June 18, 2018

Conservatives, understanding, self-understanding
and martyrdom stances

W.E.B. Du Bois
In a previous post about trying to understand conservatives, especially so-called working class white conservatives, I missed putting in one big point, which I eventually added near the end.

That was a lack of reciprocity. That conservatives don't want to, and don't want to try to, understand liberals, let alone leftists.

This probably is in part related to personality differences in the Big Five personality types model between a generalized conservative and a generalized liberal.

That said, W.E.B. Du Bois was certainly right in noting that behind the threats of lynching and more, conservatives like this – mudsills and similar — have real fears about jobs, economic security, and personal and family futures.

I quote from " Reconstruction in Black America," originally as a magazine article in North American Review:
Back of the writhing, yelling, cruel-eyed demons who break, destroy, maim and lynch and burn at the stake is a knot, large or small, of normal human beings and these human beings at heart are desperately afraid of something.  Of what?  Of many things but usually of losing their jobs, of being declassed, degraded or actually disgraced; of losing their hopes, their savings, their plans for their children; of the actual pangs of hunger; of dirt, of crime.  And all of this, most ubiquitous in modern industrial society is that fear of unemployment.

But, this is where self-understanding, or lack thereof, whether consciously deliberate or subconsciously deliberate, comes in. (I believe in non-Freudian subconscious volition.)

If not a nameless "They" gets blamed, a named "They" does.

It was blacks back in DuBois' time.

Today it is still often them.

Followed by illegal immigrants from Mexico or further south (which ignores the "white" illegal immigrants from Eastern Europe, of which there are many).

And, there's Islamofascists. And feminazis. And atheists. And gays. And more.

All of these "Theys" are allegedly trying to steal the pony that Ronald Reagan promised.

The real thieves are right in front of their faces, though.

The largely white, capitalistic businessmen.

The largely white, capitalistic GOP politicians.

And, both of them, including the racist leader of the political pack, Donald Trump.

But, because these people aren't a they – including a still sometimes cult-like following of Trump – but a "We," they don't get blamed.

No, really.

Take Harley-Davidson, getting a ton of Trump Tax Scam breaks, then turning around and closing the plant in Kansas City, while announcing plans to open one in Bangkok.

Here's welder Tim Primeaux:
“I blame the company more than I blame the president," he said in the NBC News interview.
Sometimes, conservatives don't want to be understood, because they don't want to understand, or accept, reality. 

I think the church has a blessing about this. Oh, yes –

"The self-willed ignorance that passes all understanding."

In Shrub Bush's administration, in response to Karl Rove, Democrats dubbed themselves the "reality-based community."

But, they're not.

At the national level, and pretty much at the state level, most of them have sold out too much to late-stage capitalist themselves. And the "deplorables" saw that in Obama. (Obama being black didn't help the sellout, and although her own feminism is quite selective, Hillary Clinton being a woman might not have helped, either.)

How long how many of these people will continue to think no abortion and no gayz and kiss Israel's butt will lead to a pony they're never going to get, I don't know.

It took decades for the Kansas of "An Appeal to Reason" to become halfway the Kansas of Kris Kobach and Sam Brownback. It will probably take decades to move the other way.

Note that when Dubois wrote what he did, all of that was even more true for the average African-American, Mexican-American or American Indian. But then, as today, the white working class — in part out of its own fears but also in part out of racism — simply didn't care, overall.

Per my take on Mr. Primeaux, I partially agree with the likes of a Doug Henwood or Adolph Reed that some race issues ultimately reduce to socioeconomic class issues.

But, not all of them. Things like police brutality against minorities are simply an expression of race as social dominance — racism as a class issue with no "socioeconomic" attached. As I said to Henwood in a back-and-forth argument on another blog post long ago, mudsills existed before modern capitalism penetrated much of the South. Dalits, the literal "outcastes" of India, existed long before the final apex of power of the British Raj.

That all said, Du Bois probably would have agreed with Henwood and Reed more than I do.

In that vein, Jacobin recently called for a revival of the Douglass Option. It's not the first time, and it's likely not the last, that I find Jacobin willfully and perversely naive on working-class black-white relations. 

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