Tuesday, March 15, 2016

Kevin Williamson is Wrong About the White Working Class

The chaps at National Review have gone pedal-to-the-metal against Trump. A recent example is my man Kevin D. Williamson's Father-Führer piece in the magazine. You can see the gist of the article here.

Kevin's idea is that it's the white working class's own bloody fault that, as Michael A. Cooper Jr. writes, and I agree, they are "dying of despair." Even the white working class has "moral responsibilities," according to Kevin.

Aha! There's that word: "responsibilities."

You see, according to my reductive Three Peoples theory, the white working class are People of the Subordinate Self, like serfs and slaves down the ages. This means that individual working class people do not experience themselves as responsible to themselves or to God for their lives.

On the contrary, they believe in sheltering under the protection of a powerful lord, or politician, or union boss. For them, that is the way to survive in this world. And most humans down the ages have believed the same.

Here is what the goddess Fricka thinks about serfs and peasants in Die Wälkure. The word is "Knecht" in German.

But I bring you a miracle. About 3,000 years ago humans started to believe the remarkable notion that they were not merely "die Knechte Gottes" the slaves of the gods and the Big Man of the village but individuals that could understand the world and do something about it. In that case they were responsible for doing something about it. That's what all the Axial Age religions are all about according to Robert Bellah in "Religious Evolution."

Now, in my view, the transition from subordination to responsibility is necessarily intermediated by religion. You cannot advance from membership of the People of the Subordinate Self and graduate to the exalted realm of the People of the Responsible Self without becoming Judaized or Hinduized or Christianized. The point about the white working class is that they have not made the transition. They minds were never melted in the crucible of Christianity.

In my view the way to experience this truth for yourself is to read George Eliot's Adam Bede set in 1800. The hero Adam Bede is a carpenter (!) and a Methodist and the heroine is the transcendent Methodist lay preacher Dinah Morris. So you can see that they come after the Great Awakening that stirred the masses in England and in colonial North America. My favorite quote about this is from Finke and Stark's The Churching of America. They quote a preacher active in the Great Awakening.
When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.
See what I mean? Just in case you don't get the point I have bolded the important words.

Now, what Kevin D. Williamson is saying that the behavior of the white working class is a "damning sin." But the problem is that the white workers are still dead to the world in the "sleep of ages." They have not yet woken up to see that they are "responsible beings." And until you have woken up and become a responsible being you have no clue that you are refusing "to use the means appointed." So Kevin is missing the point.

But that is not the end of the story. On my reading of society, every group that entered into the city used the means appointed to deal with the fact that the city demands that you act responsibly. It demands that you figure out how to contribute to the city economy rather than idle around on some great lord's estate until the steward comes around and tells you what to do. Yet somehow the white working class came to the city and didn't learn this lesson.

How come? The answer is obvious. Liberals. Well, not just liberals but the whole leftist movement from communists to socialists to progressives.

The left movement told the working class that it did not need to learn the culture of responsibility. It could continue to slumber in the sleep of ages as subordinate peasants, as the subordinate servants of the leftist avant garde. The promotion of labor unions meant that workers did not need to go forth themselves to negotiate with the world and keep updating their skills and work to excel. No, the union would take care of them. The enacting of social insurance legislation meant that the working class did not need to learn about savings and looking out for the future. No, a wise and evolved elite would do that for them, and all they needed to do was to vote for progressive politicians.

Only, of course, the day came when the progressive elite tired of the white working class and decided that the grievances of African Americans and women and gays and Hispanics were much more important. So they tossed the white working class to the side of the road and marched onward to bend the arc of history to racial and sexual equality.

This is the one little problem about selling your birthright for a mess of pottage. Eventually you lose both your birthright and your mess of pottage. The truth is that if you are one of the People of the Subordinate Self you will find, one fine day, that you have been abandoned by your lord, when you are no longer useful to him.

That, in my view, is the story of the English peasant. As late as the Wars of the Roses the peasants were useful to their lords because they could be used in their baronial armies. You can see, in Shakespeare's Wars of the Roses plays, that each baron had "our powers" that he could bring to the battlefield. But then the Tudors disarmed the nobles and destroyed their castles. Instead they created a nation state and a national army. Correlation is not causation, but at the same time their armies were being disbanded the nobles got into the idea of "improvement," of improving their estates by drainage and enclosure. And they kicked the surplus labor force off the land. By the end of the 16th century the surplus population was enough of a problem that the political system decided to "do something" about it. The result was the Elizabethan Poor Law. For 200 years the poor slowly starved on this welfare program until the industrial revolution suddenly put them all to work.

Now we have the white working class in exactly the same position. Nobody needs their labor; nobody needs their votes. Sayonara, pal.

I am not a chap to be shy about reductive theories. Attached to my reductive Three Peoples theory, with its People of the Suborinate Self, its People of the Responsible Self, and its People of the Creative Self, is what I call the "little darlings" problem, here and here.

The idea is that once you become the little darling of the ruling class then you are toast. You lose the ability to live life without the fatherly assistance of the great lord. The English peasant was once the little darling of the warrior nobles, until the nobles didn't need him any more. The worker was the little darling of the educated ruling class until the educated ruling class decided that blacks and women were much funner.

So the white working class is toast, unless it gets religion and wakes up from the sleep of ages and realizes that each and every one is a responsible being. But that is not the end of the story.

What about African Americans? What happens to these current little darlings of the liberals when the liberals tire of them?

What about women? What happens to the special snowflakes in their safe spaces when the ruling class tires of them?

You can see the point. Whatever the rulers say, the rulers really do not care about people like you. They only care about your vote, or using you as a pawn in their games of power. Right now, people all over the place are shocked, shocked, at the way that Donald Trump is bewitching the white working class into believing that Trump cares about people like them.

So what's the difference between Trump and Obama?  Obama, who bewitched a generation with Hope and Change. Or Bill Clinton who promised, as the economy came out of a mild recession, to fix "the worst economy in the last 50 years."

The fact is that if you become the little darling of the ruling class you are setting yourself up for misery, like any hot young woman that sells her pneumatic youth to some sugar daddy.

To avoid the fate of little darlings down the ages, of People of the Subordinate Self that got left by the roadside, you have first to become like Adam Bede or Dinah Morris and join the People of the Responsible Self.

There is no shame, Kevin D. Williamson, in being a member of the OxyContin white working class. But there is no future in it, either.

No comments:

Post a Comment