for mixing with new acquaintances from the salary class, or anyone who prides themselves on their socioeconomic status. It's very simple: keep the initial conversation focused on them, or on some other subject, but never on me. Keep my own life mysterious, and they cannot stereotype me into irrelevance. I find that once they've talked to you like a human being, they are less likely to regress when they find out you spent the day hanging sheet rock.
I've always been interested in how other wage earners deal with this perception. I once had a girlfriend from an Ivy League background. Many of her friends were at least upper middle class, from prep schools. Some others, although they had gone to Yale, grew up working class and did not have the aura of privilege. I respected them and enjoyed their company. The others, though, were unbelievable. I remember thinking "if these people rule the world no wonder it is so messed up." They would assume that I always bring home a six pack, that I watch a lot of sports, that I'd never read anything except Sports Illustrated.
Most Americans want to know what group you are from. If your experience spills over into other backgrounds and crosses boundaries it makes them uncomfortable, frustrated, sometimes even hostile because in polite company all these tribal boundaries are important. They didn't go to an elite university just so they could listen to some guy with a high school education. That is the problem, because when they are running the world they are really not interested in what the wage earners have to say.
I've always liked what John Adams wrote to his son about class consciousness. His son was in Europe, unhappy because he was regarded as a rube from the colonies. The father wrote back: "There is an urbanity without ostentation or extravagance which will succeed everywhere and at all times."

Dave Ross said...

I want to second YJV's observation about the sexual assaults in Cologne, Germany and the media's attempts to suppress the story.

I am an American expat who lives in the UK and is married to an Englishwoman. We had a huge sexual abuse scandal break in Rotherham not too long ago. more than 1,400 women and young girls were raped and sexually exploited over a 16 year period and not a damned thing was done until the London newspapers broke the story. So why was this allowed to go for so long? Because the perpetrators were Muslim immigrants and the victims were from the white wage class and welfare class.

One of the biggest problems was that police officers and social workers were so afraid that they would be accused of racism and Islamophobia, with the career ending consequences and public humiliation that would entail, that they kept their mouths shut. At least one social worker did approach her supervisor and told her about what was going on in Rotherham. She was told to keep her mouth shut and that if she ever said anything about the matter again, she would face disciplinary action.

Likewise, several of the women who were sexually assaulted in Cologne on New Years were vilified and accused of being racist because they dared to come forward and report that they had been raped.

The triumph of political correctness and the bullying tactics of the Social Justice Warriors has created a climate of fear and intimidation throughout much of Europe.

According to the worldview of the post-modernist Left and the Social Justice Warriors, whites are inherently racist and inherently evil creatures who deserve to be punished for the alleged sins of their ancestors, while officially designated groups of victims, like Muslim immigrants, are merely innocent victims of white racism, structural racism, etc, etc. It's the Leninist theory of Objective Guilt, pure and simple.

It's even worse in countries like Sweden, as Pat Condell (see here and here), "Spengler" and others have pointed out. And if you dare to point any of this out in Sweden and certain other countries, you get hauled into court on hate speech charges, with the threat of huge fines and prison time if found guilty.

While many Third World immigrants in Europe have been mistreated and discriminated against, there is no way to justify the sorts of atrocities mentioned above and no way to justify the reverse racism of the Social Justice Warriors. Racism, sexual abuse and all the rest is wrong, pure and simple, regardless of the identity of the perpetrator and the victim.

An awful lot of people over here are absolutely fed up with all of this rot. The Social Justice Warriors are setting the stage for a huge backlash, one that could result in fascist parties coming to power in several European countries. America isn't the only country that should worry about Fred Halliot, his European counterparts are waiting in the wings. The stage is being set for a huge blow-up. When wage class whites finally start taking up arms and the arm bands come out, its going to be downright ugly.

Noam Chomsky, who is an old school socialist and a prominent figure on the radical Left, has been pointing out for years that wage class whites in the US, the UK and many other Western countries has been taking it in the neck for decades and that a lot of the anger welling up in the white wage class is quite legitimate, even if a lot of it is misdirected. If fascism does come to America and Europe, it will be because the salary class failed to deal with the grievances of wage class whites and demagogues were able to take advantage of that opening.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

JMG wrote, "More generally, the left throughout the western world has become detached from its roots among the laboring classes and the working poor, and until and unless that connection is reestablished and policies that help the wage class become central to the policy proposals of the left, the laboring classes and the working poor are going to be fair game for neofascist politician."

Hear him, hear him. I concur with that both from reading political theory and labor history and from personal experience.

My parents were middle class and had further aspirations for their children. I got a liberal arts BA at their and the taxpayers' expense in the late Sixties; upon graduation I saw that the US was already overstocked with MAs and PhDs driving taxicabs.

I waitressed for a few years in union and non-union restaurants. When that got old, I got a technical certificate also at taxpayer expense (those were the days when you could learn a trade in California without going into much debt). I got my first and second jobs courtesy of Affirmative Action. The second job landed me in the labor aristocracy as it was unionized, technical and a government job. Job security, decent wages, excellent benefits. I was a shift steward for awhile (no credit to me; none of the other techs wanted the post) and experienced a couple of strikes and a lockout. This was a relatively non-corrupt union but every contract negotiation was dictated by the International. The union's clout relied entirely on the intervention of Democratic Party politicians, not on effective organizing, much less on class solidarity.

