Tuerie de Las Vegas: Attention, un déni peut en cacher un autre (Sow the wind: After nearly a year of calls and wishes for Trump’s death, guess whose supporters end up victims of the worst mass shooting in US history ?)

6 octobre, 2017

Amok headhunterhttps://pbs.twimg.com/media/CBFT8WZUUAAGlLX.jpg

Ne croyez pas que je sois venu apporter la paix sur la terre; je ne suis pas venu apporter la paix, mais l’épée. Car je suis venu mettre la division entre l’homme et son père, entre la fille et sa mère, entre la belle-fille et sa belle-mère; et l’homme aura pour ennemis les gens de sa maison. Jésus (Matthieu 10 : 34-36)
Lorsque l’esprit impur est sorti d’un homme, il va par des lieux arides, cherchant du repos, et il n’en trouve point. Alors il dit: Je retournerai dans ma maison d’où je suis sorti; et, quand il arrive, il la trouve vide, balayée et ornée. Il s’en va, et il prend avec lui sept autres esprits plus méchants que lui; ils entrent dans la maison, s’y établissent, et la dernière condition de cet homme est pire que la première. Il en sera de même pour cette génération méchante. Matthieu 12 : 43-45
Il y a plus de larmes versées sur les prières exaucées que sur celles qui ne le sont pas. Thérèse d’Avila
Quand les dieux veulent nous punir, ils exaucent nos prières. Oscar Wilde
La même force culturelle et spirituelle qui a joué un rôle si décisif dans la disparition du sacrifice humain est aujourd’hui en train de provoquer la disparition des rituels de sacrifice humain qui l’ont jadis remplacé. Tout cela semble être une bonne nouvelle, mais à condition que ceux qui comptaient sur ces ressources rituelles soient en mesure de les remplacer par des ressources religieuses durables d’un autre genre. Priver une société des ressources sacrificielles rudimentaires dont elle dépend sans lui proposer d’alternatives, c’est la plonger dans une crise qui la conduira presque certainement à la violence. Gil Bailie
L’acte surréaliste le plus simple consiste, revolvers au poing, à descendre dans la rue et à tirer, au hasard, tant qu’on peut dans la foule. André Breton
Il faut avoir le courage de vouloir le mal et pour cela il faut commencer par rompre avec le comportement grossièrement humanitaire qui fait partie de l’héritage chrétien. (..) Nous sommes avec ceux qui tuent. Breton
Nous avons offert des sacrifices humains à vos dieux du sport et de la télévision et ils ont répondu à nos prières. Terroriste palestinien (Jeux olympiques de Munich, 1972)
Kidnapper des personnages célèbres pour leurs activités artistiques, sportives ou autres et qui n’ont pas exprimé d’opinions politiques peut vraisemblablement constituer une forme de propagande favorable aux révolutionnaires. ( …) Les médias modernes, par le simple fait qu’ils publient ce que font les révolutionnaires, sont d’importants instruments de propagande. La guerre des nerfs, ou guerre psychologique, est une technique de combat reposant sur l’emploi direct ou indirect des médias de masse.( …) Les attaques de banques, les embuscades, les désertions et les détournements d’armes, l’aide à l’évasion de prisonniers, les exécutions, les enlèvements, les sabotages, les actes terroristes et la guerre des nerfs sont des exemples. Les détournements d’avions en vol, les attaques et les prises de navires et de trains par les guérilleros peuvent également ne viser qu’à des effets de propagande. Carlos Marighela (« Mini manuel de guérilla urbaine », 1969)
More ink equals more blood,  newspaper coverage of terrorist incidents leads directly to more attacks. It’s a macabre example of win-win in what economists call a « common-interest game. Both the media and terrorists benefit from terrorist incidents, » their study contends. Terrorists get free publicity for themselves and their cause. The media, meanwhile, make money « as reports of terror attacks increase newspaper sales and the number of television viewers ». Bruno S. Frey (University of Zurich) et Dominic Rohner (Cambridge)
Un des jeunes tueurs de Littleton, Eric Harris, avait passé une centaine d’heures à reprogrammer le jeu vidéo Doom pour que tout corresponde plus ou moins à son école (…) [jusqu’à] « incorporer le plan du rez-de-chaussée du lycée Columbine dans son jeu. En outre, il l’avait reprogrammé pour fonctionner « en mode Dieu », où le joueur est invincible. (…) Le 1er décembre 1997, à Paducah (Kentucky), Michael Carneal, alors âgé de 14 ans et armé de six pistolets, avait attendu la fin de la session quotidienne de prière à l’école pour tuer trois fillettes (…) et d’en blesser cinq autres. Lorsque la police a saisi son ordinateur, on a découvert qu’il en était un usager assidu, recherchant souvent sur Internet les films obscènes et violents. Parmi ses favoris, Basketball Diaries et Tueurs nés, film qui a influencé aussi les tueurs de Littleton. (…) En examinant l’ordinateur de Michael Carneal, la police a également découvert qu’il était un passionné de Doom, le fameux jeu qui consiste pour l’essentiel à passer rapidement d’une cible à l’autre et à tirer sur ses « ennemis » en visant surtout la tête. Le jeune Carneal, qui n’avait jamais utilisé d’arme auparavant, a réussi à toucher huit personnes, cinq à la tête, trois à la poitrine, avec seulement huit balles – un exploit considérable même pour un tireur bien entraîné. (…) Le colonel David Grossman, psychologue militaire, qui donne des cours sur la psychologie du meurtre à des Bérets verts et des agents fédéraux, est un témoin-expert dans ce procès. Il fait remarquer que les jeux vidéos consistant à viser et à tirer ont le même effet que les techniques d’entraînement militaire utilisées pour amener le soldat à surmonter son aversion à tuer. Selon lui, ces jeux sont encore plus efficaces que les exercices d’entraînement militaire, si bien que les Marines se sont procurés une version de « Doom » pour entraîner leurs soldats.  Helga Zepp-LaRouche
La tuerie de la Columbine High School a mis en lumière une double forme de criminalité qui ne retient pas habituellement l’attention du public. Il s’agit pourtant d’un acte sur lequel la police intervient à intervalles réguliers.  Le Violence Policy Center estime que près de 1 500 « meurtres-suicides » (murder suicides) ont lieu chaque année. L’acte en question consiste à tuer un parent, un proche ou un étranger avant de se faire justice. Dans les vingt dernières années, quelques cas ont frappé par leur aspect aussi horrible que gratuit. Ils ont tous été ponctués par le suicide du meurtrier. En 1986, le postier Patrick Sherrill qui est menacé de licenciement abat dans l’Oklahoma 14 collègues et en blesse six autres.  En 1991, George Hennard, un routier texan, lance son camion dans un restaurant. 23 clients sont tués et 20 autres blessés. En 1999, à Atlanta, Géorgie, Mark Barton tue sa femme et ses enfants avec un marteau et se rend ensuite chez un courtier où il abat neuf personnes et en blesse 13 autres. Au Texas en 1999, Larry Ashbrook pénètre dans une église baptiste avant un concert, tue sept spectateurs et lance des explosifs sans faire de victimes. En 2001, un employé de la firme Navistar en Illinois est armé jusqu’aux dents quand il tue quatre collègues et en blesse quatre autres. (…) La majorité des meurtres-suicides révèle que l’acte prétendument vengeur précède immédiatement l’autodestruction. Daniel Royot
Les images violentes accroissent (…) la vulnérabilité des enfants à la violence des groupes (…) rendent la violence ‘ordinaire’ en désensibilisant les spectateurs à ses effets, et elles augmentent la peur d’être soi-même victime de violences, même s’il n’y a pas de risque objectif à cela. Serge Tisseron
L’effet cliquet, ou effet de cliquet, est un phénomène ou procédé énoncé par Thomas M. Brown, qui empêche le retour en arrière d’un processus une fois un certain stade dépassé.Il est parfois lié à un « effet mémoire » : « une consommation atteinte est difficilement réduite du fait des habitudes et des engagements qui ont été pris ». L’« effet cliquet » fait analogiquement et métaphoriquement référence au cliquet d’horlogerie (mécanisme d’échappement à ancre interdisant tout retour en arrière d’une roue dentée). Cette métaphore est utilisée dans de nombreux domaines, de la politique au management et à la théorie de l’évolution. (…) Il est parfois lié à la théorie de l’effet de démonstration ou d’imitation développée par James Stemble Duesenberry en 1949. La consommation peut dépendre de la consommation de la classe sociale ou du groupe social de référence. Selon lui, c’est un effet de « démonstration » : il y a une démonstration des classes aisées sur les classes inférieures qui les imitent. De par ce fait, la classe immédiatement inférieure consomme alors de la même manière. Pour Duesenberry, la consommation, à une période donnée dépend non seulement du revenu de cette période, mais aussi des habitudes de consommation acquises antérieurement. Si la consommation dépend du revenu courant mais aussi de la consommation passée (…) Duesenberry évoque également l’effet d’imitation — « tout citoyen d’une classe sociale donnée tend à acquérir le comportement de la classe immédiatement au-dessus. ». De ce point de vue, le club des « privilégiés » servirait de modèle de référence aux autres catégories sociales qui tentent de suivre ses dépenses lorsque leurs revenus augmentent ou lorsque la production de masse banalise les objets. Pour Duesenberry, il s’agit donc d’une course poursuite au modèle supérieur. (…) L’hypothèse faite par Duesenberry est que la consommation dépend du plus haut niveau de consommation durant la période précédente. (…) Dans ce domaine, ce terme permet de décrire l’incapacité d’un gouvernement à réduire les énormes bureaucraties, une fois que celles-ci ont été mises en place, comme par exemple en temps de guerre pour couvrir l’ensemble des besoins des troupes. On peut retrouver ce phénomène dans la réforme des organisations internationales due aux nombreuses couches de bureaucratie créées précédemment. L’économiste Robert Higgs de l’école autrichienne a lui aussi utilisé le terme pour décrire l’apparente expansion irréversible du gouvernement en temps de crise dans son livre Crise et Leviathan. Le phénomène de cliquet a également été théorisé par Yves-Marie Adeline dans son ouvrage La Droite impossible paru en 2012 (édition modifiée de La Droite piégée datant de 1996) : il y démontre comment, dans un système démocratique dont les fondements sont de gauche, les lois sociétales de la gauche sont irréversibles, car la droite, quand elle revient au pouvoir, ne se sent pas libre de les abroger. Cela ne vaut pas pour l’économie (comme le montre le Thatcherisme qui a pu défaire l’Etat-providence issu de la guerre ), mais cela vaut pour les évolutions sociétales. (…) L’effet cliquet désigne « l’irréversibilité du progrès technique ». Wikipedia
D’après les premiers éléments de l’enquête disponible, Andreas Lubitz, le co-pilote qui a réalisé la catastrophe, a toutes les caractéristiques du profil d’un tueur de masse. Par tueur de masse, faut-il entendre en criminologie tout individu qui tue au moins trois personnes, sans en viser spécifiquement une en particulier, en un même lieu et lors d’un événement unique, comme par exemple les auteurs de la tuerie sur le campus de Columbine Eric Harris et Dylan Klebold en 1999. Dernièrement, un article scientifique est paru dans le Justice Quaterly sur le sujet. L’auteur de l’article, le professeur Adam Lankford, fait une différence claire entre les tueurs de masse qui se donnent la mort au moment de l’acte et ceux qui cherchent à survivre afin de bénéficier « des profits » de leur acte, à savoir notamment bénéficier d’une « reconnaissance » médiatique. Dans la première catégorie, catégorie à laquelle appartient selon nous, Andreas Lubitz, et qui est une catégorie moins importante que la seconde, le criminologue tente de cerner le profil de ces tueurs sur la base d’un échantillon de 88 cas. En moyenne, ils sont relativement jeunes puisqu’ils ont au alentour de 37 ans. Le copilote était un peu plus jeune. Il avait 28 ans. Ce sont dans 96% des cas, des hommes ayant des symptômes de dépression (ce qui semble être le cas de celui-ci) et qui se serait senti victime d’injustice, souvent au travail (à l’heure actuelle nous n’avons aucun élément qui démontrerait que le copilote était en conflit avec des personnes de l’entreprise). Ce phénomène, contrairement à ce que l’on pourrait penser, n’est pas nouveau. Par le passé, plusieurs pilotes se sont écrasés (ou ont tenté de s’écraser) de la sorte. 6 exemples au moins peuvent être recensés depuis 1982 et qui n’ont rien avoir avec des actes terroristes. Ainsi, pouvons nous citer par exemple trois événements marquants. Le premier qui s’est produit en 1994 sur un vol de Royal Air Maroc et qui entraina la mort de 44 personnes à bord. Le pilote aurait agi de manière intentionnelle suite à des problèmes sentimentaux. Le deuxième a eu lieu également en 1994. Un employé de la FedEx, qui allait se faire licencier, avait tenté de détourner un avion cargo de la compagnie pour le faire s’écraser. Il fut maîtrisé à temps par l’équipage. Enfin, le cas peut être le plus marquant fut certainement celui du crash provoqué par le pilote du vol Silk Air 185, le 19 décembre 1997. L’avion s’était écrasé dans une rivière, faisant 104 morts. Le pilote était un ancien aviateur militaire, traumatisé par un accident qui avait tué plusieurs de ses collègues lors d’un entrainement. Il connaissait des soucis financiers. Le crash n’a pas été reconnu comme intentionnel, mais des forts doutes subsistent. Ces actes n’ont donc rien avoir avec des actes terroristes, même si dans certains cas on peut se demander si les terroristes ne s’en inspirent pas (on pense naturellement au 11 septembre 2001). Mais ils se produisent, certes rarement, mais leur probabilité est non nulle. Tout porte à croire que le crash de l’A320 s’inscrive dans cette lignée de tuerie de masse que l’on appelle également « amok ». Olivier Hassid
Oui, je suis scandalisée. Oui, j’ai songé à de nombreuses reprises à faire exploser la Maison Blanche. Mais je sais que cela ne changera rien. Madonna
Trump est un traître. Trump a détruit notre démocratie. Il est temps de détruire Trump et compagnie. James Hodgkinson
Le tireur accusé d’avoir ouvert le feu sur les élus républicains s’entraînant au baseball à Alexandria, se nommait James Hodgkinson, selon les informations des médias américains, confirmées par les services de police. Il avait 66 ans et venait de Belleville, dans l’État de l’Illinois.Une page Facebook portant son nom montre des photos du candidat démocrate à la présidentielle Bernie Sanders et une grande hostilité à Donald Trump et sa politique. Le 22 mars dernier, il publiait notamment un article avec le statut: « Trump est un traître. Trump a détruit notre démocratie. Il est temps de détruire Trump et compagnie. » James Hodgkinson affichait ses idées sur les réseaux sociaux et signait activement des pétitions sur change.org, grande plateforme progressiste américaine en ligne. Fervent supporter du sénateur du Vermont, le tireur s’était même engagé dans sa campagne, comme le confirme Charles Orear, un autre volontaire au Washington Post. Il a d’ailleurs décrit son ami comme un « homme tranquille, très doux et très réservé. » Une information confirmée par Bernie Sanders, lui-même. The Huffington Post (14.06.2017)
Encore une chose à garder à l’esprit, je pense: beaucoup de ces supporters de country music étaient probablement des supporters de Donald Trump. Jeff Zeleny (CNN)
J’ai en fait aucune compassion vu que c’est souvent des Républicains porteurs d’armes. Hayley Geftman-Gold (vice-présidente de CBS)
Les enfants de Trump doivent reprendre l’entreprise avec le conflit d’intérêt, ils pourront vendre des gratte-ciels au gouvernement israélien. Des immeubles luxueux à construire dans les territoires occupés, que le Président des États-Unis les aidera à occuper et il leur enverra des Mexicains pour nettoyer les chiottes. Charline Vanhoenacker 
Je ne resterai jamais allongé quand le président de ce grand pays vient me serrer la main ! Il a beau y avoir beaucoup de problèmes dans ce pays, je respecterai toujours mon pays, mon président et mon drapeau. Thomas Gunderson (survivant de la tuerie de Las Vegas)
Hodgkinson is the logical culmination of the campaign of demonization and dehumanization of Republicans and Trump-supporters that the left has been waging for decades, a campaign that leftists have been ratcheting up as of late, even since Trump and the Deplorables defied the world and defeated Hillary Clinton. Partisan differences aside, it is high time for all decent Americans, irrespectively of political affiliation, to have a sober dialogue as to why it is that the lion’s share of the violence, vitriol, and contempt in this country stems from the ideological left.  Hodgkinson is the second Sanders supporter in just a few weeks to go on a killing spree.  The first was Jeremy Christian, who the media tried to depict as a “white supremacist” Trump supporter (Christian stabbed three men on a Portland train, killing two of them).  What is it about the vision and message of Bernie Sanders that attracts homicidal followers? These are the sorts of questions that honest and good people who want to stop the hatred and violence must address at this time, for if not, and if the left continues with its reckless and venomous rhetoric, there will be more James Hodgkinsons in the future. Jack Kerwick (June 16, 2017)
Thirty thousand feet above, could be Oklahoma Just a bunch of square cornfields and wheat farms Man, it all looks the same Miles and miles of back roads and highways Connecting little towns with funny names Who’d want to live down there in the middle of nowhere? They’ve never drove through Indiana Met the man who plowed that earth Planted that seed, busted his ass for you and me Or caught a harvest moon in Kansas They’d understand why God made Those fly over states. Jason Aldean
Well, I won’t worry if the world don’t like me, I won’t let ’em waste my time There ain’t nothin’ goin’ to change my mind, I feel fine gettin’ by on Central time. Pokey Lafarge
Because we live in flyover country, we try to figure out what is going on elsewhere by subscribing to magazines. Thomas McGuane (Esquire)
This must have come from the time I worked in movies, an industry that seemed to acknowledge only two places, New York and Los Angeles. I recall being annoyed that the places I loved in America were places that air travel allowed you to avoid. Thomas McGuane
Ces Etats au-dessus desquels les avions ne font que passer en reliant la Côte Est et la Côte Ouest, mais où on n’imagine jamais s’arrêter. The Middle
The term « flyover country » is often used to derisively refer to the vast swath of America that’s not near the Atlantic or Pacific coasts. It sounds like the ultimate putdown to describe places best seen at cruising altitude, the precincts where political and cultural sophisticates visit only when they need to. But in fact, (…) “It’s a stereotype of other people’s stereotypes,” lexicographer Ben Zimmer says. But it’s not as if the stereotypes are entirely imagined. Zimmer says the concept behind flyover country is present in older phrases, like middle America, “which has been used to talk about, geographically, the middle part of the U.S. since 1924, but then also has this idea of not only the geographic middle but the economic and social middle of the country as well, that kind of middle-ness that’s associated with the Midwest.” Another term for the same place, Zimmer notes, is heartland, which is “for people who want to valorize a particular social or political value.” And the heartland gets a lot of attention when it has votes that can be won. Politicians across the spectrum paint this place as more real than the coasts. (…) All this is a way of championing a set of values that is imagined to exist outside of big urban centers. It treats middle America like a time capsule from a simpler era, which, when you consider the Dust Bowl, the circumstances that led to the existence of Rust Belt, and the Civil Rights struggles before and after the Great Migration, never really existed for many people. Romanticizing can also read as patronizing for people in the middle of the country. (…) Hence the self-coining of flyover country—it’s a way for Midwesterners (and Southerners and people from the plains and mountains) to define themselves relative to the rest of the country. It’s defensive but self-deprecating, a way of shouting out for attention but also a means for identifying yourself by your home region’s lack of attention. It’s the linguistic nexus of Minnesota nice and Iowa stubborn. This self-identification has become a celebration. (…) Aldean, LaFarge, Kendzior, and McGuane all come from different parts of the middle of the country, but they all belong to the same, self-identified place, a place rooted more in attitude than in soil. As a concept, flyover country can exist almost anywhere in the United States. As a phrase, it’s become almost a dare, a way for Midwesterners to cajole the coastal elites into paying attention to a place they might otherwise overlook. But it’s also a bond for Midwesterners—a way of forging an identity in a place they imagine being mocked for its lack of identity. It’s a response to an affront, real or imagined, and a way to say “Well, maybe we don’t think that much of you, either. National Geographic
What I was hearing was this general sense of being on the short end of the stick. Rural people felt like they’re not getting their fair share. (…)  First, people felt that they were not getting their fair share of decision-making power. For example, people would say: All the decisions are made in Madison and Milwaukee and nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. Decisions are made in the cities, and we have to abide by them. Second, people would complain that they weren’t getting their fair share of stuff, that they weren’t getting their fair share of public resources. That often came up in perceptions of taxation. People had this sense that all the money is sucked in by Madison, but never spent on places like theirs. And third, people felt that they weren’t getting respect. They would say: The real kicker is that people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists. So it’s all three of these things — the power, the money, the respect. People are feeling like they’re not getting their fair share of any of that. (…)  It’s been this slow burn. Resentment is like that. It builds and builds and builds until something happens. Some confluence of things makes people notice: I am so pissed off. I am really the victim of injustice here. (…) Then, I also think that having our first African American president is part of the mix, too. (…) when the health-care debate ramped up, once he was in office and became very, very partisan, I think people took partisan sides. (…) It’s not just resentment toward people of color. It’s resentment toward elites, city people. (…) Of course [some of this resentment] is about race, but it’s also very much about the actual lived conditions that people are experiencing. We do need to pay attention to both. As the work that you did on mortality rates shows, it’s not just about dollars. People are experiencing a decline in prosperity, and that’s real. The other really important element here is people’s perceptions. Surveys show that it may not actually be the case that Trump supporters themselves are doing less well — but they live in places where it’s reasonable for them to conclude that people like them are struggling. Support for Trump is rooted in reality in some respects — in people’s actual economic struggles, and the actual increases in mortality. But it’s the perceptions that people have about their reality are the key driving force here. (…) One of the key stories in our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead. (…) But here’s where having Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump running alongside one another for a while was so interesting. I think the support for Sanders represented a different interpretation of the problem. For Sanders supporters, the problem is not that other population groups are getting more than their fair share, but that the government isn’t doing enough to intervene here and right a ship that’s headed in the wrong direction. (…) There is definitely some misinformation, some misunderstandings. But we all do that thing of encountering information and interpreting it in a way that supports our own predispositions. Recent studies in political science have shown that it’s actually those of us who think of ourselves as the most politically sophisticated, the most educated, who do it more than others. So I really resist this characterization of Trump supporters as ignorant. There’s just more and more of a recognition that politics for people is not — and this is going to sound awful, but — it’s not about facts and policies. It’s so much about identities, people forming ideas about the kind of person they are and the kind of people others are. Who am I for, and who am I against? Policy is part of that, but policy is not the driver of these judgments. There are assessments of, is this someone like me? Is this someone who gets someone like me? (…) All of us, even well-educated, politically sophisticated people interpret facts through our own perspectives, our sense of what who we are, our own identities. I don’t think that what you do is give people more information. Because they are going to interpret it through the perspectives they already have. People are only going to absorb facts when they’re communicated from a source that they respect, from a source who they perceive has respect for people like them. And so whenever a liberal calls out Trump supporters as ignorant or fooled or misinformed, that does absolutely nothing to convey the facts that the liberal is trying to convey. Katherine Cramer

Attention: un déni peut en cacher un autre !

Alors que suite à la folle tuerie de Las Vegas du weekend dernier …

Nos médias et nos experts nous rebattent les oreilles avec le déni des Américains sur les armes à feu ou sur le terrorisme …

Et que l’on apprend qu’à l’instar du tueur d’élus républicains de Virginie de juin dernier …

Le tueur de las Vegas en question aurait lui aussi été filmé  dans une récente manifestation anti-Trump …

Et qu’à l’instar de ce tweet peut-être parodique d’une enseignante priant, à la Charlie hebdo, pour la mort des supporters de Trump parmi les victimes …

C’est un journaliste de CNN et une vice-présidente de CBS news qui se font rabrouer …

Pour avoir rappelé l’évidence de l’appartenance politique majoritairement pro-Trump des victimes du massacre en question …

Ces fans qui écoutaient justement, au moment où les balles ont commencé à pleuvoir, l’auteur-compositeur de la célèbre chanson « Flyover states » …

Comment ne pas voir …

Derrière cet acte digne des fameux accès de folie meurtrière dont nous parlaient déjà les sagas nordiques (le bersek) ou indonésiennes (l’amok) …

La récolte de la tempête que militants comme membres du show biz ou journalistes …

Ont semée ou laissé semer depuis l’élection-surprise du président Trump il y a bientôt un an ?

Et comment ne pas vouloir repenser …

A ces oubliés dont Jason Aldean comme le candidat Donald Trump s’étaient justement fait les champions …

Comme la revanche depuis si longtemps attendue …

Du « pays que l’on survole sans s’arrêter » ?

James Hodgkinson: Leftist Hate’s Poster Man

A quite standard “hard core” Democrat and “passionate progressive”.

In the early morning of Wednesday, June 14, while House Majority Whip Steve Scalise, Republican Congressman from Louisiana, was practicing with his GOP colleagues for the Congress’s annual baseball game, James Hodgkinson opened fire — hitting Scalise, a staffer, and two Capitol Hill police officers.

Thankfully, the brave police officers saved lives that would otherwise have been taken while sending the would-be assassin off to meet his maker.

Scalise and his cohorts were prey to the worst act of domestic political violence that this country has witnessed in a very long time.  Hodgkinson, you see, was “a passionate progressive,” as a neighbor, Aaron Mueller, described him, a “hard core Democrat” who avidly supported Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaign.

In fact, Hodgkinson worked on Sanders’ campaign.

A glimpse at Hodgkinson’s Facebook account reveals the depths of his hatred for all things Republican—particularly and especially President Donald J. Trump. Yet he clearly detested the GOP long before the rise of Trump.

Trump, Hodgkinson posted, is an “a**h***,” “Truly the Biggest A**h*** We Have Ever Had in the Oval Office.” He is “a Mean, Disgusting Person” who is “Guilty & Should Go to Prison for Treason.”

Georgia Republican Karen Handel, who is in a tight race in a special election, Hodgkinson referred to as a “Republican B**ch” who “Wants People to Work for Slave Wages [.]”

Republicans have turned America into a “Fascist State.”  The only way to save it is to “Vote Blue,” for “It’s Right for You!”  After all, this self-avowed proponent of “Democratic Socialism” assures us that the Republicans, who Hodgkinson characterizes as “the American Taliban,” “Hate Women, Minorities, Working Class People, & Most All (99%) of the People of the Country.”

In other words, Hodgkinson shares Hillary Clinton’s assessment that Republicans (at least of the Trump-supporting variety, i.e. most of them) are “irredeemables” and “deplorables.”

“Republican Law Makers,” he tells us elsewhere, “Don’t Give a Damn About the Working Class in this Country.”

Hodgkinson believed in anthropogenic “climate change” or “global warming” and exorbitant taxes “for the rich.”  He urged Senate Democrats to “filibuster” the confirmation of Neil Gorsuch and mocked what he called “trickle-down” economics.

He also belonged to an on-line group, “Terminate the Republican Party” (whose members are now celebrating their fallen comrade’s shooting spree).

The morning of June 14 wasn’t the first time that Hodgkinson took aim, so to speak, at Scalise.  On his Facebook wall, not long ago, Hodgkinson shared a cartoon designed to link Scalise with “white supremacy.”

Hodgkinson was an admirer of MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, Bill Maher, and, generally, exactly those leftist talking heads and celebrities who have been routinely, incessantly, expressing precisely the same thoughts about Republicans and Trump that filled Hodgkinson with a murderous hatred toward his political opponents.

Politically or ideologically speaking, Hodgkinson is no different than the leftists in Washington D.C., the media, Hollywood, and academia.  His ideology is one and the same as that of the Obamas, Schumers, Pelosis, Clintons, Sanders, Maddows, Mahers, Robert DeNiros, Meryl Streeps, Kathy Griffins, Madonnas, Snoop Doggs, and so on ad infinitum.

In fact, it was first Barack Obama who tried to tie Scalise to “white supremacists.”

Obama’s Press Secretary, Josh Earnest, said in September of 2015 that Scalise, in effect, once admitted to being a KKK member of sorts. “You’ll recall,” Earnest proceeded, “that one Republican congressman told a reporter that he was ‘David Duke without the baggage.” Earnest brought this up in order to blast the whole GOP, but especially Trump, as “racist” and “white supremacist.”

“Mr. Trump isn’t the first Republican politician to countenance these kinds of views in order to win votes.”

Back in 2002, Scalise had addressed the European-American Unity and Rights Organization (EURO), where he made the remark in question. He subsequently referred to his comment as “a mistake” that he “regret[s].”

Nevertheless, as Charlie Spiering of Breitbart reminds us, it was with frequency that Obama’s administration “used Scalise as a punching bag” to advance its agenda.  If Republicans were blocking the “immigration reform” that the Democrats wanted, Obama’s team would hold up Scalise as the poster boy for the GOP’s “white supremacy” and “racism.”  This is the trick that Team Obama continued to pull from its collective sleeve, whether it was in order to remove the Confederate flag from military cemeteries or reauthorize the Voting Rights Act.

Less than a year ago, Earnest brought up Scalise’s David Duke comment to smear Trump.

James Hodgkinson was a leftist Democrat.  There was nothing unusual about him. He was not “mentally ill.”  Hodgkinson had imbibed hook, line, and sinker all of the DNC, left-wing talking points that “the Resistance” has been cranking out from long before its members began describing themselves in these terms.

Hodgkinson is the logical culmination of the campaign of demonization and dehumanization of Republicans and Trump-supporters that the left has been waging for decades, a campaign that leftists have been ratcheting up as of late, even since Trump and the Deplorables defied the world and defeated Hillary Clinton.

Partisan differences aside, it is high time for all decent Americans, irrespectively of political affiliation, to have a sober dialogue as to why it is that the lion’s share of the violence, vitriol, and contempt in this country stems from the ideological left.  Hodgkinson is the second Sanders supporter in just a few weeks to go on a killing spree.  The first was Jeremy Christian, who the media tried to depict as a “white supremacist” Trump supporter (Christian stabbed three men on a Portland train, killing two of them).  What is it about the vision and message of Bernie Sanders that attracts homicidal followers?

These are the sorts of questions that honest and good people who want to stop the hatred and violence must address at this time, for if not, and if the left continues with its reckless and venomous rhetoric, there will be more James Hodgkinsons in the future.

Voir aussi:

Wonkblog
A new theory for why Trump voters are so angry — that actually makes sense
Jeff Guo
The Washington Post
November 8, 2016

Regardless of who wins on Election Day, we will spend the next few years trying to unpack what the heck just happened. We know that Donald Trump voters are angry, and we know that they are fed up. By now, there have been so many attempts to explain Trumpism that the genre has become a target of parody.

But if you’re wondering about the widening fissure between red and blue America, why politics these days have become so fraught and so emotional, Kathy Cramer is one of the best people to ask. For the better part of the past decade, the political science professor has been crisscrossing Wisconsin trying to get inside the minds of rural voters.

Well before President Obama or the tea party, well before the rise of Trump sent reporters scrambling into the heartland looking for answers, Cramer was hanging out in dairy barns and diners and gas stations, sitting with her tape recorder taking notes. Her research seeks to understand how the people of small towns make sense of politics — why they feel the way they feel, why they vote the way they vote.

There’s been great thirst this election cycle for insight into the psychology of Trump voters. J.D. Vance’s memoir “Hillbilly Elegy” offers a narrative about broken families and social decay. “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,” he writes. Sociologist Arlie Hochschild tells a tale of perceived betrayal. According to her research, white voters feel the American Dream is drifting out of reach for them, and they are angry because they believe minorities and immigrants have butted in line.

Cramer’s recent book, “The Politics of Resentment,” offers a third perspective. Through her repeated interviews with the people of rural Wisconsin, she shows how politics have increasingly become a matter of personal identity. Just about all of her subjects felt a deep sense of bitterness toward elites and city dwellers; just about all of them felt tread on, disrespected and cheated out of what they felt they deserved.

Cramer argues that this “rural consciousness” is key to understanding which political arguments ring true to her subjects. For instance, she says, most rural Wisconsinites supported the tea party’s quest to shrink government not out of any belief in the virtues of small government but because they did not trust the government to help “people like them.”

“Support for less government among lower-income people is often derided as the opinions of people who have been duped,” she writes. However, she continues: “Listening in on these conversations, it is hard to conclude that the people I studied believe what they do because they have been hoodwinked. Their views are rooted in identities and values, as well as in economic perceptions; and these things are all intertwined.”

Rural voters, of course, are not precisely the same as Trump voters, but Cramer’s book offers an important way to think about politics in the era of Trump. Many have pointed out that American politics have become increasingly tribal; Cramer takes that idea a step further, showing how these tribal identities shape our perspectives on reality.

It will not be enough, in the coming months, to say that Trump voters were simply angry. Cramer shows that there are nuances to political rage. To understand Trump’s success, she argues, we have to understand how he tapped into people’s sense of self.

Recently, Cramer chatted with us about Trump and the future of white identity politics.

(As you’ll notice, Cramer has spent so much time with rural Wisconsinites that she often slips, subconsciously, into their voice. We’ve tagged those segments in italics. The interview has also been edited for clarity and length.)

For people who haven’t read your book yet, can you explain a little bit what you discovered after spending so many years interviewing people in rural Wisconsin?

Cramer: To be honest, it took me many months — I went to these 27 communities several times — before I realized that there was a pattern in all these places. What I was hearing was this general sense of being on the short end of the stick. Rural people felt like they’re not getting their fair share.

That feeling is primarily composed of three things. First, people felt that they were not getting their fair share of decision-making power. For example, people would say: All the decisions are made in Madison and Milwaukee and nobody’s listening to us. Nobody’s paying attention, nobody’s coming out here and asking us what we think. Decisions are made in the cities, and we have to abide by them.

Second, people would complain that they weren’t getting their fair share of stuff, that they weren’t getting their fair share of public resourcesThat often came up in perceptions of taxation. People had this sense that all the money is sucked in by Madison, but never spent on places like theirs.

And third, people felt that they weren’t getting respect. They would say: The real kicker is that people in the city don’t understand us. They don’t understand what rural life is like, what’s important to us and what challenges that we’re facing. They think we’re a bunch of redneck racists.

So it’s all three of these things — the power, the money, the respect. People are feeling like they’re not getting their fair share of any of that.

Was there a sense that anything had changed recently? That anything occurred to harden this sentiment? Why does the resentment seem so much worse now?

Cramer: These sentiments are not new. When I first heard them in 2007, they had been building for a long time — decades.

Look at all the graphs showing how economic inequality has been increasing for decades. Many of the stories that people would tell about the trajectories of their own lives map onto those graphs, which show that since the mid-’70s, something has increasingly been going wrong.

It’s just been harder and harder for the vast majority of people to make ends meet. So I think that’s part of this story. It’s been this slow burn.

Resentment is like that. It builds and builds and builds until something happens. Some confluence of things makes people notice: I am so pissed off. I am really the victim of injustice here.

So what do you think set it all off?

Cramer: The Great Recession didn’t help. Though, as I describe in the book, people weren’t talking about it in the ways I expected them to. People were like,Whatever, we’ve been in a recession for decades. What’s the big deal?

