Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War

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triciamarie

I'm just finishing this up now and I though it was a great, memorable read.

I grew up redneck, so did my husband and the majority of our clan still fit that profile pretty well, so I thought I would recognize the people he's writing about -- but it turns out I kinda do but I don't. I think the ecumenical religious fervor he describes is the main reason why not. We don't have as much of that here, although Harper is a rapturist, I read in the Walrus a couple years ago, so I guess we could be headed that way. Hard to believe.

Also, in the times that I've been in the southern US, I got the impression that our primary education system here does seem to be working a bit better than what they're dealing with down there. Our rate of unionization is also much better and our labour laws are still better though slipping perilously in some respects. And of course the whole constitutional right to bear arms argument is moot, although it is good to have a chance to read about gun culture from someone who obviously knows the territory so well, and I think a lot of those observations probably apply here too regardless.

Interesting that he thinks that progressives need to make a deliberate, concerted effort to reach out to poor rural voters, the same way that Republicans do. Has anyone read this Thomson guy he talks about?

Stargazer

It isn't a bad book, and he makes a lot of good points. I just think he's pointing his finger at the wrong people. Liberals do not stand to gain from an uneducated population. Right wingers do. I wish he spent more time on the right wing movement to dumb down everyone, and instead of blaming things on progressives, has a look at propaganda (Americans are bombarded with propaganda since birth)and its effects.

Lard Tunderin Jeezus Lard Tunderin Jeezus's picture

I missed this one a couple of weeks ago:

quote:

Originally posted by N.Beltov:
[b]What I do not see Joe Bageant write about is that while right-wing ideas have been spread far and wide, left wing ideas were, and are, deliberately silenced. 70-80 years ago the left was stronger and, for example, the great organizing drives that developed so many industrial unions, for example, were carried out by socialists and communists. If liberals complain about the lack of such organizing work it's only because they forget that they they were, themselves, part of that campaign of silencing the left.

What ordinary people need are socialist ideas. That's the antidote to trained selfishness, racism, religious fundamentalism, and so on. But those organizers are gone, or too old, or too few, as a result of which what most people get is a steady diet of hate.

The remedy to class war from the right is class war from the left. There's no other way.[/b]


...and I just wanted to say: Amen.

George Victor

quote:


The sad part of this? There seems to be a huge chunk of Americans who will vote for this vapid vessel of vermin because she says things like "doggonest" and "hockey mom". It's an extremely sad state of affairs that being dumb is considered a good thing and being bright, a bad thing.
Sexy Sarah is her nickname. Yep, I am not joking.

When Joe Bageant says his redneck folks are "dumb as a bag of hair", Stargazer, he's saying that the Palins of this world are their kind of candidate. They know what Sarah says, she's not uppity, and talks their language.

I looked for his prescription for that dumbness, but I could only find his criticism of the schools of Heartland America...explaining why nearly half those folk are functionally illiterate.

Stargazer

quote:


he's saying that the Palins of this world are their kind of candidate. They know what Sarah says, she's not uppity, and talks their language.

You're right. And what kind of language is it? It's double speak bullshit. She talks like she knows what the poor (rednecks) are going through, but she doesn't really speak their language. She speaks the language she thinks they want to hear. Keep em stupid. Stupid enough to continue to vote for the policies that hurt them the most. Stupid enough to vote Republican. Stupid enough to blame the failings of the same government they vote in on "elitist libruls". She's talking down to them. She's pretending to care but her record says she doesn't give a flying sheep's ass what they need - better educational opportunities, more union jobs, better social programs.

Nope, they need what Sarah Failin and her ilk need - more wars, more profit for oil, tobacco and wall street goons. And they fall for it.

George Victor

Observation by triciamarie:

quote:

Interesting that he thinks that progressives need to make a deliberate, concerted effort to reach out to poor rural voters, the same way that Republicans do. Has anyone read this Thomson guy he talks about?

Was that Thomson or Thompson, ms t?

As you saw, Bageant advocates reading Fred Clarkson's The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy : "...the rest of us were asleep at the wheel. They outsmarted us, they were organized, and they won fair and square."

