How Thick is Your Bubble?

A few days ago, in response to something that I’d posted about the battle being waged between anti-tax, “small government” Republicans and those of us fighting to maintain public services, someone calling himself Alan2102, emerged from the shadows to accuse a number of us of being “out-of-touch” with the values of real Americans – those streetlight-hating, blue collar workers that comprise the base of the Tea Party. In an attempt to make his point, he offered a quiz, authored by Charles “The State of White America” Murray, entitled How Thick is Your Bubble. As many of you don’t read the comments section, I thought that I’d move it up here to the front page, so you could see how deficient you are when it comes to the things that really matter… It’s probably worth mentioning, before you get started, that I took the liberty and added a few questions of my own, in hopes of helping Murray to make his point. (I challenge you to tell which were authored by me, and which were authored by Murray.) Here’s the quiz.

Q.1) Have you ever worked on a factory floor?

Q.2) Do you spank your children?

Q.3) Have you ever kicked a dog?

Q.4) Have you ever held a job that caused a part of your body to hurt at the end of the day? [Brains don’t count.]

Q.5) Do you prefer to say “Git-R-Done” over “I have tasks to complete”?

Q.6) Do you own a Bible? [Give yourself a bonus point if you’ve never read it.]

Q.7) In high school, did you ever hit a kid for looking “faggoty”?

Q.8) Have you seen last year’s mega-hit movie, “Transformers: Dark of the Moon”?

Q.9) Do you have at least one friend who owns no utensils?

Q.10) Can you name this NASCAR champion?

Q.11) In the past five years, have you been fishing or hunting?

Q.12) Do you seek out illiterate friends?

Q.13) Do you believe that oil is an unlimited natural resource, that men coexisted with dinosaurs, and that global warming is a hoax?

Q.14) Do you have a close friend who is an evangelical Christian?

Q.15) Would you be a titan of industry if not for “big government” putting roadblocks in your way, and giving minorities unfair advantages?

Q.16) Do you perceive all people who are on welfare, with the exception of your family, “welfare queens”?

Q.17) During the past year, have you stocked your own fridge with domestic mass-market beer?

Q.18) Do you now have a close friend with whom you have strong and wide-ranging political disagreement?

Q.19) Have you eaten at an Applebee’s, TGI Friday’s, or Outback Steakhouse in the past year?

Q.20) Have you or your spouse ever bought a pickup truck?

Q.21) Have you ever attended a Kiwanis or Rotary Club meeting, or a gathering at a union local?

Q.22) Have you ever participated in a parade that did not involve global warming, gay rights, or a war protest?

Q.23) Do you believe that Satan is real, and working to provide health care to the poor of America?

Q.24) Would you rather live next to the owner of a coal mine, who consistently put his employees in danger, than a professor of women’s studies?

Q.25) Since leaving school, have you worn a uniform as part of your job?

Q.26) Have you ever changed the channel from the nightly news to watch Jerry Springer?

Q.27) Have you ever ridden on a Greyhound or Trailways bus?

Q.28) Did you ever watch an “Oprah” show all the way through?

Q.29) Hold your hand up to your face. Are you breathingf through your mouth?

Q.30) Did you or your spouse ever serve in the armed forces?

Q.31) Did you grow up in a family in which the chief breadwinner was not in a managerial position or high-prestige occupation (defined as dentist, physician, architect, attorney, engineer, scientist, or college professor)?

Q.32) Have you ever lived for at least a year as an adult in an American neighborhood in which the majority of your nearest 50 neighbors probably did not have college degrees?

Q.33) Have you ever had a close friend who could seldom get better than Cs in high school even if he or she tried hard?

Q.34) During the last month, have you voluntarily hung out with people who were smoking cigarettes?

Q.35) If you had an intelligent child, would you do the patriotic thing and sacrifice it for the good of the ocuntry?

Q.35) Is this the highest that you’ve ever counted?