Part of it is that the Republican Party over the years has honed its arguments to tap into this resentment. They’re saying: “You’re right, you’re not getting your fair share, and the problem is that it’s all going to the government. So let’s roll government back.”

So there’s a little bit of an elite-driven effect here, where people are told: “You are right to be upset. You are right to notice this injustice.”

Then, I also think that having our first African American president is part of the mix, too. Now, many of the people that I spent time with were very intrigued by Barack Obama. I think that his race, in a way, signaled to people that this was different kind of candidate. They were keeping an open mind about him. Maybe this person is going to be different.

But then when the health-care debate ramped up, once he was in office and became very, very partisan, I think people took partisan sides. And truth be told, I think many people saw the election of an African American to the presidency as a threat. They were thinking: Wow something is going on in our nation and it’s really unfamiliar, and what does that mean for people like me?

I think in the end his presence has added to the anxieties people have about where this country is headed.

One of the endless debates among the chattering class on Twitter is whether Trump is mostly a phenomenon related to racial resentment, or whether Trump support is rooted in deeper economic anxieties. And a lot of times, the debate is framed like it has to be one or the other — but I think your book offers an interesting way to connect these ideas.

Cramer: What I heard from my conversations is that, in these three elements of resentment — I’m not getting my fair share of power, stuff or respect — there’s race and economics intertwined in each of those ideas.

When people are talking about those people in the city getting an “unfair share,” there’s certainly a racial component to that. But they’re also talking about people like me [a white, female professor]. They’re asking questions like, how often do I teach, what am I doing driving around the state Wisconsin when I’m supposed to be working full time in Madison, like, what kind of a job is that, right?

It’s not just resentment toward people of color. It’s resentment toward elites, city people.

And maybe the best way to explain how these things are intertwined is through noticing how much conceptions of hard work and deservingness matter for the way these resentments matter to politics.

We know that when people think about their support for policies, a lot of the time what they’re doing is thinking about whether the recipients of these policies are deserving. Those calculations are often intertwined with notions of hard work, because in the American political culture, we tend to equate hard work with deservingness.

And a lot of racial stereotypes carry this notion of laziness, so when people are making these judgments about who’s working hard, oftentimes people of color don’t fare well in those judgments. But it’s not just people of color. People are like: Are you sitting behind a desk all day? Well that’s not hard work. Hard work is someone like me — I’m a logger, I get up at 4:30 and break my back. For my entire life that’s what I’m doing. I’m wearing my body out in the process of earning a living.

In my mind, through resentment and these notions of deservingness, that’s where you can see how economic anxiety and racial anxiety are intertwined.

The reason the “Trumpism = racism” argument doesn’t ring true for me is that, well, you can’t eat racism. You can’t make a living off of racism. I don’t dispute that the surveys show there’s a lot of racial resentment among Trump voters, but often the argument just ends there. “They’re racist.” It seems like a very blinkered way to look at this issue.

Cramer: It’s absolutely racist to think that black people don’t work as hard as white people. So what? We write off a huge chunk of the population as racist and therefore their concerns aren’t worth attending to?

How do we ever address racial injustice with that limited understanding?

Of course [some of this resentment] is about race, but it’s also very much about the actual lived conditions that people are experiencing. We do need to pay attention to both. As the work that you did on mortality rates shows, it’s not just about dollars. People are experiencing a decline in prosperity, and that’s real.

The other really important element here is people’s perceptions. Surveys show that it may not actually be the case that Trump supporters themselves are doing less well — but they live in places where it’s reasonable for them to conclude that people like them are struggling.

Support for Trump is rooted in reality in some respects — in people’s actual economic struggles, and the actual increases in mortality. But it’s the perceptionsthat people have about their reality are the key driving force here. That’s been a really important lesson from this election.

I want to get into this idea of deservingness. As I was reading your book it really struck me that the people you talked to, they really have a strong sense of what they deserve, and what they think they ought to have. Where does that come from?

Cramer: Part of where that comes from is just the overarching story that we tell ourselves in the U.S. One of the key stories in our political culture has been the American Dream — the sense that if you work hard, you will get ahead.

Well, holy cow, the people I encountered seem to me to be working extremely hard. I’m with them when they’re getting their coffee before they start their workday at 5:30 a.m. I can see the fatigue in their eyes. And I think the notion that they are not getting what they deserve, it comes from them feeling like they’re struggling. They feel like they’re doing what they were told they needed to do to get ahead. And somehow it’s not enough.

Oftentimes in some of these smaller communities, people are in the occupations their parents were in, they’re farmers and loggers. They say, it used to be the case that my dad could do this job and retire at a relatively decent age, and make a decent wage. We had a pretty good quality of life, the community was thriving. Now I’m doing what he did, but my life is really much more difficult.

I’m doing what I was told I should do in order to be a good American and get ahead, but I’m not getting what I was told I would get.

The hollowing out of the middle class has been happening for everyone, not just for white people. But it seems that this phenomenon is only driving some voters into supporting Trump. One theme of your book is how we can take the same reality, the same facts, but interpret them through different frames of mind and come to such different conclusions.

Cramer: It’s not inevitable that people should assume that the decline in their quality of life is the fault of other population groups. In my book I talk about rural folks resenting people in the city. In the presidential campaign, Trump is very clear about saying: You’re right, you’re not getting your fair share, and look at these other groups of people who are getting more than their fair share. Immigrants. Muslims. Uppity women.

But here’s where having Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump running alongside one another for a while was so interesting. I think the support for Sanders represented a different interpretation of the problem. For Sanders supporters, the problem is not that other population groups are getting more than their fair share, but that the government isn’t doing enough to intervene here and right a ship that’s headed in the wrong direction.

One of the really interesting parts of your book is where you discuss how rural people seem to hate government and want to shrink it, even though government provides them with a lot of benefits. It raises the Thomas Frank question — on some level, are people just being fooled or deluded?

Cramer: There is definitely some misinformation, some misunderstandings. But we all do that thing of encountering information and interpreting it in a way that supports our own predispositions. Recent studies in political science have shown that it’s actually those of us who think of ourselves as the most politically sophisticated, the most educated, who do it more than others.

So I really resist this characterization of Trump supporters as ignorant.

There’s just more and more of a recognition that politics for people is not — and this is going to sound awful, but — it’s not about facts and policies. It’s so much about identities, people forming ideas about the kind of person they are and the kind of people others are. Who am I for, and who am I against?

Policy is part of that, but policy is not the driver of these judgments. There are assessments of, is this someone like me? Is this someone who gets someone like me?

I think all too often, we put our energies into figuring out where people stand on particular policies. I think putting energy into trying to understand the way they view the world and their place in it — that gets us so much further toward understanding how they’re going to vote, or which candidates are going to be appealing to them.

All of us, even well-educated, politically sophisticated people interpret facts through our own perspectives, our sense of what who we are, our own identities.

I don’t think that what you do is give people more information. Because they are going to interpret it through the perspectives they already have. People are only going to absorb facts when they’re communicated from a source that they respect, from a source who they perceive has respect for people like them.

And so whenever a liberal calls out Trump supporters as ignorant or fooled or misinformed, that does absolutely nothing to convey the facts that the liberal is trying to convey.

If, hypothetically, we see a Clinton victory on Tuesday, a lot of people have suggested that she should go out and have a listening tour. What would be her best strategy to reach out to people?

Cramer: The very best strategy would be for Donald Trump, if he were to lose the presidential election, to say, “We need to come together as a country, and we need to be nice to each other.”

That’s not going to happen.

As for the next best approach … well I’m trying to be mindful of what is realistic. It’s not a great strategy for someone from the outside to say, “Look, we really do care about you.” The level of resentment is so high.

People for months now have been told they’re absolutely right to be angry at the federal government, and they should absolutely not trust this woman, she’s a liar and a cheat, and heaven forbid if she becomes president of the United States. Our political leaders have to model for us what it’s like to disagree, but also to not lose basic faith in the system. Unless our national leaders do that, I don’t think we should expect people to.

Maybe it would be good to end on this idea of listening. There was this recent interview with Arlie Hochschild where someone asked her how we could empathize with Trump supporters. This was ridiculed by some liberals on Twitter. They were like, “Why should we try to have this deep, nuanced understanding of people who are chanting JEW-S-A at Trump rallies?” It was this really violent reaction, and it got me thinking about your book.

Cramer: One of the very sad aspects of resentment is that it breeds more of itself. Now you have liberals saying, “There is no justification for these points of view, and why would I ever show respect for these points of view by spending time and listening to them?”

Thank God I was as naive as I was when I started. If I knew then what I know now about the level of resentment people have toward urban, professional elite women, would I walk into a gas station at 5:30 in the morning and say, “Hi! I’m Kathy from the University of Madison”?

I’d be scared to death after this presidential campaign! But thankfully I wasn’t aware of these views. So what happened to me is that, within three minutes, people knew I was a professor at UW-Madison, and they gave me an earful about the many ways in which that riled them up — and then we kept talking.

And then I would go back for a second visit, a third visit, a fourth, fifth and sixth. And we liked each other. Even at the end of my first visit, they would say, “You know, you’re the first professor from Madison I’ve ever met, and you’re actually kind of normal.” And we’d laugh. We got to know each other as human beings.

ple from a different walk of life, from a different perspective. There’s nothing like it. You can’t achieve it through online communication. You can’t achieve it through having good intentions. It’s the act of being witThat’s partly about listening, and that’s partly about spending time with peoh other people that establishes the sense we actually are all in this together.

As Pollyannaish as that sounds, I really do believe it.

Voir aussi:

Anhony Berthelier
HuffPost
14/06/2017

ÉTATS-UNIS – Le président des Etats-Unis Donald Trump a annoncé que l’auteur de la fusillade ayant visé un élu républicain à Alexandria, près de Washington, était décédé. Le député Steve Scalise, touché à la hanche est actuellement à l’hôpital, dans un « état critique. »

Le tireur accusé d’avoir ouvert le feu sur les élus républicains s’entraînant au baseball à Alexandria, se nommait James Hodgkinson, selon les informations des médias américains, confirmées par les services de police. Il avait 66 ans et venait de Belleville, dans l’État de l’Illinois.

Une page Facebook portant son nom montre des photos du candidat démocrate à la présidentielle Bernie Sanders et une grande hostilité à Donald Trump et sa politique. Le 22 mars dernier, il publiait notamment un article avec le statut: « Trump est un traître. Trump a détruit notre démocratie. Il est temps de détruire Trump et compagnie. »

James Hodgkinson affichait ses idées sur les réseaux sociaux et signait activement des pétitions sur change.org, grande plateforme progressiste américaine en ligne.

Fervent supporter du sénateur du Vermont, le tireur s’était même engagé dans sa campagne, comme le confirme Charles Orear, un autre volontaire au Washington Post. Il a d’ailleurs décrit son ami comme un « homme tranquille, très doux et très réservé. » Une information confirmée par Bernie Sanders, lui-même.

« Je viens d’être informé que le tireur présumé est quelqu’un qui s’est apparemment porté volontaire pour ma campagne présidentielle. Cet acte méprisable me rend malade. Permettez-moi d’être aussi clair que possible. La violence de quelque nature que ce soit est inacceptable dans notre société et je condamne cette action de la manière la plus ferme », a déclaré Bernie Sanders avant d’envoyer « ses prières » aux personnes blessées dans l’attaque.

Les photos présentes sur sa page Facebook montrent un homme au physique plutôt replet, au nez épaté, portant un bouc et des lunettes fumées. Toujours selon cette même page, James Hodgkinson est originaire de Belleville, une banlieue de la métropole de St. Louis. Il gérait là-bas une société d’inspection de travaux à domicile. Sa licence a expiré en novembre dernier.

Selon sa femme, citée par ABC, il s’était installé depuis deux mois à Alexandria, ville de l’Etat de Virginie située non loin de Washington.

Voir également:

‘He Was Surprised as Anyone’
Michael Kruse
Politico
November 11, 2016

It was supposed to be the year of the Latino voter. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, white rural voters had an even bigger moment.

Now Democrats are second-guessing the campaign’s decision to largely surrender the rural vote to the GOP. With their eyes turned anxiously toward 2018, they’re urging a new strategy to reach out to rural voters to stave off another bloodbath when a slew of farm-state Democrats face tough reelection battles.

« Hillary lost rural America 3 to 1, » said one Democratic insider, granted anonymity to speak candidly about the campaign. « If she had lost rural America 2 to 1, it would have broken differently. »

After years of declining electoral power, driven by hollowed-out towns, economic hardship and a sustained exodus, rural voters turned out in a big way this presidential cycle — and they voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, fueling the real estate mogul’s upset victory. The billionaire New Yorker never issued any rural policy plans, but he galvanized long-simmering anger by railing against trade deals, the Environmental Protection Agency and the « war on American farmers.”

When Trump’s digital team was analyzing early absentee returns in swing states, they weren’t fixated on what turned out to be an overhyped Latino voter surge. They were zeroing in on signs of an “extremely high” rural turnout, said Matthew Oczkowski, head of product at Cambridge Analytica, who led Trump’s digital team.

The Trump campaign had banked on a strong showing from what it called the “hidden Trump voters,” a demographic that’s largely white, disengaged and non-urban. Based on that premise, they weighted their polling predictions to reflect a higher rural turnout. The surge, as it turned out, exceeded even their expectations.

The rural voting bloc, long a Republican stronghold, has shrunk dramatically over the years, as farms have become more efficient and jobs have migrated to cities and suburbs. About 20 percent of the country, just less than 60 million people, live in rural America. This year, rural voters made up 17 percent of the electorate, according to exit polling.

But in a year with lackluster urban turnout for Clinton, the rural vote ended up playing a key role in Trump’s sweep of crucial Rust Belt swing states, which also tend to have much larger rural populations.

Voir encore:

In Michigan, Trump appears to have won rural and small towns 57 percent to 38 percent, exit polls analyzed by NBC show, faring much better than Mitt Romney in 2012, who won the same group 53-46. In Pennsylvania, Trump blew Clinton out of the water among rural and small-town voters, 71-26 percent, according to exit polls. In 2012, Romney pulled 59 percent. In Wisconsin, Trump won the demographic 63-34 percent.

It will be weeks before more granular data show the full extent of the rural-urban divide, but initial calculations from The Daily Yonder, a website dedicated to rural issues, shows Clinton’s support among rural voters declined more than 8 percentage points from President Barack Obama’s in 2012.

Obama’s support in rural America also eroded between 2008 and 2012, from a high of 41 percent to 38 percent. But Clinton took it to a new low: 29 percent.

« Trump supporters are more rural than even average Republicans,” Oczkowski said. “What we saw on Election Day is that they’re even more rural than we thought. »

But numerous Democrats in agriculture circles buzzed with frustration over what they regarded as halfhearted efforts to engage rural voters. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had urged the Clinton campaign to shore up rural outreach, multiple sources said, beating the same drum he has for several cycles as Democrats have seen their rural support steadily erode.

By all accounts, the Clinton campaign didn’t think it really needed rural voters, a shrinking population that’s reliably Republican. The campaign never named a rural council, as Obama did in 2012 and 2008. It also didn’t build a robust rural-dedicated campaign infrastructure. In 2008, Obama had a small staff at campaign headquarters dedicated to rural messaging and organizing efforts and had state-level rural coordinators in several battleground states throughout the Midwest and Rust Belt.

“There was an understanding that these were places where we needed to play and we needed to be close,” said a source familiar with the effort.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to questions about whether it had a rural strategy. One source said a staffer in Brooklyn was dedicated to rural outreach, but the assignment came just weeks before the election.

The campaign did some targeted mail and used surrogates like Vilsack to campaign in rural battlegrounds, a Clinton aide said. The aide noted that Trump got the same number of overall votes as Romney — although he did not dispute that Trump did far better in rural areas.

Voir de plus:

“The issue was, we did not see the turnout we needed in the cities and suburbs where our supporters were concentrated,” the aide said. “We underperformed in places like Bucks County in Pennsylvania and Wayne County in Michigan. We believe we were on pace for high turnout based on the opening weeks of early voting in states like Florida, Nevada, even Ohio. But it fell off on Election Day, based on — we think — the Comey letter dimming enthusiasm in the final week, » a reference to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement 11 days before the election that investigators were examining new evidence in the probe of Clinton’s email server. (Nine days later, Comey wrote a second letter saying the review had turned up nothing to change his earlier conclusion that there had been no criminal conduct.)

It’s not altogether surprising that Democratic campaign strategists might overlook the rural vote. In 2012, turnout in rural communities dropped off precipitously, and demographic shifts occurring largely in cities and suburbs have given Democrats a sense of a growing advantage. Also, rural communities are, almost by definition, not densely populated, so it requires much more time and effort to do outreach.

“It’s a tough slog,” lamented one young Democrat who asked for anonymity to talk candidly. “It’s hard to speak to rural America. It’s very regionally specific. It feels daunting. You have these wings of the party, progressives, and it’s hard to talk to those people and people in rural America, and not seem like you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth.”

But Trump’s blowout in rural America is seen as a warning sign for Democrats in 2018. Several farm-state lawmakers will be up for reelection, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jon Tester of Montana.

Beyond 2018, there are deep concerns the party is losing the already weak support it had in rural America, and there don’t appear to be any serious efforts to stop the bleeding.

Advocates for more rural engagement say it’s not that Democrats have a real shot at winning in these communities, but they can’t let Republicans run up the score unchecked.

There’s been a sense that Democrats could largely write off the rural vote, as rural voters have left the party because the exodus was offset by demographic growth among urban and nonwhite voters, among others, said Tom Bonier, CEO of Target Smart, a Democratic data and polling firm.

« That calculus didn’t work this time,” he said. “The dropoff was steep. There does need to be a strategy to reach out to these rural and blue-collar white voters. »

The irony is that Clinton actually has a long track record of engaging rural voters. She was popular in rural New York when she served as senator. She dedicated tremendous staff resources and time visiting upstate communities, talking to farmers and working with rural development leaders. Over time, she won over even staunch Republicans who had been extremely skeptical of a « carpetbagging » former first lady coming to their neck of the woods.

Voir de même:

“She was so engaged on the details of the issues,” said Mark Nicholson, owner of Red Jacket Orchards in New York. Nicholson was a registered Republican but was so impressed with Clinton’s work that he campaigned for her this cycle. “She won me over.”

In the lead-up to the Iowa primary, Clinton unveiled her rural platform in a speech in front of a large green John Deere tractor parked inside a community college hall. She advocated for more investment in rural businesses, infrastructure and renewable energy and for increased spending on agriculture, health and education programs. She also slammed Republicans for not believing in climate change and for opposing a “real path to citizenship” for the undocumented workers upon which agriculture relies.

But while Clinton released policy plans, Trump did campaign stops in small towns.

Dee Davis, founder of the Center for Rural Strategies, a non-partisan organization, said he believes the Trump appeal across the heartland has almost nothing to do with policy.

“What Trump did in rural areas was try to appeal to folks culturally, » Davis said, contrasting that with Clinton’s comments about « deplorables » and putting coal mines out of business.

Those two slip-ups were particularly problematic in economically depressed communities that already felt dismissed by Washington and urban elites, he said.

« A lot of us in rural areas, our ears are tuned to intonation,” said Davis, who lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky, a Trump stronghold. “We think people are talking down to us. What ends up happening is that we don’t focus on the policy — we focus on the tones, the references, the culture. »

Voir par ailleurs:

Revenge of the rural voter

Rural voters turned out in a big way this presidential cycle — and they voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump.

11/13/16

It was supposed to be the year of the Latino voter. Unfortunately for Hillary Clinton, white rural voters had an even bigger moment.

Now Democrats are second-guessing the campaign’s decision to largely surrender the rural vote to the GOP. With their eyes turned anxiously toward 2018, they’re urging a new strategy to reach out to rural voters to stave off another bloodbath when a slew of farm-state Democrats face tough reelection battles.

« Hillary lost rural America 3 to 1, » said one Democratic insider, granted anonymity to speak candidly about the campaign. « If she had lost rural America 2 to 1, it would have broken differently. »

After years of declining electoral power, driven by hollowed-out towns, economic hardship and a sustained exodus, rural voters turned out in a big way this presidential cycle — and they voted overwhelmingly for Donald Trump, fueling the real estate mogul’s upset victory. The billionaire New Yorker never issued any rural policy plans, but he galvanized long-simmering anger by railing against trade deals, the Environmental Protection Agency and the « war on American farmers.”

When Trump’s digital team was analyzing early absentee returns in swing states, they weren’t fixated on what turned out to be an overhyped Latino voter surge. They were zeroing in on signs of an “extremely high” rural turnout, said Matthew Oczkowski, head of product at Cambridge Analytica, who led Trump’s digital team.

The Trump campaign had banked on a strong showing from what it called the “hidden Trump voters,” a demographic that’s largely white, disengaged and non-urban. Based on that premise, they weighted their polling predictions to reflect a higher rural turnout. The surge, as it turned out, exceeded even their expectations.

The rural voting bloc, long a Republican stronghold, has shrunk dramatically over the years, as farms have become more efficient and jobs have migrated to cities and suburbs. About 20 percent of the country, just less than 60 million people, live in rural America. This year, rural voters made up 17 percent of the electorate, according to exit polling.

But in a year with lackluster urban turnout for Clinton, the rural vote ended up playing a key role in Trump’s sweep of crucial Rust Belt swing states, which also tend to have much larger rural populations.

In Michigan, Trump appears to have won rural and small towns 57 percent to 38 percent, exit polls analyzed by NBC show, faring much better than Mitt Romney in 2012, who won the same group 53-46. In Pennsylvania, Trump blew Clinton out of the water among rural and small-town voters, 71-26 percent, according to exit polls. In 2012, Romney pulled 59 percent. In Wisconsin, Trump won the demographic 63-34 percent.

It will be weeks before more granular data show the full extent of the rural-urban divide, but initial calculations from The Daily Yonder, a website dedicated to rural issues, shows Clinton’s support among rural voters declined more than 8 percentage points from President Barack Obama’s in 2012.

Obama’s support in rural America also eroded between 2008 and 2012, from a high of 41 percent to 38 percent. But Clinton took it to a new low: 29 percent.

« Trump supporters are more rural than even average Republicans,” Oczkowski said. “What we saw on Election Day is that they’re even more rural than we thought. »

But numerous Democrats in agriculture circles buzzed with frustration over what they regarded as halfhearted efforts to engage rural voters. Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack had urged the Clinton campaign to shore up rural outreach, multiple sources said, beating the same drum he has for several cycles as Democrats have seen their rural support steadily erode.

By all accounts, the Clinton campaign didn’t think it really needed rural voters, a shrinking population that’s reliably Republican. The campaign never named a rural council, as Obama did in 2012 and 2008. It also didn’t build a robust rural-dedicated campaign infrastructure. In 2008, Obama had a small staff at campaign headquarters dedicated to rural messaging and organizing efforts and had state-level rural coordinators in several battleground states throughout the Midwest and Rust Belt.

“There was an understanding that these were places where we needed to play and we needed to be close,” said a source familiar with the effort.

The Clinton campaign did not respond to questions about whether it had a rural strategy. One source said a staffer in Brooklyn was dedicated to rural outreach, but the assignment came just weeks before the election.

The campaign did some targeted mail and used surrogates like Vilsack to campaign in rural battlegrounds, a Clinton aide said. The aide noted that Trump got the same number of overall votes as Romney — although he did not dispute that Trump did far better in rural areas.

“The issue was, we did not see the turnout we needed in the cities and suburbs where our supporters were concentrated,” the aide said. “We underperformed in places like Bucks County in Pennsylvania and Wayne County in Michigan. We believe we were on pace for high turnout based on the opening weeks of early voting in states like Florida, Nevada, even Ohio. But it fell off on Election Day, based on — we think — the Comey letter dimming enthusiasm in the final week, » a reference to FBI Director James Comey’s announcement 11 days before the election that investigators were examining new evidence in the probe of Clinton’s email server. (Nine days later, Comey wrote a second letter saying the review had turned up nothing to change his earlier conclusion that there had been no criminal conduct.)

It’s not altogether surprising that Democratic campaign strategists might overlook the rural vote. In 2012, turnout in rural communities dropped off precipitously, and demographic shifts occurring largely in cities and suburbs have given Democrats a sense of a growing advantage. Also, rural communities are, almost by definition, not densely populated, so it requires much more time and effort to do outreach.

“It’s a tough slog,” lamented one young Democrat who asked for anonymity to talk candidly. “It’s hard to speak to rural America. It’s very regionally specific. It feels daunting. You have these wings of the party, progressives, and it’s hard to talk to those people and people in rural America, and not seem like you’re talking out of both sides of your mouth.”

But Trump’s blowout in rural America is seen as a warning sign for Democrats in 2018. Several farm-state lawmakers will be up for reelection, including Sens. Heidi Heitkamp of North Dakota, Joe Donnelly of Indiana, Debbie Stabenow of Michigan, Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Sherrod Brown of Ohio, Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota and Jon Tester of Montana.

Beyond 2018, there are deep concerns the party is losing the already weak support it had in rural America, and there don’t appear to be any serious efforts to stop the bleeding.

Advocates for more rural engagement say it’s not that Democrats have a real shot at winning in these communities, but they can’t let Republicans run up the score unchecked.

There’s been a sense that Democrats could largely write off the rural vote, as rural voters have left the party because the exodus was offset by demographic growth among urban and nonwhite voters, among others, said Tom Bonier, CEO of Target Smart, a Democratic data and polling firm.

« That calculus didn’t work this time,” he said. “The dropoff was steep. There does need to be a strategy to reach out to these rural and blue-collar white voters. »

The irony is that Clinton actually has a long track record of engaging rural voters. She was popular in rural New York when she served as senator. She dedicated tremendous staff resources and time visiting upstate communities, talking to farmers and working with rural development leaders. Over time, she won over even staunch Republicans who had been extremely skeptical of a « carpetbagging » former first lady coming to their neck of the woods.

“She was so engaged on the details of the issues,” said Mark Nicholson, owner of Red Jacket Orchards in New York. Nicholson was a registered Republican but was so impressed with Clinton’s work that he campaigned for her this cycle. “She won me over.”

In the lead-up to the Iowa primary, Clinton unveiled her rural platform in a speech in front of a large green John Deere tractor parked inside a community college hall. She advocated for more investment in rural businesses, infrastructure and renewable energy and for increased spending on agriculture, health and education programs. She also slammed Republicans for not believing in climate change and for opposing a “real path to citizenship” for the undocumented workers upon which agriculture relies.

But while Clinton released policy plans, Trump did campaign stops in small towns.

Dee Davis, founder of the Center for Rural Strategies, a non-partisan organization, said he believes the Trump appeal across the heartland has almost nothing to do with policy.

“What Trump did in rural areas was try to appeal to folks culturally, » Davis said, contrasting that with Clinton’s comments about « deplorables » and putting coal mines out of business.

Those two slip-ups were particularly problematic in economically depressed communities that already felt dismissed by Washington and urban elites, he said.

« A lot of us in rural areas, our ears are tuned to intonation,” said Davis, who lives in Whitesburg, Kentucky, a Trump stronghold. “We think people are talking down to us. What ends up happening is that we don’t focus on the policy — we focus on the tones, the references, the culture. »

Voir aussi:

Publicités

Duneton: Attention, un appauvrissement peut en cacher un autre ! (Confessions of an oblate)

