Many of us try to justify our privileges by pretending that our superb tastes and intellect prove we deserve them, reflecting our inner superiority. Of course this is a terrible lie. And Bourdieu devoted his life to exposing it. Those who read him in effect become responsible to him — forced to admit a failure to examine our own lives, down to the seeming trivialities of clothes and distinction that, as Bourdieu revealed, also structure our world. Nous allons essayer de les expliquer. Mais pourquoi diable faire payer Apple et Facebook pour un pass culture?
Pourquoi ne pas impliquer Twitter et Microsoft? Les GAFA nous espionnent. The phrase is used by newspapers, blogs, and talking heads on TV—see here and here and here all links in French. In the French press, and for much of the rest of Europe, their innovation is often seen in a less positive light—the ugly Americans coming over with innovative approaches to invading personal privacy or new ways to avoid paying their fair share. France, after all, is a country with a long history of resisting US cultural hegemony.
Having lost that battle, the French have instead turned their ire to Silicon Valley. There is also a loss of public sympathy in the wake of the massive American government spying revelations. Microsoft, most notably. Samsung is another. No Yahoo. As far as acronyms of global power go, it works. The EU has been butting heads with large companies for years.
The Europe Union, or EU, is composed of 28 countries. The major European powers, like France, Germany and for the time being the United Kingdom, are all members. The EU creates laws that cover all member states and treat every citizen equally. It is because of the EU that I, as an Irish person, am free to travel, work and live in almost any other European country. The EU is based on the idea that nation states operating together are more powerful than those standing alone.
Google knows a lot about you , although there are some steps you can take to minimise it. The company uses the information they pull from your browsing habits, emails, Google Drive files, and anything else they can get their hands on to serve you ever more targeted ads. Read More. More recently, the EU has been investigating Google for antitrust violations. Google has already been forced, by the EU, to change how it operates. The Union already shut down some tax loopholes, such as the Double Irish , that Apple used to minimize their tax burden, both in Europe and the US.
The Union is continuing to investigate whether other practices they engaged in were legal. A ruling was due this month but has been pushed back. Here are 25 things Facebook knows about… Read More. So far things are looking bad for Facebook. The EU wants a Digital Single Market where every citizen would be able to purchase the same products at the same price as any other, regardless of where the products were being sold from.
A year-long investigation launched this year so, at least for now, Amazon is free to continue as they are. The EU takes a much more hands on approach to consumer protection and anti-competition laws than the Obama administration. So tell me, what do you think? On a wintry day in Jerusalem in late , Shmuel Ash spots an enigmatic job posting on a university campus board:. Offered to a single humanities student with conversational skills and an interest in history, free accommodation and a modest monthly sum in return for spending five hours per evening with a seventy-year-old invalid, an educated, widely cultured man.
He is able to take care of himself and seeks company, not assistance. Ash moves to a house that is inhabited by two people, Atalia Abravanel, forty-five, and Gershom Wald, her seventy-year-old invalid father-in-law. As we learn later, Micha was killed in the war and his corpse savagely desecrated. This is so in their own lives through the loss of Micha, and for Jews nationally by heaping misery on Jews and Arabs alike. Much of the book consists of conversations between Ash, Wald, and Atalia about religion, Zionism, and the legacy of the war, as well as increasingly intimate exchanges about their private lives.
Shmuel Ash is twenty-five years old. Ash can interpret the world but can barely change his own underwear. His academic research, which he had recently given up, was dedicated to the way in which Jews viewed Jesus. He is in danger of giving the impression that his novels are an excuse for delivering eloquent speeches about big ideas. Luckily, his novel is not just about abstractions.
For one thing, the contentious life of Jerusalem—divided between Israel and Jordan—has a major part in the novel, and to great effect. For him, Jerusalem between winds is a place graced with moments of transcendence:. There was no rain, just a few gray tatters of clouds crossing the sky on their way from the sea to the desert. The morning light that touched the stone walls of Jerusalem was reflected back soft and sweet, honeyed light, the light that caresses Jerusalem on clear winter days between one rainstorm and the next. Oz captures the way the harsh, blinding glare of Jerusalem summers is replaced in winter by a soft glow reflected in the washed building stones.
Oz is very particular about naming his leading characters: the name Ash is already a giveaway. The conventional wisdom among Jews at the time was that there was a direct line between Christian anti-Semitism and the Nazi anti-Semitism calling for the elimination of the Jews. Atalia is another telling name. The biblical Atalia of the ninth century BC is the only woman who became a ruling sovereign in Judea. Meanwhile, Abravanel strongly suggests the name of the descendants of the leading Jewish families who were expelled from Spain in Then again, Oz is in good company, for Nabokov also hated Dostoevsky and Mann for this very reason.
