January 1, 2017


Donald Trump & White Working Class Dysfunction: Real Opportunity Needed, Not Trump (KEVIN D. WILLIAMSON March 17, 2016, National Review)

Michael Brendan Dougherty is bitter. I think that I can write that in both truth and charity. (I think you might even say that he and I are friends.) Dougherty is a conservative of the sort sometimes advertised as "paleo" and served as national correspondent for The American Conservative. Like many conservative writers with those associations, Dougherty spends a great deal of time lambasting the conservative movement and its organs, from which he feels, for whatever reason, estranged -- an alienation that carries with it more than a little to suggest that it is somewhat personal.

In 2013, he announced that he planned to set aside political writing to concentrate on the relatively sane world of professional baseball, saying: "National politics has most of the vices of 'bread and circuses.' And if that's the case, pro sports is a better circus." But it is difficult for a politics man to give up politics -- look at all the political crap that ESPN viewers and Sports Illustrated readers have to endure -- and he has taken it upon himself in this election cycle to serve as Apostle to the Cathedral, "the Cathedral" being a favorite metaphor of the so-called alt-right for the "distributed conspiracy" (in the words of Curtis Yarvin, a.k.a. Mencius Moldbug) that might in less riled-up times be described as "polite society," the conventional wisdom among people who live in places such as Washington, D.C., and New York City and work in fields such as politics and media.

You know: Them.

Donald Trump is the headline, and explaining the benighted white working class to Them is the main matter. Sanctimony is the literary mode, for Dougherty and for many others doing the same work with less literary facility.

Dougherty invites us to think about Mike, an imaginary member of the white working class who is getting by on Social Security disability fraud in unfashionable Garbutt, N.Y. Conservatives, in Dougherty's view, don't give a damn about Mike. They care a great deal about Jeffrey, "a typical coke-sniffer in Westport, Conn." Jeffrey pays a lot of taxes, both directly in the form of the capital-gains tax and indirectly through the corporate tax, and tax cuts "intersect with his interests at several points." Republicans want to encourage private retirement investments, which might send some business toward Jeffrey's "fund-manager in-law, who works in nearby Darien." (For those of you unfamiliar with the econogeography of Fairfield County, Conn., going from Westport to Darien is moving up in the world. Next stop: Greenwich.) "If the conservative movement has any advice for Mike, it's to move out of Garbutt and maybe 'learn computers,'" Dougherty writes in the magazine The Week. "Any investments he made in himself previously are for naught. People rooted in their hometowns? That sentimentalism is for effete readers of Edmund Burke. Join the hyper-mobile world." The piece is headlined "How Conservative Elites Disdain Working-Class Republicans," and I suppose I should mention that my own writing on the white working class's infatuation with Donald Trump is Exhibit A in Dougherty's case.

Never mind the petty sneering (as though the conservative movement were populated by septuagenarians who say things like "learn computers") and the rhetorical need to invent moral debasement (tax cuts are good for the rich people in Connecticut who don't use cocaine, too) and Dougherty's ignoring out of existence those capital-driven parts of the economy that are outside of the Manhattan-Connecticut finance corridor. And never mind the math, too: It is really quite difficult to design federal tax cuts that benefit people who do not pay much in the way of federal taxes. Set all that aside: What, really, is the case for staying in Garbutt?

There was no Garbutt, N.Y., until 1804, when Zachariah Garbutt and his son John settled there. They built a grist mill, and, in the course of digging its foundations, they discovered a rich vein of gypsum, at that time used as a fertilizer. A gypsum industry sprang up and ran its course. Then Garbutt died. "As the years passed away, a change came over the spirit of their dream," wrote local historian George E. Slocum. "Their church was demolished and its timber put to an ignoble use; their schools were reduced to one, and that a primary; their hotels were converted into dwelling houses; their workshops, one by one, slowly and silently sank from sight until there was but little left to the burg except its name."

Slocum wrote that in . . . 1908.

The Right, as the Left, simply despises the End of History : democracy, capitalism and protestantism.
Posted by at January 1, 2017 9:17 AM