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Sunday, May 07, 2006

snopes, revisited

Snopes, revisited

In the aftermath of the election of Bush (not the coup in 2000, but his real election in 2004), LI wrote a series of slamming posts directed at a silly meme in the progresso-sphere. This meme crudely separated the cultural from the economic, and was postulated on the idea that the working class folks in the red states just didn’t understand their economic self interest.

LI thought this was bullshit. The Snopes well understood their short term interest, which was to substitute, for wage increases, tax cuts; and to further substitute heavy borrowing, at reduced interest, in both the private and public spheres, for real time increases in wealth. What the progs thought was some mystical kind of false consciousness was nothing of the sort – it was classical Free Ride behavior.

At the time, we made such angry comments as:

“We want to pick up on our freerider thesis. Some readers might think that we have gone nihilistic. We haven’t. Really, our point is simple. From the turn of the twentieth century to the 1970s, progressive thought in America was all about instituting progressive legislation at the national level. It so happens that this extended benefits for the working class to a whole region of the country, the South, which generated no autonomous progressive organizations. Between the Revolutionary War and today, I can think of only one Southern generated progressive movement: the Civil Rights movement. The Civil Rights movement, led by middle class blacks and peopled by working class and agrarian blacks, broke the back of the South’s pseudo-feudal system and opened it up to the world market. The South owes its prosperity to this act; and so, in gratitude, throughout the Snopesian South, from South Carolina to Mississippi, the Confederate colors were sewn into the state flag, where they remain today. Reminders that the Snopes leave no act of generosity unpunished.”

And:

Dems have taken on the role of both Herbert Hoover and Roosevelt, reigning in the deficit through paying for it while trying to preserve national progressive programs, like social security. The Snopes hate the Hoover thing – hate the idea of paying for something when they have figured out how to get it free. And of course they hate the Roosevelt thing of tolerance and enlightenment and blacks moving in next door and marrying their kids. But what they hate most is the idea that the progressives they are conning don't understand what is happening. The progressive harping on the ignorance or bad consciousness or brainwashing of the Snopes class has to stop. Far from being ignorant or unaware of their self advantage, they have had a free ride that has given them the luxury of being able to indulge in reactionary hate while being bankrolled by progressive legislation and opened up to the world through Civil Rights. Everything they hate has supported everything they love: credit cards, big trucks, big motor boats leaking oil over various federally funded dammed lakes, etc., etc. It is no wonder they feel like God's remnant on earth. They have the satisfaction of knowing who is conning who in the great progressive deal, and what they really can't stand is that the liberals that are being suckered don't know who is suckering them. This is the Snopes version of class consciousness. It is that resentment which is at the bottom of the conservative complaint that the liberals are “snobby”. What they mean is: we are screwing you, and you think you are so smart!”

Well, out there in Snopes land, there are intimations of a free rider meltdown. And it isn’t going over well for Bush. LI misjudged the timing, here – the world market continues to support Bush’s economic policy, which is much like the steroid use he so deplores among athletes – inject a hundred billion borrowed bucks here, a hundred billion tax break there, and presto chango – the economy is hitting home runs! Except, after a while, the runs are all being made by the wealthy.

This is from the NYT story surveying the Snopesian landscape:

“Wayne Toomey and Nancy Tuttle, who live in Parrish, Fla., and co-own a vending machine business, have gotten smaller cars and cut some household costs because of high gasoline and insurance prices.

But many Americans now say they are feeling squeezed in the absence of these factors. Their concerns are instead centered on a combination of high gasoline prices, creeping insurance costs and the pressure of a large number of adjustable-rate mortgages, now jumping to market rates, that helped to fuel one of the largest housing booms in American history.”

Well, well, it seems that there is a puzzling sour taste in the mouths of the parents – and the chillen’s tooths are bein’ set on edge no less. And hurricane season is around the corner - which has nothing, nothing whatsoever to do with the warming of the ocean.

"We're really worried about a lot of things," said Nancy Tuttle, co-owner of a vending machine business in the suburbs here. "The cost of gas, the cost of house insurance, the cost of medical insurance, it's just everything."

The increase in prices, particularly of gasoline, is taking a political toll on President Bush, even in a Republican area like these suburbs. A recent nationwide CBS News poll found that only 33 percent of those surveyed approved of Mr. Bush's job performance and that 74 percent disapproved of his handling of the gasoline issue.

"We went from totally believing in Bush to really having our doubts," said Wayne Toomey, who owns a house with Ms. Tuttle in the nearby suburb of Parrish. "It comes down to his lack of care about gas prices."

That lack of care about the gas prices is a killer. I mean, he was doing good there for a while – the torture thing, he was for that; the dozing at the wheel while NYC was attacked, check; and the persecuting homos thing was so very sweet. It was like everything was becoming cool and Christian again. But now, how about taking care of our SUVs, motherfucker?