1 octobre, 2017
https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/519Z9D1E93L._SX283_BO1,204,203,200_.jpgOn en a marre de parler français normal comme les riches, les petits bourges… parce que c’est la banlieue ici. Élève d’origine maghrébine (Pantin, TF1, 1996)
On parle en français, avec des mots rebeus, créoles, africains, portugais, ritals ou yougoslaves « , puisque  » blacks, gaulois, Chinois et Arabes  » y vivent ensemble.  Raja (21 ans)
Le bavardage grossier, loin de combler l’écart entre les rangs sociaux, le maintient et l’aggrave ; sous couleur d’irrévérence et de liberté, il abonde dans le sens de la dégradation, il est l’auto-confirmation de l’infériorité. Jean Starobinski
Les linguistes ont raison de dire que toutes les langues se valent linguistiquement; ils ont tort de croire qu’elles se valent socialement. P. Bourdieu (Ce que parler veut dire: l’économie des échanges linguistiques, 1982)
J’appelle stratégies de condescendance ces transgressions symboliques de la limite qui permettent d’avoir à la fois les profits de la conformité à la définition et les profits de la transgression : c’est le cas de l’aristocrate qui tape sur la croupe du palefrenier et dont on dira «II est simple», sous-entendu, pour un aristocrate, c’est-à-dire un homme d’essence supérieure, dont l’essence ne comporte pas en principe une telle conduite. En fait ce n’est pas si simple et il faudrait introduire une distinction : Schopenhauer parle quelque part du «comique pédant», c’est-à-dire du rire que provoque un personnage lorsqu’il produit une action qui n’est pas inscrite dans les limites de son concept, à la façon, dit-il, d’un cheval de théâtre qui se mettrait à faire du crottin, et il pense aux professeurs, aux professeurs allemands, du style du Professor Unrat de V Ange bleu, dont le concept est si fortement et si étroitement défini, que la transgression des limites se voit clairement. A la différence du professeur Unrat qui, emporté par la passion, perd tout sens du ridicule ou, ce qui revient au même, de la dignité, le consacré condescendant choisit délibérément de passer la ligne ; il a le privilège des privilèges, celui qui consiste à prendre des libertés avec son privilège. C’est ainsi qu’en matière d’usage de la langue, les bourgeois et surtout les intellectuels peuvent se permettre des formes d’hypocorrection, de relâchement, qui sont interdites aux petits-bourgeois, condamnés à l’hypercorrection. Bref, un des privilèges de la consécration réside dans le fait qu’en conférant aux consacrés une essence indiscutable et indélébile, elle autorise des transgressions autrement interdites : celui qui est sûr de son identité culturelle peut jouer avec la règle du jeu culturel, il peut jouer avec le feu, il peut dire qu’il aime Tchaikovsky ou Gershwin, ou même, question de «culot», Aznavour ou les films de série B. Pierre Bourdieu
 L’argot, dont on a fait la «langue populaire» par excellence, est le produit de ce redoublement qui porte à appliquer à la «langue populaire» elle-même les principes de division dont elle est le produit. Le sentiment obscur que la conformité linguistique enferme une forme de reconnaissance et de soumission, propre à faire douter de la virilité des hommes qui lui sacrifient, joint à la recherche active de l’écart distinctif, qui fait le style, conduisent au refus d’«en faire trop» qui porte à rejeter les aspects les plus fortement marqués du parler dominant, et notamment les prononciations ou les formes syntaxiques les plus tendues, en même temps qu’à une recherche de l’expressivité, fondée sur la transgression des censures dominantes — notamment en matière de sexualité — et sur une volonté de se distinguer des formes d’expression ordinaires. La transgression des normes officielles, linguistiques ou autres, est dirigée au moins autant contre les dominés «ordinaires», qui s’y soumettent, que contre les dominants ou, a fortiori, contre la domination en tant que telle. La licence linguistique fait partie du travail de représentation et de mise en scène que les «durs», surtout adolescents, doivent fournir pour imposer aux autres et à eux-mêmes l’image du «mec» revenu de tout et prêt à tout qui refuse de céder au sentiment et de sacrifier aux faiblesses de la sensibilité féminine. Et de fait, même si elle peut, en se divulguant, rencontrer la propension de tous les dominés à faire rentrer la distinction, c’est-à-dire la différence spécifique, dans le genre commun, c’est-à-dire dans l’universalité du biologique, par l’ironie, le sarcasme ou la parodie, la dégradation systématique des valeurs affectives, morales ou esthétiques, où tous les analystes ont reconnu «l’intention» profonde du lexique argotique, est d’abord une affirmation d’aristocratisme. Forme distinguée — aux yeux mêmes de certains des dominants — de la langue «vulgaire», l’argot est le produit d’une recherche de la distinction, mais dominée, et condamnée, de ce fait, à produire des effets paradoxaux, que l’on ne peut comprendre lorsqu’on veut les enfermer dans l’alternative de la résistance ou de la soumission, qui commande la réflexion ordinaire sur la «langue (ou la culture) populaire». Il suffit en effet de sortir de la logique de la vision mythique pour apercevoir les effets de contre-finalité qui sont inhérents à toute position dominée lorsque la recherche dominée de la distinction porte les dominés à affirmer ce qui les distingue, c’est-à-dire cela même au nom de quoi ils sont dominés et constitués comme vulgaires, selon une logique analogue à celle qui porte les groupes stigmatisés à revendiquer le stigmate comme principe de leur identité, faut-il parler de résistance ? Et quand, à l’inverse, ils travaillent à perdre ce qui les marque comme vulgaires, et à s’approprier ce qui leur permettrait de s’assimiler, faut-il parler de soumission ? (…) C’est évidemment chez les hommes et, parmi eux, chez les plus jeunes et les moins intégrés, actuellement et surtout potentiellement, à l’ordre économique et social, comme les adolescents issus de familles immigrées, que se rencontre le refus le plus marqué de la soumission et de la docilité qu’implique l’adoption des manières de parler légitimes. La morale de la force qui trouve son accomplissement dans le culte de la violence et des jeux quasi-suicidaires, moto, alcool ou drogues dures, où s’affirme le rapport à l’avenir de ceux qui n’ont rien à attendre de l’avenir, n’est sans doute qu’une des manières de faire de nécessité vertu. Le parti-pris affiché de réalisme et de cynisme, le refus du sentiment et de la sensibilité, identifiés à une sensiblerie féminine ou efféminée, cette sorte de devoir de dureté, pour soi comme pour les autres, qui conduit aux audaces désespérées de l’aristocratisme de paria, sont une façon de prendre son parti d’un monde sans issue, dominé par la misère et la loi de la jungle, la discrimination et la violence, où la moralité et la sensibilité ne sont d’aucun profit. La morale qui constitue la transgression en devoir impose une résistance affichée aux normes officielles, linguistiques ou autres, qui ne peut être soutenue en permanence qu’au prix d’une tension extraordinaire et, surtout pour les adolescents, avec le renfort constant du groupe. (…) L’argot, et c’est là, avec l’effet d’imposition symbolique, une des raisons de sa diffusion bien au-delà des limites du «milieu» proprement dit, constitue une des expressions exemplaires et, si l’on peut dire, idéales — avec laquelle l’expression proprement politique devra compter, voire composer — de la vision, pour l’essentiel édifiée contre la «faiblesse» et la «soumission» féminines (ou efféminées), que les hommes les plus dépourvus de capital économique et culturel ont de leur identité virile et d’un monde social tout entier placé sous le signe de la dureté. Il faut toutefois se garder d’ignorer les transformations profondes que subissent, dans leur fonction et leur signification, les mots ou les locutions empruntés lorsqu’ils passent dans le parler ordinaire des échanges quotidiens : c’est ainsi que certains des produits les plus typiques du cynisme aristocratique des «durs» peuvent, dans leur emploi commun, fonctionner comme des sortes de conventions neutralisées et neutralisantes qui permettent aux hommes de dire, dans les limites d’une très stricte pudeur, l’affection, l’amour, l’amitié, ou, tout simplement, de nommer les êtres aimés, les parents, le fils, l’épouse (l’emploi, plus ou moins ironique, de termes de référence comme «la patronne», la «reine-mère», ou «ma bourgeoise» permettant par exemple d’échapper à des tours tels que «ma femme» ou le simple prénom, ressentis comme trop familiers). (…) Nul ne peut ignorer complètement la loi linguistique ou culturelle et toutes les fois qu’ils entrent dans un échange avec des détenteurs de la compétence légitime et surtout lorsqu’ils se trouvent placés en situation officielle, les dominés sont condamnés à une reconnaissance pratique, corporelle, des lois de formation des prix les plus défavorables à leurs productions linguistiques qui les condamne à un effort plus ou moins désespéré vers la correction ou au silence. Il reste qu’on peut classer les marchés auxquels ils sont affrontés selon leur degré d’autonomie, depuis les plus complètement soumis aux normes dominantes (comme ceux qui s’instaurent dans les relations avec la justice, la médecine ou l’école) jusqu’aux plus complètement affranchis de ces lois (comme ceux qui se constituent dans les prisons ou les bandes de jeunes). L’affirmation d’une contre-légitimité linguistique et, du même coup, la production de discours fondée sur l’ignorance plus ou moins délibérée des conventions et des convenances caractéristiques des marchés dominants ne sont possibles que dans les limites des marchés francs, régis par des lois de formation des prix qui leur sont propres, c’est-à-dire dans des espaces propres aux classes dominées, repaires ou refuges des exclus dont les dominants sont de fait exclus, au moins symboliquement, et pour les détenteurs attitrés de la compétence sociale et linguistique qui est reconnue sur ces marchés. L’argot du «milieu», en tant que transgression réelle des principes fondamentaux de la légitimité culturelle, constitue une affirmation conséquente d’une identité sociale et culturelle non seulement différente mais opposée, et la vision du monde qui s’y exprime représente la limite vers laquelle tendent les membres (masculins) des classes dominées dans les échanges linguistiques internes à la classe et, plus spécialement, dans les plus contrôlés et soutenus de ces échanges, comme ceux du café, qui sont complètement dominés par les valeurs de force et de virilité, un des seuls principes de résistance efficace, avec la politique, contre les manières dominantes de parler et d’agir. (…) On comprend que le discours qui a cours sur ce marché ne donne les apparences de la liberté totale et du naturel absolu qu’à ceux qui en ignorent les règles ou les principes : ainsi l’éloquence que la perception étrangère appréhende comme une sorte de verve débridée, n’est ni plus ni moins libre en son genre que les improvisations de l’éloquence académique ; elle n’ignore ni la recherche de l’effet, ni l’attention au public et à ses réactions, ni les stratégies rhétoriques destinées à capter sa bienveillance ou sa complaisance ; elle s’appuie sur des schèmes d’invention et d’expression éprouvés mais propres à donner à ceux qui ne les possèdent pas le sentiment d’assister à des manifestations fulgurantes de la finesse d’analyse ou de la lucidité psychologique ou politique. Pierre Bourdieu
La France est une garce et on s’est fait trahir Le système, voilà ce qui nous pousse à les haïr La haine, c’est ce qui rend nos propos vulgaires On nique la France sous une tendance de musique populaire On est d’accord et on se moque des répressions On se fout de la République et de la liberté d’expression Faudrait changer les lois et pouvoir voir Bientôt à l’Elysée des arabes et des noirs au pouvoir (Nique la France, Sniper, 2010)
La lecture, c’est pour les pédés! Réponse de collégiens français
Le parler «caillera», ce «langage des exclus» longtemps vu comme une contre-culture «voyou», voire une sous-culture, serait-il devenu tendance chez les jeunes nantis ? Un langage pourtant ultra-code, qui mêle vieil argot et verlan, expressions arabes et africaines. Des mots cash, trash, parfois sexistes, souvent décriés parce qu’ils véhiculeraient la «haine» ? L’intéressée hausse les épaules. «Ca fait longtemps que le verlan a dépassé les limites de la cité», explique-t-elle. De la cour de récré aux boîtes de nuit branchées, il se répand comme une traînée de poudre. On ne rit plus, on s’tape des barres ou on s’charrie. En teuf on kiffe sa race sur de la bonne zik, du son chanmé en matant des meufs. Un vrai truc de ouf. Popularisé avec le «Nique ta mère» de Jamel Debbouze et le tube «Mets ta cagoule» de Michaël Youn, démocratisé par les animateurs radio Maurad et Difool, le verlan a définitivement passé le périph. Le Nouvel Observateur
Doit-on se satisfaire de l’affaiblissement du français ? Certainement pas. En même temps, la langue française n’est pas menacée à domicile, même si elle l’est à l’international. Que faire alors ? Pour être constructif, plusieurs idées peuvent être avancées. Il faut par exemple renouveler et redynamiser notre langue en s’appuyant sur le français des quartiers, source permanente d’invention linguistique. On compte aujourd’hui plusieurs milliers de mots en verlan qui enrichissent notre langue. Valorisons-les dans les dictionnaires et les écoles. Frédéric Martel
Les défenseurs de l’éducation bilingue disent qu’il est important d’ enseigner un enfant dans la langue de sa famille. Moi, je dis qu’on ne peut pas utiliser la langue familiale dans la classe – la nature même de la classe exige que vous vous serviez de la langue d’une manière publique. (…) L’intimité n’a rien à faire dans les salles de classe. Richard Rodriguez
Il n’y a rien de surprenant qu’au moment où les universités américaines se sont engagées sérieusement dans la diversité, elles soient devenues des prisons de la pensée. Personne ne parle de la diversité d’aucune manière véritable. On ne parle que de versions brune, noire et blanche de la même idéologie politique. Il est très curieux qu’aux Etats-Unis comme au Canada on réduit la diversité à la race et à l’appartenance ethnique. On ne pense jamais que ça pourrait aussi signifier plus de nazis ou plus de baptistes du sud. Ca aussi, c’est la diversité, vous savez. Pour moi, la diversité n’est pas une valeur. La diversité, c’est l’Irlande du Nord. La diversité, c’est Beyrouth. La diversité, c’est le frère qui massacre son frère. Là où la diversité est partagée – où je partage avec vous ma différence – celle-ci peut avoir une valeur. Mais le simple fait que nous sommes différents est une notion terrifiante. Richard Rodriguez
Par-delà les discours pétris de bonne conscience sur l’égale dignité de toutes les pratiques linguistiques, on oublie de préciser que les exclus de la langue de Molière ont toutes les chances de devenir des exclus tout court. Alain Bentolila
Il y a un réel engouement bourgeois pour cette culture. Mais c’est aussi la marque d’un encanaïllement un peu pervers. Car à la différence d’un jeune des cités, un «fils de» n’aura aucun mal à jongler avec un autre registre de langue lorsqu’il s’agira de reprendre la boîte de papa… (…) L’écrit que pratiquent ces jeunes aujourd’hui a changé de perspective et de nature. C’est un écrit de l’immédiateté, de la rapidité et de la connivence: réduit au minimum, il n’est destiné à être compris que par celui à qui on s’adresse. Or, la spécificité de l’écrit par rapport à l’oral est qu’il permet de communiquer en différé et sur la durée: il est arrivé dans la civilisation pour laisser des traces. (…) Ce qui a changé, c’est que nos enfants, qu’on a cru nourrir de nos mots, utilisent un vocabulaire très restreint, réduit à environ 1 500 mots quand ils parlent entre eux – et à 600 ou 800 mots dans les cités. » Les adolescents les plus privilégiés possèdent, certes, une « réserve » de vocabulaire qui peut être très importante et dans laquelle ils piochent en cas de nécessité (à l’école, avec des adultes, lors d’un entretien d’embauche…), ce qui leur permet une « socialisation » plus importante. Mais globalement, ce bagage de mots que possèdent les jeunes a tendance à s’appauvrir quel que soit leur milieu. (…) Il y a une loi simple en linguistique: moins on a de mots à sa disposition, plus on les utilise et plus ils perdent en précision. On a alors tendance à compenser l’imprécision de son vocabulaire par la connivence avec ses interlocuteurs, à ne plus communiquer qu’avec un nombre de gens restreint. La pauvreté linguistique favorise le ghetto; le ghetto conforte la pauvreté linguistique. En ce sens, l’insécurité linguistique engendre une sorte d’autisme social. Quand les gamins de banlieue ne maîtrisent que 800 mots, alors que les autres enfants français en possèdent plus de 2 500, il y a un déséquilibre énorme. Tout est «cool», tout est «grave», tout est «niqué», et plus rien n’a de sens. Ces mots sont des baudruches sémantiques: ils ont gonflé au point de dire tout et son contraire. «C’est grave» peut signifier «c’est merveilleux» comme «c’est épouvantable». (…) C’est de la démagogie! Ces néologismes sont spécifiques des banlieues et confortent le ghetto. L’effet est toujours centrifuge. Les enfants des milieux aisés vampirisent le vocabulaire des cités, mais ils disposent aussi du langage général qui leur permet d’affronter le monde. L’inverse n’est pas vrai. Arrêtons de nous ébahir devant ces groupes de rap et d’en faire de nouveaux Baudelaire! La spécificité culturelle ne justifie jamais que l’on renonce en son nom à des valeurs universelles. Cela est valable pour l’excision, la langue des sourds comme pour le langage des banlieues. Dans une étude récente en Seine-Saint-Denis, on a demandé à des collégiens ce que représentait pour eux la lecture. Plusieurs ont fait cette réponse surprenante: «La lecture, c’est pour les pédés!» Cela signifie que, pour eux, la lecture appartient à un monde efféminé, qui les exclut et qu’ils rejettent. Accepter le livre et la lecture serait passer dans le camp des autres, ce serait une trahison. (…) Même les aides jardiniers ou les mécaniciens auto doivent maîtriser des catalogues techniques, entrer des données, procéder à des actes de lecture et d’écriture complexes. Or 11,6% des jeunes Français entre 17 et 25 ans comprennent difficilement un texte court, un mode d’emploi ou un document administratif et ne savent pas utiliser un plan ou un tableau. (…) Il y a trente ans, l’école affichait cyniquement sa vocation à reproduire les inégalités sociales: l’examen de sixième éjectait du cursus scolaire deux tiers des enfants, en majorité issus des classes populaires, qui passaient alors leur certificat d’études primaires (avec d’ailleurs une orthographe très supérieure à celle des enfants du même âge aujourd’hui). Or on est passé de ce tri affiché à l’objectif de 80% d’élèves au bac, imposant à une population scolaire qui autrefois aurait suivi la filière courte du certificat d’études de rester au collège et au lycée jusqu’à 16 ans. (…) mais alors il fallait changer complètement les programmes, les méthodes, les structures, les rythmes! Cela n’a pas été fait. A part quelques morceaux de sparadrap appliqués ici et là, l’école est restée la même. Il faut comprendre que l’apprentissage du langage n’est pas aussi naturel qu’il y paraît. C’est un travail. Quand un enfant apprend à parler, il le fait d’abord dans la proximité, dans un cercle étroit de connivence: la langue confirme ce qu’il voit, avec peu de mots. Petit à petit, en élargissant son langage, il quitte ce cocon douillet pour passer à l’inconnu: il va s’adresser à des gens qu’il n’a jamais vus, pour dire des choses dont ces gens n’ont jamais entendu parler. Il faut avoir l’ambition d’élargir le monde pour s’emparer des mots, et il faut s’emparer des mots pour élargir le monde. Mais, pour cela, l’enfant a absolument besoin d’un médiateur adulte à la fois bienveillant et exigeant qui transforme ses échecs en conquêtes nouvelles – «Je n’ai pas compris ce que tu veux me dire; il est important pour moi de te comprendre» – quelqu’un qui manifeste cette dimension essentielle du langage: l’altérité. (…) A cause de l’évolution sociologique de ces trente dernières années, l’activité professionnelle des mères, l’éloignement des grands-parents, l’école a accepté des enfants de 2 ans sans rien changer à sa pratique: ces petits se retrouvent dans des classes de 30, avec une maîtresse et, au mieux, une aide maternelle, à un âge où le langage explose (on passe de 50 à 300 mots et on inaugure les premières combinaisons syntaxiques). Dans ce contexte, ils restent entre eux. Cette réponse de l’école maternelle n’est pas honorable. Elle creuse encore le fossé culturel. C’est une catastrophe pour l’épanouissement psycholinguistique de l’enfant! (…) Pour aggraver les choses, on enseigne le français dans les filières professionnelles comme en maîtrise de linguistique: on leur fait étudier le «schéma narratif», l’«arrière-plan» et l’«avant-plan», le «champ lexical» ou encore les «connecteurs d’argumentation», des concepts de pseudo-analyse sémiotique éloignés de l’univers du bon sens. C’est une forme de désespoir pédagogique qui révèle un vrai renoncement à faire partager à des élèves de culture populaire la vibration intime qu’engendre un beau texte. Alain Bentolila (linguiste et spécialiste de l’illettrisme)
Toute langue possède une dimension argotique ; en effet, toute société humaine fonctionne avec des interdits, des tabous, entre autres, d’ordre social, politique, religieux, moral, qui sont véhiculés par la (ou les) forme(s) légitimée(s) de la langue. Comment peut-il être dès lors imaginé une société au sein de laquelle aucune personne, aucun groupe ne chercherait à se doter de moyens pour contourner ces interdits et ces tabous, ne serait-ce que par transgression langagière ? De telles pratiques sociales et langagières constituent les foyers les plus actifs nécessaires à l’émergence de formes argotiques, qui sont elles-mêmes autant de preuves des stratégies d’évitement, de contournement des interdits et tabous sociaux mises en œuvre par les locuteurs, les groupes de locuteurs qui produisent de telles formes. Une contre-légitimité linguistique peut ainsi s’établir . La situation linguistique française n’échappe pas à ce schéma et des parlers argotiques, plus ou moins spécifiques à tel(s) ou tel(s) groupe(s) ont toujours existé de manière concomitante avec ce que l’on appelle par habitude  » langue populaire ».  (….) Toute langue a bel et bien toujours eu, génère continuellement et aura toujours un registre argotique, qui permet la mise en place de stratégies de contournement, voire aussi de cryptage, de masquage. Au XVe siècle, François Villon a rédigé ses fameuses ballades dans une langue de malfrats, le parler de la Coquille, un argot d’une confrérie de malandrins, qui livrèrent sous la torture une partie de leur vocabulaire. Si l’on considère ce qui s’est passé en France depuis environ cent ans pour l’argot traditionnel, qu’il s’agisse de ses manifestations de la fin du XIXe siècle et du début du XXe, de celles des années 1920-1930, d’après-guerre ou bien des années 1950-1960, une différence fondamentale doit être notée par rapport à ce que l’on constate aujourd’hui sur le terrain : de nos jours les épices apportées à la langue française sont de plus en plus empruntées à des langues étrangères. Même si l’argot traditionnel a su s’alimenter de termes étrangers, il le faisait à l’époque dans des proportions moindres. Un facteur déterminant est intervenu depuis et s’est amplifié : celui de l’immigration. Au temps de la Mouffe (rue Mouffetard), de la Butte (butte Montmartre), des Fortifs (Fortifications remplacées actuellement par le boulevard périphérique) un brassage de populations avait lieu dans Paris intra-muros, tout comme dans la majeure partie des grandes villes françaises. Les formes argotiques et les formes non légitimées dites  » populaires  » de la langue française se rejoignaient et c’est une des raisons qui ont permis alors aux mots des argotiers, des jargonneux de tel ou tel  » petit  » métier de passer du statut d’argot particulier à celui d’argot commun avant même de transiter par l’intermédiaire de la langue familière vers la langue française circulante, voire la langue académique, celle que l’on peut aussi écrire, y compris à l’école. Cambriole, cambriolage, cambrioler et cambrioleur ne sont plus du tout perçus de nos jours comme des mots d’origine argotique, ce qu’ils sont en réalité, puisque tous proviennent de l’argot cambriole qui désigne la chambre, la pièce que l’on peut voler. (…) Évolution rapide des formes de type argotique ? En voici un exemple : entrer dans un café et demander un casse-dalle avec une petite mousse  » un sandwich avec une bière  » appartient, d’un point de vue linguistique, à une autre époque, qui se termine à la fin des années 60-70 du siècle passé. Ce n’est plus le temps de la gapette  » casquette (à la mode ancienne)  » sur l’œil et de la cibiche  » cigarette  » au coin des lèvres. La casquette, aujourd?hui de marque Nike, est vissée sur le crâne, s’accompagne de baskets de même marque ou avec le logo Adidas aux pieds et les lascars  » jeunes des cités et quartiers français contemporains  » se désignent comme des casquettes-baskets par opposition aux costards-cravates, ceux qui sont en dehors de la cité, ceux qui sont en place, dans la place  » ont un travail, sont arrivés socialement « . De nos jours, au féca  » café, bistrot  » du coin on dame un dwich  » mange un sandwich  » et on tise une teillbou de 8.6  » boit une bouteille de bière titrant 8,6o d’alcool « . Il en va ainsi de l’évolution du lexique oral. Les personnes qui vivent dans des cités de banlieue ou dans des quartiers dits  » défavorisés  » – entre des tours et des barres – parlent de plus en plus fréquemment une forme de français que certaines d’entre elles nomment  » verlan « , d’autres  » argot « , voire  » racaille-mot  » (  » mots de la racaille « ). Cette variété de français, que l’on peut désigner par  » argot des cités  » ou  » argot de banlieue  » est en réalité la manifestation contemporaine la plus importante d’une variété de français, qui au cours des dernières décennies, tout comme les diverses populations qui l’ont parlée, a perdu tout d’abord son caractère rural, par la suite toute indexation ouvrière, voire prolétaire, pour devenir le mode d?expression de groupes sociaux insérés dans un processus d’urbanisation. Progressivement se sont alors développés les parlers urbains français, qui sont pratiqués de manière plus ou moins effective (usages actifs / passifs) par des millions de personnes en France, que celles-ci soient françaises d’origine ou non, issues de l’immigration ou étrangères. Pendant toutes les années 1990, cet argot de cités, désigné plus haut par français contemporain des cités (FCC en abrégé), est sorti d’entre les tours et les barres, qui l’ont vu naître, émerger, exploser au début des années 1980. Les formes lexicales du FCC sont puisées d’une part dans le vieux français et ses variétés régionales, d’autre part dans le vieil argot, celui de Mimile, mais aussi dans les multiples langues des communautés liées à l’immigration. Par ailleurs le FCC comporte aussi un nombre important de créations lexicales spécifiques, qui ne sont pas uniquement du verlan, comme on peut le croire communément. Étant donné les pratiques langagières des communautés d’origines diverses, de cultures et de langues non moins différentes, qui cohabitent dans les cités ou les quartiers des grandes villes françaises une interlangue émerge entre le français véhiculaire dominant, la langue circulante, et l’ensemble des vernaculaires qui compose la mosaïque linguistique des cités : arabe maghrébin, berbère, diverses langues africaines et asiatiques, langues de type tsigane, créoles antillais (à base lexicale française) pour ne citer que ces langues. (…) Dans ces variétés linguistiques se met alors en place un processus de déstructuration de la langue française circulante par ceux-là même qui l’utilisent et y introduisent leurs propres mots, ceux de leur origine, de leur culture. Les formes linguistiques ainsi créées et leurs diverses variantes régionales deviennent dès lors autant de marqueurs, voire des stéréotypes identitaires ; elles exercent de ce fait pleinement leurs fonctions d’indexation. L’instillation d’un grand nombre de traits spécifiques, qui proviennent du niveau identitaire, dans le système linguistique dominant correspond alors à une volonté permanente de créer une diglossie, qui devient la manifestation langagière d’une révolte avant tout sociale. (…) La déstructuration de la langue s’opère aussi par introduction dans les énoncés de formes parasitaires, ce qui constitue une procédure argotique bien connue des linguistes. Ceux et celles qui utilisent de telles formes linguistiques peuvent de ce fait s’approprier la langue française circulante, qui devient alors leur langue ; ils et elles peuvent grâce à elle non seulement se fédérer mais aussi et surtout espérer résister et échapper à toute tutelle en se donnant ainsi un outil de communication qui se différencie des différents parlers familiaux, qu’ils ou elles pratiquent, peu ou prou, par ailleurs mais aussi de la forme véhiculaire de la langue française dominante, par conséquent légitimée. Les normes linguistiques maternelles sont alors développées comme autant de  » contrenormes  » à la langue française, académique, ressentie comme langue  » étrangère  » par rapport à sa propre culture. L’École a une fonction primordiale : elle se doit de fournir aux enfants scolarisés les outils nécessaires pour parvenir à une maîtrise efficace de la langue française tant sous ses diverses manifestations orales que sous sa forme écrite, orthographique par conséquent. Dans le cas de groupes scolaires implantés dans des cités, la langue utilisée par les élèves est à bien des égards distante du français circulant, compte tenu de la multitude des éléments linguistiques identitaires qui y sont instillés. Ceci contribue aussi dans le cadre de l’école à la mise en place de la fracture linguistique. Le rôle des enseignants devient dès lors prépondérant ; il s’agit de pouvoir éviter l’instauration de rapports d’exclusion au nom des sacro-saints  » ils ne parlent pas français « ,  » ils n’expriment que de la violence, leur violence « ,  » il n’y a que des mots grossiers dans ces parlers  » et autres  » on ne sait plus parler français dans les banlieues « . Bien au contraire, c’est un réel foisonnement lexical que l’on constate lors de l’analyse des diverses variétés du FCC. En effet, si les anciens argots de métiers eux-mêmes et l’argot commun traditionnel reflétaient une véritable  » fécondité en matière lexicale « , une  » effervescence du vocabulaire… dans des groupes sociaux mal armés chez lesquels on s’attendrait à un stock lexical réduit »,  il en est de même pour ce qui est des formes langagières actuelles des cités. (…) Les pratiques argotiques contemporaines doivent être resituées dans le temps. En France au cours du XXe siècle les argots de métiers cèdent progressivement la place aux argots sociologiques. Ces deux types d’argots se différencient entre eux par l’importance relative des fonctions qu’ils exercent : pour les argots de métiers les fonctions sont essentiellement cryptiques, voire crypto-ludiques ; les fonctions identitaires, quant à elles, n’occupent qu’une place secondaire. Une inversion des rapports intervient dans le cas des argots sociologiques des cités. Les fonctions identitaires jouent pleinement leur rôle et la revendication langagière de jeunes et de moins jeunes qui  » se situent en marge des valeurs dites légitimes (…) est avant tout l’expression d’une jeunesse confrontée à un ordre socio-économique de plus en plus inégalitaire, notamment en matière d’accès au travail. Jean-Pierre Goudaillier
Duneton’s description of the paradox of working-class kids made good who enter the teaching profession has another echo in Bourdieu’s sociological writings. Bourdieu often uses the term oblate, a word which originated in the Middle Ages to describe a young man of modest means entrusted to a religious foundation to be trained for the priesthood. Bourdieu borrows the term to suggest the intensity of institutional loyalty felt by the teacher of humble origins who owes his whole education and culture to the state educational system. The oblates of the modern world are all teachers. An alternative title for Je suis comme une truie qui doute might be Confessions of an Ex-Oblate. (…) A teacher who becomes sceptical of the very value of schooling and the very value of the culture he is supposed to disseminate is about as much use as a farmyard sow who refuses to eat. This realization is at the heart of Je suis comme une truie qui doute and, of course, explains the text’s surreal title. Duneton doesn’t only stress the linguistic alienation of many working-class and predominantly rural kids. He also emphasises their very real linguistic abilities. These kids are not illiterate they are simply not in possession of the `right’ kind of French accepted within the school system. For Duneton it is important that children from rural areas are encouraged to learn and speak at school the kind of French spoken at home and with peers from their own region. For some children with knowledge of Occitan or other regional languages, this can benefit them in their learning of other foreign languages. Tony McNeill
Ça fausse un peu le jugement d’être une exception. On a tendance à croire que les autres, peuvent en faire autant … Mais ce qui fausse encore plus le jugement, c’est que, si nous avons réussi à sauter les barrières, c’est précisément parce que nous avons assimilé en profondeur les règles du jeu. Ces règles-là conditionnent aujourd’hui notre pensée. On nous a fait jouer aux échecs, blaque à part, et nous avons gagné. Alors nous continuons à faire jouer les autres en espérant que ça se passera bien aussi pour eux. (…) Ben oui. On ne nous avait pas dit que les littérateurs se foutaient de nous. On nous les faisait révérer comme nos grands frères, ces visages pâles! Claude Duneton
… les livres de classe présentent la société sous un angle bien détérminé; sous prétexte de vie quotidienne et de condition moyenne ils offrent aux enfants attentifs un univers essentiellement petit- bourgeois. (…) la langue française, c’était au début du siècle la langue d’une infime minorité de la population française. C’est curieux à dire, mais la France n’est francophone que depuis cinquante ans à peine! … La haute bourgeoisie de notre pays avait, depuis des siècles, une langue à elle, une belle langue, réputée, qu’elle s’était faite toute seule, en secret. Elle en avait déjà fait présent à plusieurs cours d’Europe, quand, tout d’un coup, au début de ce siècle, elle en a fait cadeau aux Français.
Pendant longtemps, lorsque j’entendais le mot culture, je pensais d’abord à un champ de pommes de terre … Oh c’était pas méchant! C’est pas comme l’autre avec son revolver! – Non, j’avais simplement la connotation rustique … Et puis je me rappelais bien vite que c’était pas ça: qu’il s’agissait de la Grande Culture, de l’unique, de la vaste, de la très belle, de la Culture aux grands pieds! `L’ensemble de connaissances acquises qui permettent à l’esprit de développer son sens critique, son goût, son jugement’, comme dit Robert. – Oui mais c’est très orienté tout ça, non? … Le goût, le jugement … L’ensemble de connaissances acquises peut-être, mais ça dépend tout de même lesquelles! On ne dit jamais de quelqu’un par exemple: `Cet homme est très cultivé, il connaît Marx et Lénine sur le bout du doigt.’ Hein? C’est vrai, ça fait curieux comme remarque … A l’oreille, ça ne passe pas. Pas plus que: `Cultivé? Vous pensez, il travaille sur les nouveaux ordinateurs Machin!’ Ce serait choquant à la limite … Non, un homme cultivé ce n’est pas ça. Il connaît d’abord ses classiques. Non pas pour en faire une critique historique circonstanciée, non, comme ça, pour l’ornement de ses pensées. Racine, il en cite deux ou trois vers … Mallarmé. Il sait reconnaître un Breughel, un Beethoven. Il a lu Proust en entier, Balzac … Bref il est cultivé quoi! On dit aussi que la culture c’est ce qui reste quand on a tout oublié. Ben oui. Ce qui reste c’est un sentiment, une impression, une manière de voir les choses – une vision. Comme on a oublié d’où elle vient cette vision, elle nous paraît naturelle, la seule qui soit. C’est comme celui qui porte des lunettes de soleil, il oublie ses verres teintés; ça lui colore l’existence, il cherche pas à en savoir plus long.
Que la manoeuvre de dépassement soit réussie ou non, pour quelqu’un qui fait des études, il reste tout de même une sérieuse dualité entre le parler familial et celui de l’école, du lycée, de l’université.
Combien j’en ai vu des petits garçons taciturnes, qui traînent à longueur de cours, de semaines, d’années scolaires, sans presque desserrer les dents! Et puis on les surprend, un soir du côté du garage à vélos, ou bien dehors, dans un groupe, près du portail. Le gosse est en discussion animée avec les copains. Il a la voix rapide, le geste sec, un vrai harangueur … Il ne vous a pas vu venir. Tout à coup il vous voit: ça s’arrête net dans sa gorge. Il rougit, sourit, gêné … Les autres rigolent. Ils savent, eux, qu’il parle autant qu’un autre. Et ça n’est pas parce que vous n’êtes pas gentil, parce que vous lui faites peur personnellement. C’est autre chose – qu’il ignore d’ailleurs – : c’est qu’il vit mal sa dualité.
Mais toutes les langues sont `de culture’ si on sait les prendre, et si l’on donne à ce mot un sens un peu plus profonde que `source inépuisable d’extraits de morceaux choisis’. A condition de dissocier culture et littérature de classe, sans jeu de mots.
Vieux con. Lui aussi, l’inspecteur, il est souvent l’enfant d’un tâcheron. Le petit fils d’un besogneux des terres occitanes, d’un haveur de charbon presque belge … Le descendant d’un ajusteur. Le fils de bourgeois ne font pas l’enseignement. Ils occupent les ministères. (…) Bref il n’a jamais été question de savoir si j’aimerais enseigner les gosses. La question aurait été aussi saugrenu que pour un prisonnier en cavale qui voit un train démarrer de demander si la direction du train est la bonne, et à quelle heure il arrive là où il va. Il saute dans le premier wagon le type, et voilà! – Vocation? … Vous voulez rire! La vocation générale des prolétaires occitans depuis un demi-siècle était de véhiculer des messages: dans les Postes, cela va de soi, les Chemins de Fer, ou alors le message culturel par excellence: l’Enseignement. Les classes laborieuses n’ont pas de vocation, elles prennent la porte qui se trouve ouverte devant leur nez. (…) Pour un enfant de prolétaire l’apprentissage du langage intellectuel constitue un pas important à franchir. Il n’y a pas que la vision qui doit changer. Ce langage non affectif, cultivé, à la musicalité plus `distinguée’ que la sienne, tend à le couper de son milieu familial. Toute une série de forces inconscientes s’opposent violemment à cette séparation, le retiennent. En fait il s’agit de dépasser le père, de le rejeter, avec la mère, en un mot, dans le symbolique freudienne, de le tuer. Même s’il n’est pas perçu en tant que tel, c’est un rude moment intérieur, souvent autour de la puberté. C’est quelquefois dur à crever un père travailleur manuel. `La rigidité particulière des tissus’, vous savez … Et puis on s’y attache. C’est dur de passer de l’autre bord, de mépriser. En plus de la combine oedipienne commune à tous, il faut renier toute une façon d’être, de sentir, une façon de rire et de pleurer. Certains ont de la peine, ils réussissent moins bien leur assassinat. Ça fait des cancres. Claude Duneton
Personne ne me contredira si j’affirme que le vocabulaire de la jeunesse s’est appauvri depuis trente ans. Et ce ne sont pas les quelques dizaines de mots arrachés par les médias dans les champs de sabir mythifiés appelés «banlieues» qui compensent les pertes. Contrairement à une idée reçue, le parler ordinaire des adolescents s’est rétréci non pas seulement parce que les termes convenus leur échappent (ne disons pas «littéraires») ; leur vocabulaire s’est allégé aussi parce que les mots vulgaires leur manquent! – Je m’entends. On l’ignore généralement, la phraséologie familière traditionnelle que tout Français et la plupart des Françaises utilisaient sans penser à mal au XXe siècle -, ce français d’entre soi, «bas» peut-être, mais rigolo, tellement rejeté par l’école de nos pères, cet «argot» enfin qui faisait la vie et la saveur des palabres, leur fait lui aussi défaut. (…) À quoi le phénomène est-il dû? J’aimerais bien le savoir. Plusieurs causes, dont probablement l’absence de vie familiale intime, absorbée qu’elle est par la télévision. Donc peu d’échanges avec les parents, moins encore avec les grands-parents, jadis gros transmetteurs, quand ce n’est pas avec toute catégorie d’adultes – cette tendance va s’affirmer avec la consommation de portables. La parole n’étant plus transmise, la pénurie s’installe – durablement. Claude Duneton

Attention: un appauvrissement peut en cacher un autre !

Alors que Le Figaro nous ressort une vielle chronique du célèbre défenseur de l’argot et des langues régionales Claude Duneton

Se lamentant de  l’appauvrissement, entre « calendos », « guincher » ou « radiner », non tant du français de nos adolescents …

Que de celui de leur argot …

Comment ne pas s’étonner …

De cette étrange conjonction de contresens et d’aveuglements …
Venant de quelqu’un qui à la fois issu des classes dominées (fils de paysans corréziens) et auteur reconnu (premier de la classe devenu professeur) a consacré sa vie à la question …
Et pourtant semble refuser le processus inexorable, via notamment le verlan, de l’argotisation …
Et ne pas voir que la multi-ethnisisation accrue en plus entre parlers arabe, berbère, africain, antillais ou gitan …
Le même phénomène est à l’oeuvre d’attachement identitaire aux racines qu’il avait voué sa vie à défendre …
Si bien décrit,  dans son livre le plus personnel, comme le « vivre mal de sa dualité » d’une « truie qui doute »
Et comment ne pas voir l’appauvrissement autrement plus conséquent …
Que serait l’apprentissage qu’il semble, à l’instar des impasses américaines de l’ebonics ou de l’enseignement bilingue, appeler de ses voeux …
D’un vocabulaire par définition dépassé …
Pour des jeunes dont le principal problème reste et a toujours été d’intégrer
Via justement la maitrise de la langue légitime
Le marché du travail dont à l’image de leurs quartiers en voie de ghettoïsation …
Ils sont souvent les premiers exclus ?

L’appauvrissement du français est en marche

Claude Duneton

Le Figaro

«Calendos», «guincher», «radiner»… Tous ces mots, jadis présents dans nos conversations ont disparu du langage de nos adolescents. Claude Duneton (1935-2012) notait ce rétrécissement de notre champ lexical il y a quelques années dans une chronique. La voici.

Personne ne me contredira si j’affirme que le vocabulaire de la jeunesse s’est appauvri depuis trente ans. Et ce ne sont pas les quelques dizaines de mots arrachés par les médias dans les champs de sabir mythifiés appelés «banlieues» qui compensent les pertes. Contrairement à une idée reçue, le parler ordinaire des adolescents s’est rétréci non pas seulement parce que les termes convenus leur échappent (ne disons pas «littéraires») ; leur vocabulaire s’est allégé aussi parce que les mots vulgaires leur manquent! – Je m’entends.

On l’ignore généralement, la phraséologie familière traditionnelle que tout Français et la plupart des Françaises utilisaient sans penser à mal au XXe siècle -, ce français d’entre soi, «bas» peut-être, mais rigolo, tellement rejeté par l’école de nos pères, cet «argot» enfin qui faisait la vie et la saveur des palabres, leur fait lui aussi défaut.

Calendos, confiote et burlingue

Voyons cela de près et non pas en rêve. Vous qui savez ce qu’est un calendos, coulant ou plâtreux, (Ah, les pique-niques sur l’herbe!), demandez voir à des gens qui ont entre 13 et 18 ans ce que ce mot veut dire: un seul questionné sur dix évoquera le fromage rond de Normandie ; les neuf autres répondront que c’est… un calendrier! Idem pour le compères auciflard… La même proportion de jeunes n’identifie pas un couteau dans un schlass, de même que le verbe se radiner (Radine-toi en vitesse!), sera plutôt associé à «se vanter, économiser, être radin avec soi-même», au choix. Un sur deux ne connaît pas le mot confiote, ou le mot caoua pour «café».

Neuf gamins sur dix (90 %) ignorent le mot burlingue– ils pensent qu’il s’agit d’une voiture – et bien que tous ces gens fument comme des pompiers, le même pourcentage ne sait pas ce qu’est une sèche (on confond avec «une question à laquelle on ne sait pas répondre», par extrapolation d’antisèche).