Other than the material returns of the job which were considerable, the physical exercise and the pride in doing useful work, what I got from thirty years of punching a time clock was daily association with working class people of all ages, races, and nationalities. I always felt like an odd duck but apart from mild sexual harassment from a couple of men when I was first hired, they treated me as well and probably better than I deserved. (The lesbian mechanics were given a much harder time.) I've seen the salary class-wage class divide from both sides because of my family background and work experience and that's given me a broader perspective.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

@Shane W. and JMG--At the very tippy tail end of the comments a couple of weeks ago, I addressed a comment to Shane about the lead poisoning of the residents of Flint, MI. The city government of Flint was not responsible for what has happened except in a very indirect way.

The state of Michigan has a law that if a city government is broke or in danger of going broke, the governor has the authority to appoint a city manager who has dictatorial powers and is essentially operating as a bankruptcy receiver. He or she usurps all the decision making power formerly held by city agencies regarding public works, disposal of city owned property, and much else. The city and the voters in that city have no say about whether this happens or who is appointed.

Four years ago, the governor put a city manager in charge of governing Flint. As a cost cutting measure, this individual ended Flint's longstanding contract to receive its water from Detroit's water treatment system. He or she decided that Flint's water supply would be drawn from the Flint River instead. The problem with that was that a lot of the water pipes in Flint were laid about a century ago and are made of lead, and Flint River water is more corrosive than Detroit water. This could have been mitigated by adding a step to the water treatment process to make the water less corrosive.

The city manager appointed by the governor did not do that. Neither did the three subsequent managers appointed by Governor Scott. They ignored health warnings from various sources and told the public that the water was safe to drink, cook and bathe in. Now the governor is saying he is very sorry, while fighting against the federal EPA's legal right to tell the state how to fix the problems. Admittedly, the EPA's very recent orders require spending a lot of money rather quickly, but that is an outcome of four years of malign neglect by the state.

The larger picture of what brought this about are things JMG has written about such as the shipping of Flint's industrial plants overseas, which left it with an inadequate tax base to maintain its infrastructure, and very likely some poor financial decisions by the city council. Also racism and class warfare.

latheChuck said...

One thing that worries me about Trump being denounced as a Hitler-like demagogue... what if his base of support is thereby encouraged to review the reasons for Hitler's appeal to the people of Germany, and find things to like there, too? People who come to believe that they've been lied to about lots of other important things might be pushed to reconsider history's judgement about the evils of German National Socialism.

Unknown said...

(Deborah Bender)

@Caryn--You write that you are baffled by salaried class members' "unwillingness, reluctance to empathize, (I guess you could say, that 'willful ignorance')."

That kind of behavior has been a characteristic of the middle class going back at least to the nineteenth century and it is borne of insecurity. In societies that have a hereditary aristocracy, an aristocrat can pal around with his servants because his own class position is secure and no one is going to mistake him for a member of the lower class no matter what he does or says.

Members of the middle classes are far less secure. They are frequently just one bad marriage/job loss/scandal/bankruptcy away from dropping out of the middle class. To compensate, they exaggerate differences in manners, dress, taste etc. between themselves and the working class to make it clear that they belong where they are. Any show of empathy would undercut this separation.

pygmycory said...

YVR inhabitant:
How small a place would you be able to find work in? Victoria is pretty gay-friendly (not gay, but a lot of my friends and family are). A lot of smaller places along the coast may not be as bad as you might think, either. There are openly-gay couples in Powell River I know, and to my knowledge they do just fine.

The nasty incident with the security guard happened in Vancouver, for what it's worth, not in Powell River.

Bill Pulliam said...

Onething: About trans bathrooms.. I think the bigger problem is highly masculinized trans men with beards muscles and cowboy hats being forced to use Women's rooms. I don't think very many women want to see them there.

Everyone -- the use of "SJW" here seems to be becoming a code word for dismissing and ridiculing those with whom you disagree... What you contemplate, you imitate...

pygmycory said...

She was trying to use the one washroom on campus that was unisex: it was a single room so no issue with other people being in the bathroom. Not only did she get verbally harassed by the guard while waiting, when it was empty and she went in he tried to push the door in on her. She yelled, and managed to push the door closed to keep him out.

Then she complained to the university, and to my knowledge nothing has been done about the guard's behaviour.

Moshe Braner said...

Very interesting: ""I could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and I wouldn't lose any voters," he said. ... Trump did not repeat the "shoot somebody" line at a later rally in Pella, while stressing to the crowd there that he would tone down his rhetoric as president."
- did he all of a sudden regret pushing the envelope that far? Was it a moment of weakness in which he hinted at his larger strategy?

Shane W said...

I think JMG's past explanations explain the Industrial Age's prejudices. The theories of racial superiority were needed to justify Western imperialism. The theories of gender & sexuality suppression were needed to create the kind of society necessary for Industrialism. When he said that all this went into serious decline in the 70s when we first bumped up against Limits to Growth, I think he was spot on--societally, it just wasn't worth the effort to maintain anymore.
It's really amazing that the Chinese are managing to outdo the Americans at being the most loathed/despised nationality abroad. I didn't think that was possible...

Mark said...

@the other tom "But over the years I've developed social survival skills for mixing with new acquaintances from the salary class, or anyone who prides themselves on their socioeconomic status. It's very simple: keep the initial conversation focused on them, or on some other subject, but never on me. Keep my own life mysterious, and they cannot stereotype me into irrelevance." This sounds familiar, although I've gone to the extreme of just keep moving, "no time to talk", since when I walked out of the machinery, was when Carter was defeated. I was on my own, and the few friends I had were on diverse spiritual journeys. I know a lot of practical stuff though, and have time to be helpful, when needed, and it isn't till I have such an opportunity that feel like I might try to communicate, usually. The comment page of TADR is a bit of a relief, actually. Sadly, I have more social survival skills than I have social skills. OTOH, on very good terms with the local universe.