I love, oh I love love love good old fashioned American values. That’s what I like about the South.

10 comments:

T.V. said...

This is very heartening, Roger. I thought your Snopes post was one of the very best things you've ever written here--but I thought there were intimations that you'd reframed it since as a piece of retracted moody excess.

I liked it because it was true and because it was wholly unspeakable in the territories of Dem-party politics, especially back when you wrote it in the face of all that Amy Goodmanism. I'm really glad you haven't retired it.

roger said...

Ah, Mr. T.V. -- did you read the NYT Magazine piece about contraceptive politics? That filled me with such complete nausea for the Snopesian faction in this country that ... well, I couldn't finish reading it.

Bad omens in the wind.

Brian Miller said...

I'll add my kudos, once again, roger. I was always queasy about the whole "What's Wrong With Kansas" meme among urban liberal elites, and your idea, which I missed the first time around, makes more sense.

I think Joe Bageant posted a pretty interesting essay the other month: "Springtime in the Republic of Larry." Are you familiar with his writings, roger?

Amerigo Sciurofascista said...

I felt uncomfortable with the Snopes states analysis at the time, and am no more comfortable with it today. That's not from any substantive disagreement, but because most of the likely, possible actions that could be taken to deal with it entail something like a low level counter-insurgency directed at the federal level. Moreover, I was scared that blackmail through self-immolation, the last refuge of the Snopes, would affect a good number of my friends and perhaps half my kin. The Snopes doesn't learn from being left to drown in his own shit. He lashes out at the weakest people he can find and takes them down with him, or he takes his act on the road once he's destroyed an area.

roger said...

Well, Mr. Scruggs, I can see the moralistic, ugly side of this analysis, which is why I try not to write too often in the exasperated mode (and perhaps I fail.) The larger point is, of course, that the "free riding mentality" is embedded in a larger framework of checks and balances given historically -- with the Snopesian desire for a morality punishing any aberrant group or pleasure balanced by a liberal culture that produced such benefits that it could be swallowed in spite of the fact that it came with an ugly chaser of (ugh) tolerance, civil rights, etc., etc. The Reagan era in which we still live has seen the gradual wrecking of both the liberal culture and the checks and balances. My old man, who had the prejudices of his generation, used to say that my generation and the one after me simply wouldn't have those prejudices -- that would be the inevitable, glacial effect of creeping liberalism. But as the parts of liberal culture were, one by one, tossed aside, the machine still seemed to work, meaning that people decided that they could have the benefits of the culture and afford their prejudices too. So, for instance, both husband and wife work to afford the larger house and the larger cars and the two kids, but you contribute to some religious PAC that lobbies against contraceptives. (vide that NYT Mag article).
Well, sometimes that pisses me off. I admit it.

Amerigo Sciurofascista said...

Roger, none of that was directed towards you, personally, or even at the writing, exasperated and otherwise. The problem is mine, and that I can't conceive of any realistic solutions.

Amie said...

LI, contra Snopes, there is always Linda?

winna said...

People want someone to pat their hand and tell them that everything's fine, that AMERICA is the bygod finest country in the world and the people in it are the bygod finest people in the world. Our tribe is fabulous and our strength is as the strength of ten because our heart is pure. And that's what Bush has done.

He's still a damn cheerleader. But instead of cheerleading a twistedly homoerotic spectacle of ritualized violence, he's... well, he's doing the same damn thing on a much larger and bloodier scale, taking the rest of us with him.

roger said...

Winna, you make an interesting point. But remember back in 2000, the thing about Bush that was a selling point was that he wasn't angry -- he wasn't with the "where's the outrage" club. I think there is a dialectic between moral scourging and America is great that is an odd and tilted thing. It makes it hard to stay on your feet in this country.

Now, technically, I'm in the where's the outrage club now. I could say that I was in that club back in the nineties, too -- yes, I passed around the petitions about sanctions killing Iraqis, voted for Nader in 96, sent outraged letters about the end of welfare, looked at the shock therapy being applied to Russia with horror, etc., etc. But I must admit, basically, the nineties passed me by politically. I didn't pay that much attention. I was half asleep. I absolutely don't remember the 94 elections, the Republican revolution, for instance.

There's a part of me that longs to be asleep again. Because I hate paying too much attention to politics. Politics is such a load of crap. Such a vampire. Such an anti-daydream. And I am pro-daydream. I write best out of daydreams. I miss daydreams.

Well, that's a ramble... sorry.

winna said...

No, he wasn't angry. He was just part of the Go-USA Hurrah-for-Jesus crowd, and people ate it up. They ignored his incompetence because he made them feel good about everything.

Daydreams are better than anything real. I understand that completely