The book turns on three ideas deriving from three people: Ben-Gurion, Judas, and Jesus. Ben-Gurion, the founder of the State of Israel, shaped its strategy and its major institutions like no one else.
Oz, instead of dealing with Israel as it is now, goes back to its foundation, arguing back and forth with its forefather. Here is the admirer Wald:.spircontsebevi.ga/a-simple-dictionary-of-canon.php
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The Jewish people has never before had such a far-sighted leader as Ben-Gurion. Ash, who belongs to a pathetic group of six dedicated to renewing socialism, is an opponent of Ben-Gurion from the left. Abravanel is a thoroughly Mediterranean aristocrat, much at ease with his educated Arab friends and other educated people in the Levant, and rather estranged from his fellow Jews.
His opposition to Ben-Gurion cuts deep—he is hostile to the notion of the nation-state. That we had our backs to the wall? You were the wall. By creating Abravanel, Oz has succeeded in establishing a credible upholder of views strongly held against the mainstream Zionism of Ben-Gurion. But Abravanel amounts to much more than an ideological opponent of Ben-Gurion. The question is whether his views amount to a betrayal.
And here is where the comparison to Judas, the arch betrayer of history, naturally comes to mind. There are many manifestations of betrayal in the novel. Shmuel Ash feels that he betrayed his mother and father by fantasizing about replacing them with a better class of parents. For Oz, notwithstanding this discrepancy, both betrayers seem to be in need, at the very least, of rehabilitation.
During the Romantic movement, the theme of Judas as the true loyalist permeated literature. It is in the notion of betrayal, and not in Judas himself, that I suspect Oz is interested. His investigation leads him to the State Archives in Jerusalem, where he meets a dour archivist, a certain Mr. Sheindelevich asks. Ash reevaluates Judas, whereas Oz, to my mind, only rehabilitates Abravanel. A current exhibition at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem is dedicated to the image of Jesus in Jewish plastic arts. In it, there is an imposing sculpture by Mark Antokolsky, a famous Jewish sculptor in tsarist Russia of the second half of the nineteenth century, titled Christ Before the People.
The portrayal of Jesus in the sculpture is unique in not seeing Jesus from a critical Jewish perspective. Indeed, there is nothing wrong historically or conceptually with the idea that Jesus was, and remained, a Jew. It is with Jesus Christ that the hostility begins. No doubt, medieval Judaism produced nasty accounts of Jesus. Wald views the challenge of Christianity to Judaism in its possibility and promise of universal love. Many Jews refuse to believe in the human possibility of such love. Jesus is the Lamb of God, the sacrificial lamb of Passover for the sake of humanity at large.
Because of his relatively old age and a severe kidney failure, he was exempted from taking active part in the war. But he volunteered and was killed in battle, sacrificing his life for the sake of the Jews in besieged Jerusalem. Jewish martyrology was developed in competition with Christian martyrology. He was only six when his mother died. I brought him up on my own.
I took him myself and led him to Mount Moriah. Was it worth it? This hovering question can be seen as the bleeding scar of the novel. This horrific question is posed on all levels: personal—the death of Micha—and collective—the mutually inflicted pain by Jews and Arabs. Eventually he is liberated from that gnostic maze by Atalia, who brings him his traveling bag one morning and insists for his own sake that he leave. There, he watches as a beautiful woman hangs a wet blouse. She is the opposite of Atalia, the unattainable widow, and suggests the possibility of a new beginning.
At the end of the novel, so beautifully translated by Nicholas de Lange, Ash wonders: Where to? What next? Tulika B. On arts and aesthetics. June 3, The winner will be announced on June 14, The book burgeons with often quite provocative perspectives — on the formation and identity of Israel, the Jewish views of Jesus, the Christian views of Judas, love and hate, power and nation states, the nature of allegiance and treason, etc. The period is Adrift, without resources, Shmuel must urgently look for work.
Shmuel discovers a note on the campus noticeboard for a paid position. Shmuel is taken by both the figures. Sweeping concepts in religion, history, politics are debated and discussed. Texts on the Jewish reception of Jesus are mixed with paragraphs on the Christian perception of Judas. We are all Judas. And yet, the role of Judas is also seen from a sympathetic perspective. For Shmuel Ash, Judas has an important role in the saga of salvation. By abandoning Jesus, selling him off, he actually gives him an opportunity to realise and display his greatness. There are other traitors in and around the story.