Shane W said...

Wanted to be the first to comment that it's in the news that Bloomberg is "strongly contemplating" running as a 3rd pty candidate. Considering 3rd parties' reputation as spoilers, I'm thinking this is a last ditch effort by the mainstream to derail Trump, or possibly Sanders, or both.

Kutamun said...

Yeah the elephant in the room here that has been touched on very lightly by the good Archdruid is what exactly is Trump planning to do with power once he gets it . Give everyone in the US a free donald trump haircut and invite them on " the apprentice" ?? Is this a form of lebensraum and blud und boden ?? Interesting you mention he is traditionally pro Clinton . Just the other day a wanted Serbian nationalist war crimianl and former ally of Slobodan Milosevic , Vojislav Seselj , called for Serbs in the US to support Trump . Hang on , didnt Clinton topple these guys ? Coincidence that Camp Bondsteel is just up the road and that the Donald has a long and colourful history of marrying Czech and Slovenian women ?? My guess is he has extensive business interests in the region , Trepka mines in Kosovo , anyone ?? . The Donald will be in the the US/Russia pipeline wars up to his ears , and has probably backed both sides to win so he profits regardless is my guess . Probably in business with the Clintons over there eh ? This bloke is clearly no mug . He has been known to be quite chummy with Putin so perhaps he has an interest in the pipelines from Qatar and Israel NOT passing through syria and up into Europe . That would explain why the neo cons hate him so , if he is invested in the status quo

Nancy Sutton said...

Just wanted to add to the discussion of class, what Rodriguez (of the documentary 'Sugarman'.. amazing story) said, "Just because you're poor, doesn't mean you're dirty or stupid or mean."

Jen said...

I have been following this discussion with great interest, because while it reflects some of my experiences, primarily in the urban setting of Austin where I lived for the better part of a decade, and I find it to be a really enlightening and useful set of categories, it somehow seems to slide off the really important socio-economic divisions that pervade my current situation in the small rural Texas town where I grew up and to which I have returned.

Rather than means of income, what matters here is, roughly in order, how good your family is and how long they have been here, do you own substantial land, do you have a lot of money (inherited, from minerals, or earned) and is it new or old and are you vulgar about it, are you on welfare/disability (very lowering), and finally and least important what do you actually do for work. This is presuming that you are white and you act right (especially women). Black folks and to a lesser extent Mexicans and our few other Hispanics have a totally separate parallel social structure really. If you do something "wrong" like a white woman dating/marrying a black man or getting knocked up outside of marriage you can instantly catapult yourself and your family (even extended family) to the bottom of the social ladder, and most things are figured by family--not so much what you yourself do or don't do for a living, but how good your family is in general and how they got where they are socially/financially.

As I am typing this, I feel like what I am describing is somewhat anachronistic, aristocratic almost. But there's a very great overlap between the aristocratic and agrarian classes because all the landowners pretty well are also running working ranches or sometimes farms, although ranchers are higher on the ladder than farmers, and also landowners are also almost all former slaveowners and many have money from minerals and inherited wealth that is also invested and providing a return, but the money doesn't matter that much when it comes to status, relatively speaking. One family might have people running businesses and farms/ranches, working for wages or as salaried professionals, some staying at home, some college educated and some not, or living off investments, and they are not really judged differentially by any of that, but more by how well they behave relative to what is expected of them and whether they uphold/squander the family fortunes and social position, etc.

There is also a miniature and sort of self-contained parallel elite in town of doctors and lawyers and such who have made substantial money in their professions and think a lot of themselves, and if they don't already have family land they try to buy it usually once their careers are well established or winding down. To sell land and become rich thereby is infinitely more lowering than to be cash-poor with family land intact, and to buy a lot of land is not nearly as good as inheriting it.

Anyway, just a bit of amateur sociological description of my neck of the woods by yours truly.

Wiborg13 said...

Have you seen this ? It seems that Trump is gathering support inside the republican's elite.

nuku said...

@Unknown, Re insecurity of the classes: I've had occasion to hang out with and work for 3rd-5th generation American "old money" (America's hereditary aristocracy), and 1st generation "new money" (middle class people who became multimillionaires in their own lifetime). Generally speaking there's a big difference in how they treat the "help".
If you're a good worker, friendly, respectful when its merited but not an ass kisser, and generally treat them as real people, old money folks tend to treat you like "family"; that's because they don't need to justify their position by putting you down. They've had generations to get comfortable with money and their class position. They don't need to feel good by "putting you in your place".
New money people generally like to keep you in firmly your place way down on the pecking order, and like to treat you as they imagine a rich important person treats their servants. You can feel the insecurity around who they think they are and their relationship with money.
The above are of course generalizations; I've personally come across a few new money people who treat their workers with respect and make them feel part of the extended family.

Hubertus Hauger said...

From his apperance I am comparing Trump with former italian leader Berlusconi. He also was a self adoring Media Tycoon, very professionall on his publicity and self-advocacy. Being a big-mouth and an expert schemer he ruled Italy longer as all italian gorvernments since facist rule.

So I imagine, Trump being able, to hold on power the two terms allowed and afterwards crack it up and enlarge it even. Why not! Depending naturally, if the economic turnmoil wont´t be rather overhelmingly sweping him away.

