The Death of Middle Class White Culture

Erranter, a new and great commenter who is very smart and is also an excellent writer, writes about the death of the middle class:

While the economic loss of the middle class is indisputable and lamentable, I think that the loss of certain middle class values is of even greater concern. Some of these values can be quite inhibiting and it’s understandable that so many impulsive, lively intellectuals of the last century wanted to crush them, but they had to realize what they’re going to supplant them with for the mass of men.While a select few may be able to go it alone and survive by their wits and be their own moral guide, most people need guidance. Hell, even the select do. The simple values of self-restraint, merit, playing by the rules, forward thinking – all middle class values – are necessary to everything we currently think of as civilization.

I get annoyed being around them for too long, but I wouldn’t really want most kids to grow up bohemian or hick. It helps give me “structure” and the middle class on the whole is rather open to change and new ideas, which the lower classes aren’t. I still get annoyed, but I’ve got to admit there isn’t yet much of a better option I can think of, because hardly anybody’s born rich.

Basically, I went to the part today and I saw a bunch of pregnant 16 yr olds, various hicks of all races, the usual romp of morons and sluts, making you horny for no good reason and then going over to the guy in board shorts with tats all over his back. In my mind I felt like a whiny geezer but I couldn’t help it.

These people have a crappy culture. I was the only one with a book and was afraid as I walked over the bridge I would get insulted for it. It’s like middle school all over again. It’s some sort of lower class mishmash culture that all the races are adopting. They probably hang their walls with beer banners and babe calendars. Anyway, a lot of these people were probably “middle class” economically.

But big F-ing deal. All that really means is they can afford to drive SUVs and eat out. If you spread the money to them and they don’t grow up and ascend to a reasonable level of civilization then what’s the point of them having money?

Maybe I’m just getting pissed off by American culture. I love America, I tell myself. But do I? Maybe it was flawed from the start. Has this always been our general level. And isn’t the truth that this country was set up for businessmen, landowners, lawyers, moneymakers of all kinds?

We don’t name cities or roads after writers or artists. Industrialists, statesmen we adore, but mention you like to read and write at a family reunion and everyone will stare at you, then somebody will say, “but how are you going to make money with that?”

I can only speak from the POV of White culture. Yes, an intellectual and non-trashy White middle class culture used to exist. My father’s family grew up in it (Actually, they were poor!), and so did I as a boy. It still exists in the upper middle classes and the rich. Poor Whites have always acted pretty bad, and the middle classes have always looked down on them, I would say appropriately so.

But even working class Whites used to have a decent culture. My neighbor growing up was a working class Greek man married to a Mexican woman. I was best friends with their kids, especially their oldest son. I still am.

This guy immigrated from Greece and had a high school education at best, but he could talk your ear off about any intellectual subject under the sun. He was basically an autodidact. I remember once I loaned him a copy of Catcher in the Rye (on request!) and he returned it a while later with a slight knowing smile. He got it. How many ordinary people get that book, I mean really, really get it? His sons told me that he liked to read too.

I worked a lot of White working class jobs growing up, and it was not unusual to find bright working class men of all ages who liked to read and were frankly intellectuals of sorts. White society has always respected that sort of things, even if they were seen as a little odd or even quaint. They didn’t look down on it, instead they were sort of mystified by intellectuals.

I can’t comment on middle class Black society.

Asian society in the US has always respected intellectual pursuits, as do the East Indian Punjabis around here.

The Mexicans really don’t, but if you go down to Mexico, there is a thriving intellectual culture. There is a huge respect for intellectuals in Peru, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina, a legacy of their Spanish colonial past. It’s an honor to be a man of letters down there. Same in Russia, France, Germany, the UK, Italy, Turkey, Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, the Netherlands and even in the Arab World. Intellectuals are respected in almost all Asian countries, even SE Asia, the Philippines and Indonesia.

Only in the USA is this sort of thing scorned upon!

What’s happened is the mass dumbing down of middle class White culture to the worst of White culture, as in poor Whites, and also the worst of Underclass Black and Hispanic culture. It’s Idiocracy World.

The White middle class has been proletarianized in the worst way. They aren’t stupid, but they are pitifully ignorant. I knew business owners and pharmacists who never read the paper or watched the news. They didn’t know the slightest fucking thing about current events, or much of anything else.