He has acknowledged this designation as a badge of honour. The intense intellectual and sexual drama of Judas concludes in tender, touching moments. SA: All the power in the world. What can you not achieve with such power, by any manner or means? GW: I think that with such power you could conquer whatever you felt like. From sea to sea. The fact is that all the power in the world cannot transform someone who hates you into someone who likes you. It can turn a foe into a slave, but not into a friend.
All the power in the world cannot transform a fanatic into an enlightened man. All the power in the world cannot transform someone thirsting for vengeance into a lover. And yet these are precisely the real existential challenges facing the State of Israel: how to turn a hater into a lover, a fanatic into a moderate, an avenger into a friend. Am I saying that we do not need military might?
Heaven forbid! Such a foolish thought would never enter my head. I know as well as you that it is power, military power, that stands, at any given moment, even at this very moment while you and I are arguing here, between us and extinction. Power has the power to prevent our annihilation for the time being. On condition that we always remember, at every moment, that in a situation like ours power can only prevent.
It can only stave off disaster for a while. Jewish art challenges the taboo of Jesus. This stems mainly from a fear of centuries-old anti-Semitism, especially in Europe, where the crucifixion of Jesus was used as an excuse to persecute Jews. Mendelsohn said he was surprised at just how many Jewish artists throughout history, and today in Israel, have used Jesus and Christian themes as inspirations for their work.
Ziva Amishai-Maisels, a professor emeritus at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem who specializes in Christian imagery in Jewish art, said that religious Jews, who might be opposed to such depictions, would probably stay away from the exhibition. Some of the works, though, could offend pious Christians, she said.
Hued in yellow, perhaps representing the star the Nazis forced Jews to wear, Jesus is strung from a cross wrapped in a Jewish prayer shawl and phylacteries. Others used Jesus as a Jew to connect their Jewish identity to Christian surroundings. While Antokolsky was the first Russian Jewish artist to be accepted by his peers, he suffered an identity crisis from being Jewish and Russian. As the exhibit, which is arranged chronologically, arrives at works from the past few decades, a theme develops in which Jewish Israelis use Christian iconography to question their political and national identity.
One such work is by Igael Tumarkin. His monogram is the metal frame of a standard-issue Israeli army cot twisted to form a cross. Flanked by material that appears to be a shredded Israeli flag, the piece was created in and was a protest against the war Israel was fighting in Lebanon at the time. And the image has become a cultural icon for Israelis, suggesting perhaps that Christian themes are becoming more acceptable in Jewish culture.
Column One: Israel and the American Jewish crisis. This makes sense. The same cannot be said for the Jews of the Diaspora. In Western Europe, Jewish communities that just a generation ago were considered safe and prosperous are now besieged. Synagogues and Jewish schools look like army barracks. And the severe security cordons Jews need to pass through to pray and study are entirely justified. For where they are absent, as they were at the Hyper Cacher Jewish supermarket in Paris in , assailants strike.
The crisis is a function of growing levels of popular antisemitism spurred by mass immigration from the Islamic world and the resurgence of indigenous European Jew-hatred, particularly on the far Left. The same cannot be said of the American Jewish community, which at the dawn of also finds itself steeped in an ever deepening crisis. And while antisemitism is a growing problem in America, particularly on university campuses, unlike their European counterparts, American Jews could mount and win a battle against the growing anti-Jewish forces.
But in large part, they have chosen not to. And they have chosen not to fight the antisemites because they are in the midst of a self-induced identity crisis. And among those who are getting married, less than a third are raising their children as Jewish in some way. Not surprisingly, the wholesale abandonment of Jewish faith by nearly half of young American Jews has taken a toll on the two liberal streams of American Judaism. According to the study, the percentage of American Jews who identify as Reform or Conservative Jews is in free fall.
The situation among Conservatives is even worse. Among Jews under 30 the situation is even starker. To be sure, the trend toward secularism and assimilation among US Jewry is not new. And over the years, Reform and Conservative leaders have adopted varying strategies to deal with it.
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Although the effort failed, the impulse that drove the strategy was rational. American Jews who seek spiritual and religious meaning likely want more than a sermon about tikkun olam. The problem is that they also want more than a rabbi donning a kippa and a synagogue choosing to keep kosher. This is why, as the number of Reform and Conservative Jews is contracting, the number of American Jews who associate with the Orthodox movement is growing.
Moreover, more and more American Jews are finding their spiritual home with Chabad. Today there are more Chabad houses in the US than Reform synagogues. Unable to compete for Jews seeking religious fulfillment, the Reform and Conservative movements have struck out for new means of rallying their bases and attracting members. Over the past year, two new strategies are dominating the public actions of both movements.