For what it’s worth, I don’t have a problem with blue collar workers, and I didn’t augment this already ridiculous list of questions with the intention of heaping scorn upon them. What I have a problem with is the notion that we, as a nation, should celebrate stupidity. And, I think it’s offensive for Murray, and others, to try to equate the two, as though every blue collar worker in America is someone who only appreciates fast food, smokes despite the health risks, drinks to excess and blows his money on stupid movies that are packed full of bare butts and incredible explosions. As someone who’s worked plenty of shitty jobs, that hasn’t been my experience. I’d argue, in fact, that Murray is the one who is out-of-touch, believing, as he does, in this archetypal “real” American, spitting chewing tobacco from the window of his monster truck, as a rebel flag flutters in the breeze from its antenna. There are, of course, plenty of people like that in the world. I’d argue that, for the most part, though, people are more complex. There are factory workers who grow organic produce, and there are bankers who rail against Michelle Obama for “trying to make us all exercise.” (Remind me to rant at a some point in the future about how stupid it is that people are angry at our First Lady for trying to tackle the problem of childhood obesity in America. I think it illustrates, perhaps better than anything else, just how far gone we are as a culture.)

More importantly, though, why is it that we’re considered to be “in a bubble” if we choose not to throw our money away on stupid movies about tits, ass and robots that can turn themselves into cars? And why is it a bad thing if I’d rather buy a locally made bratwurst than spend my money on a hormone-filled, chemically-flavored drumstick at Kentucky Fried Chicken? It’s shit like, in my opinion, this that’s the real class warfare… Contrary to what Rick Santorum may tell you, it’s not class warfare when Obama says that he’d like everyone to have the opportunity to go to a trade school or college. The real class warfare is when college-educated assholes like Santorum stand up on stage and say, ‘how dare Obama encourage you to improve your lot in life’.

For the record, in the not so distant past, I’ve bought domestic, mass-market beer, attended a Kiwanis meeting, eaten at Applebee’s, and any number of other things that, as a member of the liberal blogging elite, I probably shouldn’t be doing, according to the guy who wrote the quiz. I’ve also worked plenty of jobs that have caused my body to hurt at the end of the day, attended a parade that didn’t end in an abortionfest, and shared meals with friends and family members who served in the military. I’ve also eaten imported cheese, conspired with ponytailed academics, encouraged my daughter to learn French, and purchased opera DVDs. This is a complex fucking world that we live in, comprised of complicated, multifaceted individuals. Trying to pigeonhole us into boxes, like Murray is attempting here, isn’t just stupid… it’s destructive to the fabric our nation.

One last thing, as long as I’m ranting… In the same comment thread where this quiz was noted, another reader came forward to make a ridiculous comment on public services. He said… and I’m paraphrasing here… that we weren’t doing poor people any favors by providing them with free streetlights. He feels, it would seem, that we’re spoiling them with free light, and robbing them of the pride they would discover, if only they had to work a second or third job in order to buy their own streetlights and keep them lit. By the same reasoning, I guess we should also stop treating their drinking water for parasites, and disconnect their homes from our sewers. Just think what a great motivator it would be if they were constantly ill, wading through homes awash with feces. Then, they could really know freedom.

update: As some of you have noted in the comments section, my reading of Murray’s quiz missed the mark. Apparently, he wasn’t making the case, as Republicans of late have been known to do, that the true patriots among us are those that choose to cheer for Jerry Springer, become pregnant at 16, and actively rebel against the socialist forces in America that would seem them educated. Murray, it would seem, was making the opposite case – that we were creating a moronic, drooling, permanent sub-class in this country that has little in common with those of us, whether conservative or progressive, who struggle to send our kids to college and would rather watch Downton Abbey than one of Michael Bay’s big budget, ever-exploding suck-fests. So, I’d like to apologize. I jumped to a conclusion. Given the context in which Allen introduced the quiz, my impression was that he and Murray were in agreement that being “out of touch” with this American demographic was in fact a bad thing. It would appear, however, that Murray, a seemingly devout racist, was arguing something different… My lesson has been learned. And, from now on, I will try to actually do a bit of research before setting out on one of my meandering, late-night rants. I give you my word.