I just came off 18 years in a White working class small town in the Sierra Nevada. The Idiocracy was deep rooted and pervasive there, even among the middle classes. At the same time, the uptight values of the White middle class along with lunatic Christian fundamentalism were everywhere. It’s the worst of the Old White Middle Class (the uptight part) combined with the worst of the New White Middle Class (the dumbed down crap part). There’s almost literally nothing of value there.

You don’t have to be all that bright to develop a world-class intellectual and civilized culture. A recent survey put France’s IQ at 94. That’s all you need. Ours is 98. We have no excuse.

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9 thoughts on “The Death of Middle Class White Culture”

  1. I participate in another commenting blog about secularism, where the writer is a liberal and never says one negative word about minorities. Everything’s about white trash religion, Islam, or sometimes Mormonism or Catholicism, but never Jeremiah Wright, Al Sharpton or homophobia in black churches.

    She talks all the time about declining educational standards, but never links it to ghetto culture or illegal Hispanic immigrants dropping out of school. California is the harbinger of all things immigrant, and has dropped from seventh to DEAD LAST among the fifty states in educational attainment.

    If the political spectrum is defined by a line from Barack Obama to Sarah Palin, where’s the f-ing beef?

  2. Poor Whites have always acted pretty bad, and the middle classes have always looked down on them, I would say appropriately so.

    Some leftist you are. Bring on the Khmer Rouge!

    I worked a lot of White working class jobs growing up, and it was not unusual to find bright working class men of all ages who liked to read and were frankly intellectuals of sorts.

    See, you’re contradicting yourself. That’s because there is a wide range of behavior among poor and working class people. Not all of us are sociopaths. There are still some organic intellectuals out there.

    There used to be many different vibrant working class cultures in America. Here is just one of them:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cs2j8f7H2WY

    Some of it is still around here and there, but it was basically killed by television, mall culture, and especially our shitty schools. There’s that notorious Rockefeller quote from his mission for American schools:

    We shall not search for embryo great artists, painters, musicians, nor lawyers, doctors, preachers, politicians, statesmen, of whom we have ample supply. The task we set before ourselves is very simple…we will organize children…and teach them to do in a perfect way the things their fathers and mothers are doing in an imperfect way.

    It’s not solely the elites’ fault, but the dumbing down of America was deliberate, and has only worked too well.

  3. I think part of it’s due to black hip-hop culture. I’ve never liked it. Something innate in me was repulsed from a young age, and I grew up in the 90s, so I should have been able to accustom, right? I wish I’d been alive in an earlier era. I would have had more friends.

    But yeah, the most you can do to acknowledge this in a crowd where everybody has their finger on the racist trigger is say you dislike ghetto hip-hop culture. Having spent some time in South America I found it to be quite safe and for the most part friendly. I liked the lack of hip hop, too. Way less than Europe, actually. People in Peru and the southern cone are more into either traditional, “folclorico”, rock or, among the younger generation, electronica. But in Mexico and among Mexican Americans hip hop is more widespread. They’re fast assimilating American culture, but it’s inner city black American culture. It’s just more viscerally appealing, I guess.

    1. I think you’re right. I don’t like hip-hop music or culture either. I’m lucky enough to be older, so I won’t pretend to like it. It’s amusing to see old white rock critics and liberals who feel obligated to be down with it.

      I grew up in the 80s, when rap was just getting started on a national level. Where I grew up, most young white kids wore the hesher uniform that was appropriated by grunge bands in the 90s. The difference is the flannel shirts and chain wallets came from K Mart rather than some designer store. A few weirdos like me wore thrift-store clothing. By the 90s, most of them wore hip hop clothes, doing that goofy walk, grabbing their junk and doing the silly hand gestures. And of course the black-cent. So laughable.

      Obviously rock’n’roll is heavily influenced by black culture, but at least the hesher kids didn’t try to act like a completely different person. It’s really annoying. You can be immersed in a musical culture without trying to be something you’re not – but that seems to be part of the whole hip-hop thing.

      1. ” A few weirdos like me wore thrift-store clothing”

        I never realized we were soulmates LaFluer.