"The good news, Clarkson tells me, is that they came to power primarily through elections and can be dealt with in the same way: 'Anyone who wishes to displace them needs to become more engaged in electoral politics than just watching it on television. You need to become engaged and bring your friends. And your family.'

"Just like the Christian right did."

That's from the "Covert Kingdom" chapter, just before"The ballad of Lynddie England".

In "An Authorized Place to Die", he explains how "Ours is a system that destroys the fabric of working-class families' relationships with their elders."

-----------------------

My response to N. Beltov way back when on the subject of returning to socialist principles:

(QUOTE)

Have a good gander at Bageant, NB, and see if he doesn't explain the process by which we of the left lost traction.
Your thoughts on means of revival would be difficult where you don't own the presses or use of the airwaves, and your planned audience doesn't want to read or watch anything but sports, anyway.

I hope he has something to say about education, which he escaped to find. Seems to me the last avenue for change - before all are required to teach creationist science, anyway. That would be the time to head for the bunkers, methinks.

(END QUOTE)

[ 03 October 2008: Message edited by: George Victor ]

[ 03 October 2008: Message edited by: George Victor ]

Stargazer

Thing is, they did not win fair and square. It's hardly a level playing field when you have the media and the biggest, most powerful lobby groups on your side. Not to mention the disaffected black voters purged off voting lists, the faulty Diebold machines... Sorry but that was not "fair and square". It was sneaky, underhanded and chock full of white privilege and blood money. It was not a democracy in action. It was a socialistic corporate movement fuelled by petty and mean "religious" types and big money makers.

triciamarie

I did mean Clarkson. Sorry, that's what happens when I try to squeeze reading / posting in between full-on mommy stuff plus work. Not sure who Thomson is, unless maybe Hunter S. (p), as in your opening post.

Anyway, anyone ever read that guy? The seminal title quoted in the chapter you reference is "Eternal Hostility: The Struggle Between Theocracy and Democracy". Apparently he also has a new book out, "Dispatches from the Religious Left" and is speculating that Palin may try to ban it! [img]biggrin.gif" border="0[/img]

[url=http://www.frederickclarkson.com/]http://www.frederickclarkson.com/[/url]

George Victor

I really think you have to read the book, folks! Forget the shortcut to Bageant's website.

--------------------------------------

Gotta read that "Dispatches from the Religious Left" before it's burnt, ms t. [img]wink.gif" border="0[/img]

[ 03 October 2008: Message edited by: George Victor ]

al-Qa'bong

I'm reading his chapter on house trailers right now.

 

He certainly predicted the housing bust accurately.

KenS

George Victor wrote:
Your post reflects the concerns that we all share about Bageant's apparent contradictory position on education. He first says it's necessary for folks to break free from the redneck culture, but also says that's hard as hell to do, and the education system in those parts has lowered the bar to an impossible level for graduates to expect entry to meaningful post-secondary education.

I went, in cracker USA, from one of those schools to university. It wasn't any better 40 years ago.

But I don't think it was about where the bar was.

When you go to a school where nobody goes to university, and no one speaks the language of the educated except the teachers, and you haven't a clue that you are missing something... you are going to be massively unprepared for post secondary education no matter how smart you are or if you've managed to acquire what is quite a bit of knowledge by any standard.

George Victor

Yep, I have to depend on my daughter for the pronunciation of names out of our classical past.  Always felt uncomfortable at literary gatherings for that reason. But I'll bet the bookstores back home also tended to feature the works of Jesus and all his recent converts?

George Victor

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I'm reading his chapter on house trailers right now.

 

He certainly predicted the housing bust accurately.

I think he just instinctively understands how the market and its proponents in power prey on the folks in the six-pack "culture" (as close as one can get to discussing "class" in the land of the free and remain free) and how it usually turns out.

al-Qa'bong

Why must you use that middle-class liberal term "six-pack" to describe the working class? 

 

It infers that the industrious classes are drunkards and suggests an attitude that is every bit as prejudiced as that of those in the Victorian middle class who believed that the people on whom their wealth was built were gin-addled laudanum abusers.