From Trump everything is possible. like playing it save and continue another try of politics as usual. Like fundamental changes towards an outspoken autocratic rule. Like an accelerating rate of structural failings in the US-Republic, due to imminent changes he may initiate, getting to plenty of breaking points.

Not only the election is hillarious now. His office will probably be just as such. Obviously the change is no longer undercurrent. All getting to the surface and become visible.

John Roth said...

If I hadn't been sitting down, you could have knocked me over with a feather when I saw this post on my twitter feed from a really big name Canadian software developer I follow. He said "Unapologetic class analysis of the US political scene - refreshing if not completely convincing." He's generally a pretty sane liberal. Is this post creating ripples or what?


Thanks for the reference to the bookkeeping economics paper. It nicely clarified what's wrong with the current economic modeling. Definitely not a page-turner.

Cherokee Organics said...


OK, abstinence from commenting didn't work out so well, but then calls to moral suasion rarely do... :-)! Hehe! Hope you beat the 413 this week! ;-)!

On a serious note, I note that yours and our society too, is riddled with various groups - often of the salaried class - gaming the system for their own benefit. Over the past 24 hours, I've become aware of just how expensive the medical system is in your country and the thought occurred to me that if I was looking to appease the working class without taking on any extra costs in terms of additional Federal benefits, I would seriously throw parts of your medical industry to the wolves. The few examples that I have seen have left me speechless at the sheer size of the costs that individuals have to take on. I couldn’t afford to pay those costs.

On a different but perhaps related interesting note, I've noted that the newspapers down here have been carrying articles on euthanasia with various sneezers (that is the marketing term for them, although it is probably in poor taste to use the term in that context, but that is what they’re doing – anyway, commenters can blame them, they started it!) ;-) What a strange world we live in. It seems mildly outrageous to me to be fined for not being able to accept your own personal risk with medical expenses and insurance! And then pay the money and still get little to no service.



TJ said...

All of the analysis, hand-wringing, and historical searching being done to explain Trump is, perhaps, missing the most important issue. Trump is exactly the kind of leader one would expect as an empire slowly expires. The xenophobia, the religious fever, the hatred and call to violence, a country turning inward and angry as history unfolds and moves in a different direction. Those who support Trump want “America to be Great Again”, to kick ass, take names, and continue on living the high life with little regard to anyone else on the planet or, for that matter, the planet itself.

Americans still want to rule the world, and Trump fulfills that fantasy by claiming he is the guy who can make it happen. Should Trump prevail and move into the White House, all it will do is hasten the fall. The military will gobble up even more of the country' resources as it stumbles through war after useless war. Wages and quality of life will still decline for those who earn a wage or salary.

Maybe we are entering the final phases of that decline. You suggest that, should Trump lose, the next such “leader” to come to the fore will be likely more openly violent. But, should Trump win, how likely is it that those who find themselves subjected to his movement's jack booted heel, will find violence to be their only recourse? Does anyone really think Black America will go quietly back to the days of Jim Crow and the KKK, or the LGBT community will slink guiltily back into their closets? How long after the Christians start to openly oppress all other religions do the Muslims take to jihad? Will the secularists stand idle while libraries, museums, and universities are shuttered? Does anyone really think that no one on the left owns a gun or knows how to shoot?

It has often been said that, though it takes two to have a fight, it only takes one to start it.

This country's right wing is spoiling for a fight. My guess is they will get it, one way or another. After all, isn't that another thing that often happens when empires decline?

YVRinhabitant said...

I came to this site to read an interesting article about Donald Trump and now it has led to a full blown political awakening and transformation within me. It is exciting and scary at the same time.

I never enountered the term SJW until yesterday when I was reading through the comments on here. I googled it and see it stands for Social Justice Warrior. I came across this site, which does a pretty good job of explaining what it means:

My jaw was dropping as I was reading that. It's what I've been thinking inside for years but have been afraid to say. This excerpt really resonated with me:

"A big chunk of their activism depends on subjective feeling and perceived value of the parties involved. Before an SJW can make a decision on what is right or wrong, she must first know the race, gender, and sexuality of the involved participants so that she can decide whether or not to be outraged. A statement or idea in isolation is not enough for them to come to a conclusion on the acceptability of a statement. For example, consider the following statement:

“Abortion should not be used as a method of birth control.”

An SJW could not definitively respond to this statement unless they knew who uttered it. If I—a Caucasian man—published this statement on a popular site like CNN, the outrage would be immense. Most comments would accuse me of hating women and wanting to control their bodies. A petition would be started to prevent me from ever writing on CNN again. On the other hand, if a popular feminist like Jessica Valenti said this statement in the same publication, the response would be more balanced. She would receive some criticism but even support from individuals who would try to destroy my life had I said the exact same thing.

A person who believes in the scientific method would not be swayed by the messenger. They would analyze the statement and attempt to either verify it or not based on logic. SJW’s avoid such objective behavior."

This dynamic explained above is clearly on display in Vancouver when it comes to the foreign ownership of real estate issue. The only people who have been able to criticize foreign ownership have been Chinese people themselves. White people are labeled racist if we talk about it. There have been some Chinese people in the news making critical comments on foreign ownership. A Chinese local politician named Meena Wong actually ran for mayor on a campaign to tax foreign ownership. She lost. But the point is she was not derided as a racist and she was taken seriously. She was a far left wing candidate by the way. If a white guy ran for mayor on a campaign to tax foreign ownership he would be run out of town as a racist.

