Tuesday, June 27, 2017 Text is available under the CC BY-SA 3.0 licence.

Thomas Frank


American author who writes about what he calls "cultural politics".
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Thomas Frank
Grandstanding leaders never deliver, their fury mounts and mounts, and nevertheless they turn out every two years to return their right-wing heroes to office for a second, a third, a twentieth try. The trick never ages; the illusion never wears off. Vote to stop abortion; receive a rollback in capital gains taxes. Vote to make our country strong again; receive deindustrialization. Vote to screw those politically correct college professors; receive electricity deregulation. Vote to get government off our backs; receive conglomeration and monopoly everywhere from media to meatpacking. Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated then ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.
Frank quotes
Old-fashioned values may count when conservatives appear on the stump, but once conservatives are in office the only old-fashioned situation they care to revive is an economic regimen of low wages and lax regulations. Over the last three decades they have smashed the welfare state, reduced the tax burden on corporations and the wealthy, and generally facilitated the countryís return to a nineteenth-century pattern of wealth distribution. Thus the primary contradiction of the backlash: it is a working-class movement that has done incalculable, historic harm to working class people.
Frank
Apparently, there is no bad economic turn a conservative cannot do unto his buddy in the working class, as long as cultural solidarity has been cemented over a beer.




Frank Thomas quotes
Thanks to its chokehold on the nationís culture, liberalism is thus in power whether its politicians are elected or not; it rules over us even though Republicans have prevailed in six out of the nine presidential elections since 1968; even though Republicans presently control all three branches of government; even though the last of the big-name, forthright liberals of the old school (Humphrey, McGovern, Church, Bayhm, Culver, etc.) either died or went down to defeat in the seventies; and even though no Democratic presidential nominee has called himself a "liberal" since Walter Mondale. Liberalism is beyond politics, a tyrant that dominates our lives in countless ways great and small, and which is virtually incapable of being overthrown.
Frank Thomas
[The right] may never bring prayer back to schools, but it has rescued all manner of rightwing economic nostrums from historyís dustbins. Having rolled back the landmark economic reforms of the sixties (the war on poverty) and those of the thirties (labor law, agricultural price supports, banking regulation), its leaders now turn their guns on the accomplishments of the earliest years of progressivism (Woodrow Wilsonís estate tax; Theodore Rooseveltís anti-trust measures). With a little more effort, the backlash may well repeal the entire twentieth century.
Thomas Frank quotes
Class, conservatives insist, is not really about money or birth or even occupation. It is primarily a matter of authenticity, that most valuable cultural commodity. Class is about what one drives and where one shops and how one prays, and only secondarily about the work one does or the income one makes. What makes one a member of the noble proletariat is not work per se, but unpretentiousness, humility, and the rest of the qualities that our punditry claims to spy in the red states that voted for George W. Bush. The nationís producers donít care about unemployment or a dead-end life or a boss who makes five hundred times as much as they do. No. In red land both workers and their bosses are supposed to be united in disgust with those affected college boys at the next table, prattling on about French cheese and villas in Tuscany and the big ideas for running things that they read in books.
Thomas Frank
Derangement is the signature expression of the Great Backlash, a style of conservatism that first came snarling onto the national stage in response to the partying and protests of the late sixties. While earlier forms of conservatism emphasized fiscal sobriety, the backlash mobilizes voters with explosive social issues ó summoning public outrage over everything from busing to un-Christian art ó which it then marries to pro-business economic polices. Cultural anger is marshaled to achieve economic ends. And it is these economic achievements ó not the forgettable skirmishes of the never-ending culture wars ó that are the movementís greatest monuments. The backlash is what has made possible the international free-market consensus of recent years, with all the privatization, deregulation, and de-unionization that are its components. Backlash ensures that Republicans will continue to be returned to office even when their free-market miracles fail and their libertarian schemes donít deliver and their "New Economy" collapses. It makes possible the police pushersí fantasies of ďglobalizationĒ and a free-trade empire that are foisted upon the rest of the world with such self-assurance. Because some artist decides to shock the hicks by dunking Jesus in urine, the entire plant must remake itself along the lines preferred by the Republican Party, U.S.A.
Frank Thomas quotes
The idea of a liberal elite is not intellectually robust. Itís never been enunciated with anything approaching scholarly rigor, it has been refuted countless times, and it falls apart under any sort of systematic scrutiny.
Frank
The great goal of the backlash is to nurture a cultural class war, and the first step in doing so, as we have seen, is to deny the economic basis of social class. After all, you can hardly deride liberals as societyís "elite" or present the GOP as the party of the common man if you acknowledge the existence of the corporate world ó the power that creates the nationís real elite, that dominates its real class system, and that wields the Republican Party as its personal political system.
Frank Thomas
They, the conservatives, are the real outsides, they tell us, gazing with disgust upon the ludicrous manners of the high and mighty. Or, they tell us, they are rough-and-ready proles, laughing along with us at the efforts of our social "betters" to reform and improve us. That they are often, in fact, people of privilege doing their utmost to boost the fortunes of a political party that is the traditional tool of the privileged is a contradiction that does not trouble them.
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