First, there is a selective fight against antisemitism. While antisemitism is experiencing a growth spurt in the US progressive movement, and antisemitism is becoming increasingly overt in US Muslim communities, neither the Reform nor Conservative movements has taken significant institutional steps to fight them. Instead, both movements, and a large swath of the Jewish institutional world, led in large part by Reform and Conservative Jews, have either turned a blind eye to this antisemitism or supported it.
On July 21 Shahin gave a sermon calling for the Jewish people to be annihilated. All Shahin did was express regret that his call for genocide caused offense. On the other hand, the same leaders stand as one against allegations of antisemitic violence stemming from the political Right. In the face of an utter lack of evidence, when Jewish institutions were subjected to a rash of bomb threats last winter, Reform and Conservative leaders led the charge insisting that far-right antisemites were behind them and insinuated that the perpetrators supported President Donald Trump.
When it worked out that all of the threats were carried out by a mentally ill Israeli Jew, they never issued an apology. So, too, the Reform and Conservative movements, like the rest of the American Jewish community, treated the Charlottesville riot last month like a new Reichstag fire. They entirely ignored the violence of the far-left, antisemitic Antifa protesters and behaved as though tomorrow neo-Nazis would take control of the federal government. Survey data shows that the more active Jews are in the synagogue, the less politically radical they are and the more devoted to Jewish causes they are.
So it is hard to see how turning a blind eye to leftist and Muslim antisemitism will rally their current membership more than they already have been rallied. Moreover, the more radicalized Jews become politically, the more outlets they have for their political activism both as Jews and as leftists. No matter how anti-Trump Conservative and Reform leaders become, they can never rival the progressive forces in the Democratic Party. Prospects for success of the second strategy are arguably even lower. The second strategy involves cultivating animosity toward Israel over the issue of egalitarian prayer at the Kotel.
The government also rescinded a previous decision to have representatives of the Conservative and Reform movements receive membership in the committee that manages the Western Wall Plaza. The Antiquities Authority nixed the construction of the passage due to the adverse impact construction would have on the antiquities below the surface. As to the second decision, it is far from a matter of life and death.
The committee has no power to influence egalitarian prayers for better or for worse. Six hundred Conservative rabbis signed a letter to Netanyahu accusing him of betraying Diaspora Jewry and announcing they would be forced to reconsider their support for Israel. Ambassador David Friedman, who had just taken residence in Israel a month before the explosion, used his first public remarks as ambassador to call his fellow American Jews to order.
And I understand the source of the frustration and the source of the anger. But I heard a major Jewish organization say that they needed to rethink their support for the State of Israel. We have to do better. But in the intervening months, the Conservative and Reform movements have not relented in their attacks.
They have ratcheted them up. The thinking appears to be that if they can make this problem look like a life or death struggle between Israel and progressive Jewry, they can both keep their dwindling bases engaged and attract members of the increasingly anti-Israel Jewish far Left. The problem with this is that just as they cannot outdo the Democratic Party in their hostility toward Trump, so the Conservative and Reform movements cannot be more anti-Israel than Jewish Voices for Peace and other anti-Israel Jewish groups.
Jewish survival and continuity through the ages has been predicated and dependent on our ability as Jews to uphold the commandment of the sages that all Jews are responsible for one another. As the most successful Jewish community in history, Israel has a special responsibility for our brethren in the Diaspora. The first step toward fulfilling our duty is to recognize the basic fact that while it is true that the American Jewish community is in crisis, the leaders of that community are in an even deeper crisis.
And the key to strengthening and supporting the community is to bypass its failed leadership and speak and interact directly with American Jews. Vance …. Celle qui pourrait bien venir …. Retournant le stigmate, J. Et ce livre explique pourquoi. La vraie famille de J. Pas vraiment. A memoir of a family and culture in crisis.
Sometimes, the conversation turns to the conflict people feel between the love of their home and the desire to leave in search of better work. Experts have warned for years now that our rates of geographic mobility have fallen to troubling lows. Given that some areas have unemployment rates around 2 percent and others many times that, this lack of movement may mean joblessness for those who could otherwise work.
The economist Matthew Kahn has shown that in Appalachia, for instance, the highly skilled are much likelier to leave not just their hometowns but also the region as a whole. The brain drain also encourages a uniquely modern form of cultural detachment. This has consequences beyond the purely material. Jesse Sussell and James A. Thomson of the RAND Corporation argue that this geographic sorting has heightened the polarization that now animates politics. But the more difficult truth is that people naturally trust the people they know — their friend sharing a story on Facebook — more than strangers who work for faraway institutions.
So I decided to move home, to Ohio. I scaled back my commitments to a job I love because of the relocation. My wife and I worry about the quality of local public schools, and whether she a San Diego native could stand the unpredictable weather. We chose Columbus because I travel a lot, and I need to be centrally located in the state and close to an airport.
