A review of Thomas Frank’s “The People, No: A Brief History of Anti-Populism”

President McKinley as a physician dispensing strong “Tariff” medicine in the men’s ward of a sanatorium where beds line the walls and are occupied by a “Business Man,” a “Populist,” a “Jingoist,” a “Spoils Man,” an “Anarchist,” a “Filibuster,” a “Monopolist,” and a man sitting on a bed with a sign that states “Hallucinations About Home Markets and Infant Industries.” In the background is a door that leads to the “Woman’s Ward.” (Universal History Archive/Getty)

In the address to the 1965 Selma to Montgomery march, Martin Luther King Jr. presented his celebrated analysis of how white supremacy percolated through post-Civil War America, preserving the opposition between white and black, and binding poor whites to political beliefs inimical to their own interests.

Despite the pertinence of the theme to our own moment, the plot against black equality was not, in King’s analysis, motivated by what Robin DiAngelo characterizes today as pathologies “foundational” to the “very identities” of white people. …

J. A. Smith

Anti-anti-populist author of ‘Other People’s Politics’ (Zer0 Books) and ‘Work Want Work’ (Zed Books, with Mareile Pfannebecker).

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