After the above book review finishes with White Trash
it starts in with Vance's Hillbilly Elligy
and this cuts further into the culture space between the highest and lowest white echelons in America. After this is discussed the book's author's 'conservative' misguided sentiments about where things had gone wrong and how his hillbilly kith and kin can and should get back on their feet via pulling on their own bootstraps. Forgotten here is the role played by the likes of the Bushes and Clinton's and their backers in fomenting such NAFTA and GATT, for the sake of advancing neo-Hellenistic globalism -- rigged for the benefit of the Elect. Albeit that the review author does mention such as the inclusion of China into the WTO as a contributing factor. (Remember fair trade is good, Free Trade is rigged.)
With the same appealing guilelessness that he brings to the story of his youthful ordeals, Vance describes the culture shock he experiences in New Haven. He doesn’t know what to make of the endless “cocktail receptions and banquets” that combine networking and matchmaking. At the fancy restaurant where he’s attending a law firm’s recruitment dinner, he spits out sparkling water, having never drunk such a thing. He calls his girlfriend from the restroom to ask her, ‘What do I do with all these damned forks?’ ”
His estrangement often reflects poorly on the echelon he’s joined, whose members, he says with understatement, could do a better job of “opening their hearts and minds to” newcomers. He is taken aback when law-school friends leave a mess at a chicken joint, and stays behind with another student from a low-income background, Jamil, to clean it up. “People,” he writes, “would say with a straight face that a surgeon mother and engineer father were middle-class.” To his astonishment, he is regarded as an exotic figure by his professors and classmates, simply by virtue of having come from a small town in the middle of the country, gone to a mediocre public high school, and been born to parents who didn’t attend college.
He adapts to his new world well enough to land at a Washington, D.C., law firm and later in a court clerkship, and is today prospering as a principal at an investment firm in San Francisco. But the outsider feeling lingers—hearing someone use a big word like confabulate in conversation makes his blood rise. “Sometimes I view members of the elite with an almost primal scorn,” he admits. And questions nag at him: “Why has no else from my high school made it to the Ivy League? Why are people like me so poorly represented in America’s elite institutions?” He is acutely aware of how easily he could have been trapped, had it not been for the caring intervention he received at key moments from people like Mamaw and his sister. “Thinking about … how close I was to the abyss, gives me chills. I am one lucky son of a bitch.” He asks:
How much of our lives, good and bad, should we credit to our personal decisions, and how much is just the inheritance of our culture, our families, and our parents who have failed their children? How much is Mom’s life her own fault? Where does blame stop and sympathy begin?
The irony here, with Vance, is that he got a rare ticket out of his ever degraded white culture and into the elevated Elect White Culture. The review author, Alec Macgillis, discusses Vance's typical reaction to those who didn't make it out of the white ghetto.
As Vance notes, resentment of this sort—which surfaces again and again in his book—helps explain why voters in the world he came from have largely abandoned the Democrats, the party of the social safety net.
Nor is the animus new: Isenberg traces it back to the days when poor Southerners were scorned for availing themselves of the aid extended to freed slaves—and joined in the scorn as soon as they escaped the dole. “The same self-made man who looked down on white trash others had conveniently chosen to forget that his own parents escaped the tar-paper shack only with the help of the federal government,” she writes. “ ‘Upscale rednecks’ had no trouble spotting those below them in their rearview mirrors.” In Vance’s book, those “below” are mostly fellow whites and the resentment is not primarily racially motivated, as many liberals would have one believe of all anti-welfare sentiment.
Macgillis, goes on to discuss how government programs reversed the previous downward spiral of lower class white America in the early and mid-20th century, thus forming the under(class)pinnings of what Joe Atwill himself considers the apex golden age of Western Culture. Separately, I have mentioned similar targeted programs at uplifting the American-Irish, whom everyone, at the time, assumed were genetically criminal, but some Harvard pinhead arbitrarily decided that they could indeed be saved, as opposed to the blacks who were left out of said program.
And to conclude:
A case can be made that the time has arrived for a major undertaking in, say, the devastated coal country of central Appalachia. How much to invest in struggling regions themselves, as opposed to making it easier for those who live in them to seek a livelihood elsewhere, is a debate that needs to happen. But the obligation is there, as it was 80 years ago. “We think of the left-behind groups as extinct,” Isenberg writes, “and the present as a time of advanced thought and sensibility. But today’s trailer trash are merely yesterday’s vagrants on wheels, an updated version of Okies in jalopies and Florida crackers in their carts. They are renamed often, but they do not disappear.”
Except they are now further out of sight than ever. As Isenberg documents, the lower classes have been disregarded and shunted off for as long as the United States has existed. But the separation has grown considerably in recent years. The elite economy is more concentrated than ever in a handful of winner-take-all cities—as Phillip Longman recently noted in the Washington Monthly, the per capita income of Washington, D.C., in 1980 was 29 percent above the average for Americans as a whole; in 2013, that figure was 68 percent. In the Bay Area, per capita income jumped from 50 percent to 88 percent above average over that period; in New York, from 80 percent to 172 percent. As these gaps have grown, the highly educated have become far more likely than those lower down the ladder to move in search of better-paying jobs.
The clustering is intensifying within regions, too. Since 1980, the share of upper-income households living in census tracts that are majority upper-income, rather than scattered throughout more mixed-income neighborhoods, has doubled. The upper echelon has increasingly sought comfort in prosperous insularity, withdrawing its abundant social capital from communities that relied on that capital’s overflow, and consolidating it in oversaturated enclaves.
So why are white Americans in downwardly mobile areas feeling a despair that appears to be driving stark increases in substance abuse and suicide? In my own reporting in Vance’s home ground of southwestern Ohio and ancestral territory of eastern Kentucky, I have encountered racial anxiety and antagonism, for sure. But far more striking is the general aura of decline that hangs over towns in which medical-supply stores and pawn shops dominate decrepit main streets, and Victorians stand crumbling, unoccupied. Talk with those still sticking it out, the body-shop worker and the dollar-store clerk and the unemployed miner, and the fatalism is clear: Things were much better in an earlier time, and no future awaits in places that have been left behind by polished people in gleaming cities. The most painful comparison is not with supposedly ascendant minorities—it’s with the fortunes of one’s own parents or, by now, grandparents. The demoralizing effect of decay enveloping the place you live cannot be underestimated. And the bitterness—the “primal scorn”—that Donald Trump has tapped into among white Americans in struggling areas is aimed not just at those of foreign extraction. It is directed toward fellow countrymen who have become foreigners of a different sort, looking down on the natives, if they bother to look at all.
It should be noted that Macgillis had some interesting comments as to the motivations for eugenics, that began in America before spreading to Europe.