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  1. j
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 5:11 pm | Permalink

    Q.33) Have you ever had a close friend who could seldom get better than Cs in high school even if he or she tried hard?

    If I remember right this is one of Murray’s questions. I went to a public high school in a blue collar/lower middle class town in new england. Maybe I don’t remember HS that well, but the kids who consistently got Cs were not trying hard. HS is just not that difficult. The possibility that there are pockets of such pervasive stupidity that getting straight Cs while trying hard doesn’t get you immediately placed in the special room with the padded walls, terrifies me.

    Maybe I grew up in a bubble, but if I did it is rather large bubble full of working class kids who aren’t complete fucking morons. From what I can tell on Facebook, they get wasted on mass market beer while watching the Sox and Pats, but if you offered a good microbrew they might watch NASCAR with you despite thinking it’s fucking stupid. Most seem to think the democrats are a bunch of pussies, but would never vote for the bigots despite their own repertoire of racist and sexist jokes. Seems to me that Murray lives in a bubble of his own–possibly padded–and it’s almost certainly smaller than mine.

  2. Edward
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 7:04 pm | Permalink

    I don’t think it’s any secret that the powers that be want for people to be stupid, and how better to do that than to keep telling that stupidity if both noble and patriotic?

  3. Erika
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 7:25 pm | Permalink

    Democracy only works when the voting public is educated and capable of voting for those who work best for the society as a whole. We are seeing the limits of the usefulness of democracy because the general public has been manipulated into voting against their best interests, and the best interests of the country and society, by people who have convinced them to embrace ignorance, unquestionable authority, and faith without evidence or reason. The agenda is furthered through dismantling of public education systems and the anti-intellectual, paranoid, manipulative tactics that we are seeing in the “news” media that claims to be “fair and balanced”.

  4. someone
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 9:06 pm | Permalink

    Done in two.

  5. anonymous
    Posted March 10, 2012 at 11:07 pm | Permalink

    From a 2007 piece about Murray by Eric Alterman.

    The story of Charles Murray’s rise in just one decade from being a public nobody to being America’s best known and perhaps most influential public intellectual is an odd but instructive tale with regard to just how easily conservatives can manipulate the SCLM, and legitimate views once considered unspeakable in polite society. As a writer, Murray displayed an uncanny ability to offer what appeared to be a reasonable and scholarly-sounding voice to opinions and arguments that had hitherto been considered beyond the pale of respectability. Indeed, he has been quite self-conscious regarding this purpose as evidenced by the fact that in his book proposal for Losing Ground, he explained to potential publishers that his work would be welcomed by people who secretly believed themselves to be racists. “Why can a publisher sell it?” he asked. “Because a huge number of well-meaning whites fear that they are closet racists, and this book tells them they are not. It’s going to make them feel better about things they already think but do not know how to say.”

  6. Dan
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 11:21 am | Permalink

    #1 eating at Applebees/TGIF/Ruby Tuesdays/etc is indicative of stupidity. Paying $10+ for reheated frozen food sold at Costco is the definition of dumb.

    #2 the water and sewer analogy is poor. People pay directly for those services. While it may or may not be subsidized (im not sure if poor people get YCUA credits or the like), there is still a bill based on use.

    A better analogy would be police/fire services. And some places actually have opt in clauses for those. Like if you dont pay for firemen, and your house goes ablaze, no one will come help you.

    Or even better analogy: if you are poor, you cant send your kids to public school, cause you didnt pay. That’ll teach em

  7. alan2102
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 4:44 pm | Permalink

    “Alan2102, emerged from the shadows to accuse a number of us of being “out-of-touch” with the values of real Americans”

    REAL Americans? What a bizarre reading.

    We’re all real Americans. And subsets of us can be characterized in certain ways that correspond pretty well to reality. (Granting that ANY classification or characterization must be imperfect, and that there will always be exceptions.) That quiz was a description of an approximate type, a subset. It exists. It is not better or worse than any other type. It exists, and to deny that it exists, or to ignore its significance, is to be willfully ignorant of an important aspect of social reality in the U.S. It exists, and to acknowledge its existence, and significance, is not “pigeonholing”.