I recently asked a friend, Ami Vitori Kimener, how she thought about her own return home. A Georgetown graduate, Ami left a successful career in Washington to start new businesses in Middletown, Ohio. But the town is showing early signs of revitalization, thanks in part to the efforts of those like Ami. But this focus can miss something important: that what many communities need most is not just financial support, but talent and energy and committed citizens to build viable businesses and other civic institutions. Of course, not every town can or should be saved. Some people will move back to their hometowns; others, like me, will move back to their home state.
The calculation will undoubtedly differ for each person, as it should. But those of us who are lucky enough to choose where we live would do well to ask ourselves, as part of that calculation, whether the choices we make for ourselves are necessarily the best for our home communities — and for the country. Yesterday I read J. I devoured the thing in a single gulp. If you want to understand America in , Hillbilly Elegy is a must-read.
I will be thinking about this book for a long, long time. Here are my impressions. The book is an autobiographical account by a lawyer Yale Law School graduate and sometime conservative writer who grew up in a poor and chaotic Appalachian household. Vance reflects on his childhood, and how he escaped the miserable fate broken families, drugs, etc of so many white working class and poor people around whom he grew up.
And he draws conclusions from it, conclusions that may be hard for some people to take. But Vance has earned the right to make those judgments. This was his life. He speaks with authority that has been extremely hard won. Forgive the rambling nature of this post. He begins by talking about how, as a young man, he got a job working in a warehouse, doing hard work for extra money.
Yet the warehouse struggled to keep people employed. Vance says his book is about macroeconomic trends — outsourcing jobs overseas — but not only that:. But this book is about something else: what goes on in the lives of real people when the industrial economy goes south.
The problems that I saw at the tile warehouse run far deeper than macroeconomic trends and policy. Good jobs impossible to fill for any length of time. More troublingly, when it was all over, he thought something had been done to him. There is a lack of agency here — a feeling that you have little control over your life and a willingness to blame everyone but yourself. This is distinct from the larger economic landscape of modern America. This is the heart of Hillbilly Elegy : how hillbilly white culture fails its children, and how the greatest disadvantages it imparts to its youth are the life of violence and chaos in which they are raised, and the closely related problem of a lack of moral agency.
Young Vance was on a road to ruin until certain people — including the US Marine Corps — showed him that his choices mattered, and that he had a lot more control over his fate than he thought. Vance talks about how, in his youth, there was a lot of hardscrabble poverty among his people, but nothing like today, dominated by the devastation of drug addiction.
Everything we are accustomed to hearing about black inner city social dysfunction is fully present among these white hillbillies, as Vance documents in great detail. This tendency might make for psychological resilience, but it also makes it hard for Appalachians to look at themselves honestly. My people are not hillbillies per se, but I come from working-class Southern country white people. Many of the cultural traits Vance describes are present in a more diluted way in my own family. That fierce pride, a pride that would rather see everything go to hell than admit error.
This, I think, has something to do with why Southern Protestant Christianity has traditionally been more Stoic than Christian. Real Christianity has as its heart humility. The point is, they left , and that is a hard sin to forgive. She was a phenomenally tough woman. She knew how to use a gun, she had a staggeringly foul mouth, she smoked menthols and stood ready to fight at the drop of a hat. Vance plainly loves his people, and because he loves them, he tells hard truths about them. He talks about how cultural fatalism destroys initiative. The connection between self-discipline and hard work, and success, is invisible to them.
People talk about hard work all the time in places like Middletown [where Vance grew up]. You can walk through a town where 30 percent of the young men work fewer than twenty hours a week and find not a single person aware of his own laziness. Vance was born into a world of chaos. It takes concentration to follow the trail of family connections. Women give birth out of wedlock, having children by different men. Marriages rarely last, and informal partnerings are more common. Vance scarcely knew his biological father until he was a bit older, and lived with his mom and her rotating cast of boyfriends and husbands.
I learned little else about what masculinity required of me other than drinking beer and screaming at a woman when she screamed at you. This is what happens in inner-city black culture, as has been exhaustively documented. But these are rural and small-town white people. This dysfunction is not color-based, but cultural.
To read in such detail what life is like as a child formed by communities like that is to gain a sense of why it is so difficult to escape from the malign gravity of that way of life. Religion among the hillbillies is not much help. He belonged to a strict fundamentalist church, one that helped him beat his alcoholism and gave him the severe structure he needed to keep his life from going off track.
For expectant mothers, it offered a free home with job training and parenting classes. When someone needed a job, church friends could either provide one or make introductions. When Dad faced financial troubles, his church banded together and purchased a used car for the family. In the broken world I saw around me — and for the people struggling in that world — religion offered tangible assistance to keep the faithful on track.