« La parole n’étant plus transmise, la pénurie s’installe – durablement »

Je tiens ces statistiques d’un professeur de français que la curiosité titille, Mme Yveline Couf, qui n’enseigne pas à Versailles mais dans une grande ville ouvrière (un peu sinistrée) de province. Cette prof a présenté des listes de mots familiers à des élèves de 4e et de 3e , en leur demandant de donner pour chacun une définition, comme dans le jeu du dictionnaire. Et cela, c’est du concret, pas du rêve bleu. Ce sondage recoupe exactement les observations que j’avais pu faire moi-même sur ce terrain il y a huit ou neuf ans.

Sur vingt-trois participants volontaires – donc intéressés par la langue (qu’eût-ce été sur un échantillon brut de brutes?) – cinq connaissaient le mot pèze ; il est vrai qu’on dit surtout fric, pognon, et thune. Cinq aussi savent le troquet, mais bistro domine. On remarquera que certains termes d’argot sont sortis aussi de l’usage des adultes ; on n’entend guère le mot greffier pour un chat: aucun ne le connaissait (Boileau serait content!). Mais sept seulement identifient le mot colback, ce qui paraît surprenant:«J’lai choppée par le colback, J’lui ai dit: «Tu m’fous les glandes»…» (Renaud, de Marche à l’ombre).

Une absence de vie intime et trop de télévision

Bon, que ce soit les gens d’un certain âge qui parlent de leur palpitant, je veux bien le croire (l’âge des artères), mais qu’il ne fasse sens que pour trois pelés, c’est peu – c’est la coupure avec les grands-pères… Entraver pour «comprendre» n’est saisi que par un seul élève sur vingt-trois – tous les autres pensant que le verbe signifie «passer au travers». Quant à la proportion de 1 sur 23 pour le verbe de joyeuse source populaire guincher, c’est raide! Autrement dit, la perte de vocabulaire par les nouvelles générations ne se limite pas au français châtié, comme on croit: le sens fuit également par le bout roturier.

À quoi le phénomène est-il dû? J’aimerais bien le savoir. Plusieurs causes, dont probablement l’absence de vie familiale intime, absorbée qu’elle est par la télévision. Donc peu d’échanges avec les parents, moins encore avec les grands-parents, jadis gros transmetteurs, quand ce n’est pas avec toute catégorie d’adultes – cette tendance va s’affirmer avec la consommation de portables. La parole n’étant plus transmise, la pénurie s’installe – durablement. Zut alors! C’est mauvais signe… Que veut dire «zut»? – Je parierais que la moitié des vingt-trois cobayes de Mme Yveline ne le sait plus… À vérifier autour de vous. Vous serez surpris, vous direz «Mince alors!» – Mince? Quel «mince»? – Oh flûte!

Retrouvez les chroniques de Claude Duneton (1935-2012) chaque semaine. Écrivain, comédien et grand défenseur de la langue française, il tenait avec gourmandise la rubrique Le plaisir des mots dans les pages du Figaro Littéraire.

Voir aussi:

La fin des truffes
Claude Duneton
On ne peut pas enseigner une chose dont on doute.
ENTREVUE AVEC CLAUDE DUNETON

Claude Duneton a un peu plus de quarante ans. Il a enseigné l’anglais pendant vingt ans. Avant d’apprendre l’anglais il avait dû apprendre le français, sa langue maternelle étant l’occitan. Il est né en Corrèze dans une famille paysanne très humble. Il s’en souvient. Son premier livre, Parler Croquant, a suscité beaucoup d’intérêt, notamment au Québec. Dans son dernier livre, Je suis comme une truie qui doute, il s’est vidé le coeur, sans savoir peut-être qu’il le faisait au nom de dizaines de milliers d’enseignants qui, depuis, lui ont manifesté leur solidarité, soit en lui écrivant, soit en lisant son livre, dont le titre insolite est expliqué ainsi:

Enseigner le doute est une bien cruelle entreprise. Apprendre à chercher la vérité c’est très joli, mais si on ne la trouve pas, ou alors chacun la sienne, parcimonieusement, c’est moins exaltant. Monter tout un système de recherche en ne sachant pas très bien ce que l’on cherche, et surtout ne jamais tomber sur un morceau de trouvaille pour s’encourager les méninges c’est vraiment ardu. C’est plus ardu que de dresser un cochon à chercher la truffe. Parce que le cochon d’abord on lui fait savoir ce qu’il cherche, clairement et sans ambiguïté. On lui fait goûter de la truffe au départ. Ensuite, de temps à autre, on lui en met des morceaux cachés qu’il a la joie de découvrir en poussant la terre du groin. Ça lui remet du coeur à l’ouvrage. Tandis que le môme à qui l’on dit: Cherche! Allez cherche! … sans jamais lui annoncer quoi – c’est peut-être çi, c’est peut-être ça … Il en perd l’allant et l’enthousiasme.

Claude Duneton. Je vous préviens tout de suite, puisque vous êtes venu de loin: je ne parle pas hélas! Comme j’écris. Je n’ai pas la même façon, j’écris pour me consoler de ne pas pouvoir parler comme je le voudrais.

CRITÈRE. Ce qui ne vous empêche pas de marquer des points dans les débats auxquels vous participez.

C.D. J’ai peut-être une supériorité sur les bien parleurs. Pendant qu’ils font de jolies phrases, je cherche péniblement mes mots, ce qui me donne le temps de réfléchir. La réflexion aidant, je pose souvent des questions qui font tout resurgir. Vous pouvez voir là une espèce de revanche sur ces Français dont j’ai dû apprendre la langue.

CRITÈRE. Quand je vous ai téléphoné pour prendre rendez-vous, vous m’avez dit que vous veniez de recevoir une lettre très intéressante d’une québécoise qui enseigne le français.

C.D. C’est ce que je dis sur l’embourgeoisement de la culture qui l’a surtout intéressée. Sa lettre m’a plu parce que j’attache beaucoup d’importance à cette question.

CRITÈRE. En tout cas, vous en parlez sur un ton qui tranche avec l’habituel ronron, comme dans cette réplique silencieuse à un parent d’élève, peiné à la pensée que sa fille n’apprendra pas les belles récitations d’autrefois:

Une société qui bouge tout le temps est une société sur laquelle on ne peut pas danser. C’est à vous donner le mal de mer, à dégueuler tripes et boyaux par-dessus bastingages. C’est vrai. On nous a fauché le petit Jésus, à présent voilà François Coppée qui se barre! Merde on nous prend tout! Les cerises n’ont plus le même goût … Et l’autre Einstein avec sa tête auréolée de frisettes, qui est allé baver de relativité. Que ce qu’on voit ce n’est pas exactement ce qu’on voit … Qu’on est mortel pour tout de bon sur une foutue planète de désespoir, voilà ce qu’il ressent le père au fond de la classe, la figure toute rouge d’émotion. Il en pleurerait que sa fille n’apprenne plus par coeur les belles litanies rassurantes, il en pleurerait comme s’il venait de toucher son cercueil, tout froid. Fossoyeur va! … A quoi ça sert de faire de la peine à ce monsieur? Pour initier sa fille à quoi finalement?

Devons-nous en conclure que vous accepteriez de mettre n’importe quoi au programme?

C.D. Je n’ai rien contre l’admiration. C’est à l’admiration inconditionnelle, à l’admiration sur commande que je m’attaque.

CRITÈRE. Sur commande depuis Paris surtout…

C.D. Nous reviendrons sur ce problème de la colonisation intérieure des Français par les Français. Pourquoi Racine, pourquoi Corneille plutôt que Chrétien de Troyes ou tel de nos auteurs occitans. On ne s’est jamais vraiment posé la question. La réponse est pourtant très simple: on en a décidé ainsi. Par «on», entendez la bourgeoisie française. Il s’agissait de raffiner une langue de classe complètement coupée de 90% des Français.

Croyez-bien que je n’aime pas les mots bourgeois, classes, dominés, dominants. Ils gênent. Je les utilise parce que je n’en connais pas qui conviennent mieux. J’étais récemment au milieu d’un groupe de jeunes qui avaient toujours à la bouche les mots discours dominants, discours dominés. Devant des exemples concrets que j’ai analysés avec eux, ils n’ont pas su comment réagir. Ils se sont trompés. lis avaient les yeux obstrués par les mots qui auraient dû les dessiller.

CRITERE. La pureté de la langue de Racine n’en fait-elle pas un modèle qui s’impose de lui-même, sans l’aide de Paris et de ses bourgeois?

C.D. La pureté pour qui? Pour la bourgeoisie qui a ses belles manières à elle et qui veut les conserver, soit! On est entre nous, si on me passe cette expression, à moi qui n’appartiens à ce monde que par une culture apprise tardivement dans les livres. Mais les règles du jeu ne sont plus du tout les mêmes depuis que les fils d’ouvriers ont commencé à envahir les lycées. Il faudrait des modèles qui ont un rapport direct avec leur vie à eux. Racine n’en a aucun. Je suppose que mes remarques valent aussi pour le Québec, que le peuple chez vous est moins touché par Racine que par Antonine Maillet. Antonine Maillet! Je l’ai vue à la télévision. Quelle admirable leçon d’authenticité et de français elle nous a donnée. Il y aura un texte d’elle dans l’antimanuel que je prépare avec un camarade. Même impression devant René Lévesque. Il parlait directement, sans détours, avec chaleur. Quel contraste avec la rhétorique répétitive de nos hommes politiques.

CRITÈRE. Ai-je bien compris votre position? Si on supprime les classiques, chaque professeur aura-t-il la possibilité de les remplacer par des auteurs dont il estimera qu’ils représentent bien le peuple auquel il s’adresse? Je parle pour la France, bien entendu, car au Québec il y a longtemps que tout est permis.

C.D. Ne vous méprenez pas. Je suis partisan d’une étude très rigoureuse de l’histoire de la littérature. L’auteur qui a eu le plus grand succès au XVIle siècle, c’est Sorel, non Racine. Il faut étudier aussi Sorel si l’on veut comprendre le XVIle siècle. Comprendre une autre époque, c’est l’essentiel.

Je m’intéresse surtout au moyen-âge. La connaissance de cette époque me paraît de première importance pour la compréhension de la nôtre. Les Xle et Xlie siècles furent une période de progrès. Il y eut ensuite stagnation, croissance zéro, bouleversement des mentalités. Où en sommes-nous maintenant? Vu depuis le Xlie, le XXe siècle n’est pas précisément ce qu’on avait pris l’habitude d’imaginer.

Il faut situer les auteurs dans leur siècle Il n’est pas nécessaire de les admirer et de les faire admirer pour cela.

CRITÈRE. Oui, je saisi Sous l’angle critique, tout peut devenir intéressant. Astérix devient l’égal d’Ulysse dans ces conditions. Mais est-ce ainsi qu’on se rapproche du peuple, comme vous le souhaitez. Vous parlez de Sorel. Par rapport au peuple actuel, il a tout de même l’inconvénient d’avoir vécu il y a 300 ans. Pourquoi pas Guy des Cars? Pour ce qui est de la popularité, il est à notre siècle ce que Sorel fut au sien. Au Québec, ce serait Claude-Henri Grignon, l’auteur de Séraphin Poudrier. Malheureusement, l’un et l’autre sont l’objet du mépris unanime des professeurs de français. Quand on parle d’une littérature qui doit être comprise du peuple, de quel peuple s’agit_il? Du peuple réel, dont les goûts sont parfois décevants, ou du peuple idéal, celui qui a été lavé de ses imperfections par des penseurs qui veulent son bien? Il faudrait s’entendre.

C.D. Je vous avouerai que je fais des choses interdites: je vais voir des films de Louis de Funès. Eh bien, à côté des conneries, de la multitude de conneries, il y a des trouvailles dans ses films. Je suis persuadé que, dans vingt ou trente ans, ceux qui feront l’histoire du cinéma compareront ces trouvailles à celles des plus grands cinéastes.

CRITÈRE. Permettez-moi de poursuivre ma chasse aux critères. Si j’avais le choix entre Séraphin et la Sagouine, qui parle aussi au peuple, je choisirais la Sagouine parce que la langue y est plus belle et le contenu plus humain.

C.D. J’admire beaucoup Céline, Voltaire, Chrétien de Troyes, ce qui ne veut pas dire qu’il ne serait pas intéressant d’étudier Guy Des Cars pour comprendre notre siècle.

CRITÈRE. Mais enfin, quel doit être notre premier objectif, rendre les gens plus critiques en leur faisant analyser le passé ou les rendre plus humains en les mettant en contact avec les plus belles oeuvres? Parmi les oeuvres qui font partie de l’arsenal bourgeois, n’y en a-t-il pas qui méritent notre attention parce qu’elles n’ont aucun lien trop étroit avec une époque donnée ou une classe sociale déterminée. Je pense, en particulier, à l’illiade et à l’Odyssée. Il y a aussi le problème du fond commun. Ces dernières années, pendant que les programmes de français achevaient de s’atomiser, de se dissoudre dans la subjectivité, le grand public regardait l’Odyssée à la télévision. Si bien que l’Odyssée est, encore aujourd’hui, l’une des seules oeuvres dans laquelle on puisse puiser des exemples en étant sûr d’être compris d’à peu près tout le monde.

C.D. Je suis d’accord avec vous au sujet d’Homère. On pourrait ajouter la Bible. Il faut lire la Bible, Jérémie, les jérémiades. Que peut-on comprendre de la littérature franaise si on n’a pas lu la Bible.

Mais le problème du fond commun est plus complexe. Le prétendu fond commun de la culture française présente deux inconvénients: il n’est pas commun et ce n’est pas un fond. J’ai déjà dit pourquoi, je vais le dire d’une autre manière. Imaginez un programme de littérature française qui aurait été conçu par et pour des marins pêcheurs de Bretagne. Homère s’il avait été à ce programme aurait sans doute convenu aux savoyards et aux bourguignons, mais sûrement pas la multitude d’histoires de pêche et de poissons qu’on y aurait trouvées. Et bien, l’imposition à toute la rance d’un programme élaboré dans et par la bourgeoisie parisienne est tout aussi insensée.

CRITÈRE. Croyez-vous qu’on pourrait régler le problème que vous soulevez en confiant la responsabilité des programmes à des gouvernements régionaux.

C.D. Sûrement pas à l’heure actuelle. Ce sont les harkis qui prendraient le pouvoir dans les régions. Ils s’empresseraient de refaire les erreurs du gouvernement central.

CRITÈRE. Les harkis?

C.D. Eh oui, les Français sont colonisés par les Français. Les harkis, ce sont les Algériens qui ont pris fait et cause pour la France lors de la guerre l’indépendance. L’élite régionale – je n’aime pas ce mot – est constituée en France de harkis, de notables qui se consolent par des abus de pouvoir de leur impuissance face à l’Etat central. La France, vous savez, n’est pas un pays démocratique.

CRITÈRE. Et si par impossible vous deveniez ministre de l’éducation en Occitanie, y aurait-il un programme? Par qui serait-il établi?

C.D. Il y aurait un programme, bien entendu. Pour l’établir, il faudrait interroger les gens, attendre qu’ils manifestent leurs désirs. L’enseignement de la langue et de la littérature occitane ne serait sûrement pas interdit. Mais je n’ai jamais beaucoup réfléchi à ces problèmes de pouvoir.

CRITÈRE. D’un côté donc, les choses les plus universelles, Homère, la Bible; de l’autre, les choses les plus particulières. Cette élimination de la culture nationale n’évoque-t-elle pas les thèses des fédéralistes européens qui, pour la plupart, sont en même temps régionalistes?

C.D. On peut faire ce rapprochement.

CRITÈRE. Etant donné vos idées sur la colonisation des Français par les Français et sur la démocratie, on s’attend à ce que vous dénonciez les examens qui sont, en France, la façon traditionnelle d’opérer la sélection. Vous écrivez pourtant:

par le respect de l’individu c’est peut-être bien après tout l’examen. Mais alors sérieux, approfondi, pas plie ou face! Pas laissé au hasard de dix minutes d’entretien avec le premier bizarre venu. Un examen qui n’ait pas honte de l’être, avec double et triple correction sur des épreuves très étudiées, et pas en forme de devinettes, qui permettent de dire simplement: un Tel a acquis dans tel domaine tel niveau de connaissance. Un point. Comment les a-t-il acquises? Ça le regarde. Qu’il ait bûché deux ans ou deux mois, selon ses goûts, son temps, ses possibilités, son âge, voire son métier, là n’est pas la question. La seule question est de savoir si oui ou non il faut les contrôler ces fameuses connaissances.

C.D. Le contrôle continu, qui est la solution de remplacement, me paraît dangereux pour la liberté et, par surcroît, plus injuste qu’un bon système d’examen. Etre fiché jour après jour, mois après mois, depuis la maternelle, ce n’est pas supportable. En deux mois de paresse ou d’égarement, vous pouvez compromettre toute une existence. J’aurais sûrement été tué par un tel système.

CRITÈRE. Et l’injustice?

C.D. On en mesure l’ampleur quand on veut bien se rendre à certaines évidences. Le rapport du maître à ses élèves ressemble à s’y méprendre au rapport de l’amant à sa maîtresse, aspects négatifs inclus, bien entendu. Parmi ces aspects négatifs, il y a la jalousie. Le professeur a besoin de penser que ses élèves ont tout appris de lui.

Tel professeur de mathématiques que j’ai très bien connu mettait zéro à tous ses étudiants quand il prenait une nouvelle classe. Comment, disait-il, vous n’avez rien fait dans le passé! Qui donc vous a déformés à ce point? Il les terrorisait de cette façon, puis il relevait leurs notes graduellement pour bien leur faire sentir qu’il était le seul responsable de leurs progrès. Or le collègue qui le précédait était un excellent professeur. La campagne de dénigrement dont il a été l’objet l’a tué littéralement. Hors de moi, point de salut!

Il s’agit d’un cas caricatural, mais l’attitude qu’il trahit est beaucoup plus répandue qu’on ne le croit généralement. Il y a encore beaucoup de salauds dans la profession. Il y a aussi, à l’autre extrême, le cas du professeur séducteur qui fausse tout lui aussi en suscitant chez ses élèves un enthousiasme tel que leur succès est dû plus à un mimétisme sans lendemain qu’à un solide apprentissage. Non vraiment, le professeur est trop engagé, trop amoureusement engagé.

Paradoxalement, il aurait été plus facile d’instaurer le contrôle continu il y a quarante ou cinquante ans, à l’époque où l’on savait ce qu’il fallait savoir.

CRITÈRE. Ne croyez-vous pas qu’en plus de permettre un plus grand respect de l’individu et une plus grande justice, l’examen, tel que vous le concevez, donnerait au professeur une occasion d’être reconnu a sa juste valeur et de prendre lui-même sa véritable mesure?

C.D. C’est vrai aussi pour l’institution à laquelle il appartient. Ce que vous dites est très intéressant. Je n’avais pas pensé à cet aspect de la question. Mais il y a aussi le danger du bachotage. Le baccalauréat dans sa forme actuelle forme des super-caméléons. Pour le réussir, il faut surtout apprendre à être hypocrite, à ruser avec le savoir et avec les examinateurs. Nos hommes politiques sont des produits typiques de ce système.

CRITÈRE. Que dites-vous de la solution qui consiste à séparer complètement les contrôles de la fréquentation de l’école? S’il faut des contrôles, et vous dites vous-mêmes qu’il en faut, cette solution n’est-elle pas celle qui est le plus en conformité avec le respect de l’individu tel que vous le concevez? Le professeur pourrait dans ces conditions devenir un artisan ou un professionnel comme les autres, c’est-à-dire un homme qui rend des services quand on lui en fait la demande.

C.D. Ce serait l’idéal, tout particulièrement pour l’enseignement des langues vivantes, où les voyages sont généralement plus instructifs que les cours. J’ai souvent rêvé de recevoir un à un mes élèves, de trouver avec eux des méthodes adaptées à leur situation.

On attache souvent trop d’importance à la relation maître-élève. J’ai eu au lycée un excellent professeur de physique. Nous n’existions pas pour lui. Il ne nous connaissait pas et ne voulait pas nous connaître. En retour, il ne nous demandait que deux choses: le laisser parler et passer l’examen. Il nous faisait de magnifiques conférences. C’était reposant. Je n’aimais pas les professeurs qui avaient besoin de se sentir aimés de nous, qui pour nous motiver, forçaient notre intimité, nous séduisaient un à un. Le professeur absent comme mon professeur de physique s, améliorait en vieillissant. Il connaissait de mieux en mieux sa matière. Sa tâche lui devenait de plus en plus facile. Pour les professeurs engagés que nous sommes, le vieillissement est devenu un cauchemar.

CRITÈRE. Est-ce la raison pour laquelle vous avez changé de métier?

C.D. Je suis resté dans le domaine de l’enseignement. J’aimais les mômes, je les aime encore. Si j’avais vingt ans je serais enthousiaste, aucun défi ne m’effraierait. Mais maintenant, je n’en puis plus. Des mômes j’en ai aimé trois mille. J’ai atteint mon point de saturation. Puis je me suis adapté à tant de vagues, à tant de nouvelles formes de sensibilité: rock, beattles, bandes dessinées!

CRITÈRE. À propos de la télévision, vous soulignez dans votre livre un phénomène qui, bien qu’il ait été remarqué par d’autres, n’a pas été suffisamment pris en considération. Etonné par l’indiscipline non violente de vos élèves, vous écrivez:

Après bien des récriminations je me suis aperçu qu’ils sont sincères. ils ne comprennent pas que leur bavardage puisse déranger. C’est que leurs habitudes ont changé: ils transportent en classe la manière dont ils regardent la télé … Attention: il ne s’agit pas d’accuser encore une fois la télévision mais d’observer un comportement pratiquement irréversible et le décalage qui en résulte avec nos façons de procéder. Nous avons à présent des générations pour lesquelles le discours plus ou moins continu est apparu pour la première fois de leur vie au petit écran, fût-ce sous la forme de Nounours. Il en résulte qu’ils ont grandi avec le sens de la parole différée et qu’ils n’ont pas acquis le même rapport de personne à personne que nous avions dans le déroulement du discours. Autrement dit, ils confondent quelque part la voix du prof avec celle du type qui cause dans la boîte.

C.D. J’ai moi-même vu la mutation s’opérer. J’enseignais en Corrèze quand la télévision est apparue. D’année en année, j’ai vu les changements S’opérer chez les mômes.

CRITÈRE. Cela n’a pas accru votre optimisme. Des dizaines de milliers d’enseignants vous ont lu. Plusieurs vous écrivent pour vous dire : Vous m’avez ouvert les yeux, j’ai donné ma démission. Partagez-vous les idées d’Illich?

C.D. Certaines. Pas toutes. Dans un pays comme la France, il est absolument nécessaire pour les enfants de travailleur.

CRITERE Vous continuez pourtant de l’attaquer. Avez-vous une solution de remplacement?

C.D. Nous en sommes à la phase du minage. Je ne sais ni quand ni comment la reconstruction se fera.

CRITÈRE. En attendant, le moral des enseignants continuera de se détériorer.

C.D. Les mômes je les adore! Il ne faut pas jouer avec les mômes, il ne faut pas faire semblant. Il ne faut pas être hypocrite. Si on ne croit plus en rien, si on ne sait plus où l’on va, il vaut mieux se l’avouer à soi-même. C’est plus sain et c’est plus respectueux pour les mômes.

CRITÈRE. Un de vos collègues de Bretagne s’apprête à publier un livre qui aura pour titre: Dieu est mort, Marx est mort et moi je ne me porte pas très bien. Vous, comment vous portez-vous?

C.D. Vous savez, je suis désespéré. Êtes-vous chrétien?

CRITÈRE. Il y a deux choses au monde dont je n’ai jamais douté:
Je suis la Vérité et la Vie, la Vérité vous délivrera. Douce ou amère, la vérité est toujours une nourriture. Si j’ai aimé votre livre, c’est parce que vous dites la vérité comme aucun enseignant, à ma connaissance, ne l’a dite avant vous. À l’exception de Simone Weil, il y a déjà quarante ans.

C.D. Tout ça, c’est parce que j’ai beaucoup aimé mon métier et que je l’aime encore. J’aime les mômes.

LE DÉRACINEMENT

Car le second facteur de déracinement est l’instruction telle qu’elle est conçue aujourd’hui. La Renaissance a partout provoqué une coupure entre les gens cultivés et la masse; mais en séparant la culture de la tradition nationale, elle la plongeait du moins dans la tradition grecque. Depuis, les liens avec les traditions nationales n’ont pas été renoués, mais la Grèce a été oubliée. Il en est résulté une culture qui s’est développée dans un milieu très restreint, séparé du monde, dans une atmosphère confinée, une culture considérablement orientée vers la technique et influencée par elle, très teintée de pragmatisme, extrêmement fragmentée par la spécialisation, tout à fait dénuée à la fois de contact avec cet univers-çi et d’ouverture vers l’autre monde.

De nos jours, un homme peut appartenir aux milieux dits cultivés, d’une part sans avoir aucune conception concernant la destinée humaine, d’autre part sans savoir par, exemple, que toutes les constellations ne sont pas visibles en toutes saisons. On croit couramment qu’un petit paysan d’aujourd’hui, élève de I’école primaire, en sait plus que Pythagore, parce qu’il répète docilement que la terre tourne autour soleil. Mais en fait il ne regarde plus les étoiles. Ce soleil ont on lui parle en classe n’a pour lui aucun rapport avec celui qu’il voit. On l’arrache à l’univers qui l’entoure, comme on arrache les petits polynésiens à leur passé en les forçant à répéter : Nos ancêtres Gaulois avaient les cheveux blonds.

Ce qu’on appelle aujourd’hui instruire les masses, c’est prendre cette culture moderne, élaborée dans un milieu tellement fermé, tellement taré, tellement indifférent à la vérité, en ôter tout ce qu’elle peut encore contenir d’or pur, opération qu’on nomme vulgarisation, et enfourner le résidu tel quel dans la mémoire des malheureux qui désirent apprendre, comme on donne la becquée à des oiseaux.

D’ailleurs le désir d’apprendre pour apprendre, le désir de vérité est devenu
très rare. Le prestige de la culture est devenu presque exclusivement social, aussi bien chez le paysan qui rêve d’avoir un fils instituteur ou l’instituteur qui rêve d’avoir un fils normalien, que chez les gens du monde qui flagornent les savants et les écrivains réputés.

Les examens exercent sur la jeunesse des écoles, le même pouvoir d’obsessions que les sous sur les ouvriers qui travaillent aux pièces. Un système social est profondément malade quand un paysan travaille la terre avec la pensée que, s’il est paysan, c’est parce qu’il n’était pas assez intelligent pour devenir instituteur.

Le mélange d’idées confuses et plus ou moins fausses connu sous le nom da marxisme, mélange auquel depuis Marx il n’y a guère eu que des intellectuels bourgeois médiocres qui aient eu part, est aussi pour les ouvriers un apport complètement étranger, inassimilable, et d’ailleurs en soi dénué de valeur nutritive, car on l’a vidé de presque toute la vérité contenue dans les écrits de Marx. On y ajoute parfois une vulgarisation scientifique de qualité encore inférieure. Le tout ne peut que porter le déracinement des ouvriers à son comble.

Simone Weil, L’enracinement, NRF, Gallimard, 1949, pp 64-65.

Voir également:

La linguistique

2002/1 (Vol. 38)

 


1

Toute langue possède une dimension argotique ; en effet, toute société humaine fonctionne avec des interdits, des tabous, entre autres, d’ordre social, politique, religieux, moral, qui sont véhiculés par la (ou les) forme(s) légitimée(s) de la langue. Comment peut-il être dès lors imaginé une société au sein de laquelle aucune personne, aucun groupe ne chercherait à se doter de moyens pour contourner ces interdits et ces tabous, ne serait-ce que par transgression langagière ? De telles pratiques sociales et langagières constituent les foyers les plus actifs nécessaires à l’émergence de formes argotiques, qui sont elles-mêmes autant de preuves des stratégies d’évitement, de contournement des interdits et tabous sociaux mises en œuvre par les locuteurs, les groupes de locuteurs qui produisent de telles formes. Une contre-légitimité linguistique peut ainsi s’établir [1][1]  Cette contre-légitimité linguistique ne peut s?affirmer,…. La situation linguistique française n’échappe pas à ce schéma et des parlers argotiques, plus ou moins spécifiques à tel(s) ou tel(s) groupe(s) ont toujours existé de manière concomitante avec ce que l’on appelle par habitude  » langue populaire «  [2][2]  Comme le rappelle Françoise Gadet,  » La notion de…. Le linguiste descriptiviste est intéressé par l’analyse de ces  » parlures argotiques «  [3][3]  On pourra se reporter, entre autres, à Denise François-Geiger…, qu?elles soient contemporaines ou non, car elles sont particulièrement révélatrices de pratiques linguistiques, qui relèvent de l’oral et sont soumises à des faits d?évolution particulièrement rapides. D’où la nécessité pour le linguiste d?en rendre compte de la manière la plus précise et la plus adéquate possible dans le cadre de l’argotologie définie comme l’étude des procédés linguistiques mis en œuvre pour faciliter l’expression des fonctions crypto-ludiques, conniventielles et identitaires, telles qu’elles peuvent s’exercer dans des groupes sociaux spécifiques qui ont leurs propres parlers, cette approche argotologique étant incluse dans une problématique de sociolinguistique urbaine.

2

À l’échelle du français en particulier et des langues du monde de manière plus générale, l’émergence de pratiques langagières argotiques n’est en aucune manière un phénomène récent. Toute langue a bel et bien toujours eu, génère continuellement et aura toujours un registre argotique, qui permet la mise en place de stratégies de contournement, voire aussi de cryptage, de masquage. Au XVe siècle, François Villon a rédigé ses fameuses ballades dans une langue de malfrats, le parler de la Coquille, un argot d’une confrérie de malandrins, qui livrèrent sous la torture une partie de leur vocabulaire. Plus près de nous, on peut, entre autres, rappeler que pendant le régime communiste pratiquement chaque goulag avait son argot. Univers carcéral oblige ! Il en est souvent ainsi dans de tels univers et on constate à maintes reprises, quelles que soient les langues considérées, l’existence d’argots de prisons, dans lesquels s’exerce pleinement la fonction cryptique du langage. En Tchécoslovaquie, plus particulièrement à partir du Printemps de Prague, certains groupes de dissidents, étudiants et intellectuels, qui constituèrent plus tard le groupe des  » chartistes « , avaient pour habitude de s’exprimer dans un langage crypté, codé donc, dans le seul but de ne pas être compris de la police politique ; ils pouvaient ainsi parler de sujets subversifs tels le voyage ou les pays extérieurs au bloc soviétique. La langue devenait de ce fait un magnifique moyen d?évasion au travers de ses représentations.

3

Si l’on considère ce qui s’est passé en France depuis environ cent ans pour l’argot traditionnel, qu’il s’agisse de ses manifestations de la fin du XIXe siècle et du début du XXe, de celles des années 1920-1930, d’après-guerre ou bien des années 1950-1960, une différence fondamentale doit être notée par rapport à ce que l’on constate aujourd’hui sur le terrain : de nos jours les épices apportées à la langue française sont de plus en plus empruntées à des langues étrangères. Même si l’argot traditionnel a su s’alimenter de termes étrangers, il le faisait à l’époque dans des proportions moindres [4][4]  Cf. ici-même l’article d’Estelle Liogier à propos…. Un facteur déterminant est intervenu depuis et s’est amplifié : celui de l’immigration. Au temps de la Mouffe (rue Mouffetard), de la Butte (butte Montmartre), des Fortifs (Fortifications remplacées actuellement par le boulevard périphérique) un brassage de populations avait lieu dans Paris intra-muros, tout comme dans la majeure partie des grandes villes françaises. Les formes argotiques et les formes non légitimées dites  » populaires  » de la langue française se rejoignaient et c’est une des raisons qui ont permis alors aux mots des argotiers, des jargonneux de tel ou tel  » petit  » métier de passer du statut d’argot particulier à celui d?argot commun avant même de transiter par l’intermédiaire de la langue familière vers la langue française circulante, voire la langue académique, celle que l’on peut aussi écrire, y compris à l’école. Cambriole, cambriolage, cambrioler et cambrioleur ne sont plus du tout perçus de nos jours comme des mots d’origine argotique, ce qu’ils sont en réalité, puisque tous proviennent de l’argot cambriole qui désigne la chambre, la pièce que l’on peut voler. Le cas de loufoque est tout aussi illustratif. Ce vocable est issu du largonji des loucherbems  » jargon des bouchers  » et correspond à un procédé de formation très caractéristique de ce parler, à savoir le remplacement de la première consonne du mot par un [l], cette première consonne étant déplacée en même temps à la fin du mot, auquel on ajoute un suffixe de type argotique, en -oque dans ce cas : [fu] [luf] [lufôk], lui-même tronqué par apocope en [luf].

4

Évolution rapide des formes de type argotique ? En voici un exemple : entrer dans un café et demander un casse-dalle avec une petite mousse  » un sandwich avec une bière  » appartient, d’un point de vue linguistique, à une autre époque, qui se termine à la fin des années 60-70 du siècle passé. Ce n’est plus le temps de la gapette  » casquette (à la mode ancienne)  » sur l’œil et de la cibiche  » cigarette  » au coin des lèvres. La casquette, aujourd?hui de marque Nike, est vissée sur le crâne, s’accompagne de baskets de même marque ou avec le logo Adidas aux pieds et les lascars  » jeunes des cités et quartiers français contemporains  » se désignent comme des casquettes-baskets par opposition aux costards-cravates, ceux qui sont en dehors de la cité, ceux qui sont en place, dans la place  » ont un travail, sont arrivés socialement « . De nos jours, au féca  » café, bistrot  » du coin on dame un dwich  » mange un sandwich  » et on tise une teillbou de 8.6  » boit une bouteille de bière titrant 8,6o d’alcool « . Il en va ainsi de l’évolution du lexique oral.

5

Suivent quelques exemples d’énoncés en français contemporain des cités (FCC en abrégé) avec leurs traductions en argot traditionnel (précédées de v.a. pour vieil argot) [5][5]  D?autres exemples sont présentés dans J.-P. Goudaillier,… ; il est intéressant de noter à partir de ces exemples l’évolution survenue en deux, trois décennies tant en ce qui concerne le lexique utilisé que le type de phraséologie mise en œuvre.

6

FCC : il a roulé à donf avec la seucai. L’est dangereux c’te keum ! L’est complètement ouf !

7

v.a. : y?est allé le champignon à fond avec la tire. Complètement louf le mec !

8

 » il est allé très vite avec la voiture. C’est un vrai danger public. Il est fou de rouler si vite ! « 

9

FCC : choume l’hamster, l’arrête pas de béflan d’vant les taspèches

10

v.a. : zyeute moi c’te mec qu?arrête pas d’rouler des biscotos d’vant les grognasses

11

 » regarde voir ce gars-là ; il n’arrête pas de faire le beau devant les filles « 

12

FCC : quand tu l’chouffes le luice, t’vois bien qu’il arrive direct d’son bled

13

v.a. : pas b’soin d’le mater cinq plombes pour voir qu’il débarque d’sa cambrouse

14

 » rien qu’à le voir, tu comprends qu?il arrive tout droit de son village natal « 

15

FCC : c’te keum, l’a qu’des blèmes !

