"...it's not the training to be mean but the training to be kind that is used to keep us leashed best." ~ Black Dog Red

"In case you haven't recognized the trend: it proceeds action, dissent, speech." ~ davidly, on how wars get done

"...What sort of meager, unerotic existence must a man live to find himself moved to such ecstatic heights by the mundane sniping of a congressional budget fight. The fate of human existence does not hang in the balance. The gods are not arrayed on either side. Poseiden, earth-shaker, has regrettably set his sights on the poor fishermen of northern Japan and not on Washington, D.C. where his ire might do some good--I can think of no better spot for a little wetland reclamation project, if you know what I mean. The fight is neither revolution nor apocalypse; it is hardly even a fight. A lot of apparatchiks are moving a lot of phony numbers with more zeros than a century of soccer scores around, weaving a brittle chrysalis around a gross worm that, some time hence, will emerge, untransformed, still a worm." ~ IOZ

Oct 7, 2011

The 53%

Movements and counter-movements, created within days and weeks of each other. Mediated, and manipulable.

Who controls the medium? Not the 99%. Not the newly named 53%.

The 1%.

And while the various media of nearly instant communication - and reaction - can be used to criticize and challenge those who own the media of exchange, they're also as likely to be used in defense of them.

Loyalties take shape. And then, they stick. In place. In the craw.

They get in the way - these mediated identities and loyalties. They are - obstructions.

The man who joined the Marines at 20, the college drop out business owner, the orphan who lost her mother and her security - they are the white majority; they are still under threat. On the edge. They feel the decline in their own fortunes perhaps as acutely as those who've taken to the streets in opposition to the 1%. But, their radicalization takes a different form, follows an alternate course.

They've come to defend. The blame falls downward, which for them is where it belongs. The shiftless, the Others, the lazy  - they bear social and physical markers of their shame and fallibility: they were never the elect.

These are the small holders, these 53%, who have begun to shape a political identity around their payment of taxes into - and therefore assumed ownership of - the means of control. They are, as we discussed below, invested. Mandatory history has taught them a few noble truths: they are the nation, they are the elect. History looks back at them with their own faces. The whipping lash of the wage constraint, the choke collar of food scarcity, the alienation of racial and sexual othering hasn't struck them yet, or within the limits of their political conscience. But they feel the distance between themselves, this growing sense of wrongness and displacement, and those who rule; where we see classes, they see the cultivated divisions: traditions under threat, a God dethroned, a dollar in freefall and their cultural security fraying at the edges of a hegemony once believed everlasting. They mistake a lease for a deed and title, and that makes them as useful as the good liberals who would very much like to leave the project of power to proper and civilizing institutions.

These are the faces of reaction.

They can be fought. They can distract us, which serves the purposes of those who actually own damned near everything.

But wouldn't it be better to hear them? To listen, for as long as it is possible?

One day we may not have these fora.

And that day will follow immediately upon the realization, among those who rule, that the old wounds and divisions must serve their greater purpose again.

Until then, we would do worse than to be attentive.


Will Shetterly said...

Huh. They're not the 53%. They're the little bourgeoisie and the little bourgeoisie wannabes. There'll always be the folks who align with the upper class in the hope of joining them someday.

Jack Crow said...

I agree, will. Without reservation. But, I'd wager money I don't have that this particular spectacular function will get increasing media and rightwing coverage over the ensuing days and weeks (especially if coverage of their political movement, the Tea Party, is an indication).

But, while we still have a chance to really listen - it cannot hurt to do so. Not only to find a way to persuade those who haven't yet given over completely to reaction, but also in preparation.

These are the system's shock absorbers.

Will Shetterly said...

Oh, listening to them is right. The ones who say they don't have health care but they'll clean rich people's toilets with their tongues for a quarter make me want to cry.

JTG said...

It isn't just the Teabaggers who do this, though. If you scratch Michael Moore's alleged opposition to capitalism, you find someone who's really just pining for the "good old days" of post-WWII, quarter-century prosperity when (white) guys like him enjoyed a privileged position in the U.S. and the world at the expense of others.

Jack Crow said...

And as with the Ed Schulzs, and the Gore Vidals - who long for a lost white Republic what never was, JTG. Well said.

Brian M said...

you scare me, a comfortable plump aging white guy (whose travails are alas, all self-inflicted) but then you post this kind of analysis and I am hooked again. Bravo.

Jack Crow said...


These are my own divisions, sadly. I'm not comfortable, and I could probably be a little plumper - but I certainly oscillate (or is it vacillate?...) between reasonableness and impotent rage.

I have few friends, and those I have are generally more well off than I. I opted for as many experiences as possible. And I made bad decisions from my childhood right up through yesterday. Often enough, knowing they were bad (I'm a little shaky on right and wrong, it seems). They chose security, stability and good sense. I was a shiny good manager (those of us without a trade seem to fill that niche), they skilled craftsmen, mostly self-employed.

I had to learn to be reasonable - because that's how you get people to do work they wouldn't otherwise do. But I also had to cultivate my contempt, because that's what you feel for people when they do work they wouldn't otherwise do, 'cept for the not wanting to starve, and shit. Contempt is the only way to manage others. It's what allows you to sleep at night. If you like sleep, that is.

My few good friends bear different wounds. It's getting worse for them. Their's has been a slow decline, a struggle not to drown. I walked away (after talking it over with my wife, who was sick of doing home-mommy anyway) and we went from okay to poor overnight.

So, here I am with the habits my choices have bought me: a good ear for suffering (because you manage people through their weaknesses, on top of their strengths) and a contempt for those who need to be managed.

My friends, on the other hand, are more like these 53%, perhaps sans the uglier nativism. They always had a belief in success, a belief in their own belief, a faith in hope.

As "the country goes to shit" to quote one from a phone conversation last night, they feel it acutely. These are their identities under fire.

I, on the other hand, was already an interloper, a little goblin thing who'd made it inward, but never belonged. That's no merit to me, obviously, but the goblin has a good perch from which to crow...