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.



Despite my initial skepticism, I have found myself telling my coworkers, "If it's not Trump this cycle, it will be someone like him next cycle." And in the back of my mind, I see a young, charismatic veteran of one or more of our imperial wars stepping up to a podium to announce his candidacy...

It should be noted that the Republican party failed in its presidential debut (John Fremont in 1856), but succeeded on the second attempt. Then all hell broke loose. 2020? 2024? We are getting awfully close to Twilight's timeline.

1/20/16, 6:23 PM

William Church said...
Music to my ears John. It is so refreshing to finally hear someone put it out there without the preening and posturing so common today.

These resentments spring from very real class warfare. They are not imagined slights. But it is amazing how many folks are blinded by identity politics such that they cannot see it.... or admit it in any event.

The fact is that Trump tapped into these resentments. He most certainly did not invent them. Win or lose the working class is going to be heard going forward. Bank on it.

Immigration and trade have been used by both parties to destroy the middle class. An old phrase about reaping the whirlwind comes to mind.


1/20/16, 6:24 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Buddha, no argument there. If it isn't Trump this time, it could well be Fred Halliot in 2020.

Will, exactly. The sooner people start talking about it without the posturing and preening -- if that's even still an option at this point -- the greater our chances, which are not good anyway, of avoiding a really ugly explosion.

1/20/16, 6:32 PM

Alex said...
So, he's sort of like "Joe the plumber" (millionàire probably) or Mike Rowe (multi millionàire) who puts himself across as being working class.

Hitler could pull this off because he had literally fought in the trenches, and for that matter he was a decent artist, capable of hard work, and was no dummy.

Living on ten grand a year in the wasteland that is silicon valley, I really don't care how much money someone has or supposedly has. We've become a caste based society and individual effort or capability are meaningless.

It's just a matter of making yourself comfortable at whatever level your parents landed you on.

1/20/16, 6:34 PM

none said...
From a far left cartoonist:

1/20/16, 6:40 PM

Leah Gayle said...
First, I would like to repost this from the tail end of last week's comments:
"Blogger Eric Backos said...

Hi Shane
Congratulations on the inaugural meeting of GWB&PA No. 859!
We at Tower 440 extend full recognition and privileges to Tower 859.
PS – Love the motto. Should we have heraldry?"

Yes, I think heraldry is a lovely idea. I made a logo, but I can't figure out how to post graphics on these comments. Instead I put an announcement with the logo here:

Since this is horse country, it had to have a horse - but ours had to be a magical flying horse with a wand, so to speak. :) I suppose I can put it on a shield, but I'm not lettered in the niceties of heraldry. (My attempt at latin was bad enough.) Perhaps we ought to adopt an "official" shield blank for everyone to put their spirit animal or iconic figure or whatever on?"

We thank Tower 440 for recognizing us.

Second, I would like to say that Trump is far more scary to me than comical. Once the "average joe" figures out that there is not going to be any action taken by govt on their hot button issues like immigration and tolerance of other religions, their patience (so to speak) will expire and they will decide to solve the "problems" the old fashioned wild west way, which they have secretly always wanted to do. They know now from those Bundy guys that they will be treated with kid gloves because they represent the desired voting block of the GOP. And once they get started they won't stop with Muslims. They will decide "now" is the time to ideologically purge the US of all "evildoers."

I don't know how long it will take for this to happen, but it seems inevitable. There is nothing else that will satisfy or placate them. Eventually that will figure out that the GOP doesn't really want anything to change and they'll feel betrayed and flip out.

1/20/16, 6:41 PM

pygmycory said...
A lot of what you said this week rings true for me, little thought I like the fact. This set of interlocking problems isn't restricted to the US. Here's a particularly egregious example of media hating on Trump that I happened to be reading just before I read this week's article. It's from the Guardian, a british newspaper:

I can't stand Trump, but that doesn't mean the people of the USA won't choose him.

1/20/16, 6:42 PM

Tom Hopkins said...
Arise like lions from slumber
In unvanquishable number
Shake your chains to earth like dew
Which in sleep were put upon you
Remember, we are many
They are few

1/20/16, 6:44 PM

pygmycory said...
There's also the question of the SIZE of the classes you mentioned. How have they changed in size over the years?

1/20/16, 6:44 PM

Gee said...
Long time lurker, and plan to post more soon. I do believe your investment class is the group of people I and others I know tend to refer to as the "rentier" class. Not an exact overlap, but I think very similar.

My opinion, which I admit has been reinforced since my coming to your blog a good while back, is that we have always been on our way to a Trump-like leader. Pretty much since I've been voting in the mid-80s and becoming more and more disillusioned the more I learn about the real history of this country (as opposed to the brainwashing via whitewashing of history I was brought up on, and this in one of the top public schools in the country-yikes), where power resides and how it operates, how broken most of the institutions are by a refined sort of corruption.

Trump is a manifestation, via opportunism, of who "we" collectively are : the angry masses, that are so confused they aren't even quite sure who or what they are angry with, since so much of their ability to discern this has been eroded by misinformation, propaganda or simply outright falsehoods. He is the current incarnatiuon of how clever but cruel leaders feed their megalomaniacal tendencies. In a just society, the too big to fail Trump would have been near the door of debtor's prison decades ago. But he is a product of both inherited wealth, ignorance, greed, and the compromised systems we have inherited which have only grown more crafty via financialization, at fleecing the masses in the name of serving them. (See housing bubble, student loan bubble, and now, new and improved charter school bubble.) These types of people prey on our hopes and fears. And yet, when people point it out, it means nothing. The anger overrides the dangers our anger invites, or the fear makes them too gullible, and unable to see the real motives behind at work.

I could ramble all night, but let me just give you a huge thank you for sticking with this blog. I've been turning as many people as I can on to it, and I am finding its themes resonating more and more. I just fear that the efforts to build a group of people that can understand what is happening is being overwhelmed by the forces of ignorance. But I'll keep trying.

Regards, G

1/20/16, 6:45 PM

Juandonjuan said...
In the age of limits, the fact that for one (or several) class(es) get more, one class first will be getting less. And if that less is not in a low cost nation, the working class will be demonized, marginalized or ignored in their plight until they flock to the strange bright banners of a cornpone hitler. H/T JMG &JHK
My late wife's family were union second generation immigrants Coal&steel, garment workers. Solid working class, raised their children to move up and on. His job downsized/outsourced/sold in 1977, hers in 1982. the debates over sunday dinner were informative, even if they didn't understand all the factors coming into play. Industry went south(SC,NC,ARK. etc.) until it went further south (and east). I live in NC-a "Right to Work" state- haha -Since 1982. I listened to the locals bitch about the textile jobs leaving in the 80s,Bigtime gone under Clinton. They were very cocky back in 82-86 about those g&%*[email protected]#N union workers not knowing a good thing, lazy etc.
Until their jobs went south too. Greed and capital know no loyalties, but they control the information flow so the betrayal was never explicit. All it takes is a talented demagogue and the whole world is upside down. And when the next big one hits I would not want to be in between the takers and the taken

1/20/16, 6:45 PM

whomever said...
Wow. I have to say, this is something I agree with 200%, even though there is no way in hell I'd ever vote Trump. But it's tricky to discuss because class is an absolutely taboo subject in the US. (I should mention I'm not American by birth though have live here since teenager hood, so certain American weirdnesses are probably more visible to me). I actually wish we could have real dialog about class, it would probably be healthy, but America clings to the mythology of the "classless society" (despite all the actual evidence pointing the other way).

I do have a comment and a question. Firstly, the comment: I'm firmly in the Salary class, being a very well paid computer programmer, but at the same time the Salary class isn't quite as comfortable as you portray. Oh, sure, we have our trips to Europe and houses and such, and I certainly wouldn't say we are as badly off as the wage class, but we aren't exactly smug. I've been to our Indian office and met my counterparts there: They are smarter, work longer hours and are paid less. We see the future. We know we are next. I suspect part of the current dynamic is precisely because of that. And don't forget: We are also acutely aware that WE are the ones being hooked by the AMT at 35% while somehow Mitch Romney manages a 14.1% tax rate and a theoretically impossibly large tax-free IRA. So, frankly the more thoughtful ones I've talked to in my class are firmly in the "Hey, I'll seriously help build the guillotines when it comes time". No disagreements about the snobbishness though, curse the culture wars and the people who profit off them.

Second is more a question: I've read a lot of analysis about the South in particular that the ruling classes spent the last 100 years carefully playing the race card to keep the wage earners voting against their own interests. It matches what I've see of the south, but at the same time does come across as exactly the snobbery you describe. As someone who is technically south of the Mason-Dixon line, though barely, I'd be interested in explicitly what you are seeing down there. I've heard from multiple Southerners that that particular tactic doesn't work anymore.

1/20/16, 6:46 PM

David Henry said...
A fascinating take on things; as a member of the salary class I think you may have put your finger on a blind spot of mine (ours), and in a way that really helped me understand Trump's popularity for the first time. So...what do you make of Bernie Sanders read against this same backdrop of the 4 classes you mentioned?

1/20/16, 6:52 PM

Justin said...
JMG, as a longtime reader, this post is a candidate for your best 5. Your most salient point, in my humble opinion, is that if we don't get a Trump (or maybe a Sanders) this time, we will get, to use a Kunstler phrase, a corn-pone Hitler 4 years later. It's worth remembering that if Hitler had an aneurysm in 1935, Germany would likely today celebrate Hitler Day with pride, and people everywhere else would likely lament the burst blood vessel that enabled the dictator that plunged Eurasia into war and hatred in World War 2, which raged from 1942 to 1949.

As a member of the salary class that used to spend a lot of time working and socializing with higher-paid wage class members, I can only imagine what they are saying about Trump. Sanders might tap into some of the anger in America today, but Trump has a giant borehole right into the mainstream of anger.

Something I've noticed in a few corners of the Internet is the notion that it is worthwhile to support Trump simply because he damages the status quo. His racist policies (which I expect will get toned down to capture the Black and Hispanic vote anyway) are seen as irrelevant. America has a nihilistic streak these days. When roadside bombs make their way to America, there will be no shortage of volunteers to set them.

1/20/16, 6:53 PM

Juandonjuan said...
And for those who seem to think that a living wage and humane secure working conditions were gifts from the investment/capitalist class I recommend the movie -Matewan

1/20/16, 6:58 PM

Unknown said...
I've long told my friends that there was a class war and we lost. Your essay is spot on; thank you.

My life, following in my father's footsteps, shows just how far we've fallen. His one job supported a wife, four kids, house and the accouterments; without two working adults, my much more meager living is impossible.

My question is: do you think Trump, if elected, will actually do or propose anything which will help the wage-earning(or formerly wage-earning) people who voted for him?

1/20/16, 7:00 PM

Gee said...
I really do hate to come right back with a second comment before my first has even posted, but I must.

Alongside offshoring and immigration as a way to lose jobs and debase the wages of the ones we have, you absolutely cannot ignore what happened in the 80s under Reagan, the move to say F-you to the antitrust laws, and how that continued on under the neo-liberal administrations to follow. The massive consolidation of corporate power via mergers was a direct assault on unions and the power of wage earners. This in my view is part in parcel to the immigration issue, because the jobs were made to be low skilled via the production line, and high turnover was essential to keep labor costs down, because you didnt want to train, you didnt want to pay for health insurance, and you didnt want anyone to stay long enough to earn vacation time. These models are made for profit, not for any type of just distribution of the rewards for the combination of capital and labor.

I will agree that the salary class has benefited via the low cost of labor, but the rentier or investment class benefits more. It's just more concentrated. This you see via the clubby boardroom deals that have raised ceo x wage earner ratios to the moon, and created massive inequality. But you also see it via the Fed's economics "management" of the economy, inducing one bubble after the next to burst, only to make whole the creators of the destruction, lay waste to the people that didnt know any better being caught up in it by the machinations of the bankers, and then allowing the recovery to proceed via looting by the ones that were already on top.

And we're getting set to go through it again in the oil patch. Unreal...

1/20/16, 7:01 PM

Leah Gayle said...
Also, I would like to announce the next meeting of the Green Wizards Benevolent & Protective Assn., Tower 859, and Ruinmen's Guild, Local 859 of the Bluegrass, Lexington, KY, will be @ Common Grounds coffeehouse on High Street, 7:00pm, on Thursday, January 28th. in servitio libertas! All are welcome.

1/20/16, 7:01 PM

A Post-Millennial said...
Your use of four classes rather than the traditional Marxist two or liberal three is quite illuminating. One thing that occurred to me about our current predicament while reading your article is the way that legal structures work to bind or divide classes. The investment and salaried classes have been bound together since the 1970s by stock options, financial devices which give salaried professionals a taste of life as an investor. Meanwhile, wage earners and welfare recipients are divided by their relationship to the state. Wage earners lose money to the government through taxes while welfare recipients are reliant on government transfers. Obviously, the structure breeds resentment in wage earners towards welfare recipients.

If anything, these structures reinforce for me the idea that the government is the tool of the ruling class. Perhaps that's obvious, but I find it worth stating. Unfortunately, it's quite difficult for me to believe the anarchist vision of the lower classes uniting in opposition to the elites (investment and salaried classes). I've just about resigned myself to continued class warfare as we slide down the hill towards complete collapse.

1/20/16, 7:02 PM

Steve D said...
Wow, dead on.

I'm reminded of the saying that the American poor don't revolt against the American rich because they think they can become rich themselves. That never quite rang true to me, though I could never put my finger on why. But, stated in terms of wage-earners thinking they could become salaried, it makes total sense. I've known and worked with hundreds of people who fit that to a tee, and at least some of whom are currently under the very college debt you described even now (could've been me - I came perilously close to going to grad school on a couple of occasions - much happier learning to grow veggies, thanks).

You've also put Sarah Palin's recent endorsement of His Donaldness in a new light, as I think in retrospect she too rose to fame upon the same blowback of the wage-class.
Anyway, another great post - thanks for the insights.:)

1/20/16, 7:11 PM

Shane W said...
Wow, amazing. So true. I was on a permaculture farm this summer, and the woman that ran it, along with others, were sneering at their working class neighbors for tilling and spraying and making fun of their "puny garden". It was very distasteful. I kept thinking, "why don't you share your knowledge with them." This whole valley in Appalachia was riven by a class divide between the "green intentional community people" and the native mountain folk. The permaculture farmer sneered at going to a funeral at the Baptist church, acting as though there were racist & homophobic "cooties" that she would "catch" just from being there. Watch how uncomfortable salary class people get in working class environs, like the laundromat & the dollar store! The same thing has repeated itself in the community gardens I've volunteered with in urban areas, along with the gentrification of those urban neighborhoods by trendy members of the salaried or rentier class.
For me, I just can't do it anymore. It's just a cheap shot I won't take anymore, and I'm not really willing to deny their humanity anymore, and, personally, "they" seem a lot nicer, more real, more down to earth than the members of the salary class I used to think were my peers when I get to know them and relate to them one on one, and secondly, as a downwardly mobile person, I just don't think that there's really that much that separates me from "them" anymore...

1/20/16, 7:13 PM

Matt Miles said...
Interesting analysis, John.

Did anyone else notice this article in the New York Times a couple months ago? Apparently Trump's core electorate of ex-wage earners are doing themselves in--through alcoholism, overdoses, and suicide--at a rate not seen since the late '90s in Russia.

It took two economists--not doctors, epidemiologists, or healthcare researchers--to even pick up on this sad and disturbing epidemic, which is occurring to this demographic group that has been ill-treated or ignored by the other two socio-economic groups you mention.


1/20/16, 7:14 PM

Andy said...
JMG - again you've given me something that'll take more than one read to grok fully. Normally I'd thank you for that. This time around I'm not so sure. (grin)

I think you called the terms of our current president correctly. I didn't vote for him first time around. I did, however, at his re-election, as I realized that he's one of the best moderate Republicans we've had in this country since before Reagan was elected.

I'd be interested in your take on this piece from Politico. My gut suggests it's part of the mix, especially as politics in the US continues it's rapid slide into the upper right corner of the Political Compass.


1/20/16, 7:17 PM

Compound F said...
I'm reminded of Ursula LeGuin's Omelas, only on a scope and level of deterioration one may not have imagined in Archie Bunker's Seventies. The failures appear globally comprehensive. I personally don't see the salaried class becoming more sympathetic as they lose their house-cleaners, and they appear oblivious to the knotted relations between the cluster...headaches (population, energy use, GDP, environmental toxication, war, slavery...). I believe G.W. Bush was correct at least once: This Sucker could go down!

1/20/16, 7:24 PM

Robert Mathiesen said...
I think this is spot on, JMG. I drew a salary all my working life, but every one of my relatives in the generatons before me was a wage-earner (or poorer), and my instincts and resentments and unconscious attitudes were formed in their mold when I was young. Class warfare is old and very real in this country, as real as anything there is. I saw it start to heat up in the later 1960s -- slowly at first, but ever more rapidly. By now it's at a rolling boil. Trump is just the first petrel that announces the coming storm by its flight. (Sorry for mixing the metaphors here.)

1/20/16, 7:27 PM

siliconguy said...
The best thing about your writing is that you make me think from time to time. The sneering class; here I thought I was the only one that thought of the left that way. But no. Although I officially fit the salary class you describe it has never been a good fit, as I grew up thoroughly blue collar. Some of my not the first generation to go to college co-workers think I'm just a bit rough around the edges.

Some of your comments about the working class don't seem to fit very well, but on reflection, my reference may be skewed. I work at a chemical plant, and that is high-end subset of hourly. It's common for the senior operators to reach six- figure incomes, in fact they often make more than I do. The difference is that I do not work a rotating shift, and I spend less time wearing nomex. And I don't get paid for my overtime, grump, grump.

The perception at work is that Trump is putting the unpleasant truth ahead of political correctness and even people that think he would be a lousy president give him credit for that.

1/20/16, 7:29 PM

Steve Thomas said...
I'm grateful for this post, which put into words a lot of stuff that's been on my mind and I think a lot of peoples' minds-- and which no one is talking about in public. A few thoughts...

First, I appreciate your description of America's class divisions, which are more succinct than those I've tried to use in the past. The destruction of what you're calling the wage class is something I've been trying to talk about with my left-leaning friends for years, and is a major part of the reason I abandoned radical politics. I remember saying to a radical friend of mine about 3 years ago, when the current wave of neo-Stalinist identity politics were being rolled out in earnest, that I didn't believe leftwing "antiracism" but that I thought it was actually a cover for old-fashioned bourgeois class hatred. He was incredulous, and asked why.

I'm from rural Western Pennsylvania, an area very similar to where you currently live in Cumberland. (I was born in Johnstown, PA, which I think mirrors Cumberland's demographics and geographics almost exactly). I explained to my friend that if I took him or most of our other radical colleagues to the area I grew up in, they would dismiss most of the people they met as appalling bigots, sexists, homophobes, etc. And they would completely fail to notice that the people they were describing as oppressors lived in a region with enormous poverty, unemployment, drug addiction, suicide and despair. And this is commonplace throughout rural America. Everywhere in this country between the elite coastal enclaves and a few cities in Texas is an absolute catastrophe, and no one talks about it, least of all our self-appointed guardians of the downtrodden on the Left.

Second thought, somewhat unrelated--

"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."

I think that this sentence by itself illustrates one of the major problems with our political system. It's self-evidently true, but I cannot imagine a Republican or a Democrat writing it, or a committed Republican or Democrat being able to understand it. The Republican would stop at the part where you seem to be showing a little too much sympathy for illegal immigrants, what with mentioning their "economic or political rights." The Democrat will be on board for that part and then blow his top when you mention the unbearably obvious fact that vastly increasing the supply of labor reduces the price of ... labor.

Ugh. Presidential elections are frustrating by their nature, but this one seems to be more frustrating than most, and it hasn't technically started yet. At the same time, there's the hope that the Trump-Sanders phenomenon will shake up the system. And at the same, same time, there's the realization that just because a bad system gets shaken up doesn't mean that a good system must turn up to replace it... usually the opposite happens.

1/20/16, 7:30 PM

Mr. Bystander said...
Mr. Greer, another brilliant post. I've noticed the same thing that you've described. Most notably I think we got a glimpse of this when Scott Brown was elected in my home state a few years back instead of the entitled "my turn" candidate that everyone assumed would win. I believe Brown said "It's not the Kennedy seat, it's the people's seat". I saw lifelong liberals in my family vote for him because of thay. For an overwhelming majority of working class people in a Blue state to vote for the Red candidate was thought of as impossible. I don't think Trump is doing anything much different but the response is way more potent on the national scale. He will win just like Scott Brown and most recently our Republican governor in MA for similar reasons. The wage class is powerful. You are absolutely right.

I happen to make a salary but I'd hardly consider myself a member of that class given my struggles to even live a modest life within my means. I've actually been having conversations with some friends recently about a trend we've noticed. A trend where our employer basically converts us to salary from hourly at the same pay rate and asks for more hours. Basically eliminated overtime compensation for their benefit.

No doubt a sleeping dragon is awakening.

1/20/16, 7:33 PM

look sie said...
Long time reader, first time commenter here. I've read all of your books and I find your presentation well-reasoned and so refreshingly free of the knee-jerk bias that is so prevalent on the right and, most especially, on the lib-left. Although I am a member of the salaried class here in Canada, I was born into the working class in Hamilton, Ontario - Canada's one-time answer to Pittsburgh. As such, I'd like to think I can see both sides. 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. At a recent holiday gathering, the talk turned to politics and I commented that I thought Trump would win, citing many of the same points you've made above. I also expressed my dismay at the results of our recent election of a prime minister who is a slightly dumber (but white!) version of Obama. You would of thought I was cheerleading for Hitler. These men simply refused to consider any argument that might have proved my points. Surprisingly, I don't think they actually disagreed with the arguments but to admit they could have some validity would have been tantamount to admitting that maybe, just maybe, some of their deeply held beliefs are wrong. And, for this class, that can JUST NOT BE. I told one of my friends afterwards that this refusal to face the facts on the ground will be a disaster for us all in the West - gay, straight and otherwise, in North America and in Europe because the mindset is the same. Liam

1/20/16, 7:37 PM

Steve Thomas said...
Oh, and I almost forgot. Did you happen to read Obama's final State of the Union address? It's simultaneously the greatest sermon in the Religion of Progress's recent history and the most profound statement of elite cluelessness regarding the processes you're talking about here that I can imagine. I don't suppose you knew that people who object to the Trans Pacific Partnership are morally identical to those who opposed the civil rights movement, and that the obvious solution to the "inevitable" new economy that the Washington elite created on purpose is more student loans and mandatory preschool, did you? But that's what the president is for, to teach us these things.

1/20/16, 7:37 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
Incidentally, not just the blue collar workers, but the pink collar workers, have been just as badly gutted. Young women who thought their college degrees could at least get then an office job are flipping burgers, bartending, stripping, or flatly supplementing their income - surviving, in many cases, by selling the one thing there's a market for in the worst of times. Which I realize goes back, not just to SISTER CARRIE and LA TRAVIATA, but to the apes, and earlier. And who do you think they'll vote for? Unless they have a salary class sugar daddy on whose fortunes they depend. I just told my "Women For Hillary" friend that, too.

And my leftist friends, both salary class and barely scraping by (a preschool teacher, a massage therapist, a retired bookstore clerk, etc) are placing all their hopes on Bernie Sanders.

1/20/16, 7:37 PM

Eric Backos said...
Dear Mr. Greer and assembled Wizardren
Painesville, Ohio: There is NO meeting of the Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440 this week.
We apologize for the inconvenience.
Splendorem Lucis Viridis!
Tower 440

1/20/16, 7:37 PM

Mark said...
Very helpful framework. When I moved here from the UK in the early 90s it was striking how Americans liked to pretend there was no economic class tension going on here, while happily engaging in very vicious cultural class war. But then of course dividing people via culture war hot buttons was the purpose I suppose. I still wonder if Trump isn't just another version of the right wing radio/evangelical pastor axis that helped get enough of the wage class to vote Republican over the last twenty or so years. I can see him riding these resentments all the way to the White House, but I have trouble seeing him actually doing anything about them. Because if he did, even if it is practically possible, he'll have hell to pay from his own class of plutocrats. The big question to me is whether he really intends to make major economic changes, or whether he is another hope and change jockey aiming to just manage and deflate the pressures in the system.

I'd like to say it's gonna be interesting and fun to watch - it will be, but it's also getting pretty real now. Feels like we're moving into new territory.

1/20/16, 7:38 PM

Abelardsnazz said...
A fascinating and insightful post. Sitting half the world away, 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 certainly feel I've a better understanding of the actual dynamics of the situation now that I've read your analysis. You almost make him sound like a Christ-like figure, suffering the attacks of the liberal intelligentsia on behalf of His People.

1/20/16, 7:38 PM

jonathan said...
on the mark. the investment class cares not at all about immigration. capital is fungible and, the occasional capital control aside, is readily movable. investors can, therefore, play wage arbitrage anywhere in the world. the salaried class is the beneficiary of immigration and off-shoring as every attorney with a smart phone and a nanny can readily tell you.
i don't know if trump can actually become president, but, if we combine the polling numbers of trump, sanders and cruz (who taps into many of the same voters as trump) it's clear that a very significant part of the electorate is ready for something well outside of the political mainstream.
in this respect, the u.s. is following the lead of europe where nigel farrage, marine le pen, beppe grillo etc. are challenging the neoliberal and euro integration consensus from both the left and the right. some sense of how the political elite see these events can be gleaned by observing the eviseration of greece after the tsipras election. our political elite is at least as sociopathic as their european counterparts. it will be most interesting to see how extreme the reaction becomes if trump appears to be winning the nomination. i would not rule out a contrived emergency that required the election to be delayed, perhaps indefinitely.

1/20/16, 7:39 PM

234567 said...
Having been in both salary and wage classes off and on over my career, I will assert you hit this one pretty squarely, JMG - at least as far as Trump and the coming turmoil post-election.

I don't see anything coming in the immediate future to help wageclass, except maybe one more run-up of the market before the big swirl. But that will be only a sideband benefit to the wageclass - primarily investorclass and salaryclass will be temporary beneficiaries. Even this is likely to end in 2017. The massive global debt, wherein this country figures prominently, is soon to become untenable. That unwind will not be stopped - the question is, what will it precipitate and what will replace it?

The anger that rises when either the new prez or congress do their about face on election issues will likely be quite a kitchen match...

1/20/16, 7:39 PM said...
The framework of investment class, salary class, wage class, and welfare class makes perfect sense. And you've mentioned a couple of small classlets — the Royalties classlet, and the Profit classlet. Two questions of course arise: 1) What other classlets are there, and 2) which of these classlets are relatively well-positioned for the future?

I can answer that first one a bit. There's the artist classlet, and the artisan classlet. The one makes useless-but-beautiful objects, the other makes useful and beautiful but expensive/handmade objects. They have skills that they might be able to trade for pay, but usually they're working hard all the time and not getting much in return. There's the consultant classlet, of people with highly specialized skills or knowledge that get paid to move around; and a medicinal classlet, of medical technical professionals — some doctors, but mostly nurses and nursing assistants and technicians, who sort of straddle the wage/salary divide.

It's easy to see which kinds of classlets provide niche survival skills... and it's equally easy to see that ANY of these classlets could become targeted and made miserable in a more generalized conflict. The modern American empire is going to make a messy hash of the lower layers of its investment class on the way down, it seems to me. And the salary class is going to get clobbered in a traditional pincer move, between the wage earners who know how to do stuff, and the investors who know how to pay big for big stuff like propaganda. But the salary class doesn't really know how to do anything — and that's part of the reason why I've been shifting my classroom work toward Maker education these last six or eight years; and why I'm shifting my own skills toward Maker work.

One of the insights I had a bout Trump, though, you didn't touch on at all. The Republican Party has done a fairly good job of training the wage class to respond to 'dog whistle language', and one of the things which must be terrifying to the leadership of the GOP is that Trump is much better at whistling to 'their dogs' without using their Official GOP Dog Whistle™. His words, his phrases, his communications, his rallies — all of his efforts are geared toward 'stealing their voter base' right out from under them. They've gotten very used to being able to use coded language... and Trump isn't coding his language at all. He's just talking.

1/20/16, 7:47 PM

Jason Fligger said...
Hi JMG: Very insightful blog. A couple of comments: (1) The salaried class has been tapped by the banks and upper classes and it is doing what is necessary to maintain its standard of living. Salary growth since 1970 has been much slower than in the early years post WWII but more importantly, the share of salary spent on debt service has skyrocketed. Salaried class families did not borrow money for the purchase of cars until the mid 1970's and, with large down payments and modest growth in housing prices, large loans were not necessary for the purchase of homes during that time period either. The salaried class was squeezed and, since they wield more power than the wage class, they took the relatively easier route of squeezing the wage class rather than taking on the investment class. It would require much more thought and social coordination with the wage class for the salaried class to successfully push back against the more powerful investment class. Also, the investment class tied the fate of salaried class pensions to their own success. Who is going to push back against the holder of their pension money? Finally, many salaried class people aspire to ascend into the investment class they don't want to reduce their chances of "making it". Many of the salaried class came out of wage class families and their parents were proud that their sons and daughters had gotten more wealthy than they had. From what I can tell, this idea that the children should be more successful than the parents is taken as a law of nature for many Americans. We all want our children to be successful but whatever happened to just raising our children to be honest, hard-working and competent at whatever they do? When I was growing up, I had many friends who wanted to be farmers but their parents (who were farmers) discouraged them from farming. Instead, they sent their kids to college to be business people. My own son wants to be a mechanic. I will support his decision to be a mechanic.

1/20/16, 7:50 PM

Bike Trog said...
A mistake I made a few times is clicking ebay's Add to Cart before I look down to the shipping cost. With your publisher's free shipping it's close enough to the same price.

Armbands are easier to wear than neckties and would cost less. A tie could just as well be a fascist symbol.

1/20/16, 7:58 PM

Blueback said...
The mindset of the salary class and the investor class really reminds me of the French aristocracy before 1789. I think at this point, roadside bombs, barricades and guerrilla warfare are merely a question of how soon, not when. The Feds are widely hated in the West and the South as evidenced by recent events in Nevada and Oregon and there is a lot of pent-up rage in the African-American community, as evidenced by events in Ferguson and Baltimore.

If I were a Russian, Chinese or Iranian intelligence operative, I would be quietly stoking the flames of revolt in hopes of getting the American Empire to blow up when things finally hit a boiling point.

If Trump loses by electoral fraud or gets bumped off like RFK, you can pretty much guarantee either a Fred Halliot or a full-blown civil war within a decade. Either way, things are going to get a lot uglier.

1/20/16, 8:00 PM

Eric S. said...
I'm pretty sure that the way the current economic crisis is unfolding and some of the key driving factors that it'd be easy pickings for a candidate who is placing decoupling America's economy from China's at the core of his campaign. I also get the feeling that if we do get Trump, he may well be the same disappointment to his working class backers that Obama was to the people who rallied behind him in '08... Could the next step be the rise of an "American Populist" party that promises the return of American industry, the higher tariffs, stronger borders, and decoupling of the US from the global economy that gives Trump his populist edge in addition to the banking regulation, public healthcare, minimum wage hikes, and student loan reform that gives Sanders his? It seems like once that movement took hold and got the right voice, that's where we'd get our Fred Halliot and the rise of a single party system in America.

1/20/16, 8:00 PM

Grebulocities said...
When I read your articles on Fred Halliot in 2014, it immediately struck me as something that could easily happen. Though I'm thoroughly a product of the educated class, I've still lived in Midwestern towns and small cities most of my life and have seen enough to know that the working class has been thoroughly crushed and is justifiably very angry about it. But I took issue with the timeline - it didn't seem like something that could happen so soon. Trump helped to show me that this is a phenomenon that has already arrived, and will be here in some form or another for the foreseeable future.

In a strange way, the Trump campaign along with the success of right-wing populist movements in Europe has given me some hope that the current neoliberal order actually can be changed by popular will. But it is a little, shall we say, inconvenient that the people most likely to overthrow it are the 21st century equivalent of fascists.

1/20/16, 8:01 PM

Harry Lerwill said...
As a member of the 'salary class', I agree with many of your points. I have kept my lifestyle by eliminating "working class" jobs via automation. I justify my staff's position by how much they continue to save the company though productivity increases. Interestingly, jobs that were forced offshore years ago by the race to the bottom are now being automated out of existence, with the running of the 'automation' creating a yet smaller number of jobs back here in the US. I can see one job in thirty coming back as this trend develops, mainly desk jockey positions, but it allows the technology branch of the salary class to cling on a little longer to their lifestyle.

I will disagree with one point: I have never heard the salaried people talk about the hourly paid people in a derogatory manner. It's one of the reasons I'm still at the same company after 16 years, some workplaces are still stuck in the culture of the 60's and 70's.

Trump is where I would place my money this November, if he runs as expected. The ridicule he received from the British Parliament will have reminded 'those good folks' that they rebelled against those same British snobs before - and won! I expect it to rile up the trumpen-proletariat --a term I was sad to see has not caught on --some of whom had jobs, until the tech sector of the salary class automated those jobs out of existence.

The loss of the working class is Catabolic collapse in action, with even the offshored jobs now being cannibalized. It appears to be a slow collapse when it's happening to others - but it becomes a fast collapse when it happens to you.

1/20/16, 8:08 PM

Lucius Cornelius Sulla said...
Here in Australia the wage class has been kept quiet with the promise of ever increasing wealth via the property bubble. With the bubble set to burst in the next 18 months a whole lot of "cashed up bogans" eill become overnight debt slaves. Our politics is already caught in a pattern of wild swings and instability. I suspect any further crisis will see it spin out of control.

1/20/16, 8:12 PM

Esquon said...
A thought provoking analysis for sure and a framework for political action. The remaining question I have is simple. What does Trump get for all his efforts and expenditure?

1/20/16, 8:14 PM

Purple Tortoise said...
A comment from a member of the salary class who over the years has grown increasingly sympathetic to the wage class...

I'm not convinced by your thesis that the destruction of manufacturing in America has been driven by the desire of the salary class for cheap electronic toys. My first reason is that it is corporate sellers to the wage class that are doing much of the offshoring and employment of immigrants -- the higher up you go on the salary scale, the more likely you are to buy American from a boutique sort of outfit. My second reason is that the cost of manufactured goods are not a big part of the salary class budget -- the salary class would gladly pay double the price for electronic toys if they could pay half the cost for housing or college.

I think it may be useful to distinguish between the upper part and lower part of the salary class (not necessarily divided into equal halves). The lower part of the salary class is getting squeezed as the cost of housing soars in the regions of the country where salary class jobs are. It used to not be the case that both parents had to work to make ends meet in the salary class, and getting a good salary class job depends much more on getting into elite colleges than it used to. My salary class colleagues are driving themselves crazy trying to keep their heads above water and help their kids stay at the same socioeconomic level. I don't think they give much thought to the cost of manufactured goods -- that's a wage class concern. It's the upper part of the salary class shading into the investment class that is benefiting from the current arrangement.

1/20/16, 8:20 PM

Bryan L. Allen said...
Ah, thank you John Michael, for crystallizing a feeling I've had for a while: I think Donald Trump winning the Presidency would be the preferred outcome in our collective short term. Any other outcome seems like it would just increase the resentment and the divisive forces that are afoot. And I say this as a member of the salaried class, having through a combination of good fortune and Aspergian hyper-focus climbed up from the strata of the wage earners, where I even dipped briefly into the welfare class (wow, I disliked the indignities of being on unemployment!) Allowing the wage-earners to have their say, and their champion, seems to me a gentler way towards the longer-term hard landing we are headed towards. "Any landing you can walk away from is a good one", as my pilot friends used to say. Struggling to keep an aircraft, or a society, in the air when it has lost its capability for staying aloft just makes it more likely that your energy management situation will end in too much altitude and too little ability to lessen your final rate of descent. Don't misunderstand me; I'm not pleased at the notion of a President Trump, for numerous reasons, but it really feels like the alternatives get us more quickly to a Fred Halliot acendency, a harder landing that I hope we can avoid.

Thank you so much for your thoughts, the generosity of your dialog, and your fearless and indomitable spirit. I will be VERY interested to see if this week's comments are more aligned with your thoughts or are in loud disagreement!

1/20/16, 8:21 PM

Lucretia Heart said...
I'm in a weird position socially, with torn loyalties, as I have about half my friends who are wage class and LOVE Trump and half who are Urban West Coast liberals and LOATHE the guy...

Mystified by my very down-to-earth and sensible (and, yes, struggling to make enough while working 2 jobs) friends, I set aside my own feelings regarding Trump and sat in for one of the Republican debate fiasco-fests with them. (I admit to avoiding watching the debates due to personal disgust.) I thought instead of judging, I'd just ask them questions while we watched together and try to figure it out. Because I was genuinely perplexed, baffled, bewildered...

Turned out I didn't have to ask any questions. I watched with them, and-- being from the wage class myself, though surrounded by educated liberals-- I GOT IT. I totally could see the appeal. Trump smacked the other "business as usual" candidates around about the very things that so frustrate my friends. He was actually funny! I laughed aloud several times (and almost felt the need to genuflect to some deity somewhere to cleanse my soul afterwards!)

Sanders appeals to some of the same frustrations, but he refuses to address the illegal immigration side of things that so incenses the wage class (who are being run out of their rural towns by hoards of illegals, and who DO indeed drive down wages for everyone, etc.) SO he's more acceptable from one point of view but misses several massive points that are politically incorrect from the wage class view.

And then I could no longer laugh AT Trump. Nor sneer in derision. I continue to feel uneasy, leery, because I know he'd be a disaster at foreign relations just at a point where we can't really afford to rile our many enemies, not to mention those hints of extremism that could explode from his followers (they really are very angry, and yes, justifiably so.) A Trump presidency could bring out some deep, dark things that have been successfully suppressed for several decades--

-- but I can see it happening now. We have a wild ride coming, no question.

1/20/16, 8:31 PM

Chris Smith said...
JMG, you wrote "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."

I concur 100%. I am a legal aid attorney. This puts me in the odd position of being part of the salary class* but with daily contact with the wage class and the welfare class. Funny thing though, a lot of the welfare class I help used to be part of the wage class. They are exceedingly pissed off about this and they know damn well electoral politics in this country are rigged to ignore them.

My prediction: Bernie Sanders wins the general election if he gets the Democratic nomination, Trump wins if Hillary Clinton gets the nomination. Alternatively, some crooked things happen and neither Sanders not Trump is allowed to win, and the next election cycle will feature a candidate with really cool armbands.

