Hit Me Back Y’all

Posted by Dale Marlowe on March 25, 2005 · 2 mins read

[Editor's Note: Sepoy has escaped; however, he is completely nude and wandering the mean streets of Dayton, Ohio. I say this not to frighten, but to warn. He is crazed on absinthe (one of my favorite interrogation methods) and, as he crawled from my front porch, he was muttering somethings dark about "Said's thesis," The Magnetic Fields, and Mircea Eliade's Cosmos and History. Left bleeding and hopeless by his epistemological rants, I could not stop him. But his emancipation was a sight to behold, on the level of Chief Broom's bursting from the Cuckoo's Nest: in retrospect, one thinks of the Incredible Hulk, except Sepoy is much shorter and not nearly as green.]

Now, following the diatribe I typed on my coreligionists, Sepoy wanted to take the next step and assemble some thoughts on how the sensible center might take an informed approach to wresting the Moral Golan from the likes of Delay & Robertson. That conversation faded, as much due to the taxes on Sepoy's overworked gray matter, as to our own weariness with leftwing post-election navel-gazing. But we've had some time to recover.

For them who love America the Ideal the impulse is usually to criticize it constructively, with a hopeful nudge toward its better inclinations. While admirable, that approach ignores the dire situation at hand: the full realization of the neoconservative-corporate agenda. To turn the tide, like thinkers must first, ahem, win the hearts and minds of strip-mall, Wal-Mart America.

So how about it?

Unrelated: Sepoy has tasked me with answering another F'd up Q: "Was Bush Right?" He did this because he knows, as an attorney, I can't help but argue indefensible positions. The thought of it is poisoning me, and I may have to scribble something. I'm losing sleep, and it's a discussion that, for all the buncombe bestinking the question that begs it, we ought to have.


Saurav Sarkar | March 26, 2005

There's a debate that's been going on in the American left (and I'm not talking about bullshit Democratic party politics--I'm talking about those of us progressives who work on social change) for a couple years now. Basically, the argument is how much and in what way the left should pull away from identity politics (which alienate White working clas people) and towards class politics. A couple of good somewhat-opposing perspectives on this are Thomas Frank's "What's the Matter With Kansas" which comes down sharply on the "we need class politics" side and Lisa Duggan's "Twilight of Equality" which argues that the dichotomy is something of a red herring and that a unified movmeent which embraces both is needed. Personally, I think a lot of this boils down to being strategic--your approach in electoral politics is not going to be the same as your approach in advocacy on issues which is not going to be the same as your grassroots organizing approach. Further, in reprioritizing how human and financial resources get spent, which of these to prioritize is a substantive issue that doesn't get enough discussion in these terms (i.e. how should we shift our resources to whatever is important and how do we go about it?). my two cents.

Farangi | March 26, 2005

Farangi (speaking of himself in the third person) is a white working class person. You are correct that "identity politics" have alienated my fellows, and to an appreciable extent, me. Though I've not read Duggan, I think I'd probably agree with her.When controlled for using class parameters, almost all tangible benefits of whiteness in America disappear. In my personal experience, I have noted the things that working class white folks suffer are either analagous to the challenges facing racial and ethnic minorities, or are of like kind and only different in degree. I think also there is perhaps a generational component to this we've not explored: we're still worshipping at the altar of Baby Boomer gods: abortion, race, who's fucking whom, and if they should be allowed. Most folks our age take these things as settled issues, and from a legal perspective, barring SCOTUS upheaval, they really are. For instance, as a former HR person, I fell all over myself trying to stay within the law and meet various clients' demands not to "hire anymore white men," or "send me only diverse candidates, please" or "get me a habib for IT., [farangi]. No more comic book guys, m'kay?" This is not the language of a business world in which the man has his foot on anybody's back. In fact, the Society for Human Resources Management is so consumed with the idea of "Diversity" that nearly each issue of its trade pub treats the subject in one way or another. Could it be that the academy, which may wrongly fancy itself representative of the world at large, and is run by Baby Boomers, keeps these issues on life support, when the market, insofar as such an absurd concept remains useful to describe the "business world," has put them to bed? Not rhetorical--I'm really interested, and I've not made up my mind. Most folks my age are least are open to the idea that progress has been made with the Boomer obsessions, and much of what terrain remains lies folded within the heart, where legislation is impotent, and only time can empower people to cross it. Is it time to put those graying bugbears to bed? What replaces them? And has anyone considered the appropriateness of adopting a state's rights approach to the cultural hot-button issues, which might bring the conflicts home, pulling them from the abstract into the corporeal, forcing the opposing sides into a physical proximity that in some cases humanizes the other side and may lead to more tolerant and sensible policy? Yes, Saurav, yes. I wish I'd been invited to those raging debates you mention. Because I'm a loony raving maniac, but I've got lots more in common, so far as my rhetorical stances are concerned, with Eugene Debs and Woody Guthrie than with the National Council of La Raza or Rainbow/PUSH (though Rainbow/PUSH has made some interesting moves in the past few years in terms of addressing this divide). How many honkyassed neosocialist John Browns have a dogeared Bible and a well-oiled shotgun at the ready, and are waiting grit-toothed for an invite back to the party? How many of them would be out half-drunk on corn mash, listening to Hank Williams and doing doughnuts in the elementary school parking lot in their Trans Am, right now, if their wives hadn't sold the car and banned Hank Sr. from the hizzouse and smelled their breath before they left tonight? How many...wait. That last thing is just me. Sorry.

sˆnee | March 27, 2005

Farangi> no more shibrum shibrum posts .. when is sepoy returning > how about some stuff on 'wizbango & not baseball ..

Sin | March 27, 2005

Dude. I love Sepoy, but I want him to stay away long enough for at least another couple of the fabulous editor's notes.