    This has NOTHING to do with Charles Murray. I dislike Murray, and am even devoting a substantial portion of my life (don’t ask) to writing a book to refute some of his earlier work. But Murray, the person, is totally irrelevant to this. I just bumped into that questionairre, accidentally, and recognized it as pretty good, and relevant to a recent MM thread. If you prefer, you can pick up Ray and Anderson’s book (or other writings on) the “Cultural Creatives”, which describes a subtype in American culture that they call the “Traditionals”. This “Traditionals” group is essentially the same as the quiz/description that I posted. Ray and Anderson are enthusiastic and committed “Cultural Creatives” — lib/progressive, etc. They would probably prefer if the Traditionals did not exist, but they are not so blind as to deny that they DO exist. Are R&A guilty of “pigeonholing” and “destroying the fabric of our nation” simply to perceive and point out the existence of approximately culturally coherent groups such as “Traditionals” or “Cultural Creatives”? Of course not. That charge would be laughable.

    But you don’t need any references or props at all. All you have to do is open your eyes and look, and you will see the groups described by R&A, or by the quiz I posted (or probably the same thing described by yet others in the sociological or other literature). How could you miss them? Unless what you WANT to see winds up overpowering what you DO see.

    You say that you have “no intention of heaping scorn upon [blue collar workers]”, but then proceed to heap scorn upon them by saying “What I have a problem with is the notion that we, as a nation, should celebrate stupidity.” Quite the contradiction, packed into two consecutive sentences. (Not to mention irrelevant, since none of this has anything to do with “celebrating” anyone or anything.)

    Mark, people of lower socioeconomic status do not smoke — to take one example that you raised — because they are “stupid”; “stupid” as in congenitally or genetically of low intelligence. That would be the kind of point that an asshole like Murray might make. They smoke for a variety of reasons, including but not limited to relative ignorance, conditioned future consequences discounting, the very real cognitive and mood benefits of nicotine, and relative lack of affordable and available alternatives for same. Smoking is not “stupid”; to dismiss it in that way is ignorant and insensitive, and arrogant, and classist. (You are aware, I trust, of the fact that smoking is now confined very largely to lower SES — blue collar and below. Richer people have moved on to other, more expensive, less-commonly-accessible pleasures and satisfactions.)

    And regarding the fabric of our nation: what I think is “destructive to the fabric our nation” is failing to see (or denying) significant realities, when the survival of our democracy depends on our seeing. Also “destructive to the fabric our nation” is the demonizing of people who express dissent or uncomfortable views (“…emerged from the shadows to accuse us…”). Yeesh. Sometimes this place gives me the creeps. Thank God(dess) you’re not in control of the local Homeland Security squad, or whatever other gang of thugs. I remember having the same (chill up spine) feeling when you started ranting about how pot smokers are a bunch of lazy no-good fucks. Jeezuz K Rist. As I said at the time: with “liberals” like you, who needs fascists?

    This very response of yours, complete with heaping scorn on those you insist you shan’t heap scorn upon, and many other similar features, stands as a great example of why I posted the quiz to begin with. You are EXACTLY the kind of guy who needs to get the point — but you don’t.

    “Obama says that he’d like everyone to have the opportunity to go to a trade school or college.”

    Right. Obama has a deep commitment to public schools, and equality of opportunity, and we should be damned grateful for it.

    You ARE going to be campaigning for Obama this year, aren’t you, Mark?

    “As if in a seamless choreography, the administration of Barack Obama has carried on the anti-public school legacy of George W. Bush and Ronald Reagan without missing a beat. His secretary of education, Arne Ducan, is an opponent of teachers and public school unions and a shameless supporter of charter schools. Their Race to the Top (2009) is a $4.3 billion plan to continue the attacks on public schooling by a ruthless set of performance-based standards to measure teachers, principals, and the schools in which they work. It is no accident that Obama’s former White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel, now mayor of Chicago, is carrying out the same attacks against public schooling inspired by his former boss. In a taste of the bizarre, which is often the hallmark of politics in the US, teachers were the single largest block of delegates supporting Obama at the 2008 Democratic National Convention. Talk about solidarity!”