*and I got really lucky here. I started off as a machinist in the 1990s.

1/20/16, 8:36 PM

Repent said...
Perfect summary. I was in the wage class for most of my working years, until very recently where I have been fortunate enough to work my way into a low level salary job. I can see both sides of the coin which you have described, the sneering, holier than thou attitude of anyone with a university degree and a professional job title. Exactly this, also the crude vulgar culture of those less fortunate who continue to make the 'wrong' choices, these people are getting desperate.

Still as I'm written before, as a Canadian, I would remark that the reality is, for all of us outside of the United States, that none of us have any say whatsoever on who will be the next world emperor/ despot. (Really not fair) I'm cynical, if not for rigged elections, then Ron Paul clearly won the last Republican nomination by a landslide. The very fact that he's not the current president, shows that the whole game is rigged and the 'winner' of the 2016 election has already been chosen by the ruling elites. That the whole election is just political theatre, and more bread and circuses to distract people from the real truth of fascism.

1/20/16, 8:46 PM

Lucretia Heart said...
Quick follow-up to my last comment:

I feel I should clarify. I said I found Trump funny. I meant I laughed at what he said about several things that were true but that no one dares to say, including what he said about several other candidates. But I laughed WITH him, not at him.

And some of his foreign policy stuff sounds right on the ball, but then in places he goes right off the rails. Same for domestic policies he's suggested. If he's pandering, then he's not doing it in a way I've seen other politicians do it-- except in some historical films, maybe..?

I think you could say I find I'm in a state of cognitive dissonance and can't quite find a comfortable place for my mind to go as of yet. However, I have stopped reflexively dismissing Trump, much as a part of me would like to do just that.

1/20/16, 8:51 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Alex, if that's all you care about, sure.

None, and right there you see the substantive points Trump is slipping into his narrative to attract the undecided voters once he's got a lock on the GOP nomination. As I noted, the guy is very, very smart.

Leah, have you met these people? Do you know what they think, what their dreams are, how they look at the world -- or are you viewing them through a filter of fear you've been handed by others? I recommend getting to know them, as you'll find that a lot of your fears are overblown -- and are very likely being used, by others, to manipulate you.

Pygmycory, I hadn't read that particular diatribe, but it's par for the course. Thanks for passing it on! As for the size of the various classes, that's a good question -- I'll have to look into it.

Tom, it's a great poem; the downside comes when the guillotine rolls out.

Gee, it's not an exact overlap, because these days a lot of people who would have been in the rentier class in a previous era draw very large salaries -- large enough that they arguably belong to the salary class instead.

Juan, divide and conquer was used systematically on the working class, no question.

Whomever, no argument there -- the lower-to-middle echelons of the salary class are beginning to feel the pinch, which is why there's been all the yelling in recent years about a "war against the middle class" et al. As for youer question, I live all of five miles south of the Mason-Dixon line, in a town where interracial marriages and mixed-race kids are commonplace, so I'm not the right person to ask about that. Do any of my readers further south have comments?

David, I haven't done a close analysis of Sanders' following yet -- though that will have to change, since he's running a very competent campaign, and Clinton is not -- I didn't think she could do worse than she did in 2008, but she's proven me wrong. A campaign pitting Sanders against Trump would be quite the spectacle!

Justin, I won't argue. Business as usual has gotten so bad for so many people that anyone and anything else has a rapidly rising appeal.

Unknown, heck of a good question. He could, you know; all he'd have to do is get rid of the trade treaties that facilitate offshoring jobs, and enforce immigration laws -- including steep financial penalties against anyone who employs illegal immigrants -- and wages would head up.

1/20/16, 8:59 PM

Unknown said...
Hmm.... Sure Trump gets old angry white people in fly over states excited but turns off just about every other voting block. You know the under 35 crowd is the largest single voting block out there and they overwhelmingly (by a HUGE! (to turn a Trumpism) margin) support Sanders and then there are women which Trump has grossly offended and Trump's rhetoric is thinly veiled racism so there goes the minority vote and I'm sure sometime this week Trump will run his mouth and offend gay voters.
So I do see Trump getting the republican nomination but losing by a very wide margin in the general election.
I agree with you classism is the driving factor on both sides of the red/blue rift this election cycle. AND A VERY LARGE Change (HUGE!) is coming, I think what we're seeing is the natural evolution of capitalism to socialism Marx spoke of.
And wouldn't you know it a socialist is running go figure.

1/20/16, 9:13 PM

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20160121T045035Z

@JMG: Heavens, what a dark, and as far as I can see accurate, analysis. It reminds me of one the most frightening afternoons in my life - an afternoon in 2006 spent simply walking the streets of downtown Detroit, inspecting tall abandoned buildings.

@Everyone: It is helpful in the context of JMG's analysis to remind ourselves of what the USA once was, in the context of something from last week - Moshe Braner's map of the Ohio rail network from around 1950, in his blog posting timestamped by the blogging software as "1/18/16, 7:57 PM". Mr Braner's map can be viewed at What is striking is that hardly any small Ohio town was at that time without rail service. When one thinks of this, so many other things that are now gone come to mind also: not the efficient public transit and freight service alone, but additionally the efficient, no-nonsense telephone service (telephones available in any colour at all, provided they were black), the efficient postal service, university education readily accessible to ex-soldiers, the fraternal organizations, the culture of municipal libraries and 4-H Clubs and Scouts and YMCA - in short, an abundance of community amenities and community engagement. The Nova Scotia of the late 1950s and the 1960s, which I remember clearly, was similar, even as regards its railways. A lot of this was due to the existence of a strong, conservative, pragmatic wage-earner class, which in the last 30 years has (as JMG stresses in his current dark posting) withered.


PS: Dear Leah Gayle,

Thanks very much for update on your heraldry, in your posting timestamped "1/20/16, 12:45 PM", in last week's crop of blog comments. Your revised Latin looks fine! :-)

1/20/16, 9:21 PM

Chris Farmer said...
Great Post. Thanks for your insights into Trump's bullet-proof popularity
American politics in a nutshell:
You have two choices - 1) to be reamed up the rear by a big red, white and blue elephant member, or 2) to be reamed up the rear by a big red, white and blue donkey member.
Now, roughly half of Americans prefer the donkey member, because they feel that the elephant member just reams them too hard.
Whereas roughly the other half of Americans actually prefer the elephant member, because, well, the donkey member is a little squirrelly, if you know what I mean.

1/20/16, 9:22 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Hmmm, I'm gonna have to diverge from the fawning sycophany here, not about Trump, but about the class division you use as the framework. Because I see a whole lot of people around me who seem to not fit in any of those classes. These are people who grab work where it comes, are not dependent on welfare, but have neither a wage nor a salary. Some of these people are tradesmen, some are oddjobbers, some are artists. Indeed, this is really the class I would say you belong in, and I think it is significantly bigger than you appreciate. Perhaps this is an adaptation of the former wage class to the new realities of work. These are the folks who populated the Man Camps in the Bakken, and just as quickly depolulated them when oil prices tanked. But they are also the people who are becoming Uber drivers, attempting to run small non-franchise businesses, etc.

This segment of the populations might be especially obvious here in a small town 40 miles from the nearest interstate highway. Most people here live in the Check Republic, waiting for their Government Check every month (your welfare class, if you also include retirees in that). For the rest, wage and salary jobs are scarce or far away, and many people are getting by on what is essentially piece work, odd jobs, contracts, etc.

You may say that these people are just the shattered remains of the wage class and therefore you did include them. But I see a pretty fundamental difference between the person who works at Mall*Wart for $10/hr versus the person who grabs any construction, lawn care, or whatever job he might be able to hunt down, for a day or a week or a month, with Blue Sky always looming in front of him.

Another group that is missing dfrom your analysis for obvious reason is what was once our largest sector, what you might call the primary producer class. This would more generally be known as the farming class. Even in Iowa they are hardly pandered to anymore.

As for Trump, I'll just repeat my sentiment from two weeks ago, that I think the party establishment still probably has enough control to keep both him and Sanders away from the nomination. And if they do succeed at that, I think it is an open question as to whether in 2020 the establishment is challenged even more vigorously, or the Trump/Sanders voters are so disgusted they don't even bother trying to overturn the apple cart until 2024. By which time global macroeconomics will have done gods-only-knows-what to the economic and political playing field.

Tennessee has an open primary, meaning I don't have do decide until I step up to the clerk at the polling place whether I am going to vote in the Dem or Rep primary. I am starting to envision a scenario in which I might actually vote for Trump just to try to block Cruz...

1/20/16, 9:23 PM

Shane W said...
@jondonjuan & whomever,
Per I'll Take My Stand, the South transferred European feudalism to America intact, New England looked to England and the Old World, the South WAS the Old World. The Old South had an explicit class structure, unlike the rest of the US. People in the South have always regarded the rest of the nation (the Yankees) as hypocritical on issues of race & class, until recently, when halfhearted attempts to "progress" under the New South banner brought industrialism, & the "classless" & "non racist" society created the same hypocrisy in the South that exists elsewhere. I don't know about JMG, but I'll say right here, the South is the most integrated, most culturally homogenous amongst the races, of any region. There's one culture and three races in the South. Even the Latinos from Latin America share more in common with white & black people in the South than is true elsewhere--the cultural similarities & histories are striking.
I forget that study JMG cited that stated that while a rising tide lifts all boats, a falling tide is more selective, throwing ever higher classes under the bus until the system fails altogether. The reason the sneering class is so outraged is because they know they're next--I don't think we'll get full-blown fascism until significant numbers of the salary class get thrown under the bus--they'll be the source of intellectual fodder for the fascism.

1/20/16, 9:25 PM

william fairchild said...

Ooohh, class distinctions? Now THAT is a verboten subject in polite circles. I like your terms investment, salary, wage, and welfare. It makes it easier to discuss the subject. If you use the old terms (rentier/bourgeoise, petite bourgeoisie, proletariat, lumpenproletariat) a sudden mental block goes up.

I would push back just a little on the idea that the salary class and welfare class has stayed the same. The lower end of the salary class (teachers, police, and such) have a terrible time maintaining the perks without incurring a mountain of debt. When I was a youngun in the 70s Dad (a schoolteacher) provided a nice middle class living (cars, vacations, college tuitions, and such) on just his income. Now, that is impossible. The same lifestyle now requires two such salaries, and dipping into either credit cards or home equity loans.

The welfare class is pretty well non-existant with a few exceptions, SSDI for example. The Clinton welfare reforms created a sort of wage/welfare hybrid. And that sucker is growing. Most welfare recipients actually work a crappywage job and receive subsidies in the form of Medicaid, SNAP, LIHEAP, etc.

But you are absolutely right that the wage class has been destroyed. And a very large percentage of them must now take SNAP, and so on. It is demeaning and crushes the soul.

As to immigration, we have a Cargill meat plant in the area. It used to be a good union job with bennies. Then the plant was sold and the union broken. They actively recruited legal Mexican immigrants to replace the old union workforce. A few years ago, I noticed an influx in Congolese immigrants. Apparently the Mexicans are now too expensive, so they import Congolese.

The local university has gotten into the act. Just before each semester, dozens of Indian students fly in to go to school. They want them because they pay full sticker price for their degree.

And the Donald has tapped into that simmering fury. So has Sanders in many ways.

As to whether he can win, well yes. Watch South Carolina, that may be the critical contest. And even if he loses, he might rack up enough delegates to force a brokered convention. Wouldn't that be fun?

1/20/16, 9:30 PM

James M. Jensen II said...
This was an eye-opening post for me. I'm decidedly a member of the salary class, and have been since my mid-teens when my mother got a job as a university instructor. I realize now that this has colored my view of things quite a bit.

It's funny, though. I've preferred Sanders from the start, but, and despite all the crazy things he's said, I've never shaken the feeling that Trump might be second-best, certainly better than Hillary, at least since my interests lie in avoiding a civil war or insurrection cutting off the supply-lines to the medications that keep me alive.

This post validates that intuition quite a bit, and gives me a new way to think and talk about it.

1/20/16, 9:33 PM

Stacy said...
An observation: a number of salaried commenters have gone out of their way to say that they weren't really from the salary class after all. I thought that was interesting, and I wonder how that'll play down the road a bit.

1/20/16, 9:33 PM

team10tim said...
Hey hey JMG,

I'm glad you said this: "enforce immigration laws -- including steep financial penalties against anyone who employs illegal immigrants -- and wages would head up."

It's been clear to me for at least a decade that all the political talk about immigration is just that, talk. It exists to make the electorate think that a candidate is serious about immigration without actually effecting it. Talk about borders (a wall along the border) and deportation sounds serious, but it has virtually no effect. If you actually want to effect immigration then 'steep financial penalties against anyone who employs illegal immigrants' would do the trick nicely.

The politicians don't actually want to stop cheap labor from coming into the country because prices would go up, they just want to sound tough on the issue. It is nicely underscored when a hardliner on the immigration issue gets caught employing an illegal immigrant as a groundskeeper or a maid.

It's strange that I never hear it discussed, even in the informal, off the beaten path blogs I frequent. I expect it not to be in the corporate news, but it's weird that it's never talked about anywhere.


ps I don't have a dog in this fight, I'm not pro or anti immigration. I just find it strange that for all of the yelling about it the policy changes that would actually effect it are never even mentioned.

1/20/16, 9:34 PM

Shane W said...
I must agree with you regarding the LGBT community--as class riven as any in the US. I remember reading about Edie Windsor of US v. Windsor fame, thinking, "this woman and her late wife are way too wealthy for me to relate to. I can't imagine worrying about inheritance taxes from a wealthy estate." Same is true when I get the LA Vanguard in the mail and look at the wealthy Hollywood benefits. I don't relate to these people at all, they're not of my class, LGBT or not...

1/20/16, 9:35 PM

Shane W said...
Sigh, Trump w/Sanders as Veep. Has a ring to it...

1/20/16, 9:36 PM

HalFiore said...
Your reply to my comment to the Halliot post:

"Hal, the major parties are pretty well insulated against pressure from the grassroots just now -- though that may change."

Nice call. I guess they changed at least somewhat on the Republican side, though it hasn't been a willing change for the party leadership. Do you still think a third party is worth any effort?

1/20/16, 9:38 PM

Unknown said...
(Deborah Bender)

Leah Gayle, is that motto intended to mean "Freedom through service"? Sounds even worse in the original German.

If the intended meaning is "In the service of liberty", I think that would be rendered "In servitio (ablative case) libertatis (genitive case, I hope if memory serves)."

1/20/16, 9:42 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Whomever -- first, racism in the south or the rest of the U.S. does not follow class boundaries. Slavery and Jim Crow segregation were both products of the upper classes, they did not evolve from the working class. Atticus Finch's people are the ones who promoted and sustained racism, not the Ewells, which is why I am one of the few people who thinks "Go Set a Watchman" went too easy on Atticus.

I'm not sure why people think that the use of demagogeury to get working class people to vote against their interests is a unique or universal southern phenomenon. The south supported and greatly benefitted from the New Deal, and rewarded Roosevelt by voting democratic straight through the 1970s.

Now in the 21st century it is hardly just the south that is susceptible to demagogeury. Traditional racism seems to have been supplanted here and elsewhere by a more generalized demagogeury and especially by an absurd amount of pseudoreligious pandering. And it escapes me why people still think this is just a southern thing. Have they not been to Iowa? Or Idaho? Or anywhere in Oregon more than 10 miles away from I-5?

White people in much of the country are freaking out as they are seeing more and more people who are not of their same "race," whatever that means. White people in the south have been living in close association with non-white people for generations, it's nothing new here.

1/20/16, 9:45 PM

Leah Gayle said...
I certainly hope my concerns are unfounded. Just this week a young girl died in police custody, an African American girl in Louisville. The police aren't relaying any info, of course, but the vitriol online against this poor child just because of her race (and her class) is vile. The hate and anger against the poor, people of color, and non-Christians does not seem to be in any danger of dissipating. Of course there is manipulation on all sides. But a lot of people are not interested in being reasonable or logical anymore, or maybe just can't be since they are so emotionally invested in the stories they tell themselves as to why nothing is their own fault. They probably do know, somewhere deep down, that their own choices and actions (or inactions) created the current economic situation. They might even realize that we can't go on exploiting the rest of the world or the wage class here forever. But somehow that isn't translating into constructive action. The cognitive dissonance must be mind-boggling. It's like climate change - it takes a lot of work to ignore the reality but they would rather do that than confess their own culpability. And they'll give up their privilege and entitlement when...well, they won't, actually. Yes, I do know plenty of people like that - people who are intelligent enough to know better but just don't care about other people if it means lowering their own standard of living. That's really what all the hate is about, and yes, it is engineered. But that doesn't make it less real. The people inside the fake habitat don't necessarily acknowledge how fake it is, even if they really do know. They have built their image of themselves in their own minds (as we all have) and it takes something strong to dislodge that image. Trump et al tells them they don't have to change, that others must change instead. It's just what they want to hear so they aren't going to examine that message too closely. It becomes a self-reinforcing loop, and it projects all their anger and frustration outward.

1/20/16, 9:52 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Those of you who are wondering how these classes will fare projected off into the future, let me ask you this about the present-day U.S.:

Where is the agrarian class? Where is the aristocracy? Where is the slave class?

In the U.S., all are gone. Why would you think the classes JMG outlined will fare any better in the next 100 years?

1/20/16, 9:54 PM

Mister Roboto said...
I can see your point. I recall reading an article online associated with some high-falutin mainstream publication, and it was about the rise of Donald Trump's political fortunes. It was so filled with utter snot-nosed know-it-all liberal east-coast elitism that I couldn't help but wonder if the The Donald himself paid the author to write it!

1/20/16, 9:59 PM

william fairchild said...

It kinda depends where you are. A cosmopolitan center like Atlanta may well be innoculated to those tactics, but as you move into the smaller cities and the hinterland (mainly wage class areas), yes it works. And it is not just racial, but cultural (anti-gay and so on).

I live in downstate IL, which is quite Southern culturally. Several folks in town openly fly the Battle Flag on their houses. Believe me the race card is played to great effect.

They just do it by using "coded" language.

1/20/16, 10:00 PM

Helix said...
@ShaneW: You should have heard what the working class neighbors were saying about the Permaculture Farmers! The sneering goes both ways. Dehumanizing the enemy is universal in all forms of warfare, class warfare included.

JMG: Maybe I'm different than the typical salaried worker because I come from a farming background, but my sense is that the victimization of wage earners was effected mainly by the entrepreneurial class and its political allies, especially the congress. I know of almost no middle-class liberals of any stripe - salaried or otherwise - who think offshoring of America's industrial base or uncontrolled illegal immigration are good for the country. It seems to me that the impetus for these trends can be laid squarely at the feet of our elected officials and their supporters among the financial and corporate class. So while salaried workers have personally benefited from these trends, the only ones I know who blather on about the stellar benefits of "free-trade" and the like are conservatives almost to a man (or woman as the case may be). I would be interested to hear if others have had similar experience.

1/20/16, 10:00 PM

Bill Hicks said...
On the contrary--the blowback IS taking place on the left as well when you consider that a 73-year-old white guy who was little known outside Vermont and wonk circles now has a real chance of denying Queen Hillary the nomination. Just because the corrupt mainstream press won't take Bernie Sanders seriously until such time as he wins New Hampshire by a 2 to 1 margin as the polls now suggest he may doesn't mean their isn't a political tsunami ALSO crashing down on the Democratic Party.

Not saying Sanders will win or that he'll be able to make that much of a difference if he does--I'm saying that the Sanders phenomenon is in its own way even more remarkable than what is happening with Trump--and is happening for the same reasons.

1/20/16, 10:06 PM

aiastelamonides said...

Have you read Scott Adams' blog posts on Trump's persuasion skills? You might not like everything about him, but some of his thoughts would definitely interest you.

When you first predicted a Trump victory some months ago, I estimated that he wouldn't be able to consistently break 35% among Republicans. For a while he did hover at almost exactly 35%, but it's pretty clear now that he is headed for the White House. The degree to which the mainstream media has derided him has done him a double favor: not only has it made him more appealing to the despised working class, it has also put his actual success in high relief. If they had treated him like Clinton he would look less like a miraculous underdog, but as it is his continued rise has the appearance of the inevitable, ordained by the Fates. I wouldn't be surprised if a lot of Democrats stay home on election day out of premature (and self-fulfilling) despair.

1/20/16, 10:08 PM

Gary Shannon said...
Thursday through the following Tuesday I get caught up in the media circus and lose touch with reality. Then comes Wednesday, and after reading JMG I once again come down off the ledge and touch base with reality. I just need to remind myself through the rest of the week not to go off the deep end with my reactions to the daily drama, and maintain the longer perspective that I know, deep in my heart, makes so much more sense. Thank you, oh masterful archdruid, for this vital weekly reminder. :)

1/20/16, 10:14 PM

Thomas Daulton said...
Howdy JMG! It's an excellent piece of analysis this week which illuminates much that the binary, dualist political discourse seeks to obscure. Four classes, as opposed to just two (rich vs. poor with a "neutral" Middle Class; haves vs. have-nots; urban vs. rural etc., all binary thinking.) Thanks!

On reading, I immediately noted something subtle, and if you haven't spent much time yourself in the "salaried class", you might not even be aware. Even highly paid members of the "salaried class" are not paid per week or per month anymore, these days. Everyone has an hourly rate nowadays. As a member of the salaried class, for most of my professional career now I have (along with everyone else) had to fill out a weekly timecard to account for my time in 15-minute increments (sometimes even less), and the total is supposed to come out to 40 hours. Ostensibly this is so that the accountants can bill clients at my hourly rate for the actual hours spent on each of several different projects.

It has the effect of blurring the line between the salaried class and the wage class, and for that reason many Americans don't understand the distinction and the different problems each class faces. At first glance one might think such a blurring of the lines would create solidarity between classes. But the attack on the wage classes has been underway for over 30 years now, it is deeply ingrained, so the hourly timecard report makes our situation feel more precarious, like we have no authority over our time, and we could slip right down the wage ladder and join the burger-flippers. This brings out our competitive edge and it's every man for himself.

There is certainly a difference of kind, not degree, between the salaried and the wage laborers, as you say. If you are a member of the salaried class, and you're sitting at your desk for the whole week but you can't explicitly document and justify at least 40 hours on your timecard -- which often happens because plans are never perfect, there is downtime and wastage etc. -- then you are nevertheless confident that you will work something out with your boss and your HR managers, to bill any missing hours to some bullsh#t category such as "Marketing" or "Overhead". If you are a member of the wage class, you have no such confidence, and if you don't have evidence that you were working hard for X number of hours, then you are not paid for X number of hours.

As I say, this business practice makes people on the mid-to-lower end of the salaried class feel more precarious, and ironically enough it stokes class divisions instead of creating solidarity by blurring the divisions. A salaried man filling out an hourly timecard inevitably thinks about how he's just scraping by, his purchasing power is diminishing like you say, he needs to collect more hours just like a wage earner (for ease of filling out his timecard, because you can only bill to bullsh#t categories for so long before you're fired). But since he imagines that the wage class are in basically the same situation, he ends up congratulating himself for facing the same problems as the wage class but making / "earning" a better living than them. "Well those lower-wage guys have to fill out a timecard too, and if _I_ can cobble together 40 hours on a timecard from fairy farts and bullsh#t marketing, then it's _their_ own fault when they can't get enough work and can't get ahead. That's why I get paid the big bucks, per hour, and they don't; my wage bargain is the same as theirs, it's just that I get a higher wage as compensation for my smarts and schooling, which they don't have."

Because the salaried class and the wage class ostensibly have the same compensation structure -- hourly -- many people even to this day make the mistake of thinking America is a classless society. It isn't, it's just that the division is more subtle than that.

1/20/16, 10:23 PM

John N. said...
I've been following the Trump campaign with much interest since it started, and I think I'll have to read The Art of the Deal to get a better grasp on how he communicates. It's not only entertaining, but eye-opening to watch his genius in playing the media and taunting the GOP establishment. They're so blinded by their disgust of working class Americans they can't tell what he's doing, so how could they possibly counter him? It's like trying to win a sword fight blindfolded. They will nonetheless die trying, and it's going to get ugly.

I see a kind of cognitive dissonance when liberals say that Trump supporters are just racist/sexist/cold-prickly, they're duped into voting against their interests, and should keep voting for people who were complicit in off-shoring jobs and opening the floodgates of immigration. And check your white privilege while you're at it.

Same when some conservatives claim Trump is not a "real" conservative. Even Reagan was a former Democrat, who I recall wasn't big on going to church. The usual captive constituency issues have been, uh, trumped.

Slightly off-topic:

I look at the slogan "Make America great again" and see the perhaps the most public signs of strain in the myth of progress I've seen so far. It'll probably take a while yet before it dawns on them that no one can make America great again.

Regarding the Trump Wall, didn't Toynbee say that that is one of the signs of an imploding empire?

1/20/16, 10:41 PM

HalFiore said...
JMG to unknown: "...all he'd have to do is get rid of the trade treaties that facilitate offshoring jobs..."

Not without a constitutional crisis. As treaties, those are the supreme law of the land. The people, both human and corporate, here and abroad who benefit f4rom those laws are quite lawyered up. He would have to get, at a minimum, support from Congress to even begin the process of overturning those laws, and good luck with that.

1/20/16, 10:51 PM

Mike said...
Do you have any data to back up the idea that immigration hurts the wages or employment of American workers? Or is it just something that seems obvious? Certainly, it's intuitively plausible and I'm not dismissing the idea; but all the economists and experts I can find on the interwebs seem to say it has no or a very minimal effect – and even, possibly, a positive effect on the wages of some workers. I've only skimmed their writings and not really analyzed their arguments. Wondering if you have?

1/20/16, 11:03 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

I 100% agree with your analysis. I reckon the policies being pursued have diminishing returns in that it is eating into the bottom of the salaried class right now. What do you think about that point?

Like you, I am self-employed - incidentally I ordered a copy of your latest book ;-)! - and when decided to become self-employed I looked back historically to see what form my profession took and then pursued that avenue and so I now work with small business. Because I do things on the smell of an oily rag, I keep my costs way down so I'm cheap and in demand. It also allows me to have a good rapport with the business owners and they get to ask pressing questions that matter to them and I can respond knowing their day to day problems. Few people in my profession leave their offices, but I'm always getting my hands dirty in the small businesses because that is what they need.

But you know what really annoys me the most about the situation? People in my profession when they don't outright pretend that I don't exist (or am something of an embarrassment that won't go away) they gently mock me. And the professional body - which takes my money and is meant to represent me - sends me information on how to get the best out of offshoring arrangements. It makes my blood boil because I saw the end of some manufacturing here - and not many in my profession have even the slightest idea about manufacturing issues nowadays - and it was then that I realised deep down what it meant for the long term.

Plenty of salaried jobs are in the process of being offshored here right now as the economy slips into decline. The rentier class are in for a big surprise too because the share market has really taken a hiding. There is no getting around that one. Property is, I reckon, the next domino to fall - unless the flow of money from offshore can be sustained, which I doubt. Oh by the way, did you see my comment last week about the distressed debt fund managers buying up big in the fracking bubble?

I had a score for a prediction today too. I called this one: Treasurer Scott Morrison urged to let students pay off study debt with super. All for a few dollars more! Superannuation refers to a person’s retirement funds (sort of like a 401K but with differences – in that it is not a defined benefit arrangement which appears to be a Ponzi scheme if ever I’ve seen one). Next it will be proposed to be channelled into the owner occupied housing market to keep it afloat.



PS: I've got a new blog entry up: A day at the beach which isn't actually about a day at the beach, it is about providing water to the bees during this long and ongoing hot spell (which may possibly be the new normal). Anyway, it was a cool photo. I show how some fairly basic products have changed over the years so that the quality for purpose has been reduced. I did a huge amount of digging and then cleaning up an area (despite the ongoing heat). Plus I've begun storing firewood for the winter. Lots of cool photos too! Enjoy.

1/20/16, 11:06 PM

William Hays said...
JMG, I will echo an earlier poster and say that your excellent essay helps me understand Sarah Palin's endorsement and speech on Tuesday even better. She mentioned that Trump contacted her soon after her nomination in 2008 at the time when she was being ridiculed by the elite in the media. Your insights make that event much more understandable.

Alhough recently retired from the "salary class" my roots are in a Tennessee tobacco farm. I understand some of the sense of rejection and certainly recognize the diminished income of the wage class. Thanks for a very helpful and graceful article.

1/20/16, 11:12 PM

Unknown said...
One of the first time I really noticed this "class" difference was in school, around ages 13-18, when I elected to take woodworking classes and did not take some "proper" elective like AP History. Most of the kids in the woodworking classes were from the welfare or salary class backgrounds and, I'm sad to say, mainly loafed in class when we had all kinds of equipment and artistic possibilities. What surprised me even more was the disdain my fellow college bound classmates had for such shop classes. I still treasure a few pieces I made in those classes---I have my feet propped up on one as I type on this laptop.

I'm a second generation college grad and clergyman.

Recently, I was reminded of these class differences when we had to have a plumber unclog the pipes of the home. I treated the fellow like he was a human with real worth and that there was a dignity in what he was doing---he had skills and tools I don't and who wants to be unable to wash dishes or have sewage back up into the house? I even took an interest into how he was trained or otherwise found his way to driving a truck full of interesting tools and helping all these otherwise (mechanically) incompetent suburbanites. It was pretty obvious this wa the sort of reception he was used to.

The other way this class difference expresses itself in my life lately is the dawning realization that at least one of my kids is just not the college type and now what are we going to do? There's the temptation to regard us as failures as parents because we couldn't make him into college material. That's crazy, but an easy trap for parents to fall into. Better is to try to help him identify strengths and help him play to those strengths. Especially with college loan burdens figured in, if he were to identify areas in which he can excel, he might financially outperform his over educated and over-debt-burdened peers. Further, he might just have a good quality of life, contribute to society etc.

1/20/16, 11:21 PM

Ron said...
Oww... that must hurt to many of the folks over there.
A very clear, but also very painful analyses of a carefully hushed up, buried subject, brought out into the open.
You'll be getting flak for this one, sir, but I guess you're used to that by now. It only goes to prove your point.

However I am waiting for some "Trump" to rise on this side of the Large Pond. An already overburdened indigenous people, being flooded by yet another wave of non-natives, with totally, incompatibly different cultures and beliefs (or agendas) has made Europe a witch's brew, where impudent politicians show levels of corruption and incompetence that would make any mediterranean official blush (sorry for the comparison, but that's what they have been known for. No worries; their northern counterparts are doing their very best to catch up.... and succeeding!!), thus heating up that bubbling concoction.
The general population is getting restless, angry.... no furious! And that is saying something, considering Swedes are bred and raised to be docile, uncritical and quiet. And now they are getting a very rude awakening to find that their trusted leaders have been failing them, cheating on them, lying to them... The hideous beast of racism has been awoken again and it is rearing it's ugly head once more. We all (should) know the consequences of similar events roughly 80 years ago, but school does not teach about that anymore.
I am seeing many parallels with 1920's and 1930's Europe and especially Germany, here; completely and utterly failing, lying, cheating upper class and politicians, without any feeling for the grim reality of everyday life, a furious and frustrated nation deprived of pride and future, a very handy scapegoat.... All we need now is a massive financial crisis.. Oh wait, there's one lining up just now. Pop the cork, gents! We're going to have a party!

1/20/16, 11:36 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Gee, have you noticed that many of those CEOs now make most of their annual income by way of salaries and bonuses rather than returns on investment? That puts them in the salary class -- at the very top, granted. A strong case could be made that the upper end of the salary class has staged a coup against the investment class, resulting in the current culture of exexcutive kleptocracy and the collapse of shareholder influence on big corporations.

Leah, so noted!

Post-Millennial, good. Another way to see that is that a loose alliance of power centers in the upper ends of the salary and investment class controls the government, and uses that control to advance their own interests to the detriment of others.

Steve, got it in one.

Shane, trust me, I've heard exactly the same thing far too often for my taste.

Matt, I did indeed. It's worth noting that suicide very often comes out of anger and violent urges that can't be directed outwards, and so end up being directed in at the self. If something convinces those people that there's a different target for their violence, things can heat up *very* fast.

Andy, it's a source of wry amusement that so many people on the left try so hard to insist that anyone who disagrees with them must suffer from some kind of personality disorder or mental illness. It's much easier than addressing the possibility that, say, Trump's supporters might have reasons to vote for him!

Compound F, even a blind mouse finds a broken clock, or what have you.

Robert, oh, I can easily imagine a petrel circling a boiling cauldron. ;-)

Silicon, every statement about a social class is a vast generalization. Of course there are still wage earners who make decent money -- there are just far, far fewer of them than there were fifty years ago!

Steve, two for two. It's always amusing to watch privileged coastal liberals love the working class in the abstract and despise them in person. As for my comment, well, that's one of the benefits of being a retired archdruid and author of books on topics that respectable people won't discuss -- I can say things that those who want to be acceptable can't say.

Mr. B, no question, it's getting under way in various parts of the country.

1/21/16, 12:01 AM

Jerry Silberman said...
Excellent post as usual. The class division is very much on point, with a few tweaks from my position as a union organizer (how's that for an anachronistic job, despite the continued self-delusion of remaining union leaders about their relevance to social justice and "progress") There remain a significant number of self-employed people, remnant of the profit class you talk about having declined (it has), or people who believe they are self employed, despite their bondage to corporations, the sole remnant of their self-employment being their assumption o risk. This includes franchise "owners" and most farmers. Their economic decline has mirrored that of hourly workers, and their resentment mirrors them as well. The slightly different origin of their resentment provides part of the margin that Donald holds over Bernie.

Some of the current salaried class have made the transition from the profit class almost seamlessly, protecting their privileges for the most part, doctors, and large number of lawyers who have successfully landed as in house liars for corporate America.

There is also what used to be called the labor aristocracy....certain classes of workers that receive salaries that put them in the salaried tier, including corporate military employees (e.g., Boeing), some construction workers, and the RNs that I represent. They are a not insignificant bulwark of the Democratic Party, which by pretending they are the hourly class, can gain some cover for its narrative, but in the larger picture further distracts this group from identifying the real dynamics of decline and transition away from industrial civilization.

The willingness of the Republican elites to recognize that Donald is their best bet, is easy to understand. The refusal of the Dems to recognize that Bernie is their best shot against him, simply as a matter of winning the chess game on the deck of the Titanic, is more mystifying.

1/21/16, 12:16 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Look sie, exactly. If you bury your head in the sand, your rear end is a better target.

Steve, no, the thought of listening to Obama spouting whatever self-justifying drivel his speechwriter happened to have come up with was more than I could take.

Patricia, no argument there. The weakness of the whole "Women for Hillary" business is that American women are not a single voting bloc with one set of interests, what helps white salary class women with comfortable incomes emphatically does not advance the interests of all women -- and a growing number of women outside the category just named are increasingly aware of it.

Eric, so noted -- but please do fix that Latin!

Mark, and of course that's the big question, isn't it? There are things he could do that would take some of the pressure off the wage class without loading too much burden on the plutocrats, but we'll see what comes of it.

Abelardsnazz, I admit that when I think of Christlike figures, Donald Trump is not the first thing that comes to mind!

Jonathan, it interests me that every four years people start predicting that this time the election will be postponed. Nope -- they didn't postpone the 1864 election even though a civil war was being fought at the time. If Trump wins the election, the various power centers will work out some kind of deal with him -- and he's smart enough that he's probably laying the groundwork for that already.

234567, a U-turn could indeed set a match to some very fast fuses. The other possibility is that Trump could actually look at the situation and try to do something about it. Anyone's guess what that might be, and it might make things even worse, but the attempt may be made.

Andrew, you're straying from a focus on what form the money arrives in, to what skills are needed to get it -- that has its own value but it's not the point I'm trying to make. Artists, artisans, and other people who produce goods for sale directly to the public are part of the profit classlet, since they live on the difference between the sale price and the cost of production, i.e., the profit.

Jason, your son will probably do much better as a mechanic than his peers who go to college, because (a) your son won't have student loans to pay off, and (b) mechanics provide a service people actually need, which isn't true of many of the things colleges train you to do. Good for you for supporting him!

Trog, no doubt, but it's easier to march if you don't have a tie around your neck restricting your breathing -- and there will, I'm sorry to say, be plenty of marching in the years ahead.

Blueback, I've been saying for years that the Russians, Chinese, Iranians, and an assortment of other powers would be idiots not to be putting serious money into fueling antigovernment activism in the US, with an eye toward setting off a domestic insurgency that would cripple the capacity of the US to do anything at all on the international stage -- and I see no reason to think that they're idiots. Given that the US has tried to stage color revolutions in all three countries, there's also a matter of old grudges...

1/21/16, 12:20 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Eric, whether or not it was explicitly populist, yes, that's certainly one of the places where Fred Halliot could come from -- and if China suffers the kind of serious economic implosion it seems to be facing just now, that could replace an intentional decoupling tolerably well.

Grebulocities, granted -- there are so many better choices! It's just that so many of them have been foreclosed by bad decisions already made.

Harry, I wasn't talking about salaried people talking about the hourly employees of their own company, but American working class people in general. It may be that you have to get into the more snotnosed end of the salary class to hear that at full bore.

Lucius, oh man. It's going to get *really* ugly, then.

Esquon, in a word: power. He's got money, he's got fame, what's next on the list for an ambitious man?

Tortoise, I mentioned the electronic toys as an example, but I also explicitly said it was the entire salary class lifestyle that was at issue. Of course a fair amount of the lower end of the salary class has been losing ground, especially of late -- as I noted above, that's where all the shrieking about "the war on the middle class" has been coming from.

Bryan, I really have no idea if a Trump presidency would be a good thing or not, all things considered. A Clinton presidency would probably see the US slam into crisis sooner and more completely -- the combination of absolute allegiance to the continuation of business as usual and a painfully evident inability to learn from mistakes is one of those classic combinations that bring empires down in flames in short order -- but that has its advantages, as the sooner the crisis comes, the sooner some kind of rebuilding can get under way. Sanders? Could be the next Roosevelt, could be the next Obama. One way or another, though, we'll see.

Lucretia, you get tonight's gold star for doing the thing that most people on the left will not do, no matter what: sitting down with people you disagree with and trying to learn where they're coming from. Well done; I only wish more people would do the same thing.