16

v.a. : à croire qu’ce mec-là et les problocs ça ne fait qu’un !

17

 » c’est un gars, qui ne connaît que des problèmes « 

18

FCC : le patron, i capte qu?tchi à ma tchatche

19

v.a. : ma jactance, mon dab y entrave qu’dalle

20

 » mon père ne comprend pas du tout mon langage « 

21

FCC : plus de vailtra je deale le techi chanmé

22

v.a. : plus de turbin je fourgue du hasch à toute berzingue

23

 » plus de travail je passe tout mon temps à vendre du haschisch « 

24

FCC : quand les chtars raboulent, on s’nachave dans toute la téci

25

v.a. : qu’les bourres rappliquent et c?est la grand’ caval’ dans la cité

26

 » quand les policiers arrivent, on s?enfuit dans toute la cité « 

27

FCC : l’est chtarbé hypergrave !

28

v.a. : il est vraiment agité du bocal

29

 » il est complètement fou ! « 

30

FCC : on y va en caisse ou à iep ?

31

v.a. : on prend la bagnole ou on y va à pinces ?

32

 » nous y allons en voiture ou à pied ? « 

33

FCC : on galère à la téci ou on va au manès à Ripa

34

v.a. : on glandouille ici ou on va au cinoche à Pantruche

35

 » on reste à rien faire à la cité ou bien on va au cinéma à Paris « 

36

Les personnes qui vivent dans des cités de banlieue ou dans des quartiers dits  » défavorisés  » – entre des tours et des barres – parlent de plus en plus fréquemment une forme de français que certaines d’entre elles nomment  » verlan « , d’autres  » argot « , voire  » racaille-mot  » (  » mots de la racaille « ). Cette variété de français, que l’on peut désigner par  » argot des cités  » ou  » argot de banlieue  » est en réalité la manifestation contemporaine la plus importante d’une variété de français, qui au cours des dernières décennies, tout comme les diverses populations qui l’ont parlée, a perdu tout d’abord son caractère rural, par la suite toute indexation ouvrière, voire prolétaire, pour devenir le mode d?expression de groupes sociaux insérés dans un processus d’urbanisation [6][6]  Pour Pierre Guiraud (Argot, Encyclopedia Universalis,…. Progressivement se sont alors développés les parlers urbains français, qui sont pratiqués de manière plus ou moins effective (usages actifs / passifs) par des millions de personnes en France, que celles-ci soient françaises d’origine ou non, issues de l’immigration ou étrangères [7][7]  Pour P. Bourdieu  » … ce qui s?exprime avec l’habitus…. Bien souvent ces personnes subissent au quotidien une  » galère  » (ou violence) sociale, que reflète leur expression verbale, au même titre que leur  » violence réactive «  [8][8]   » … l’argot assume souvent une fonction expressive ;….

37

Pendant toutes les années 1990, cet argot de cités, désigné plus haut par français contemporain des cités (FCC en abrégé), est sorti d’entre les tours et les barres, qui l’ont vu naître, émerger, exploser au début des années 1980 [9][9]  Voir à ce sujet Christian Bachman et Luc Basier, 1984,…. Les formes lexicales du FCC sont puisées d’une part dans le vieux français et ses variétés régionales, d?autre part dans le vieil argot, celui de Mimile, mais aussi dans les multiples langues des communautés liées à l’immigration [10][10]  Geneviève Vermes et Josiane Boutet (sous la dir. de),…. Par ailleurs le FCC comporte aussi un nombre important de créations lexicales spécifiques, qui ne sont pas uniquement du verlan, comme on peut le croire communément.

38

Étant donné les pratiques langagières des communautés d’origines diverses, de cultures et de langues non moins différentes, qui cohabitent dans les cités ou les quartiers des grandes villes françaises une interlangue émerge entre le français véhiculaire dominant, la langue circulante, et l’ensemble des vernaculaires qui compose la mosa ïque linguistique des cités : arabe maghrébin, berbère, diverses langues africaines et asiatiques, langues de type tsigane, créoles antillais (à base lexicale française) pour ne citer que ces langues.

39

Dans Paroles de banlieues de Jean-Michel Décugis et Aziz Zemouri [11][11]  Jean-Michel Décugis et Aziz Zemouri, 1995, Paroles…, Raja (21 ans) précise que dans les cités  » on parle en français, avec des mots rebeus, créoles, africains, portugais, ritals ou yougoslaves « , puisque  » blacks, gaulois, Chinois et Arabes  » y vivent ensemble (p. 104). Des ressortissants de nationalités étrangères, des Français d’origine étrangère et des céfrans aussi appelés des de souches  » français de souche  » communiquent grâce à un parler véhiculaire interethnique [12][12]  Cf. Jacqueline Billiez, 1990, Le parler véhiculaire… et le brassage des communautés permet l’émergence de diverses formes de FCC.

40

Dans ces variétés linguistiques se met alors en place un processus de déstructuration de la langue française circulante par ceux-là même qui l’utilisent et y introduisent leurs propres mots, ceux de leur origine, de leur culture. Les formes linguistiques ainsi créées et leurs diverses variantes régionales deviennent dès lors autant de marqueurs, voire des stéréotypes [13][13]  Pour les notions de marqueurs, de stéréotypes (et… identitaires ; elles exercent de ce fait pleinement leurs fonctions d’indexation. L’instillation d’un grand nombre de traits spécifiques, qui proviennent du niveau identitaire, dans le système linguistique dominant correspond alors à une volonté permanente de créer une diglossie, qui devient la manifestation langagière d’une révolte avant tout sociale [14][14]  Voir aussi David Lepoutre, 1997, Cœur de banlieue….. L’environnement socio-économique immédiat des cités et autres quartiers vécu au quotidien est bien souvent défavorable et parallèlement à la fracture sociale une autre fracture est apparue : la fracture linguistique [15][15]  J.-P. Goudaillier, 1996, Les mots de la fracture linguistique,…. De nombreuses personnes se sentent de ce fait déphasées par rapport à l’univers de la langue circulante, d’autant que l’accès au monde du travail, qui utilise cette autre variété langagière, leur est barré. Elles en sont exclues. Le sentiment de déphasage, d’exclusion est d’autant plus fort, qu’une part importante de ces personnes subissent de véritables situations d’échec scolaire ; il ne leur reste plus qu?à faire usage d’une langue française qu’elles tordent dans tous les sens et dont elles modifient les mots en les coupant, en les renversant [16][16]  Il s?agit d?établir, ainsi que le rappelle Louis-Jean…. La déstructuration de la langue s’opère aussi par introduction dans les énoncés de formes parasitaires, ce qui constitue une procédure argotique bien connue des linguistes.

41

Ceux et celles qui utilisent de telles formes linguistiques peuvent de ce fait s’approprier la langue française circulante, qui devient alors leur langue ; ils et elles peuvent grâce à elle non seulement se fédérer mais aussi et surtout espérer résister et échapper à toute tutelle en se donnant ainsi un outil de communication qui se différencie des différents parlers familiaux, qu’ils ou elles pratiquent, peu ou prou, par ailleurs mais aussi de la forme véhiculaire de la langue française dominante, par conséquent légitimée [17][17]  Pour ce qui est des cas de déplacements en intercation,…. Les normes linguistiques maternelles sont alors développées comme autant de  » contrenormes  » à la langue française, académique, ressentie comme langue  » étrangère  » par rapport à sa propre culture [18][18]   » On en a marre de parler français normal comme les….

42

L’École a une fonction primordiale : elle se doit de fournir aux enfants scolarisés les outils nécessaires pour parvenir à une maîtrise efficace de la langue française tant sous ses diverses manifestations orales que sous sa forme écrite, orthographique par conséquent. Dans le cas de groupes scolaires implantés dans des cités, la langue utilisée par les élèves est à bien des égards distante du français circulant, compte tenu de la multitude des éléments linguistiques identitaires qui y sont instillés. Ceci contribue aussi dans le cadre de l’école à la mise en place de la fracture linguistique. Le rôle des enseignants devient dès lors prépondérant ; il s’agit de pouvoir éviter l’instauration de rapports d?exclusion au nom des sacro-saints  » ils ne parlent pas français « ,  » ils n’expriment que de la violence, leur violence « ,  » il n’y a que des mots grossiers dans ces parlers  » et autres  » on ne sait plus parler français dans les banlieues « .

43

Bien au contraire, c’est un réel foisonnement lexical que l’on constate lors de l’analyse des diverses variétés du FCC. En effet, si les anciens argots de métiers eux-mêmes et l’argot commun traditionnel reflétaient une véritable  » fécondité en matière lexicale « , une  » effervescence du vocabulaire… dans des groupes sociaux mal armés chez lesquels on s?attendrait à un stock lexical réduit «  [19][19]  Denise François-Geiger, 1988, Les paradoxes des argots,…, il en est de même pour ce qui est des formes langagières actuelles des cités.

44

L’émergence de rapports d?exclusion, qui permettent par ailleurs de refuser de manière systématique tout ce qui émane du quartier, de la cité dans lequel se trouve l’établissement scolaire, aurait pour seule conséquence l’effet contraire de celui qui est recherché. Or,  » la réussite scolaire des enfants de milieu populaire dépend de la nature des interactions entre l’école et le quartier. Le développement et l’image d’un quartier populaire dépendent de la qualité de ses établissements scolaires et des actions éducatives qui y sont menées «  [20][20]  Gérard Chauveau et Lucile Duro-Courdesses (sous la…. Ainsi, parmi d’autres, l’expérience qui a été menée par Boris Seguin et Frédéric Teillard [21][21]  Boris Seguin et Frédéric Teillard, 1996, Les céfrans… dans le collège de la Cité des Courtillères à Pantin (Seine-Saint-Denis) est à notre sentiment de ce point de vue exemplaire. Ces enseignants de français ont conduit leurs élèves à réfléchir sur leur propre variété de français, au travers de ses modes de fonctionnement. Ces élèves ont ainsi été à même d’analyser leur propre parler et de rendre compte des résultats de cette analyse dans un dictionnaire, qu’ils ont rédigé avec l’aide de leurs enseignants. C’est de toute évidence la meilleure façon possible d?apprendre à se servir du dictionnaire de langue, cet outil indispensable à toute progression scolaire.

45

L?erreur du début de ce siècle qui a consisté à mettre au ban de l’école mais aussi de la Cité, de la société tout enfant qui parlait une autre langue que le français, ne doit pas être répétée. Prendre en compte l’altérité de la langue de l’autre, par conséquent l’identité de celui-ci, doit être le maître mot. Si une telle prise en compte a lieu, l’accès à la langue circulante, celle du travail et de l’ascension sociale, peut dès lors être ouvert aux jeunes qui parlent tout autre chose qu’une langue normée, légitimée. C?est dans ce sens qu?un travail pédagogique important doit être non seulement initié mais véritablement mis en place. Au sein de l’école, les formes non légitimées du langage à l’école doivent être acceptées et il faut pouvoir les reconnaître, les analyser, d’autant plus que certains enfants et adolescents ne dominent bien souvent ni la langue française ni la langue de leurs parents, car l’insécurité sociale environnante vient renforcer leur insécurité linguistique.

46

Les pratiques argotiques contemporaines doivent être resituées dans le temps. En France au cours du XXe siècle les argots de métiers cèdent progressivement la place aux argots sociologiques. Ces deux types d’argots se différencient entre eux par l’importance relative des fonctions qu?ils exercent : pour les argots de métiers les fonctions sont essentiellement cryptiques, voire crypto-ludiques ; les fonctions identitaires, quant à elles, n’occupent qu’une place secondaire. Une inversion des rapports intervient dans le cas des argots sociologiques des cités. Les fonctions identitaires jouent pleinement leur rôle et la revendication langagière de jeunes et de moins jeunes qui  » se situent en marge des valeurs dites légitimes (…) est avant tout l’expression d’une jeunesse confrontée à un ordre socio-économique de plus en plus inégalitaire, notamment en matière d’accès au travail «  [22][22]  Fabienne Melliani, 2000, La langue du quartier. Appropriation…. Les fonctions crypto-ludiques n’occupent plus désormais la première place, ce que récapitule le tableau ci-après.

47

Importances des fonctions linguistiques exercées [23][23]  Cf. aussi à ce sujet J.-P. Goudaillier, 1997, Quelques… Argots de métiers / argots sociologiques contemporains

Tableau 1

48

D’un point de vue sociolinguistique, cette inversion de l’ordre d?importance des fonctions a lieu parallèlement à un phénomène qu’il convient de rappeler : la disparition progressive de toute référence d?appartenance à un groupe pratiquant la langue dite populaire. Lors des dernières décennies du XXe siècle, cette disparition est allée de paire avec l’émergence des classes moyennes au détriment de la classe ouvrière. Contrairement à ce que l’on peut constater aujourd?hui ces mutations ont abouti à une homogénéisation des comportements à la fois sociaux et linguistiques. L’argotier traditionnel se sentait lié au lieu où il vivait, travaillait, par voie de conséquence à la variété dite populaire – non légitimée de ce fait – de la langue française qui y était parlée ; les locuteurs des cités, banlieues et quartiers d’aujourd’hui ne peuvent trouver de refuge linguistique, identitaire que dans leurs propres productions linguistiques, coupées de toute référence à une langue française  » nationale  » qui vaudrait pour l’ensemble du territoire.

49

Compte tenu du caractère éphémère d’un grand nombre de mots, les personnes qui pratiquent le FCC font un usage important des multiples procédés de formation lexicale à leur disposition pour parvenir à un renouvellement constant des mots.

50

Parmi les procédés les plus productifs, que l’on peut relever, existent des procédés sémantiques tels que l’emprunt à diverses langues ou parlers, l’utilisation de mots issus du vieil argot français, le recours à la métaphore et à la métonymie et des procédés formels tels que la déformation de type verlanesque, la troncation avec ou sans resuffixation et le redoublement hypocoristique. Plusieurs de ces procédés peuvent bien entendu être utilisés à la fois pour la formation d?un seul et même mot.

51

Les procédés formels et sémantiques utilisés en FCC ne lui sont pas propres ; il s?agit en fait d’une accumulation – trait caractéristique de toute pratique argotique – de procédés relevés par ailleurs dans la langue française circulante et non de procédés particuliers à cette variété de français.

52

La déstructuration de la langue française circulante apparaît bien au travers des formes linguistiques de type verlanesque et de celles formées par troncation. Comme en argot traditionnel, beaucoup de mots du FCC sont construits par apocope, ce qu’illustrent les exemples ci-après :

53

brelic ( brelica, verlan de calibre  » revolver « ) ;

54

dèk ( dékis, verlan de kisdé  » policier, flic « ) ;

55

djig ( djiga, verlan de gadji  » fille, femme « ) ;

56

lique ( liquide abrév. d?argent liquide) ;

57

painc ( painco, verlan de copain) ;

58

pet ( pétard pour joint  » cigarette de haschisch « ) ;

59

pouc ( poucav  » indicateur de police, balance « ) ;

60

reuf ( reufré, verlan de frère) ;

61

séropo ( séropositif) ;

62

stonb ( stonba, verlan de baston  » bagarre « ) ;

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tasse ( taspé, verlan de pétasse) ;

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téç ( téci, verlan de cité) ;

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teush ( teushi, verlan de shit  » haschisch « ) ;

66

tox ( toxicomane) ;

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turve ( turvoi, verlan de voiture) ;

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trom ( tromé, verlan de métro[politain]).

69

Fait nouveau et particulièrement notable : l’aphérèse prend de plus en plus d’importance par rapport à l’apocope ; sur ce point précis, le FCC se différencie très nettement du français circulant, comme le montrent les exemples suivants :

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blème ( problème) ; caille ( racaille) ; cil ( facile) ;

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dic ( indic[ateur de police]) dicdic (par redoublement) ;

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dwich ( sandwich) ; fan ( enfant) fanfan ;

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gen ( argent) gengen ; gine ( frangine  » sœur « ) ;

74

gol ( mongol) ; leur ( contrôleur) leurleur ;

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pouiller ( dépouiller  » voler « ) ; tasse ( pétasse )  » fille  » [péjoratif]) ;

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teur ( inspecteur de police) teurteur ;

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vail ( travail) ; zic ( musique) ziczic ;

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zesse ( gonzesse) ; zon ( prison) zonzon.

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La resuffixation après troncation est un procédé formel typiquement argotique et l’argot traditionnel connaît des resuffixations en -asse (conasse, grognasse, etc.), -os (musicos, crados, etc.), -ard (nullard, conard, etc.), etc. En FCC on peut relever, entre autres, les cas de resuffixations suivants :

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chichon (resuffixation en -on de chicha, verlan de haschisch)

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[acic] [cica] (verlan) [cic] (troncation) [cic] (resuffixation) ;

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bombax (resuffixation en -ax de bombe)  » très belle fille « )

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[bbe] [bb] (troncation) [bbaks] (resuffixation) ;

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couillav (resuffixation en -av de couillonner  » tromper quelqu?un « )

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[kujone] [kuj] (troncation) [kujav] (resuffixation) ;

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fillasse (resuffixation en -asse de fille)

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[fije] [fij] (troncation) [[@ ijas](resuffixation) ;

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pourav (resuffixation en -ave de pourri)

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[pui] [pu] (troncation) [puav] (resuffixation) ;

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rabzouille (resuffixation en -ouille de rabza, verlan de les arabes)

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[abza] [abz] (troncation) [abzuj] (resuffixation) ;

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reunous (resuffixation en -ous de reunoi, verlan de noir)

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[nwa] [n] (troncation) [nus] (resuffixation) ;

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taspèche (resuffixation en -èche de taspé, verlan de pétasse)

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[taspe] [tasp] (troncation) [taspèc] (resuffixation).

96

Même si le procédé linguistique de verlanisation est très abondamment utilisé en langue des cités, tous les mots ne se prêtent pas à la verlanisation et aucun énoncé n’est construit avec la totalité des mots en verlan. Lorsque l’on transforme un mot monosyllabique en son correspondant verlanisé, le passage d?une structure de type C(C)V(C)C à sa forme verlanisée nécessite un passage obligé par un mot de type dissyllabique avant même que ce mot ne devienne à nouveau du fait d’une troncation (apocope) un monosyllabique, toujours de type C(C)V(C)C ; ainsi à partir des mots :

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femme, flic, père, faire, nègre, mec, sac, mère,

98

on obtient respectivement :

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meuf, keuf, reup, reuf, greun, keum, keuss, reum,

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après être passé par deux mots dissyllabiques (attestés ou non), le premier avant que ne s’opère la verlanisation et le deuxième après verlanisation :

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*fameu *meufa ; *flikeu *keufli ; *pèreu *reupé ;

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*frèreu *reufré ; *nègreu *greuné ; mèkeu *keumé ;

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*sakeu *keusa ; *mèreu *reumé.

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* Indique que cette forme a pu ou peut être ou non attestée ; par exemple meufa et keufli sont des formes attestées, qui ont progressivement laissé la place à meuf et keuf.

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Phonétiquement ces tranformations par le procédé du verlan peuvent être récapitulées comme suit :

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femme [fam] [fam] [mfa] [mœf] meuf ;

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flic [flik] [flik] [kfli] [kœf] keuf ;

108

père [pè] [pè] [pe] [œp] reup ;

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frère [fè] [fè] [fE] [œf] reuf ;

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nègre [nèg] [nèg] [gne] [gœn] greun ;

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mec [mèk] [mèk] [kme] [kœm] keum ;

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sac [sak] [sak] [ksa] [œs] keuss ;

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mère [mè] [mè] [me] [œm] reum.

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Ce procédé de verlanisation ne fonctionne pas, lorsque la structure syllabique du mot est de type CV, ce qui est par exemple le cas pour des mots tels là, ça, etc. Dans de tels cas on permute entre elles la voyelle et la consonne ; ce verlan de type  » monosyllabique  » ne nécessite pas de passage par une phase dissyllabique et occasionne par conséquent une modification de la structure syllabique du mot qui sert de base et qui est de structure de type CV ; le mot en verlan est, quant à lui, de structure de type VC. La structure syllabique du mot verlanisé est le  » miroir  » (VC) du mot de départ (CV). Variante de ce verlan : lorsque la structure est de type C1C2V, la forme qui est dérivée est de type C2VC1. Suivent quelques exemples de ce verlan de type  » monosyllabique  » :

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 » ça  » ; ainf  » faim  » ; àl  » là  » ; ap  » pas  » ; auch  » chaud  » ;

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dèp ( pèd pédéraste) ; eins  » sein  » ; iech  » chier  » ;

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ienb  » bien  » ; iench  » chien  » ; ienv  » [je, tu] viens, [il] vient  » ; iep  » pied  » ; ieuv  » vieux, vieille  » ; ieuvs  » vieux, parents  » ;

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og ( wollof go  » fille « ) ; oid  » doigt  » ; oilp  » poil  » à oilp  » à poil  » ; oinj  » joint  » ; onc  » con  » ; ouak  » quoi  » ; ouam  » moi  » ; ouat  » toi  » ; ouc  » coup  » ; ouf  » fou  » ; uc  » cul  » ; uil  » lui  » ; ur  » rue « .

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Ces exemples peuvent être notés phonétiquement de la manière suivante :

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[sa] [as] ; [f ï] [ ïf] ; [pa] [ap] ;

121

[co] [ôc] ; [pèd] [dèp] ; [ ïs] [s ï] ;

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[cje] [jèc] ; [bj ï] [j ïb] ; [cj ï] [j ïc] ;

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[vj ï] [j ïv] ; [pje] [jèp] ; [vj] [jœv] ;

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[go] [ôg] ; [dwa] [wad] ; [pwal] [walp] ;

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[apwal] [awalp] ; [jw ï] [w ïj] ; [k] [k] ;

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[kwa] [wak] ; [mwa] [wam] ; [twa] [wat] ;

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[ku] [uk] ; [fu] [uf] ; [l9i] [9il] ; [y] [y].

128

Les transformations de type verlanesque peuvent être opérées de manière intersyllabique et/ou intrasyllabique : lorsque l’on transforme chinois en noichi, il s’agit d’un changement de place des deux syllabes [ci] et [nwa]. Par contre, lorsque l’on forme oinich à partir de chinois, ceci nécessite non seulement le déplacement des syllabes [wa] et [nic] (verlan intersyllabique) mais aussi une interversion des deux consonnes de [cin] pour obtenir [nic] (verlan intrasyllabique). C?est ce même type de modification intrasyllabique qui fournit peuoch à partir de peucho ( verlan de v.a. choper  » attraper « ).

129

Il convient de mentionner, en plus de ces exemples de verlan  » phonétique « , une autre tendance dans le processus de verlanisation. Les cas suivants de verlan  » orthographique  » sont basés sur la graphie des mots et non pas sur leur phonie :

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à donf  » à fond  » ; ulc  » cul  » ; zen  » nez « 

131

(prononcés respectivement : [adöf] ; [ylk] ; [zèn]).

132

L’utilisation importante du procédé de verlanisation est particulièrement caractéristique des types de pratiques linguistiques rencontrées dans les cités, plus précisément en région parisienne [24][24]   » … le Marseillais, il parle pas verlan, c?est le…. On peut supposer que le verlan est une pratique langagière qui vise à établir une distanciation effective par rapport à la dure réalité du quotidien, ceci dans le but de pouvoir mieux la supporter. Le lien au référent serait plus lâche et la prégnance de celui-ci moins forte, lorsque le signifiant est inversé, verlanisé : parler du togué, de la téci, du tierquar et non pas du ghetto, de la cité, du quartier, où l’on habite, serait un exemple parmi d’autres de cette pratique. Les situations relevées en région parisienne et à Marseille ne sont pas comparables. À Marseille, qui est une ville structurée en quartiers, une osmose peut s’opèrer entre d?une part des parlers liés à l’immigration la plus récente dans diverses parties de cette ville et d’autre part les langues romanes (italien, espagnol, portugais, etc.) des immigrés les plus anciens et ce qui reste des anciens parlers locaux et/ou régionaux (provençal, corse, etc.). Une telle situation liée à l’existence de quartiers populaires à forte concentration de personnes issues de l’immigration (le Panier en plein centre, la Savine au nord, etc.) est caractéristique de Marseille. Elle n?est en aucune manière comparable à ce qui peut se passer dans les grandes conurbations françaises et plus particulièrement dans la région parisienne, où la notion même de banlieues, dans lesquelles vivent des populations  » au ban du lieu  » est une réalité. Ceci n’est pas sans incidence sur les formes linguistiques et divers indices amènent à penser que les pratiques langagières faisant appel au verlan sont d?autant plus fortes qu’une fracture géographique importante existe par rapport aux espaces urbains extérieurs à celui, dans lequel on vit [25][25]  À propos des modes d?appropriation de l’espace, se….

133

Les divers types de formations linguistiques de type verlanesque présentés plus haut tendent à montrer que les variétés langagières relevées dans les cités françaises ont un mode de fonctionnement  » en miroir  » par rapport à ce que l’on constate généralement dans la langue française :

134

— le verlan  » monosyllabique  » permet de créer des mots qui, du point de vue syllabique, sont autant de miroirs (structure de type VC) des mots avant même que ne s’opère la verlanisation (structure de type CV) ;

135

— l’émergence de l’aphérèse au détriment de l’apocope est un autre exemple de ce fonctionnement  » en miroir  » ; la langue française procède en règle générale par apocope pour abréger les mots, ce qui est de moins en moins le cas pour le français contemporain des cités.

136

D’autres faits, qui n’ont pas été présentés ici même, viennent conforter l’hypothèse de ce fonctionnement  » en miroir  » :

137

— les mots verlanisés, surtout ceux qui sont formés par verlanisation avec phase dissyllabique (procédé le plus fréquent, qui est d?ailleurs employé pour la reverlanisation), ne présentent dans la majeure partie des cas qu?un seul timbre de voyelle, à savoir [œ]. Une neutralisation de l’ensemble des timbres vocaliques au bénéfice de cette voyelle [œ] s’opère dans de tels cas. Ceci ne correspond nullement aux règles habituelles du fonctionnement phonologique du français et met en valeur plutôt les schèmes consonantiques, de toute évidence au détriment des voyelles ;

138

— d’un point de vue accentuel, on note de plus en plus fréquemment un déplacement systématique de l’accent vers la première syllabe, ce qui ne correspond évidemment pas aux règles accentuelles communément utilisées en français.

139

L’identité linguistique affirmée (  » le français, c?est une langue, c’est pas la mienne « ,  » l’arabe c’est ma langue « ,  » l’espagnol c’est ma langue mais c’est pas ce que je parle  » ), elle-même corrélée de manière très forte à l’identité ethnique, va pouvoir être exprimée par les locuteurs qui pratiquent le FCC grâce à l’utilisation de termes empruntés aux langues de leur culture d?origine. Ceci peut s’opérer non seulement de manière intercommunautaire (étrangers et personnes issues de l’immigration / Français de souche ; Maghrébins/Africains/Antillais/Asiatiques, etc. ; strates d?immigration plus anciennes / nouveaux arrivants) mais aussi par rapport à l’extérieur de la cité, du quartier où l’on réside. On note ce type de comportements plus particulièrement chez les jeunes issus de l’immigration, qui tiennent à se distinguer de ceux qui ont un mode de socialisation lié au travail, alors qu’eux-mêmes se sentent exclus du monde du travail et marginalisés [26][26]  J.-P. Goudaillier, 1998, La langue des cités françaises…. Pour les jeunes issus de l’immigration  » la langue d?origine acquiert une valeur symbolique indéniable… cette représentation lignagière de la langue d’origine ne va pas obligatoirement de pair avec un usage intensif de cette langue ni même sa connaissance  » ainsi que le précisent Louise Dabène et Jacqueline Billiez [27][27]  Louise Dabène et Jacqueline Billiez, 1987, Le parler…, qui rappellent par ailleurs que les jeunes d »origine étrangère  » sont encore plus défavorisés que les jeunes de souche française, appartenant à la même couche sociale… Le déroulement de leur scolarité est marqué par l’échec scolaire… Ces jeunes en situation d’échec se retrouvent à l’adolescence massivement au chômage et sont confrontés à une véritable crise d’identité «  [28][28]  Louise Dabène et Jacqueline Billiez, 1987, Le parler….

140

Pour laisser leur marque identitaire dans la langue, les locuteurs des cités et quartiers vont utiliser des mots d’origine arabe (parlers maghrébins essentiellement) ou d’origine berbère, tels

141

ahchouma  » honte  » ( arabe hacma  » honte « ) ; arhnouch  » policier  » ( arabe hnaec  » serpent, policier « ) ; casbah  » maison  » ( arabe qasba ; maison) ; choune  » sexe féminin  » ( berbère haetcun / htun  » sexe féminin « ) ; haram  » péché  » ( arabe hraem  » péché « ) ; heps  » prison  » ( arabe haebs  » prison « ) ; hralouf  » porc  » ( arabe hluf  » porc « ) ; kif  » mélange de canabis et de tabac  » ; maboul  » fou, idiot  » ( arabe mahbûl  » fou « ) ; mesquin  » pauvre type, idiot  » ( arabe miskin  » pauvre « ) ; msrot  » fou, dingue  » ; roloto  » quelqu?un de nul  » ; roumi  » Français de souche  » ( arabe rumi  » homme européen « ) ; shitan  » diable  » ( arabe cetan ou citan  » diable « ) ; toubab  » Français de souche  » ( arabe tebib  » savant  » / arabe maghrébin algérien tbîb  » sorcier « ) ; zetla [29][29]  Il s?agit de la forme phonétique relevée, entre autres,…  » haschisch « .

142

Des mots d’origine tzigane tels :

143

bédo  » cigarette de haschisch  » ; bicrav  » vendre en participant à des actions illicites  » ; bouillav  » posséder sexuellement ; tromper quelqu?un  » ; chafrav  » travailler  » ; choucard  » bien, bon  » ; chourav  » voler  » ; craillav  » manger  » ; gadji  » fille, femme  » ; gadjo  » gars, homme  » ; gavali  » fille, femme  » ; marav  » battre, tuer  » ; minch  » petite amie  » ; racli  » fille, femme  » ; raclo  » gars, homme  » ; rodav  » regarder, repérer  » ; schmitt  » policier «  [30][30]  Les mots bédo, chafrav, choucard, chourav, gadjo,….

144

Voire des faux mots tziganes (les six verbes suivants, malgré leur terminaison verbale en -av(e) caractéristique des verbes d’origine tzigane, sont en fait des constructions ad hoc liées aux pratiques linguistiques des locuteurs de FCC et doivent être considérés comme des faux mots tziganes) :

145

bédav  » fumer  » ; carnav  » arnaquer  » ; couillav  » tromper quelqu?un  » ; graillav  » manger  » ; pourav  » puer  » ; tirav  » voler à la tire « .

146

Des mots d?origine africaine tels :

147

go  » fille, femme  » ; gorette  » fille, jeune femme  » (du wolof go:r  » homme « ).

148

Des mots d’origine antillaise tels :

149

maconmé  » homosexuel  » (français ma commère) ; timal  » homme, gars  » (français petit mâle).

150

Et des mots issus du vieil argot français tels :

151

artiche(s)  » argent  » ; baston  » bagarre  » ; bastos  » balle [arme à feu]  » ; biffeton  » billet  » ; blase  » nom  » ; caisse  » voiture  » ; calibre  » arme ([de poing]  » ; condé  » policier  » ; fafiot  » billet  » ; flag  » flagrant délit  » ; mastoc  » costaud, fort  » ; poudre (+ verlan dreupou)  » héro ïne, coca ïne  » ; serrer  » attraper, arrêter quelqu?un  » ; taf  » travail  » ; taule  » maison  » ; tune  » argent  » ; daron  » père  » ; taupe  » fille, femme  » ; tireur (+ verlan reurti)  » voleur à la tire « .

152

Compte tenu de l’importance sans cesse croissante de la part que représente en français l’ensemble des productions linguistiques élaborées en FCC, il importe que soient développées, dans une perspective de sociolinguistique urbaine, des études qui utilisent une approche argotologique. Il peut être ainsi rendu compte de pratiques langagières, qui nécessitent la mise en œuvre de divers procédés linguistiques permettant l’expression de fonctions essentiellement identitaires, tels que ceux-ci peuvent être mis au jour dans des groupes de locuteurs identifiés par ailleurs d?un point de vue sociologique. Le Centre de recherches argotologiques (CARGO) [31][31]  Directeur : Jean-Pierre Gouudaillier. de l’Université René-Descartes – Paris 5, produit des travaux de recherche qui s’inscrivent dans ce schéma et analysent non seulement les productions mais aussi les attitudes, les représentations des locuteurs pratiquant à des degrés divers le FCC [32][32]  On pourra se reporter, entre autres, à Alma Sokolija-Brouillard,…. L?époque qui voit l’argot perdre son individualité par rapport à la langue  » populaire  » en donnant ses épices à celle-ci, qui l’influence en retour, est révolue [33][33]   » … argot et langue populaire ont dû, à la fin du…. Les deux dernières décennies du siècle passé ont été celles de l’effondrement des formes  » traditionnelles  » du français dit populaire et de l’émergence d?un ensemble de parlers identitaires tout d?abord périurbains avant de devenir urbains. La situation actuelle, celle du français contemporain des cités (FCC) ou argot des banlieues, est bel et bien différente : les éléments linguistiques qui constituent ce type de français, essentiellement lexicaux mais appartenant aussi à d’autres niveaux tels que la phonologie, la morphologie et la syntaxe, sont le réservoir principal des formes linguistiques du français du XXIe siècle qui se construit à partir de formes argotiques, identitaires. Il convient par conséquent de rendre compte de cette situation par une analyse sociolinguistique des pratiques langagières et des procédés linguistiques qui les sous-tendent pour mieux apprécier les phénomènes d’ordre synchronique dynamique qui existent en français contemporain.

 

Notes

[1]

Cette contre-légitimité linguistique ne peut s?affirmer, conformément à ce qu’indique Pierre Bourdieu, que  » dans les limites des marchés francs, c’est-à-dire dans des espaces propres aux classes dominées, repères ou refuges des exclus dont les dominants sont de fait exclus, au moins symboliquement  » (P. Bourdieu, 1983, Vous avez dit  » populaire « , Actes de la recherche en sciences sociales, Paris, Minuit, no 46, p. 98-105, p. 103).

[2]

Comme le rappelle Françoise Gadet,  » La notion de français populaire est plus interprétative que descriptive : la qualification de « populaire » nous apprend davantage sur l’attitude envers un phénomène que sur le phénomène lui-même « , Le français populaire, 1992, Paris, PUF,  » Que sais-je ? « , no 1172, p. 122.

[3]

On pourra se reporter, entre autres, à Denise François-Geiger et J.-P. Goudaillier, 1991, Parlures argotiques, Langue française, Paris, Larousse, no 90, 125 p.

[4]

Cf. ici-même l’article d’Estelle Liogier à propos de la description du français parlé par les jeunes de cités, plus particulièrement le paragraphe intitulé  » Un mélange de codes « .