George Victor

You will see it used in Deer Hunting. I always took it to mean that that is all one can afford at one visit to the grocery store - gin mills and satanic mills aside. I believe it has generally replaced the moonshine of hill country - at least, I have not seen it mentioned in recent American fiction. The uncle of a childhood friend of mine used to keep his shine cool and hidden, tethered to a line lowered from the end of his dock in the Haliburton Highlands lake country, just south of Algonquin. Harvey also poached deer.

Farmpunk

I like my venison roasted, to go along with my twelve pack.

Fidel

al-Qa'bong wrote:

Why must you use that middle-class liberal term "six-pack" to describe the working class?  

It infers that the industrious classes are drunkards and suggests an attitude that is every bit as prejudiced as that of those in the Victorian middle class who believed that the people on whom their wealth was built were gin-addled laudanum abusers.

Some said Queen Vicky lost her will to live after Albert died. But she wasn't behind the door when it came to going cap in hand to parliament to beg for more money from the taxpayers. Biggest welfare bums who ever lived.

George Victor

quote: "Some said Queen Vicky lost her will to live after Albert died. But she wasn't behind the door when it came to going cap in hand to parliament to beg for more money from the taxpayers. Biggest welfare bums who ever lived."

 

Yeah, and her grandson's wife drank gin by the tall glass (make that G and T very very dry, will you, Thornton?).

al-Qa'bong

Bageant identifies the nine cents worth of difference between the Demublicans and the Repubrocrats here:

Quote:
The primary difference is that the Republicans pretty much admit that they grasp and even endorse some of the nastiest facts of life in America.  Republicans honestly tell the world: "Listen in on my phone calls, piss-test me until I'm blind, kill and eat all of my neighbors right in front of my eyes, but show me the money! Let me escape with every cent I can kick out of the suckers, the taxpayers, and anybody else I can get a headlock on, legally or otherwise..."

 

 

N.Beltov N.Beltov's picture

along the lines of al-Q's remarks ... Michael Moore once noted that elections in the USA consist, in the main, of choosing which part of the richest 5% of the population will screw over the rest of the population. It's useful to underline the similarities of the "leading" parties in the USA as much as it is useful to underline the differences.

George Victor

All of which is why Bageant makes a good read - one who is "among" and "from" the folks he calls rednecks, but who had to leave town to learn "why" that's the way of things (and, of course, why Palin goes over so unbelievably well).  

Farmpunk

KenS:

 

"When you go to a school where nobody goes to university, and no one speaks the language of the educated except the teachers, and you haven't a clue that you are missing something... you are going to be massively unprepared for post secondary education no matter how smart you are or if you've managed to acquire what is quite a bit of knowledge by any standard."

 

I'm not sure what you mean here. But I vaguely think both you and GV are suggesting a person "needs" to go to the city and get helped, because of a lack of... educated people, who express themselves so well?

George Victor

Not at all Fp.  Give me a sec to hunt up his quote...there, got a bit of my interpretation of his position on education:

 

"Your post reflects the concerns that we all share about Bageant's apparent contradictory position on education. He first says it's necessary for folks to break free from the redneck culture, but also says that's hard as hell to do, and the education system in those parts has lowered the bar to an impossible level for graduates to expect entry to meaningful post-secondary education."

 

He's saying that public education in the areas under discussion do not arm people to go on to higher education. It sure a shucks does not speak to public education in rural Ontario. But if you read the late J. Kenneth Galbraith's memoirs from his early days in early 20th century Ontario, in The Scotch, the gap was pronounced.

George Victor

The shy and retiring Joe Bageant has just announced, in his self-effacing way:

"Joe Bageant is featured in a documentary film now in production, titled "The Kingdom of Survival", scheduled for release in November. Others in the film are Noam Chomsky, Mark Mirabello, Ramsey Kanaan, Sasha Lilley, Mike Oehler, Bob Meisenbach, and Will "The Bull" Taylor.

Writer and filmmaker M. A. Littler describes his film as a search for visions that challenge the status quo. "This is an interdisciplanary documentary combining speculative travelogue and investigative journalism in order to trace possible links between survivalism, spirituality, art, radical politics, outlaw culture, alternative media and fringe philosophy," he said.