Chris, based on current polls, if Sanders can get past the Democratic establishment and get the nomination, he can beat Trump. No one else can -- certainly not Clinton, who is distrusted by most voters and seems incapable of running a competent campaign to boot. So you may well be right!

Repent, I think it's much more complex and more nuanced than that, for reasons I've discussed here at length already.

Lucretia, good. That discomfort and uncertainty is a useful skill, as it makes it possible to get a rounded picture when everyone's trying to push two-dimensional images at you!

1/21/16, 12:36 AM

CWT said...
Hi, I am wondering how Trump's nationalistic bent fits into your analysis here. Do you think that European style far right parties follow a simmilar partern?

1/21/16, 12:40 AM

Stoneleigh said...
This dynamic is exactly why Rob Ford was elected mayor of Toronto. Trump is Rob Ford on steroids.

1/21/16, 12:52 AM

Jason Renneberg said...
Funny how someone who's famous catch phrase is "You're Fired" would end up the pick of the wage class.

1/21/16, 12:58 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Unknown, those "voting blocs" you mention are nothing of the kind. American women, for example, don't all vote the same way -- and if you've been paying attention, you'll notice that there are plenty of women at Trump rallies. That's exactly the sort of mistake that the fixation on biologically linked categories tends to produce.

Toomas, well, basically, I was taking my readers on a walk through the abandoned ruins of American democracy, so the comparison works!

Chris, has it occurred to you that that rather unfunny joke partakes of the sneering mockery I mentioned in the post?

Bill, hmm. Under most circumstances, if somebody used snarl words like "fawning sycophancy" in an attempted comment here, I'd have deleted it out of hand as an attempt at flamebaiting. It so happens that a lot of readers seem to find my analysis more useful than some of the others in circulation. Do you consider it fawning sycophancy when listeners applaud a musician or a speaker they enjoy?

William, there are always people who are sliding toward the bottom of the class they're in, and others who are rising to the top and preparing to claw their way into a wealthier class. Equally, of course, all this is happening in a society in decline, and while a falling tide doesn't lower all boats equally, it affects everyone in one way or another.

James, just one of the services I offer! ;-)

Stacy, yes, I noticed that, and smiled. I bet that gets said a lot as things continue down their present path.

Tim, exactly. Nobody wants to talk about it, so everything gets said in roundabout ways -- rather like sex in Victorian England.

Hal, depends on what happens during the rest of the election process.

Leah, that is to say, no, you don't actually know the people about whose psychology you're speculating -- you're simply reacting to media portrayals and internet hate speech, a fair bit of which may be coming from agents provocateurs. When you're finished using those people as scapegoats, please do consider talking to them as human beings and finding out what they're actually thinking.

Mister R., I wouldn't put it past him!

Helix, of course you won't hear anybody publicly defend those policies. You won't publicly hear them discuss those policies at all, in most cases. The facts are, though, that the salary class profited hugely by them, and did absolutely nothing -- not even a pro forma boycott or letter writing campaign -- when they were enacted.

Bill, so noted. I've made a note to start tracking Sanders' following in the weeks and months to come.

1/21/16, 1:10 AM

John Michael Greer said...
Aias, no, I don't follow Adams -- not enough hours in the day. You're right, of course, that the media's opposition just makes him look stronger.

Gary, you're welcome and thank you.

Thomas, I've never been in the salaried class -- I went from college into wage jobs, and worked in the wage economy until I finally broke into print -- so thanks for the details. Most interesting!

John, exactly. I wonder just how explicitly Trump is going to bring the doubletalk of the establishment into the light of day. As for your off topic comments, they're both on topic for this blog and both square on target. "Make America Great Again" is the most explicit admission in my time that America isn't great, and yes, Toynbee talks at length about what happens when the limen becomes a limes and the wall goes up, and the fall of the empire is one of the things that follows in due time.

Hal, the last five presidents have routinely used executive orders to enact the equivalent of laws by decree, without the least concern for the constitution. I expect that to go into overdrive no matter who takes office next; a set of executive orders suspending US participation in trade treaties would be no more unconstitutional than some of the things Dubya and Obama have done.

Mike, it's not just intuitively plausible, it's a straightforward application of that most basic economic principle, the law of supply and demand. As I recall, Adam Smith discusses it: when the supply of laborers goes up and the demand for them goes down, wages fall. Q.E.D!

Cherokee, indeed I did -- and anybody who buys into the fracking bubble at this point deserves the whopping losses he or she is going to get. Congrats on the successful prediction! The politicians here have tried on several occasions to turn Social Security into a stock-investment program, but they've been stymied by the need to keep tax income from becoming too small a fraction of total government outlays.

William, you're welcome and thank you.

Unknown, your child who "isn't college material" won't have to start off adult life with a crushing burden of debt, and can take up a career providing actual goods or services to actual people, thus will be far more likely to have a steady income.I'd say that's cause for celebration.

Ron, yes, I've been watching that. I'd be astonished if European neofascism on the grand scale is more than a decade away.

Jerry, thank you for this! A useful addition to the model. As for the Dems' frantic circling of wagons around Clinton, no question, it's fascinating to watch -- and I wonder what exactly is behind it.

CWT, Trump's nationalism is very much in the classic middle American model. Have you noted his insistence that the US needs to get out of the Middle East and reestablish friendly ties with Russia? The US is a very different kind of nation than the nations of Europe, with a radically different history, and so I'm far from sure there's much to compare between Trumpismo and the European new right.

Stoneleigh, welcome to the blog! Yes, and one question is whether Trump can dodge the kind of traps that were used to do in Ford.

Jason, it's very simple: a lot of people want to see him say "You're fired!" to the current American political establishment. I confess to a sneaking fondness for the thought myself.

1/21/16, 1:31 AM

Nicholas Colloff said...
You can see a similar dynamic in Europe. The traditional left has imploded because it has pursued policies of globalization that has eviscerated the very wage earning workers that it was purporting to represent; thus, breaking open an opportunity for 'a statist right' (though I think these categories grow increasingly unhelpful) as most recently in the election in Poland where the PiS pledged to defend the nation both socially and economically and 'restore' it (to a place to which, in fact, it has never been). They played brilliantly on both resentment and insecurityand, as you note, very few of the people in opposition to this trend actually wanted to think and engage with why it is so, they simply resort to knee jerk condemnation, bluster and sarcasm. Donald T is playing in this space with consumate inteligence and guile - the analysis is spot on - the outcome wholly unpredictable because if he were to win what he might actually seek to do is, I think, anybody's guess (including possibly his own)!

1/21/16, 1:51 AM

ed boyle said...
I would be inteested to read a political analysis after the fact in ten years. The next depression is at our doorstep. Fascism vs. communism everywhere due to the purposeful use of foreign workers either abroad orlocally to destroy jobs in local country. Drive up debt to keep consumption rolling anyway and then all 4 classes are in deep debt(banks and billionaires have derivatives, consumers and poor have debt, govts. have bonds due). As you once analyzed national socialism I would see sanders or Trump winning and taking on the other in cabinet.

War or civil unrest could be result of global dedollarization, derivatives and banking crash. A bail in could wipe out savers globaly to save TBTF banks but govts. could go broke as currencies become worthless and bonds are unsellable. So from top to bottom everyone goes broke and this will be global. Restartbutton push like bretton woods. Stalemate in war situation due to china russia diplomatic military financial manoeuvering forcing western alliance to accept new system. US base reduction, dollar hegemony gone allows focus on Trump/sanders priorities for local population over profit through global trade, automation tricks. PO and climate change will go into next phase tearing down industrialism, forcing localization some day and population will fall. This perhaps in 10-20 years. I hope next prez can bring congress with him but I presume a deadlock leading to calls for term limits, constitutional convention as they are creatures of business lobbies. Electoral and perhaps geographical reform is needed.

1/21/16, 2:08 AM

Yossi said...
I think that the late great Joe Bageant said much the same thing as you in "Deerhunting with Jesus".
Another major factor in the impoverishment of the wage class was/is automation. Have you noticed that this factor is now beginning to affect salaried jobs in the 'professions' like law, medicine, education, middle management, etc. I suspect that as these jobs are replaced by computers the wage and welfare class will grow significantly.

1/21/16, 2:12 AM

Avery said...
We say "if not Trump, then someone worse," but who else could run in his place? He played a millionaire on television; are there many others with that qualification? I think the answer to this can be found in Oswald Spengler, and the theme he discusses tells us what age we are living in now. Spengler wrote:

"In the form of democracy, money has won. There has been a period in which politics were almost its preserve. But as soon as it has destroyed the old orders of the Culture, the chaos gives forth a new and overpowering factor that penetrates to the very elementals of Becoming — the Caesar men. Before them the money collapses. The Imperial Age, in every Culture alike, signifies the end of the politics of mind and money." (There's more, but this is enough to interpret.)

Trump is not himself a Caesar; he is the final stage of "destruction of the old orders of the Culture", and JMG's post shows precisely why these "old orders" are seen as being in need of destruction.

Since the 1970s, American democracy has been in a weird intermediate state. After Carter, who was perhaps a bit too honest in his "politics of the mind," genuine debate over the direction of the country was increasingly passed up. What persisted was this class warfare, a giveaway of the country's industrial wealth far more hypocritical and pernicious than actual European-style socialism. Everyone knows politicians are bought and paid for, but nobody acted on this, other than a bunch of hot air. Why not, if we were benefiting from it?

But that era is now over. By showing that a certain amount of cash is all you need to stop caring about the elite attacks raining down on you, Trump has permanently exposed the role of money-power in campaigning. If he is elected and happily talks his mouth off at G7 summits and formal press conferences (can you imagine this?) all of the kings of money-power would be shown to have no clothes. Even if he is not elected, his example will stand, and there are plenty of American billionaires who are watching his example closely.

What happens next? Well, Bernie Sanders is one response: his rise in popularity, despite his saying the S-word over and over on the public airwaves, reflects an awareness among young people of a desire for greater honesty. JMG indicated a few months ago that Jeremy Corbyn falls into this group as well. But this is an attempt at return to the politics of mind in an age when it has already passed (Carter). Sanders has more leadership qualities that Corbyn, but neither man could permanently disturb the legislative process in the way Trump would.

The actual arrival of Caesarism will mean the destruction of money and democracy alike. We have put trust in America's democratic leaders because they follow the rules and act like they will be responsible with our power. But after years of life experience, or much faster in the case of economic devastation, we realize that they were not responsible; they simply wanted affection and fame, and are slaves to the greedy money-society that promises it to them. So we elect instead rude rich guys who openly profess that they don't care about those things. But resorting to money and rudeness as a bulwark against moral evil is a pretty severe acknowledgment that democracy has failed. So eventually something happens that is likely not an election.

1/21/16, 2:13 AM

Avery said...
I made a mistake in my last comment. Where I wrote, "So we elect instead rude rich guys who openly profess that they don't care about those things." -- that clearly doesn't make sense to anyone who has ever read about Trump or heard one of his speeches. So I suppose I should instead write that he openly admits that affection and fame are all that matters.

Wait a minute, maybe Trump is a near-Caesar after all...

1/21/16, 2:20 AM

Robert Honeybourne said...
I'm in the salary class in the UK, and voted for Corbyn in the Labour leadership election

I couldn't understand why the media all hated him, including the left
I felt he was the right leader but didn't really grasp why, so went with my feeling

I think that was an excellent post of yours, its clarified both some of my confusion, and weaknesses

Thank you

1/21/16, 3:09 AM

Bill Blondeau said...
Another thought-changer, JMG. Thanks. Just a couple of days ago I mentioned to a friend that I thought Trump was very clever but not fundamentally serious, therefore less dangerous than someone like Ted Cruz who seems to be far more invested in racism, hatemongering, and class warfare for their own reptile-brain sakes.

This post turns my whole premise inside out. I will need to think about this. And probably buy my friend a drink and tell her that I was probably significantly wrong.

With respect to the changes in the distribution of economic and political power by class: have you, or has anyone else here, read Carbon Democracy: Political Power in the Age of Oil, by Timothy Mitchell? The premise, which seems well supported, is that the very different physical characteristics of coal and oil gave rise to very different structures of political power.

It's a short but thought-dense read, and seems to me to dovetail neatly with the project of this blog.

1/21/16, 4:06 AM

Rebecca said...
Well, thank you, JMG, for explaining why this podcast made me (at the time) unaccountably nervous:

In it, The New Yorker magazine writer, Chris Singer, reads a series of letters he and Donald Trump exchanged after Singer wrote an expose of Trump back at the beginning of Trump's rise to real estate power. The readings, with commentary, were apparently performed in front of a live, paying audience. They giggle, snicker, and roar with laughter as Singer gets the best of the literarily-bumbling Trump. The audience just as well have started stamping their feet and chanting, "We Are Smart. They Are Dumb".

As I thought about it, I realized the thing that made me nervous (besides the fact that victors in public battles of rudeness and mockery are always temporary) was the dismissiveness of Singer and his audience. As though someone - and his supporters - who doesn't write an elegant letter couldn't possibly be a serious consideration on the public stage. That kind of smugness is what I call dumb.

1/21/16, 4:26 AM

Phil Harris said...

JMG wrote "John, exactly. I wonder just how explicitly Trump is going to bring the doubletalk of the establishment into the light of day. As for your off topic comments, they're both on topic for this blog and both square on target. "Make America Great Again" is the most explicit admission in my time that America isn't great, and yes, Toynbee talks at length about what happens when the limen becomes a limes and the wall goes up, and the fall of the empire is one of the things that follows in due time."

It seems a bit unfair though I hope it might encourage people to buy your book if they read your very cogent page or so of further explanation quickly just now online. I googled:

limen limes latin roman toynbee arnold

The page in your book 'Decline & Fall ... ' is instantly available.

Thank you!

1/21/16, 5:09 AM

Mark Hines said...
John great post as usual.It occurs to me that it may not take a political movement to change the country in favor of the wage class. As the energy crisis and resource depletion continues at some point it may be less expensive to hire people to do the work than to utilize technical and hightly specialized machines. You made this point very well in your book, "The wealth of Nature," and I think it is a very valid point. The priamry and secondary economies may win out despite what all the clever politicians say or do.
Keep up the good work.

1/21/16, 5:14 AM

Kevin Warner said...
Always a pleasure to read one of your analytical essays as the truth speaks its own logic. My main takeaway to your essay is that the two political parties in the US, who have spent the past forty years gutting the wages class, should have remembered that old saw of never cheating someone who has nothing else to lose.
I do not know how much wages America identifies with Donald Trump, but I am beginning to suspect a bit of the-enemy-of-my-enemy-is-my-friend syndrome going to work here. When it is seen that both political parties, the media pundits, salaried America and most of what was once called 'the establishment' are being driven to distraction by his success, then if I was an American, I might be tempted to say screw them and throw some support his way. After all, these were the very same groups that gutted wages America. Interesting times ahead!

1/21/16, 5:20 AM

Scotlyn said...
A truly excellent post, which throws light on a lot of my despair at the disrespectful "sneering" tradition.

I am a wage earner and farmer and precariously pursue a self-employed profession, my mother's people are wage earners and non-landowning cotton pickers from Alabama, and my father's people are farmers, preachers and small business people from Nova Scotia (they arrived there on a historical wave, mentioned a couple of weeks ago in comments, of people chased out of New England in the 1770's for "loyalism").

I suspect that the class of people earning a living from the land is now among the tiny, politically inconsequential ones, along with Main Street type profit-earners, but it was once a very significant one.

When my parents courted and married in the late 50's, my father's grocer/small business family distrusted my mother's working class sensibilities, and tried hard to "civilise" her. I was given a "salary class" Ivy League education, supported by scholarships, but it never landed me a salary, just a love of libraries and books, and an over-exposure to the sneering classes.

I think your class analysis nails it, and is actually quite intuitively correct, once you get past the total dearth of discourse on the phenomenon. Thanks very much for the resounding pushback against the totally useless sneering tradition!

1/21/16, 5:20 AM

Scotlyn said...
Regarding the new demographic trend highlighted by Bill Pulliam, Barbara Ehrenreich's take on it is thoughtful and supports your points very well:

1/21/16, 5:21 AM

Greg Belvedere said...
Excellent post!

I think at this point Sanders is capitalizing on a similar populist swell in this country. I'm curious which will win out, everyday it looks like he has a better chance against Hillary. In many ways it seems that like Trump the more the media tries to marginalize him the more it emboldens his supporters and grows his appeal.

I like your analysis of the class structure of this country. I realize you have only sketched out the largest groups, but I would like to add one that overlaps with salaried workers. People who work on commissions whether this makes up all of their income, or they make it on top of a salary. I feel this is a huge part of the economy that often gets overlooked in such analysis. I think a good portion of these workers support Trump. I also think a lot of people who have recently become salaried workers support him as do those who see things getting worse for salaried workers. Some of them represent the kind of nouveau riche aesthetic that defines Trump.

1/21/16, 5:23 AM

. said...
Is there anything that can be done to stop the rise of European neofascism do you think?


1/21/16, 5:25 AM

Mikep said...
Dear Sir, I wish to complain! You appear to have been reading my mind and publishing its contents on the internet!
But seriously, well done Mr Greer. You have succeeded in hitting the nail squarely on the head again this week. Of course over here in Blighty the details are different but the basic story is the same. If you think that your manufacturing sector has been hammered in recent decades, then please spare a thought for the Workshop of the World. Our economy is now little more than an empty shell kept inflated by our pathetic addiction selling our houses to each other for more than we paid for them and claiming this as an increase in real wealth, rather than being an exercise in accounting fraud!
However things are now starting to come unstuck. What I think of as the “unholy alliance” between the “Business first” Right and the “Internationalist” left that has dominated politics for years is starting to break down. What the consequences of this will be are unclear to me but they are likely to be interesting.
We won’t be having a General Election for over four years and no doubt David (any way the wind blows) Cameron is grateful for that mercy. If only he hadn’t rashly promised a referendum on Britain’s membership of the EU back when he was expecting to lead another coalition Government and wouldn’t have to act on it. Oh cruel fate that gave him a small working majority instead.

1/21/16, 5:32 AM

ProvidenceMine said...
I like what you said about Donald Trump's hair. However, as a life-long New Yorker I can tell you without hesitation that it is not a ploy on his part to wear his hair like that. He's worn his hair in that style since the 1980s. I think he just likes it that way.

As for the rise of Trump, I really don't understand why people think that this man would be any worse than Clinton. HRC to me is a far more frightening figure than Trump. There is even a book by Doug Henwood about HRC called It's My Turn which goes into her dark past. Remember she's also married to the man who destroyed Glass-Steagall, ended "welfare as we know it', and who ushered in both NAFTA and GATT(the reason why you have so many Mexicans in the US now is because their livelihood was wrecked by NAFTA). She is far more capable of causing damage, and she will use sexism as her shield in case anyone dare call her to task as Clarence Thomas used racism as his shield when he was the subject of those hearings with Anita Hill.

1/21/16, 5:36 AM

mayland said...
Leah Gayle wrote "Once the "average joe" figures out that there is not going to be any action taken by govt on their hot button issues like immigration and tolerance of other religions, their patience (so to speak) will expire and they will decide to solve the "problems" the old fashioned wild west way, which they have secretly always wanted to do. They know now from those Bundy guys that they will be treated with kid gloves because they represent the desired voting block of the GOP."
Most likely only the white male contingent will be treated with kid gloves, everyone else will be killed immediately.

1/21/16, 5:46 AM

Odin's Raven said...
Perhaps a potentially more explosive line of division may be that between tax-payers and tax-consumers( many of the latter in the arrogant lefty salariat),especially as the economy continues to decline.

Trump and Sanders may be safety valves to let off steam and preserve the current dispensation. However if say, Trump, picks up a head of steam, but is derailed by murky shenanigans, 'We wuz Robbed' may become a literal war-cry for enraged followers. I guess that the 'horny handed sons of toil' might be more effective wielders of weapons than those who sneer at them. Trump is just a pussycat compared to the Tiger who may follow him. Will he perhaps be able to 'ride the tiger'? He is a very smart man with a huge ego. One idea as to his motivation is that he seeks revenge for Obama (a not-so-smart man with a huge ego), having sneered at him to his face at some gathering of the rich and famous. If it comes to drawing up a proscription list to get the wealth to pay his followers, he will know exactly whom to list.

That of course would be on the other side of a civil war, the possibility of which is as yet merely a small cloud on the horizon. As proprietor of 'The Apprentice', I wonder if he compares to Milo, the trainer of gladiators? Will he or some 'community organizing' Clodius get to burn the American Senate House or Reichstag? Interesting times are developing.

1/21/16, 6:03 AM

William Church said...
A couple things I'll throw into the mix:

1) NAFTA and most other trade agreements aren't proper treaties. They did not have the support to get the 2/3 of the Senate. Most are agreements and can legally be kicked to the curb. The SC has said so in rulings touching on the subject.

2) Regarding economics admitting that immigration hurts wages... Well on that one you'll have to wait. It took them about 30 years on to admit that globalization had anything to do with the decimation of the middle class. Just now a few recent studies are showing with real data that immigration has done the same. In both cases look to the underlying assumptions. When you assume that the guy who loses his job finds another, better job it is hard to show him getting harmed. BTW I am not kidding, this has been done on some studies. On immigration and trade the assumptions are incredible and I mean that as in almost impossible to read without laughing out loud.

To a guy who's seen the factories shut down, his friends in the carpenters and laborers unions get thrown out of work permanently? He ain't buying.

I maintain my long held position that economics departments should be disbanded and/or consolidated with political science departments. These coin operated charlatans are worse than useless, they are actively harmful.


1/21/16, 6:05 AM

carol.b said...
I'd like to add to the voices commenting on the changes at the lower end of the salaried class by noting that it is a very successful strategy to persuade workers that the prestige of their job is in itself a benefit that justifies low salaries. So encouraging snobbery is not a byproduct, in my view, but a conscious tactic. I think the lower end of the salaried class is slipping into the quicksand that has already consumed much of the wage class, but we can't see it because we are so sure we're different. Second, I know a lot of people who aren't really in the formal economy at all, as others have mentioned, but by and large, they don't vote, so I think the four categories proposed can stand for the purpose of talking about politics. Third, any thoughts on what the chances are that anything Trump is proposing (which is what, incidentally? it's a lot easier to figure out what he is against than what he is FOR) would actually benefit the wage class he is courting so assiduously?

1/21/16, 6:27 AM

Bill Pulliam said...
JMG, apologies, I thought you would have heard the sarcastic tone in my voice. I should also note that two weeks ago you put through a couple of comments that were nothing but personal vitriol directed at me, so perhaps I was still a bit annoyed at that.

As for the content of the comment, no comment?

1/21/16, 6:30 AM

Phil Harris said...
As an outsider but still living in shaky modernity in Britland, I was going to ask about US drug addiction. Well, Matt & Steve pretty much answered the question, and your point is relevant. JMG wrote: “Matt, I did indeed. It's worth noting that suicide very often comes out of anger and violent urges that can't be directed outwards, and so end up being directed in at the self. If something convinces those people that there's a different target for their violence, things can heat up *very* fast.”

The older guys are so medically and physically unfit I wonder about the explosive potential in the US. They tended just to die in the old FSU, though there is clearly a legacy in Western Ukraine. But do the younger persons with serious potential for rage in USA actually vote?

I can imagine drugs especially the illegal ones must still pay in USA and thus provide a target for alert violence across the ‘limes’? (There appear to be a few war bands already in that equation). But regarding national internal social dynamics I notice here in Britland that traditional drug users like heroin addicts have become a target for many of our ‘teens-without-prospects’ demographic. One strand apparently during the iconic Weimar-replacement was an appeal to a puritanism of fitness freaks and various health restorations. Is there much scope for a US national program rolled out for such as the Cumberland Jugend?

Can I imagine the two aspects in the above paragraph being rolled into a Trump program?


1/21/16, 6:41 AM

Ien in the Kootenays said...
Interesting! The inability of the American working class to recognize its own existence has always baffled me. But then I am a Canadian whose formative years were spent in the Netherlands. I believe it was Barabara Ehrenreich who pointed out decades ago that the crisis of illegal immigration should be tackled at the employer end. During the Reagan years either the law or its enforcement was relaxed to facilitate the hiring of desperate people without papers. I do believe you overestimate both the security and the agency of most salaried workers. As one of the commentators pointed out, they are next and they know it. Also, many people would be quite happy to pay more for better products made by well paid labour, witness the popularity of "fair trade" agricultural products. But apart from insanely expensive artisanal things, where are those choices? I have been predicting for years that manufacturing jobs will keep moving from one desperate area to the next untill at last Africa is a sweat shop. By the time workers there get uppity people in the previously rich world will be desperate enough to take over. Wait. Wasn't there a dangerous idea floating around about Workers of the World Uniting? Meanwhile, no matter who wins elections, international trade agreements are being signed that undermine the sovereignty of any nation. Good luck untangling that mess. And last but not least, who owns the land? Things don't look good there. Interesting times indeed.

1/21/16, 6:48 AM

redoak said...
Best analysis I've yet read on the appeal of Trump.

An analysis of Sanders' attempted populism along this same class division would be a great follow-up post! Sanders is avoiding the obvious sources of resentment available to the left. I wonder if he is being cautious about how well that would play in Peoria, or if he simply doesn't see the political energy there, or perhaps he sees it and wants to keep a lid on it? The salaried class has become pretty cautious (terrified) by that energy. I'm guessing that explains Clinton's strategy and failure to excite.

1/21/16, 6:55 AM

Lou Nelms said...
For an economy that derives such a large share of GDP from consumption, the plight of the wage class has been a major concern for at least a couple of decades. The rise of Donald Trump has not suddenly brought the issue of the huge skewing of income to the upper class into the light. This was a major factor in undermining the candidacy of Romney, an icon of the 1%, in 2012.

I must disagree with your prediction that Trump will be the next president. The numbers for him simply are not there.
Please consider that Trump's favorable rating among general election voters sits at about 37%. While his unfavorable ratings are about -56%. His net rating of about -25% is the lowest of all GOP candidates.

"This is not just a recent phenomenon; Trump’s favorability ratings have been consistently poor. It’s true that his favorability numbers improved quite a bit among Republicans once he began running for president. But those gains were almost exactly offset by declines among independents and Democrats. In fact, his overall favorability ratings have been just about unchanged since he began running for president in June"

I would agree that Trump's support has perhaps been strongest among at least the white working class, they are far from forming any kind of majority that might lead to a Trump presidency.

I also add that Trump still does not have a single endorsement of any US representative, senator or state governor. This will likely change once Trump wins an early primary. I am not saying this as any defense of the establishment, but in power politics, this means something.

1/21/16, 7:00 AM

Leah Gayle said...
Shall I name names? Ok. Steve Caller, developer & die hard Republican - one of many. Stephen Goldstein, who literally got up & left the dinner table to go sit somewhere else when he asked my husband where he went to college & was informed he had nothing but a high school diploma. Fran Friedman, who loudly asked "Who's the schwartze?" When my dear friend Renee first came to shul. As the person responsible for putting on the lunch after services every week, I have to deal with these people who brag about exploiting their employees, complain about having to obey environmental regulations, look down on wage earners, laugh at stories in the news about joblessness and foreclosures, & yes, some are frankly racists. The ones I sit with? Working class ordinary people who can't believe those people are in charge, & who hope things will get economically better so the problems will just go away & don't want to hear it when you say it isn't. They aren't going to be the ones who rise up & change anything.

I know these people well - & their interfaith counterparts I deal with in my day job is a low wage nonprofit administrator. Lex society is extremely stratified by class & race. Commerce Lex (the local chamber) thinks $10 an hour is too much to pay workers. They only cleaned up the waterways when the EPA sued the heck out of them & extorted a consent decree (after which they prompt raised water & sewer rates on residences but not businesses).

They tore down affordable housing units, & shut down a homeless shelter which had to wage a battle to reopen. The mass transit system here is a joke that raises rates even though their costs are covered by dedicated taxes & they run a budget surplus - while still cutting routes & limiting the service to where they think poor people live & work, because, you know, real people don't take the bus.

Alan Stein, a member of our congregation, is now head of Commerce Lex & has fought against both a living wage ordinance and other things like paid sick leave that would benefit the working class. There was a free trolley on a grant that circulated to downtown neighborhoods & they let it get cancelled rather than fund it because mostly "those People" were using it, not the wealthy tourists they wanted. And Lex wins awards as a "great place to live."

The contempt & derision for the poor is palpable here. An infux of people from exclusively red counties in eastern & southern KY to Lex looking for work or going to UK has added more angry, armed, nearly desperate people to the mix. They come here looking for social services that have been decimated by cuts in their home counties, but they still intend to vote Republican because their hatred of immigrants & non-Christians is more compelling to them than their own economic self interest.

That's why Bevin is now governor - whose first act was to announce he will be rolling back Mcaid expansion & dismantling KYnect - and the Steve Callers and Alan Steins & people who use the n-word in any language are cheering Bevin on, because they don't believe the poor & minorities DESERVE help. They don't believe that they should have to pay 50¢ more for a burger for living wages, or give their employees regular schedules & days off. I see it every day in my work trying to fundraise & find resources for those in need. There mood out here is ugly on every side, and the tension has nowhere to go.

1/21/16, 7:04 AM

Mark said...
Regarding members of the salaried class commentariat emphasizing wage class roots: When I was a kid in the UK in the 60s and 70s the country was leaning well left and the popular youth movements had disrupted the old victorian class balance a good bit. It quickly became very lame to be middle class and there was all kinds of amusing downwardly mobile behavior going on. Members of the upper and middle class would suddenly develop convincing cockney or other working class accents and everyone was emphasizing their street credibility. Mick Jagger in the 60s was one fine example; many Labor politicians as well. I'm sure it will start to happen here, if the balance of power does shift more to the wage class. In the UK one's accent was the single most obvious and immediate signifier of class belonging. Not sure what it is here: choice of clothing, haircut, automobile maybe? So will we see more college professors with chin strap beards and driving pickup trucks? Lawyers looking awkward in tractor supply camo? If nothing else the next few years will be fertile ground for amateur sociologists.

1/21/16, 7:05 AM

Eric S. said...
Regarding both the discussion on the appropriateness of the term “wage class” (personally, I think the already long established and storied term “working class” does a fair job of catching the odd jobbers, contractors, and farmers out there.), after college and a few internships, I did a year of grad school in sustainable development, concentrating on regional studies before running through the last of my savings and deciding to cut my losses for the first wage job I could find (as happened to most people who finished college in ‘08/’09).

During my studies there, I vividly recall one presentation from someone who was presenting research for a doctoral dissertation he’d been doing on the Tobacco industry in the South. It was a really thorough examination, and he’d been studying on various tobacco plantations all over the Carolinas. One of the key factors was the way big Tobacco conglomerates, particularly Phillip Morris had swept through the region, bought out independent farms, and imposed production quotas, price restrictions, and other measures that made it pretty much impossible for farmers to make a profit through legal hiring. The rest of the presentation examined the vast, complicated underground economy fueled by undocumented migrant workers, which in function basically worked as an underground human trafficking operation. The threat of arrest or deportation, and the illegal status of the workers themselves, as you pointed out above basically meant any concern for basic human rights was tossed out the window, with some of the facilities he studied housing workers in large unmarked warehouses with mattresses laid out on the floor and a single toilet for all the residents. I’m sure the same sorts of practices would be revealed through a thorough look at other industries fueled by itinerant workers. The interviews, photographs, and data charts from that presentation stuck with me more than anything I learned in classes that year, and really opened my eyes to just how complicated an issue illegal immigration in the US is.

On one hand, it very definitely leads to loss of jobs among the people who formerly took that sort of work, and on the other hand, the immigrants in question have essentially fallen into a massive underground economy that our culture turns a blind eye to and are victims of it. But it also shows the complexity of solving the problem. On one hand, the working class is right that the underground economy of undocumented labor plays every bit as big of a role in the loss of certain jobs (particularly in the realm of what some people above were calling “primary producer” jobs) of the South and West in the same way that outsourcing, globalization, and American imperialism have played a role in gutting American factory life in the Rust Belt. However, in the case of immigration, the usual solution offered by the right wing of cracking down on immigrants, mass deportations, and policies that target anyone who has the wrong color skin, speaks the wrong language, or practices the wrong set of religions and customs only serves to drive the underground economy further underground, makes them cleverer at evading the system, and makes the problem worse. In a lot of ways it resembles the manner in which cracking down harder on the war on drugs only serves to make the cartels more violent. It seems like the road that makes the most sense is to either make undocumented labor less attractive economically, or to make the path to legal immigration less of a quagmire and work to get undocumented workers on the books and on the same playing field in terms of wages and worker’s rights as nationalized citizens which would make American workers less unattractive economically. But tightening our grip on the borders strikes me as a surefire way to let the whole thing slip through our fingers (and Toynbee’s critique of border fortifications has already been brought up a few times this week:

1/21/16, 7:14 AM

barrymelius said...
If Trump were elected I suspect the existing power structure would swallow him without a hiccup and no perceptible change in core policy. While the elite is so busy making sure nothing changes more and more people like the ones commenting here are slowly day by day building an alternate system that will take the slack when the external one collapses. Good work,folks.

1/21/16, 7:15 AM

Leo Knight said...
Another provocative essay as usual. Most of the sneering at wage workers I've heard has come from fellow wage workers. I've heard firemen, policemen, electricians, etc. hourly wage one and all, protected by unions one and all, sneer at fellow wage workers, especially union protected teachers, because "unions are the worst!"

1/21/16, 7:16 AM

Chris Burch said...
Thank you very much for the thought-provoking post, I enjoy your writing every week!

I just have a personal anecdote that came to mind as I read this. I'm a wage earner, but (fortunately for me) at the higher end of that group. I work with salaried people. One day, one of the salaried folks, someone who I know appreciates my work, and I entered the building together after lunch. As we chatted, I made a quick stop at the time clock to punch back in. The look of shock on her face was almost comical. "Oh no, not you!" she exclaimed.

At the time, I was inwardly perplexed and a bit peeved. Reading your essay really illuminated her reaction for me. Thanks again!

1/21/16, 7:16 AM

Pinku-Sensei said...
"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."

The odd thing is that the small business owner still plays an important political and cultural role, even if they don't actually have much political clout. Lots of politicians craft the appeals for their policies as promoting "small business," even if they don't really do anything of the sort. There's also the repeated fantasy of running a business, such as a restaurant or store, as a way of achieving independence. The reality is that it's usually the interests of the investment class that get promoted when politicians talk about policies that are "good for business," not the profit class. Also, running a small business is much more work than people realize. In the current system, it's a lot more remunerative for less work to be a member of the salary 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."

There is also the recruitment of people from the wage class into the lower rungs of the salary class, where there are still jobs. However the net result is that the people earn more on paper, but get the increase sucked up into paying off student loans. They're not much better off than they were before, but the same culprits you identified, the banks and colleges, come out ahead.

1/21/16, 7:19 AM

donalfagan said...
Good post and good comments. I was reminded of a novel, The Dogs of March, by Ernest Hebert, in which a working class New Hampshire guy used to hear the noise from the machines he used as, 'work-for-pay, work-for-pay'. He was beset by a Masshole neighbor who bought the land around him as a getaway from her yuppie life, and resented his junk car landscape.

Anyway, I suspect the wage group also includes a lot of millennials who are over educated (and indebted) for their current jobs, and will probably lean towards Sanders. Such people can ignite revolutions. If they can find common ground with the less educated wage earners, they could really start something. NY Review of Books has one interesting article, Bernie Sanders: The Quiet Revolt, claiming that he may be able to unite the factions.

Another article, The New Politics of Frustration, has both candidates riding a desire for change.

Nate Silver and his crew are still citing to Trump's unfavorables in the general populace, but a coworker made me wonder if those polls are accurate.

1/21/16, 7:20 AM

patriciaormsby said...
Brilliant essay, JMG! I am reminded of an article I read last year written by Andre Vltchek about the killing fields in Cambodia. For decades I puzzled over what could lead a such large number of people to follow such an insane monster into such a phenomenal killing spree.
The Cambodian massacre was spurred by a situation similar to what has developed in America, though much more severe. The intellectual class was collaborating with America, and the rural classes were under bombardment. These people were forced to flee for their lives every time they heard the sound of an airplane--the sort of lifestyle that leaves emotional scars. Their helplessness and resentment grew to a boiling point.
Vltchek had a chance to talk with the engineers of the genocide some decades after the event. Pol Pot, he says, was an idiot who learned his ideology in French cafes. When he returned home he went to the seething mob of displaced victims and said, "Let's kill the intellectuals for communism!" and they said, "Arghhhh!" In truth, he could have said (and the other people involved confirmed this), "Let's kill the intellectuals for the Manchester rugby team!" and they would have said, "Arghhh!"
That explanation finally made real sense to me.
I don't know what I'd be thinking if I lived in America and listened daily to the propaganda and had to deal constantly with the propagandized, but at a distance, I've developed a visceral dislike of the Democratic party, and in particular, Mrs. Clinton. I still consider myself "liberal" for my stand on most social issues. I prefer tolerance of differences. Yet I feel so much more in common with the average American right winger these days. I wouldn't vote for Trump for dog-catcher, but I might just vote for that wolverine living atop his head (God Bless James Howard Kunstler) for President.

1/21/16, 7:26 AM

Nastarana said...
Dear Mr. Greer, This week's analysis was most interesting. For my part, I spent all my working life in wage earning positions, and low wages at that, and I emerged with my own set of resentments, though not necessarily the same resentments as those displayed by Trump voters. I would add to your analysis the observation that it is members of the salary class who delight in erecting barriers to self employment, such as excessive fees and such, and self reliance, see for example the attacks across the country on home gardens.

I agree with your assessment of Mr. Trump's cleverness. Nevertheless, I consider him a creature of Wall Street, notice how carefully selected are the targets of his outrage. Unlike Sanders, from Trump there are no attacks on banks and banking, no interest in reviving the firewall between savings banks and investment banking, and has he proposed any sort of transaction tax? Or increase in capital gains taxes? I must have missed it if he did. I also tend to doubt that a real estate guy has any intention of doing anything which might depress housing prices, the one thing which might in part alleviate the plight of the wage earning class. Large numbers of working guys and gals have good skills which could be turned to self employment if only they could hope to earn enough to pay for housing and utility costs.

I am convinced that foreign money is already at work in our elections; do you really imagine that it is his own money which the Macau magnate Adelson has been spending? Chinese officials are on record stating their preference for Republican administrations in Washington. I also note that Bill Clinton seems to have over the last decade and a half been spending a lot of time in the KSA.