My entire university education emphasized subjectivity over objectivity. This is not presented as marxism in university. This is presented as post-modernist, post-marxism, a rejection of marxism. Marxism is about structure and does strive for objective truth. Post-modernists say there is no objective truth, there are only multiple subjective truths based on one's social positionality. My truth is different from yours because from where we are sitting we see things differently. This is drilled into any contemporary social science student.

This never sat well with me and I fought against it in school. I actually identified as a marxist precisely because I was rejecting the post-modern subjectivity pushed in the schools these days. By identifying as a marxist or a socialist, I was trying to hold onto some objective standard against which to measure things, as opposed to the airy fairy openness of multiple truths that we find with postmodernism. From where I stand, as a poor wage earner, and a son of a poor wage earner--class politics of marxism rang true with me. I could see it in my own life.

YVRinhabitant said...

I also want to address homophobia. The article I linked to on SJW has pretty negative view of gay people. It says:

"homosexuality—an alternative lifestyle at best and the disseminator of HIV at worst—seems to be the centerpiece of their activism, especially as the homosexual marriage issue has become suddenly more urgent in America in the past five years."

I'm trying to figure out if this new politics I am finding is okay with me being gay and okay with same sex marriage. I've been reading zerohedge for a few years now, the comments section. I've learned a lot from there and it has helped me find you guys and understand how so much of my university education was propaganda crap. But the homophobia and the intolerance of gays among the politics on zerohedge is a real turnoff. Not all gays are these brainwashed liberal thinkers. Make room for us in your movement, please! I like to think I am a pretty smart guy who can think for himself and who can think outside the box and who can smell when I am being fed a line of propaganda. I have really good instincts. It's because I'm gay I have those instincts! I developed them as part of my survival through high school. The world was much more hostile towards gays in the 90s than it is now. I remember thinking to myself when I was a teenager, if the world can be so wrong in its judgment of gays, what else is the world wrong about? I was having those thoughts when everyone else was watching the latest music video on TV. Being gay caused me to question social norms and conventional knowledge and understanding from a very young age. Being gay is what helped me become the independent thinker that I am today, which is what led me to your website.

I think someone asked, what is homophobia? My experience with homophobia in high school was constant non-stop verbal and mental abuse from students. Constant put-downs. After school, I was the first out the door and I sprinted home because I knew the straight boys were coming to beat me up. I ran to save myself on many occasions. That's how I actually became a long distance runner! I had death threats against my family. I was told that there would be a drive-by shooting at my house and my entire family and siblings would be murdered because I am gay. I was told God created AIDS to kill off people like me. The entire student population was a mass bully group that hated me for being gay and this was a big school with thousands of kids. And I went in and gave thousands of students the middle finger and said, yes, I'm gay, what are you going to do about it? That took real courage as a 16 year old and that speaks to a really strong independent streak within me. I'm tough and I'm a survivor and what I've learned as a gay person can help your anti-PC politics. I am sick to death of PC politics. Most of these SJW fighting against homophobia don't even know what real homophobia is. I told you I watch The View. Raven Symone is on there and she is a good example of a SJW millenial. She says she is part of the gay community because she is gay or bi or something. I bet she never experienced the homophobia I experienced in school. Does she know what it's like to run in fear from a group of attackers who want to beat you? I bet not. These SJW throw terms around and talk about homophobia but very few of them have personally experienced it because things are so much better nowadays for gay kids.

YVRinhabitant said...

PS: I once described myself as someone who fights for social justice! Wow! Talk about a 180 degrees political shift!

I am finding this link really interesting as I try to get acquainted these new, exciting politics:

siliconguy said...

"Would any of the Trump supporters help me understand how a plutocrat can possibly fix the underlying problems that are causing and feeding the discontent in the capitalist west?"

Not that a plutocrat can fix the problem, but the poor can't as they don't understand how the system works. Nor do they have the time, being somewhat busy with their own survival. And those plutocrats who made their fortunes on financial games and outright swindles have no interest in fixing the problems.

The wage class is also too busy hanging on to survival to find a way out, and given how far the Unions have sunk into corruption or cut their own throats economically doesn't give me the warm fuzzies that they could solve the problems either. So that leaves the salary class who do understand how the system works (big asterisk here), but as our host points out for the moment they still think they can ride this tiger. And there a still a few non-swindling plutocrats who could do much to repair the system, but so far they haven't done so.

The big asterisk is the system is hugely complex. None of the salary class understands it all, just the part that they are responsible for. I understand engineering, but the high-end finance escapes me. And politics, the flip side of high-end economics I understand even less. And that all circles around again to does anyone understand how the system really works? It is very possible that it is too complex for anyone to control, and we either need to cut it down to a manageable size, or accept it's beyond control and stop trying to do more than nudge it a bit here and there.

YVRinhabitant said...

I came across this comment from someone named Brian under the article:

"Second, a critical mass of SJW's is simply the next inevitable phase of the communist conversion of the west. It was inevitable and fully planned and predicted by both friends and enemies of communism. Before the internet, the crawl toward a critical mass of SJW's was accomplished through indoctrination in media, bench legislation, and the formal education process. Over the decades since WWII, the family has been torn asunder and social values have moved steadily left. The internet has simply served to accelerate the conversion process, which is actually less good for them because the reason that it was working well before was the decades long gradual cultural shift wherein the frogs hardly noticed the boiling (unless one was accidentally jabbed in the eye). The internet has served to both facilitate and necessitate a faster process, through increased written connectivity for SJW's, their indoctrination targets (kids, minorities, and women), as well as those who oppose them."