It was predictable. It was a respite from the constant chaos. On the other hand, the religion most hillbillies espouse is a rusticated form of Moralistic Therapeutic Deism. Except for those who commit to churchgoing — and believe it or not, this is one of the least churched parts of the US — Christianity is a ghost.
Even though I live in the rural Deep South, this form of Christianity is alien to me. When he went to live with his dad for a time as an adolescent if I have my chronology correct , Vance was exposed for the first time to church. He appreciated very much the structure, but noticed that the spirituality on offer was fear-based and paranoid. Evolution and the Big Bang became ideologies to confront, not theories to understand … In my new church … I heard more about the gay lobby and the war on Christmas than about any particular character trait that a Christian should aspire to have.
This was yet another reminder of why so many Evangelicals react strongly against the Benedict Option. As I often say, I have no experience of this extreme siege mentality in Christianity. In fact, my experience is entirely the opposite. But Vance helps me to understand how someone who grew up in its opposite would find even the slightest hint of siege Christianity to be anathema. One of the most important contributions Vance makes to our understanding of American poverty is how little public policy can affect the cultural habits that keep people poor.
He talks about education policy, saying that the elite discussion of how to help schools focuses entirely on reforming institutions. But no one wants to talk about the fact that many of them are raised by wolves. Why did she spend her money on drugs? Why were all of these things happening not just to our neighbor but to my mom? It would be years before I learned that no single book, or expert, or field could fully explain the problems of hillbillies in modern America.
Our elegy is a sociological one, yes, but it is also about psychology and community and culture and faith. During my junior year of high school, our neighbor Pattie called her landlord to report a leaky roof. The landlord arrived and found Pattie topless, stoned, and unconscious on her living room couch. Upstairs the bathtub was overflowing — hence, the leaking roof.
Pattie had apparently drawn herself a bath, taken a few prescription painkillers, and passed out. This is the reality of our community. This was my world: a world of truly irrational behavior. We spend our way into the poorhouse. We buy giant TVs and iPads. Our children wear nice clothes thanks to high-interest credit cards and payday loans. Thrift is inimical to our being. Sometimes we beat ourselves up over it, but we do it anyway. Our homes are a chaotic mess. At least one member of the family uses drugs — sometimes the father, sometimes both.
A bad day is when the neighbors call the police to stop the drama. Our kids go to foster care but never stay for long. We apologize to our kids. But then we act just as mean a few days later. And on and on. Vance says his people lie to themselves about the reality of their condition, and their own personal responsibility for their degradation. He says that not all working-class white hillbillies are like this. There are those who work hard, stay faithful, and are self-reliant — people like Mamaw and Papaw. Their kids stand a good chance of making it; in fact, Vance says friends of his who grew up like this are doing pretty well for themselves.
Suffice it to say that as imperfect as she was, Mamaw gave young Vance the stability he needed to start succeeding in school. She taught him the value of hard work, and of moral agency. The Marine Corps remade J. It pulverized his inner hillbilly fatalism, and gave him a sense that he had control over his life, and that his choices mattered. This was news to him. Reading this was a revelation to me. I was raised by parents who grew up poor, but who taught my sister and me from the very start that we were responsible for ourselves.
Knowing what he came from, and knowing how any progress he made came from the sweat of his brow and self-discipline on spending, he had no tolerance for people who were lazy and blamed everybody else for their problems. This is true whether they were poor, middle class, or rich but especially if they were rich. Anyway, Vance talks about how the contemporary hillbilly mindset renders them unfit for participation in life outside their own ghetto. But for him to make better choices, he needs to live in an environment that forces him to ask tough questions about himself.
There is a cultural movement in the white working class to blame problems on society or the government, and that movement gains adherents by the day. Hence the enormous popularity of Donald Trump among the white working class. Vance is telling his personal story, not analyzing US politics and culture broadly. The sense of inner order and discipline Vance learned in the Marine Corps allowed his natural intelligence to blossom. The poor hillbilly kid with the druggie mom ends up at Yale Law School.
He says he felt like an outsider there, but it was a serious education in more than the law:. A big part of the problem for his people, says Vance, is the shocking degree of family instability among the American poor. Instability begets instability. Welcome to family life for the American hillbilly. Vance is admirably humble about how the only reason he got out was because key people along the way helped him climb out of the hole his culture dug for him.
When Vance talks about how to fix these problems, he strikes a strong skeptical note. The worst problems of his culture, the things that held kids like him back, are not things a government program can fix. There simply is not a policy fix for families and family systems that have collapsed. I believe we hillbillies are the toughest goddamned people on this earth.