Mr. Silberman, Democrats are not and have not for some time been interested in winning elections, merely in preserving their salaryman positions and perks.

I consider the career of former Gov. Palin to be one of the great tragedies of modern American politics. There was a time when the Republican party devoted care and attention to the bringing along of its' rising stars. Mrs. Palin's only real weakness is her astonishing ignorance which might have been easily remedied had anyone in the Republican upper echelons been paying attention and taken her in hand when she was first elected. Lost opportunities, if only Republican operatives had cared as much about the content of her mind--and I think she is quite intelligent, as well as charismatic and even sensible--as they did about her wardrobe.

1/21/16, 7:27 AM

John Crawford said...
It takes a massive amount of ignorance, ill-logic to believe a billionaire will in anyway bring any kind of action to support the wage class. However, it only takes a small amount of manipulation to empower anger and not a lot of effort to direct it toward a specific outcome. This is a real danger in the ongoing political activity we are witnessing. If Trump wins, and it is a distinct possibility, and he does not come up with a viable plan to assuage the anger he has generated the real possibility exists that we will indeed have the very violence we has dismissed as implausible for such a long time.

There is a reason our National Guards and Army reservists are having extensive training in crowd control. Look at the response in Fergueson or Occupy and you can see the real purpose for the militarization of our police. It's not paranoia over a government conspiracy it is the expected, and predicted, response to the chaotic reaction to the stresses of a rapidly transitioning world.

Will Trump be president? I think as Hillary is the chosen child of the Democratic overlords. The electorate has her number as well as Bill's. Bernie, nice guy with great ideas and lots of hope but he won't will the nomination because the same Democratic party overlord's see him as a danger to their power. In any event he would be pilloried because he says, in some form of truth, that he is a "Socialist." That form of "evil" will never fly with the angry and disenfranchised - this time. But, the next time - don't make bets on which way it will go. Fascist, Socialist, Communist, military junta - chaos - eventually it's all on the table.

It will surely be an interest year. Thanks for the thought provoking post.

1/21/16, 7:34 AM

RogerCO said...
Probably too late for a response from JMG this week, but to Ron I would comment that here in UK you can see the popularity of both Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage in much the same light as JMG outlines. Sort of proto-Trumps if you will.

Boris is clearly very clever, but seen (on the street) as somewhat more embedded in the Establishment than Farage. Both make much of the sort of man-in-pub/man-on-the-clapham-omnibus appeal that JMG identifies Trump tapping in to.
Neither are doing quite as well as Trump, they haven't quite cracked it yet, but fairly soon someone will rise to do it.

I think the French are also quite far down this particular line with the rise of le Pen fille.

In the UK the organised far right as visible to a salariat greenie like me has temporarily imploded. It will surely rise again and if it can find a leader who projects a connection with the wage class (proletariat) it will be a force to be reckoned with. The impending referrendum on eU membership could provide a seed.

I wonder if JMG is still here this week whether you think it feasible for a leader of the wage class to arise with a "left" anti-neo-liberal viewpoint. Is this what Bernie Sanders is attempting to do - and is he doomed to fail simply because he is more acceptable to the salariat and so will be seen as compromising with the suits?

1/21/16, 7:39 AM

Shane W said...
I wouldn't be surprised if in 100 years, if we're lucky, we don't have an agrarian and aristocratic class once more as the 20th century reverses itself. That is, if we're lucky and retrieve what was lost. We won't have a slave class because there won't be a labor shortage for a long time to come. You're spot on on the South, but, you must remember that the South serves an important need for the rest of the country as scapegoat for its bigotry--they need the South as other to avoid facing their own complicity in racism, homophobia, etc.--so they can be the "shining city on the hill" That's why they get so apoplectic over secession & dissolution--they can't dare look in the mirror and face the void.
Regarding Trump & Ford, Trump is way more intelligent than Ford, and doesn't seem to have a substance abuse problem. Trump's "outrageous" statements are clearly calculated, I simply cannot envision a time when he would ever look into the cameras, wife at his side, and say "I get enough to eat @ home."
Regarding the "tillers" of the "puny garden"--I once met the kid as I was walking down the road. Impeccable manners such that you hardly find amongst English speaking people here anymore. Everything was "Yes, Sir, No, Sir". I was kinda baffled at the disregard by the green non-locals...
I'm reading Overshoot right now, and JMG, I must say, I now realize that a lot of your ideas aren't as original as I once thought. ;) One of the unmentionables is the ecology behind the destruction of the wage class that you alluded to. Ever since the 70s, which started with Limits to Growth and ended with Overshoot, the growth limits predicament was swept under the carpet. Carter was widely panned for his "malaise" speech, and no politician dared question the American dream after that. But clearly, we've been in decline ever since I was born in '75, if not before, as evidenced by the fate of the wage class. But no one can question the American dream or progress, even less so now than in the 70s. It's basically a Bateson type double bind for the wage class, that they can't clearly express that the American dream died for them. So, it only makes sense that if a Bateson type double bind causes mental illness in an individual, that the same double bind for a whole class causes an equivalent sociological problem.
BTW, fawning sycophant here. If only everyone were discussing the issues in the way you discuss them, then it wouldn't be so unique or refreshing...

1/21/16, 7:41 AM

aunteater said...
Speaking from the increasingly desperate wage-earning trenches here: bullseye. My dad is voting for him(but doesn't like him), and expects him to win (unless voter fraud or aircraft mishaps get the upper hand). The way he figures it, this is the last gasp of democracy in the US: this time, we're electing a dictator... and if we're electing a dictator, we may as well have one who doesn't openly despise us.

I'm job-hunting, and the prospects are not bleak: they're terrifying. OTJ training no longer exists: employers across the board expect employees to show up fully trained and licensed at their own expense, with their own expensive equipment, and two years of experience. And this is not for good-paying jobs: it's for everything above Waffle-House waitress. Where one is supposed to get this experience remains a mystery. I'm not proud, I figured if nothing else I could clean hotel rooms under the table like all my friends did summers in high school... nope: these days, you have to be fluent in Spanish to get that job. We're scraping by with whatever we can get: an embarrassing amount of help from extended family is the only reason we're not living in our car. At our current trajectory, we'll qualify for medicaid by next year. But(if friends' experience is any gauge) we won't be able to get it, because the state's budget is limited, the waiting list is long, and we are not the appropriate color. We are in the hands of God.

I don't like Trump, but I can sure see why so many do.

1/21/16, 7:43 AM

Joe Roberts said...
I noted my somewhat panicky initial reaction to this post, which you might find instructive. I earn a wage, but the fact that I do so is a quirk of my company's classification system; it's deemed important that my immediate co-workers and I be available to work overtime during deadlines, but members of the rest of my department at my white-collar job earn salaries (and, though it's the ultimate taboo to ask, I believe make broadly similar annual amounts as I do). In my last job I did make a salary, even though I earned about 25% less than I do now.

But my first reaction your post was: What! Am I a member of the wage class? I wanted more than anything to find a justification to distance myself from that possibility. In part I suppose it has to do with my own general feelings of career underachievement relative to my expensive education and early familial hopes for me, but it has even more to do with growing up and living in a country, the USA, where class may indeed be a taboo topic but is ever-present, like the constant hum of a nearby interstate highway.

Regarding Trump, I cop to schadenfreude around seeing how thoroughly some self-identified "true conservative," salary-class Republicans dislike him. That feeling is exemplified by the editors at sites like (beware, all who venture there), who lament that "We had so many good candidates, and Trump is sucking up all the oxygen!" When you play with angry populist rhetoric as a means to attract voters, as establishment Republicans have done for decades, you get to live with the result.

On another note, did you see the editorial "What If?" by Thomas Friedman in yesterday's New York Times? It was rather incredible for Friedman, who has spent his career arguing for bright futures and global technological interconnectedness as a panacea. In yesterday's editorial he takes an entirely different tone, only a few steps behind the Archdruid Report at points! Really worth a read, to see the shifting zeitgeist.

1/21/16, 7:53 AM

Shane W said...
I think it's indicative of Canada's small-c conservative nature than when non-mainstream candidates on both sides of the aisle in the US, Canada just returned "Canada's natural governing party" to Parliament with large majorities. With Trudeau, hot as he may be, Canada seems to have gone in the exact opposite direction the US is heading this year. A lot depends on how bad the Canadian economy gets pummeled by the oil glut, and how much this brings out unconventional politics in Canada.
I'm not so sure that Trump would be so bad for foreign affairs, if Farage, Le Pen, Wilders, and other neo right populists get elected to office in Europe, I could see them all, along with Putin & Trump, getting along swimmingly and agreeing on a lot of policies.

1/21/16, 7:54 AM

Stuart Cram said...
From the perspective of a Canadian living in the Rust belt of North East Ohio I can see Trump’s appeal. My neighbor worked 30+ years at Hoover, now manufactured in China. She struggles to hold her four generations of family together given the lack of options they have in this part of the country. The Lakeland republic will have some serious work cut out for it! She says she could never have had seven kids today. She also lost her house in the subprime crisis. Generous to a fault she’s a wonderful lady and I’m so lucky to have her as a neighbour.

My Muslim (also Canadian) wife is very worried about Trump, not just because he’s uncool with millennial women but because of his no Muslims allowed policy. If she can’t complete her residency here in Ohio she may never be able to be a doctor. That would put us massively in debt with no income, as I don’t have a work permit in the US and would struggle to find engineering work back home given the commodity prices today and years spent as a stay-at-home dad.

One would just say to lie about your religion, as shitty as that would be, but she’s already been asked at the border if she is a Muslim. This makes one wonder what list that puts her (plus my daughter, a US citizen, and my agnostic self) on. My gut feeling is that Trump would try to forbid entry based on Religion, knowing that the legislative and judicial branches would band together and stop him. That way he’d have the ability to say to his base that he tried but was stopped by people his base probably already mostly hates. So I truly hope in my heart that he does not win, or moderates his position vis-à-vis Muslims as time goes on.

That being said I totally agree with your assessment of his intelligence. His hair is like a peacock’s tail, it’s to get attention and distract you from the claws down low. Forged in the world of NYC real-estate he’s no dummy, a few bankruptcies notwithstanding. Frankly Trump is the bitter medicine America needs at this point, keeping the real corn-pone Hitler from coming to power next cycle. Although I do feel that Bernie could beat him It seems like a sort-of a rock-paper-scissors situation where the Trumpenkrieg beats Hitlery who beats Bernie who beats Trump. Hitlery is the worst possible option so I guess I’m a Bernie fan.

As for the class war aspects I think the foundation of the American class war is the pretense that there is no class. One cannot be a victim of something that doesn’t exist, no?

1/21/16, 7:56 AM

Andy Brown said...
A fascinating and convincing analysis. The only reason I think Clinton will win over Trump doesn't have to do with your political economic argument, which I think is entirely valid. It has to do with the way in which the wage-earning class has been so successfully divided by race. Eventually, the Democrats won't be able to keep their own wage earners in line, just by pointing at racist Republican bogeymen, but I think it's still got another election cycle or two before the Democrats collapse in the face of their own disruptive "rabble rouser."

1/21/16, 7:59 AM

Carl Dolphin said...
Dear JMG, good luck to you and Sarah with the approaching snow storm. It sounds like you'll get many feet of snow. Get out the shovels, Carl

1/21/16, 8:00 AM

Howard Skillington said...
In retrospect it seems remarkable how long it took for me to become aware of class in America. As a boy on our family farm I recognized that we had a good deal less than the doctor’s family, and a good deal more than the families of migrant workers who harvested our crops seasonally, but I attached no particular significance to that arrangement. After all, we were taught in school that America is a classless society – why would our textbooks and teachers lie to us?

When I went away to college the cinder block dorm rooms at our state university would have made Motel Six look pretty fancy, and Fraternity Row looked like the neighborhood where old money lives in any city, yet still I did not recognize this state of things as a class system.

Despite my impractical choice of a liberal arts education I managed to make my way into the class of salaried employees, though at a couple of points of career transition that status became rather insecure. At one such juncture, as a furniture designer, I found myself working on both sides of the wall that separated the factory floor from the administrative offices. Those offices had carpeted floors and air conditioning, while the line workers endured seasonal extremes of temperature and the incessant din of dangerous machinery, but the line foremen took home more money than the support staff in the offices. I never heard anyone on the quiet side of the wall speak disparagingly about the factory workers, but it was always clear that no one from the other side of the wall should consider himself welcome in the salaried employees’ domain.

I had the good fortune of escaping that environment for a small design firm safely removed from the factory realm by the time those manufacturing jobs began their rapid transfer first to Mexico, and then to China. Most of those hard-working, skilled factory workers are probably now in the class that waits for a government welfare check each month, but I fear some are standing at street intersections holding cardboard signs, hoping for charity from those fortunate enough still to have salaries.

I doubt that many of those unemployed wage earners are much impressed with the Clintons’ persistent devotion to the benefits of “free trade.” Regarding Trump vs the herd of establishment Republican candidates, isn’t the enemy of my enemy my friend?

As for Trump’s successor, what’s so bad about armbands – as long as the troops keep the stream of refugees out of our neighborhood, and keep delivering those pallets of emergency food rations.

1/21/16, 8:01 AM

None of Your Business said...
I suppose I would qualify as "salary class". I work for a small, family owned business that manufactures the majority of our products here in the USA. Our company also sells products produced by a multitude of other manufacturers, here and abroad. My work consists largely of engineering type duties. Over the years I have witnessed the business owner, who also does our purchasing, increasingly begin to use overseas suppliers to lower the company's component costs. He has been forced to do this, as a few competitors have entered our niche market and driven prices down by doing the same. It's been a race to the bottom, where nobody really wins. I just shake my head every time I hear about it. Until the government forces this to stop, it simply won't. I would happily pay higher prices for better quality stuff made by my fellow citizens.

1/21/16, 8:11 AM

pyrrhus said...
Excellent piece JMG. It is telling that exactly the same people who sneered at the laboring class are sneering at Trump,

1/21/16, 8:17 AM

Shane W said...
You're right, JMG, about Trump's power. A man who can take Reagan's famed "three-legged stool" and smash it to bits is powerful indeed, and that's what he's done. There's now an outright schism among the religious right (leg number one), he's smashed the neoconservative consensus on defense (leg number two), and he's smashed the neoliberal consensus on the economy (leg number three)

1/21/16, 8:20 AM

Karl said...
You did a great job explaining the appeal of Trump. There is one other group of people very much opposed to Trump - what's left of the GOP establishment and their spin doctors, consultants etc. And they are going stark raving bananas btw.

In related news (tongue in cheek), Scientists this week say they have proof of the existence of "Planet X" aka Nemesis. Coincidence?

1/21/16, 8:20 AM

Mary said...
I've been in the salary class, the wage class and now fully dependent on social security, am in the welfare class. Do not underestimate Sanders. The Democratic Party officials made that mistake, and are now in full-fledged panic mode. Schultz's careful plan to hide the debates backfired and they have now scheduled, with just a few days notice, a weekday prime time "Town Hall" for the 3 candidates to take questions from audience and callers. How much do you want to wager that Clinton's "spontaneous" questions will come from pre-vetted, likely paid, audience members? Sanders, on the other hand, will get the "gotcha" and hardball questions. But that, too, will backfire. Every time they launch an underhanded, dirty attack, his supporters cough up another million or two. Every time. Even the main stream media smells blood and is starting to call out Clinton's lies. Sanders is within inches of taking both Iowa and NH. And while all eyes are focused on those two, he is again gaining strength under the radar in Nevada and S. Carolina. And he, too, is tapping into the rage of the wage class and disenfranchised.

1/21/16, 8:22 AM

Mark Chapman said...
In a word, remarkable. I never really understood the difference between the salaried class and the wage class, but you're absolutely right that they are completely different. I still don't think it's going to be Trump - for the record, I think it's going to be Rubio - but I base that on a belief that the Republican establishment will not let it be Trump, because he is beyond their reach and could not be controlled. It's early days yet, but we have already reached a point where Trump can say virtually anything and get away with it, which is in itself remarkable in an age in which debate at that level is a minefield, and you can feel yourself rotting and dying even as the fateful slip leaves your lips.

Frankly, I think American politics is doomed, and it does not matter much who is elected; he or she is not going to be able to arrest the downward slide. There's going to be a major global check and reorganization, and I don't think America is going to come out of it in the pole position as it is used to doing. But when Trump first declared his candidacy, I laughed like all the rest, and said, here we go again. Remember the Republican race in 2008, and how candidates would take a decisive lead for about a week, only to vanish in ignominy? Trump has been well in lead for, like, forever. A phenomenon, at the very least.

1/21/16, 8:23 AM

JessicaYogini said...
Excellent description of the relationship between the salary class and the wage class.
I would contend that the class above the salary class is something more than an investor class. It includes folks that just collect their dividends, but it also includes people who run the major economic institutions and who make the large-scale decisions.
The most significant feature of the salary class in past decades has been its total and unwavering loyalty to that class above it. This looks different on the left and the right, but the essence is the same. Perhaps the most important task for the salary class in the eyes of the class above it has been the role of the salary class in making the class cleansing of the once prosperous wage class undiscussable.
A lot about the performance of the Democratic Party makes sense when we understand that much of the salary class needs politics that absolve it of guilt but without making it pay any real penance. So the salary actually wants (unawares of course) politics that talk a lot about social issues but don’t actually do anything.
I suspect that a lot of what is driving the Sanders campaign is that a significant and increasing portion of the salary class, especially the younger members and aspirants, are now being treated the way the wage class has long been treated. This has created a faction within the salary class who are willing, who actively need to have the taboo on discussing class be broken. A key to how the Sanders campaign plays out is whether it actually works for the wage class (and thus has a broad base) or peters out into just another case of the salary class using the suffering of the wage class to create benefit only for the salary class (and thus becomes another peripheral feel-good clean politics, reform movement).
Oh, one other odd feature of the salary class: the lower in the salary class a person is, the more likely they are underpaid for doing something of actual social benefit (think adjunct teachers at universities and community colleges) and the higher in the salary class a person is, the more likely they are overpaid for doing something useless or actively socially harmful (think university presidents or most of the financial sector).
Thank you for the encouragement and respect you give to people taking on the task of mastering traditional but neglected working class skills. This shift in values is worthwhile even if the deindustrial future you foresee does not come to pass.

1/21/16, 8:23 AM

Dammerung said...
Thanks you so much for this post! I've dealt with so many "liberal" salary-class cretins who regard the wage class as beneath their contempt, to the point that they literally invent and trade memes making fun of of garbagemen; sanitary workers; clerical workers, et al for making their lifestyle remotely possible. It's about time somebody with punch took them to task for their arrogant idiocy. I doubt I'll be able to get any of them to read this essay much less understand it, but you laid out the problem in terms of stark reality.

1/21/16, 8:34 AM

Bruce Turton said...
From the outside, but with a realistic view to accommodate U.S. immediate hegemony, I find the Trump phenomenon a two-edged sword: as a working stiff who is now physically stiff too, I can resonate with your wage class folks who see him as a champion for their 'crash'. This crash you described very well. The other edge is Mr. Trump himself, and, I am sure, people who work for him. He is a salesperson; that is his game. He does it very well. He knows that to sell what he has for sale (him) requires that those he wants to buy (him) believe that he has what they need. Feeding on the generations of working stiffs and our demise is brilliant, and using language that is heard in the bars, and... (actually, there are not many other places where the wage classes do get to meet)is going to put Mr. Trump in good stead with a lot of people.
Interesting that you keep mentioning that your respondents actually meet working stiffs. Right there at the check-out counter for groceries (or take-out, or hardware) are real people with real lives who really do want to say more than the formulaic "have a good day".

1/21/16, 8:36 AM

matilda said...
As a former, marginal-leftie, as well as a salaried fool with an investment class family background that grew up with the children of the wage-earners and whose children will be fortunate if they end up with a living wage of any sort, I am having an absolute blast pointing out “The Donald’s” appeal to all my leftie acquaintances – thanks for the ammo!

My only “cynical” concern – is Trump running to put Hillary in office?

1/21/16, 8:49 AM

Grim said...
Very astute observations this week. I particularly liked your class definitions.

I live in New Hampshire so I get the privilege(??)of hearing the candidates in local interviews months before the national media wakes up and starts covering them. Last spring, before Trump jumped on the xenophobia bandwagon, he did an interview where his main issue was restoring the manufacturing base to the US. He kept repeating that he would "bring the jobs back".

The interviewer never bothered to ask how he would do it. My thoughts were: Would he pull us out of the WTO? Cancel NAFTA? Nuke the Foxcon plant in Longhua? Have corporate management sent to Gitmo if they don't immediately open factories in the US?

Anyway, even knowing that his promise was impossible, something in the reptilian part of my brain reacted positively to this. Therefore, even though I'm in "the salaried class", and do not support Trump, I have no trouble understanding his appeal.

I like to equate him to a snake charmer who knows his audience better than they know themselves and keeps them fascinated. I'm not so sure he won't be the next president. The last time I saw voters so fascinated was during Reagan's first election. I'm not even sure that the Trump fear factor will bring out the Democrats and independents to vote for a 7th term of the Clinton/Bush/Obama administration.

1/21/16, 8:54 AM

shhh said...
While I agree with most of your conclusion, and I believe I understand why you pitched it this way, I find myself critiquing the way you ascribe intent to the agency of "the salary class." While certainly useful in constructing the appearance of rational dialectic, it wholly obviates the real dynamic underlying pretty much everything i.e. the intertwined facts that people: a) create beliefs based on precognitive emotional states and build "logic" from unquestioned assumptions which may be biologically coded, b) are symbiots whose emotions are respondent to both the bacteria in their gut and the select group of individuals around them, both in short term and long term contexts, and c) just want to "feel" safe.

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.

1/21/16, 8:58 AM

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20160121T162921Z

Thanks, JMG, for your posting timestamped by the software as "1/21/16, 12:20 AM", in which you raise the matter of correct Latinity at Green Wizards’ Benevolent and Protective Association, Tower Number 440, and Ruinmen’s Guild, Local 440.

Quail though I must at giving even the appearance of being discourteous to Mr Backos, I nevertheless do have to make sure that the Latinity problem gets analyzed. It may well be that Mr Backos's eye inadvertently skipped over my flagging of the problem (in an ADR posting timestamped by the blogging software as "1/14/16, 9:19 AM" - "9:19 AM" in what timezone, and "1/14/16" on what side of the International Dateline? - and headed in my own, ISO-compliant, Universal Coordinated Time timestamping formalism as "20160114T170906Z"). For convenience, I reproduce here my analysis from 20160114T170906Z:

Vot meenz "Splendorem lucis viridis"? Could Eric Backos give us the intended meaning? Unless I am missing something here, this /.../ is ungrammatical. If the intention is to say "The splendor of a green light" (a laudable idea), then we need "Splendor lucis viridis." Since "splendorem" is in the accusative, we look in vain in the offered motto for a verb for which that accusative noun is the object. - Admittedly, we could go on to supply a verb: "Demonstremus splendorem lucis viridis" is probably correct for "Let us show forth, let us exhibit, let us make-manifest, the splendor of green light." - The motto could, alternatively, be changed a bit, putting "splendor" into the nominative, and making it the subject (not the object) of an explicit verb: "Splendor lucis viridis luceat" would mean "Let the splendor of a green light shine forth," "May the splendor of a green light shine forth."

I stress here that I am by no means wishing to denigrate Mr Backos, but only to defend standards. We need to stick to standards always. Most particularly do we need to stick to standards in a time of decline or collapse. It is a bit like that training vid put out by HM Government in 1942 or so in the UK, explaining how to make tea. As we see from the YouTube upload (the suddenly homeless being handed their steaming mugs from the counter of a portable canteen, which has diligently driven up to the rubble), HM Govt considered it important to ensure that people who were bombed out got their cuppa. Indeed HM Govt was careful to urge, though much footage featuring an eloquent, white-coated, mildly sinister "scientist", that the cuppa be made with a good grade of leaf and the correct choice of steeping time.

Thanks, Deborah (Deborah Bender at "1/20/16, 9:42 PM") for your critique of the other Latin motto under recent discussion. This is Leah's motto, which now reads, correctly, in Leah's adopted revision, "In servitio libertas". You ask about its meaning, while yourself translating it correctly. I think your concerns are addressed by my posting of 20160114T170906Z. But do please e-mail me privately if I have overlooked something.

On the matter of broad literary connotation, as opposed to strict and narrow meaning, I would like to cast my timidly respectful vote against Deborah, and for Leah: "In servitio libertas" does not, to my ear, have any really clear resonance with the unacceptable "Arbeit macht frei" ("Work renders one free" - a slogan erected by the Reich over the gates of Auschwitz). What would, admittedly, be unacceptably resonant would be an actual translation of "Arbeit macht frei", namely, "In labore libertas" (or, staying still closer to the notorious German, "Ex labore libertas" or "Ex labore fit libertas").

Tom = Toomas(dot)Karmo(at)gmail(dot)com

1/21/16, 9:08 AM

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20160121T170902Z

PS to posting of 20160121T162921Z (immediately above): As we struggle with mottoes and the like, changing and fine-tuning and editing from week to week, we can console ourselves with John Henry Cardinal Newman's dictum, "To live is to change, and to be perfect is to have changed often."

Tom = Toomas(dot)Karmo(at)gmail(dot)com

1/21/16, 9:10 AM

Brian Kaller said...

Thank you for articulating what I’ve been saying to friends of mine for some time now. You seem more certain than I am that he will be the candidate – the powers that run the GOP have some power, after all – but we’ll see how that turns out. I agree that the important thing is the effect he’s having on such a large swath of voters, and I cringe when so many people I otherwise respect – Republican and Democrat, American and European – dismiss him as a clown while giving him all the publicity he wants.

There are a few other points I would add:

1) Trump ran a campaign like this in 2000, and no one seems to remember it, or that he promised things like universal health care. It came and went without a trace, without the surge of interest we see here. He hasn’t changed, but the fortunes of most people in the country have.

2) As I think I mentioned when we met in London, politics in the USA looks baffling to many people because they think of a left-right spectrum, with one party on each side. Most of the mass protests and third parties are either branded as “far-left” – Occupy Wall Street, Bernie Sanders’ campaign, the Green Party, and Black Lives Matter – or “far-right,” as in the Tea Party, the various militia uprisings, and the Trump campaign.

In fact, it makes a lot more sense if you pull down the two sides into a triangle; the two main parties serve elite interests, and anything that percolates up from the people is referred to as “far” or “extremist.” But Sanders and Trump actually have a great deal in common that neither does with the more establishment candidates.

The same was true in 2000 – Nader was referred to as far-left, and Buchannan as far-right, but both spoke admiringly of the other. As someone who has campaigned for Green Party candidates and writes for Pat Buchannan’s magazine, I can attest that they have a lot more common ground than people realise.

3) Looking at most of my friends, I find that most of them do most of their conversing over social media – of course, I’m writing this on your blog, so I can’t judge them too harshly – and most of them link to others of their same class, subculture, age group and political allegiance.

Me, I link to a variety of people – both Trump and Sanders fans, for example. (No other candidates seem to have “fans,” per se, just reluctant allies.) I occasionally ask basic questions politely, or point out ways that people have common ground – but on social media, this is considered being a “troll.” Frankly, I’ve never seen such insularity, or such spite, on all sides in my lifetime, and while I don't think it has to devolve into violence, it's becoming a real possibility.

1/21/16, 9:25 AM

Peter VE said...
It strikes me that the current news about the poisoning of the Flint water system is a perfect symbol of the contempt of the manager class for the wage class.

1/21/16, 9:31 AM

Kevin Anderson K9IUA said...
Thank you for this week's post. As one who grew up in a salaried household (my father was a small-town bank executive, although never a president/owner of a bank), and someone who has essentially always worked as a salaried employee (if you ignore the few high school and college temporary wage jobs), I guess I have always sensed being part of a somewhat privileged class. At the same time, as you correctly pointed out, I feel like I have blinders on and can't really see or understand the issues being faced by others in say the wage or welfare categories, except by my own error-prone filtering.

Reading the post, however, I couldn't help but think of the current ACA/Obamacare insurance system as implemented as another example of "sticking it to the wage class." As a salaried person, I'm largely protected from this through employers handling the implementation and cost coverage. I presume the wage class is clearly more exposed and vulnerable, being forced/coerced to participate, yet not having the financial means to do so. I am seeing that through my daughter, will shortly turn 26 and be forced to roll off of the extended coverage that the ACA has provided her to continue as a dependent under mine and my wife's health coverage (combined because we both work under the same umbrella employer). My daughter, as an essentially full-time employee, but not declared as such by her employer, in her wage job. There is no way that my daughter can pay for her own insurance with what she makes, even with government tax incentives, without my wife and I still stepping in to pay a large part of the premium and continuing to pay for most charged medical expenses. The same mental decisions that others are having to make in having to navigate this quagmire, wanting her to be insured to the same level of care that my wife and I have access to. And this is with my daughter living at home with us, not owning a car, and walking to work instead.

What a mess our country has gotten into. As an Iowa resident, I wish we had a primary system instead of the caucuses. I have all kinds of pollsters and candidate supporters constantly calling me, trying to get me to commit to their candidate and attending the caucus. But I don't know if outsiders realize that a caucus is a two-hour commitment (as you have to be there at the beginning to sign in and participate and stay to the very end to be counted), most of the time sitting around getting instructions, then an hour facing people trying to convince you to join one candidate or another, or this issue group or another, and then waiting while the counts are taken and verified. It is easier to stay home than go through this. I've done it twice in my life, and in the end you still feel like the time is wasted because it doesn't end the politics (as November is still months and months away) and your choice of the night probably doesn't really matter.

1/21/16, 9:45 AM

Grandmom said...
Ah, so this explains why Trump doubles-down on what he says (what for other people are media gaffs). He's not just against illegal immigration, he's building a wall and having Mexico pay for it. Every time he talks back he's doing exactly what the wage class wishes they could at work.

I had a conversation with a Trump supporter yesterday, a college graduate who runs a non-profit. I've known this man for years and was actually surprised how strong his support is for Trump, and only Trump. He expressed a frustration with the lack of direction of our country, our lack of pride and inability to basically get our act together. So many people complain all the time about everything. Trump's straight-forwardness and simple sorting into "classy" and "stupid" has an appeal.

1/21/16, 9:48 AM

Dan L. said...
"Mike, it's not just intuitively plausible, it's a straightforward application of that most basic economic principle, the law of supply and demand. As I recall, Adam Smith discusses it: when the supply of laborers goes up and the demand for them goes down, wages fall. Q.E.D!"

I'm a little surprised to see you making errors in argumentation you so frequently point out in others!

Problems with this argument:
-it implicitly relies on the validity of Smith's economic theory
-it rejects the notion that empirical evidence has any bearing on whether Smith's economic theory and its implications are true
-it ignores the fact that real-world applications of the law of supply and demand are almost always complicated by external factors

Since I do agree that the law of supply and demand is valid, I think the third point is the most relevant. For example, take minimum wage: a straight-forward application of the law of supply and demand implies that increasing minimum wage should also increase unemployment, but the empirical evidence for this is highly equivocal. My conjecture here is that minimum wage increases cause demand increases which balances out the pressure towards unemployment to some extent.

It seems reasonable to me to suppose that similar feedback effects could take place with respect to immigration and unemployment -- immigrants need food, shelter, and clothing as much as anyone else! And so I think it is reasonable to ask for empirical evidence rather than argument from theory for claims about economics and economic policies, as the application of theory to real life is fraught in economics.

As for the post itself: great stuff! The four-class model is a useful one and I'll no doubt use it in my discussions with others on these topics. Thanks!

1/21/16, 9:48 AM

MIckGspot said...
JMG posted "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."

I believe Trumps primary function in his role (apparent firebrand as is cast) is to continue BAU particularly credit expansion through whatever means possible. Whomever wins the presidency will have the task of credit expansion on the board or economic collapse.

More loans are needed to keep the financial system "growing". The farther this system diverges from physical reality the greater the need for it to grow to continue thus it will be continued at all costs as members of many classes get tossed under the bus to keep the wheels greased.

TY JMG for a great job of modeling. Your lenses help me make sense of things. Of course I am likely wrong in my views but that is better to my mind than having no view at all.

1/21/16, 9:53 AM

Grandmom said...
What your explanation for Sarah Palin - her continued existence in the public eye, her endorsement of Trump?

1/21/16, 9:54 AM

Laylah said...
I haven't seen anybody link it here yet, so thought I'd point you at this piece:

She doesn't use the phrase "the senility of the elite" but she's discussing a strikingly clear example of the phenomenon. Goodness, why aren't the little people sitting quietly and letting their betters buy the correct presidential candidates? What could be making them so restless?

1/21/16, 9:59 AM

william fairchild said...
I reread your essay, and a I think that if the Donald has a weakness, it is that his appeal to the wage class is almost exclusively to blue collar whites. It all comes down to the electoral map. Can he win VA, NV,NM, CO, or even FL or OH. Maybe. 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. If someone ever does the investment and salary classes will shudder in fear.

1/21/16, 10:06 AM

Clay Dennis said...
It seems to me that the political break between the salaried class and the wage class and the attendent resentment is more a function of the inevitable decline of empire and less about the misbehaviour and poor attitude of what remains of the salaried class. As you have written extensively, John Michael, the U.S. empire has essentially been a wealth pump which sucks up resources and cheap labor from the rest of the world to benefit those at the center of empire. In the "good old days" this benefited the wage class as well as the salaried class. Now that the empire is in decline and the "vig" from the hinterlands is coming up short, the empire ,does what empires always do, and begins to consume the the lower classes to keep the wealth flowing to those closest to the centers of power. The portions of the Salaried class that are still the recipiants of this wealth pump are what some observers (Charles Hugh Smith is one I think) term the high caste technocracy, and are the workers who run what remains of the imperial machine for the ownership class. Over time this high caste technocracy has found itself seperated from the wage class via school, neighborhood, workplace etc. and eventually they were embeded with a class conciousness that put them moraly, and culturaly above they wage class. This was on purpose, as it was necessary for the continuation of the empire for these people too see the wage class as "the other" just like enemies in war are dehumanized to make them moral targets for destruction. So the sneering attitude is on purpose. The senile elites tend to take things too far and this process leads to a backlash which tends to make things unwind faster than they planned, and an opportunistic but clever politician like Trump is ready, just as such people always pop up in history.

1/21/16, 10:17 AM

Roger said...
JMG, A great, incisive and insightful post.

In Canada we see a lot of the same. The manufacturing heartland in Ontario and Quebec has been gutted. They say that, in Ontario alone, 10,000 factories closed up and/or moved offshore. My home-town was one of the casualties.

You also see the northern version of Derangement Syndrome. Here it was Harper Derangement, particularly in some parts of the feminist and gay communities who were convinced of the most astonishing things. No matter, Harper is gone and none of the paranoid scenarios remotely came to pass.

And, here we too have "dog-whistle" politics. One example, if you're a current or former member of the wage earning class you're described by the Illuminati as 1) rural 2) older 3) white 4) less educated 5) fearful

- which translates to the properly attuned ear as

1) ignorant 2) ignorant 3) bigoted 4) ignorant 5) ignorant.

In short, to the urban clerisy, the small-town Canadian wage earner is a stupid racist, living in the past, clinging to, well, not guns and religion, but rather sepia-tinted memories of thankfully bygone times when dad went to work and mom stayed home and took care of the family.

Make no mistake, in the intelligentsia's collective opinion, an economic re-set was past-due, the wage earner never having deserved such a prosperous state, not with his intellectual and educational and cultural and attitudinal deficiencies. About time he was taken down a peg.

So now we have the telegenic Justin Trudeau. A new day, sunny ways, yes, no more of this unbearable Tim Horton's, flag-waving patriotism. The day of the hockey bag hoser is done, now it's wine-sipping intellectuals who are unembarrassed to be seen in Starbucks.

Again, make no mistake, it's business as usual, the only difference being that if Harper's priorities were elite interests from the West, Justin's priorities are elite interests in the East.

1/21/16, 10:26 AM

avalterra said...
I have an old friend who is *very* smart and has a deep background in game theory. He is convinced (enough to actually make it a public statement) that Trump will get around 10% in Iowa and quickly fade after that. His theory is that the people who support Trump are only giving him lip service and will not turn out for him in a caucus. And once he is seen as vulnerable the aura that he has as a "winner" will fade and with it will go his support.

I think he is wrong but I never discount him as he is very often right. But we will see.

I posted on your predictions blog that I though Trump would either take the GOP nomination or he would spoil the GOP candidates chance at winning and we would have Hilary as the next president. I still think I'm going to be right but my confidence is narrowing.

1/21/16, 10:37 AM

Roger said...
BTW, you have Trump, we had Toronto Mayor Rob Ford, the alcoholic and drug addict.

There was a good reason Ford was elected in the first place, that being much the same wage earner discontent and disconnect from the insider game played at City Hall. Say what you like about Ford but he always returned the voters' telephone calls. And he would clean up the City Hall gravy train.

So Rob Ford said he would clean up corruption. Obviously, with so many snouts in the trough, this couldn't be allowed. But Rob Ford's main sin IMO is that he wasn't the candidate of the establishment who supported a gay, former Ontario cabinet minster for mayor. I mean, the optics were everything a modern city could want, the prospective mayor and his husband, two white men, married with an adopted black baby. It showed the world what was possible.

Didn't pan out. The city's unwashed weren't having it. They wanted Ford, the ranting fat-man, they saw themselves in him, the outsider that challenged for power and managed to earn the establishment's animus.

Personally, I don't care if Ford was a drunk. He actually got some things done despite the media circus around him. Besides, we have a long and noble tradition of drunks in politics, from Sir John, who was Canada's founding father, to Ralph Klein who against all expectations managed to become premier of Alberta and clean up a festering financial mess when oil was ten bucks a barrel. Hurrah for the drunks.

As far as sneering goes, I've seen Ruth Marcus and Eleanor Clift do it and IMO nobody does it better. If there was a sneering Olympics they'd get gold and silver.

1/21/16, 10:45 AM

TJ said...
Shane W -
I've come to the exact same conclusion. I followed the "collapse now and avoid the rush" advice and left the corporate world to start my own permaculture farm. It's tough, because I knew next to nothing about farming except for what I read in books and watched on youtube. But every time I call on someone out here in the country and they meet me with a mouth full of tobacco and overalls covered in s**t, I find they are friendly, helpful, and just generally accepting of me - despite my ignorance of the work they do and the culture I've invaded. And much like JMG says of Trump, these people aren't dumb at all. At least not dumb at a higher rate than the wealthy folk in the corporate world.