Very insightful comment and it potentially speaks to how I found your website. None of this is new, it's just the internet is speeding it up. It's really sped up over the past few weeks and months. One day I read a news story that shamed men for manspreading on public transit and a few days later I read a news story about Muslim men sexually assaulting women in Germany and how the German mayor said the women should keep their distance. The cognitive dissonance is too blatant to ignore. These stories happened too close together in time and it was jarring and it really caused me to think (I was onto this PC stuff was crap for years before though). I cannot be the only one who has awoken in the past few weeks. It feels like humanity might be waking up finally. The contradictions of PC politics are too stark to ignore and coming so close together in time now that you really have to be dumb to ignore them.

Candace said...

RE: The events in Oregon
I disagree that they are being handled with kidd gloves. I see this as a successful law enforcement strategy. They. are in an isolated place and they do not have hostages. Law enforcement can afford to simply wait them out.

The general plea for supplies and support also indicates that these people are not an organized movement.

I think some of this response is based on local attitudes of law enforcement. i.e. The sit-ins and protests of the civil rights movement in Albany were not successful because local law enforcement was able to keep the groups isolated and also did not over react to their prescence. By contrast, the protests in Birmingham were a success in the sense that they garnered sympathy for the protestors. Local law enforcement over-reacted and made the protestors martyrs/victims.

The protests in Ferguson and Baltimore were not in isolated invisible spaces, the law enforcement leadership there has also shown themselves to be highly corrupt and incompetent.

The Branch Davidians were isolated, highly armed, and the children on the compound also served as hostages. If law enforcement had handled that group with kidd gloves and any intellegence what so ever, they would not have been martyrs even if they had all committed suicide, they would have been seen in the same light as the Jonestown deaths.

In my mind it is the the senility of the elites and the incompetence of law enforcement in Waco and other smaller events at the time that moved distrust of the government out of the outer fringes into the inner fringe/ near mainstream. I know it changed my view of law enforcement.

dltrammel said...

Like many here I must commend you again for lifting the veil of fog over things which we should already see. I'm a Bernie supporter (first politician I've ever given money to, and several times too) but reading what you wrote I can see myself perhaps voting Trump, if Bernie loses.

Big Congrats on the "American Conservative" quoting you John, and it's not a tiny quote either! I also took the time to read thru all of the comments and I was surprised how often someone used your distinction of the "wage" class and the "salaried" class are valid. I won't be surprised if we start seeing that meme in mainstream media soon.

While I understand you limited your distinctions to four to keep it simple, I think the number of posts by people in the lower end of the salary class, about how they are treated as poorly or poorer than many wage class members, and they have had nothing to with implementing the policies that have so destroyed the wage class to be a valid point.

I would suggest then a fifth category, that of the "corporate" class, which would be seen as the high end of the salary class, and at the lower end of the investment class. These are the people who make million dollar salaries as well as stock option bonuses, and who are very politically active and whose contributions and lobbying for policies that support their best interests, with both the Reps and Dems, have directly lead to the decline of the lower classes.

I think of it as the difference between the sales and management people at my regional branch, versus the representatives of the corporate headquarters who come down from time to time to visit the "little people".

They have done a fine job of pitting the people in the office front room, against all the people out in the warehouse, while not caring about either. As well as focusing what anger there is about inequality, not onto themselves, but onto the investment class.

It's true that someone like Paris Hilton or the Walmart clan has benefited greatly from the increase in the stock market, and we can all be outraged when their wealth goes from 5 billion to 6, but are we missing the thousands of corporate people who see their wealth percentage wise grow even more?

LewisLucanBooks said...

My, what a lively discussion, this week. I always enjoy a good "turn of phrase" and as far as SJW's go (I had to look it up, too.) I always liked Dick Cavett's definition: the professionally offended.

Ok. Here's my election prediction, from way out in left field. Bernie Sanders will win, because Elizabeth Warren will be his running mate. She's made if very clear that she doesn't want to run for president ... but vice president? Possible. They had a very quite lunch, a couple of months ago, that no one seems to know anything about. Maybe Mr. Sanders was just testing the waters and it all came to nothing. Time will tell.

Not that whoever is elected will make much difference in the path of Decline. I started reading Ted Koppel's "Lights Out", last night. About how vulnerable the electric grid is to cyber attack ... and how unprepared we are for the aftermath. All the more reason to pretty much ignore the election, and get on with starting seed and keeping my chickens healthy. Lew

latefall said...

JMG, thanks for the article - and linking back to The American Conservative. Lots of good thought, and I'm not even through all the discussion.
I am currently trying to toe the line back into the established salaried class, but I have close family and friends in the wage and welfare class. I also had occasion to mingle with the US 0.01% a little, though probably not very representative people.
You seem to have done a very good job de-fragmenting some people's perception here. Nice.

"More generally, the left throughout the western world has become detached from its roots among the laboring classes and the working poor [...]" Hear-Hear! Indeed.

Re EU situation
I want to second .'s assessment from 1/23/16, 12:34 PM. Nuances may vary but the broad strokes are right on for the Western part.
On the Eastern EU a pew poll (( suggests that while you usually have "the old right" more concerned with Islamic terror, in Poland it is the left. My guess is that this is an indirect effect from the Polish left still being more in touch with the wage class. But I'm not sure - perhaps it is also because it is not perceived as a pressing issue. Interesting is also that women seem more concerned than men, pretty much across the board.