[5]

D’autres exemples sont présentés dans J.-P. Goudaillier, 2001, Comment tu tchatches ! Dictionnaire du français contemporain des cités, Paris, Maisonneuve & Larose (1re éd., 1997), 305 p.

[6]

Pour Pierre Guiraud (Argot, Encyclopedia Universalis, p. 934)  » … les parlers populaires des grandes villes… se muent en argots modernes soumis aux changements accélérés par la société « .

[7]

Pour P. Bourdieu  » … ce qui s’exprime avec l’habitus linguistique, c’est tout l’habitus de classe dont il est une dimension, c’est-à-dire, en fait, la position occupée, synchroniquement et diachroniquement, dans la structure sociale  » (P. Bourdieu, 1984, Ce que parler veut dire. L’économie des échanges linguistiques, Paris, Fayard, 1re éd., 1982, p. 85).

[8]

 » … l’argot assume souvent une fonction expressive ; il est le signe d’une révolte, un refus et une dérision de l’ordre établi incarné par l’homme que la société traque et censure. Non plus la simple peinture d’un milieu exotique et pittoresque, mais le mode d’expression d’une sensibilité  » (P. Guiraud, Argot, Encyclopedia Universalis, p. 934).

[9]

Voir à ce sujet Christian Bachman et Luc Basier, 1984, Le verlan : argot d’école ou langue des keums, Mots, no 8, p. 169-185.

[10]

Geneviève Vermes et Josiane Boutet (sous la dir. de), 1987, France, pays multilingue, Paris, L?Harmattan, coll.  » Logiques sociales « , t. I : Les langues en France, un enjeu historique et social, 204 p. et t. II : Pratiques des langues en France, 209 p.

[11]

Jean-Michel Décugis et Aziz Zemouri, 1995, Paroles de banlieues, Paris, Plon, 231 p.

[12]

Cf. Jacqueline Billiez, 1990, Le parler véhiculaire interethnique de groupes d’adolescents en milieu urbain, Actes du Colloque  » Des langues et des villes «  (Dakar, 15-17 décembre 1990, p. 117-126).

[13]

Pour les notions de marqueurs, de stéréotypes (et d?indicateurs) en sociolinguistique, on se reportera, entre autres, à William Labov, 1976, Sociolinguistique, Paris, Minuit.

[14]

Voir aussi David Lepoutre, 1997, Cœur de banlieue. Codes, rites et langages, Paris, Éditions Odile Jacob, 362 p.

[15]

J.-P. Goudaillier, 1996, Les mots de la fracture linguistique, La Revue des Deux-Mondes, mars 1996, p. 115-123.

[16]

Il s?agit d’établir, ainsi que le rappelle Louis-Jean Calvet  » si les langues des banlieues ne constituent que de la variation (…) ou si, au contraire, la cassure sociale est telle qu’elle produit sous nos yeux une cassure linguistique  » (Louis-Jean Calvet, 1997, Le langage des banlieues : une forme identitaire, Colloque Touche pas à ma langue ! [ ?] / Les langages des banlieues (Marseille, IUFM, 26-28 septembre 1996), Skholê (Cahiers de la recherche et du développement, IUFM de l’Académie d?Aix-Marseille, numéro hors série, p. 151-158, p. 157).

[17]

Pour ce qui est des cas de déplacements en intercation, cf. Caroline Juillard, 2001, Une ou deux langues ? Des positions et des faits, La Linguistique, Paris, PUF, vol. 37, fasc. 2, p. 3-31, p. 10-11 et s.

[18]

 » On en a marre de parler français normal comme les riches, les petits bourges… parce que c’est la banlieue ici  » (Élève d’origine maghrébine du Groupe scolaire Jean-Jaurès de Pantin dans un reportage diffusé lors du journal télévisé de 20 heures sur TF1 le 14 février 1996).

[19]

Denise François-Geiger, 1988, Les paradoxes des argots, Actes du Colloque  » Culture et pauvretés « , Tourette (L’Arbresle), 13-15 décembre 1985, édités par Antoine Lion et Pedro de Meca, La Documentation française, p. 17-24.

[20]

Gérard Chauveau et Lucile Duro-Courdesses (sous la dir. de), 1989, Écoles et quartiers ; des dynamiques éducatives locales, Paris, L?Harmattan, coll.  » Cresas « , no 8, p. 183.

[21]

Boris Seguin et Frédéric Teillard, 1996, Les céfrans parlent aux Français. Chronique de la langue des cités, Paris, Calmann-Lévy, 230 p.

[22]

Fabienne Melliani, 2000, La langue du quartier. Appropriation de l’espace et identités urbaines chez des jeunes issus de l’immigration maghrébine en banlieue rouennaise, Paris, L?Harmattan, coll.  » Espaces discursifs « , 220 p., p. 50. Ceci  » nécessite cependant des locuteurs qu’ils se situent sur un autre marché, plus restreint, que celui sur lequel évolue la variété légitime  » (p. 50).

[23]

Cf. aussi à ce sujet J.-P. Goudaillier, 1997, Quelques procédés de formation lexicale de la langue des banlieues (verlan monosyllabique, aphérèse, resuffixation), Colloque Touche pas à ma langue ! [ ?] / Les langages des banlieues, Marseille, IUFM, 26-28 septembre 1996, Skholê (Cahiers de la recherche et du développement, IUFM de l’Académie d?Aix-Marseille), numéro hors série, p. 75-86, p. 78. Divers cas d’alternances et de ruptures linguistiques en interaction sont analysés par Fabienne Melliani. De tels cas sont à différencier de ceux présentés par Caroline Juillard, cf. n. 17.

[24]

 » … le Marseillais, il parle pas verlan, c’est le Parisien qui parle verlan… Le Marseillais, il emprunte des mots dans certaines langues…  » (Ali Ibrahima du Groupe B-Vice, Émission La Grande Famille, Canal+, 24 janvier 1996 à propos de la langue de La Savine, quartier situé au nord de Marseille).

[25]

À propos des modes d?appropriation de l’espace, se reporter, entre autres, à D. Lepoutre, Cœur de banlieue…, chap. 1 et plus précisément p. 57-63. D. Lepoutre indique par ailleurs que  » les meilleurs locuteurs de verlan sont généralement les adolescents les plus intégrés au groupe des pairs et à sa culture  » (p. 122).

[26]

J.-P. Goudaillier, 1998, La langue des cités françaises comme facteur d?intégration ou de non-intégration, Rapport de la Commission nationale  » Culture, facteur d?intégration  » de la Fédération nationale des collectivités territoriales pour la culture, Paris, Conseil économique et social, 16 février 1996, in  » Culture et intégration : expériences et mode d?emploi « , Voiron, Éditions de  » La lettre du cadre territorial « , février 1998, p. 3-14.

[27]

Louise Dabène et Jacqueline Billiez, 1987, Le parler des jeunes issus de l’immigration, France, pays multilingue (sous la dir. de Geneviève Vermes et Josiane Boutet), Paris, L?Harmattan, t. II, p. 62-77, p. 65.

[28]

Louise Dabène et Jacqueline Billiez, 1987, Le parler des jeunes…, p. 63-64.

[29]

Il s?agit de la forme phonétique relevée, entre autres, à Tunis pour désigner la SEITA (Société des tabacs français) pendant la période de la colonisation française. Ce terme a successivement désigné le tabac à priser, le tabac à chiquer, avant même de désigner la cigarette de haschisch puis le haschisch lui-même.

[30]

Les mots bédo, chafrav, choucard, chourav, gadjo, gadji et gavali existent déjà en argot traditionnel.

[31]

Directeur : Jean-Pierre Gouudaillier.

[32]

On pourra se reporter, entre autres, à Alma Sokolija-Brouillard, 2001, Comparaison des argots de la région de Sarajevo et de la région parisienne, Thèse de doctorat de linguistique (sous la dir. de J.-P. Goudaillier), Université René-Descartes – Paris 5, 2 vol., 598 p. + annexe et plus particulièrement p. 58 et s., 160 et s.

[33]

 » … argot et langue populaire ont dû, à la fin du XIXe siècle et au début de ce siècle avoir des affinités qui ont peut-être disparu ou se sont atténuées aujourd?hui. Cela tient sans nul doute à un nivellement des couches sociales qui entraîne un relatif nivellement langagier  » (Denise François-Geiger, 1991, Panorama des argots contemporains, Parlures argotiques, Langue française, Paris, Larousse, no 90, p. 5-9, p. 6).

 

 


GAFA: C’est des salauds, mais des salauds tellement cool ! (Will Silicon Valley finally lose its most-favored robber baronism clause ?)

29 septembre, 2017

C’est un salaud, mais c’est notre salaud. John Foster Dulles (?)
J’appelle stratégies de condescendance ces transgressions symboliques de la limite qui permettent d’avoir à la fois les profits de la conformité à la définition et les profits de la transgression : c’est le cas de l’aristocrate qui tape sur la croupe du palefrenier et dont on dira «II est simple», sous-entendu, pour un aristocrate, c’est-à-dire un homme d’essence supérieure, dont l’essence ne comporte pas en principe une telle conduite. En fait ce n’est pas si simple et il faudrait introduire une distinction : Schopenhauer parle quelque part du «comique pédant», c’est-à-dire du rire que provoque un personnage lorsqu’il produit une action qui n’est pas inscrite dans les limites de son concept, à la façon, dit-il, d’un cheval de théâtre qui se mettrait à faire du crottin, et il pense aux professeurs, aux professeurs allemands, du style du Professor Unrat de V Ange bleu, dont le concept est si fortement et si étroitement défini, que la transgression des limites se voit clairement. A la différence du professeur Unrat qui, emporté par la passion, perd tout sens du ridicule ou, ce qui revient au même, de la dignité, le consacré condescendant choisit délibérément de passer la ligne ; il a le privilège des privilèges, celui qui consiste à prendre des libertés avec son privilège. C’est ainsi qu’en matière d’usage de la langue, les bourgeois et surtout les intellectuels peuvent se permettre des formes d’hypocorrection, de relâchement, qui sont interdites aux petits-bourgeois, condamnés à l’hypercorrection. Bref, un des privilèges de la consécration réside dans le fait qu’en conférant aux consacrés une essence indiscutable et indélébile, elle autorise des transgressions autrement interdites : celui qui est sûr de son identité culturelle peut jouer avec la règle du jeu culturel, il peut jouer avec le feu, il peut dire qu’il aime Tchaikovsky ou Gershwin, ou même, question de «culot», Aznavour ou les films de série B. Pierre Bourdieu
Bourdieu chose to make it his life’s work to debunk the powerful classes’ pretensions that they were more deserving of authority or wealth than those below. He aimed his critiques first at his own class of elites — professors and intellectuals — then at the media, the political class and the propertied class. “Distinction,” published in 1979, was an undisputed masterwork. In it, Bourdieu set out to show the social logic of taste: how admiration for art, appreciation of music, even taste in food, came about for different groups, and how “superior” taste was not the result of an enchanted superiority in scattered individuals. This may seem a long way from Wellington-booted and trucker-hatted American youth in gentrifying neighborhoods. But Bourdieu’s innovation, applicable here, was to look beyond the traditional trappings of rich or poor to see battles of symbols (like those boots and hats) traversing all society, reinforcing the class structure just as money did. (…) The power of Bourdieu’s statistics was to show how rigid and arbitrary the local conformities were. In American terms, he was like an updater of Thorstein Veblen, who gave us the idea of “conspicuous consumption.” College teachers and artists, unusual in believing that a beautiful photo could be made from a car crash, began to look conditioned to that taste, rather than sophisticated or deep. White-collar workers who defined themselves by their proclivity to eat only light foods — as opposed to farmworkers, who weren’t ashamed to treat themselves to “both cheese and a dessert” — seemed not more refined, but merely more conventional. Taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition. Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit. Groups closer in social class who yet draw their status from different sources use taste and its attainments to disdain one another and get a leg up. These conflicts for social dominance through culture are exactly what drive the dynamics within communities whose members are regarded as hipsters. Once you take the Bourdieuian view, you can see how hipster neighborhoods are crossroads where young people from different origins, all crammed together, jockey for social gain. One hipster subgroup’s strategy is to disparage others as “liberal arts college grads with too much time on their hands”; the attack is leveled at the children of the upper middle class who move to cities after college with hopes of working in the “creative professions.” These hipsters are instantly declassed, reservoired in abject internships and ignored in the urban hierarchy — but able to use college-taught skills of classification, collection and appreciation to generate a superior body of cultural “cool.” They, in turn, may malign the “trust fund hipsters.” This challenges the philistine wealthy who, possessed of money but not the nose for culture, convert real capital into “cultural capital” (Bourdieu’s most famous coinage), acquiring subculture as if it were ready-to-wear. (Think of Paris Hilton in her trucker hat.) Both groups, meanwhile, look down on the couch-­surfing, old-clothes-wearing hipsters who seem most authentic but are also often the most socially precarious — the lower-middle-class young, moving up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital. They are the bartenders and boutique clerks who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists. Only on the basis of their cool clothes can they be “superior”: hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility. All hipsters play at being the inventors or first adopters of novelties: pride comes from knowing, and deciding, what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world. Yet the habits of hatred and accusation are endemic to hipsters because they feel the weakness of everyone’s position — including their own. Proving that someone is trying desperately to boost himself instantly undoes him as an opponent. He’s a fake, while you are a natural aristocrat of taste. That’s why “He’s not for real, he’s just a hipster” is a potent insult among all the people identifiable as hipsters themselves. The attempt to analyze the hipster provokes such universal anxiety because it calls everyone’s bluff. And hipsters aren’t the only ones unnerved. Many of us try to justify our privileges by pretending that our superb tastes and intellect prove we deserve them, reflecting our inner superiority. Those below us economically, the reasoning goes, don’t appreciate what we do; similarly, they couldn’t fill our jobs, handle our wealth or survive our difficulties. 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. Mark Greif
L’aura de cool absolu qui entoure Barack Obama doit en effet beaucoup –voire tout– à Pete Souza. Le photographe officiel canarde le président américain partout –dans son bureau, dans ses voyages, quand il va embrasser des bébés et manger des hot-dogs– et fournit en instantané sa légende iconographique. Les photos sont mises à disposition du public et des médias par la Maison Blanche, sous une license Creative Commons, pour qu’elles soient mieux partagées. Grâce à Pete Souza, on a l’impression d’être dans la vraie vie de Barack Obama, alors que rien n’est plus construit que ses photos. Slate
The aesthetics of cool developed mainly as a behavioral attitude practiced by black men in the United States at the time of slavery. Slavery made necessary the cultivation of special defense mechanisms which employed emotional detachment and irony. A cool attitude helped slaves and former slaves to cope with exploitation or simply made it possible to walk the streets at night. During slavery, and long afterwards, overt aggression by blacks was punishable by death. Provocation had to remain relatively inoffensive, and any level of serious intent had to be disguised or suppressed. So cool represents a paradoxical fusion of submission and subversion. It’s a classic case of resistance to authority through creativity and innovation. Today the aesthetics of cool represents the most important phenomenon in youth culture. The aesthetic is spread by Hip Hop culture for example, which has become “the center of a mega music and fashion industry around the world” (…). Black aesthetics, whose stylistic, cognitive, and behavioural tropes are largely based on cool-mindedness, has arguably become “the only distinctive American artistic creation” (…). The African American philosopher Cornel West sees the “black-based Hip Hop culture of youth around the world” as a grand example of the “shattering of male, WASP cultural homogeneity” (…). While several recent studies have shown that American brand names have dramatically slipped in their cool quotients worldwide, symbols of black coolness such as Hip Hop remain exportable. However, ‘cool’ does not only refer to a respected aspect of masculine display, it’s also a symptom of anomie, confusion, anxiety, self-gratification and escapism, since being cool can push individuals towards passivity more than towards an active fulfillment of life’s potential. Often “it is more important to be ‘cool and down’ with the peer group than to demonstrate academic achievement,” write White & Cones (…). On the one hand, the message produced by a cool pose fascinates the world because of its inherent mysteriousness. The stylized way of offering resistance that insists more on appearance than on substance can turn cool people into untouchable objects of desire. On the other hand, to be cool can be seen as a decadent attitude leading to individual passivity and social decay. The ambiguity residing in this constellation lends the cool scheme its dynamics, but it also makes its evaluation very difficult. (…) A president is uncool if he clings to absolute power, but becomes cooler as soon as he voluntarily concedes power in order to maintain democratic values. Thorsten Botz-Bornstein
Cool est généralement associé au sang-froid et au contrôle de soi et il est utilisé dans ce sens comme une expression d’approbation ou d’admiration. Cette notion peut aussi être associée à une forme de nonchalance. Wikipedia
There is no single concept of cool. One of the essential characteristics of cool is its mutability—what is considered cool changes over time and varies among cultures and generations. One consistent aspect however, is that cool is wildly seen as positive and desirable. Although there is no single concept of cool, its definitions fall into a few broad categories. The sum and substance of cool is a self-conscious aplomb in overall behavior, which entails a set of specific behavioral characteristics that is firmly anchored in symbology, a set of discernible bodily movements, postures, facial expressions and voice modulations that are acquired and take on strategic social value within the peer context. Cool was once an attitude fostered by rebels and underdogs, such as slaves, prisoners, bikers and political dissidents, etc., for whom open rebellion invited punishment, so it hid defiance behind a wall of ironic detachment, distancing itself from the source of authority rather than directly confronting it. In general, coolness is a positive trait based on the inference that a cultural object (e.g., a person or brand) is autonomous in an appropriate way. That is the person or brand is not constrained by the norms, expectation of beliefs of others. (…) Cool is also an attitude widely adopted by artists and intellectuals, who thereby aided its infiltration into popular culture. Sought by product marketing firms, idealized by teenagers, a shield against racial oppression or political persecution and source of constant cultural innovation, cool has become a global phenomenon that has spread to every corner of the earth. Concepts of cool have existed for centuries in several cultures. In terms of fashion, the concept of “cool” has transformed from the 1960s to the 1990s by becoming integrated in the dominant fabric of culture. America’s mass-production of “ready-to-wear” fashion in the 1940s and ‘50s, established specific conventional outfits as markers of ones fixed social role in society. Subcultures such as the Hippies, felt repressed by the dominating conservative ideology of the 1940s and ‘50s towards conformity and rebelled. (…) Starting in the 1990s and continuing into the 21st century, the concept of dressing cool went out of the minority and into the mainstream culture, making dressing “cool” a dominant ideology. Cool entered the mainstream because those Hippie “rebels” of the late 1960s were now senior executives of business sectors and of the fashion industry. Since they grew up with “cool” and maintained the same values, they knew its rules and thus knew how to accurately market and produce such clothing. However, once “cool” became the dominant ideology in the 21st century its definition changed to not one of rebellion but of one attempting to hide their insecurities in a confident manner. The “fashion-grunge” style of the 1990s and 21st century allowed people who felt financially insecure about their lifestyle to pretend to “fit in” by wearing a unique piece of clothing, but one that was polished beautiful. For example, unlike the Hippie style that clearly diverges from the norm, through Marc Jacobs’ combined “fashion-grunge” style of “a little preppie, a little grunge and a little couture,” he produces not a bold statement one that is mysterious and awkward creating an ambiguous perception of what the wearer’s internal feelings are. While slang terms are usually short-lived coinages and figures of speech, cool is an especially ubiquitous slang word, most notably among young people. As well as being understood throughout the English-speaking world, the word has even entered the vocabulary of several languages other than English. In this sense, cool is used as a general positive epithet or interjection, which can have a range of related adjectival meanings. Wikipedia
Ronald Perry writes that many words and expressions have passed from African-American Vernacular English into Standard English slang including the contemporary meaning of the word « cool. » The definition, as something fashionable, is said to have been popularized in jazz circles by tenor saxophonist Lester Young. This predominantly black jazz scene in the U.S. and among expatriate musicians in Paris helped popularize notions of cool in the U.S. in the 1940s, giving birth to « Bohemian », or beatnik, culture. Shortly thereafter, a style of jazz called cool jazz appeared on the music scene, emphasizing a restrained, laid-back solo style. Notions of cool as an expression of centeredness in a Taoist sense, equilibrium and self-possession, of an absence of conflict are commonly understood in both African and African-American contexts well. Expressions such as, « Don’t let it blow your cool, » later, chill out, and the use of chill as a characterization of inner contentment or restful repose all have their origins in African-American Vernacular English. (…) Among black men in America, coolness, which may have its roots in slavery as an ironic submission and concealed subversion, at times is enacted in order to create a powerful appearance, a type of performance frequently maintained for the sake of a social audience. (…) « Cool pose » may be a factor in discrimination in education contributing to the achievement gaps in test scores. In a 2004 study, researchers found that teachers perceived students with African-American culture-related movement styles, referred to as the « cool pose, » as lower in achievement, higher in aggression, and more likely to need special education services than students with standard movement styles, irrespective of race or other academic indicators. The issue of stereotyping and discrimination with respect to « cool pose » raises complex questions of assimilation and accommodation of different cultural values. Jason W. Osborne identifies « cool pose » as one of the factors in black underachievement. Robin D. G. Kelley criticizes calls for assimilation and sublimation of black culture, including « cool pose. » He argues that media and academics have unfairly demonized these aspects of black culture while, at the same time, through their sustained fascination with blacks as exotic others, appropriated aspects of « cool pose » into the broader popular culture. George Elliott Clarke writes that Malcolm X, like Miles Davis, embodies essential elements of cool. As an icon, Malcolm X inspires a complex mixture of both fear and fascination in broader American culture, much like « cool pose » itself. Wikipedia
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme ans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Obama (2008)
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton
J’entends les voix apeurées qui nous appellent à construire des murs. Plutôt que des murs, nous voulons aider les gens à construire des ponts. Mark Zuckerberg
Mes arrière-grands-parents sont venus d’Allemagne, d’Autriche et de Pologne. Les parents de [mon épouse] Priscilla étaient des réfugiés venant de Chine et du Vietnam. Les Etats-Unis sont une nation d’immigrants, et nous devrions en être fiers. Comme beaucoup d’entre vous, je suis inquiet de l’impact des récents décrets signés par le président Trump. Nous devons faire en sorte que ce pays reste en sécurité, mais pour y parvenir, nous devrions nous concentrer sur les personnes qui représentent vraiment une menace. Etendre l’attention des forces de l’ordre au-delà des personnes qui représentent de vraies menaces va nuire à la sécurité des Américains, en dispersant les ressources, tandis que des millions de sans-papiers qui ne représentent aucune menace vivront dans la peur d’être expulsés. Mark Zuckerberg
Ces idées ont un nom : nationalisme, identitarisme, protectionnisme, souverainisme de repli. Ces idées qui, tant de fois, ont allumé les brasiers où l’Europe aurait pu périr, les revoici sous des habits neufs encore ces derniers jours. Elles se disent légitimes parce qu’elles exploitent avec cynisme la peur des peuples. (…) Je ne laisserai rien, rien à toutes celles et ceux qui promettent la haine, la division ou le repli national. Je ne leur laisserai aucune proposition. C’est à l’Europe de les faire, c’est à nous de les porter, aujourd’hui et maintenant (…) Et nous n’avons qu’un choix, qu’une alternative : le repli sur nous frontières, qui serait à la fois illusoire et inefficace, ou la construction d’un espace commun des frontières, de l’asile et de (…) faire une place aux réfugiés qui ont risqué leur vie, chez eux et sur leur chemin, c’est notre devoir commun d’Européen et nous ne devons pas le perdre de vue. (…) C’est pourquoi j’ai engagé en France un vaste travail de réforme pour mieux accueillir les réfugiés, augmenter les relocalisations dans notre pays, accélérer les procédures d’asile en nous inspirant du modèle allemand, être plus efficaces dans les reconduites indispensables. Ce que je souhaite pour l’Europe, la France commence dès à présent à le faire elle-même. Emmanuel Macron
Emmanuel Macron, qui vomit le populisme, fait tout pour l’alimenter. Il en a apporté la démonstration, mardi à la Sorbonne, en se faisant le défenseur exalté de l’Union européenne, sans vouloir entendre les réticences des peuples. Sa prétendue ‘refondation’ européenne n’est autre que la perpétuation d’une institution technocratique et éloignée de la vie des gens. Son choix d’une ‘Europe souveraine » est celui d’une supranationalité qui méconnait les nations et leur désir de maîtriser leur destin. L’entendre affirmer que l’Europe doit « faire une place aux réfugiés » car « c’est notre devoir commun » révèle son indifférence aux inquiétudes qui partout se manifestent. En Allemagne, la percée de l’afD, ce week-end, a été motivée par la folle politique migratoire d’Angela Merkel et son incapacité à mesurer le danger islamiste. (…) D’islam politique, il n’en a évidemment pas été question dans le discours fleuve du chef de l’Etat. Il ne veut ‘conduire la bataille’ que pour donner plus de pouvoirs encore à une Union de plus en plus soviétoïde. Il n’a réservé ses coups, comme à son habitude, qu’à ceux qui ne pensent pas comme lui. (…) non content de s’aveugler sur une Union européenne vécue comme une violence ou une menace par beaucoup de citoyens abandonnés, le président s’est une fois de plus laissé aller au manichéisme en usage chez les esprits sectaires. Pour lui, ceux qui critiquent l’UE laisseraient voir un ‘nationalisme’, un ‘identitarisme’, un ‘souverainisme de repli’ et autres « passions tristes ». Il dit de ceux-là qu’ils « mentent aux peuples ». Et de menacer, d’ailleurs peu clairement : « Je ne laisserai rien, rien, à ceux qui promettent la haine, la division ou le repli national ». Mais où est la haine, en l’occurrence, sinon dans ces propos présidentiels qui cherchent à discréditer des contradicteurs. Ivan Rioufol
Barons voleurs est un terme péjoratif, qu’on trouve dans la critique sociale et la littérature économique pour caractériser certains hommes d’affaires riches et puissants des États-Unis au XIXe siècle. Dans l’histoire des États-Unis d’Amérique, l’âge doré voit l’éclosion de ces capitaines d’industrie qui façonnent le rêve américain mais sont aussi accusés, à cette période de capitalisme sauvage, d’exploiter et éventuellement réprimer la main-d’œuvre, ainsi que de pratiquer la corruption. L’expression apparaît dans la presse américaine, en août 1870, dans le magazine The Atlantic Monthly, pour désigner les entrepreneurs pratiquant l’exploitation pour accumuler leurs richesses. Leurs pratiques incluent le contrôle des ressources nationales, l’influence sur les hauts fonctionnaires, le paiement de salaires extrêmement bas, l’écrasement de leurs concurrents par leur acquisition en vue de créer des monopoles et de pousser les prix à la hausse, ainsi que la manipulation des cours des actions vers des prix artificiellement hauts, actions vendues à des investisseurs voués à l’appauvrissement dès le cours retombé, aboutissant à la disparition de la société cotée. L’expression, forgée par les muckrakers, allie le sens de criminel (« voleur ») et celui de noblesse douteuse (un « baron » est un titre illégitime dans une république). Le président Theodore Roosevelt est intervenu contre les monopoles en obtenant du gouvernement conservateur qu’il mette au pas ces capitaines d’industrie, qu’il appelle des « malfaiteurs de grande fortune » et des « royalistes de l’économie ». Wikipedia
In the US, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are generally praised as examples of innovation. 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. Take Google: its tax affairs in France are being challenged (paywall)—which comes soon after it has been forced to institute a “right to be forgotten” and threatened with being broken up. But the spread of the term “GAFA” may be as much to do with cultural resentment as taxes. “I think it’s more about distribution of power in the online world than tax avoidance,” Liam Boogar, founder of the French start-up site, Rude Baguette, tells Quartz. France, after all, is a country with a long history of resisting US cultural hegemony. Remember José Bové, the sheep farmer who destroyed a McDonald’s in 1999 and was a symbol for the anti-globalization movement? Times have changed; McDonald’s most profitable country in Europe is now France. 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. Jérémie Zimmermann, one of the founders of La Quadrature, a tech-oriented public policy non-profit, tells Quartz he dislikes the term “GAFA” and prefers to refer to the big US firms as the “PRISM” companies (after the US National Security Agency program revealed by Edward Snowden) or the “Bullrun” firms (another NSA program), which he uses to refer to “more or less every US-based company in which trust is broken”—citing examples that include Intel, Motorola, and Cisco. Even if the term has a negative connotation, it’s worth noting which companies didn’t make the acronym. Microsoft, most notably. Samsung is another. No Yahoo. Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon pretty much dominate every facet of our lives—from email from friends and family to what’s in your pocket to how you get everything in your house to how you pay. As far as acronyms of global power go, it works. Quartz
GAFA is an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon — the 4 most powerful American technology companies. Usage of the term “GAFA” is increasingly common in Europe. The acronym, originally from France, is used by the media to identify the 4 companies as a group – often in the context of legal investigations. The EU is (…) generally quite hostile to the unfettered ambitions of corporations. Any company that seeks to acquire a monopoly, engage in anti-competitive practices, dodge taxes, or invade EU citizens’ privacy is likely to find themselves under investigation, and potentially facing a hefty fine. Every GAFA company is currently under investigation by the EU for something. 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. In the past this has led to the EU criticising Google’s use of personal data. More recently, the EU has been investigating Google for antitrust violations. Microsoft has been fined €2.2 billion for abusing its dominant market position and pushing its own services over the years, and the EU is concerned that Google is doing the same with search and Android. If they’re found to be abusing their position, they’ll face billions of euro worth of fines and be required to change their business practices. Google has already been forced, by the EU, to change how it operates. After a landmark ruling last year, citizens of the EU have the “right to be forgotten” on the Internet. People can request that search engines remove links to web pages that contain information about them — although MakeUseOf readers don’t seem too fussed about it. Apple Music was only unveiled this month but, according to Reuters, the deals they’ve inked with record companies are already under investigation. The EU, however, is more interested in Apple’s tax practices. 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. The EU isn’t keen on Facebook for the same reason most people aren’t — its questionable privacy record. Facebook knows a surprising amount about us – information we willingly volunteer. From that information you can be slotted into a demographic, your « likes » recorded and relationships monitored. There are several investigations, and a class action law suit, looking into whether or not Facebook’s privacy policy is legal. So far things are looking bad for Facebook. Despite frequent updates, a Belgian report released earlier this year “found that Facebook is acting in violation of European law“. Just like the other companies, Facebook could face heavy fines if they don’t fall into line with the EU’s policies. The EU’s issue with Amazon is a little different. 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. They are, according to VentureBeat, concerned that Amazon, and other e-commerce companies like Netflix, “have policies that restrict the ability of merchants and consumers to buy and sell goods and services across Europe’s borders.” For example: videos offered by the company’s streaming aren’t available in every country, which is at odds with the EU’s aim to treat every member nation and citizen equally. A year-long investigation launched this year so, at least for now, Amazon is free to continue as they are. The EU is clearly not going to let the GAFA companies operate unchecked, nor let them have the same level of independence they enjoy in the US. The EU takes a much more hands on approach to consumer protection and anti-competition laws than the Obama administration. Make us of.com
Les chiffres sont vertigineux. Apple est l’entreprise la plus capitalisée en bourse, avec une valeur qui a dépassé les 800 milliards de dollars. Celle d’Alphabet, la maison mère de Google, atteint près de 650 milliards de dollars. Google représente 88% du marché de la recherche sur Internet aux Etats-Unis et Facebook vient de franchir la barre des deux milliards d’utilisateurs actifs. Amazon? Le géant de la vente en ligne, qui s’apprête à ouvrir un deuxième siège en Amérique du Nord – plusieurs villes sont en lice –, est en train de tuer le petit commerce. Cette toute-puissance inquiète. (…) Un sondage publié le 25 septembre par le quotidien US Today révèle que 76% des Américains sont désormais d’avis que les GAFA, les Big Four de la tech et leurs petits frères, ont trop de poids dans leur vie. Pas moins de 52% d’entre eux jugent cette influence «mauvaise». Certains de ces géants ont dû faire face à des scandales, ce qui entache leur déontologie et leur crédibilité. Le 6 septembre, Facebook a admis que près de 500 faux profils liés à la Russie avaient acheté pour plus de 100 000 dollars de publicité, entre juin 2015 et mai 2017, pour influencer l’élection présidentielle américaine en véhiculant des messages censés nuire à Hillary Clinton. «Je ne veux pas que qui que ce soit utilise nos instruments pour nuire à la démocratie», a proclamé son cofondateur et patron Mark Zuckerberg dans une vidéo, en présentant ses excuses. C’est la première fois que le groupe admet avoir été manipulé ainsi, offrant à la Russie une plateforme de choix pour sa propagande. De quoi intéresser le procureur spécial Robert Mueller, qui enquête sur les possibles collusions entre l’équipe de Donald Trump et Moscou. Facebook va devoir rendre des comptes devant le Sénat. Le Congrès entendra également Twitter et Google dans le cadre de l’affaire russe. Une audience publique est prévue le 1er novembre. Facebook avait déjà été critiqué pour avoir diffusé des vidéos de meurtres et de suicides en direct. Et facilité, grâce à ses algorithmes, des messages racistes et antisémites ciblés. Le New York Times s’est moqué des excuses tardives du groupe, en trouvant une analogie avec Frankenstein, qui a échappé à son créateur. Faut-il réguler le secteur? S’achemine-t-on vers une législation antitrust contre les géants de la tech? Le controversé Stephen Bannon, que Donald Trump a limogé cet été de son poste de conseiller stratégique à la Maison-Blanche, l’avait appelée de ses vœux. Tout comme la sénatrice démocrate Elizabeth Warren, à l’autre bout de l’échiquier politique. La News Media Alliance, qui regroupe plus de 2000 titres américains et canadiens, donne également de la voix en ce sens, les médias d’information souffrant de la rude concurrence des géants d’Internet. (…) Comme le rappelle le New York Times, Facebook et Google bataillent ferme depuis le mois dernier contre un projet qui veut les rendre responsables s’ils hébergent du trafic sexuel sur leurs sites. L’enjeu est majeur: une loi vieille de vingt ans protège pour l’instant les compagnies internet de poursuites en justice en raison de contenus postés par des internautes. Sentant le vent tourner, les géants de la tech commencent à renforcer leurs équipes d’avocats et de lobbyistes. Le Temps
For the last two decades, Apple, Google, Amazon and other West Coast tech corporations have been untouchable icons. They piled up astronomical profits while hypnotizing both left-wing and right-wing politicians. (…) If the left feared that the tech billionaires were becoming robber barons, they also delighted in the fact that they were at least left-wing robber barons. Unlike the steel, oil and coal monopolies of the 19th century that out of grime and smoke created the sinews of a growing America, Silicon Valley gave us shiny, clean, green and fun pods, pads and phones. As a result, social media, internet searches, texts, email and other computer communications were exempt from interstate regulatory oversight. Big Tech certainly was not subject to the rules that governed railroads, power companies, trucking industries, Wall Street, and television and radio. But attitudes about hip high-tech corporations have now changed on both the left and right. Liberals are under pressure from their progressive base to make Silicon Valley hire more minorities and women. Progressives wonder why West Coast techies cannot unionize and sit down for tough bargaining with their progressive billionaire bosses. Local community groups resent the tech giants driving up housing prices and zoning out the poor from cities such as Seattle and San Francisco. Behind the veneer of a cool Apple logo or multicolored Google trademark are scores of multimillionaires who live one-percenter lifestyles quite at odds with the soft socialism espoused by their corporate megaphones. (…) Instead of acting like laissez-faire capitalists, the entrenched captains of high-tech industry seem more like government colluders and manipulators. Regarding the high-tech leaders’ efforts to rig their industries and strangle dissent, think of conniving Jay Gould or Jim Fisk rather than the wizard Thomas Edison. (…) The public so far has welcomed the unregulated freedom of Silicon Valley — as long as it was truly free. But now computer users are discovering that social media and web searches seem highly controlled and manipulated — by the whims of billionaires rather than federal regulators. (…) For years, high-tech grandees dressed all in hip black while prancing around the stage, enthralling stockholders as if they were rock stars performing with wireless mics. Some wore jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts, making it seem like being worth $50 billion was hipster cool. But the billionaire-as-everyman shtick has lost his groove, especially when such zillionaires lavish their pet political candidates with huge donations, seed lobbying groups and demand regulatory loopholes. Ten years ago, a carefree Mark Zuckerberg seemed cool. Now, his T-shirt get-up seems phony and incongruous with his walled estates and unregulated profiteering. (…) Why are high-tech profits hidden in offshore accounts? Why is production outsourced to impoverished countries, sometimes in workplaces that are deplorable and cruel? Why does texting while driving not earn a product liability suit? Victor Davis Hanson

Attention: des barons voleurs peuvent en cacher d’autres !

