Wojtek Sokolowski sokol at
Thu Aug 19 08:17:56 PDT 1999

At 09:15 AM 8/19/99 +1000, Angela wrote:
>and, i would hardly say "the more glamorous aspects" of poverty are gang
>life, prison, living cheap and manual labour. where's the glamour in

You can be surprised how glamorous those things can be, especially to middle class teenagers and members of Leftish cult groups (henceforth "Left files"). Based on my observations of my son's high school friends, they were infatuated with gangs, graffiti, selling drugs and kindred symbols of urban underclass while being effectively shelterd from the real thing by the status of their parents. One of his friends saw his 'career" as selling drugs in the ghetto, and after being kicked out of school for smoking weed, he actually ended up doing it. Another one dropped out of school to become a graffiti artist in NYC and tried to convince my son to do likewise. I may go as far as saying that most of the "Left files" scene in B'more is pretty infatuated with lowlife, fighting the cops, waiting for prisoners' rebellion, left identity groups and similar variety of dopey Left romanticism - and at the same time having no clue about real problems working people face.

I do not think how this self-styled Leftism and infatuation with underclass symbols can have any appeal to working class. Not long ago, I had a conversation with a progressive guy who grew up in a working class (Polish) environmnet. Although his views were pretty much to the Left (or perhaps social-democratic) on social and economic issues - he resisted any notion linking them to "working class." As it turned out, he associated "working class status" with undesirable traits he observed as a child: patriarchy, bigotry, drunkennes, filth, crime etc. and which he despised. But to self-styled lefitists who grew up in middle class suburban homes - these cultural icons have the strongest appeal (cf. rantings of Camille Paglia) while they generally reject working class's real political ambitions - power sharing. The fierce anti-labor stance taken by the Pacifica Foundation "leftists" is a case in point.

Following Hitchens, I'd call this attitude of the self-styled US left the politics of triangulation - left-wing symbols and rhetoric and right-wing or perhaps neo-liberal deeds: resistance to unions, worker participation in business decisions, and power sharing with working class under the guise of social liberalism; support of ghettoization of the underclass under the guise of anti-gentriification, multi-culturalism (presrvation of ghetto culture and lifestyle). In a word, in this kind of politics symbols and icons count more than actual living conditions. What I find most infuriationg is that when you abandon the realm of the kulturkampf and leftish cultural icons, war cries, and shibboleths to reach out to real working class and make real changes - you are automatically condemned as a traitor and a reactionary.


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