Meanwhile, if someone from this wage-earning backcountry world decided to buck everything and enter suburbia and try to get a salary job... Well, I think we know how that would go. They would not be as welcomed as I've found myself here, that's for sure.

1/21/16, 10:48 AM

onething said...
Excellent, excellent.

I wish I could have read this 30 years ago.

Thoughts, quibbles and questions:

*But is there any chance at all of Trump doing anything significant if elected, and does he in fact have even a shred of sincerity in his cares for the working class? If not, imagine the rage when his voters get the kind of disappointment that Obama gave to his?

*I've been told that Sanders is also saying some rather pointed things. For me at least, this is significant in my opinion money corruption is cause behind these manifestations. I was told that he said to Clinton that she had received 600 K from Goldman Sachs, and what did she think they were expecting in return?

*I'd say that sneering mockery inflicts both sides and I have to say, that it is made easier by the fact that people in general have foolishnesses that they do not see but that others do. Making fun of Trump's hair may be simply juvenile, but there are barbs of truth in many of the mockeries. Both have large factions that are ignorant, gullible and blind and each sees the other.

*Somewhat disagree that the salary class is getting the main benefit from the demise of the wage class. After all, the 1% is getting incredibly enriched since it is they who own the companies that went overseas. Deals like NAFTA were not conceived by the salaried class.

*On the idea that everyone must go to college, here I am going to wholeheartedly agree it is the salaried class, the MBA's to be specific, who have somehow managed to implement endless ironclad new requirements for various types of jobs. If you could have been trained on the job, you must now have an AA, if an AA would do, now a bachelor's is a must. Jobs long done by those with a bachelor's now need a master's. And you can't get out without huge debt.

1/21/16, 10:48 AM

Sven Eriksen said...
I must confess I find myself rooting for Trump, if mainly for the reason that official decision making over here consists of duplicating whatever is done in the U.S. with an average lag time of 20 years, and as such anything that upsets the current trajectory (and preferably makes some noise while doing it) would be most welcome. There was a poll carried out a few days ago where members of the national parliament were asked who they expected to win the election. The poll was almost unanimously in favor of Clinton (they declared that Donald doesn't stand a chance...). It is disturbing enough that the people tasked with planning the nation's future are serenly oblivious with regards to what actually goes on in the country upon whom they made themselves helplessly dependent (and to which they have outsourced their own thinking capacity). It is actually even more disturbing that most of them couldn't seem to distinguish between "Who do you think will win?" and "Who would you like to win?"

I profecise that the current comments record will be shattered this week. Is it, by the way, too much to ask for "The Politics of Resentment part II: Hillary" next Wednesday?

1/21/16, 10:50 AM

Bill Pulliam said...
Shane -- Oh yes the fact that the rest of the US uses us as scapegoats to avoid dealing with their own deep bigotry was made vividly clear to me when I first moved away from the south to the "Left Coast" in 1979. That it has not gotten better in the intervening 37 years still disappoints me. A friend from Oregon (of all places, the state whose constitution forbade non-whites from living there until the 1920s...) complains about the right-wingishness when he visits here; but when I go to Oregon I see the same thing in the rural areas, and downtown Nashville is like Portlandia on the Cumberland (hipster with a twang) but with a LOT more ethnic and cultural diversity.

Re: snooty greenies, I was surprised when I first moved back to the rural south how the Greenies (nearly all fairly recent transplants) utterly ignored the ways that the long-time locals did things. Interestingly, the locals did not feel the same way, and if they saw a greenie with a good idea that demonstrably worked they would adopt it right away. The greenies may have taken this as validation of their superiority; what I see in reality is that the locals care what works, not what the philosophy behind it is. For example, every hillbilly seemed to know how to make a ram pump from stuff at the local hardware store; none of the greenies had ever even heard of one.

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...

1/21/16, 10:52 AM

Varun Bhaskar said...

Thank you for this post, over the past year I've been struggling to find the words that define the culture of Madison. We are a city where the majority of people are in the wage class, and yet the majority of the city's resources are spent on development for the salary and welfare classes. I hold little objection to support for the welfare classes since they have hard lives already, but it is ridiculous for so much to be spent on the people who already have property and comfort while the rest of us struggle. Since 2008 the city's housing development has been almost exclusively high-end condos and apartments, which is priced far out of the range of wage earners. Not surprisingly most of the development is debt financed. So when the economic crisis gets worse the wage earners will have to bear the brunt of the pain. It makes me angry, but at least I now have words to put to my anger.



1/21/16, 11:28 AM

Coboarts said...
I want to thank you for the effort you consistently make to address a response to all of the comments that come into your blog, obviously no small effort and a useful extension of the original post.

1/21/16, 11:40 AM

Dave Ruggiero said...
Another reason that the salary class tends to align its interests with the investment class is that, at least in the US, it's no longer possible to retire at a middle-class income on Social Security alone. Salary-class workers now have to carefully cobble together a retirement fund from IRAs and 401ks, inevitably tying their long-term interests to the performance of the stock market.

In fact, now that I think about it much of the difference between the wage and salary classes seems to be not necessarily in cash income ($50,000/year could land you in either camp) but in - I guess you could say how stable your economic situation is. The salary class is likely to have a better health insurance policy, a better retirement package, and to be better able to take advantage of tax policies and financial planning. And of course, they can sit down at the beginning of the year and think, "as long as I'm not laid off, I'll make $50,000 this year", while a wage earner is more likely to think "I'll make $40,000 this year, and take as much overtime as I can get, and I'll probably end up between 45-55 again." The wage earner may own a house, but the salary earner is likely to be very concerned with the "housing market." All these things combine to make the salary earner less likely to rock the boat - which can be a good thing, if it means avoiding electing a demogogue, but can also mean they're less likely to give up their luxuries and make changes that are actually necessary. The feeling of stability comes with a parallel sense of entitlement.

1/21/16, 11:49 AM

Glenn said...

Your analysis of Mr. Trump's appeal seems accurate. There are some factors that will make it difficult for him to benefit personally from it though.

One is demographics. He's appealing to a small group of angry white men who are losing ground and blaming other victims rather than those actually responsible. But his very public racism and misogyny lose him a far larger group.

Another is that most of the people who attend his speeches and rallies are not actually registered to vote.

One of the most important is that he does not actually have a ground game, i.e. an organization in each state or even each region. His campaign is clearly being done on the cheap, but it makes it hard for him to follow through. He might change this if conditions warrant later this year though. One of the most effective things he could do is address my second point by hiring people to register the attendees of his events and their friends and neighbors.

But whether Mr. Trump benefits or not, he has driven a wedge between the GOP base and the party's leaders. I suspect the GOP will self-destruct before the Democrats do; though both like ChinAmerica, are joined at the hip and will collapse at _nearly_ the same time.


in the Bramblepatch
Marrowstone Island
Salish Sea

1/21/16, 11:49 AM

rising-moon said...
[For simplicity's sake, does it make sense to include union members in the "salary class"? I'm thinking of the army of workers technically making hourly wages but contractually guaranteed a 35-45 hour workweek and benefits.]

Your argument is spot-on, and its implications chilling. Like the climate, this is weather that everyone talks about but nobody's willing to change.

I'm taking it personally and, I think, in exactly the ways you intend. Now I'm wondering how to help. I'm a salaried suburbanite, and I try to improve relationships in my vicinity: pay more to people who perform work for me; buy, use, and give things made by humans I've met and talked to; shop where I walk; etc. This in addition to following the sound house and home precepts laid out in your Green Wizardry series.

Baby steps, I know, and unlikely to affect national politics, but, like the guy throwing a starfish into the ocean...

What behaviors do you hope to see in the salaried class? Not to stem the tide, impossibly, but to help speed equilibrium in some way?

1/21/16, 11:50 AM

Hubertus Hauger said...
At this very moment Trump and sanders are forerunners. Yet, as I agree with JMG that the ever greater tension allover is going to be released. I wouldn´t want to be president at such a time. The USA is a overburdened vehicle on the road of time, doomed for breakdown. Honestly, I´d rather Trump to be blamed for that, than Sanders.

Either of them will be overhelmed anyway. Collapse is inevitable and regress irreversable. I see no chance for a soft landing, which Sanders aims at. Due to the tabu adressing the end of wealth due to peak everything, that most pressing issue keeps piling up over our head, till all will snowball on us down.

All we can do is simplyfy our material life and enlarge our social networks (plus, as JMG often says, our practical survival skills)

The election process is entertaiment for our leisure time, with no real impact on the thundering wave of time, which is draging us along.

1/21/16, 11:54 AM

rising-moon said...
This topic is chilling and spot-on. Thank you for pointing out the obvious, which is that Trump's support comes from _somewhere_, but, as the TED Talk speaker might have pointed out, nobody I know supports him.

For the simplicity's sake, should we group union wage-earners in with the salaried class? I'm thinking of the army of administrative staff who make hourly wages but are contractually guaranteed 35-45 hours and benefits.

As a salaried suburbanite, I took this argument personally. Which, I hope, was your intent. I've long been committed to paying more for people to perform work for me, to buying, using, and giving things made by people I have talked to personally, and to paying more for the objects I own. This in addition to following the sound house and home guidance you laid out in the Green Wizardry series.

All of these are small steps, but I hope they help.

What behaviors would help more? Not to stem the tide, impossibly, but to bring on equilibrium faster?

1/21/16, 11:59 AM

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
Coordinated Universal Time (= UTC = EST+5 = EDT+4): 20160121T195353Z

Oh fine, fine, fine: in giving a Latin advisory regarding the Reich on this page (i.e., in giving an example of a motto which, in contrast with Leah's revised good choice, would be bad), I meant to write "E labore libertas" and "E labore fit libertas." That's what I meant to write. What I in fact wrote was "Ex labore libertas" and "Ex labore fit libertas." I had therewith forgotten the difference between a vowel and a consonant. Correct is "E labore libertas", since the letter ell is a consonant - in contrast with, for example, "Ex audacia calamitas," since the letter a is a vowel.

I committed the error in a posting timestamped "1/21/16, 9:08 AM" by the ADR blogging software, and more adequately timestamped, in the first line of the posting, by my own Debian GNU/Linux setup as "20160121T162921Z". I correct the error in anxiety, wondering if anyone else has already posted a correction of his or her own.

This kind of thing causes strong men either to weep or else, should their French be up to the task, to join the Foreign Legion.



1/21/16, 12:10 PM

pygmycory said...
One thing I notice is that a lot of younger-folk are coming out of university with expectations of salaries and it's generally not happening in anything like a reasonable time-frame.

A lot are working piecemeal or at jobs far below their skill level. I'm not the only person at the petstore I work at who has a degree in biology, and how silly is that? We're make minimum wage, for crying out loud, and my coworker doesn't even have my barriers.

It's also precious hard for younger people with disabilities to get into the work force at all. Where employers are supposedly legally bound (here in Canada anyway) to make accommodations, in my experience you just aren't going to get hired if you've got issues and no experience.

I understand the labor force in the USA is shrinking, which suggests that non-salary, non-working classes must be growing. Some of it is just people retiring, but there's a lot of prime-age people leaving the labor force too.

Are you sure that the situation of the welfare class isn't getting worse? Obviously I can't speak to direct experience of the US system, but here in BC minimum wages have risen in nominal terms about $2.45/hr since 2007 while welfare/disability hasn't increased a cent for anyone except single parents (who get $20/month more). In both cases inflation in food, housing, and utilities has increased faster than their income, but the fall in buying power has fallen faster for people receiving welfare/disability than those on minimum wage.

1/21/16, 12:28 PM

SunsetSu said...
I like your analysis of the four classes. In Seattle, where I live, there is a huge gap between the salary class, such as Amazon workers (called “Amholes” by some) and wage workers providing services (child care, food service, yard work, etc). But you left out another class, the rapidly-growing economic refugees (also known as the homeless) which has almost no chance of earning a living anymore. There are more than 4,000 men, women and children living on the streets of Seattle, camping under bridges and along freeways and in the newly-authorized (but entirely inadequate) homeless encampments. They are former members of the wage class who are scrambling for survival and are just as desperate as the Syrian refugees pouring into Europe.

Since my university purged large numbers of adjunct faculty in 2008, I’ve struggled to stay in the salary class. Piecing together alimony, (which will end in a few months) Social Security, wages from contract legal piece-work and income from renting out extra bedrooms in my house, I have a foot in three of the four classes. I spend a lot of time volunteering with the refugee class at a local soup kitchen, food bank and nearby tent encampment. This work makes me feel intensely grateful for everything I have.

I’m grateful to be in my 60s, with a house that is nearly paid-off and government benefits like Social Security and Medicare. This is a tough time to be young, with the enormous student-loan scam and few, if any salaried jobs even for the college-educated. It’s an even tougher time to be an economic refugee in a fabulously wealthy city like Seattle, which views economic refugees as “human garbage.”

1/21/16, 12:40 PM

pygmycory said...
I think one of the reasons Trump scares me is that he seems to be casually cruel verbally to assorted people who are different from himself. I am scared of what he'd do in a position of major power like the US presidency, if he backs up his words with actions.

I like the idea of not outsourcing work - that seems like an excellent idea to me. The mistreatment of working americans is wrong.

But some of the other stuff... not worth it. I don't want people being attacked or mistreated because of their religion or some other difference, and I honestly wonder if Trump would actually do a thing for working people once he got into power. He seems as much a base opportunist as the rest of them.

I like what I've seen of Sanders, for the most part.

Obviously I don't have a horse in your race, but I am stuck living next door so I still hear all the yelling and smell the manure.

1/21/16, 12:41 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
There's a guy who drives around town here with a banner across the top of his windshield that reads "EQUAL RIGHTS FOR WHITES" He's a white dude, probably 40-ish, groomed and dressed like the typical white country boy of that age and race. Many would probably see that and autimatically think racist, white supremacist.

I am not fond of his banner, but the thing is, I understand where he is coming from. He does not feel like a member of a privileged class. His jobs are gone, he never had access to education beyond high school, he has barely had a spare dime at the end of the month in his life probably. The trappings of "white privilege" are invisible to him, but he feels like he is being blamed for the ills of society.

Many would of course point out that he still benefits from white privilege in such things as employment, law enforcement, and criminal justice. Employment? I dunno, the unemployment rate in this 95% white county and the surrounding 95% white counties is among the highest in the state. I might oughta add that this county is not 95% white because of white flight. It's because it is rural and was not slave country. The white folk here are descended from the white folks who were here 100 years ago. Same for the small number of black families, they have also been here for more than 100 years.

Law enforcement? I have never known personally so many guys who have spent time in jail anywhere else I lived. DUI, drugs, domestic, etc. And these are white guys. The guys in the orange shirts picking up garbage? White guys. Rich man goes to college, poor man goes to jail, seems to apply regardless of race. Police-involved shootings? We had a fatal one just a few months ago. Young white guy (he shot first).

And FYI, some of these guys voted for Obama in 2008. Hope and Change sounded good to them, and torture fundamentally offended them. Hope? Not so much. Change? Yeah there's a few dimes in the floorboards of the truck.

1/21/16, 12:41 PM

My donkey said...
I think the presidential race is one giant distraction.
It's a grand puppet show designed to keep the masses alternately entertained or arguing/fighting among themselves or simply whining to the wind. The idea is to keep people busy, because when members of the ruled class are mentally occupied by distractions, they're not taking action against the ruling class.
This country - and industrial society - is on a path whose trajectory is not dependent on which puppet gets to play the role of president. Far better to ignore the entire puppet show and instead work on local initiatives with family, friends, and neighbors. That's what will make a difference in your life.

1/21/16, 12:44 PM

Friction Shift said...
Thank you for identifying another critical issue. You have revived a meme that the late Joe Bageant so brilliantly detailed in his book Deerhunting with Jesus,in which he wrote insightfully and respectfully about "the great beery, NASCAR-loving, church-going, gun-owning America that has never set foot in a Starbucks." Note the ringing similarities between Bageant's description and the rhetoric Sarah Palin used in her Trump endorsement speech, although the two people couldn't be more different. Bageant, too, took the liberal class(es) to task for their sneering dismissal of the wage class that has been so brutally beaten down since the 1970s -- and by the time Bageant wrote about them could accurately be described as an underclass.

I grew up in a well-to-do suburb of an industrial midwestern city. In my youth the income disparities between skilled working class people and (to use your term) salaried people were much narrower. In fact, many of my friends' fathers were tradesmen with high school diplomas who made quite a bit more than my father, a university professor with a doctorate. I don't remember the level of disdain toward these working class people (with admittedly middle class incomes) that one sees today toward the working class. Now, the income disparities are much, much greater. Perhaps this 1960s-70s-era income distribution helped form the foundation of the pernicious myth of America as a "classless" society.

I also remember that in the 1970s most of my middle class friends had decidedly working class summer jobs where, for a time, they had to share the lives of those who subsisted on those wages. 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 do have to echo a couple of other comments regarding your assertion that the salaried class has allowed the working class to be hollowed out in order to keep those flat screens coming from China. I think it's much more complex than that, since the salaried class could include both the highest ranking members of the corporatocracy as well as fairly low level public employees. For example, my wife, a high school teacher, probably has more in common with working class earners than she does with a high-salaried hedge fund leech. She and her colleagues labored for an entire decade without a penny in raises (and with annually eroding benefits), and finally her union had to go on strike just to claw a 2% raise for its members. In her school the administration treats its teachers like wage slaves. I often tell her that the administration will soon change her title from teacher to education associate.

Because the subject of class has been stuffed for so long into a dank little locker of American public discourse, I am not sure we know, really, how to talk about its complexities yet. So, thanks for shedding some light there and reopening a critical discussion. And although I have always found Donald Trump to be an execrable human being, he, wittingly or not, is also pushing the issue onto the stage. About time.

One final thought. I agree wholeheartedly with your characterization of Obama as a continuation of Bush II, but the most thorough and brutal betrayal of the wage class was perpetrated by Bill Clinton. That makes many Americans wary of giving Hillary Clinton the opportunity to serve as an accessory after the fact.

1/21/16, 12:46 PM

Justin W. McCarthy said...
I watched with horror and fascination as the neteratti responded to the ranchers desperation to make a living with conspicuous displays of wealth to humiliate them... ( people sent dildos to the building they occupy, and some guy in Chicago sent a 55 gallon drum barrel of lube. I think the dye is cast on that, thought your Trump prediction was spot on even before this.. people so soon forget silent majorities.

1/21/16, 1:11 PM

Kendo Von Beerdrinker said...
An interesting breakdown, JMG. Trying to define class in America is always tough, in part because we like to pretend we are a classless society – a myth that likely took root in response to the stratified society of England, against which we had revolted in the 18th century, and which gained a second useful life during the battle against Marxism (it’s far easier to convince your working classes to reject Marxist arguments about class solidarity if you successfully convince your citizens that we are a democratic, classless society – or that our one, broad “middle class” has made historical class distinctions moot). I think your broad lines of class demarcation are both reasonable and useful, and I agree that Trump has successfully played the class resentment card to his advantage, aiming at an audience primarily of wage earners.

But I’m curious as to what you make of Bernie Sanders. Where Trump’s resentment goes in two directions - up, towards the investment class (and their bought-and-paid-for politicians), and down, towards the welfare class (whose perceived laziness costs the wage-earners through higher taxes) – Sanders only looks up, attacking the corrupting influence of Wall Street and corporate America on our political system and the policy choices that politicians have made (Trump nominally alludes to this when he points out that he donates money and as a result gets access to pols, but when he does it, the focus seems to be more on personal character – “see they’re corruptible! I’m so rich I can’t be corrupted!” – than a class-based attack on the wealthy or corporate America). Sanders, an avowed socialist, probably feels a lot more comfortable talking about class resentments and anger directly – again, focusing that anger upwards – while Trump takes what is both a more nuanced and scattershot approach at the same time when it comes to the class issue (the ability to pull that off may be the best evidence of Trump’s political brilliance). But do you think Sanders can also be successful with his more overt references to class and attacks on the wealthy, investment class? Moreover, suppose Bernie wins the Democratic nomination and Trump wins the GOP – which do you think the investment class would find more troubling, a President Bernie, who’s vowed to tax Wall Street to pay for social programs for the welfare and wage-earning classes? Or a President Trump, whose visceral, emotional connection with the wage earners could pose more of an existential threat to the “establishment” if he can successfully direct that anger upwards?

1/21/16, 1:25 PM

Unknown said...
If you haven't read "It Can't Happen Here" by Sinclair Lewis it may be time to do so. Think of Trump or the clever manipulator who follows him as Buzz Windrip.

I would fall into the definition of the salary class by source of income. But I don't really fit neatly into characterization presented here. My father was a very small businessman running a tiny retail store. My take away from his career is that I would rather pay more for something so that more wealth remains in my local community. I have lived in a large city and have seen that people of all kinds can live and work together, but during my lifetime we have unfortunately become more geographically segregated. I have live in farm country and have come to despise an industrial food system that punishes agricultural practices that allow small farmers to thrive while taking care of their land and livestock. When I was young I worked for wages and found the men and women to spent all their lives in those kinds of jobs to be people that I prefer over many with salaried careers. I spent the last of my working years at technical college in Wisconsin that did not exploit its students in the ways as the for profit scam artists. I suspect or at least hope there are many in the salaried class that share some of my experiences and attitudes. The problem is that except for those individuals with the drive to lead the opposition to the current system, it is tough for the rest of us to give more than lip service. We hate the system but don't see enough benefit from bucking the system unless there are enough other people who are also willing to buck the system. That might mean I have taken the easy way, or the rational way. But I also think we are also finally seeing enough change that a tipping point may still come during my lifetime.

1/21/16, 1:25 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
ed boyle said "The next depression is at our doorstep. "

That's odd. I thought we've been in it for the past 7-8 years already!

1/21/16, 1:27 PM

Debra Johnson said...
JMG, you wrote: “It’s worth noting… 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.”

My personal example: At the turn of the millennium I chaired an employee group at a university. We represented over 2,000 wage and salaried employees. I appointed myself the group’s representative on the university’s Insurance and Benefits Committee where I spearheaded a movement to reduce the cost of health insurance for the lower paid employees.

We succeeded, resulting in a 3-tiered system, employees paying 20, 30, or 40 percent of their premiums, based on salary. The university, of course, covered the difference.

Several employees thanked me for my efforts, indicating that insurance cost savings made a welcome addition to their salaries. (Technically, we were all salaried employees although many would fit better in your wage category.)

After about a year, however, the university outsourced the custodial staff – the largest single category of employees. This meant the custodians lost several benefits in addition to a great medical plan: sick leave, vacation time, and a paycheck for the 2-week Christmas break. What their new employer offered I don’t know, but I do know they were unhappy about the change.

Our housekeeping services also changed in that we no longer had a regular employee working our building. A regular custodian was no longer a part of our work family who came to Christmas parties and other functions. We no longer collected money to give to our custodian at Christmas.

Financially, the rest of us gained since there was no longer a need to provide salary and benefits to a large group of “wage” employees.

1/21/16, 1:52 PM

Debra Johnson said...
Point deux: Femaleness: biological in nature. Back in the 50’s and 60’s, most women stayed home to raise children and keep house. These women were well respected for that choice. When a woman had a career, she tended to be either a teacher or a nurse. I had a professor in the 70’s that had been the first woman to graduate from U of Pennsylvania (if I remember right). Now it’s common for women to be professors, CEO’s, senators, governors, presidential candidates.

What I observe as a result of this “liberation of women” is a loss of respect toward women who stay home to care for the home and children, particularly children beyond a certain age. Today we’re (somewhat) glorified when we compete successfully in the workplace but get the dismissive sneer should we fail to achieve some minimal level in our chosen fields.

PS Thanks for swivet – a new word to add to my vocabulary!

1/21/16, 1:59 PM

Ed-M said...
186 comments already! Wow. I've only read the first two sentences and already I have to comment on your splendid, popular post.

"[T]he 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."

Unless Bernie Sanders gets the Democratic Party's nomination. Of course, that's a VERY big "unless." Because the way things look right now, the Democrats are going to nominate someone who is an old reliable but who possesses huge negatives about her. Yes, Hilary: that one. Just like the Massachusetts Democrats nominated Martha Ann Coakley for two statewide offices (Junior US Senator in 2010, Governor in 2014) and got soundly defeated at the polls both times. This time around is going to be such a HUGE trainwreck! And I prefer my trainwrecks to be on a model railroad made famous by the Addams Family.

1/21/16, 2:01 PM

Kyoto Motors said...
Okay. I do agree that Trump is efficient, and that it appears as tho' he could well rise to power. It is arguable that it's from the wage class that he gets most of his support (I have no way of knowing) But I have my doubts as to whether he is appealing to the wage class on their behalf, or just using them to leverage popular support...
Sanders at least appears to be arguing for policy that would truly raise the standard of living for wage-earners. Of course that too may be superficial...
Anyway, as an observer north of the border, well, what do I know. I appreciate your distinctions, as always. And I'm enjoying my popcorn!

1/21/16, 2:11 PM

Carl Blaise said...
I'm a sometime reader of this blog and enjoyed this commentary. I think, however, I've gotten more from the comments, especially from those who seem to be just now aware of class in America and those whose changing economic situations has them questioning the American narrative regarding its robust middle class. The “white” working class or lower middle class worker has historically allowed race to mute or weaken his/her complaints against owner class.

I grew up in the deep South in the middle of the Civil Rights Movement and I was always aware of class. Class sat right across the table from race because I'd see working class whites and working class blacks and the similarities and common interests were obvious even to me as a 6-year old: both groups punched a clock, wanted education for their children, wanted security for their family, et cetera. Unlike many other areas in the country, black and whites have lived in the closest of proximities to one another, but the racial line has been used to exercise control over both but in different ways. The control over blacks was obvious and brutal and no need (or space) to recount all that here. But there was control over whites, too, because one of the bones thrown to working class whites was that no matter how much they were screwed over at least they weren’t black. And being poor and white provided some benefits – tangible and psychological – that blacks couldn’t get (for example, the Federal Housing Authority, from 1934 to 1968, refused to guarantee mortgages for blacks or refused to guarantee loans for blacks or other people who lived near black people; Social Security exempted coverage for farmworkers and domestics and this hit blacks particularly hard; public housing in its early years was almost exclusively for whites; and the right to vote, sit on juries, blah, blah, blah). So, while the working white might amongst his peers complain about his class status he really didn’t/couldn’t because there was a racial component to his status and a racial component to his relationship to capital. He had to be careful about his complaints, and as the 60s came he had to think that equity and justice would literally come out of his pockets. Even today, when there are a range of initiatives that could be undertaken to improve the quality of life of many working people, the perception among some is that the underserving are getting free benefits; for whatever problems or imperfections the ACA has, it’s 100 percent more health care access than before for a lot of people. Any discussion of class in America that can’t/won’t account for the role that race played and continues to play won’t really be a discussion about class. The workers are not united and, as someone said, go watch the movie Matewan.

I, too, cautioned my liberal friends not to dismiss Trump. I don’t really like to dwell in labels too often, but the liberals and some conservatives dismiss him at their peril. As some of you have noted, Trump isn’t even about Trump; irony aside, he’s a representation of a lot of changes that have worked to the disadvantage of the working person. The working person in America is afraid to ask hard questions of capitalism (except when he’s being laid off) and, even now, doesn’t press for an explanation of how Trump is going to bring those jobs back or prevent capital from seeking its own level, so to speak. But the working person finally feels someone is at least asking the question in dinner-conversation-terms rather than cable tv jargon – even if the questions are greatly oversimplified (e.g., all that illegal immigration? well, that was the owner class drinking that cheap labor and the owner class that did very little to verify the status of the workers … owner class is political party independent).

1/21/16, 2:38 PM

Cherokee Organics said...

Oh my goodness! 186 comments by Friday morning. Well done.

Speaking of investment, I took the train into the big smoke last night and enjoyed a meal out whilst waiting and it gave me a whole lot of time to read the comments and then ponder their meaning. ;-)!

It surprises me to see the potent emotional investment that people have in the outcome of this whole situation. It shines through to me in the comments here. But then, I had to balance off that surprise with the knowledge that there is a real payoff for people to invest in the situation.

As a third option, the reason I wrote my folksie story about my personal response to these sorts of issues is that well, there are other options. And distancing oneself seems like the least worst option to me at this stage.

So I pulled out my crystal ball, muttered a few incantations and studied the results intensely and an answer became clear which I will now try and elucidate for yourself and the readers in simple English...

Deep in the crystal ball a couple of quotes shone through:

"The King will reply, 'Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me." and also

"Do unto others"

I'm not of the Christian faith and neither are the deities I called on for insight and assistance, so I had to ponder why I saw these messages and that is where conjecture comes in (a lost art that one!).

I said to you a few weeks back that the system will do whatever it takes to avoid the impacts of inflation (i.e. generally rising prices) because it cannot withstand the consequences of that. It is not possible to hold off that forever given the sheer enthusiasm put into the printing press in your country, but there is still a lot that can be done to hold the shaky thing together.

The whole Trump thing is another step along the road to collapse, because his game will be that of throwing a large portion of the salaried class under the bus in order to keep prices down. And he will maintain that position by gaining and trying to hold the support of the wages class as an effective and strong bulwark. And the salaried class can hardly complain about it because they stood by and benefitted from the policies that threw the wages class under the bus. Pretty clever huh? ;-)! The wages class may have to be thrown some bones too because vitriol and revenge does not put food upon the table although it feeds base desires in humans. I can almost hear him now saying how it will be done because: It is good for consumers.

Once you understand peoples motivations – and I’m only guessing here – you understand the situation better. The problem is that these days people have forgotten to not try and project their own desires onto others. But then the whole places stinks of magic, so I guess that’s sort of what you get.

I'd also like to point out that the emotional investment is only given - and I find it personally awful to read it here - because there is a pay back on that investment. The funny thing is that people fail to realise that some investments lose.



1/21/16, 2:47 PM

Larry Barber said...

Initially I thought you were going to explicitly demonstrate why Donald Trump is Fred Halliot.

Instead you exposed a truth that dare not be spoken (till now) and showed how smart the man is to exploit it. This is the sort of surprise that makes you such a delight to read. Thank you. Before reading your essay Trump just baffled me.

Now a question: Is there enough evidence right now to suspect that Trump is indeed the "expected one" or is this too early in the game? Perhaps we need to wait for Trump's next book (to be written in prison during the next presidential election) to be sure?

1/21/16, 3:23 PM

Andy said...
John Michael Greer said... "Andy, it's a source of wry amusement that so many people on the left try so hard to insist that anyone who disagrees with them must suffer from some kind of personality disorder or mental illness. It's much easier than addressing the possibility that, say, Trump's supporters might have reasons to vote for him!"

Hmmm...didn't see that coming! I'm very surprised, especially in light of recent discussions of the education system and recognition that the US is passing through oligarchy and probably into fascism, that you saw a poll that examined authoritarian tendencies across the spectrum - progressive and conservative alike - and decided that it's nothing more than some liberal in denial.

One of the very strong indicators I've been watching across US society since returning from Europe is the disconnect between what's essentially propaganda and reality. An example - the very authoritarian/far right Koch brothers, through a couple of degrees of separation, start an astroturf movement in order to push politics in a direction that serves their bottom line. Through careful use of propaganda and information warfare techniques, the groups co-opt populist discomfort/discontent and lead it in a direction that has no way of solving the membership's concerns even though the rank and file membership believes that to be the case. Behold the power of propaganda.

So...Trump may win the Republican nomination. While the Democratic establishment still appears to be in deep denial, I expect to see Sanders knock Clinton out on that side. If current polling and analysis is accurate, then Sanders will beat Trump. Will that bring in a revolution? No more likely than Obama's. After all, the Republican system, when they met the night of Obama's inauguration to use all methods at their disposal including "Taliban-like insurgency tactics" according to Pete Sessions, has developed a process that has already successfully controlled a president and the majority party in the Senate. The Republicans have stayed on message and on task, and they've managed to create the most dysfunctional environment we've yet seen in this country as a result.

(Part 1 of 2)

1/21/16, 3:31 PM

Andy said...
(Part 2/final)

But for a group that sees a military solution to everything, and has continued to voice the need to fight terrorism (just the enemies outside the borders, thank you very much), they've triggered an 'as you think so shall it be' backlash that takes us to today's news about the armed insurrection in Oregon. The armed mob that left a legit 1st Amendment peaceful protest and started racking up daily felonies continues to spout the same message the Republicans have used since 2008 - they believe the President's a Muslim from Kenya, they believe he's issued more executive actions than anyone and is thus "King Obama". They are violating the US Constitution (while believing to be protecting it), those affiliated with the military are violating the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) while believing they're acting legally ("oathkeepers"), they're striking out against 'government owned land' (land held in trust for ALL citizens that actually belongs to the Paiute tribe by treaty), and say they're fighting 'overreach' (another oft-repeated message from the Caucus Room conspirators) by people that are doing their jobs per law written by Congress and signed by a prior President. They believe they're doing right, but are absolutely disconnected from reality.

And so we're back around. So many people have been fed so much disinformation - disguised as either marketing or political 'fact' - for so long that they're failing to identify fact even when it's right in front of them.

"A responsible consumer would be a critical consumer, would refuse to purchase the less good...People whose governing habit is the relinquishment of power, competence, and responsibility, and whose characteristic suffering is the anxiety of futility, make excellent spenders. They are the ideal consumers. By inducing in them little panics of boredom, powerlessness, sexual failure, mortality, paranoia, they can be made to buy (or vote for) virtually anything that is "attractively packaged."
Wendell Barry, The Unsettling of America, (1977) P26/27

Trump's quite the package, that's for sure...


1/21/16, 3:32 PM

Andy said...
Justin W. McCarthy said...
I watched with horror and fascination as the neteratti responded to the ranchers desperation to make a living with conspicuous displays of wealth to humiliate them... ( people sent dildos to the building they occupy, and some guy in Chicago sent a 55 gallon drum barrel of lube. I think the dye is cast on that, thought your Trump prediction was spot on even before this.. people so soon forget silent majorities."
Justin, with much respect, you've just absolutely nailed what I was trying to express in my earlier post. For some reason, you think the take-over of the Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is about ranchers trying to make a living, and then call the dildos sent in protest "conspicuous displays of wealth..."

Let's get this clear from the start: Ammon Bundy is not a rancher - he runs a small business (auto detailing?) in Arizona. His 'bodyguard' "Fluffy Unicorn" - a man that claimed to be a US Marine was never in the service - he's a tattoo artist with multiple arrests for DUI. One of the other insurrectionists is a gent from CA that killed his father - he's not an rancher either. None of the rump-militia gents are ranchers.

As for the Hammonds - claimed to be the 'reason' for the takeover (again - because the anti-government crowd see government overreach under every bush) were convicted of criminal arson after intentionally setting fires on land owned by the Department of the Interior (not BLM) to cover up deer poaching - even though the three earlier fires they intentionally set did not result in prosecution. The Hammonds told Bundy and the rump-militia they did NOT want or need their help.

Bottom line here - this is an illegal armed insurrection - this is full-on Insurrection per the US Constitution and the definition of Treason per the UCMJ (for those involved in national guard or that are still in the real 'unorganized militia' by virtue of active military service). This is not an 'occupation', this is not 'a protest', this is not about 'ranchers fighting for their livelihoods'. This action has been disavowed by all major rump-militia groups, Oathkeepers, the Mormon church (Bundy claims God told him to do this), and even Ted Cruze.

If we end up in a civil war, since I'm one of the former active duty folks in the 'real' militia, can we not start one on a lie? Pretty please?


1/21/16, 4:04 PM

Shane W said...
most of the people you mention seem to be of the salary or investment class, not the wage class. Am I missing something?
the amazing thing for me, is that once the North abolished slavery (yes, they had it, for over 200 years), they expelled their rural black population, and IT NEVER RECOVERED TO THIS DAY. Vermont is still whiter now than it was in colonial times--the vestiges of this expulsion lasts to this day.
What concerns me is the logical need to find the scapegoat you CAN punish, when the real culprit is just too powerful. We see this in the rise of the Klan in the South after Reconstruction. The true source of all their misery were the Yankees, who had just defeated them in war and during the humiliating Reconstruction, so their rage was diverted to the scapegoats, black people, who suffered. Now, we have the same issue with immigrants--the REAL culprits are the members of the salaried & investment classes who create the conditions, both here & in Latin America, that favor mass illegal immigration. But they're too powerful, so the immigrants get the brunt of the rage, even though in most cases they're wonderful people who have a lot in common culturally with people in the South. It concerns me because the US is long overdue for an implosion into smaller nations, and Mexico & Latin America are in line to benefit from that, and be the next regional powers, and treating their citizens poorly will be shooting ourselves in the foot diplomatically.

1/21/16, 4:20 PM

Iuval Clejan said...
What is Trump going to do to help the wage earning class? Probably nothing. So more resentment and more displacement of that population into the welfare class. Unless they can organize themselves to be more independent of the mainstream economy, and become part of the peasant and craft class. But not the kinds of peasants and craftspeople who sell to the investment and salaried classes, but the kinds who trade with each other.

1/21/16, 4:26 PM

Tidlösa said...
The best analysis of the Trump phenomenon I´ve seen. But then, I haven´t seen any other analysis of said phenomenon. Which in itself might tell us something...

1/21/16, 4:27 PM

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.

1/21/16, 4:43 PM

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

1/21/16, 4:47 PM

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.

1/21/16, 5:03 PM

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.

1/21/16, 5:23 PM

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.

1/21/16, 5:32 PM

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.

1/21/16, 5:46 PM

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.

1/21/16, 5:50 PM

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.

1/21/16, 6:02 PM

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.

1/21/16, 6:08 PM

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 ??

1/21/16, 6:09 PM

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

1/21/16, 6:32 PM

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.

1/21/16, 6:50 PM

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.

1/21/16, 6:59 PM

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."

1/21/16, 7:05 PM

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.

1/21/16, 7:48 PM

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.

1/21/16, 7:56 PM

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.

1/21/16, 8:01 PM

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?

1/21/16, 8:22 PM

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.

1/21/16, 8:32 PM

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.

1/21/16, 8:37 PM

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.

1/21/16, 8:57 PM

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.

1/21/16, 9:05 PM

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.

1/21/16, 9:40 PM

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.



1/21/16, 11:12 PM

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...

1/21/16, 11:54 PM

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.

1/22/16, 12:25 AM

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.

1/22/16, 12:41 AM

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.