        I have gone to the same thrift store for 25 years. My father has been going there for over thirty. In last few years however, it has gone the way of espanol. Tons of mexican employees, signs in spanish, PA announcements in spanish, the whole works. My love of used things led me to start going to used book stores in high school. Books, mostly used, are pretty much the only non-essential thing I spend money on on a regular basis. They haven’t gone the way of the thrift stores yet, and if I know Mexicans and blacks as well as I think I do, they never will. It great to go in and get old books. Sometimes when you read one it feels like you’re reading about a foreign country. I read one the other day that was a book of ‘universal knowledge’ that had historical time lines, soap recipes, toothpaste recipes, and all sorts of other stuff. It even told how to make fireworks. I believe it was from the 1910s. Good stuff. I often wonder how so many people had interesting books back a few decades ago that they decided to trade in. It’s hard to find anyone who reads anything harder that Harry Potter on a regular basis. I don’t think that people are dumb, but they just have no interest. It’s destressing. I never have anyone to talk to and I didn;t growing up either.

  4. Hip-hop and rap leave me cold, I’m afraid, with the exception of few bands from Marseille, like IAM and Fonky Family, and slam poets like Grand Corps Malade: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8LXaSFgVxGs&feature=fvw

    Abd al Malik is showcased in video here:
    http://www.dailymotion.com/video/x7bl7e_abd-al-malik-showcase-france-inter_music

    I liked Jill Scott’s first album.

    Some of the sounds of Marseille are with the article below. http://www.nytimes.com/2007/12/19/arts/music/19rap.html?_r=1. At its best French rap is full of soul. It’s the heartrending blues of black immigrant France.

    From Paris via Mali, this is Oxmo Puccino:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jLXRM_RJyO4&a=GxdCwVVULXcR9mDpw_Mc9u9lVD58SV18

  5. Here’s a translation of Grand Corps Malade’s Les Voyages en Train, and here’s the poem performed by him with the text in French:
    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WN9d9gHXcIo
    He has a beautiful voice. See if you can follow the French while reading the English…

    Train journeys

    You could say that love stories are like journeys by train,
    And sometimes when I see those travellers I’d like to be one again,
    Why do you think so many people wait at the platform gate?
    Why do you think we stress so much when we arrive a little late?

    The train often pulls away when you least anticipate,
    And the love story carries you off from those who commentate,
    The commentators are you mates who say goodbye at the station
    They watch the train pull away with a look of trepidation
    You wave back at them and imagine their comments going round
    Some say you’ve made a mistake, that your feet aren’t on the ground,
    Each one makes a prediction for how long the trip will last,
    Most of them think the train will derail at the first stormy blast.

    Real love, it’s no surprise, changes the expression on your face
    So, from day one you should carefully choose your place,
    A seat by the aisle or next to the window glass,
    What do you choose, a love story in first or second class?

    In the first few miles you can’t take your eyes from her face,
    You barely notice out the window the passing green open space,
    You feel light, life is a flower and you’re drinking its nectar
    You feel so good that you almost want to kiss the ticket collector,

    But the magic only lasts a time, your story’s running out of steam,
    You tell yourself you’re in it for nothing, ‘it’s all her fault’, you want to scream
    The train’s rumble makes you drunk, you feel sick at each bend,
    You’ve gotta get up, walk out and find a way for your heart to mend.

    Now the train slows down, it’s already the end of your tale,
    And what’s more you’re like a fool, your mates are at the other end of the rail
    You say goodbye to the one you’ll now call your ex,
    In her address book, she whites out your name in tippex.

    So you see that love stories are like journeys by train,
    And sometimes when I see those travellers I’d like to be one again,
    Why do you think so many people wait at the platform gate?
    Why do you think we stress so much when we arrive a little late?

    For some Life is all about trying to catch a train,
    To feel love and find their energy bubbling up like champagne,
    For others the aim is to arrive with time to spare,
    To have a safe trip and live life without care.

    It is easy to catch a train but make sure you pick well,
    I got into two or three but not the right carriage, I could tell,
    For trains are temperamental, some you try to reach but fail,
    And I don’t always think it’s possible on Network Rail

    For some the trains are always on strike or so it seems,
    And their love stories only exist in their dreams,
    Others jump on the first train without paying attention,
    But, of course, they get off disappointed at the next station,
    Still others stress about commitment as they’re over-emotive,
    For them it’s too risky to hold on to the locomotive,
    And there are the adventurers who take trip after trip,
    Once one story is finished onto the next page they flip,

    I suffered for months after my only real journey,
    We both agreed to leave, but she agreed more than me,
    Since then, I hang out on the platform, watch the trains pull away
    Some doors open, but for now it’s on the platform I’ll stay

    It seems that train journeys end badly, more often than not,
    If that’s the case for you hang on, don’t tie your heart in a knot,
    Because one thing is certain there’ll always be a termin-us,
    Now you’ve been warned – next time you can take the bus.

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