    Hopeless: Barack Obama and the Politics of Illusion

    Jeffrey St. Clair (Editor), Joshua Frank (Editor), Kevin Alexander Gray (Contributor), Kathy Kelly (Contributor), Ralph Nader (Contributor)

    Publication Date: April 10, 2012

    “Those who feel that like lemmings they are being led over a cliff would be well-advised not to read this book. They may discover that they are right.”—Noam Chomsky

    “Jeffrey St. Clair and Joshua Frank have skillfully smoked out the real Barack Obama . . . the technofascist military strategist disguised as a Nobel Peace Laureate, but owned, operated, and controlled by Wall Street, Corporate America, and the Pentagon.”—Thomas H. Naylor, co-author of Affluenza, Downsizing the USA

    “The writers assembled here hit hard, with accuracy, and do not pull punches.”—Marcus Rediker, author of The Slave Ship: A Human History

    The Barack Obama revolution was over before it started, guttered by the politician’s overweening desire to prove himself to the grandees of the establishment. From there on, other promises proved ever easier to break. Here’s the book that dares not let Obama off the hook. It’s all here: the compromises, the backstabbing, the same old imperial ambitions. Covering all major “Obummer” categories since he took office, this fast-paced collection will delight the critical and offer food for thought for those contemplating the 2012 electoral circus—and beyond.

    Jeffrey St. Clair is co-editor of CounterPunch, author of Born Under a Bad Sky and Been Brown So Long it Looked Green to Me, and co-author of Whiteout: The CIA, Drugs, and the Press.

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  8. alan2102
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 6:16 pm | Permalink

    One more thing:

    Mark: “Murray is the one who is out-of-touch, believing, as he does, in this archetypal “real” American, spitting chewing tobacco from the window of his monster truck…”

    “Believing, as he does”?! You apparently have not even read reviews of his new book.

    Murray does not believe that these people are any more “real” than others. What he believes and claims to back with data, according to reviews (I have not read his new book, so I cannot say), is that the lower SES has lost or is losing a set of values and behaviors, still largely retained by the upper SES, that are important for the good society that we hope America to be.

    As one blurb puts it:
    “Coming Apart demonstrates that a new upper class and a new lower class have diverged so far in core behaviors and values that they barely recognize their underlying American kinship—divergence that has nothing to do with income inequality and that has grown during good economic times and bad.
    The top and bottom of white America increasingly live in different cultures, Murray argues, with the powerful upper class living in enclaves surrounded by their own kind, ignorant about life in mainstream America, and the lower class suffering from erosions of family and community life that strike at the heart of the pursuit of happiness. That divergence puts the success of the American project at risk.” end quote

    … a far cry from “celebrating stupidity” or elevating tobacco-chewing rednecks to
    heroic “real” Americanhood.

    Sheesh, again.

    As much as we may dislike Murray, if the discussion turns to him let’s at least get straight what the old bastard is saying.

    You should be aware, Mark, that Murray is quite the elitist — just like you. Heck, if you read his work, you might LIKE him. He thinks he and his kind are superior to the tobacco-chewers and NASCAR fans and etc. He thinks that he and his kind — speaking from their steep moral height, illuminated understanding of things, and genetic superiority — should provide instruction and assistance to the benighted plebes and barbarians out in the hinterlands. Come to think of it, I will have to give him a bit of grudging credit for at least displaying that much compassion — unlike “progressives” who would dismiss as “stupidity” things that they do not understand, or that do not comport with their worldview and values.

    Emphasis on a “BIT”, and “GRUDGING”. The SOB would never acknowledge that a (if not THE) principal cause of the cultural disintegration that he laments is the neoliberal/finance-capitalist juggernaut that he has effectively (if not directly) spent his life defending.

