Kautsky parle

W. Kiernan WKiernan at concentric.net
Thu Sep 3 07:42:39 PDT 1998

pms wrote:
> greetings from an idiot waittress-
> gee Greg I was really rooting for your discourse till I got to this
> "Here in the US, if I say to a waitress (outside of NYC
> or other areas where they might be grad students):
> there is bloodshed at the bottom of this coffee cup, I
> appear to her to be insane. "
> Well at least you admit you're an elitist. And I admit I'm kinda
> unusual in that I read a lot and try to understand the real deal,
> but as one who converses with all levels of class and political
> (un)awareness I can tell you that your idea, put a bit more down
> to earth would be understood by all manner of waittresses,
> (financially fragile white women), "busboys" (financially fragile
> black men), and cooks (Mexican men, who because of family bonds
> and multiple jobs are less financially fragile, but suffer
> surprised disillusionment).
> They know they're fucking fodder...

Yeah, ditto (I always wanted to say that on a leftist mailing list).

I'm not sure "elitist" is the right word. You know what you know from the world around you; and the world around Professor Nowell isn't going to be the same world that's around me, or the world around pms. So I think he isn't an "elitist" so much as he just doesn't know waitresses.

When I worked in the field (I was a land survey crew chief for a decade) I never found it hard at all to explain leftish ideas to the relatively low-paid construction workers I worked with, even when they started out with all kinds of really dumb, massmedia-built political preconceptions. What helped a lot was the clear, unmistakeable conviction that they were indeed "fucking fodder" for the rich. For low-paid construction workers, I'll bet for waitresses too, that's a truth as believable as "the sun is bright." As far as I can see, everything else in "leftist political philosophy and practice" follows logically after that.

Later I got a job in the office, working with people who made a bit more money but not that much more, who dressed a lot better (lotta neck-ties, sheesh) and most of them actually at some time in their pasts graduated from college. Boy, that college is a sinister thing. Allegedly a higher education leads to a more open, wider understanding, yeah sure! Just try to get one of these guys to read a book! And I'm not talking about "Das Kapital" either; I'm talking about something like Kevin Phillips's "Boiling Point". Inasmuch as they themselves are guys on a payroll, you'd think these guys would be interested in this kind of stuff; instead they act like they're scared, for crying out loud, like the damn book is going to bite them, like if The Boss found out they actually read a book about politics they'll lose their jobs or something.

I'd guess, at least on the basis of my limited personal experience, that it's one Hell of a lot easier to convince a waitress that "there's bloodshed at the bottom of the coffee cup" (what a metaphor) than it is to convince the middle-class office guy in the necktie. She'll maybe at least listen to you; but he absolutely doesn't want to know. Believe it or not, an employee in an air-conditioned office who earns $50,000 a year is apt to think he's on the same side of the class divide as a multi-millionaire; not one survey rodman in twenty would ever make an preposterous mistake like that.

Yours WDK - WKiernan at concentric.net

More information about the lbo-talk mailing list