A l’heure où avec leur formidable force de frappe financière et trésors de guerre accumulés …

Les multinationales géantes du numérique semblent à la manière des « barons voleurs« du 19e siècle américain …

Concentrer tous les pouvoirs et écraser toute concurrence sur leur passage …

Face à des gouvernants dont ils partagent clairement le ton volontiers moralisateur et méprisant

Et des masses rejetées dans les passions désormais déclarées rétrogrades des questions d’identité et de souveraineté nationales …

Comment ne pas s’étonner de l’étrange indulgence dont…

Sous prétexte de leur coolitude …

Leurs pourtant  dirigeants continuent jusqu’ici à bénéficier ?

How Silicon Valley Turned Off the Left and Right
Victor Davis Hanson
Townhall
Sep 28, 2017

When left and right finally agree on something, watch out: The unthinkable becomes normal.So it is with changing attitudes toward Silicon Valley. For the last two decades, Apple, Google, Amazon and other West Coast tech corporations have been untouchable icons. They piled up astronomical profits while hypnotizing both left-wing and right-wing politicians.

Conservative administrations praised them as modern versions of 19th-century risk-takers such as Andrew Carnegie and John D. Rockefeller. Bill Gates, the late Steve Jobs and other tech giants were seen as supposedly creating national wealth in an unregulated, laissez-faire landscape that they had invented from nothing.

At a time when American companies were increasingly unable to compete in the rough-and-tumble world arena, Apple, Microsoft, and Facebook bulldozed their international competition. Indeed, they turned high-tech and social media into American brands.

The left was even more enthralled. It dropped its customary regulatory zeal, despite Silicon Valley’s monopolizing, outsourcing, offshoring, censoring, and destroying of startup competition. After all, Big Tech was left-wing and generous. High-tech interests gave hundreds of millions of dollars to left-wing candidates, think tanks and causes.

Companies such as Facebook and Google were able to warp their own social media protocols and Internet searches to insidiously favor progressive agendas and messaging.

If the left feared that the tech billionaires were becoming robber barons, they also delighted in the fact that they were at least left-wing robber barons.

Unlike the steel, oil and coal monopolies of the 19th century that out of grime and smoke created the sinews of a growing America, Silicon Valley gave us shiny, clean, green and fun pods, pads and phones.

As a result, social media, internet searches, texts, email and other computer communications were exempt from interstate regulatory oversight. Big Tech certainly was not subject to the rules that governed railroads, power companies, trucking industries, Wall Street, and television and radio.

But attitudes about hip high-tech corporations have now changed on both the left and right.Liberals are under pressure from their progressive base to make Silicon Valley hire more minorities and women.

Progressives wonder why West Coast techies cannot unionize and sit down for tough bargaining with their progressive billionaire bosses.

Local community groups resent the tech giants driving up housing prices and zoning out the poor from cities such as Seattle and San Francisco.

Behind the veneer of a cool Apple logo or multicolored Google trademark are scores of multimillionaires who live one-percenter lifestyles quite at odds with the soft socialism espoused by their corporate megaphones.Conservatives got sick of Silicon Valley, too.

Instead of acting like laissez-faire capitalists, the entrenched captains of high-tech industry seem more like government colluders and manipulators. Regarding the high-tech leaders’ efforts to rig their industries and strangle dissent, think of conniving Jay Gould or Jim Fisk rather than the wizard Thomas Edison.

With the election of populist Donald Trump, the Republican Party seems less wedded to the doctrines of economic libertarian Milton Friedman and more to the trust-busting zeal of Teddy Roosevelt.

The public so far has welcomed the unregulated freedom of Silicon Valley — as long as it was truly free. But now computer users are discovering that social media and web searches seem highly controlled and manipulated — by the whims of billionaires rather than federal regulators.

The public faces put on by West Coast tech leaders have not helped.

For years, high-tech grandees dressed all in hip black while prancing around the stage, enthralling stockholders as if they were rock stars performing with wireless mics. Some wore jeans, sneakers, and T-shirts, making it seem like being worth $50 billion was hipster cool.

But the billionaire-as-everyman shtick has lost his groove, especially when such zillionaires lavish their pet political candidates with huge donations, seed lobbying groups and demand regulatory loopholes.

Ten years ago, a carefree Mark Zuckerberg seemed cool. Now, his T-shirt get-up seems phony and incongruous with his walled estates and unregulated profiteering.

Of course, Silicon Valley’s critics should be wary. They wonder whether the golden tech goose can be caged without being killed.

Both liberals and conservatives are just beginning to ask why internet communications cannot be subject to the same rules applied to radio and television.

Why can’t Silicon Valley monopolies be busted up in the same manner as the Bell Telephone octopus or the old Standard Oil trust?

Why are high-tech profits hidden in offshore accounts?

Why is production outsourced to impoverished countries, sometimes in workplaces that are deplorable and cruel?

Why does texting while driving not earn a product liability suit?

Just because Silicon Valley is cool does not mean it could never become just another monopoly that got too greedy and turned off the left wing, the right wing and everybody in between.

Voir aussi:

Internet
Vents contraires contre les géants de la tech aux Etats-Unis
Critiquées pour leur situation de monopole et leur rôle joué pendant l’élection présidentielle américaine, les multinationales de la Silicon Valley doivent affronter des oppositions toujours plus fortes
Valérie de Graffenried
Le Temps
28 septembre 2017

Le vent est en train de tourner. L’appétit vorace et la toute-puissance financière des géants technologiques américains GAFA – acronyme pour Google, Apple, Facebook et Amazon – provoquent des remous aux Etats-Unis. Donald Trump n’en est pas le plus grand fan, et il ne s’en cache pas. Contrairement à son prédécesseur, il est plutôt hostile à la Silicon Valley, bastion progressiste par excellence. Des grands patrons de la tech se sont frontalement opposés à lui sur des dossiers clés comme le décret anti-immigration, le réchauffement climatique ou les émeutes de Charlottesville.

Alors quand les GAFA sont montrés du doigt en raison de leur situation de monopole et critiqués pour avoir véhiculé de la désinformation pendant l’élection présidentielle américaine, ce n’est pas Donald Trump qui monte au créneau pour les défendre. En Europe aussi, le débat est vif. A la fin de juin, la Commission européenne a sanctionné Google pour abus de position dominante en lui infligeant une amende record de 2,4 milliards de dollars (2,33 milliards de francs). Surtout, elle veut taxer davantage les GAFA, accusés de faire de l’optimisation fiscale. Elle a présenté ses premières pistes jeudi. Mais pour que les choses bougent sur ce plan, une position unanime des 28 Etats membres est nécessaire, ce qui est loin d’être acquis.

Danger pour la démocratie

Les chiffres sont vertigineux. Apple est l’entreprise la plus capitalisée en bourse, avec une valeur qui a dépassé les 800 milliards de dollars. Celle d’Alphabet, la maison mère de Google, atteint près de 650 milliards de dollars. Google représente 88% du marché de la recherche sur Internet aux Etats-Unis et Facebook vient de franchir la barre des deux milliards d’utilisateurs actifs. Amazon? Le géant de la vente en ligne, qui s’apprête à ouvrir un deuxième siège en Amérique du Nord – plusieurs villes sont en lice –, est en train de tuer le petit commerce. Cette toute-puissance inquiète. Cité par l’AFP, Bill Galston, un ex-conseiller du président Bill Clinton, cofondateur du think tank «The New Center», dénonce ces «moyens quasi illimités, qu’ils peuvent utiliser pour faire du lobbying». Et s’interroge sur le danger que cela peut représenter pour la démocratie.

Un sondage publié le 25 septembre par le quotidien US Today révèle que 76% des Américains sont désormais d’avis que les GAFA, les Big Four de la tech et leurs petits frères, ont trop de poids dans leur vie. Pas moins de 52% d’entre eux jugent cette influence «mauvaise». Certains de ces géants ont dû faire face à des scandales, ce qui entache leur déontologie et leur crédibilité. Le 6 septembre, Facebook a admis que près de 500 faux profils liés à la Russie avaient acheté pour plus de 100 000 dollars de publicité, entre juin 2015 et mai 2017, pour influencer l’élection présidentielle américaine en véhiculant des messages censés nuire à Hillary Clinton. «Je ne veux pas que qui que ce soit utilise nos instruments pour nuire à la démocratie», a proclamé son cofondateur et patron Mark Zuckerberg dans une vidéo, en présentant ses excuses.

Le syndrome Frankenstein

C’est la première fois que le groupe admet avoir été manipulé ainsi, offrant à la Russie une plateforme de choix pour sa propagande. De quoi intéresser le procureur spécial Robert Mueller, qui enquête sur les possibles collusions entre l’équipe de Donald Trump et Moscou. Facebook va devoir rendre des comptes devant le Sénat. Le Congrès entendra également Twitter et Google dans le cadre de l’affaire russe. Une audience publique est prévue le 1er novembre. Facebook avait déjà été critiqué pour avoir diffusé des vidéos de meurtres et de suicides en direct. Et facilité, grâce à ses algorithmes, des messages racistes et antisémites ciblés. Le New York Times s’est moqué des excuses tardives du groupe, en trouvant une analogie avec Frankenstein, qui a échappé à son créateur.

Faut-il réguler le secteur? S’achemine-t-on vers une législation antitrust contre les géants de la tech? Le controversé Stephen Bannon, que Donald Trump a limogé cet été de son poste de conseiller stratégique à la Maison-Blanche, l’avait appelée de ses vœux. Tout comme la sénatrice démocrate Elizabeth Warren, à l’autre bout de l’échiquier politique. La News Media Alliance, qui regroupe plus de 2000 titres américains et canadiens, donne également de la voix en ce sens, les médias d’information souffrant de la rude concurrence des géants d’Internet.

Le Congrès est en plein chantier sur la fiscalité des entreprises, mais pour l’instant aucun projet majeur n’est prévu pour limiter l’influence et l’expansion des GAFA. Les bénéfices de l’innovation technologique pour le consommateur semblent encore primer. Le climat politique a toutefois bien changé à Washington. Les législateurs du Congrès ont les GAFA sérieusement à l’œil. Le corset qui commence à les gainer promet de se resserrer.

Comme le rappelle le New York Times, Facebook et Google bataillent ferme depuis le mois dernier contre un projet qui veut les rendre responsables s’ils hébergent du trafic sexuel sur leurs sites. L’enjeu est majeur: une loi vieille de vingt ans protège pour l’instant les compagnies internet de poursuites en justice en raison de contenus postés par des internautes. Sentant le vent tourner, les géants de la tech commencent à renforcer leurs équipes d’avocats et de lobbyistes.

Voir également:

Mark Zuckerberg sort de sa réserve pour critiquer la politique d’immigration de Donald Trump

Le patron de Facebook a ouvertement critiqué les récentes décisions du président américain sur l’immigration. Sheryl Sandberg, numéro deux de Facebook, a quant à elle exprimé son désaccord sur la question de l’avortement.

Le Monde.fr avec AFP et Reuters

« Mes arrière-grands-parents sont venus d’Allemagne, d’Autriche et de Pologne. Les parents de [mon épouse] Priscilla étaient des réfugiés venant de Chine et du Vietnam. Les Etats-Unis sont une nation d’immigrants, et nous devrions en être fiers. » Vendredi 27 janvier, le fondateur de Facebook, Mark Zuckerberg, a publié un message sur le réseau social pour critiquer les récentes décisions de Donald Trump concernant l’immigration.

Un fait rare : Mark Zuckerberg avait pris soin, jusqu’ici, de ne pas afficher trop ouvertement ses opinions politiques – malgré des soupçons d’ambitions électorales, qu’il a démentis – et s’était abstenu de soutenir un candidat pendant la campagne présidentielle américaine. Il avait toutefois laissé entendre, dans un discours en avril dernier, son aversion pour certaines idées de Donald Trump, sans pour autant le nommer : « J’entends les voix apeurées qui nous appellent à construire des murs. Plutôt que des murs, nous voulons aider les gens à construire des ponts. »

Depuis, Donald Trump l’a emporté, et a durci dès ses premiers jours de mandat la politique d’immigration pour « protéger la nation contre l’entrée de terroristes étrangers », rapporte un décret publié vendredi soir. Il interdit notamment l’arrivée de ressortissants de sept pays musulmans pendant trois mois : Irak, Iran, Libye, Somalie, Soudan, Syrie et Yémen. Deux jours plus tôt, il avait signé un autre décret ordonnant la construction d’un mur à la frontière entre les Etats-Unis et le Mexique.

« Comme beaucoup d’entre vous, je suis inquiet de l’impact des récents décrets signés par le président Trump », explique Mark Zuckerberg, avant de développer :

« Nous devons faire en sorte que ce pays reste en sécurité, mais pour y parvenir, nous devrions nous concentrer sur les personnes qui représentent vraiment une menace. Etendre l’attention des forces de l’ordre au-delà des personnes qui représentent de vraies menaces va nuire à la sécurité des Américains, en dispersant les ressources, tandis que des millions de sans-papiers qui ne représentent aucune menace vivront dans la peur d’être expulsés. »

Les poids lourds américains inquiets

Comme beaucoup d’employeurs de la Silicon Valley, M. Zuckerberg plaide depuis longtemps pour un assouplissement des règles d’immigration aux Etats-Unis. Notamment parce que ces entreprises recrutent beaucoup de personnes étrangères et que les lois américaines compliquent leur arrivée.

Le patron de Facebook n’est d’ailleurs pas le seul à s’être montré inquiet après le décret signé vendredi par le nouveau président américain. Dans une note interne qu’a pu consulter le Wall Street Journal, Sundar Pichai, qui dirige Google, a expliqué que ce décret pouvait affecter 187 salariés de l’entreprise. « Nous sommes inquiets de l’impact de ce décret et de toutes les propositions qui pourraient imposer des restrictions aux Googlers [les employés de Google] et leurs familles, ou qui pourraient créer des obstacles pour apporter de grands talents aux Etats-Unis. »

D’autres poids lourds de la Silicon Valley comme Apple, Netflix et Tesla ont exprimé leur consternation au sujet de ce décret.

Alphabet, maison mère de Google, a rappelé d’urgence les membres de son personnel qui se trouvaient à l’étranger et a invité ceux qui pourraient être concernés par le décret à ne pas quitter les Etats-Unis.

« Ce n’est pas une politique que nous soutenons », écrit quant à lui Tim Cook, le patron d’Apple, dans une lettre adressée à ses employés. « Nous avons pris contact avec la Maison blanche pour expliquer ses effets néfastes pour nos collaborateurs et notre entreprise », poursuit-il, promettant d’aider les victimes du décret.

Selon Brad Smith, président et directeur juridique de Microsoft, 76 employés de la firme viennent des sept pays concernés par le décret. « En tant qu’entreprise, Microsoft croit à une immigration équilibrée et hautement qualifiée (…) Nous croyons à l’importance de protéger les réfugiés reconnus comme tels et respectueux de la loi dont les vies peuvent être menacées par les procédures d’immigration », ajoute-t-il dans un courriel.

Quant au fondateur de SpaceX, Elon Musk, qui a récemment semblé cultiver une relation avec Trump, il a tweeté que « beaucoup de gens qui sont affectés par cette politique sont de solides partisans des États-Unis » qui ne « méritent pas d’être rejetés ».

Fait étonnant, le réseau social Twitter a aussi réagi, affichant son soutien aux personnes concernées par ce décret : « Twitter est construit par les immigrants de toute religion. Nous serons toujours pour eux et avec eux ».

« Ne pas autoriser (les ressortissants) de certains pays ou les réfugiés à venir en Amérique n’est pas correct et nous devons épauler ceux qui sont affectés », a pour sa part déclaré Brian Chesky, cofondateur et directeur général d’Airbnb, qui a promis d’héberger gratuitement les étrangers refoulés.

Sheryl Sandberg attaque Trump sur l’avortement

La numéro deux de Facebook, Sheryl Sandberg, a elle aussi critiqué publiquement Donald Trump jeudi, cette fois sur le terrain de l’avortement. Parmi les nombreux décrets signés par le nouveau président dès son entrée en fonctions, l’un interdit le financement d’ONG internationales soutenant l’avortement. Une décision « qui pourrait avoir de terribles conséquences pour les femmes et les familles partout dans le monde », a déploré Mme Sandberg sur Facebook.

La directrice opérationnelle de Facebook avait rencontré M. Trump en novembre, lors de la réunion qu’il avait organisée à la Trump Tower avec plusieurs dirigeants de la Silicon Valley, ce qui avait déclenché un certain nombre de critiques. Contrairement à Mark Zuckerberg, Sheryl Sanberg, par ailleurs fondatrice d’une ONG consacrée aux femmes, avait affiché son soutien dès juin 2016 à Hillary Clinton, mais s’était montrée très discrète à ce sujet depuis.

Voir encore:

Taxation des GAFA : l’Union européenne désunie
Si la France a réussi à imposer son ordre du jour sur cette question, ses propositions ne font pas l’unanimité.
Le Monde économie
Cécile Ducourtieux (Bruxelles, bureau européen)
21.09.2017

Le ministre de l’économie, Bruno Le Maire, a réussi un beau coup médiatique ces derniers jours en imposant à l’ordre du jour européen le sujet de la taxation des géants du numérique (les « GAFA », pour Google, Amazon, Facebook et Apple). Pour autant, la solution inédite avancée par Bercy ne fait pas l’unanimité dans l’Union. Le ministère français suggère que, pour obliger ces multinationales championnes de l’optimisation fiscale à payer les impôts correspondant à leur activité effective dans un pays, on impose, non pas leurs bénéfices, mais leur chiffre d’affaires, au motif qu’il serait plus facile à matérialiser.

Après avoir obtenu le ralliement, début septembre, de trois autres poids lourds européens (ses homologues allemand, italien et espagnol), M. Le Maire est également parvenu à convaincre six autres ministres (l’autrichien, le grec, le slovène, le bulgare, le portugais et le roumain), à l’Ecofin, la réunion des grands argentiers européens du 16 septembre à Tallinn (Estonie). Pour ne pas être en reste, la Commission européenne, jusqu’alors très prudente à l’idée d’une « taxe GAFA » spécifique, a rendu publique, jeudi 21 septembre, une « communication » sur le sujet.

Pour autant, l’institution s’est gardée de tout enthousiasme. Si elle salue l’activisme hexagonal, et assure qu’elle va l’explorer plus avant, elle reste convaincue que la bonne solution, à terme, pour éviter que les géants du Net continuent d’échapper massivement à l’impôt en profitant d’une fiscalité datant du XXe siècle, peu adaptée à la dématérialisation accélérée des échanges, c’est une remise à plat complète de la taxe sur le profit.

« Il n’est plus question de tolérer une situation où des sociétés échappent pratiquement à l’impôt malgré des bénéfices considérables. C’est une question de justice sociale et de pragmatisme. Nous estimons que le manque à gagner pour les fiscs européens est supérieur à 5 milliards d’euros par an », explique au Monde Pierre Moscovici, le commissaire à l’économie. Pour autant, estime l’ex-ministre de l’économie du gouvernement Ayrault, « il vaut mieux, pour adapter notre fiscalité à l’ère du numérique, changer la roue qu’ajouter une rustine aux règles existantes ».

Travail de conviction

La Commission tente, depuis fin 2016, de relancer un projet jugé très ambitieux d’harmonisation au niveau européen du calcul de l’impôt sur le revenu. Baptisée « Accis » à Bruxelles, pour « assiette commune consolidée pour l’impôt sur les sociétés », cette ébauche de directive est censée définir les règles d’établissement de la base fiscale pays par pays, et celles de la consolidation des profits au niveau des sociétés mères.

La Commission préférerait largement poursuivre son travail de conviction auprès des pays membres, plutôt que de l’abandonner pour la proposition française, plus rapide à mettre en œuvre à court terme, jure M. Le Maire.

« Nous n’excluons aucune option, et l’initiative française réunissant désormais dix pays est la bienvenue. Mais nous tenons à rappeler que la taxation du numérique est une question politique, qui appelle des réponses globales et exige un temps de réflexion. Les options les plus simples à énoncer ne sont pas forcément les plus simples à mettre en œuvre », insiste M. Moscovici.

La taxation du chiffre d’affaires inquiète à Bruxelles : comment éviter de taxer doublement les sociétés du Net (par le chiffre d’affaires et par le profit), alors que cette pratique va à l’encontre de toutes les règles en matière fiscale ? Quel seuil de revenus « numériques » choisir pour cibler les « grosses » plates-formes sans pénaliser tout l’écosystème des start-up européennes ? En 2010, une première tentative de taxe Google hexagonale avait été rapidement abandonnée pour cette dernière raison. Elle visait la publicité en ligne, principale source de revenus de la plupart des acteurs du Net, à commencer par les plus petits…

Doutes sur le fond

Par ailleurs, au-delà de ces doutes sur le fond, huit pays membres ont fait part, selon nos informations, de leurs fortes réserves concernant la proposition française, lors de l’Ecofin (la Suède, Malte, les Pays-Bas, le Luxembourg, l’Irlande, Chypre, la Belgique et le Royaume-Uni). Or, rien ne peut avancer au niveau européen en matière fiscale sans l’unanimité des pays membres. Certains, comme l’Irlande, le Luxembourg ou les Pays-Bas pratiquent des fiscalités notoirement accommodantes pour les GAFA, et sont parmi les moins enthousiastes à Bruxelles dès lors qu’il s’agit de lutter contre la fraude et l’évasion fiscale, même si leur position s’est un peu assouplie après le scandale « LuxLeaks », fin 2015.

D’autres, comme la Suède, réclament généralement que les travaux européens se calent sur les discussions internationales dans le cadre de l’OCDE (Organisation de coopération et de développement économiques), afin que les Etats-Unis y soient associés.

Chargés de la présidence tournante de l’Union et obligés, du fait de cette responsabilité temporaire, à une certaine neutralité, les Estoniens se sont prudemment tenus en retrait du débat à l’Ecofin. Plutôt en faveur de la poursuite des négociations autour d’Accis, ils vont tenter de rapprocher les points de vue européens avant le conseil des dirigeants de l’Union, fin décembre.

Leur but ? Sur un sujet identifié désormais comme prioritaire, ils veulent que l’Europe contribue à influencer le travail de l’OCDE, qui travaille aussi sur la taxation du numérique et doit rendre son rapport en avril 2018. Si une proposition législative de la Commission émerge de toutes ces tractations, ce ne sera logiquement pas avant cette échéance internationale, soit au plus tôt dans le courant du deuxième trimestre 2018.

Voir de plus:

Comment Macron alimente le populisme

Emmanuel Macron, qui vomit le populisme, fait tout pour l’alimenter. Il en a apporté la démonstration, mardi à la Sorbonne, en se faisant le défenseur exalté de l’Union européenne, sans vouloir entendre les réticences des peuples. Sa prétendue ‘refondation’ européenne n’est autre que la perpétuation d’une institution technocratique et éloignée de la vie des gens. Son choix d’une ‘Europe souveraine » est celui d’une supranationalité qui méconnait les nations et leur désir de maîtriser leur destin. L’entendre affirmer que l’Europe doit « faire une place aux réfugiés » car « c’est notre devoir commun » révèle son indifférence aux inquiétudes qui partout se manifestent. En Allemagne, la percée de l’afD, ce week-end, a été motivée par la folle politique migratoire d’Angela Merkel et son incapacité à mesurer le danger islamiste. C’est Alice Schwarzer, grande figure du féminisme en Allemagne, qui déclarait l’autre jour dans Le Figaro, parlant de la chancelière : « Elle n’a pas perçu la différence entre l’islam et l’islamisme, entre la religion et l’idéologie politique (…) De cette fausse perception sur la politisation de l’islam ont découlé de nombreuses erreurs ». D’islam politique, il n’en a évidemment pas été question dans le discours fleuve du chef de l’Etat. Il ne veut ‘conduire la bataille’ que pour donner plus de pouvoirs encore à une Union de plus en plus soviétoïde. Il n’a réservé ses coups, comme à son habitude, qu’à ceux qui ne pensent pas comme lui.

Ce mercredi, dans Le Figaro, l’universitaire Jean-Claude Pacitto alerte sur l’intolérance qui s’est installée dans l’Université, aux prises avec des moeurs mafieuses donnant au conformisme sa place de choix, lors des procédures de cooptation. Pacitto s’interroge : ‘La France n’est-elle jamais sortie de cette tentation toute soviétique qui consiste à envisager le débat qu’en termes d’élimination des adversaires ?’. En tout cas, à entendre Macron hier à la Sorbonne, la réponse est non. En effet, non content de s’aveugler sur une Union européenne vécue comme une violence ou une menace par beaucoup de citoyens abandonnés, le président s’est une fois de plus laissé aller au manichéisme en usage chez les esprits sectaires. Pour lui, ceux qui critiquent l’UE laisseraient voir un ‘nationalisme’, un ‘identitarisme’, un ‘souverainisme de repli’ et autres « passions tristes ». Il dit de ceux-là qu’ils « mentent aux peuples ». Et de menacer, d’ailleurs peu clairement : « Je ne laisserai rien, rien, à ceux qui promettent la haine, la division ou le repli national ». Mais où est la haine, en l’occurrence, sinon dans ces propos présidentiels qui cherchent à discréditer des contradicteurs. Je ne sais pas si la méthode est spécifiquement soviétique. Reste qu’elle vient compléter un autoritarisme qui se retrouve généralement chez les faibles. Le macronisme devient, de plus en plus, un despotisme éructant.

Voir par ailleurs:

The Hipster in the Mirror
Mark Greif
The New York Times
November 12, 2010

A  year ago, my colleagues and I started to investigate the contemporary hipster. What was the “hipster,” and what did it mean to be one? It was a puzzle. No one, it seemed, thought of himself as a hipster, and when someone called you a hipster, the term was an insult. Paradoxically, those who used the insult were themselves often said to resemble hipsters — they wore the skinny jeans and big eyeglasses, gathered in tiny enclaves in big cities, and looked down on mainstream fashions and “tourists.” Most puzzling was how rattled sensible, down-to-earth people became when we posed hipster-themed questions. When we announced a public debate on hipsterism, I received e-mail messages both furious and plaintive. Normally inquisitive people protested that there could be no answer and no definition. Maybe hipsters didn’t exist! The responses were more impassioned than those we’d had in our discussions on health care, young conservatives and feminism. And perfectly blameless individuals began flagellating themselves: “Am I a hipster?”

I wondered if I could guess the root of their pain. It’s a superficial topic, yet it seemed that so much was at stake. Why? Because struggles over taste (and “taste” is the hipster’s primary currency) are never only about taste. I began to wish that everyone I talked to had read just one book to give these fraught debates a frame: “Distinction: A Social Critique of the Judgement of Taste,” by Pierre Bourdieu.

A French sociologist who died in 2002 at age 71, Bourdieu is sometimes wrongly associated with postmodern philosophers. But he did share with other post-1968 French thinkers a wish to show that lofty philosophical ideals couldn’t be separated from the conflicts of everyday life. Subculture had not been his area, precisely, but neither would hipsters have been beneath his notice.

He came from a family of peasants in the foothills of the Pyrenees. His father was elevated by a job in the village post office — although he always emphasized that he had attained his position by being neither better nor different. Pierre, as a child, was elevated yet more drastically by the school system. He so distinguished himself in the classroom that he was carried to studies at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. This was the pinnacle of French intellect, the path of Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty.

Yet Bourdieu chose to make it his life’s work to debunk the powerful classes’ pretensions that they were more deserving of authority or wealth than those below. He aimed his critiques first at his own class of elites — professors and intellectuals — then at the media, the political class and the propertied class.

“Distinction,” published in 1979, was an undisputed masterwork. In it, Bourdieu set out to show the social logic of taste: how admiration for art, appreciation of music, even taste in food, came about for different groups, and how “superior” taste was not the result of an enchanted superiority in scattered individuals.

This may seem a long way from Wellington-booted and trucker-hatted American youth in gentrifying neighborhoods. But Bourdieu’s innovation, applicable here, was to look beyond the traditional trappings of rich or poor to see battles of symbols (like those boots and hats) traversing all society, reinforcing the class structure just as money did.

Over several years in the 1960s, Bourdieu and his researchers surveyed 1,200 people of all classes and mined government data on aspects of French domestic life. They asked, for instance, Which of the following subjects would be most likely to make a beautiful photograph? and offered such choices as a sunset, a girl with a cat or a car crash. From government dietary research, they took data on the classic question: Do you think French people eat too much? The statistical results were striking. The things you prefer — tastes that you like to think of as personal, unique, justified only by sensibility — correspond tightly to defining measures of social class: your profession, your highest degree and your father’s profession.

The power of Bourdieu’s statistics was to show how rigid and arbitrary the local conformities were. In American terms, he was like an updater of Thorstein Veblen, who gave us the idea of “conspicuous consumption.” College teachers and artists, unusual in believing that a beautiful photo could be made from a car crash, began to look conditioned to that taste, rather than sophisticated or deep. White-collar workers who defined themselves by their proclivity to eat only light foods — as opposed to farmworkers, who weren’t ashamed to treat themselves to “both cheese and a dessert” — seemed not more refined, but merely more conventional.

Taste is not stable and peaceful, but a means of strategy and competition. Those superior in wealth use it to pretend they are superior in spirit. Groups closer in social class who yet draw their status from different sources use taste and its attainments to disdain one another and get a leg up. These conflicts for social dominance through culture are exactly what drive the dynamics within communities whose members are regarded as hipsters.

Once you take the Bourdieuian view, you can see how hipster neighborhoods are crossroads where young people from different origins, all crammed together, jockey for social gain. One hipster subgroup’s strategy is to disparage others as “liberal arts college grads with too much time on their hands”; the attack is leveled at the children of the upper middle class who move to cities after college with hopes of working in the “creative professions.” These hipsters are instantly declassed, reservoired in abject internships and ignored in the urban hierarchy — but able to use college-taught skills of classification, collection and appreciation to generate a superior body of cultural “cool.”

They, in turn, may malign the “trust fund hipsters.” This challenges the philistine wealthy who, possessed of money but not the nose for culture, convert real capital into “cultural capital” (Bourdieu’s most famous coinage), acquiring subculture as if it were ready-to-wear. (Think of Paris Hilton in her trucker hat.)

Both groups, meanwhile, look down on the couch-­surfing, old-clothes-wearing hipsters who seem most authentic but are also often the most socially precarious — the lower-middle-class young, moving up through style, but with no backstop of parental culture or family capital. They are the bartenders and boutique clerks who wait on their well-to-do peers and wealthy tourists. Only on the basis of their cool clothes can they be “superior”: hipster knowledge compensates for economic immobility.

All hipsters play at being the inventors or first adopters of novelties: pride comes from knowing, and deciding, what’s cool in advance of the rest of the world. Yet the habits of hatred and accusation are endemic to hipsters because they feel the weakness of everyone’s position — including their own. Proving that someone is trying desperately to boost himself instantly undoes him as an opponent. He’s a fake, while you are a natural aristocrat of taste. That’s why “He’s not for real, he’s just a hipster” is a potent insult among all the people identifiable as hipsters themselves.

The attempt to analyze the hipster provokes such universal anxiety because it calls everyone’s bluff. And hipsters aren’t the only ones unnerved. Many of us try to justify our privileges by pretending that our superb tastes and intellect prove we deserve them, reflecting our inner superiority. Those below us economically, the reasoning goes, don’t appreciate what we do; similarly, they couldn’t fill our jobs, handle our wealth or survive our difficulties. 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.

Mark Greif, a founder of n+1 and an assistant professor at the New School, is the editor, with Kathleen Ross and Dayna Tortorici, of “What Was the Hipster? A Sociological Investigation,” published last month.

Voir encore:

Si vous souhaitez être crédibles, arrêtez de dire « Les GAFA »
Julien Cadot
Numerama
27 janvier 2017

Les GAFA n’existent pas. Essayons de comprendre pourquoi cette expression n’a pas de sens en 2017.

Si l’on regarde du côté de Wikipédia, on s’aperçoit que l’acronyme GAFA se rapporte à deux choses. Premièrement, il peut signifier Geometric And Functional Analysis, bimensuel anglophone dédié à la recherche en mathématiques. Il peut aussi signifier Google Apple Facebook Amazon, quatre entreprises qu’on nommerait également « Géants du web ». Si votre passion pour les chiffres vous a conduit à cet article, nous avons le regret de vous informer qu’il ne sera pas question du périodique dans ces paragraphes, mais bien de nos amis américains.

Car il est rare, en France, qu’une journée se passe sans que le terme GAFA (le plus souvent « Les GAFA ») ne soit employé. On le trouve dans la presse web et papier, à la radio, à la télé, mais aussi dans la bouche de candidats à la présidentielle, sous la plume d’économistes ou dans les rapports des associations et organismes qui s’intéressent à la vie du web. Et pourtant, en 2017, plusieurs raisons nous conduisent à penser que ce terme est à bannir. Nous allons essayer de les expliquer.

Commençons par une rapide autocritique. Si vous faites une recherche sur GAFA Google, vous vous apercevrez bien vite que l’acronyme se trouve sur nos pages. Et c’est vrai : notre première volonté étant de nous faire comprendre le plus immédiatement possible, nous avons pu l’utiliser. Pourtant, depuis un an à peu près, il faut savoir que nos journalistes ont la consigne de ne jamais l’employer au premier degré. Il peut être utilisé dans des propos rapportés et quand il s’agit, nous allons le voir, de souligner par ironie une conception trop simpliste des acteurs du web.

