In recent decades, by contrast, only very affluent families — those in roughly the top 1/40th of the income distribution — have received such large raises. Yes, the upper-middle class has done better than the middle class or the poor, but the huge gaps are between the super-rich and everyone else.
The basic problem is that most families used to receive something approaching their fair share of economic growth, and they don’t anymore.
For Rorty, a Left that neglects victims of economic selfishness will not only fail; its neglect of class will trigger a terrible backlash that ultimately ill-serve the very groups that Leftist identity politics are intended to help. “The gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will very likely be wiped out,” he worried. “Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. The words ‘nigger’ and ‘kike’ will once again be heard in the workplace. All the sadism which the academic Left has tried to make unacceptable to its students will come flooding back. All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet.”
ORGANIZE A TAKE SOMEONE ELSE’S CHILD TO WORK DAY
Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day is intended to get children thinking about their future careers, but by having parents take their own kids to work, we perpetuate class divides. If your mother is a lawyer, you spend the day in a law firm. If your dad stocks shelves in a grocery store, then—if he is even allowed to bring you along—that’s what you will see. If your parents are unemployed, you don’t have a chance to go anywhere at all. And so the wheel turns.
The French Revolution was both bloody and world-altering enough that it is still inspiring new books today. More recently, the Cuban revolution showed how socialist idealism can devolve into dictatorship. In both cases, many innocent civilians lost their lives in pursuit of a greater cause. Yet a utilitarian like Singer—judging actions by their collective impact on all living things over time—says that even those messy revolutions may be justifiable. “The question is, do they have to go wrong? Is it inevitable? Is it part of human nature that they go wrong?” he asks. “Maybe in spite of all the bloodshed and things that went wrong, the revolution did lead to the spread of greater equality, of civil rights, of the rule of law throughout Europe. And that was undoubtedly a good thing. Chou En Lai was famously asked whether he thought the French revolution was a good thing and he said ‘It’s too early to tell.’ I’d be prepared to hazard a guess and say it was a good thing.”
The idea that an increasing sense of material precariousness can lead to cultural retreat from liberalizing “self-expression” values can help us understand why low-density white America turned out to support a populist leader with disturbingly illiberal tendencies. But this idea can also help us understand why our larger national culture seems to be growing apart in a way that has made it seem harder and harder to communicate constructively across the gap.
Okay, this one is a bit of a challenging read. It’s an interesting analysis, though, and from a libertarian rather than liberal source. And there’s fun with data visualization.
Blair Mountain is the closest thing to Gettysburg that the American labor movement has. Its historic significance is immense. It also happens to sit in the poorest region of a state that is in desperate need of tourism dollars and economic development. Drive on Route 17 to the speck of a town called Blair, though, and all that you will find is a single historic marker for the battle, along with a trailer-sized post office, two churches, and a handful of houses. There is no museum. There is no trail. You cannot even wander up Blair Mountain yourself, because it is private property, owned by coal companies and patrolled by their private security. In fact, those coal companies have, since 2009, been waging a legal battle to prevent the Blair Mountain site from being added to the National Register of Historic Places, so that they can strip mine it instead of preserve it.
Some of the top comments add other context not mentioned in the article, like talking about the deep racism in West Virginia and its effects on the election.
This went around a few years ago, and has been popping up from time to time ever since because it’s so well done. It’s a perfectly told story that doesn’t pass any judgment on the way different people end up living their lives, aside from wanting the lucky to recognize their luck instead of putting down others who aren’t so lucky. And it doesn’t use the word “privilege” once.