Kady M.

I don’t get what you’re saying. Those aren’t the same thing, at all.

The ‘educated’ in this country like to think that “economic concerns” are the only ‘legitimate’ ones — that is, if people are doing ok economically, then cultural anxiety is unjustified. The Atlantic article soft-pedals this, only hinting at it in phrases like “defending the country’s putative culture” [highlight mine], but lots of other articles had titles like “Economic Anxiety Didn’t Make People Vote Trump, Racism Did”.

Ok, that was The Nation, not exactly a small voice but a very stridently “progressive” one. Let’s try to go with a more “neutral” source. What did The Washington Post make of it?

Trump’s base was far more motivated by cultural provincialism and xenophobia than by economic need.

Oy vey!

This is, to put it lightly, absolutely fucking bonkers. Cultural anxieties and concerns are deeper and more meaningful than economic ones. If you gave me a great salary but I had to live in Bnei Brak (a super-religious Israeli town), I’d be miserable. It’s like putting a freshwater fish into the ocean.

The sense in much of “middle America” that their culture is being attacked is very accurate; but they have a very hard time expressing this to the media or the academic class. Trying to voice their concerns in their own cultural language — “people don’t have as much faith nowadays” — gets zero sympathy because the academics simply cannot identify with it. So these voices are simply ignored, dismissed as ‘backwards fundamentalist whining’. Or, in slightly more polite language: “cultural provincialism”.

The academics and journalists are not totally stupid; they know something is going on. So they try to translate it into their own language. But since the academic language doesn’t express the real concerns well, we get poor translations like “economic anxiety” or “racism”.

To put it bluntly: the academic culture that controls 90% of the press has divorced itself so completely from these people that they can’t even express their concerns in its language. #OrwellWasRight.

PS. These points were made much better in the blog sam[]zdat (in a post about the book Seeing like a State).

PPS. To be clear, I’m not accusing you of having this blind spot; I’m using your comment as a jumping-off point to rant about this.

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