1/22/16, 1:00 AM

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.

1/22/16, 1:15 AM

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.

1/22/16, 1:25 AM

Mean Mr Mustard said...
JMG and all,



1/22/16, 3:26 AM

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 :)

1/22/16, 4:28 AM

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.

1/22/16, 5:05 AM

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).

1/22/16, 6:12 AM

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,

1/22/16, 6:36 AM

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?


1/22/16, 6:54 AM

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

1/22/16, 6:58 AM

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!

1/22/16, 7:29 AM

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.

1/22/16, 7:31 AM

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.

1/22/16, 7:53 AM

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.

1/22/16, 8:12 AM

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.

1/22/16, 8:18 AM

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.

1/22/16, 9:13 AM

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.

1/22/16, 9:41 AM

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.

1/22/16, 9:53 AM

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.

1/22/16, 10:21 AM

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...

1/22/16, 10:36 AM

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.

1/22/16, 10:43 AM

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.

1/22/16, 10:50 AM

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.

1/22/16, 11:30 AM

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.

1/22/16, 11:30 AM

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...

1/22/16, 11:31 AM

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."

1/22/16, 11:31 AM

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.

1/22/16, 11:33 AM

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!

1/22/16, 11:37 AM

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.

1/22/16, 11:57 AM

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.

1/22/16, 11:59 AM

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.

1/22/16, 12:05 PM

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?

1/22/16, 12:09 PM

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.


1/22/16, 12:49 PM

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!

1/22/16, 1:20 PM

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".

1/22/16, 1:32 PM

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.

1/22/16, 1:58 PM

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?

1/22/16, 2:10 PM

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.



1/22/16, 2:59 PM

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.

1/22/16, 3:34 PM

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.

1/22/16, 3:36 PM

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.

1/22/16, 3:42 PM

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.

1/22/16, 3:49 PM

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?

1/22/16, 4:09 PM

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."

1/22/16, 4:10 PM

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.

1/22/16, 4:16 PM

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?

1/22/16, 4:17 PM

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!

1/22/16, 4:19 PM

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!

1/22/16, 4:20 PM

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.

1/22/16, 4:46 PM

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.

1/22/16, 4:47 PM

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.

1/22/16, 4:53 PM

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.

1/22/16, 4:54 PM

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.

1/22/16, 5:18 PM

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.

1/22/16, 5:21 PM

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.

1/22/16, 5:24 PM

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.

1/22/16, 5:36 PM

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.

1/22/16, 5:38 PM

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.

1/22/16, 7:00 PM

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.

1/22/16, 7:01 PM

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.

1/22/16, 7:05 PM

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

1/22/16, 7:35 PM

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

1/22/16, 7:54 PM

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.

1/22/16, 8:07 PM

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.

1/22/16, 8:12 PM

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.

1/22/16, 8:16 PM

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.

1/22/16, 8:30 PM

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...

1/22/16, 8:33 PM

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.

1/22/16, 8:43 PM

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?

1/22/16, 8:43 PM

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. (?)

1/22/16, 9:21 PM

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 ?

1/22/16, 9:55 PM

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.

1/22/16, 10:02 PM

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.

1/22/16, 10:05 PM

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.

1/22/16, 10:26 PM

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.

1/22/16, 10:34 PM

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.

1/22/16, 10:42 PM

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.

1/22/16, 10:46 PM

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!

1/22/16, 11:01 PM

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.

1/23/16, 12:15 AM

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?



1/23/16, 1:54 AM

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!

1/23/16, 2:41 AM

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....

1/23/16, 5:03 AM

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.

1/23/16, 5:33 AM

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.

1/23/16, 5:57 AM

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.

1/23/16, 6:12 AM

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?

1/23/16, 6:24 AM

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.

1/23/16, 6:25 AM

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.

1/23/16, 6:27 AM

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.)

1/23/16, 6:32 AM

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.

1/23/16, 6:46 AM

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

1/23/16, 6:53 AM

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.

1/23/16, 7:16 AM

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.

1/23/16, 7:19 AM

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.

1/23/16, 7:22 AM

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.

1/23/16, 7:49 AM

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.

1/23/16, 7:50 AM

Wiborg13 said...
Have you seen this ?
They're furious.

1/23/16, 8:06 AM

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.

1/23/16, 8:47 AM

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:

1/23/16, 9:02 AM

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.

1/23/16, 9:53 AM

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.

1/23/16, 9:54 AM

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?

1/23/16, 10:07 AM

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.

1/23/16, 10:17 AM

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?

1/23/16, 10:29 AM

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...

1/23/16, 10:31 AM

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.

1/23/16, 10:44 AM

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!

1/23/16, 11:03 AM

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.

1/23/16, 11:17 AM

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.

1/23/16, 11:17 AM

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?

1/23/16, 11:18 AM

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)

1/23/16, 11:34 AM

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.

1/23/16, 11:36 AM

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. :^)

1/23/16, 11:43 AM

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.


1/23/16, 11:50 AM

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.

1/23/16, 11:59 AM

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!

1/23/16, 12:12 PM

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

1/23/16, 12:27 PM

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.

1/23/16, 12:33 PM

. 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.

1/23/16, 12:34 PM

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?

1/23/16, 12:42 PM

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.

1/23/16, 12:44 PM

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.

1/23/16, 12:49 PM

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/23/16, 1:11 PM

Toomas (Tom) Karmo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.

1/23/16, 1:20 PM

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.

1/23/16, 1:27 PM

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.

1/23/16, 2:07 PM

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 :)

1/23/16, 2:09 PM

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."

1/23/16, 2:36 PM

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.

1/23/16, 3:06 PM

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.

1/23/16, 3:28 PM

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.

1/23/16, 5:19 PM

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.

1/23/16, 5:34 PM

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.

1/23/16, 5:44 PM

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.

1/23/16, 6:47 PM

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...

1/23/16, 6:53 PM

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.

1/23/16, 6:56 PM

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?

1/23/16, 7:03 PM

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...

1/23/16, 7:12 PM

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.

1/23/16, 8:31 PM

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.

1/23/16, 8:47 PM

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

1/23/16, 8:57 PM

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."

1/23/16, 9:44 PM

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.

1/23/16, 9:55 PM

Wiborg13 said...
Have you seen this ? It seems that Trump is gathering support inside the republican's elite.

1/23/16, 11:40 PM

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.

1/24/16, 12:34 AM

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.

1/24/16, 1:15 AM

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.

1/24/16, 2:31 AM

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.



1/24/16, 3:08 AM

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?

1/24/16, 8:22 AM

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.

1/24/16, 8:22 AM

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.

1/24/16, 8:42 AM

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:

1/24/16, 8:46 AM

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.

1/24/16, 9:06 AM

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.

1/24/16, 9:07 AM

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.

1/24/16, 9:38 AM

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?

1/24/16, 10:01 AM

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

1/24/16, 12:08 PM

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".

1/24/16, 1:48 PM

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.

1/24/16, 1:59 PM

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.

1/24/16, 2:11 PM

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.

1/24/16, 2:17 PM

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

1/24/16, 2:21 PM

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.

1/24/16, 2:40 PM

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.

1/24/16, 2:47 PM

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." *****

1/24/16, 3:11 PM

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.

1/24/16, 3:18 PM

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

1/24/16, 3:49 PM

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.

1/24/16, 4:15 PM

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.

1/24/16, 4:27 PM

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.

1/24/16, 5:05 PM

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.

1/24/16, 5:06 PM

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.

1/24/16, 8:12 PM

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!"

1/24/16, 8:25 PM

look sie said...
I have been reading the comments regarding the use of the term Social Justice Warrior (SJW) and how some feel it is somehow demeaning. A couple of posters have suggested using the term "The Professionally Offended" (TPO). Sorry, I really have to disagree. TPO is too mild a term and suggests that somehow these people are merely a nuisance that can be easily dismissed. These people are DANGEROUS. They have (despite their small numbers), with the contrivance of the media throughout the Western world, become a malevolent force that is doing a great deal of harm and poisoning every serious debate. Anyone that truly cares about "social justice" should be finding common ground not building barriers and stirring up even more resentment. These idiots can have people at each other's throats inside of 30 seconds.

1/24/16, 9:20 PM

Quercus said...
A very concise post and I have used your talking points already in response to some shrill disgusted mockery of Trump.
Some thoughts on this country/continent from an outsider, which I will collate into a post as you requested last week.

In the US, and Canada (and increasingly so in Oceania), the left is completely detached from actually advocating for... well, working class people. At the University of Toronto, where I was on exchange for 6 months last year, there were at least over a dozen social justice groups, but not a single one that actually talked about economic equality as a thing. No wonder most folks scoff at their intentions. Every single perceived biological category seemed to be up for some special preference, apart from actual debt-ridden and poor people who didn't fall into these categories. Instead of engaging with these issues, most modern leftists just dismiss you as a racist and bigot. They won't even write petitions, let alone do things like donate time for assistance or make changes in their lives to help wage earners.

The other, is how detached American salary-class people are from the wage class. I'll go back to Tocqueville, who commented in the early 19th century that it was myriads of associations where people of different backgrounds mixed with common interest that kept America together as a country. Well, that foundation died a long time ago. The way salary earners refuse to even engage with wage workers as more than automatons, and that's when they aren't actively destroying their livelihoods by replacing them with actual automatons. The sort of class distinction I see here is the same as the attitudes in old societies like India, and that's saying something.

There's a lot more I can say, but I'll write that in a post instead of rambling here.


1/24/16, 10:30 PM

YCS said...
Also, I wrote a quick post on the coming depression: reader's thoughts are much appreciated!

The Great Depression II: Bigger and better than the last one!

1/24/16, 11:05 PM

dltrammel said...
@Patrica Mathews: 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.


I unfortunately count them among the poor. They defintely don't make or promote policy like the ultra rich.

My argument for a "corporate" class, is that many people who 30-40 years ago would have been high end wage earners, are now getting salaries. Why? Because of overtime and the fact that the law about who gets it and who doesn't hasn't been up dated in decades. A co-worker took over as our supervisor on our shift, he was put on salary and while his base pay went up (not much) he now doesn't get paid for any overtime. They still expect him to work it, just not get paid for it.

He isn't one of the people who makes the decision to close a plant and move it to a foreign country to take advantage of cheap labor. Often those people that do make that decision aren't one of the 1% but instead are people who make small figure million dollar salaries. And get bonuses doing the very thing that kills the wage and lower salary classes.

They may make some of their money off of stock options and investment portfolios but their primary means of money is still their salaries. It's the difference between someone who can fire you (your supervisor) and who can close your plant (corporate CEOs).

1/24/16, 11:09 PM

Andy said...
Heartbreaking post from Dr. Longcore, an ecologist and professor at USC. Linda Beck is a biologist at Malheur in Oregon. The insurrectionists have released a video that includes Bundy rifling through her desk and ridiculing the research conducted at the refuge.

"The armed takeover of Malheur National Wildlife Refuge is, therefore, not just an attack on a federal property. It cuts deeper than that. It is an attack on the modern science-based approach to land management and it is an attack on the value and worth of science and scientists in the United States. This should not come as a surprise. The armed occupiers are extremist Mormons — one of them identified himself as “Captain Moroni” (a figure from the Book of Mormon) and Ammon Bundy describes his actions as the result of consultation with “the Lord.” The occupiers are photographed kneeling in prayer at the refuge. In Linda Sue Beck’s office. Attacks on science from those with extremist religious views are now an unfortunate part of the American political landscape."

"So I stand with Linda Sue Beck and all of the federal scientists who serve to research, protect, and manage our federal lands. I stand with the scientists, who are under siege, by anti-intellectual know-nothings in the halls of Congress, by vapid inciters on talk radio, and now by armed religious extremists in their very offices. It is time for America to stand up as well."

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..."
Shane, I'm from Michigan, son of a GM union weldor, and grew up one mile north of the city limits of Flint until leaving for the USAF in early '83. I still have family in the area and hoped to move back to the UP. Once GM pulled out (Ross Perot was right - you could hear the sucking sound happening in real time), the biggest thing happening in Flint was Habitat for Humanity. Most of Flint's residents are African-American. You know what happens in the US when a brown-skinned person is seen in public with a gun, right - even if the person is 12 and carrying a pellet pistol? (RIP Tamir Rice. I'm sorry that the Grand Jury decided that your death was 'justified'.) I think clean water's lower on Maslow's Hierarchy of Needs that physical security - maybe that's why they're in the streets with posterboard and not AR-15s. That's my guess, anyway.

1/24/16, 11:36 PM

Andy said...
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."
Bless you, sir - you've got my vote.

Instead of calling them names, maybe more white folks should bring the protesters water and stand with them. They've got more than enough reason to be in the "mad as he** and not going to take it anymore" category.

1/24/16, 11:41 PM

James M. Jensen II said...
Bill Pulliam,

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.

I agree, but in the case of the SJWs, I'm not sure what a better way to discuss them would be. They really do seem to me to be describable as "the extremist wing of the cultural left." They seem to cluster around roughly the same issues.

What matters even more is how they behave: work themselves into a fury over ever-more-trivial things (ex: microaggressions), call for ever-more-radical solutions (ex: making universities "safe spaces"), dismiss any information contrary to their views (ex: their numbers on sexual assaults on college campuses are inflated), and generally bully anybody who doesn't get with the program.

Certainly none of this is unique to SJWs. They're simply the latest incarnation of an age-old phenomenon. I know first-hand how similar the far-right can be. What makes SJWs scary is that they actually have some power right now: people are losing their jobs or being bullied into suicide, and some schools are giving in to their demands.

1/24/16, 11:52 PM

Phil Knight said...
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.

Thank you for patriarchally mansplaining that to us, Bill.

1/25/16, 2:09 AM

Phil Knight said...
Anyway, back to the subject of this post, Trump's supporters are non-literate believers in political homeopathy:

1/25/16, 3:25 AM

temporaryreality said...
My teenaged daughter, who has made the mistake of writing about her personal experience of being a minority ethnicity in the US on a public internet forum (instagram) has found that she now qualifies for having SJW hurled at her. First it was used in snotty ways, dismissing her expressions of solidarity (in the sense of understanding and commiserating) with others' experiences of bigotry. Then, the other day, a well-spoken individual commented, very skillfully arguing that my daughter was referring to other posts that were SJW-esque and that this made her position suspect if not tainted and basically that she was being insensitive to everyone else.

I watched my kind-hearted, compassionate child become angry, righteous, gleeful in her ability to "roast" that person in writing, When I overheard her talking to her sister about it, she filled me in, briefly and was offended when I suggested that her response was inappropriate. She couldn't hear that she had filled the shoes of the stereotyped SJW, had deprived another person of the chance to learn something through civil discourse (as, in her anger, she hadn't let me read the full post by the other person, I cannot judge if the comment was as underhanded as she insists or if the person really was trying to suggest she not identify with SJW politics by re-posting such things - so perhaps there was room for civil discourse).

The SJW appellation is being applied rather liberally and it's demeaning and divisive and will only serve to make it (more of?) a social crime, if not an outright one, to be different or support difference in our society. Sadly, my family cannot help but be different. The future is marching loudly toward our front door - with jackboots or pitchforks, I can't tell yet.

I would have preferred being able to directly comment on the actual subject of this week's post - I found it insightful and helpful in understanding other kinds of divisions in US society. On the ground, I don't know any Trump supporters (I'm an introverted, unemployed housewife/caregiver and my husband, who hasn't been able to find work in the US, now works overseas. I just don't get out much), so can't test the argument presented or gauge the degree of my acquaintances' resentment, but maybe the bubbling-over-in-the-comments topics reflect it well enough.

1/25/16, 6:28 AM

peacegarden said...
This has been an especially vigorous discussion.

My take is this: those losing their jobs or being penalized in some other way by some indiscreet twitter or Facebook comment are dealing with the consequences of twitter and Facebook overexposure. We don’t have to make comments about every blessed thing in life…the feelings of frustration could be shared with only trusted friends (real friends) instead of being put out there for the world to see…and be responded to with venom. Why not avoid the venomous snake all together.

As Bill Pullium said, “This isn’t talk radio, folks”!



1/25/16, 7:39 AM

Shane W said...
Off topic, but this was just in my inbox on peak oil review--it must be bad if even the establishment economic organizations are talking this way...
"The situation is worse than it was in 2007. Our macroeconomic ammunition to fight downturns is essentially all used up. Debts have continued to build up over the last eight years and they have reached such levels in every part of the world that they have become a potent cause for mischief. It will become obvious in the next recession that many of these debts will never be serviced or repaid, and this will be uncomfortable for a lot of people who think they own assets that are worth something. The only question is whether we are able to look reality in the eye and face what is coming in an orderly fashion, or whether it will be disorderly. Debt jubilees have been going on for 5,000 years, as far back as the Sumerians."

William White, chairman, OECD's review committee; former chief economist,

1/25/16, 7:49 AM

peacegarden said...
And another thing…the behaviors of the SJW in power in government and particularly academia are perfect examples of the senility of the elites that JMG has written about. The real concerns and hard work that made some inroads in social justice (not a dirty concept) have devolved to knee jerk binary name calling/witch hunting.



1/25/16, 7:56 AM

Jon from Virginia said...
This is more for last week's post on education than this one. It does tie into the politics of resentment- we hated the time wasted as kids, and the money wasted as adults.
"Does this 81 year old hold the key to teaching kids how to understand math?" my local paper asks. Once more, separate paths lead to a common truth-- Careful work finds a few key assessment questions that don't waste teachers and students time. She calls her technique the "Success in Learning Math approach". The story is at
I found the idea initially in Public Schools Should Learn to Ski, which is about the New Canaan Center School.

1/25/16, 8:25 AM

Varun Bhaskar said...

I've been quietly reading comments for the past week, trying to take in everything that is being said. It seems like the only generalization that can really be made is that the wage class, where ever in the world they are, have been thrown under the bus. Specific grievances seem to vary from region to region, for example we don't really have an illegal immigration problem here in the northern Midwest, or a problem with rancher militias, or an influx of unadjusted refugees.

I would suggest to all of you, mostly because I have this problem too, find a common language to define who is part of your community and who isn't. What behaviour is acceptable for someone part of your community and what isn't? What makes someone an ally, a friend, competitor, or threat?

Ultimately, if you're going to label people, that's what you should be trying to establish. Don't base your ideas on someone else's definitions. Do as druids do, use your senses and ability to reason.



1/25/16, 9:24 AM

Dammerung said...
oh good, Andy... a "science-based" approach to land management. Those have turned out so well in the past, from Las Vegas' inevitable death by dehydration to the great Yellowstone Fire. "Science" is just code for the privileged to use State violence to shift resources from the working class to the salary class. Scientific land management is a vast experiment being performed on flora; fauna; and humankind alike without bothering with such antiquated notions as methodological ethics or consent of the governed.

1/25/16, 9:27 AM

onething said...
In reading over some comments, it occurs to me that the SJW phenomenon may be an example of the highjacking of the left from standing up to power in a meaningful way, to distracting trivialities. Which is itself a hallmark of a disengaged elite who are playing at life. I don't mean the really high elite, but a salaried class academic one.

Also, as a more-or-less leftie, I am now seeing the reality of certain complaints against the left, specifically, how they can be just as intolerant and oppressive as the right. Like Columbus sailing around the world, east meets west.

1/25/16, 9:42 AM

Nestorian said...
I very much appreciate the generally agreed-upon theme in this post and thread that the "Identity Politics" of the mainstream Democratic leftward tilt of the US body politic is morally and ideologically bankrupt - and narcissistic, to boot - and that it serves a propagandistically useful function of suppressing any serious class analysis from US political discourse.

May I recommend, to those who share this sensibility, that they check out the World Socialist Web Site ( They offer daily global news from a classical Trotskyite perspective, and their vehement rejection of leftist Identity Politics is one of their major editorial emphases.

Unfortunately, being true heirs to the Marxist worship of the religion of progress, they reject Peak Oil and the dawning of hard ecological limits.

It's still a very worthwhile daily news source, though.

1/25/16, 9:50 AM

111DFC said...
Instead of road bombs and warbands, IMHO first what we would see is the ascent of the spenglerian “Caesarism” or any other kind of “Diocletian’s reaction” (Oswald Spengler wrote about caesarism in 1920, well before Hitler takeover, in “The Decadence of Occident” book)

Diocletian embarqued on a long series of prosecutions against dissidents (in those times manichaeans and, above all, christians) labeled as internal enemies of the roman civilization and greatness, and also in foreign wars and increase bureaucracy to collect taxes; but at the same time trying to win the “hearts and minds” of the poors through “artifacts” like the “Edict Of Maximum Prices” (301 a.d.), which was a disaster because change nothing in the land property or debt dynamics, and for this reason only make things worse (Diocletian was, at the end, only a “tool” of the patrician class)

I see in the webs of the right (libertarians, anarcho-capitalists, far right collapsists, preppers, etc.., and even in the left’s webs), a lot people issuing comments with large amounts of admiration for Vladimir Putin, as a kind of White Christian Knight that represents some of the value required for a true “Caesar”: clean white, christian, physically strong, determined, intelligent, military trained, alpha-male behaviored, relentless, fearless, powerful, really “in charge” (not a puppet of the wealthy), unconstrained by political correctness…, in short a real leader. This is a symptom of an unsatisfied “thirst” in a significant part of the population (proto-fascism?)

As Norman Cohn wrote in “The Pursuit of the Millenium” in the middle age, there were a lot of movements that believed in the inminent arrival of the “Last Days Emperor” (resurrected Frederick I “Barbarossa”), that will conquer the Holy Sepulcre and prepare the way for the “Second Coming” and the “Millennium” (and of course for some good progroms in the meanwhile), and choose some guy for this role. This was the hope of a lot of revolts of the poorest people in the nascent textile “factories” in Flanders, Hainaut, Hanseatic cities or Lombardy (the mediaeval lumpen proletariat lost all the social safety nets of the rural communities after moving to the cities). In fact I think Hitler saw himself as a kind of “last days emperor” called to set-up the “Millennium” (the thousand year Reich), following the same eschatologic tradition

The isolation of the man, the destruction of his blood bonds, his communities, make him embrace consumerism (reinforcing in a positive feedback loop) as an addiction; but when consumerism fails, destroyed isolated people return to the abstract notions of “tradition” or “nation”, in fact looking for another gravity center, for safety, meaning and rage. I think “Cesarism” is the next stop, won’t work also, but in the mean time the rage, and the blood, will flow

1/25/16, 11:47 AM

Joe Roberts said...
David Axelrod's op-ed in the NY today, about Trump's appeal as the antithesis of Obama, with many historical examples, explains one part of Trump's popularity very well, I think.

1/25/16, 11:49 AM

Nestorian said...
To Bill Pulliam (and everyone else too):

Some of us didn't even know what an "SJW" is.

Even after I looked up the acronym on google, I only became fully certain that it stands for "Social Justice Warrior" after I came back to the thread and read some posts where it came up.

1/25/16, 12:07 PM

Nastarana said...
Dear LewisLucanBooks, Should Sen. sanders become the Democratic nominee, he will need to look to the Midwest or Far West for a running mate. Because of Sanders' age, voters will be looking closely at the presumptive VP. Sanders would, IMHO, be well advised to look for someone who combines good campaigning skills with administrative experience. For example, former Montana Gov. Brian Schweitzer comes readily to mind. The two men could have some fun with a two old guys from Northern rural states theme. If he thinks he needs to appeal to Hispanics, there is a choice of Bill Richardson with his gold plated foreign policy experience, and former senator Ken Salazar, probably not the best choice, because of having been Sec. of the Interior during the Gulf of Mexico underwater oil spill incident, but a possibility. I had rather not see him mine the Senate of Democrats, one of Obama's worst mistakes, IMHO, but if he does, the best choice there might be Sen. Amy Klobuchar of Minn. Iron Lady Sen. Claire McKaskill, America's answer to Maggie Thatcher, seems to have ruined a promising career with her very ill judged outspoken support for Mme. Clinton. A pity.

I am also a fan of Senator Warren, but one of the underlying dynamics of this race is that Democrats who live outside Wash, NY and Berkley are fed up with being ignored by the national party.

1/25/16, 12:40 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Phil Knight -- You are welcome. As a white male over 50 isn't that my duty? But of course by using the words "patriarchal" and "mansplaining" don't you now qualify as SJW?

1/25/16, 1:27 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Actually I just realized that by virtue of being queer and 1.2% native American I qualify for not one but two oppressed minorities, so you are not allowed to tag me with patriarchal. Sorry but those are the rules!

1/25/16, 1:31 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
Could you please explain why everyone is pouring oil into an apparently over- saturated market, and driving prices lower and lower? Especially if oil is becoming harder and more expensive to extract? Are they crazy, am I, or is there something I'm missing here?

1/25/16, 1:33 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
No, Phil - let me womansplain it to you matriarchally - as a longtime feminist, I have to say that Bill Pulliam is absolutely correct. Categories put a stop to thinking and lead to bad manners. Bad manners is what the Social Justice Warriors - a term I learned only on this blog - are protesting. And apparently exhibiting. And by my standards, bad manners are starting to prevail whenever the subject is being brought up. By either side.

Let me add that bad manners has nothing to do with what fork you use and everything to do with exhibiting kindness, decency, and granting the other person the same human status as you claim for yourself.

There has been enough class-bashing, age-bashing, and every other kind of bashing around. Far too much.

1/25/16, 1:42 PM

earthworm said...
Phil Knight said:
"Thank you for patriarchally mansplaining that to us, Bill".

I didn't take it that way. The point seemed worth thinking about.

Bill Pulliam:
"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."

Mansplaining seems like a different thing, but then maybe I am incorrect.

1/25/16, 1:49 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Dammerung -- what do you propose as an alternative? In the U.S. the alternative has generally been a market-based approach to land management, privatization of resources and maximizing short-term revenue. Got another suggestion?

1/25/16, 2:51 PM

Ozark Chinquapin said...
Thinking back to some of your earlier writings on technological, economic, and moral progress, I'm wondering if the Trump/Sanders phenomena signals a turning point in belief in economic progress specifically. Even though as you've stated, America has been in decline in many ways for decades, belief in the myth of progress has led many to ignore those signs, until now. It's clear that lots of people are fed up with the status quo, but it's unclear to me how many Americans still believe that progress will get back on track if we just change some things around and how many have grasped the reality of limits. I'm wondering if the stirrings of nationalism/isolationism in America and in Europe mean that many have accepted on some level that there's no way that 7 billion people can ever live a modern western lifestyle. Globalization was accepted by so many on the premise of economic progress, that someday everyone would live like western countries. Dwindling belief in economic progress (along with moral progress, which also has fewer true believers), will lead to very different attitudes as people adjust to thinking of the pie as shrinking rather than expanding. Belief in technological progress seems to be pretty much as strong as ever, but technological progress without economic or moral progress isn't a very happy concept, it shows in the dystopias seen more and more in popular fiction.

1/25/16, 2:58 PM

James M. Jensen II said...
As I suspect our host is getting somewhat tired of talking about SJWs, may I suggest we patronize him another way? I propose we guess what the next post will be about. I'll start:

The next part in Retrotopia. We'll finally go to the Atheist Assembly, and the methane leak in California will get a passing mention.

Alternatively, JMG will get confused owing to an excess of divine wisdom, and will accidentally post "The Scope of Occultism, Part Three: Why Crowley Was Wrong About Everything" here. ;-)

1/25/16, 3:07 PM

dltrammel said...
Bill Pulliam said: "OK, I will be more direct this time, addressing 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.


Phil Knight said: Thank you for patriarchally mansplaining that to us, Bill.

Clearly Phil you haven't been reading JMG and the ADR for long. You and others that havent' might want to go back and read this post:

"Fascism and the Future, Part One: Up From Newspeak

Where Greer introduced the term "snarl word":

"These days, to be more precise, the word “fascism” mostly functions as what S.I. Hayakawa used to call a snarl word—a content-free verbal noise that expresses angry emotions and nothing else. One of my readers last week commented that for all practical purposes, the word “fascism” could be replaced in everyday use with “Oogyboogymanism,” and of course he’s quite correct; Aldous Huxley pointed out many years ago that already in his time, the word “fascism” meant no more than “something of which one ought to disapprove.” When activists on the leftward end of today’s political spectrum insist that the current US government is a fascist regime, they thus mean exactly what their equivalents on the rightward end of the same spectrum mean when they call the current US government a socialist regime: “I hate you.” It’s a fine example of the way that political discourse nowadays has largely collapsed into verbal noises linked to heated emotional states that drowns out any more useful form of communication."

What Bill, and others like myself recognize is that the use of the term SJW has become just such a snarl word, without any meaning other than to put down and marginalize the people you disagree with.

Now I have read some on the whole academia stuff on "Trigger words" and "micro aggressions" and find the majority of it to be complete BS. I am willing to argue my point without treating those that disagree with me like "non-literate believers in political homeopathy", something you do in your very next post. If your take from the original post by Greer is that the people that support Trump are unread and stupid, you need to reread the post.

I'm not even going to comment on "patriarchal mansplaining".

The readers here expect more than sound bits Phil.

1/25/16, 3:22 PM

Justin said...
I apologize for having used the 'SJW' phrase. It is a snarl word and is not really useful in describing the two main groups that it represents. I would say there are two groups, the members of internet lynch mobs and the professionally offended.

The professionally offended really bother me (and many others). They typically are people who are privileged by the standards of the West who are very good at making divisive arguments. They take advantage of the real hardship that disadvantaged groups experience to advance their careers. I'm pretty sure some version of them is a normal feature of the cycle of elite decadence and cluelessness, so I won't pretend that this is a modern problem even though social media, etc likely add new dimensions to it. I also have to think that whether planned or not, the whole 'SJW' thing is being used as kind of a reverse Jim Crow to keep the wage class split along racial lines and even to a certain extent gender lines.

Who wants to bet that JMG will hit 600 comments by 2016?

1/25/16, 3:22 PM

Cherokee Organics said...
Hi Bill,

I thought SJW meant Silly Jerky Wa*kers. Just sayin... :-)!

I'm personally a little bit in awe at how the discussion has degenerated from the topic at hand into some sort of strange side debate about a non-issue.

In case people aren't aware, the term warrior is defined as: a brave or experienced soldier or fighter. Can people really hold their heads up in the face of that definition and honestly say that they are not borrowing the emotive aspect of that word when they talk about SJW? Seriously people get a grip.

But then the dirty little secret is that there is no justice to be found because people pursue self-interest and that pursuit usually comes at the expense of others.

Which brings the discussion back around to Trump. I gave a coherent analysis of his possible motives and few seem willing to engage with that analysis because it is an emotionally painful understanding. But that doesn't change the fact that Trump is pursuing self-interest. Nuff said really, we should really stick to the topic at hand.



1/25/16, 3:25 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Interesting analysis of polling results from about a month ago:

Trump's strongest support comes from these groups:

Self-identified Republicans who are not registered
Self-identified Republicans who are registered as Democrats (the strongest group)
Self-identified Republicans who are rated as least likely to turn out in the General election

Members of the second group cannot vote in Republican primaries in many states.

There a lot of inertia working against Trump's being able to convert his poll support into votes at the polls. Sure people often hope for a mass turnout of the formerly disenfranchized to elect a non-mainstream candidate... but they are often disappointed. Obama's big wave in 2008 was brought about by Democratic party machinery working within the existing Democratic base. Trump does not have this advantage.

1/25/16, 3:38 PM

BoysMom said...
So back awhile ago, when I first saw some folks calling themselves Social Justice Warriors or SJW, I found this: given as the origin of the term. That's from 2001.

As SJW first appeared in use on line, what I saw was that it was a self-description, people posting proudly that they were SJWs and they were going to make someone lose their job for saying something they didn't like, donating to a political cause they didn't like, or for wearing a shirt they didn't like, to pick some fairly famous examples. I've watched people who found themselves on the opposing side of things turn SJW into a sneer, but . . . well, when the self-proclaimed SJWs are the first to scream racist/sexist/nazi when someone disagrees with them, or does something they don't like, often directly in the face of evidence to the contrary, I don't feel any sympathy now that they've, some of them, decided they don't like the title they picked. Some of them still like being called SJWs and are proud of their title.

Bill Pulliam, that's their category. They named it, they proclaimed they belong in it. Read the originating document I linked: it's only sixteen pages long. If it's turned from complimentary to derogatory, perhaps that's a result of the behaviors of those using the name?

1/25/16, 3:40 PM

Ray Wharton said...
Wow the sub topic of SJW hit a nerve like a hammer to the funny bone it looks like. Some thing to try to think very coolly about since it seems to spark passions! Bill Pullman's call for caution about thinking about people with categories is very apt.

That disclaimer being said though, I can say that I have felt the tension myself. It was a very strong contributing factor to my choice to leave the Fort Collin's region last fall in retrospect. I didn't have that category in my thinking at the time, but certain pervasive attitudes in that university town were very wearing to be around. Many attempts to start appropriate lifestyle coalitions in Fort Collins became absorbed in those dramas, to the detriment of constructive effects.

There is one anecdote about that which is worth mentioning, this far down the comments at any rate. In December I spent some time in the Dineta (Navajo Lands), herding sheep and building corrals. Good times. But while out there I got into some heated conversations about my white male privileged coming from some of my white male friends who were out there. My friend J. was sharing an anecdote about an older fellow he met at a Rainbow gathering who frequented that scene because of enjoyment of seeing hippy women in various states of undress. While J. was sharing this anecdote he used a slang, but by no means vulgar, expression for breasts; 'tits'. At this point he was verbally berated for the use of the expression, an otherwise nice young man T. saying he could not be friends with a person who would use such a demeaning word. A few day's earlier the expression 'die cis scum' was quoted with soft amusement, along side a story about a protest gay orgy in a conservative church mid service; real knee slapper, no? When this even was shared with another fellow sheppard N. further heated talk followed. I don't claim that J. and I were being at out most tender in our speech, but we were powerfully attacked for ignoring our white privileged by trying to bring up that non politically correct attitudes about gender and race have their own standing and need not be based from hate or oppression. The issue that I received the most heat on was my venting about the difficulty from my College days in addressing the gender perspectives in non western philosophy with out the conversation being beaten into our eras particular gender issues.It was very frustrating, but T. and N. are both great guys who work hard and concretely for more resource appropriate lifestyles, I hoped to convey that making enemies through social values decreased the reach of making friends for appropriate livelihood matters. It was very strange, and for days I was deeply bothered by these exchanges, still good with N. and T. but it has left me very concerned.

1/25/16, 3:41 PM

Ray Wharton said...

Stumbled over this seconds after finishing the previous post. One of the first times I have encountered the term 'SJW' off of this blog or a link from these discussions. We live in interesting times.

1/25/16, 3:47 PM

Greenie said...
"(Oswald Spengler wrote about caesarism in 1920, well before Hitler takeover, in “The Decadence of Occident” book)"

Even more impressive, he wrote in before WW I started.

1/25/16, 4:26 PM

Shane W said...
I think you're missing the point, protest doesn't accomplish anything anymore but annoy people, and it certainly doesn't put money in politicians' PACs. Regarding taking up arms, people need to be so fed up with things and so hopeless with the situation that they're willing to die for the cause, it's gonna take some martyrs/deaths for people to take notice.
you should try to make your daughter understand that the internet, and social media in particular, is particularly effective in distilling pure nastiness and hate out of people, as JMG has said, due to its anonymity. You should try to get her to realize that nothing on the internet is real, and point out the serious side effects of social media, and try to get her to avoid it, or, if that's not possible, to seriously limit her exposure/time on social media.

1/25/16, 4:31 PM

Nestorian said...
I should perhaps add that, in the Roman Catholic tradition (into which I was born, before I became Nestorian), "social justice" has a strictly socio-economic sphere of application.

This sense of the phrase applies in Christianity at large, I believe. Thus, "Social Justice" in its traditional Christian denotation is in an important sense the opposite of what an "SJW" cares about.

Apart from sheer ignorance, this is part of the reason why I was confused by how the acronym is understood in non-Christian settings.

1/25/16, 5:15 PM

latheChuck said...
On a couple of occasions, I have heard political analysts (probably on US National Public Radio) ponder this mystery: why does the working class support Republicans, instead of their economic interests (as represented by the Democrats)? It is simply unfathomable, in the reporting I've heard. Now, I think I've come up with several reasons:

1. Some things are worth more than mere money (as in, social conservatism (as in, pro-life, anti-gay, racism)). [This is the favorite explanation, implying that rural Republicans are small-minded and evil.]

2. The working class might be mindful of the axiom that "a government powerful enough to provide everything you need must also be powerful enough to take everything you have". The "providing more" part is a possibility; the "taking more" part is well-established.

3. Since when has either party actually supported the economic well-being of the working class? [Obviously, the theme of this week's post.]

Let me hasten to add that I am not advocating these three ideas! But how can we understand the world if we can't discuss what might go on in the minds of others?

1/25/16, 5:45 PM

onething said...
@ Damerung and Andy,

I've been wracking my brains all day trying to remember where I read about the management of some of the national state parks, and the many boondoggles that resulted. I was shocked and amazed at the interference that they did, and the assumption that they knew what they were doing, and of course the inevitable "oops" when they see what they have wrought. It brings to mind a Ted talk of a repentant (white) guy about the way that they shot and killed thousands of elephants in Africa because they came up with the ridiculous idea that it would improve the soil.

There's a place for scientific management, but that place should be a very small one. I would have thought the whole point of a national park is to leave it alone.

1/25/16, 6:37 PM

pentronicus said...
A most excellent post Mr. Greer!

Although I identify mostly with the wage class, I don't blame the investment and salary classes for the sacrifice of the wage class. I see the destruction mostly as a side effect of the unfolding flower of technology. Once it became technologically possible to liquidate the working class, it had to be done. There was little choice in the matter.

Here is a partial list of the prerequisite technologies:

- Nearly instantaneous communication
- Jet air-travel and shipping
- Energy delivery infrastructure with cheap energy
- Scale-able raw materials infrastructure.
- Containerized shipping with deep-water ports and scale-able fleets of ships, trucks and rail cars
- Standardization of business information data and protocols (such as Electronic Data Interchange)
- Fiat currency and reserve banking, tying money to limitless promises instead of limited metals
- Development of high-volume machine-based manufacturing technologies
- Development of propaganda techniques (advertising) that ensured huge markets.
- Financial techniques of the World Bank and IMF

Meanwhile, in the US, as all this 'progress' was happening, labor and manufacturing was becoming expensive, largely due to our own successes. Some of the cost drivers:
- Union activities and practices
- Labor laws and OSHA
- Pollution control laws and regulations
- Tax increases
- Direct government interference
- NIMBYism (not in my back yard)

Now suppose you are a business owner or an investor, and you want to grow your capital. What are you going to do? You might choose not to manufacture anything, and invest in financial vehicles. You could cheat and hire some illegal aliens. You might invest in machinery, and hire very few people. Or you might pressure the government to remove any restrictions to your moving your manufacturing operations to cheaper places overseas. Once that happened you would have the means, the motive and the opportunity to move it. If your competitors took this approach, you had to do it too. Nobody sat down in a board meeting and said “Hey, lets bury the workers.” They just did what they had to do.