Are we tough enough to build a church that forces kids like me to engage with the world rather than withdraw from it? Are we tough enough to look ourselves in the mirror and admit that our conduct harms our children? Public policy can help, but there is no government that can fix these problems for us.
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- Un terrien sur terre.
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- Un terrien sur terre.
These problems were not created by governments or corporations or anyone else. We created them, and only we can fix them. Voting for Trump is not going to fix these problems. For the black community, protesting against police brutality on the streets is not going to fix their most pressing problems. A missionary to inner-city Dallas once told me that the greatest obstacle the black and Latino kids he helped out had was their rock-solid conviction that nothing could change for them, and that people who succeeded got that way because they were born white, or rich, or just got lucky.
Until these things are honestly and effectively addressed by families, communities, and their institutions, nothing will change. Is there a black J. I wonder. I mean, I know there are African-Americans who have done what he has done. But are there any who will write about it? Clarence Thomas did, in his autobiography. Who else? Anybody know? This is the world J. Vance came out of, though he saw more good in it that Williams does in his journalistic tour. It is immoral because it perpetuates a lie: that the white working class that finds itself attracted to Trump has been victimized by outside forces.
They failed themselves. If you spend time in hardscrabble, white upstate New York, or eastern Kentucky, or my own native West Texas, and you take an honest look at the welfare dependency, the drug and alcohol addiction, the family anarchy — which is to say, the whelping of human children with all the respect and wisdom of a stray dog — you will come to an awful realization. Nothing happened to them. Even the economic changes of the past few decades do very little to explain the dysfunction and negligence — and the incomprehensible malice — of poor white America.
There is more to life in the 21st century than wallboard and cheap sentimentality about how the Man closed the factories down. The truth about these dysfunctional, downscale communities is that they deserve to die. Economically, they are negative assets. Morally, they are indefensible. Forget all your cheap theatrical Bruce Springsteen crap. Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs.
Forget your goddamned gypsum, and, if he has a problem with that, forget Ed Burke, too. The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles. So does OxyContin. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul.
I criticized Williamson at the time for his harshness. Vance writes from a much more loving and appreciative place than Williamson did though I believe Williamson came from a similar rough background , but he affirms many of the same truths. And that is surely true no matter what your race. It offers no easy answers.
But it does tell the truth. I thank reader Surly Temple for giving it to me. Glad to see traffic from one of my favorite websites. If you found this piece interesting, I strongly encourage you to take a look at the subsequent interview I did with J. Vance about the book. I posted it last Friday, and it has gone viral. This extraordinary young writer is tapping into something very, very deep in American life right now. So I finished Hillbilly Elegy. Gonna write a long review. I was right about why conservatives like it so much. Yes, but the more interesting question, at least to me, is why so many liberals like it — or at least why they are writing to me in droves saying how the interview J.
Vance did with me deeply resonated with them, and inspired them to buy the book. In reality, of course, I had zero understanding of how taxes work. Eventually I made a real career for myself, started my own business, and spent less time scratching and kicking and fighting just to stay alive. The more time and resources I had, the more I learned about how the world, and politics, worked, and the more progressive I became. What you and J. Vance had to say in that article are exactly what I want to hear from the conservative wing of American politics. I thoroughly enjoyed this article! The conversation is not one that I have witnessed anyone else having.
It is so easy to dismiss people as racist without ever considering from where their views and positions are derived. I enjoy intelligent conversation and debate and have learned to carefully listen to and understand those who I may disagree with, so I might be educated fully on the issue not just entrenched in my beliefs. Another one, this from a reader who mistakenly believed that J. Still, his letter is fascinating:. I grew up in a town 5 miles north of the Mexican border in south San Diego, and grew up among Mexican immigrants, many of whom were undocumented… they were my neighbors, my friends, my elders.
I myself am an immigrant, came here as a kid with my parents, who were liberals who wanted something better than that right-wing dictatorship in [another country]. But I did grow up around the poverty line. My parents fought hard to stay out of welfare, to stay together, and to teach us the value of work.
At 43, I have always worked since I was 14, and have always associated these traits with working-class liberal values… and was quite surprised many election cycles ago to hear silver-spooned class enemies in the GOP pick that up. What did these bastards know about real work? But it also pains me to see the elites, especially the East Coast elites, take over the Democratic Party. I even remember starting out as an undergrad and scholarship kid at UC San Diego, how I felt the sting of class.