"Contrary to the popular approach of trying to summon arguments that legitimize a pre-conceived point of view, I sought out contrary opinions ranging from the far left to the far right of the political spectrum, from the spiritual to the strictly secular and from the profound to the profane," Littler said.

"The Kingdom of Survival" circles through themes of utopianism, globalized capitalism, anarchism, intellectual and spiritual self-defense, religion and art in an investigation of physical and psychological survival strategies practiced by groups and individuals in a conflict-ridden and confused post-modern world. The film is a production of Slowboat Films ."

Slumberjack

Quote:
There was not a dry eye a dry eye in that Jiffy Lube waiting room. It was not just the cheap emotionalism of televised pandering. Everyone there remembered, by God! Remembered or found reason to believe in, an America that at one moment in history at least, rose from its stupor to struggle forward toward something higher. Something better. And yes, noble even.

He does have a compelling style, however the notable instances found throughout his writings of this 'noble shining city on the hill' approach tarnishes to a large extent the overall effect.

George Victor

America's "golden period" for Bageant was the Second World War and living conditions for the now marginalized workers who left the starvation farms on Appalachian hillsides and briefly thrived with trade unions that raised their living standards...until the 1970s. Its been downhill for the working class there since.   But you would have to actually read Deer Hunting with Jesus in its entirety to understand this. 

al-Qa'bong

I dunno George, the concept ain't exactly outta the writings of Søren Kierkegaard. Many people have made this point.

RosaL

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I dunno George, the concept ain't exactly outta the writings of Søren Kierkegaard. Many people have made this point.

 

I don't know if he says anything new. (Not many do!) What makes him somewhat unique is the context he speaks from and the people on behalf of whom he speaks. I've got a soft spot for the guy. I think I read him somewhat differently than GV, though. 

al-Qa'bong

I like him too, but he isn't saying anything that's difficult to understand, which is refreshing.

George Victor

al-Qa'bong wrote:

I like him too, but he isn't saying anything that's difficult to understand, which is refreshing.

Is it only his language, then, that turns people off hereabouts?  When I offered him up to scrutiny I was warned that he would be too "pungent" for local consumption.

As to our different take on Bageant, Rosa...for me his, let's call it, "recent history of U.S.working class culture" helps to explain the stuff that is more "difficult to understand," the sweeping economic and technological changes that have brought about the return to marginalization and misery for his "rednecks."  And he certainly backgrounds us on the ignorance and insanity of the teaparty phenom...and the ingrained racism directed now at the pres.

Some folk down that way are beginning to know how to laugh at themselves...a good sign.  My Florida cousin sent me a map denoting "redneck areas" of the state, after I asked she and her American-born husband just what was up with the crazy GOP fringe.  That used to be their party, from the time he returned from fighting in France a lifetime ago. The colour blue takes up practically the entire coastline, red is the colour of the interior.

Those who have read Deerhunting know that he draws a careful line between rednecks, folks who are fiercely independent, and those more reliant on help from the state. And he uses the down-home expression "dumb as a bag of hair" to explain the dirth of good schooling thereabouts. 

Jingles

*grammar flame*

Quote:
And he certainly backgrounds us on the ignorance and insanity of the teaparty phenom

"Backgrounds"?? Seriously, are you trying to invent verbs? As a peeve, that ranks with quanswering: the increasingly common practice of asking then answering one's own questions in order to frame the debate or to absolve one's responsibility. (Yeah, I invented that word.) 

I could read Bageant all day. I don't know where you get the idea that his language is "pungent". 

Farmpunk

I liked Deer Hunting, but I'm with Qbong more or less.  Just because Bageant lives with and writes about a certain class of people doesn't mean he's serving them all that well. 

A contemporary American writer with a much nastier edge is Matt Taibbi.  Bageant is tame compared to Taibbi. 

al-Qa'bong

Quote:

Is it only his language, then, that turns people off hereabouts?

 

I don't know how you pulled that meaning out of what I said. I meant he's easy to read.

Farmpunk

GV, I figured Bageant's racial analysis and some terms he used would draw that wrath of babblers.  Maybe not.  It was just a guess.