If anyone thinks this is unfair, take heart: Someday the tables will turn against the elites, and if history is any indication, this won't be a very pleasant experience for them.

1/25/16, 7:09 PM

Andy said...
Dammerung said... "oh good, Andy... a "science-based" approach to land management. Those have turned out so well in the past, from Las Vegas' inevitable death by dehydration to the great Yellowstone Fire. "Science" is just code for the privileged to use State violence to shift resources from the working class to the salary class. Scientific land management is a vast experiment being performed on flora; fauna; and humankind alike without bothering with such antiquated notions as methodological ethics or consent of the governed."
Please tell me this is satire, sarcasm, or some other method chosen to highlight the insanity of the groups that prefer to govern by temporary dictatorship in order to profit from poisoning a city, or that sentence hundreds of thousands to death by continuing to suggest that climate scientists reading thermometers are owned by the Illuminati.

In the off chance you're serious (I hate to think that to be the case, but one never knows), I offer this: In spite of the things that didn't work, science provided the tools used to accomplish my premature Cesarean birth and live to talk with you remotely via widely scattered packets of data that sometimes travel by laser or via satellite so that we can enjoy the community that formed in the virtual home of our favorite Archdruid. If that doesn't make you like science I don't know what will. Just because a method developed to allow methodical examination of the world in which we live is sometimes used by less-than-sane people, corrupt capitalists, or political hacks, doesn't mean that the system is broken or that we should stop trusting the things we know to be correct. I guess that means that if you're serious, and you actually intended that amazingly broad yet twisted brushstroke, we'll just have to agree to disagree.

1/25/16, 7:32 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Wow, folks, I really think Phil was joking. In fact, I thought the term "mansplaining" was kind of always used somewhat humorously, even when about serious issues. And even if that was not his intent, I certainly can choose to take it that way. After all, I AM a middle-aged white American male, and that breed DOES like to espouse its views on everything to everyone, and it DOES often come across as patronizing. No point in denying that!

First time I heard "PC" being used in general discourse, it was being used as a joke by leftists about themsleves. I realize that it has older and more nefarious origins, but American feminists calling each other PC in the 1980s was light-hearted needling with only a slightly serious undertone of "really, you might think about lightening up a little." But then the mainstream media grabbed hold of it and it became a snarl word against the people who used to use it humorously among themselves. Looks like SJW is working its way along the same trajectory. It also seems to have already lost any real meaning if it is being used simultaneously to describe the lynch mob that drove the CEO of Mozilla out, and the protestors in Flint upset that their municipal government knowingly allowed them to be poisoned.

As for the anonymity of the internet, a number us here do post under our own names and some even show our smiling faces right up there too... If I would not express an opinion at a dinner party (we have really lively dinner parties) I wouldn't express it here, either.

1/25/16, 8:02 PM

Bill Pulliam said...
Onething -- Since national parks etc. are relatively small and discrete things surrounded by vast areas of human activities, "leaving them alone" does not insure that things will be hunky dory. Invasive species move in, fire regimes are changed even in the absence of active fire suppression, top predators are missing, on and on. The notion that there is a "wild" state of nature that it will return to in the absence of human interference is a fallacy. It also somehow seems to think that humans stand apart from nature, which if one believes in biological evolution is also fallacious (where else did we come from?). The human impacts in the past and in the present are ubiquitous. The fact that there have been some (very) bad choices in the past does not mean that we should just make no choices at all in the future.

1/25/16, 8:11 PM

Patricia Mathews said...
Trump - too *liberal*? From David Brin's blog:

"As for Trump? While most of the world piles onto him as “fascist” (an accusation I tend not to believe), National Review and Fox are trying a new tactic: accusing the Donald of being “too moderate!”"

And a whole lot more.

1/25/16, 8:17 PM

Nastarana said...
Justin,, Such people taking advantage etc., as you put it, used to be known as poverty pimps.

The Kunstler blog this morning was...strange. JHK, reporting from, I gather, Michael Bloomberg's drawing room, informs us that Bloomberg will be running for President as an independent. I cannot confirm this anywhere else on the internet. The article is strange, dripping with vitriol in places, and, I have to say, not really coherent. As near as I can figure, a certain group, for which the esteemed Mr. Kunstler is serving as mouthpiece, have decided that the election of Mr. Trump would be bad for Israel, and Something Must Be Done. Sen. Sanders is not mentioned at all, which is also a bit strange as Mr. Kunstler goes out of his way to inform us that both he and Mr. Bloomberg are Jews. (I wonder which .0001% of Kunstler's readership did not already know that?) If this is going where I greatly fear it might be going, it sounds to me like Mr. Trump can start writing, or commissioning, his inaugural address.

1/25/16, 8:24 PM

Andy said...
Blogger Shane W said... "Andy,
I think you're missing the point, protest doesn't accomplish anything anymore but annoy people, and it certainly doesn't put money in politicians' PACs."

Sorry, I'm not sure how I'm missing the point. The status quo exists because it's the most comfortable habit - and most comfortable habits deliver blinders and/or blindness to those entranced. The point of many of the protests is for groups to see 'in the flesh' that they're not alone, and to cause enough discomfort to the temporarily blind that they wake up, at least a little bit, to what's happening around them. The protests I've monitored or participated in had nothing to do with anyone's PAC, but admittedly that's a small sample size.

Shane W said... "Regarding taking up arms, people need to be so fed up with things and so hopeless with the situation that they're willing to die for the cause, it's gonna take some martyrs/deaths for people to take notice."

Speaking from the perspective of a retired AF guy still on call to 'grab a gun and go' should the need arise, the purpose of taking up arms is to "kill people and break things". Taking up arms means all other more useful paths have failed. I like to think that the Founders put the 1st Amendment before the 2nd as a reminder, but then I also smile when I see a Hello Kitty, so there you go. ;) As for martyrs, it appears that at least the Black Lives Matter folks have had more than their share, as have other groups. More than enough to galvanize their communities, at least, which is sad in itself. Taking up arms, though, feeds straight into the stereotype most white Americans keep that includes using words like 'thug'. Normally, as I said earlier, that results in a rapid silencing of the protest rather than a useful resolution.

More directly - openly carrying long guns is legal in most US states. The right is being examined by various activist groups. Here's an exemple from Oregon:

These are examples of the types of deeply-ingrained racism 'buttons' that Trump pushes when activating his base. [Just for you, Chris. :) ]

1/25/16, 8:33 PM

Shane W said...
I'm wondering if part of the relaxation of attitudes about sexuality in the age of limits is that sex is a relatively ecologically friendly, non-consumptive way to provide pleasure, and ways of preventing pregnancy & STDs are relatively low tech. That is, that people increasingly over time are willing to cast an indifferent and even understanding eye towards those who want to enjoy themselves sexually, however that may be?
Regarding the whole SJW thing, most of the people promoting such ideas are diehard cornucopians--really, issues of equality and getting a bigger piece of the pie, not getting screwed out of your fair share, etc. all depend on the idea of an expanding pie. In an age of limits, whereby the pie is shrinking, it takes on a whole different meaning, and quickly descends into increasingly violent, divisive conflict over an ever shrinking pie. I don't see any "collapse now & avoid the rush" thinking in the whole SJW movement, it's all about "where's mine" and "don't screw me(us)"

1/25/16, 8:33 PM

Andy said...
onething said...
@ Damerung and Andy,

I've been wracking my brains all day trying to remember where I read about the management of some of the national state parks, and the many boondoggles that resulted. I was shocked and amazed at the interference that they did, and the assumption that they knew what they were doing, and of course the inevitable "oops" when they see what they have wrought. It brings to mind a Ted talk of a repentant (white) guy about the way that they shot and killed thousands of elephants in Africa because they came up with the ridiculous idea that it would improve the soil.

There's a place for scientific management, but that place should be a very small one. I would have thought the whole point of a national park is to leave it alone."
The Malheur was a logged, overgrazed, desert when Roosevelt signed it into being in 1908. Now it's a refuge with restored water, trees, and a varied ecology. I can't see a thing wrong with that.

I recall the video you mention - a TED talk by Alan Savory:

I don't disagree that plenty of folks have made mistakes. Science is a process that aids exploration and helps confirm the knowns and toss the junk. The assumptions and foibles of the humans at the helm can still result in a mess. And heaven knows, so does a profit motive...

If you like Savory (and the benefits of the type of cell grazing used by many permaculturists rather than the horribly destructive grazing styles of US ranchers), you may like Janine Benyus (biomimicry), Dr. Elain Ingham (soil microbiologist), and some of the work of regenerative ranchers. Science is our friend. :)

1/25/16, 8:53 PM

Raymond Duckling said...

The way it was explained to me is that most of the cost (in $$$, if not in EROEI) related to exploiting an oil well comes from setting up the infrastructure to perform the exploitation, and you only add a marginal extra cost for the operation of the well itself.

So, today, it is all sunk costs. Petroleum companies have the two unwanted options of pumping out at full capacity, at a loss, or waiting for the market to depress even further, and pump out later at a bigger loss. Also, for what I have read in this blog (but have no outside confirmation) fraking is special in the sense that the window of opportunity to extract oil closes over time as the very liquids that were used for hydrofracturing get mixed up with the oil underneth, so the question is wether to pump out today at a loss or not at all and going bankrupt.

1/25/16, 9:59 PM

Unknown said...
(Deborah Bender)

@dltrammel--I think the "mansplaining" comment was a joke. I certainly took it that way.

1/25/16, 10:19 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Thought I'd mention that this post now not only has the largest number of comments ever for an Archdruid Report post, it's also -- after less than a week -- the fifth most read Archdruid Report post of all time. I'm sorry to say that, between other commitments and the sheer volume of comments, I'm not going to be able to follow my usual custom and respond personally to this post's comments. I'll have to be content, this time, with thanking you all for your comments and encouragement, for keeping it civil even when the discussion touched on some very heated subjects, and for your continued interest in, and support of, this project!

1/25/16, 11:02 PM

Tidlösa said...
@ James M Jensen

You may be right. I was going to post my famous three-part analysis of all things SJW here (blaming former British PM Tony Blair for the lot), but I´ll think I pass... ;-)

Let me just say that to me, "SJW" doesn´t refer to leftists or liberals as a whole (I´m pretty "liberal" myself on many issues), but to the subset you called "the extremist wing of the cultural left", who has a strange way of turning pseudo-issues into the main thing, and almost never talk about class. Sanders or the Flint protesters are therefore not SJWs.

Our host, Archdruid Emeritus JMG, have indicated that he will write about the following in the near future: the American education industry, the current stagflationary world crisis (the one I´m waiting for - the article I mean, not the crisis!), and (perhaps) an analysis of Bernie Sanders´ supporters. And, of course, Retrotopia. I may have missed something.

Posting something about Platonic abstractions or Golden Dawn ritual magick here by mistake would be great fun, I wonder how The American Conservative will react?

Of course, when JMG finally gets around to The Bernie, he *must* "patriarchally mansplain" the SJWs, and then Tidlösa´s gonna bite! He he he...

1/26/16, 12:20 AM

Phil Knight said...
I'm glad you got it Bill.

Hope it gave you a chuckle.


1/26/16, 2:07 AM

Phil Knight said...
Note to self: do not attempt any more humorous one-liners on the ADR.

1/26/16, 2:17 AM

Grandmom said...
@peacegarden - (clapping) Yes, I totally agree about the commenting. People have a need to comment and critique everything they see. Social Media will never go out of business because of all the commenting! I'll drop this quote from a John Taylor Gatto speech right here. Kinda explains Trump too.

"We are a land of talkers, we pay talkers the most and admire talkers the most, and so our children talk constantly, following the public models of television and schoolteachers. It is very difficult to teach the "basics" anymore because they really aren't basic to the society we've made." - John Taylor Gatto

1/26/16, 5:12 AM

Bill Pulliam said...
Shane W -- "Regarding the whole SJW thing, most of the people promoting such ideas are diehard cornucopians--really, issues of equality and getting a bigger piece of the pie, not getting screwed out of your fair share, etc. all depend on the idea of an expanding pie. "

That really applies to nearly all prevailing political and social ideologies out there in the world, left, right, center, sideways, and twisted. The economy will continue growing until it either reaches techno-utopia or it blows up. Sanders' mainstream Euro-style Dem-Socialist policies are not long-term sustainable either though we might be able to prop them up for a while. Our current corporate welfare oligarchic capitalist system is not sustainable either.

Evidence that we are in the midst of catabolic collapse (JMG: is there a live link to your original paper presenting the model anywhere?) is abundant. The Flint water crisis is right out of the textbook - corner cutting by a cash-strapped municipal government leads to degradation of a service that was considered inviolable. Look at the global macroeconomy: The supply of oil spikes and the cost of oil crashes, and in response the economy sputters instead of booming. Use the car metaphor: if you press the accelerator and the motor sputters rather than revving, there is something wrong.

Again, the mainstream in all directions, and most alternatives, don't have this conceptual model within their thinking. And it's going to be a source of increasing strife as long as people think the pie isn't shrinking, it is obviously still growing but Other People are just stealing more and more of it.

1/26/16, 5:43 AM

Judy Van Acker said...
Long time lurker and avid fan of both the blog and the comments section, I have to thank you and other commentators for opening my eyes to Trump. I think I "get it" now. My question is -what will the U.S. look like when the privileged salary class and the investment class folks lose their pensions/investments due to a financial crash? Will the four class structures break down and coalesce? Historically speaking has this ever happened before and whom do they fight when the majority of people are suffering losses? I suppose there will be individuals who come out of the mess unscathed, which always seems to happen when a blow-out occurs. Whatever the outcome it sure will be interesting.

1/26/16, 6:52 AM

Grandmom said...
It's not just the SJW on the left shutting down the our conversations, its also the evangelicals on the right. I'm sure by now you've seen that the grand jury in TX indicted the film makers who framed Planned Parenthood in the selling of fetal tissue, framed on the right as "selling baby body parts." The Republicans in Congress held up numerous pieces of legislation to defund Planned Parenthood and stood on soap boxes denouncing Planned Parenthood.

If you live in an evangelical area like I do - so evangelical that many neighbors had remade McCain/Palin election signs in 2008 so they said "Palin 2016" - there are many "no go" areas for conversation and its not uncommon for people to shout each other down and state that they will end up in Hell. The devil is running around poisoning the unsaved and tempting the saved and Obama is the AntiChrist. With that perspective, finding common ground can be challenging.

1/26/16, 6:53 AM

YVRinhabitant said...
Great discussion, folks. I really enjoy reading the thought-provoking comments.

Financial Post says Vancouver has the third most expensive housing in the world, even more expensive than New York and London (and our incomes and job opportunities in Vancouver aren't anywhere near what they are in New York or London). From the article:

"According to U.S. group Demographia, Vancouver is the third-least affordable city in the world for a home, and construction constraints are to blame for rising home prices there and in other Canadian cities."

I can think of a lot of reasons why housing is so expensive here and construction costs wouldn't make my top 10.

"Cox goes one step further and suggests the fertility rate will be impacted in the future in some Canadian cities. “A lot of people don’t want to raise children on the tenth floor of a condominium,” he said."

Let me tell you: This is already affecting fertility. And it's not because people don't want to raise kids on the 10th floor of a condo, although that is a factor for middle class fertility rates. No, it's because the working people who built this city and built this country simply cannot afford to reproduce. And so, they say we need immigrants otherwise our population will decline. I've got an idea--why doesn't the government implement policies that help the working class and then maybe the local people will start reproducing.

"The study looked at the median cost of a home in each of the markets studied and then divided by the median income to produce a multiple. In Vancouver that $756,200 median-priced house produced a multiple of 10.8 when divided by the median household income of $69,700.
Topping the list was Hong Kong, where residents need 19 times the median income to buy the median-priced house; Syndey, Australia, was second, at 12.2 times. The second-least affordable city in Canada was Victoria, with a multiple of 6.9, followed by Toronto, at 6.7.


“If there is a bias in income in a place, it’s definitely Vancouver, where a lot of this money is coming from outside the country,” Tal said . “We are not just talking about foreign investors, we are talking about new immigrants. We might have the wife here and the husband over there. She might have income of zero and be living in a $5-million house. There’s a lot happening and that’s not foreign investment because she’s Canadian.”

1/26/16, 6:59 AM

Dammerung said...

Is that so? Well, I've had almost entirely healthy family members go to science-focused doctors with a minor medical concern and end up dead a month later thanks to drug "complications." Nor is it any secret at all that the science that allows us to communicate in this manner is also the science of spewing Fukushima radiation; the science of rare earth pit mines in Africa; the science of e-waste leeching heavy metals into the groundwater; and the science of ocean acidification from CO2 pollution. I'm part of a growing number of people for whom merely stamping something with the approval of institutional science is not enough to convince us to support it blindly and wholeheartedly.

The ecclesiarchs of science are losing an increasing number of the faithful amid a field of broken promises and unintended consequences.

1/26/16, 7:56 AM

Shane W said...
"Taking up arms means all other more useful paths have failed." DING! DING! DING DING! Bingo! Hit the nail on the head there. Not sure if you've read JMG's post, Suicide of the American Left and some of his other posts going way back, but it explains why the same tired old tactics of the American Left stopped working a long time ago. Protest basically empowers your opponent because it recognizes that they're the only ones with the power to change the situation. By waving your posterboard, you're implicitly saying that you need them to act, it's a disempowering act. Yes, all the other more useful paths have failed, and the inability to recognize that is sheer cluelessness. Yes, unarmed black men, particularly youth, get shot unprovoked all the time. This creates no more reaction than, "ho, hum" in the population at large. However, a black group armed to the teeth, under siege, that gets ruthlessly mowed down in Branch Davidian style: game changer! People will take notice then. Also, "we" (most of the readers here) do not worship at the altar of Progress and it's lab coated priests. Since you're a new reader here, I'd recommend going back and reading JMG's posts on the backlash against science, particularly the science of global warming, the corruption of science, the internet and the death of the internet, and the posts on Progress. You could also purchase After Progress as well, where those posts got distilled into book form.
It was on the nightly news on TV, and I think a google search revealed it (Bloomberg's 3rd pty run). I read the same article, and, to me, Kunstler seemed very dismissive of Bloomberg as a creature of Wall Street who presided over the financialization of America, which resulted in lots of wealth leaving flyover country and getting concentrated in NYC.

1/26/16, 8:44 AM

Grandmom said...
And in Day 25 of the Oregon nature reserve of the militants is dressed as sumo wrestler challenging Chris Christie to a match. The sight of this almost naked man slapping his thighs and playing tough is really something.

How again are these people like John Brown sparking the Civil War?

1/26/16, 8:51 AM

Bill Pulliam said...
Unfortunately I know JMG won't have time to respond to this, but maybe some others will have thoughts about this in the remaining 36 hours before the next post comes out...

In reference to the idea that "If not Trump in 2016, then Haliot in 2020" I'm not sure I see how Trump heads that scenario off. If elected he will likely not be very effective. He'll have the mainstream of both parties as well as the courts against him. When he does not accomplish his stated nationalist populist agenda (for which people elected him), is there any reason to think that his base won't shift even more strongly to someone who is even more nationalist and populist? As I have heard commentors left right and center discussing, the problem with the Republicans and their wage-class base is that they wooed them away from the Democrats with social issues, but those voters really don't like the mainstream Republican economic policies. Drawing them away from the Republicans too leaves them as a huge pool of free agents (free radicals? With their unbound electrons just dangling out there?) looking for someone to react to.

1/26/16, 9:02 AM

Jeffrey Pikul said...
A note to your comment to Edde.
I'm taking a course on external auditing for accountants, and this exact issue came up in a disguised form.

The story goes that the Enron/Arthur Anderson disaster was made possible because boards of directors--the representatives of the rentier class--often chose their finance and audit subcommittees arbitrarily. If these board members did not have competence in analyzing financial statements they would at the mercy of MBA executives and corporate comptrollers. These committees could then be "guided" into hiring Big Five accounting firms to simultaneously perform accounting, consulting, and audit services--not illegal at the time, but creating inherent conflicts of interest.

These accounting firms are structured as legal partnerships, staffed by profit class partners and salary class juniors. Consulting services became a lucrative source of revenue by the 1980's, while audit services were, and still are, given to low cost bidders. These firms found their consulting contracts could be held to ransom if they gave qualified opinions during corporate financial audits.

The current narrative is that Enron's demise led to Sabarnes-Oxley regulation of corporate boards, FASB/IASB professional guidance, and IFRS/ASPE financial statement standards, allowing Progress to continue.

In the lens of your analysis, the salary class coup was complete before and contributed to the Clinton stock market bull, and only came undone when Enron and Worldcom convinced the rentiers legal reforms were needed before the populace started asking questions about the governance and viability of large public corporations.

Except...except the widespread use of debt to buy back shares--that is, taking shares out of the market for cash payment--can be seen by rentiers as a sign that salaried management is taking control back again. At the same time, offshored wage-class production has never been the panacea that salary-class executives and consultants had promised it would be. What if the rentiers could get one of their own to offer an olive branch to the wage class, and give them a free hand to whip the salary-class back into line...

1/26/16, 9:19 AM

The other Tom said...
@ petronicus. "I see the destruction mostly as a side effect of the unfolding flower of technology. Once it becomes technologically possible to liquidate the working class, it had to be done."
Your analysis leaves out the countervailing pressures of laws, regulations, and organizations that ameliorate these economic forces. Individual choices play a role here too. If technology and economic trends are an immutable force then we are foolish not to shop at Walmart and passively accept our downward trajectory.
Over the last 30 years or so the Republicans have sidestepped this disaster by distracting us with hot button social issues, while the Democrats are too bogged down in identity politics to think of the big picture. In this political vacuum the technology you described has enabled the elites to almost eliminate the middle class.
We never would have had much of a middle class if technology and the behaviour of the elites had been allowed to run its course. It's not carved in stone that service workers have to be low paid, or that minimum wage must be much lower than in 1970, adjusted for inflation, any more than it was preordained that auto workers or steelworkers had to be low paid 100 years ago.
I realize that this is all temporary, until limits really slam us, but while we still live in this global economy why should the working class unilaterally disarm?
I agree that all factors you described combined to overturn the old order, but I think it's important to remember that this is a system designed by humans and it can be altered by humans.

1/26/16, 9:52 AM

Robert Mathiesen said...
@Shane W

The North wasn't all the same in how they treated their Black populations, whether free or newly freed. Here in Rhode Island there are Black families with centuries-old roots in the state, and there was always some Black-White intermarriage among the poorer strata of society (domestics, chauffeurs and hired farm-hands, for example) in the state. As for Vermont, it was mostly poor farmers on poorer soil, and there was a huge out-migration from Vermont throughout the 1800s, White as well as Black. (But I haven't looked into the history of Vermont laws on the subject.) In Maine, which is huge and very thinly settled in its more northern parts, laws were hard to enforce throughout the state at all times. I expect the pattern would vary from one New England state to the next; they hardly ever did (or do) anything alike.

1/26/16, 10:42 AM

Mark said...
To Bill, regarding what happens when Trump (most likely in my view) disappoints. We seem to be entering uncharted territory now, so it's really hard to predict. Fwiw I see the Haliot 2020 option as one end of the spectrum of possibilities, possible but unlikely. On the other end the Trumpets go back to the old Republican game of voting on cultural issues after a "see, we told you he'd be a disaster" period. I don't think that's likely either. Somewhere in the middle we adjust to a new period of amped up populism, with gestures to the wage class and continued divide and conquer around cultural issues. I think that's most likely, and Trump himself could make that work, essentially keeping the current system together while shifting the balance internally towards the wage class and away from the more liberal end of the salary class, without upsetting the big wigs. But I don't really know, it's wait and see time, I think.

1/26/16, 10:59 AM

Phil Harris said...
Well said on all points. Only a few hours left on this weeks commentary, but just to say that its looking that way to me as well peering at the sputtering global economy from Britland. I wonder how long the strife will hide the main trend?

Bill wrote
"Evidence that we are in the midst of catabolic collapse ... Again, the mainstream in all directions, and most alternatives, don't have this conceptual model within their thinking. And it's going to be a source of increasing strife as long as people think the pie isn't shrinking,..."

1/26/16, 11:32 AM

onething said...

You misunderstand me, and probably Dammerung also. It is possible to have science as a kind of substitute religion. I think it is fair to say that I have never met or heard of anyone in my life who is against science. That there are such people is really a misconception. But 80% of "science" is interpretation and premature implementation. I am weary of the long chain of events in which persons with some humility and common sense would have not interfered in the first place, not experimented, not implemented this and that before the whole system is understood.

It's not that mistakes are made that bothers me, it is that most of them ought reasonably not to have been made; either there was sufficient reason to be cautious or it violated common sense.

Here is a tiny example, which I could multiply all day long, just about having an attitude of knowledge when one is in fact almost totally ignorant: In 1952 when my mother was pregnant with my sister, my dear grandfather nearly cried when she told him she was going to breastfeed. Why was he so upset, she asked? Because bottle feeding was more scientific! Look at what has been found out about the value of breast milk in the intervening decades. What he and the whole scientific world knew about the components of breast milk and how it affects growth, health and brain development was unknown and unstudied and not even considered. This is not what I would call a mistake of science; it is what I would call a foolish attitude lacking common sense. Whether you think physiology was created 6,000 years ago by God or the product of a half billion years of evolution, the likelihood that we can improve upon nature is so slim. Ever looked at a map of the Krebs cycle? That should give you pause. But no, the minute they could make a formula on which babies could make it at all, it became "better." Better how? They would not be able to tell you because they knew so little of any of the pertinent questions on the matter. But they knew enough that common sense should have urged caution.

1/26/16, 12:19 PM

Andy said...
Dammerung said... "@Andy

Is that so? Well, I've had almost entirely healthy family members go to science-focused doctors with a minor medical concern and end up dead a month later thanks to drug "complications." Nor is it any secret at all that the science that allows us to communicate in this manner is also the science of spewing Fukushima radiation; the science of rare earth pit mines in Africa; the science of e-waste leeching heavy metals into the groundwater; and the science of ocean acidification from CO2 pollution. I'm part of a growing number of people for whom merely stamping something with the approval of institutional science is not enough to convince us to support it blindly and wholeheartedly.

The ecclesiarchs of science are losing an increasing number of the faithful amid a field of broken promises and unintended consequences."

Whoa there, Pilgrim. :) I do hear what you're saying. Let's make very, very clear, though: Science is a process of exploration. It's a tool. Nothing more, nothing less. I agree - it can be used to make bombs or incubators. How it's used and/or misused is the human element. I lost my mom to medical malpractice - so I really do understand what you're saying here - but I don't blame "science" for that because the meds that four doctors misapplied at the same time continue to help save the lives of many millions around the world.

Sorry for your losses.

1/26/16, 12:41 PM

Shane W said...
C'mon, guys and gals, let's push for a 4 page record this week!

1/26/16, 12:45 PM

Cherokee Organics said...
Hi Andy,

I don't believe that he cares one iota about racism; he's probably more interested in sustaining his wealth and social status because those can evaporate or be taken away. The economic methods used to ward off the worst of the Great Recession that we are currently in are nearing the end of their usefulness before the law of diminishing returns swoops in. It is not a pretty sight.

Hi Judy,

Thank you for the thoughtful question. My take on that world is that it will look pretty much like a third world country. I've travelled in quite a few third world countries and it isn't the end of the world for the inhabitants, and in some ways they have more effective social structures, but getting access to energy, industrial products and food for individuals living in them is not easy either.



1/26/16, 1:16 PM

dltrammel said...
Phil Knight said: Note to self: do not attempt any more humorous one-liners on the ADR.

No harm, no fowl Phil.

(the secret word for today is duck)

Bill Pulliam said: Evidence that we are in the midst of catabolic collapse (JMG: is there a live link to your original paper presenting the model anywhere?) is abundant.

I was going to wait a few more weeks until I get to the theory in my blog posts, and had a chance to run my thoughts by JMG before I made it public but the hard link to the original paper is

"How Civilizations Fall: A Theory of Catabolic Collapse"

1/26/16, 1:26 PM

Moshe Braner said...
I keep alert for any hints on Trump's intentions, other than his usual stump speech / antics. Another such hint showed up today, but leaves more questions than answers:

"Trump, casting doubt on the nation's economic health, said on Tuesday the U.S. economy is in a bubble he fears will burst and he does not want to deal with a financial collapse if he is elected to the White House."

He "does not want to deal with it", but wants to be president?! Yeah, that's the big unknown about where this election season is going: if the financial crash 2.0 happens in the next few months, which seems quite possible, how would that affect the race? And how will the next president, whoever (s)he ends up being, be impacted in office?

1/26/16, 1:43 PM

Andy said...
Shane W said...
"Bingo! Hit the nail on the head there... However, a black group armed to the teeth, under siege, that gets ruthlessly mowed down in Branch Davidian style: game changer! People will take notice then."

Shane - thanks for helping me understand a bit better how you see the problem and likely how a lot of others see it as well - and for that I'm grateful.

I've been reading here for years and have learned from the comments at least as much as from JMG. Thanks.

Yes, protesters are saying others 'need' to act or find another job. I strongly disagree with your assertion (and frankly JMG's) that protest is a tool for the 'left'. It's a tool protected by our Constitution in the 1st Amendment and is in current use by people all over the political spectrum - not just the 'left'. I think it's unfortunate that some of my fellow conservatives appear to believe otherwise.

To the point: I was stationed in the St Louis metro area for about 8 years. I've lived or spent time in six US states, England, Germany, and Korea. I grew up in Flint during the period of 'white flight' when southern blacks came up to get good union jobs at GM and the white folks that thought Archie Bunker was a role model rather than a caricature were moving out of town as quickly as they could. The STL area is absolutely the most racist area I've ever experienced. I suspect that's why the uprising in Ferguson caught me as it did and why I took time to connect with local folks to find out what was actually happening - I knew (as much as a Caucasian could 'know') that it was bad, but didn't know it was that bad. Fast forward - they PROTESTED peacefully. They demanded their rights. They stood up to armored vehicles, LRAD, teargas and pepper spray. The local police gassed children and shot members of clergy! Many were arrested, but they were being arrested and/or shot anyway. They shut down interstate highways for symbolic 6 minutes the way police left Michael Brown on the road for more than 60. They got the attention of the city, the surrounding metro area, their state and federal reps, and the governor. They recalled officials, ran for office, and are still fighting. Without guns. They're some of the bravest Americans I've yet seen - in or out of uniform.

Here's another contrast for you. You mentioned Waco. You probably know there's a small group of armed insurrectionists holding a National Wildlife Refuge in Oregon - there's about 20 adults, including a couple of women, and at least two 8 to 9 year old children on the grounds. Law enforcement officials, not willing to catalyze another Waco or Ruby Ridge and turn these criminals into martyrs, are standing way way back. In 1985, a group of African-Americans with beliefs somewhat similar to today's 'sovereign citizen' movement were living in a a building in Philadelphia. They were tear gassed, shot, firebombed, and ultimately police dropped a bomb out of a helicopter on the building, set the neighborhood on fire, and ordered the fire department NOT to respond.

Shane W said: "However, a black group armed to the teeth, under siege, that gets ruthlessly mowed down in Branch Davidian style: game changer! People will take notice then."

Did you notice? Did the incineration of men, women, and children at the hands of police that swore to 'serve and protect' them get your attention? I know it didn't get mine - I was in uniform in England at the time - I had no idea this even happened.

I'm not sure that we white folks are in the best position to judge or to suggest 'proper' courses of action for groups of people that have been mistreated in this country for hundreds of years.

Have a good week everyone - you're an amazing group - thanks for that!

1/26/16, 1:53 PM

Dave Ross said...
Wow, this is really impressive. 469 comments at last count.

As an aside, I notice that Rod Dreher isn't the only one taking notice of your analysis of the Donald Trump phenomenon.

Alexander Dugin or one of his followers also posted a comment here derived from an essay on Trump that appeared on one of Dugin's websites, The Fourth Revolutionary War.

Dugin is a prominent Russian political philosopher and is a well-known figure in extremist Russian politics. His philosophy is an interesting mixture of far right and radical leftist ideas. Here is the link to the article if anyone is interested.

1/26/16, 2:07 PM

Unknown said...
(Deborah Bender)

Bill Pulliam writes, "Sanders' mainstream Euro-style Dem-Socialist policies are not long-term sustainable either though we might be able to prop them up for a while."

I agree completely. But the other part of Sanders' platform is reversing the ongoing concentration of wealth, power and political influence in fewer and fewer hands. If he were to succeed even partially at this, it would be beneficial. It would free some resources for ordinary people to make adjustments to economic contraction, as well as to take collective actions of a more or less constructive nature.

I don't think there is much chance of the "political revolution" Sanders claims to favor; he seems to be a mild reformer without much of a following. Obama could have done it if he had wanted to, but he abandoned grassroots and community organizing the moment he was inaugurated in favor of a mythical common national interest and the actual interests of the financiers who bankrolled his campaign.

If current trends continue, the violent revolution FDR staved off will arrive a century later. When I look at how Washington, Lincoln, and the two Roosevelts became President at times when the United States faced existential threats, I could believe as some of the founding fathers did that Divine Providence watches over our nation. It won't be a long wait to find out whether the Mandate of Heaven has been withdrawn.

1/26/16, 2:19 PM

Hubertus Hauger said...
My summarization is; Collapse is unavoidable. Therefore the repercussions are plenty; Annoyance, violence and dying. The simplification of society is compulsory. While the establised leaders are only fit for the actually imperial structure, so is the population less than willing to simplyfy voluntarilly. Their annoyance is already showing and will be growing. Yet all trials to avoid the collapse will just further it more. All I see we can do is prepare, by simplyfying our material life and enlarge our social networks (plus, as JMG often says, our practical survival skills).

1/26/16, 2:39 PM

Justin said...
The is quite late, but may I ask how many readers you typically get, JMG?

1/26/16, 2:48 PM

Dave Ross said...
Rod Dreher has had a lot of good commentary on the Trump phenomenon. Another interesting comment I found was this:

"...For a generation, the ruling elites — the Clinton Democrats and the Republicans — have presided over the systematic destruction of the working class and its culture for the sake of making very rich people even richer. The Democrats today care more about making it safe for women with penises to change in your high school daughter’s locker room and to empower liberal activists to destroy your small business and your institutions if you object to their cultural agenda. And the Republicans don’t care — they pander to religious conservatives, but the truth is otherwise, as I learned from GOP Congressional sources last fall, who told me there is zero chance that the Republican Congress will do a thing to protect religious institutions in the post-Obergefell legal environment. They are too afraid of being called bigots, and besides, big business is now on the other side. What really matters is that the world stays safe for tax cuts, free trade, and foreign wars."

1/26/16, 4:22 PM

TJ said...

I certainly hope you are correct and I am way off. But given the tilt toward violence that is already a part of Trump's rallies, and the fact that white hate groups are openly endorsing him while he has yet to denounce them, and that he is now boasting of being able to shoot someone without it costing him any votes? I have little faith in Trump much caring about the rule of law.

As for him being the least right wing, not sure that is very hopeful given the right wing in question.

1/26/16, 6:04 PM

Andy said...
Shane W said: "Also, "we" (most of the readers here) do not worship at the altar of Progress and it's lab coated priests. Since you're a new reader here, I'd recommend going back and reading JMG's posts on the backlash against science, particularly the science of global warming, the corruption of science, the internet and the death of the internet, and the posts on Progress"

Shane - with respect, I'm well aware of what some here have said about science. I'm also aware of JMG's take on "progress" as stated here and in his books. What I'd be interested in hearing is your take on why you felt it necessary to add this subject to a comment about protest, and what you think about the science of global warming and the corruption of science.

I'd be interested in hearing from others as well if they care to take the time, either here (JMG permitting) or via email at alpha whiskey hotel ecker at gmail

In case it matters, science is a process, it's not a person. I'm well aware that oil companies have paid for 'research' that sends their message about both climate and biofuels, or how corporations like Monsanto have funded research that benefits them while attacking the EPA or FDA, while simultaneously lobbying congress to change laws to their benefit. I want to make clear - this isn't about science - this is about criminals.

I'm a marksman - I enjoy using a scientifically-developed tool to expand my skills and enjoy the zen-like work of mind/body mastery. I can also use that tool to provide food. I can also break the law with it. If I do any of that, 'science' isn't the one putting ham on the table - nothing about 'science' made me assemble the firearm or to use it for any purpose. I can use it for 'progress' (whatever that is) or chaos. I think that's what some here have confused.

JMG has also written extensively about false end-times prophecy. While I appreciate that the internet 'might' die at some point, I plan to keep using it - and frankly don't expect it to go anywhere until well past the end of my life (I'm 53). If I'm wrong, I'll subscribe to the ADR magazine and relay it via packet radio if necessary. No worries.

You'll please note that even the Ruinmen rely on science - keeps 'em from being electrocuted if nothing else! ;)

Thanks in advance.

1/26/16, 7:26 PM

Mystic Maverick said...
My sister sent me the link to this blog which I had never heard of before. I found the post by JMG to be thought-provoking as were the comments. The salaried and wage classes were more commonly known in the past as white collar and blue collar workers. As a lifelong independent, I've always been drawn to the mavericks in these presidential races. I saw back in the '90s that Jerry Brown and Pat Buchanan and Ralph Nader all agreed on how NAFTA, the WTO and GATT would hurt working Americans. I look forward to reading more from this blog.

1/26/16, 7:28 PM

Anthony Romano said...
A bit of news, apologies if this was already posted.

The Oregon militia occupation is over. They got the martyr they wanted, with 1 dead. The Bundy's and several others have been arrested. The shootout occurred during a vehicle stop 15 miles outside of Burns. Details are still scarce.