Like a few have mentioned already, for me the big questions are if Trump will come out ahead - what will keep him from BAU? Perhaps he is aggressive enough, and has a feel for what lays ahead follwing BAU that he'll take the risk of actual change. If he can manage that, the question remains if it is any good for e.g. the wage class. By the way my gut feeling is that this isn't yet the time for armbands. They may become more en vogue for sure - but I think they'll go out of style once more to come back with a vengeance. In other words, the system is not shaken up enough yet.

For people interested in Erdogan (vs Trump), I recommend checking out Necmettin Erbakan and the Millî Görüş ( In a nutshell, he is from the "moderate" half of the mostly central European Turkish diaspora political scene. There are a couple of people with twitter accounts who will let you see what makes them tick.

While I was browsing pew I could not help but note this image, which might as well have been called "the urgent and the important".

Grandmom said...

The Republican Party Elite doesn't want Trump to be their nominee, so who do they want? I was assuming Jeb! Bush but his campaign has been as much as an apathetic disaster as Hillary's. Just the fact the party started off with 18 candidates showed the the party rulers had lost control of the party.

Grandmom said...

There is an element to the political process from the federal level down to the local level where people observe and comment on what is happening and don't participate in the process. Observing and commenting looks like people on Facebook posting about how screwed up things are and complaining to each other about how things are. Participation looks like showing up to meetings, writing letters, making phone calls, and running for office or supporting someone who is. In our local township of 14,000 people, 5-10 people will attend the monthly meeting of the commissioners. At our state representatives town halls, maybe 15 people will be there. When people do attend public meetings, they will be rude, sometimes screaming, to the elected representatives. They assume that the people elected are their enemy to some extent. I haven't found this to be the case personally. A polite question asked in a normal tone is answered with more than enough information to understand the issue or resolve my problem.

Grandmom said...

When Trump made a play as a Republican candidate in 2012, many of friends who are paid hourly and just barely scraping by were so excited. "Finally a business man running! He will straighten things out!" When I pointed out that a billionaire business man wouldn't have their interests on his agenda, I was immediately shut down with a reply of "Trump can fix it." I was so confused.

northierthanthou said...

Interesting read. I certainly do hope you are wrong about the hand on that Bible next January.

Unknown said...

Re: "social justice warriors," political correctness, identity politics
This week's essay has moved a lot of readers to say something about these things. As usual around here, the comments have generally been thoughtful and seemingly in good faith, but also more than usually urgent, worried, and felt. Clearly there's a big and broad range of people who are troubled by the PC/SJW agenda, far beyond the assumed demographic of Trump supporters. I've been wondering: how many of those so troubled are from among the demographics that have traditionally supported (or been assumed to support) the "social justice" movement? How many people who've personally worked for civil liberties, against racism, sexism, homophobia, etc. are now alienated, embarrassed, disgusted by those movements? Worried about problems that no one nearer on the political spectrum than Trump is talking about?
I may be projecting a bit. I'm one who for a long time identified with the values and goals that the social justice movements seemed to represent, who still holds many of those same values firmly, and yet who really, really can no longer justify, or even understand, a lot of what those movements are trying to do. I've long understood the genuine threat--to my own interests and values--in racism and homophobia; these days I also see a genuine threat in the PC/SJW agenda, and also again in the backlash that's coiling against it.
So I may be reading too much of my own dilemma into what others are saying, but I do wonder how many people are in the same dilemma, on this particular issue. And how are you dealing with it? Because I have to say, I'm struggling; I'm not moved by Trump, but I need to find my balance before a Fred Halliot gets on the mic.
JMG, I know you have a long list of worthy topics contending for a week in the spotlight here, but I do wonder whether you've got something to say about this.

onething said...


"Onething: About trans bathrooms.. I think the bigger problem is highly masculinized trans men with beards muscles and cowboy hats being forced to use Women's rooms. I don't think very many women want to see them there."

I'm not in favor of building extra restrooms for people who have an interior struggle regarding their inner versus outer gender. (Restrooms are about the outer.) Somewhere here is where we cross the line between reasonable desires for respect as human beings, and some sort of social justice warriordom or self absorption.

But at the same time, it seems to me that if someone is able to pass for a particular gender, they should use the restroom of that gender. That's me, but it could occasionally backfire. I once admitted a man into a hospital room whose other bed was occupied by a woman. Even though I assisted him to the bathroom, I did not come in, although I saw the rear view of his panties...and he made it all the way through the ER without being detected, either. The next day someone figured it out and they moved him. The other woman was never the wiser. But it seemed harmless to me.

Pygmycory, In that case, I can't imagine what caused the security guard to go off.

Patricia Mathews said...

Nuku said "nuku said...

@Unknown, Re insecurity of the classes: I've had occasion to hang out with and work for 3rd-5th generation American "old money" (America's hereditary aristocracy), and 1st generation "new money" (middle class people who became multimillionaires in their own lifetime). Generally speaking there's a big difference in how they treat the "help".
If you're a good worker, friendly, respectful when its merited but not an ass kisser, and generally treat them as real people, old money folks tend to treat you like "family"; that's because they don't need to justify their position by putting you down. They've had generations to get comfortable with money and their class position. They don't need to feel good by "putting you in your place".
New money people generally like to keep you in firmly your place way down on the pecking order, and like to treat you as they imagine a rich important person treats their servants. You can feel the insecurity around who they think they are and their relationship with money.
The above are of course generalizations; I've personally come across a few new money people who treat their workers with respect and make them feel part of the extended family."

*****Wow. That goes clear back to what Hecuba said in "The Trojan Women." *****

Patricia Mathews said...

