Thursday, March 8, 2018
Pushing Cultural Cowardice
I was originally going to tell an interesting tale from my Chicago days, but an amazing claim by a news pundit set me off on a different course. As I've mentioned before, Rasty has a crush on Rachel Maddow, so when he settles down in the afternoon to watch TV he tunes it to MSNBC and leaves it there. MSNBC spends about 20 hours out of every 24 denouncing Trump, his staff, his family, his policies, and anything related to him. Its anchor-critters haul in psychologists who've never met him to "analyze" Trump's personality and declare him nuts, defeated business rivals to call him economically incompetent, and blatant political enemies to accuse him of being a demagogue. It was one of the lattermost who made the amazing claim.
"Trump's tactic is Fear," this pious Expert said, and went on to say that Trump always stimulates his listeners' fears: of foreigners, of economic losses, of other races, of "cultural change", etc., etc., which Trump then exploits by offering his own solutions. I hadn't noticed that myself, but I suppose an Expert would notice subtleties that I'd miss. Trump's audiences seem to miss it too, for I've never seen a Trump audience that looked frightened: plenty of other things, but not afraid. And of course he didn't mention that the Democrats right now are exploiting the Parkland high school shooting for all it's worth, but half-truths are common in politics. If he'd stopped there he might have had at least an arguable point, but he just had to take it a step further.
"We're all afraid of our own inadequacies," he went on, with the blonde anchorwoman nodding complete agreement with him. He dipped into a brief psycho-babble about how fear makes all of us incapable of thinking, and then soared off into insisting that just beneath the surface all Americans are afraid of something most of the time. He didn't mention the old canard about gun owners, or Preppers, or any kind of survivalists, "living in fear" because of some sort of sexual inadequacy, but the implication hung in the air.
Wait a minute. I certainly don't live in fear, of "inadequacy" or anything else. Nobody I know does. Of course most of the people I know are either cultural weirdos -- SciFi fans, SCAdians, other historical recreationists, Pagans, folk-crafts preservationists, heirloom-seed organic gardeners -- or practical working-class folk used to making do for themselves. When threatened by anything, from natural disaster to obnoxious neighbor, they don't "feel inadequate" or get frightened; they get grim in their practicality, or they get angry -- and often still practical. Panic is frowned upon. Now the number of SciFi fans et al in the general population is probably small, but the working class is not. So where did this supposed Expert get the idea that most, if not all, Americans are always so frightened?
Well, people tend to judge others by themselves -- especially if they interact only with others of their own culture. The very fact that the anchorwoman unquestioningly agreed with the Expert reveals that both of them share the same assumptions, and the same culture. It's a culture we've all seen all too often, which some people call Limousine Liberals, or the Socialist Elite, but I still call by the old labor union term of Parlor Pink. It's a classic example of the culture of class -- and the blindness of rulers. How many of you out there have seen the old poem about Boston -- "Where the Cabots speak only to Lodges, and the Lodges speak only to God"? When you generally speak only to your own class/culture, you have to rely upon informers/spies/pollsters for your information -- and those may not be accurate, especially if they're rewarded for telling you what you want to hear. So the question is, do the folks of the upper-class/culture believe that the rest of the populace really are fearful because they simply want to believe it? Or do they believe because that's how they feel, and they project their attitudes onto everyone else? Considering how their young behave at various high-ranking universities -- where they claim to feel "threatened", "uncomfortable", "intimidated" and "traumatized" by mere words, let alone opposing arguments -- I'd guess it's the latter.
I've heard other folks notice how "Liberal fear" seems to be as common as "Liberal guilt", but I have to wonder what causes either, or both, of them? There have been enough analyses of Liberal guilt to identify it as the originally-religious recognition of the "income gap", intended to flog the rich into being at least more charitable -- if not less exploitative -- toward the poor. But that should have eased off when the Labor Movement and the great Progressive Reforms of the 20th century made it possible, for example, for Henry Ford's workers to buy Henry Ford's cars -- and also when the decline of the power of the various churches weakened their power to induce guilt. And why should the Limousine Liberal crowd be afraid? Aren't they certain that they control the welfare systems, the educational systems and enough of the media to keep the blue-collar class properly appeased and manipulated?
Apparently not. The voters did, after all, vote for Trump in enough numbers to keep Hillary out of the White House. Since not even the Southern Poverty Law Center can claim that nearly half the population is made up of sexist, fascist, White racists (plus the fact that many "people of color" voted against Hillary), the only answer is that the blue-collar classes aren't nearly as stupid, ignorant, gullible or controllable as the Parlor Pink crowd believed. To the Limousine Liberals that concept is downright terrifying, as their frantic near-hysterical reactions to Trump reveal -- and there can be only one logical reason for that. Liberal guilt and Liberal fear have the same origin.
They know that they've exploited the blue-collar class to their own gain, and they fear the vengeance of their victims.