I felt disconnected culturally from the liberals. As with the folks of Appalachia I was a member of the Southern Baptist Church… it was a big military town , the defense of our neighborhoods was also paramount to us. What south San Diegans were seeing during the 90s was an entire generation deployed to guard oil fields in Iraq while the princelings of Kuwait lived it up in night clubs, and folks in Sacramento setting up laws that attack immigrants as a cheap shot to get elected.
Everything was fine at the border until these demagogues Republicans in this case started showing up in our town in staged photo-ops. Trump does have that appeal of at least pretending to listen to the broken and forgotten. But just as we were about to forget the vengeance we swore against those who hurt our town, Trump comes by and reopens all the wounds, reminding us that while we might hold some conservative values, Republicans will always see us as sub-human. I do think dialog and empathy are something of a short supply in American politics today.
The neoliberal policies and unfair trade pacts supported by both parties have been crushing our respective beloved hometowns. And we have a lot more in common than what these entrenched political entities say that we do. I will look for your book. Luckily our mother was strong enough to help us make it out of the hole by excelling in her profession as a nurse. In Houston as you probably know there is a staggering number of people of every imaginable type, and my school years were spent among kids from every walk of life, of every ethnicity and persuasion you can imagine.
As an outsider myself, being gay and openly agnostic in an environment where neither was considered acceptable high school was in the late 90s , I can identify with the feeling of seeming hopelessness, isolation, and fear for the future that Mr Vance describes, though certainly on a different level and for different reasons.
I also feel a greater understanding now of the appeal of Trump to certain strata within our society…along with a renewed sense of how dangerous he really is to all of us not to mention the rest of the world! Maybe we could all use a touch of that hillbilly idealism in our lives. Cheers for an excellent interview, and congratulations for gaining a new reader of the blue persuasion! I could go on and on. Vance, though. What I find so hopeful about it is that someone has finally found a voice with which to talk substantively about an important economic and cultural issue, but without antagonizing the other side.
JDV identifies as a conservative, but his story challenges right-wing free-market pieties. What do you think, readers? Do you think the runaway success of Hillbilly Elegy , and the powerfully positive response from liberals to a book about class written by a conservative, bodes well for the possibility of constructive engagement around issues of class and poverty? I believe, and so does J. But there will never be a government program capable of compensating for the loss of stable family structures, the loss of community, the loss of a sense of moral agency, and the loss of a sense of meaning in the lives of the poor.
From a Washington Post review of the book :. The wounds are partly self-inflicted. The working class, he argues, has lost its sense of agency and taste for hard work. In one illuminating anecdote, he writes about his summer job at the local tile factory, lugging pound pallets around. A full-time employee could earn a salary well above the poverty line. That should have made the gig an easy sell. Bob was chronically late to work, when he showed up at all. He frequently took minute bathroom breaks. Still, when he got fired, he raged against the managers who did it, refusing to acknowledge the impact of his own bad choices.
The loss of industrial jobs plays a big role in the catastrophe. Vance acknowledges that plainly in his book. By the way, the viral nature of the TAC interview with J. Vance has pushed Hillbilly Elegy onto the bestseller list more details of which will be available shortly. They can barely keep enough in stock. It really is that good, folks. All this success could not have happened to a nicer man. Credit for this spark goes to reader Surly Temple, who gave me my copy of Hillbilly Elegy.
My takeaway from the book is that we can help these communities and people, but not from a distance. It takes unconditional, sacrificial love. He does not claim he got there entirely on his own, by bootstrapping it. Tuesday, September 5, Bill and J. I grew up in a small town in Western Pennsylvania. My father was a coal miner. He worked in these coal mines of Western Pennsylvania and oc casionally he worked in steel mills in Western Pennsylvania. He died at the age of 39, with a lung disease. Left my mother with six kids and I was the oldest at 12 years of age.
My father had a 10 th grade education, my mother had a 10 th grade education. My mother who lived to the ripe old age of 94, raised us by cleaning house occasionally. Initially we were on r elief. We call it w elfare now. She got off w elfare and supported us by cleaning house; and what I distinctly remember about growing up in ru ral poverty is hunger.
Now, given my family background, black person, black family in rural poverty; as one of my colleagues at Harvard told me, the odds that I would end up at Harvard as a University p rofessor and capital U on University, are very nearly zero. Like J. I had some significant individuals who helped me escape poverty.
And I think the way that it fell apart so quickly and the way that even in the midst of that financial security, life was so chaotic and so unstable and eventually when that very precarious middle — class lifestyle fell apart economically, all of the instability that existed in our home sort of came crashing down upon us; and so, it felt like after this two-year period, we were in an even worse situation than we were going into it. And then when a material sense returns, it can make all of those non-material things that much worse off, and I think that way of understanding these problems has really influenced the way that I think about a lot of the problems that I write about in the book.
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