  9. Posted March 11, 2012 at 7:30 pm | Permalink

    My bubble is pretty fucking thick:

  10. Smith
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 11:06 pm | Permalink

    Mark, I heard Murray’s NPR interview. It seemed to simply suggest that we’re increasingly segregated by class and values and that the better educated and incomed have values that are beneficial — work, family, belief.

    He didn’t seem to be arguing that guns, tobacco and lack of education was good or American. He said the data indicated that the upper income/education folks tended to not smoke, managed to stay married to one person, get a degree and so on. He said the people doing relatively well in this country were people who behave like you.

    What I took away from the brief interview was that the rich liberal elites tend to live rather conservatively.

  11. alan2102
    Posted March 11, 2012 at 11:10 pm | Permalink

    TeacherPatti: “My bubble is pretty fucking thick:

    Maybe I’m being impatient, but when I click the link, this is all I get:
    (tried several times between 10:30 and 11:00 PM, EST, sunday night):

    “This content is currently unavailable
    The page you requested cannot be displayed right now. It may be temporarily unavailable, the link you clicked on may have expired, or you may not have permission to view this page.”

  12. alan2102
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 8:08 am | Permalink

    As of monday morning, 8AM, still:
    “This content is currently unavailable….”

  13. alan2102
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 8:18 am | Permalink

    Smith: “He didn’t seem to be arguing that guns, tobacco and lack of education was good or American. He said the data indicated that the upper income/education folks tended to not smoke, managed to stay married to one person, get a degree and so on.”

    Yes, of course. But who cares what he is actually saying? Let’s just demonize him. Let’s turn him into a black-hatted cartoon character, and then throw darts at him. Let’s have FUN! Sure beats that boring old reading and thinking.

  14. Meta
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 8:43 am | Permalink

    From Salon:

    Hey, white people – they’re talking about you again!

    I argued a few weeks ago that Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum might be able to believe they’re not singling out black people, or “blah” people, when they rail against food stamps and government “dependency” on the campaign trail. Yes, Republicans have long used not just dog whistles but foghorns to tell white working- and middle-class voters that welfare programs only support lazy, undeserving African-Americans. Ronald Reagan gave us those iconic Cadillac-driving “welfare queens” and “young bucks” using food stamps to buy T-bone steaks. Gingrich is certainly playing on that long history with his remarks. (It’s funny how our first “food stamp president” also happens to be black.)

    But increasingly the right wing argues that government programs have created a dangerously expanding lower class that includes white people, too. This new white lower class, like the black lower class before it (in the telling of conservatives), is struggling not because of the decline in median wages, the rise of unemployment or the disappearance of middle-class jobs, but because it prefers casual coupling over marriage, and government-subsidized slacking over work.

    A little over a year ago, the conservatives behind “When Marriage Disappears: The Retreat From Marriage in Middle America” tied the decline of the American middle and working class to the drop in marriage and the rise in the number of children living in single-parent homes – trends that are most stark, over the last few decades, among white people. Now comes Charles Murray to make the issue of race even more pronounced. In “Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010,” Murray identifies a new “white lower class” consisting of men who choose not to work hard, women who choose not to marry, and children who are deprived of the values-generating support of the two-parent family, and are thus doomed to repeat the cycle all over again.

    Murray, of course, has said all of these things about black people before. In his 1984 tome “Losing Ground,” he provided the intellectual justification for Reagan’s bromide, “We fought a war on poverty, and poverty won.” The book argued that the explosion of welfare programs didn’t help their intended targets, especially poor African-Americans; in fact it hurt them, encouraging men to forgo supporting their children by substituting government in the role of provider. In “The Bell Curve,” Murray went on to argue that racial and class divisions in society were largely due to genetic intelligence differences that caused whites and Asians to excel and consigned blacks and Latinos to lower status, and there was nothing government could do to fight that natural order. In fact, government made the problems worse, as Murray believed he’d “proven” in “Losing Ground.”

    In “Coming Apart,” Murray seems to have learned a little bit from the racial controversies that greeted his earlier work. Now he sets out to show how similar forces are at work among white people. But his premise and arguments in this book are no less skewed or more persuasive.