1/26/16, 8:31 PM

Greenie said...
and the John Brown moment arrives -

[check the comments]

1/26/16, 10:16 PM

Unknown said...
(Deborah Bender)

It appears that New Jersey has an emergency city manager law similar to the one in Michigan, and the state of New Jersey is in the process of taking over Atlantic City, which is a company town of casinos that aren't doing well.

According to a Reuters story linked to The Daily Beast:

"The state already controls the city's budget, hiring and other finances, but previous legislation Sweeney introduced this month proposed a more complete takeover of operations.
Christie's joint plan on Tuesday, which he said he wants to get cleared by the end of February, would allow the state to restructure city debt and terminate municipal contracts, including with labor unions. Control would last for five years instead of the previously proposed 15 years.
It would allow the state to dissolve city departments, consolidate and privatize municipal services and sell city assets, which were all proposals included in a recent report by the city's emergency manager Kevin Lavin about how to turn around the failing city."

I'm going on about these emergency manager laws because if your state has one, democracy and local control in the town or city you live in can be abolished for years at a time at the whim of the governor or state legislature, and its assets sold off in sweetheart deals to pay the town's debts. Any organized efforts your community makes to meet its needs can be overruled by outsiders who answer to your town's creditors, not to you. These arrangements are more draconian than municipal bankruptcy. As economic contraction continues, more municipalities are having difficulty making payments on bond issues, benefits for retired workers, and other obligations taken on in more prosperous times.

I haven't researched which states have these laws. I don't think they are widespread.

1/27/16, 12:44 AM

Andy said...
Greenie said...
and the John Brown moment arrives -

[check the comments]"

Thanks for the link, Greenie.

FBI reports:

Law Enforcement press conference scheduled on 27th Jan at 10:30 PST (about 1830 GMT)

I watched multiple feeds from the are overnight and it appears that the police set up a roadblock between the Refuge and a local town that was the venue for last evening's meeting to convince ranchers to stop paying their grazing fees. When Bundy and the main insurrectionists arrived at the roadblock, at least one of them thought it would be a good idea to pull a firearm. The man that was killed was the Nevada rancher that wrote a book about how a small band of 'patriots' try to reclaim their country and die in firefight. RIP. As you think so shall it be.

1/27/16, 2:39 AM

Caryn said...
I just wanted to say Thank You to all of the commenters for one of the best discussions I've seen here or elsewhere on the internet.
And a special Thank You to Andy. Very concise insightful comments and replies. I agree with much of what you've said on these pages. I'm glad you're here.

1/27/16, 3:09 AM

Grandmom said...
@Greenie Read the comments on the Oathkeepers site and read the comments on Oregon Live site (local paper who has been covering daily), and I'm still not getting the John Brown moment. Many of the comments talk about tyranny and needing to make a stand, but they are all so vague and seemingly scripted for all I know people are logging out of one online identity and logging back in under another. The state police shot a man who ran the blockade with his truck and then tried to escape on foot. I guess he doesn't follow the news enough to know that the police shoot people in the back who run away from them? Or maybe he does know that and made himself a martyr?

Ammon Bundy has been in talks with the FBI for a way to surrender starting two weeks ago. So maybe this was his surrender plan?

I also saw the call for people who made a pledge for the people to come join them in Oregon, and if they didn't come then their pledge wasn't worth anything and they might as well leave the movement. Now this statement within the militia's of them challenging one another, that is more notable in my mind.

1/27/16, 4:05 AM

Grandmom said...
@Andy I wanted to provide some support to your statement about how racist the St. Louis area is. There was a story a few month ago on This American Life about debt collection in black neighborhoods focusing on Jennings outside of St. Louis. Their story was based on this article on Propublica The shock of people in this community could be heard in the radio story. Also the resignation that they felt there was nothing they could do about it.

Now if the armed militia in Oregon were taking a stand on debt collection, or high property taxes or something similar, they might get more support.

1/27/16, 5:39 AM

YVRinhabitant said...
Interesting discussion on science. I have a few thoughts on science and environmentalism I would like to share.

When I was in university, I found it was dominated with post-modern thought and a rejection of positivism and science. I sat through many lectures that extolled the sins of science--it's a racist and sexist field of study that objectifies the world, studies the world from a God's Eye View and is not reflexive on the subjectivity of the researchers and how the researchers' positionality leads to biased questions and biased results. It's what I was saying how academia these days emphasizes subjectivity over objectivity. The objectivity and positivism of science is criticized by these postmodern academics.

But there was a noticeable shift in attitude some time around 2006 or 2007. I remember it was around the time the Al Gore movie came out on climate change. All of a sudden, these people who rejected science as racist and sexist positivism, were now embracing science. Those who were skeptical of climate change or who wanted to question the dogma of climate change and what needs to be done about it were dismissed as anti-science idiots. Why did the left all of a sudden find some new love for science, the very field that they had criticized for years? Because anything being said by a white wage class member must be stupid--I guess that's they're thinking. I mean left wing post-modernists at Canadian universities can't be seen to be in agreement with red necks from Alberta and Texas.

1/27/16, 6:05 AM

YVRinhabitant said...
I have no doubt that human beings have affected climate. As someone said in one of the comments above, there is no 'wild' state of nature that we can go back to. Human beings have been affecting the environment and the climate since we were cave dwellers. You take a poo in the forest, that impacts the environment.

What I do doubt is that, at this point in time in 2016, we can do anything about anthropogenic climate change. We've been emitting carbon and other greenhouse gases on a large scale for hundreds of years now since the industrial revolution. We always have to remember lag times when talking about environmental impacts. You can often pollute for a long time without much affect to the quality of the environment because there is a lag time, it takes time for changes to take affect. We're just now (possibly maybe) beginning to see the effects of hundreds of years of greenhouse gas emissions. Reducing the greenhouse gas emissions at this point in time, at the 11th hour of climate change, is not going to have much impact on preventing or reducing climate change in our lifetimes. That's because the carbon is already out there in the atmosphere doing its work and we can't take what we've released out of the atmosphere. Any reductions in emissions will have an incredibly long lag time before we seen any effects in climate change.

I would like to see a cost benefit analysis of any and all climate change measures such as carbon taxes and cap and trade that takes into consideration the lag time and also takes into consideration the differential impacts such policies have on people of different socioeconomic classes.

1/27/16, 6:07 AM

YVRinhabitant said...
In BC, we have a neoliberal government that loves to look like an environmental leader.Vancouver appearing like a green, progressive, environmentally friendly city is a big part of who we attract international capital into our real estate and ironically make the city unlivable for locals. We've got carbon taxes and gas taxes and eco-fees up the ying yang. All this really has been has been a way to shift the tax burden off of corporations towards the working wage class members. Every time the carbon taxes go up, it just means working people who are trying to get to work have to pay more at the pump to fuel up their car. Gas taxes and carbon taxes have literally taken food of my poor family's dinner table!!! Think about that, so-called progressives!!! Why do the poor have to pay the price for climate change? Why is it always us who have to pay these higher taxes? Also tolls on bridges and now road-pricing. They are actually talking about installing a transmitter in every car in Metro Vancouver that keeps track of how much you drive on the roads and you will be sent a monthly bill for how much mileage you drove. This is called road pricing. They haven't done it yet because they know there are limits to what people in this province will put up with and that will bankrupt the last of us who are holding on.

The condo towers and the gentrification I have been posting about are also part of this environmentalism that harms the poor. The left wing city council says we need condo towers springing up everywhere because this is part of eco-density. If we don't have towers, then the city will grow outwards and take up farmland and we will have urban sprawl just like those evil cities down in the USA--that is how the thinking goes. We need these towers in order to have a compact urban region and reduce our carbon footprint--so we are told. Nevermind that the towers are marketted offshore and are largely empty with no one living in them. There was a report that showed there is the equivalent of 20 towers in Downtown Vancouver just sitting empty because the owners live overseas. Meanwhile the high cost of housing, ironically forces people to move to the suburbs, which actually creates more urban sprawl.

In BC, the working class people, are absolutely sick of environmentalism and carbon taxes and ecodensity. We know that it's all lies to undermine our quality of life and take away what remaining scraps of quality of life we still have. I'll get on board with carbon taxes and policies that combat climate change as soon as it's the rich who have to pay the price, but not as long as it is only the poor who pay the price.

1/27/16, 6:09 AM

YVRinhabitant said...
There is an absolute must-read article on Donald Trump on Zero Hedge. It's almost as good as JMG's article that has generated all this thoughtful commentary.:) I said that my one fear of Trump is he might be trigger happy with the nukes. This article points out that it is the other Republican candidates who would be more provocative with Russia and more likely to draw the world into WWIII. Here is an excerpt:

"The meaning of Trumpism is that Americans want to rid themselves of the burden of empire: Wright is right about that. Trump’s rise augurs a seismic shift in the foreign policy debate in this country, marking the end of the interventionist consensus that dominates both parties. And it certainly means the final defeat and humiliation of the neoconservatives, who are busy spewing vitriol at him and his “plebeian” supporters. And that alone is worth whatever price we have to pay for the triumph of Trump. For the neocons are the very core of the War Party: their demise as a politically effective force inside the GOP is an event that every person who wants a more peaceful world has been longing for and should celebrate."

1/27/16, 6:20 AM

Shane W said...
we've already discussed on here the difference between the worship of Science via Progress as civil religion vs. the more mundane, practical, and ever useful scientific method. I see no need to rehash those discussions. It's already been discussed, and put into bound & printed form...

1/27/16, 8:00 AM

Patricia Mathews said...
I can't help but see the Oregon occupiers as a collection of half-baked nutcases.

Yet, there was an opinion piece online that condescendingly 'explained' to the ranchers and protesters that, essentially, they shouldn't feel the public lands didn't belong to them, because "the public lands belong to all of us!" Even I could see through that one, and if ever anyone was throwing gasoline on the flames, that would do it.

Pat, shaking head.

1/27/16, 8:51 AM

Shane W said...
I know this is way down the comments list, but, JMG, if you become a political figure, I'd like to offer my services as loudmouthed, lightning rod, martyr to the cause. :)

1/27/16, 8:59 AM

Kendo Von Beerdrinker said...
I commented last week about Trump & Sanders and have been thinking about their successes in the polls being two sides to the same coin – that is, Trump riling up the wage-earning class with his “common sense,” “yell it like it is,” “not PC” attacks on the “stupid” political elites while Bernie similarly speaks to the wage earners with the message that, in effect, those political elites have been corrupted by JMG’s investor class.

I keep coming back to the Orwell line from 1984: “If there is hope it is with the Proles.” Recall that in 1984, Winston was hopeful that a political revolution would come from the proletariat. I see JMG’s wage earners as being the equivalent of that class in modern America and both Trump and Sanders speaking to them – or at least attempting to. However – as I alluded to in my original comment, and as the Republican/Democrat divide between Trump and Sanders shows – I would posit that the wage earners don’t view themselves as a unified class, for many reasons. And as a result, the likelihood that the wage earners would lead a successful political revolt in modern America is about the same as the likelihood that the proles would successfully overthrow the Party in Orwell’s Oceania.

Much has been made by liberals of the tendency of America’s wage earners to vote Republican, against their perceived economic self-interest. Liberals, not without plenty of justification, conclude that the GOP has been successful in using a “divide and conquer” strategy to convince white wage earners to vote for GOP candidates - who then espouse policies of lowering taxes on corporations and the wealthy - helping the investor and salaried classes - while cutting the social programs that help the welfare class (and wage earners as well). The “push button” issues are both cultural – e.g., guns, gays and God – and racial – e.g., the focus on “those people” (Reagan’s welfare or “quota” queens, illegal immigrants) who (undeservedly) receive government largesse, paid for by hardworking taxpayers. Trump clearly plays – brilliantly – to those emotions and perceived grievances, which is probably why he can so readily expect support from about one-third of the Republican Party.

But that one-third of the GOP does not reflect the entirety of the wage earning class. It also includes plenty of African-Americans and Latinos struggling both economically and with racial disparities – issues that push them towards a Democratic Party more inclined to support policies that help them, such as affirmative action, tougher enforcement of civil and voting rights laws and social safety net programs that help when the wage earners are having trouble getting by. White women in the wage earning class can go either way – following their social and cultural conservatism towards the Republicans or their pocketbooks towards the Democrats. Inasmuch as the wage earners are not a monolithic class when it comes to politics, their power is both diffuse and easily susceptible to being co-opted and absorbed by both political parties - which then serve up relatively minor policies to placate those voters (for the GOP, it's legislation on abortion, focusing on gun rights, gays and perceived religious discrimination, while for the Dems it's increases to social programs like Obamacare), all while they continue fiscal and monetary policies that benefit their corporate masters of the investor class.

[Part 1/2]

1/27/16, 9:12 AM

Kendo Von Beerdrinker said...
[Part 2/2]

Another point I mentioned in my first comment also poses a problem with class-based political appeals in our nation, at least in recent generations – that is, the tendency for Americans not to view themselves in a class-conscious manner. I recall an op-ed in the NY Times from years ago that summarized a survey of Americans in which they were asked to place themselves in one of 5 classes, based on income. Many more labeled themselves “middle class” than a pure quintile approach would warrant. (If the “middle class” is the quintile of Americans earning in the 40% to 60% range, you’d expect about 20% of those polled to identify as middle class. But the figure was higher – much higher, if I recall correctly.) In many ways, that is the glory of the post-WWII economy in America: it created a fairly large, stable middle class, and much of the country (understandably) aspired to attain that status, and could reasonably expect to get there.

But from that article I recall another telling result: when asked which class they expected to be in in 20 years, a significant number labeled themselves as expecting to be better off than would realistically be the case (unlike the children of Lake Wobegon, not everyone can be economically above average, and while many folks do often move up the class ladder as they get older and their earning power increases, class mobility in America is greatly exaggerated). That likely stems from the historic American optimism that things will get better, that our children will be better off than we were, etc. If 60% of the nation believes it will be middle or upper middle class shortly, it’s reasonable that this will have an effect on voters’ policy preferences(“tax the rich” doesn’t sound as appealing to someone who expects to be rich soon enough, and “tax more so we can provide social programs to help the poor” doesn’t sound quite so appealing to someone who doesn’t expect to be poor for long), thus further serving to dampen any appeal to class-conscious politics.

However: if that American Dream appears to be nothing more than a pipe dream for an increasing portion of the electorate (say, for instance, that large portion that has seen its wages flat for some 30 or 40 years now), then look out. I suspect that the support of Trump and Sanders signals early grumblings from those who have felt left out of our modern economy. They're stirring, expressing anger and rage in different ways, perhaps, but it's stemming from that same economic unease, and we've got two candidates who, in different ways, have tapped into that unease. Given our two-party system, however, and the limits of class consciousness that I've pointed out above, I tend to think that very little will change with the 2016 election.

I'm not so certain about the future, however. In Orwell’s Oceania, the proles made up 85% of the population but remained compliant as a result of Big Brother’s authoritarianism. If JMG’s welfare and wage earning classes start to realize they have more in common than their identity-politics differences that have been exploited by both major political parties for their own benefits, and if the salary class continues to feel pressured by economic uncertainty, then there is the possibility that a majority of the electorate will push for real change. Don't expect the investor class to sit by idly and give up its privileges so easily. It is that moment when push may very well come to shove, leading to a serious political crisis - with no guarantees that the outcome, and the upheaval on the way there, will be pleasant.

1/27/16, 9:18 AM

Grandmom said...
Interesting day of following events in Oregon.....according to this Facebook page the remaining militia are expecting Navy Seals to parachute in and help them fight back the Feds. Now that would be a history maker! Another possible history maker, the use of drones. There are also drones flying overhead, but no mention if they are just camera equipped or the armed military-type. A military drone used against US citizens on US soil would cause a huge backlash, no doubt.

1/27/16, 10:27 AM

FiftyNiner said...
@ All New Readers,
HINT: If you click on the "time" rather than the "number of comments" in the green bar at the end of each of JMG's posts, you will be able to read all the comments in the same eye-easy green format that the original post is in, rather then the stark black on white that you get when you click on the number of comments. It may just be my aging eyes that makes it easier for me!

1/27/16, 2:41 PM

FiftyNiner said...
@ Andy,
Your comments about SL are confirmed by my brother who was a truck driver for almost 20 years.
He went to all the lower 48 except for Oregon, Washington, Idaho and Montana. He said that he hated going to SL, mostly because of the attitude of the police. He was not always treated courteously by them, but he was aware that it was much worse for black truckers.

As to the "problems" with science, my full reassessment began with mistakes made by doctors in the treatment of mother many years ago. She was given a prescription for 320 mg of lasix per day, by an internist, and I was not told that that was the maximum dose for anyone on that drug. The lasix leached all the potassium out of her body and when I found her one morning she could neither move nor speak. She spent 8 days in the ICU and was only ever able to move about some on a walker after then. Finally, for about the last seven years of her life she was mostly chair bound. I have decided that I will never be a victim of medical malpractice. I do so wish that this had never happened to her, but she was only one of millions with similar stories.

I will be eligible for Medicare in 17 months and I am leaning very much toward telling Uncle Sam that he can just keep it. If I am not going to use the system, why be on it?

1/27/16, 3:10 PM

4threvolutionarywar said...
In the end you get the radical subject you deserve...

Oh, America, this will be an entertaining apocalypse!

1/27/16, 4:30 PM

Unknown said...
ArchDruid Greer, thank you for this incredibly intelligent and observant article. The article and the comments kept me busy after work for a few days!!

Your observations about the class divides are spot-on. I've been in the wage class all my life (from age 8 to 35, I started working young). I find it telling that many of your early commenters are from the salary class and found it difficult to understand. Naturally, the edges of each of the classes will blur together, but ultimately each class has its own interests precisely because its survival depends on different mechanisms. When encountering lower level salary class, I do see the sneering attitude, but more commonly there's a total blindness to the realities of living in the wage class. I will be turning in 5 w2's this year, balancing multiple part time jobs throughout the year (most are seasonal, taking advantage where the money flows as the seasons change in the Midwest). I usually work one full time job and a part time job, or 3 part time jobs at a time. When you approach the bottom of the salary class from the wage class, the first few steps are definitely designed to stop paying overtime, but you also get access to benefits. If the salary is high enough, it can be your only job, year round. That in itself is a huge improvement for some people (including those of us with bachelors degrees from expensive universities who may or not be defaulting on their student loans). In one of my waitressing jobs, as a Tulane graduate, I found out another waitress was a graduate of Vanderbilt. I was qualified to waitress before I went to school. I was bartending in high school. I didn't need a degree to do that. My degree has earned me one extra dollar above minimum wage at one job in my life (which is significantly less than I make waitressing, by the way). That's it. I honestly don't understand how the working class could afford to have kids, I can barely support myself. There are higher paying wage jobs in the trades, and they do begin to have some benefits the salary class usually enjoys, but for all, the trajectory is downhill. Unfortunately, there's not a lot of unity between classes because salaried worker tends to feel that they have earned their position with hard work, while the wage worker feels that they have worked hard and earned nothing to show for it. There is little solidarity with the class relying on government payments because wage workers see their money go toward taxes that provide services which they can not receive. Salaried workers feel the same way on this.

Unfortunately, because civilization is approaching hard limits, I do not foresee improvement. The salary class is next. Every time you see some ridiculous statistic, like 1,000 people showing up to apply for 12 salaried positions, that means about 900 people are willing to do that exact same job for a slightly higher wage than they currently have and not require benefits, they're already used to that kind of life. Corporations see those numbers. They don't want the best candidate for the job, they want the cheapest canditate that requires a minimum of training. Don't make the mistake of thinking the wage class can't do salaried jobs.


1/27/16, 7:00 PM

Unknown said...

The current state of the economy is not because of evil people making cruel decisions. It is a result of the unintended consequences of thousands of tiny profit-maximizing or cost saving decisions every day, by people in every class. It is also a result of this approach of limits, as population grows and the pie shrinks.

The uppity attitude of the salaried class is largely unconscious and unintentional as well. We are still primates, and we naturally seek status within our groups. We use social cues to define our groups and we symbolically define status as access to wealth in our society. Most of these mechanisms are subconscious. The most emphatic denouncers of the status of others merely do so because on some level, they feel their own status is insecure. This partly explains the stereotype of "new money" being more snobbish than "old money" and it's rooted in simple primate behavior. We, as thinking readers of the ArchDruid Report can rise above our mammalian tendencies merely by being aware that they exist.

Finally, wage earners, take note. We ARE collapsing before the rush, and as a class we have the most important skills as individuals or within our social circles. Here we have the mechanics and gardeners and cooks and plumbers, and our services will always be needed, for as long as there is electricity to power our tools. Do as the ones who collapsed before us, and build our social circles. Also, start thinking about what to do if the electricity goes out. It might.

Side note: I haven't been following the election much (I'm voting for Jill Stein again, she's that green party candidate that got arrested for showing up at the presidential debate and expecting to participate... THAT's what I like to see in a president), but I would guess the Democratic Establishment hates Bernie Sanders because they're afraid he might attempt some of that Vermont-style campaign finance reform.


1/27/16, 7:02 PM

Andy said...
Caryn said...
I just wanted to say Thank You to all of the commenters for one of the best discussions I've seen here or elsewhere on the internet.
And a special Thank You to Andy. Very concise insightful comments and replies. I agree with much of what you've said on these pages. I'm glad you're here."
Thanks, Ma'am. I've been reading here since some time in 2010 and am very happy that you and the others are here as well. Glad y'all are here...wait, not inclusive enough...I'm glad ALL y'all are here. ;)

Hat's off, JMG - you've done yourself proud. What an essay and what a family.

1/27/16, 7:14 PM

John Michael Greer said...
Andy, thank you -- and what an astonishing response to what I thought was going to be a very straightforward post. 511 comments and over 25,000 page views -- and that's not counting the people who just went to the blog's main page and read it there. Thank you, everyone, for reading, and for keeping the conversation civil, thoughtful, and more or less on topic!

1/27/16, 7:26 PM

Dave Ross said...
Fourth Revolutionary War said:

"In the end you get the radical subject you deserve...
Oh, America, this will be an entertaining apocalypse!"

Indeed it will be! Time to grab some popcorn, it's gonna be a Hell of a show! Love your website.

From a Conservative Revolutionary.

1/27/16, 7:32 PM

Degringolade said...
John Michael:

I realize that you are probably getting a little tired of responding to the comments on this post, but next time don't write so darned well.

You comments have spent a week now and they have been tickling something in the back of my brain. Tonight I realized what it reminded me of.

From the introduction to Barbara Tuchman's "The Proud Tower".

During the fateful quarter century leading up to World War I, the climax of a century of rapid, unprecedented change, a privileged few enjoyed Olympian luxury as the underclass was “heaving in its pain, its power, and its hate.”

And I like the new Retrotopia Post. Something is tickling my brain about that project, but it hasn't gelled yet.

Thank you


1/27/16, 7:55 PM

Mikep said...
There was an interesting example of how Trump has started to change the political landscape just this week. David Cameron was answering questions in the House of Commons when he "accidentally" used the phrase "bunch of migrants", naturally everyone's favorite PC Maiden Aunts in the media began fluttering their fans, fainting and generally being being scandalized by the use of such intemperate and racist language, at the same time the usual suspects on the opposition benches demanded an immediate retraction and grovelling apology. Cameron's response was nothing, he simply ignored the matter entirely. This would not in my view have been possible before Trump demonstrated how little the public care about this sort of nonsense. Now I must be off to Tesco's to purchase a desperate huddle of bananas.

1/28/16, 6:21 AM

Soulipsis said...
I call our President Obusha.

1/28/16, 6:27 PM

Bob Patterson said...
I agree with most of what you wrote. However, I would split the salary class into two parts. An "upper part" of senior managers, consultants, finance and legal "experts" making $150k or more a year. The second part would be line managers, production managers, staff engineers and programmers, technical and lab assistants, financial and legal assistants, and other managerial assistants. They make less than $150,000 a year. I would say the second category is now extremely in danger of following the "wage class" into penury. Their salaries have been cut, their benefits cut (remember when GM severely cut their engineers benefits to be much less than management?). And it is easy to play them off against each other and the smartest of the "wage class" to decrease their salaries or outsource their duties overseas. We are now talking about the next step in globalization.

1/31/16, 10:04 AM

Steve Hague said...
I found this a very interesting read, the creation of each class and putting a label on them as such, the investment class, salary class, wage class; government welfare class. This is not new by any stretch as history would show. What is interesting are the commonalities between what happening now in the States and what occurred in Russia at the turn of the 20th century. Russia had its "Elite class", the bourgeoisie class, labor class, and the poor.
The trouble with blaming the salary class (bourgeoisie) is short sighted in my estimation. Let me explain, in any corporation you have the owners, upper management, lower management, and so called labors. Each is intrinsically linked to the other up the chain with each beholden to the one above it for it welfare. Thus there would be no salary/bourgeoisie/upper management without the owners. Let's put things in a little different perspective no mob boss does his own dirty work, he has his "Patsy" do it, so to speak. Thus blaming them, (salary class) blames the boss. Regardless of the confusing labels ultimately the boss is always responsible for all actions within his or her company. Don’t be fooled into thinking anything different.
Differences in the working world have always been around, and this won’t change any time soon. Believing anything else would distort the truth. Without delving to the use of mockery or other reasons which may add to flowering up the reasons why one candidate or another might be a reason for their position in the presidential race lets’ look at why a “Capitalist” isn’t a good choice for president.
Slice it like you want bologna is bologna, a capitalist president isn’t going to be concerned about the welfare of the people. At this point the definition of a Capitalist should be looked at – a person who has capital, especially extensive capital, invested in business enterprises, and advocate of capitalism, a very wealthy person. What does it mean to be an advocate of capitalism?
It is an economic system in which investment in and ownership of the means of production, distribution, and exchange of wealth is made and maintained chiefly by private individuals or corporations, especially as contrasted to cooperatively or state-owned means of wealth.
Read this again really slowly and you will see the truth. The money stays in the hands of the elites. Nothing changes!
We are in an era of globalization, which if the American people aren’t careful it could lead to a “New” world order. This is the real danger!
The founding of America wasn’t based on what president was elected to office; it was based on the guiding principles of the Constitution. The people of America must make the stance of passive resistance and look for a leader that will take them in that direction. Making decisions based on class distinction is pure fantasy and nothing more. It will incite rioting and dissonance which will lead to a battle of words without action. True leadership brings harmony not disharmony.

2/1/16, 12:26 AM

SumErgoSum said...
@Steve Hague
I think the point of this piece is that the wage class (poletariat) is already acutely aware of the divide in society and blaming the bourgeoisie aka salary class. It's not short sighted only simplifiying things to explain the situation with the resentment at the establishment. Naming and renaming the classes for clarity is ofc not new.

The situation is we are in is not new either. JMG has helped reframe it for a modern audience who through cultural ignorance and class blindness hadn't realised the true situation. I can easily understand that in America with the way the narritive has been shaped and propagandised for a long time.

Hell even as a UK citizan steeped in our class structure it was hard for me to fully realise that the Yanks had one just as refined as well, I sort of knew it before this but this post clarified for me.

You are correct that the pass the buck mentality and unwillingness to take the blame means that true culpabiity is harder to determine. Every one has their own interests and motivations. Maybe this post lacks the nuance you wish but it is hard to give it a full treatment and keep it simple.

You also are correct that the money ends up in the hands of the elite. Who are their willing stooges though? who is more willing to throw the other under a bus for their own gain, and has enough power and influence compared to the rest to have a chance to do so? (Not to mention a deep sense of insecurity about if they are going to be next)

These are the questions this blog post is asking. And it offers some answers, even if they are painted in more strokes than you may like.

2/1/16, 1:41 PM

stravinsky7 said...
*pictures Babe Ruth, with skinny legs, druid's robe, and Duck Dynasty-trumping beard, stepping up to the plate and hitting it out of the park*

2/3/16, 10:39 AM

Marty said...

I just got around to this, and it is spot on, just one point, the working class has been destroyed by free trade. Free trade such as NAFTA was pushed as being good for American industry, while it benefited tech companies like Microsoft (a salary class employer) by providing them with protection for their intellectual property, it hollowed out industry, companies like Maytag, Hoover, Huffy (I could go on and on) off shored jobs, which is an euphemism for hiring low wage foreign workers, now those same companies are trying to sell their products made in China et al, to workers in the USA who have decreased buying power as a result of decades of exporting manufacturing jobs, combined with importing low wage overseas workers to fill service jobs (i. e. Disney).

The problem with all this is when the former skilled wage worker who was laid off at Hoover in Youngstown, Ohio can no longer afford to buy a Huffy bike, formerly made in Medina, Ohio, now made in China. And the former skilled wage worker at Huffy bike can no longer afford to buy a made in China Hoover vacuum.

Multiply this by hundreds of plants and millions of workers, then push forward a few decades as the wage clause's embedded wealth and credit are eviscerated what we have is a Baltic Dry Index under 300, from over 14000; which means goods are not being shipped to the USA, the land of the big PX.

Corporate decisions made sense in a micro economic world, the macroeconomic out come of all this is what we have now, a industrial country transferred by these trade pacts into a consumer society.

The economic engine of the US has gone from manufacturing to borrowing a Trillion $ a year, that is spending now the economic life of the future. Now borrowing makes economic sense if it increases future economic activity, such as borrowing money to build a factory that will turn trees into bedposts, the added value of the end product, resulting in increased wealth which can then be used to pay back the loan.

What is happening now, that is running up debt to continue economic "growth" i.e consumerism and non value added borrowing, is going to reduce future growth, because the borrowed money will be paid back by the trick of inflation, and (the end result will be a currency reset that will result in the US Dollar up being worthless, economic activity will stop, that that remains will be face to face, barter, what re emerges as economic activity in the US will resemble a flea market.

You said a while back that where we are is where we will be as the collapse is on. I think that the final phase of the reset could happen so quickly, that a person on a vacation or a business trip, and even beyond the range of the gas in their car could find themselves stranded at that location. It could happen that quick.

2/6/16, 8:53 AM

Marty said...

The point you made about the quality of products made is also quite important. In the past while things may have cost more in dollar terms, they lasted much longer. My mom still has her sewing machine that she bought in July 1962 for $400 (about a months pay back then) at the Singer Sewing Center in Bangor, Maine. Compared to wages, prices were high on many things relative to today, but you received quality products that lasted.

The problem for the corporations was that if someone bought a product and was happy with it, it hurt sales. Automobiles, because even then (although possible) it was hard to keep an old car running for ever, the car companies always had some built in obsolescence,combined with clever marketing, suburbanization and annual "improvements" they became economic powerhouses. Other companies took note of this and began to build in obsolescence "time bombs".

In the case of Singer, in the late 60s they started to use nylon gears in their machines to make them "quieter", it was just a "coincidence" that those gears, (unlike their metal predecessors), would make it through the warranty period, but eventually get brittle and break, requiring an expensive out of warranty repair, one that with parts added could cost close to the price of a new "improved" machine.

(It is no coincidence that when they had to deal with low cost foreign labor that the "Big Three" went into decline that US manufacturers began to off shore jobs).

What they have given us are products that cost more to repair than to buy new. Long gone are the days of places like the "Fix it Shop" in Mayberry.

The repair cost of labor is the same on a $1000 vacuum as it is on a $100 one, but will you pay a 100 bucks to repair a $1000 Kirby Vacuum, sure, but will you pay that same 100 bucks to fix a plastic Hoover that coast that new. Probably not; in addition, because this plethora of low quality product has created a throw away society mindset, quality appliances that while broken, but would be worth fixing, or while not broken are simply outdated in appearance are discarded as well. Thus land fill full of broken (but fixable) and outdated appliances.

2/6/16, 10:14 AM

thymia10 said...
Thank you for this post - I've not read all the comments, so apologies for repetition. My favorite part is about the "biology" divisions - exactly what I've wanted to say to my Dem Party friends. I am one of those who was formerly wage class and have become a member of the benefits class only because older wage class workers whose jobs were destroyed do not get hired for other wage class jobs (and I have part of a master's degree, so lack of education is not the problem - I'd say it was lack of will on the part of investment/salaried class in my town to give up any of their increased discretionary income to provide jobs for jobless people. Have enjoyed reading the Report off and on over several years. Looking forward to what you have to say about the Clinton campaign, which dovetails nicely with the "biology" points. I'm one of the women who Madeleine Albright says will go to a "special place in hell" - I'd warn her, I still remember "we think the price is worth it". I did not and think there's a special place in hell for people who authorize bombing other people.

2/12/16, 8:20 AM

Bob Lienhart said...
Worth mentioning here is that throughout the 2000s a good portion of the salaried class found themselves as part of the wage class. Most notably engineers of various types who were replaced by their salaried managers with independent contractors and who in turn became independent contractors themselves, i.e. wage earners.

2/17/16, 5:36 AM

Frosty said...
Well done! It's such a relief to read a serious, in-depth analysis of Trump's appeal. As someone who's been watching Trump since the late 70s, all I can say is, his love of eminent domain will be key to his presidency, if he makes it. If he can find some way to finagle it, I would fully expect him to try to heave public lands onto the open international market. And all the loud mouthing about illegal immigrants is hot air, he has a history of exploiting illegals for his own gain. Some of the usual GOP touchstones I doubt he'll act on, he's not interested in abortion and he's totally secular. His gift is connecting with his followers emotionally, encouraging them to project their own values onto him; mouthing off, while keeping his real cards close to his vest.

2/20/16, 10:30 PM

Silverseale said...
JMG, your post helped me to understand something important about my own experiences of late. Between 1994 - 2010, I was an engineering secretary with only two years of college (not an associates degree). Good job, great pay, and I had the respect of my coworkers; I was considered a member of the "salary" class. In summer 2010, I moved from SC to northern VA and got a rude shock: employers in my field here require the "pink collars" (meaning, the pink-collar jobs that pay well) to have bachelor's degrees. Those young women with college degrees (referenced by Patricia Mathews somewhere on the comment thread) aren't just flipping burgers and turning tricks: they *are*, in droves, getting hired for the higher-level (especially) administrative jobs, which pushes those of us without degrees but lots of experience out of the salary class and into the wage class. I'm training for a new career now, but I am pissed as hell and bitter about it, too. Anyway, thank you for the insights you offered in this post.

2/24/16, 10:47 AM

Big Picture said...
I'm so happy that I found your site. JohnVK linked it on the Scott Adams blog about Trump's persuasion skills.

Your analysis is spot on. I used to work in the building trades. Nowadays, if you don't speak Spanish, you can't communicate with your crew or your subcontractors. Those used to be good paying jobs. We had unemployment insurance that helped us through the off season, and Worker's Comp if we got hurt on the job. It was physically demanding work, but you could drive by one of your old construction sites and tell your kid, "I built that."

I left construction, got a useful degree, and moved into high tech. The pay was much better and we were always inside air-conditioned buildings with nice break rooms. But little by little, the jobs began moving to India, the Philippines, and Taiwan. And engineers and programmers from Japan and Taiwan started moving into our cubicle farms for Joint Ventures. Then the H1B visas became all the rage, and a new class of indentured servant (mostly from India) showed up. Those poor H1B drones are totally exploited. They get paid far less than an American STEM graduate; they are totally dependent on their boss for getting their visa renewed; and they (probably) have to give a cut of their pay to the middleman back home and their hiring manager here in America. I've recently read that the Silicon Valley workforce is now 75% foreign born.

The 1% of the 1%, the people who own the banks that own the Federal Reserve, want higher profits and net worth. So lower wages, whether through outsourcing, illegal immigration, or H1B visas, are exactly what they want. Mike Huckabee and Rick Santorum tried to galvanize these voters, but it took Trump, a man who understands the TV ratings game, a well-educated man who speaks in incomplete sentences at a fourth-grade level, who is beholding to no one, afraid of no one, and happy to break every PC taboo he finds, to start a movement.

Now that Bernie Sanders has demonstrated how easy it is for a committed reformer to crowd fund a campaign in this day of social media and blogs like this one, I predict that we will see dozens of new leaders emerge to challenge the plutocrats and create an American Renaissance.

3/3/16, 6:07 PM

Ben Garrido said...
The biggest problem with Trumpism and, frankly, any sort of arrangement that results in power falling to the slaves/poor/wage class is that resentment is a reactionary thing. Resentment is simply a reversal of the strong/master/salary class' morality, an inversion, a negative image. That makes it fundamentally unprincipled and incapable of creativity.

Trump and his supporters could very easily destroy a lot of things and take vengeance against a great many injustices - though I should point out that I pretty much despise the concept of justice - but I'm hugely skeptical they would have anything to replace those destroyed institutions with.

I wrote at length on this, if you're interested.

3/14/16, 9:18 PM

SamuraiArtGuy said...
This was a hell of a post, but it may be indicative of the rising awareness of the forces potentially leading to chaos when even the establishment bastion, The New York Times, begins to contemplate the economic injustice leading to the fracturing of our society.

"The lack of leverage of those on the bottom rungs can be seen in Pew survey in which dealing with the problems of the poor and needy ranked 10th on a list of public priorities, well behind terrorism, education, Social Security and the deficit. This 10th place ranking is likely to drop further as the gap widens between the bottom and the top fifth of voters in the country.

"It turns out that the United States has a double-edged problem — the parallel isolation of the top and bottom fifths of its population. For the top, the separation from the middle and lower classes means less understanding and sympathy for the majority of the electorate, combined with the comfort of living in a cocoon.

"For those at the bottom, especially the families who are concentrated in extremely high poverty neighborhoods, isolation means bad schools, high crime, high unemployment and high government dependency."

How the Other Fifth Lives
Thomas B. Edsall, NY Times, April 27, 2016

4/27/16, 5:07 PM

ThisOldMan said...
The first thing I did after exercise this morning was to reread this post, and send the link to everyone I know who might read it. Pity I don't know Bill, Hillary and the rest of the political elite as well as Trump does.

11/9/16, 6:17 AM

Shanti said...
I don't think that there is such a clear line between the wage class and the salary class. After the financial downturn in 2007/8, many salaried workers lost their jobs and became the wage class.

And Trump did win - so your insight is amazing! But alas, I doubt anyone (even among the Republicans) think that Trump is going to do something for the wage class.
Think about it. He has exploited the wage class as much as he can, using undocumented workers and paying low wages (and it seems NO wages at all sometimes). Considering that the wage class has a large proportion of minority workers, I cannot see how you can get away from splitting that racially as well. How many blacks and Hispanic wage class members voted for Trump?

11/9/16, 3:12 PM

Kirk Sheckler said...
Interestly Obama put in place a rule to make employers compensate for this situation that Trump is now overturning.

1/30/17, 12:21 PM