@dtrammel - the lower end of the investment class isn't the corporate class, it's retirees with a patchwork income - survivors of the last days of pensions from work, or with 401(k)'s or small inheritances.

Quercus said...

I had never come across saw until this week's comments. It's a very derisive acronym.

4threvolutionarywar said...

One can faintly hear the diabolical laughter of P T Barnum filtering up from the depths of hell as America looks over the choice of Jeb or Hillary or Trump, and the thing is, Trump is entertaining. Trump is the spectacle. And we haven’t already seen this one fifteen times. Even if you absolutely hate Trump he is more fun than the suicide inducing boredom of Clinton vs Bush.

He will make the Sale.

The Reality Television Fox News Troll will now simply walk from one set of television studios to another, and become the leader of the free world. This is the final transition point into a truly post-modern political order in which the line between reality and television is not just transgressed, but finally and completely gone, over, perhaps even unthinkable.

Caryn said...


I like that phrase, "The Professionally Offended" far better than SJW. I think it is more accurate to what people mean when they slam someone for being SJW. "Social Justice Warrior": The whole idea of using those words to disparage someone always rankles me. I mean, on the surface of it; fighting for social justice is or should be a good thing right? Kind of an Orwellian double-speak to derisively claim someone is fighting for social justice. It hopelessly muddies the waters of discourse to misuse language so.

Perhaps I'm only interpreting it this way because I'm not living within the USA now, but from now on, if you don't mind, I'm using TPO, (The Professionally Offended.)

@ All
As to examples of such descriptors, I'm still a bit unclear - My guess is it is referring to those internet outrages over what I would teach my kids and my students is simply "Bad Manners"; e.g. - celebrities' indelicate Halloween costumes, fat-shaming, fast food eater shaming, stupid/rude-blunders-politicians/celebrities-say, teenagers' making fun of a handicapped classmate, etc. Things that are in the grand scheme of things are wrongs, but not very consequential. They garner clicks because they are easily digestible outrages. Brain-candy-battles. They are the low-hanging fruit of outrage-click-bait. They take little to no time to understand in depth, because they are not deep. Most of them are simply rude, boorish behavior that we've all been taught is wrong. Outrages that can easily be put in their place by an equally rude, but quick, witty put down. We click on display our own quick witty retort (mic-drop!) or to read other people's, not to get some deep understanding of a big problem.

IMHO, This began with discussions and verbal sparring on larger issues, also in our brave new world of internet articles and commenting. It descended down like every commercial knock-off product. Commercialism is like kudzu. Yes, the sites, the authors are either getting paid or are hoping to. Now mind you, I have no problem with that in and of itself if the site and the author actually have something to say. This site we're on now is such, but I think it's crystal clear that Mr. Greer and this Report have a lot to actually SAY. I do often feel with many of the pro. outrages - they're really fishing around for some easy click-bait offense horse that maybe no one else has beaten to death yet.

JMG and friends - Correct me if I'm wrong. Still really parsing this concept out.

Anthony Romano said...

In regards to the discussion on SJW's (Social Justice Warriors)...

I have a hard time gauging how much of a movement this is and how much influence they actually wield. The only place I've come into contact with the term is occasionally on TAR and a few other comment sections/forums online. This usually takes the form of a conservative white male lamenting how awful it is that transgender folk would like their own bathroom. The destruction of "Traditional Values" (Whose traditions? Anglo-Christians?), the destruction of masculinity, laughing at the ideas of "micro-agressions" and "white privilege" without taking the time to understand these terms (which are useful, but rather precise, terms that are prone to being used and understood incorrectly), and so on.

Granted I've also seen enough evidence to know that people have lost jobs over ill-advised tweets or other public communications that were deemed insensitive by a large and loud enough group of activists.

So again, I'm not sure how to read the whole situation. In my every day life, I've never encountered someone who identifies as a SJW, yet I know a lot of people who place value on things like equality and who try to be conscious of their biases (race, income, gender, etc.).

In other words, I feel that the SJW/PC police phenomena being discussed here is largely taking place in the online space, and not nearly as prevalent outside of those online enclaves.

Shane W said...

I think your assessment's off, and based on a stereotype. Trump is the LEAST right wing of all the GOP candidates. He hasn't said a peep negative about gay people, and his religious right credentials are equivocal, at best. He's yet to say anything negative about black people. He's against free trade. He's an isolationist/noninterventionist who's criticized the Iraq War, said Hussein & the other dictators stabilized the Middle East, and likes Putin and wants to work with him and support his efforts in the Middle East. So your analysis is way off.

Bill Pulliam said...

OK, I will be more direct this time, addrssing the entire audience here:

PC SJWs, Man-hating Feminists, Right-wing Gun nuts, Redneck bigots...

These terms are ALL primarily ways to take a whole lot of people, roll them into a category that YOU have devised, and dismiss them all out-of-hand without addressing any detail, depth, substance,or individuality in what they might have to say.

This is not Talk Radio, folks.

Bill Pulliam said...

Shane W re: response to TJ -- Interestingly it seems that many of Trump's supporters are not paying that much attention to those aspects of his policies either. The rank-and-file seem not to care about the details, and Palin has expressed views pretty much diametrically opposite to Trumps on many major issues yet she jumps on his bandwagon with a vengance.

Will be interesting if he makes it past the primaries when the Dem tries to paint him as an arch conservative and he gets to reply "Hold on there, I supported single payer long before your party was slapping together that Obamacare mess, and the rank and file union members all love me, just ask them!"

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