    Read more:

  15. alan2102
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 9:07 am | Permalink

    Over on huffpo, just ran into this picture (ad) of a nice middle/upper-middle lady — Robin Beers — who says of her new Buick Regal that “I feel happy getting into it every day”. She probably also feels happy shopping at Whole Paychec… er, Whole Foods, every week, and eating gourmet organic food. She probably also feels happy spending $400/month on nice new fashionable clothing. She probably also feels happy working in a nice clean safe office, and taking ski or scuba vacations with her husband. Etcetera, etcetera. She does not need to smoke or drink (other than the occasional glass of sulfite-free organic wine), or use crank or hillbilly heroin, as an upper. She does not need cheap thrills like NASCAR or violent movies — sufficiently lurid to jar one’s mind off their wretched job/ marriage/whatever, for a time. She does not need the cheap emotional stimulation and support of evangelical christianity, or the cheap emotional-stimulation-thinly-disguised-as-intellectual-stimulation of right-wing talk radio or culturally-conservative political ideologues. She has plenty of satisfactions and compensations apart from that low-brow (“stupid”) stuff. If she feels really down, for some reason, her health insurance covers the trip to the doc who prescribes the Prozac. And five’ll get you ten that she’s got an Obama 2012 bumper sticker in her window or on her car.

    here’s the pic: (attempting different versions to test if html or quasi-html work here):


    ps: works really good for quick and dirty photo uploads.
    Like tinyurl (etc.) for pictures.

  16. Knox
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I like your writing, Alan, but I’m not sure that I get your point about Robin Beers.

  17. kjc
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 11:37 am | Permalink

    i still don’t understand the need to believe that stereotyping is a way of accessing reality.

  18. Eel
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 11:49 am | Permalink

    While Murry may not have presented his quiz to demonstrate how out of touch we are with the noble masses, I think it’s clear, based on his subsequent comments (like this one), that’s why Alan shared it.

    You should be aware, Mark, that Murray is quite the elitist — just like you. Heck, if you read his work, you might LIKE him. He thinks he and his kind are superior to the tobacco-chewers and NASCAR fans and etc. He thinks that he and his kind — speaking from their steep moral height, illuminated understanding of things, and genetic superiority — should provide instruction and assistance to the benighted plebes and barbarians out in the hinterlands. Come to think of it, I will have to give him a bit of grudging credit for at least displaying that much compassion — unlike “progressives” who would dismiss as “stupidity” things that they do not understand, or that do not comport with their worldview and values.

  19. alan2102
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 11:53 am | Permalink

    Knox: I don’t think I could make it more clear. It was an illustration of a type, and how that type differs from another type. Robin, like many millions of her type, does not need the (so-called) “stupid” things that other types need, or at least that they gravitate to and find nourishment and relief in or with. (And if not that, then how else to define “need”, beyond bare survival needs?) And her needs differ largely because of her class, or SES (socio-economic status). Perhaps it would help to read my prior posts up thread, for context.

    “Largely because of her class”. I’m still debating the matter of “how large”, internally. I don’t buy marxian economic determinism 100%; maybe 50%. Culture/ideas/memes is a factor as well, as is biology, with at least some independence from economics. And hence even guys like Murray are 20% right, at least regarding the generality (cultural and biological factors as independent influences).

    One big question that we should be discussing, as the impending collapse unfolds, is what is to become of liberalism and progressivism. To what extent, and in what form, can they survive in the face of dramatic and uncomfortable (to put it mildly) economic change? What happens when the Robin Beers’ of the world are suddenly demoted from first-world status to second- or even third-? Will they still be warm and fuzzy liberals, more than willing to share and work for the common (i.e. national and international) good? Or will their scope of concern be contracted, more centripetal, with more focus on the personal, on the immediate family, on the immediate community (neighborhood, city, perhaps state) — like your typical traditional/conservative type. To what extent am I correct in my speculation about “culture/ideas/memes” as independent driver, versus economics? All very open questions, to become compelling in the mid-term future (next 10 years).