Bageant isn't necessarily writing *for* those people.  He's writing to a wider audience about the people of Westchester.  Not saying he does a poor job, or that Deer Hunting doesn't have a place on the progressive bookshelf.  I just find someone like Taibbi, who does investigative journalism married to a prose style similar to Bageant, more effective.    

 

George Victor

Farmpunk wrote:

I liked Deer Hunting, but I'm with Qbong more or less.  Just because Bageant lives with and writes about a certain class of people doesn't mean he's serving them all that well. 

A contemporary American writer with a much nastier edge is Matt Taibbi.  Bageant is tame compared to Taibbi. 

Nasty is as nasty does, as Jingles demonstrates at every opportunity.  Not sure nasty promises a more accurate or even rational take on the situation, but then as me old mum used to say, it takes all kinds. 

In what way is Bageant not serving the folks of Winchester, Virginia all that well, Fp?  You were the one that warned me, way back, about Deer Hunting's possible non-acceptance hereabouts because of its decidedly political uncorrectness (sorry, Jingles, I just have to have fun with the language sometimes.  Helps to keep me from going all sour, bitter and focused on the picayune like some folks).

 

George Victor

Toby Fourre wrote:
Joe Bageant has a website [url=http://www.joebageant.com/]over here[/url]. He really nails the American disconnect. His "Pissing in the Liberal Punchbowl Again" explains why the Democrats keep losing.

 

I agree that the U.S.Liberal is not capable of bringing these folks onside for the reasons that Bageant puts forward. I get the idea hereabouts that all Obama would have to do to defeat the far right would be to put forward radical economic  remedies and damn the torpedoes...along with all those liberal Democrats. Does anyone else see the people of Winchester being moved by a radical call for the gutting of the market and putting Wall Street's leadership in the slammer...even if that didn't guarantee world-wide depression?

I'd really like to see what ideas there are for getting to a people who Bageant sort of writes off, given their intellectual state:

 

In the first chapter, "American Serfs", Bageant says "Malcolm X had it straight when he said the first step in revolution is massive education of the people. Without education nothing can change. "

What's needed, he adds, is "for someone to say out loud: ' Now lookee here, dammit! We are dumber than a sack of hair and should 'a got an education so we would have half a notion of what's going on in the world.' Someone once told me that and, along with the advice never to mix Mad Dog 20/20 with whiskey, it is the best advice I ever received. But no one in America is about to say such a thing out loud because it sounds elitist. It sounds un-American and undemocratic. It also might get your nose broken in certain venues."

George Victor

Your observation, Fp, that " Bageant is tame compared to Taibbi." is right on, Bageant is nowhere near the financial reporter, as demonstrated in the piece The Great American Bubble Machine from April 8, Rolling stones. But neither is Bageant near the financial mind of Eric Janzen whose The Next Bubble: Priming the Markets for tomorrow's big Crash appeared in the February, 2008 , Harper's (it's going to be an alternate energy bubble, says Janzen).

 

Perhaps Taibbi explains the lives of the poor bastards whose fate is assured by the Goldman Sachs operatives he writes about. I saw his remark about the unfairness of this effect on America's working classes. I only read a few paras. from the Rolling Stones piece and did not want to pay the subscription price.

It's sort of an oranges and apples offering for comparison for me so far. 

Farmpunk

Taibbi is speaking to voters, the public at large.  He's not niche-ing anyone, or speaking to a demographic.  He's not always right, but I always read him if only for pure entertainment value from a wordsmith.  I can't say the same for Bageant. 

Bageant doesn't have the same juice.... his oranges taste weak to me and I've already tasted finer apples than his best produce. 

Again, not knocking Bageant or "Deer Hunting" of which I am a fan.  It's just he seems slow and not so precise.   

George Victor

Bageant's  the "anthropologist" from the hill country, familiar with their idiom.  Is limited to the imprecision of the vernacular - which is the source of his humour.   Taibbi is perhaps not into humour... certainly not the self-deprecating variety?  :)

Lttle Mudddy

 Thank you GV for introducing me to Joe Bagneault. He reminds me of Studs Terkal who I listened to in Winnipeg during the 50s as a teenager,  from a station out of Chicago. I've since read most of his books. I lived in Boston around 60 for 1 1/2 years and I met many decent people. I also had numerous US relatives and married one from the Bronx. During the years since, I've despared at what has/is happened(ing) there.  Perhaps I have to start reading US writers again, rather than dismissing them as propagandists for a failed nation.