  20. alan2102
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 12:07 pm | Permalink

    kjc: “i still don’t understand the need to believe that stereotyping is a way of accessing reality.”

    A stereotype is a misuse, or abuse, of category or characterization. The fact that one can err by stereotyping does not make categorization useless or wrong. Categories are models that we use to understand the world. I think we’d be quite lost without them. They can be misused, but as long as we keep in mind that the map is never the territory, we’re ok.

    In my first post on this thread I used the word “APPROXIMATELY” a couple of times, and it is a good word/idea to keep in mind when dealing with categories. Categories are always approximations, and there are always (almost always) exceptions, and the bigger the category, usually the more and more varied the exceptions. Think in terms of approximation and probability, not hard-edged logical-positivist-style certainty or perfect clarity.

  21. alan2102
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 12:10 pm | Permalink

    Eel: “while Murry may not have presented his quiz to demonstrate how out of touch we are with the noble masses…”

    Noble? See up thread.

  22. kjc
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 12:23 pm | Permalink

    alan, i’m not seeing where your use of categories is at all illuminating. or murray’s. though they do seem to facilitate your broad stroke condemnations of mark, progressives, etc. just doesn’t resonate with me.

  23. Brainless
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 1:02 pm | Permalink

    “One big question that we should be discussing, as the impending collapse unfolds…”

    Just another fucking victim. Jeebus, this shit gets old quickly.

  24. alan2102
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 3:50 pm | Permalink

    kjc: my condemnations — of Mark, of Murray, etc. — are not important. But understanding social (and hence political) reality IS important. If you can understand, for example, national electoral politics while ignoring and never speaking of the ideologic and cultural identities of the Republican and Democratic parties — i.e. without thinking in terms of broad categories, and perhaps even denying that they exist — then go for it. You would be a better person than me.

  25. alan2102
    Posted March 12, 2012 at 5:19 pm | Permalink

    Here’s Lakoff’s latest discussion of culture/memes and politics, with distinct parallels to points on this thread. Lakoff cuts to what you might call deep cultural structure, much better than that trivial quiz thingie that I originally posted. His analysis often verges on the brilliant, and it is amazing that he does not get more attention. If the Democrats had any sense, they would take his words like tablets from Mt Sinai.
    “We can now see why the Santorum Strategy is so concerned with family values. Strict father family values are the model for radical conservative values. Conservative populism — in which poor conservatives vote against their financial interests — depends on those poor conservatives having strict father family values, defining themselves in terms of those values, and voting on the basis of those values, thus selecting strict fathers as their political leaders.
    The repetition of language expressing those values leads to more and more working people becoming political and accepting those values in their politics. As long as the Democrats have no positive moral messaging of their own, repeated over and over, the Santorum Strategy will go unchallenged and conservative populism will expand. Moreover, repeating the Santorum language by mocking it or arguing against it [or calling people who buy-in to it “stupid” –alan2102] using that language will only help radical conservatives in propagating their views.” end quote

  26. Posted March 14, 2012 at 11:24 pm | Permalink

    While most of these questions are kinda funny, almost all of them elude to the idea of some particular “type” of person who we ought to look down upon. While I can often agree with this notion based on my own personal values, I have to say that it annoys the hell out of me when it is insinuated that people who hunt or fish are a part of a crowd of dumb-dumbs ,who ought to be thought of as less intellectual. I actually feel it is the other way around, since most people who so this judging eat fish and meat. Would they rather it be sent to them highly processed on a truck from half-way around the world? Hypocrites. Hunting and fishing in an ethical manner–which is surprisingly important to the hunters and anglers I know (and some of who voted for Obama and laugh about Dick Cheny’s hunting experience as a lesson of what to never do when hunting–drink)–is of peak importance. One day hunters and environmentalist (who are actually not at odds as much as some people think) will be working together to save habitat that is being destroyed by developers. Hunters, in general, are not as dumb as some people think. It goes right along with the “buy local” movement. But whatever, half the folks who admonish those who don’t buy local drive off in their foreign brand vehicles like that doesn’t count.

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