George Victor

Check out Bageant on his blog, LM.  :

  1. Algorithms and Red Wine
  2. More Recent Articles
  3. Search Joe Bageant

Algorithms and Red Wine

Life is lived anecdotally, not algorithmically. And anecdotal evidence is not allowed in the new digital corpocracy. As one poster on Democratic Underground put it, "Anecdotal now has this enforced meaning such that no one is supposed to believe what they experience, what

abnormal

Farmpunk wrote:
...the dissconnection between the people who live in small town America and the political class\elites and the economic reality of smaller town life.

I haven't read the book but this really does tie into Palin - if this disconnect didn't exist, she'd be a footnote in the history books.  Instead people are changing their underwear everytime her name is mentioned.

George Victor

abnormal wrote:

Farmpunk wrote:
...the dissconnection between the people who live in small town America and the political class\elites and the economic reality of smaller town life.

I haven't read the book but this really does tie into Palin - if this disconnect didn't exist, she'd be a footnote in the history books.  Instead people are changing their underwear everytime her name is mentioned.

 

Bageant subscribes to the "ignorant as a bag of hair" theory to explain the phenom.  If you take a boo at that piece from his Italian trip, you'll find him repeating it...the need for a well-educated citizenry. In Deer Hunting he points to the variation in school opportunities.  He does not leave it up to some nebulous "cultural" differences.  He talks about class...without getting his knickers knotted about the meaning of class. All refreshing stuff. His description of the manner in which a  successful local businessman comes to be the focus of local attention nicely describes the vulnerability of the local hoi polloi to individual (financial) success, and the degree to which the "redneck" is committed to independence of the dole, demands only an opportunity to work. 

The imagery rings true.  And, yes, the Palin phenom cannot be easily understoof without reading Bageant. For me, anyway.

Just informed by the library that they are bringing in his newest, Rainbow Pie: A Redneck Memoir.

Fidel

I know Joe has deep affection for Goldman Sachs and their bankster friends, so I thought this is appropriate.

[url=http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000142405274870349350457600762097159378... Says Goldman Code Contained Open-Source Software[/url]

WSJ wrote:
NEW YORK—The proprietary source code a former Goldman Sachs Group Inc. programmer is accused of stealing contains a good bit of software that's freely available on the Internet, a defense witness testified on Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors have alleged that Sergey Aleynikov secretly copied Goldman Sachs's confidential source code for its high-frequency trading platform in his last days at the investment bank and uploaded it to a server in Germany. Prosecutors have alleged that Mr. Aleynikov intended to use it to build a ...

No need to re-invent the wheel. That is unless you're trying to pull a scam on society while standing on the shoulders of giants who made it possible in the first place.

 

al-Qa'bong

Bad news.

Ol' Joe's hittin' the chemotherapy

 

Quote:

As you may or may not know, I have been struck down by an extremely serious form of cancer. Presently I am back in the United States receiving treatment through the U.S. Veterans Administration hospital system. Due to the nature of the massive internal tumor, I am currently unable to even carry on email correspondence or Skype conversations.

George Victor

Yep, he informed his faithful a week ago.  I was hoping to save the last of this thread for his obit.  But Fidel insists on using the last of it for personal appearances, so it's likely that eulogies to Joe Bageant will appear elsewhere...unless the mods show moderation and do not cut this off at the 100-post mark!  His Rainbow Pie, another story about his redneck beginnings,  is on the way to the library. 

Farmpunk

Unfortunate.  Hoping there's something that can be done.  

Bacchus

Hmm I enjoyed his work. Lets hope all is not lost.

Bacchus

Quote:

The condition is inoperable, but it is hoped that with chemotherapy plus the use of a pain killer such as OxyContin, I will be able to resume my online work.

Well thats depressing

Bacchus

Jie?  And you can get the 'like' thing from Facebook on Babble? Thats kind of neat (only kind of because facebook is evil)

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