GAFA : 4 entreprises qui n’ont rien à voir

Et c’est précisément le premier point qui nous turlupine : dire « Les GAFA », c’est faire un rassemblement qui n’a, au fond, pas beaucoup de sens. Les Géants du Web ? Apple est loin d’être né du web et encore aujourd’hui, l’entreprise de Cupertino est plus connue pour son matériel que pour ses logiciels (qui ne sont pas forcément des parties du « web »). Google est une agence de publicité, un moteur de recherche, un créateur de robot, un fournisseur d’accès à Internet, un fonds d’investissement, un chercheur en santé et en intelligence artificielle… et Google ne s’appelle plus Google, mais Alphabet.

Amazon est un e-commerçant. Tout ce que fait Amazon n’a qu’un but : vendre toujours plus de choses sur Amazon. Kindle, 1-Click, Dash, Alexa, Premium, Prime Now et autres services se regroupent autour de l’activité principale du géant de Seattle : c’est une boutique qui veut vendre des choses matérielles ou immatérielles. Une grosse boutique internationale, mais une boutique quand même. Facebook, enfin, est un réseau social, une régie publicitaire, une plateforme de contenu, un kiosque pour les médias (voire un média), un autre réseau social (Instagram) ou un explorateur de tendances technologiques. C’est, dans un sens, celui qui s’approche le plus de Google / Alphabet. Mais effectivement, (GF)+A+A, ça sonne moins bien.

(GF)+A+A, ça sonne moins bien

Ces quelques définitions fort simples et non exhaustives de ces sociétés montrent bien que les mettre sous une même bannière n’est presque jamais justifié, sans compter qu’en plus d’être différentes, ces entreprises sont concurrentes et pas une bande de copains américains. Ou alors, le regroupement se justifie par des choses beaucoup trop vagues (multinationale, richesse, optimisation fiscale, communication…) qui sont aussi des caractéristiques de milliers d’entreprises qui n’ont rien à voir avec la tech ou le web. Et le premier défaut de cet acronyme est particulièrement problématique quand il se mêle par exemple à la politique, quel que soit le bord.

Emmanuel Macron a par exemple employé le terme le 27 janvier 2017 pour dire que « Les GAFA » participeraient au financement de son pass jeunesse pour la culture. La « culture » a un rapport avec l’activité d’un Amazon, par exemple, ou celle d’un Google en tant que moteur de recherche. Mais pourquoi diable faire payer Apple et Facebook pour un pass culture ? Pourquoi ne pas impliquer Twitter et Microsoft ? Et surtout, pourquoi éviter des acteurs qui ont, eux, tout à voir avec la culture, comme Netflix ?

GAFA : et les autres ?

Cette dernière interrogation nous mène à un deuxième point : le terme « GAFA » est désuet. Il sonne comme une sorte de locution creuse et un brin moqueuse, souvent utilisée pour parler en mal de ces entreprises qui sont autant des mastodontes que des dinosaures de notre web. Quand on entend le mot, on a l’impression de se trouver en 2010 et d’entendre parler du tout puissant IBM.

Aujourd’hui, le web et les nouvelles technologies se sont redessinés très largement et évoquer par exemple l’impact d’une entreprise sur la société, positif ou négatif, sans parler d’Uber ou de Tesla est un non sens. Tout comme parler d’un grand réseau social et oublier Snapchat. Ou parler de Google et d’Apple sans évoquer les colosses de l’autre côté du globe que sont Baidu, Alibaba, LeEco ou Samsung et dont la croissance est loin d’être stoppée. C’est comme si la locution donnait un éclairage bien trop important à quatre entreprises, qui sont certes énormes, mais qui ne sont pas l’alpha et l’oméga de l’innovation, de la nouveauté ou de l’économie moderne.

À ce sujet, employer le terme « NATU » (Netflix, Airbnb, Tesla, Uber) qui cherche à s’imposer pour remplacer « GAFA » est tout aussi problématique : il oublie, lui aussi, les puissants asiatiques et fait un plan serré maladroit sur quatre autres entreprises qui n’ont, elles non plus, rien en commun.

GAFA : effacer les problèmes derrière un acronyme

Dès lors, un candidat à une élection présidentielle (tous ou presque le font) qui emploie « GAFA », « NATU » ou même « Géants californiens » (ils sont loin d’être tous californiens), n’a pas vraiment d’idée de qui il parle et de comment il souhaite impliquer tel ou tel acteur dans tel ou tel plan. Et ce point est peut-être le plus important de tous : résumer un groupe informe a une conséquence bien réelle sur la manière dont les gouvernements, états, organisations, économistes et même les militants agissent.

Si l’on prend le problème réel de la fiscalité on comprend très vite qu’on ne traite pas de la même manière avec Apple (Irlande) qu’avec Netflix (Luxembourg) Google (bureaux internationaux, présents à Paris et à Londres) ou qu’avec des sociétés moins exposées et donc moins souvent pointées du doigt (Samsung, Huawei…) et qui pratiquent très probablement des « optimisations » sur lesquelles il y aurait à enquêter.

Arnaud Montebourg évoquait « quatre entreprises californiennes »

Sans parler de tout ce qui n’entre pas dans la fiscalité. Par exemple, quand on est une collectivité ou une ville, ce n’est pas du tout la même chose de monter un projet avec Google (plusieurs centaines d’employés à Paris, allant de la communication à la recherche) qu’avec un Facebook (petits bureaux, compétences très orientées business) ou un Amazon qui a à la fois des bureaux mais aussi des entrepôts et des livreurs et qui opère donc à plusieurs niveaux avec des tas de problématiques et d’interlocuteurs différents.

Traiter avec les GAFA, faire plier les GAFA, faire financer X ou Y choses avec les GAFA, organiser un plan avec les GAFA, impliquer les GAFA sont autant de propositions qui n’ont aucune signification pratique et aucune portée réelle : tout au plus s’agit-il de vaines promesses ou de faux espoirs.

GAFA : créer une mythologie technologique

Le dernier point que nous souhaitons relever est peut-être tout à la fois le moins grave et le plus remarquable. En effet, à force d’être mal utilisé, à tort et à travers, le terme a remplacé l’objet qu’il désigne. Le signifiant « Les GAFA » est une sorte de chimère sans signifié, qui résonne comme une menace toute puissante, l’épure d’une techno-divinité. Les GAFA nous espionnent. Les GAFA nous contrôlent. Les GAFA nous privent de telle ou telle liberté.

Si on estime que « Les GAFA » n’ont aucun sens réel, alors toutes ces phrases sonnent creux — en plus de perdre en crédibilité. En effet, si l’on prend par exemple la collecte des données personnelles, il est on ne peut plus faux de mettre Google, Amazon, Facebook et Apple dans le même panier. Les quatre compagnies n’ont pas du tout la même politique sur le sujet et une critique ou un éloge qui s’applique à l’un ne s’appliquera pas forcément à l’autre.

« Les GAFA » n’existant pas, ils ne peuvent ni être une cible crédible, ni un allié de confiance. En revanche, le terme entretient un flou artistique qui n’aboutit, concrètement, à rien.

Les GAFA n’existant pas en tant qu’entité, il est très difficile de mettre autre chose que de l’irrationnel derrière cette expression, même si elle a pu avoir du sens au moment où elle a été employées la première fois. Et l’irrationnel, surtout dans des cas économiques, sociaux ou politiques très concrets que nous venons d’esquisser, n’a rien d’une route à emprunter pour avancer.

Voir de plus:

American cultural imperialism has a new name: GAFA
Quarz
December 01, 2014

In France, there’s a new word: GAFA. It’s an acronym, and it has become a shorthand term for some of the most powerful companies in the world—all American, all tech giants. GAFA stands for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.

The phrase is used by newspapers, blogs, and talking heads on TV—see here and here and here (all links in French). It even appears in the local version of “The Internet for Dummies.” Le Monde’s economics editor, Alexis Delcambre, tells Quartz that GAFA first appeared in his newspaper in December 2012. “GAFA is not used very often, but when used, it is almost always on critical topics, including taxes or personal data,” he says.

In the US, Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon are generally praised as examples of innovation. 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. Take Google: its tax affairs in France are being challenged (paywall)—which comes soon after it has been forced to institute a “right to be forgotten” and threatened with being broken up.

But the spread of the term “GAFA” may be as much to do with cultural resentment as taxes. “I think it’s more about distribution of power in the online world than tax avoidance,” Liam Boogar, founder of the French start-up site, Rude Baguette, tells Quartz. France, after all, is a country with a long history of resisting US cultural hegemony.

Remember José Bové, the sheep farmer who destroyed a McDonald’s in 1999 and was a symbol for the anti-globalization movement? Times have changed; McDonald’s most profitable country in Europe is now France. 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. Jérémie Zimmermann, one of the founders of La Quadrature, a tech-oriented public policy non-profit, tells Quartz he dislikes the term “GAFA” and prefers to refer to the big US firms as the “PRISM” companies (after the US National Security Agency program revealed by Edward Snowden) or the “Bullrun” firms (another NSA program), which he uses to refer to “more or less every US-based company in which trust is broken”—citing examples that include Intel, Motorola, and Cisco.

Even if the term has a negative connotation, it’s worth noting which companies didn’t make the acronym. Microsoft, most notably. Samsung is another. No Yahoo.

Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon pretty much dominate every facet of our lives—from email from friends and family to what’s in your pocket to how you get everything in your house to how you pay. As far as acronyms of global power go, it works.

What Is GAFA? Why The EU Doesn’t Love Large Harry Guinness
Make us of.com
June 18, 2015

GAFA is an acronym for Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon — the 4 most powerful American technology companies. Usage of the term “GAFA” is increasingly common in Europe. The acronym, originally from France, is used by the media to identify the 4 companies as a group – often in the context of legal investigations.

The EU has been butting heads with large companies for years. Let’s take a look at why it doesn’t like Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon.What’s Different About Europe?

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. It’s also generally quite hostile to the unfettered ambitions of corporations. Any company that seeks to acquire a monopoly, engage in anti-competitive practices, dodge taxes, or invade EU citizens’ privacy is likely to find themselves under investigation, and potentially facing a hefty fine.

Every GAFA company is currently under investigation by the EU for something.

Why the EU Doesn’t Like Google

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. In the past this has led to the EU criticising Google’s use of personal data. How Much Does Google Really Know About You? How Much Does Google Really Know About You? Read More 

More recently, the EU has been investigating Google for antitrust violations. Microsoft has been fined €2.2 billion for abusing it’s dominant market position and pushing it’s own services over the years, and the EU is concerned that Google is doing the same with search and Android. If they’re found to be abusing their position, they’ll face billions of euro worth of fines and be required to change their business practices.

Google has already been forced, by the EU, to change how it operates. After a landmark ruling last year, citizens of the EU have the “right to be forgotten” on the Internet. People can request that search engines remove links to web pages that contain information about them — although MakeUseOf readers don’t seem too fussed about it.

Why the EU Doesn’t Like Apple

Apple Music was only unveiled this month but, according to Reuters, the deals they’ve inked with record companies are already under investigation. Apple Unveils Apple Music at WWDC, U.S. Army Website Hacked, & More… [Tech News Digest] Apple Unveils Apple Music at WWDC, U.S. Army Website Hacked, & More… [Tech News Digest] Apple Music arrives at last, the United States Army gets hacked, Uwe Boll’s Kickstarter rage, Pizza Hut Blockbuster Box movies, and Grand Theft Auto V in real life. Read More

The EU, however, is more interested in Apple’s tax practices. 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.

Why the EU Doesn’t Like Facebook

The EU isn’t keen on Facebook for the same reason most people aren’t — it’s questionable privacy record. Facebook Privacy: 25 Things The Social Network Knows About You Facebook Privacy: 25 Things The Social Network Knows About You Facebook knows a surprising amount about us – information we willingly volunteer. From that information you can be slotted into a demographic, your « likes » recorded and relationships monitored. Here are 25 things Facebook knows about… Read More

There are several investigations, and a class action law suit, looking into whether or not Facebook’s privacy policy is legal. So far things are looking bad for Facebook. Despite frequent updates, a Belgian report released earlier this year “found that Facebook is acting in violation of European law“.

Just like the other companies, Facebook could face heavy fines if they don’t fall into line with the EU’s policies.

Why the EU Doesn’t Like Amazon

The EU’s issue with Amazon is a little different.

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. They are, according to VentureBeat, concerned that Amazon, and other e-commerce companies like Netflix, “have policies that restrict the ability of merchants and consumers to buy and sell goods and services across Europe’s borders.” For example: videos offered by the company’s streaming aren’t available in every country, which is at odds with the EU’s aim to treat every member nation and citizen equally.

A year-long investigation launched this year so, at least for now, Amazon is free to continue as they are.

What Do You Think?

The EU is clearly not going to let the GAFA companies operate unchecked, nor let them have the same level of independence they enjoy in the US. 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? Is the EU overreaching in its regulation of the GAFA companies or is it right to limit the tech giants’ ambitions?


Littérature/peinture: Parfois le traître est juste un traître (After Amos Oz’s latest Judas kiss, thank God for Israel Museum’s Jesus exhibition)

24 septembre, 2017

Chagall, Exodus 1952-66

Through many a dark hour I’ve been thinkin’ about this that Jesus Christ was betrayed by a kiss but I can’t think for you you’ll have to decide whether Judas Iscariot had God on his side. Bob Dylan
Judas ! Dylan fan (Manchester, May 17, 1966)
We made him and he betrayed the cause. Dylan fan
I think most of all I was angry that Dylan… not that he’d played electric, but that he’d played electric with a really poor sound system. It was not like it is on the record [the official album]. It was a wall of mush. That, and it seemed like a cavalier performance, a throwaway performance compared with the intensity of the acoustic set earlier on. There were rumblings all around me and the people I was with were making noises and looking at each other. It was a build-up. (…)  It came as a complete surprise to me. I guess I’d heard Dylan was playing electrically, but my preconceptions of that were of something a little more restrained, perhaps a couple of guitarists sitting in with him, not a large-scale electric invasion. (…) we were still living the first acoustic LPs and I don’t think many people had moved on to the electric material. (…) It’s strange. But certainly that wasn’t the Dylan I focused on. Maybe I was just living in the past. And I couldn’t hear the lyrics in the second half of the concert. I think that’s what angered me. I thought, ‘The man is throwing away the good part of what he does.(…) I think I was probably being egged on. I certainly got a lot of positive encouragement as soon as I’d done it. I sat down and there were a lot of people around me who turned round and were saying, ‘That was great, wish we’d have said that’ – those sort of things. And at that point I began to feel embarrassed really, but not that embarrassed. I was quite glad I’d done it. (…) It came at the same time as the revelation that someone else was claiming it was they that did the shout, and that intrigued me because I couldn’t understand why anyone would want to do that. I supposed I rationalised it by saying, well, maybe two people in the auditorium shouted ‘Judas’ but I’m absolutely convinced that it was me that the microphones picked up. And, being a bit of an amateur historian, I wanted to set the record straight. (…) I don’t regret doing it because I think I did it for the right sorts of reasons. I felt betrayed by someone who’d formed a very big part of my life for two or three years. But, y’know, with the benefit of hindsight, I don’t think I would do it now. (…) Brilliant [laughs]. Absolutely brilliant. But that wasn’t the set that you heard in the auditorium. It didn’t sound like that. John Cordell
It has been reckoned to be one of the pivotal moments in popular music in the 20th Century, on a par with the riot at Stravinsky’s Rite of Spring in Paris ». (…) It’s funny – you wait 30-odd years for Judas to turn up and you get two at once. (…) I think being called Judas was the point. Betraying what? It’s quite ridiculous. (…) This was not a bad set, it was absolutely fantastic what they played. It was eye-opening and revolutionary. I’m so glad there is a record of it. (…) In essence, it’s the night that pop music became rock music. It was heavy metal, it was thrash metal, it was death metal, it was everything that’s come since then. I was totally aware, the moment it finished, I knew I had been present at something that was seismic. Dr CP Lee
The only reason tapes of those shows exist today is because we wanted to know, ‘Are we crazy?’. We’d go back to the hotel room, listen to a tape of a show and think, ‘Shit, that’s not that bad. Why is everybody so upset?’ Robbie Robertson
These are the same people that tried to pin the name Judas on me. Judas, the most hated name in human history! If you think you’ve been called a bad name, try to work your way out from under that. Yeah, and for what? For playing an electric guitar? As if that is in some kind of way equitable to betraying our Lord and delivering him up to be crucified. All those evil motherfuckers can rot in hell. Bob Dylan
For those American Jews who lack any shred of integrity, the media should be required to label them at the bottom of the television screen whenever they pop up, e.g. Bill Kristol is “Jewish and an outspoken supporter of the state of Israel.” That would be kind-of-like a warning label on a bottle of rat poison – translating roughly as “ingest even the tiniest little dosage of the nonsense spewed by Bill Kristol at your own peril. Phil Giraldi
As the New Year 5778 begins, 88% of Israeli Jews say that they are happy and satisfied with their lives. This makes sense. Israel’s relative security, its prosperity, freedom and spiritual blossoming make Israeli Jews the most successful Jewish community in 3,500 years of Jewish history. 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. (…) 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 5778 also finds itself steeped in an ever deepening crisis. (…)  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. Caroline Glick
Parfois, le traitre est celui qui est en avance sur son temps. Amos Oz
That’s what the Jews in Israel think because they have no notion of the limits of power. 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’t settle anything and it can’t solve anything. It can only stave off disaster for a while. Shmuel Ash (Judas, Amos Oz)
Every so often in history, courageous people have appeared who were ahead of their time and were called traitors or eccentrics. Amos Oz
And so that is indeed what the Jews possess in the deepest recesses of the Jew-hater’s imagination. We are all Judas. Gershom Wald (Judas, Amos Oz)
 In front of me hangs Marc Chagall’s picture Crucifixion in Yellow. It shows the figure of the crucified Christ in an apocalyptic situation: people sinking into the sea, people homeless and in flight, and yellow fire blazing in the background. And with the crucified Christ there appears the angel with the trumpet and the open roll of the book of life [Rev 14.6]. This picture has accompanied me for a long time. It symbolizes the cross on the horizon of the world, and can be thought of as a symbolic expression of the studies which follow. Jürgen Moltmann
The sclpture, created by Russian Jewish artist Mark Antokolsky in 1876, is part of a collection of more than 150 artworks by 40 Jewish and Israeli artists who have used Christian imagery to challenge long-held taboos in both communities. It showcases the evolving attitudes of Jewish, Zionist and Israeli artists toward a figure whose place in Jewish history has been negotiated and reinterpreted over more than two millennia. It is a risky statement for an Israeli museum. Throughout history, Jews have traditionally shunned Jesus and his gospel. And while the Holy Land might be his accepted birthplace, for Jews in the modern state of Israel there is often resistance to learning about or even acknowledging Christianity. The Washington Post
We are talking about a 2,000-year-old tension between Judaism and Christianity and the fact that anti-Semitism grew in Christian thought and theology. (…) Israelis are funny about Jesus. But when we scrape the surface, we realize that there is a lot of Christian imagery all around us, even if we’re unaware of it. Amitai Mendelsohn
In the 19th century, the main issue was the Jewish artist feeling emancipated, and it was important for those artists to connect with their surrounding and the time. For Israeli artists, it’s also a kind of emancipation from the heavy Jewishness of their country. Ronit Steinberg (Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design)
Lorsque Jésus pense que tout le monde peut aimer tout le monde, peut être pensait-il à autre chose que ce que l’on a interprété. (…) L’amour prêché par Jésus tel qu’il est interprété, est quelque chose de tout à fait impossible. Le contraire de la guerre (…) n’est pas l’amour mais plutôt le compromis. (…) Mon père s’appelait Judas. Mon fils s’appelle aussi Judas. C’est quelque chose qui m’intéresse depuis mes 16 ans. De plus, cette traitrise de Judas, on peut considérer que c’était en quelque sorte le Tchernobyl de l’antisémitisme (…) Pourquoi Judas qui avait les moyens vendrait-il son maitre, son idole, son enseignant pour quelque chose comme 600 euros actuels ? Je trouvais que ça ne cadrait absolument pas. (…) Judas a cru en Jésus même plus que Jésus ne croyait en lui-même. (…) Le monde chrétien lorsqu’il l’a découvert a été choqué. C’est comme un électrochoc que de lire cela : le premier chrétien est mort ainsi, c’était également le dernier chrétien, et le seul chrétien. Un électrochoc dont personnellement je me réjouis. Je crois qu’il est bien mérité, peut-être également cela pourra-t-il un petit peu atténuer ce Tchernobyl de l’antisémitisme.  (…) Personnellement je n’ai pas de préférence pour l’un ou l’autre des personnages, ou des idées de ce roman. Je vais d’ailleurs vous donner un petit truc : il faut vous mettre dans des visions très contradictoires. Je n’ai pas voulu écrire un manifeste politique ou un roman. L’écrivain doit pouvoir se mettre à la place de l’autre. Il faut pouvoir décrire avec la même ferveur, deux ou trois visions opposées. (…) Je suis évolutionniste. Je crois aux compromis (…) et le contraire du compromis, ce n’est pas l’idéal, l’idéalisme, mais c’est le fanatisme et la mort. Amos Oz
L’intrigue de Judas cherche moins à exploiter le décor de pierres blondes et les ruelles de Jérusalem qu’à abriter un huis clos entre trois marginaux : l’ex-étudiant Shmuel Asch qu’une séparation a conduit à laisser tomber sa thèse sur l’apôtre, le vieil historien Gershom Wald, et une veuve de 45 ans, Atalia Abravanel. Entre ces trois solitaires que tout sépare et qui appartiennent à des générations différentes, des relations précaires mais fortes vont finir par se nouer. Les développements didactiques consacrés à Judas, qu’Amos Oz mêle à son histoire, doublent le roman d’un véritable essai. L’entrelacs ne prend pas toujours et sature parfois le récit. C’est l’aspect le moins convaincant du livre, malgré l’intérêt de l’hypothèse prêtée à Asch d’un Judas fidèle entre les fidèles, poussant Jésus à monter sur la croix pour faire éclater sa divinité en espérant qu’il survive à son supplice. Le dévoilement progressif du secret qui pèse sur la maisonnée est en revanche très réussi. La vérité apparaît en pleine lumière au fur et à mesure que se modifie le regard sur les objets quotidiens (canne, café, lampe à pétrole) auxquels Oz a toujours l’art de donner une âme. Nicolas Weill

Attention: une trahison peut en cacher une autre !

A l’heure où en ce Nouvel an juif

Et à l’instar d’un Judas « déçu par la ‘passivité de Jésus’ le livrant au Sanhédrin afin de provoquer une révolution armée contre l’occupant romain » …

Nombre de juifs de la Diaspora américaine ainsi qu’une minorité active de Juifs israéliens semblent déterminés à pousser Israël au suicide territorial face à ses ennemis palestiniens et arabes …

Contrairement à un nombre croissant de chrétiens ouvertement  solidaires du projet sioniste …

Comment ne pas se désoler …

Derrière son long héritage revendiqué de Jérémie à Lincoln ou de Gaulle ou même Herzl ou Ben Gourion …

De la véritable apologie de la trahison du dernier roman de l’écrivain israélien Amos Oz …

Mais comment en même temps ne pas être conforté d’initiatives du côté israélien …

Telles que cette récente  exposition du Musée d’Israël

Rappelant contre ces innombrables représentations du Christ à travers lesquelles nos musées avaient réussi à le déjudaïser …

La longue tradition de représentations de Jésus dans l’art juif et aujourd’hui israélien ?

Amos Oz: «Parfois, le traître est celui qui est en avance sur son temps»
L’écrivain plaide en faveur de Judas dans une fresque saisissante où il pose à Israël la question de la mémoire et du futurAndré Clavel
Le Temps30 août 2016

Raconter. Raconter, encore et encore. Des histoires, Amos Oz en a toujours inventé, depuis sa plus lointaine enfance, dans l’appartement familial rempli de livres – jusque dans la salle de bain. «Je ne peux m’empêcher d’écrire, dit le ténor des lettres israéliennes. Mes romans ne peuvent certes pas changer le monde mais ce que je souhaite, c’est qu’ils parviennent à ouvrir de nouvelles fenêtres dans le cœur de mes lecteurs.» Des fenêtres – et autant d’horizons –, il n’en manque pas dans Judas, son roman le plus audacieux et le plus ambitieux, une fresque qui comptait d’abord près de mille pages mais qu’il a peu à peu dégraissée des deux-tiers, après cinq ans de labeur.

Politique et religion

C’est dire le prix de ce récit où la théologie croise la politique, où les histoires intimes se mêlent à la grande Histoire – la naissance d’Israël, en particulier – et où le cofondateur du mouvement La Paix Maintenant jette un éclairage littéraire sur ses engagements citoyens tout en interrogeant les textes bibliques, sa lecture de chevet. «Ils contiennent des histoires magnifiques et douloureuses, sans parler de la beauté de la langue» dit le magicien Oz qui, nourri de l’Ancien Testament, s’est aussi plongé dès son adolescence dans le Nouveau Testament. Il est la source vive de son roman, au détour duquel il remet en scène le plus controversé des personnages, ce Judas qu’il réhabilite merveilleusement en tordant le cou aux vieilles – et tenaces – légendes qui font de lui le pire des renégats.

Dès les premières lignes, Amos Oz annonce la couleur: dans cette histoire, écrit-il, «on va parler de désir, d’un amour malheureux et d’une question théologique inexpliquée». Nous sommes à Jérusalem, pendant l’hiver 1959, au cœur d’une ville portant encore les stigmates de la guerre qui l’a divisée en deux, dix ans auparavant. C’est dans ces décors que se débat un jeune homme qui joue de malchance, Shmuel Asch, 25 ans, un étudiant en histoire des religions que sa fiancée vient de plaquer cruellement. Autre coup dur, la récente faillite de son père qui va le contraindre à trouver un emploi pour financer ses études, un emploi qu’il finira par dénicher grâce à une petite annonce: en échange d’un hébergement et d’un modeste salaire, un invalide de 70 ans cherche un garçon de compagnie pour lui faire la conversation cinq heures chaque soir.

Grincheux

C’est ainsi que Shmuel débarque chez le très fantasque Gershom Wald, un bavard impénitent, un vieux grincheux aussi érudit que misanthrope. Remplie de livres, située à l’ombre d’un figuier – comme dans une parabole biblique –, sa maison sera le théâtre de dialogues enflammés où s’affronteront deux générations, celle des certitudes et celle des désillusions. D’un côté, les beaux idéaux socialistes de Shmuel, qui brûle de réformer le monde. De l’autre, l’ironie cinglante de Gershom, qui vomit les idéologies. Don Quichotte contre Voltaire. «Je ne crois pas en la rédemption du monde. Il est sinistre et rempli de souffrances mais qui veut le sauver versera des torrents de sang» lance Gershom, avant d’ajouter: «Tout le monde ou presque traverse l’existence, de la naissance à la mort, les yeux fermés. Si on les ouvrait une fraction de seconde, on pousserait des hurlements effroyables sans jamais s’arrêter.»

Voir aussi:

Amos Oz: « Judas a cru en Jésus »

A l’occasion de la parution en France de son roman Judas (Gallimard), l’écrivain israélien Amos Oz s’est exprimé mardi 6 septembre au Musée d’art et d’histoire du Judaïsme.

A l’occasion de la parution en France de son roman Judas (Gallimard), Amos Oz a tenu une conférence ce mardi 6 septembre, au musée d’art et d’histoire du judaïsme. L’écrivain israélien, en conversation avec la journaliste du Monde Josyane Savigneau, s’est exprimé sur les nombreux thèmes qui traversent le roman déjà traduit en 15 langues. L’histoire se déroule il y a 51 ans, dans un Jérusalem dont l’auteur avoue être « nostalgique », et met en scène trois personnages principaux dans une même maison isolée : Gershom Wald, « un vieux handicapé qui a perdu la foi en tout », Attalia, « furieuse contre toute la gente masculine » dont s’amourache le jeune Shmuel Asch, qui à l’opposé de Wald veut changer le monde et s’intéresse à Jésus dans la religion juive.

Concernant le Christ, qui est l’un des sujets récurrents du roman avec Judas Iscariote, Amos Oz affirme : « Lorsque Jésus pense que tout le monde peut aimer tout le monde, peut être pensait-il à autre chose que ce que l’on a interprété. » Et va même jusqu’à affirmer que « l’amour prêché par Jésus tel qu’il est interprété, est quelque chose de tout à fait impossible ». Le contraire de la guerre, selon Oz, n’est pas l’amour mais plutôt le compromis. À ce propos, rappelle-t-il, « Shmuel, idéaliste et Wald, pessimiste, vont se changer mutuellement ».

Quant à Judas, il intéresse Amos Oz sur son trait de caractère le plus célèbre : « Qu’est-ce qu’un traitre ? Qu’est-ce qui fait qu’un traitre est considéré comme traitre ? ». Et de rappeler l’origine de son intérêt pour cette question : « Mon père s’appelait Judas. Mon fils s’appelle aussi Judas. C’est quelque chose qui m’intéresse depuis mes 16 ans. De plus, cette traitrise de Judas, on peut considérer que c’était en quelque sorte le Tchernobyl de l’antisémitisme (…) Pourquoi Judas qui avait les moyens vendrait-il son maitre, son idole, son enseignant pour quelque chose comme 600 euros actuels ? Je trouvais que ça ne cadrait absolument pas. (…) Judas a cru en Jésus même plus que Jésus ne croyait en lui-même ».

L’écrivain israélien espère que ce livre, qu’il a écrit en cinq ans, bousculera les clichés antisémites : « Le monde chrétien lorsqu’il l’a découvert a été choqué. C’est comme un électrochoc que de lire cela : le premier chrétien est mort ainsi, c’était également le dernier chrétien, et le seul chrétien. Un électrochoc dont personnellement je me réjouis. Je crois qu’il est bien mérité, peut-être également cela pourra-t-il un petit peu atténuer ce Tchernobyl de l’antisémitisme. »

Mais il précise tout de même qu’il n’a pas écrit ce livre afin d’en faire un manifeste pour l’une ou l’autre des opinions qui y sont représentées : « Personnellement je n’ai pas de préférence pour l’un ou l’autre des personnages, ou des idées de ce roman. Je vais d’ailleurs vous donner un petit truc : il faut vous mettre dans des visions très contradictoires. Je n’ai pas voulu écrire un manifeste politique ou un roman. L’écrivain doit pouvoir se mettre à la place de l’autre. Il faut pouvoir décrire avec la même ferveur, deux ou trois visions opposées. » Et de rappeler, encore, une fois, sa conviction : « Je suis évolutionniste. Je crois aux compromis (…) et le contraire du compromis, ce n’est pas l’idéal, l’idéalisme, mais c’est le fanatisme et la mort. »

Voir également:

Amos Oz : « Pourquoi Judas aurait-il trahi Jésus pour 30 deniers, soit 600 euros ? »

Ecrivain engagé, militant pour la paix, Amos Oz réhabilite la figure de Judas, dans un magnifique roman qui s’interroge sur les souffrances du peuple juif. Entretien.

Didier Jacob

Dans la Jérusalem du début des années 60, Shmuel, un jeune étudiant, accepte, moyennant rétribution, de tenir compagnie à Gershom Wald, un vieil homme solitaire qui débat sans fin sur le sionisme et les origines de l’Etat hébreu. Dans la maison du vieil homme, une jolie femme, Atalia, pleure son mari perdu, un soldat israélien sauvagement assassiné alors qu’il effectuait une dangereuse mission.

Shmuel, qui ne tarde pas à tomber amoureux de la veuve, rédige une thèse sur «Jésus dans la tradition juive», dans laquelle il tente de réhabiliter la figure controversée de Judas. Mais Shmuel est aussi fasciné par le combat du père défunt d’Atalia, un des pionniers du sionisme qui s’opposa à Ben Gourion au moment de la création de l’Etat d’Israël, et milita pour un non-Etat à la fois arabe et juif.

En inventant de toutes pièces ce personnage idéaliste accusé par les siens de les trahir, et en racontant dans ce roman si sensuellement philosophique comment Judas fut considéré à tort comme un traître, Amos Oz, le bouillant activiste à qui certains de ses compatriotes ont si souvent reproché son engagement pour la paix, tient plus que jamais son rôle d’empêcheur de conter en rond. Entretien.

Voir encore:

Roman

Judas

Amos Oz

Jérusalem, 1959, un trio hanté par le passé. Puisant dans la théologie et l’histoire d’Israël, le romancier livre une réflexion vibrante sur la trahison.

Ils sont trois personnages, rassemblés comme à huis clos. Une intimité non exclusive, dans laquelle s’immisce l’atmosphère extérieure. A commencer par celle de la ville, en cette fin de l’année 1959 : le froid de l’air, le gris du ciel, le grand silence des rues trop calmes et trop vides. « Cet hiver, Jérusalem était paisible, comme absorbée dans ses pensées. De loin en loin, on entendait sonner les cloches des églises. Une légère brise venue de l’ouest s’engouffrait dans les cyprès, ébranlant les cimes et le coeur de Shmuel. » Shmuel est l’un des trois protagonistes de Judas. Il en est même la figure centrale, si on envisage ce grand livre d’Amos Oz comme un roman d’apprentissage — ce qu’il est, mais à quoi on ne saurait le réduire.

Shmuel a 25 ans, il est hypersensible et idéaliste, en outre « corpulent, barbu, timide, émotif, socialiste, asthmatique, cyclothymique, les épaules massives, un cou de taureau, des doigts courts et boudinés : on aurait dit qu’il leur manquait une phalange ». Plaqué par sa petite amie et sans un sou en poche, il vient de décider de planter là ses études, le mémoire qu’il a entrepris sur « Jésus dans la tradition juive », pour occuper le poste d’homme de compagnie, logé, nourri, blanchi, auprès d’un vieil intellectuel invalide. Lui, c’est Gershom Wald, un grand vieillard laid, physiquement diminué mais inlassable dissertateur, érudit, sceptique, caustique. Avec lui cohabite Atalia Abravanel, la femme qui complète le trio. Autour duquel le romancier convoque aussi, au gré des pages et de l’évolution de son intrigue, nombre de fantômes : celui d’un fils disparu, d’un époux mort, d’un père renié. Et surtout, celui de Judas Iscariote, l’apôtre qui, par un baiser, livra Jésus à ses bourreaux — l’incarnation même du traître selon la tradition chrétienne qui fit de son geste son principal argument antisémite.

Tenant fermement ce thème de la trahison comme fil conducteur à son intrigue — et s’interrogeant : chacun de nous n’est-il pas le traître d’un autre ? — Amos Oz ne craint pas de puiser à la théologie, à l’histoire des relations entre judaïsme et christianisme ou à celle du sionisme et de la fondation de l’Etat d’Israël, pour tisser l’apprentissage intellectuel, politique et sentimental de Shmuel d’éléments théoriques et de développements philosophiques ou historiques passionnants. Judas est un roman d’idées, c’est incontestable. Un roman puissant et audacieux, dans lequel, de bout en bout, la rhétorique et la confrontation des points de vue tiennent une place essentielle.

Mais c’est aussi, et tout autant, dans un même geste romanesque remarquable, une fiction poignante et roborative, portée par les pensées et les émotions de Shmuel, Wald et Atalia, habitée par le passé de chacun, hantée par leurs erreurs, leurs fidélités et leurs reniements. Personnages cernés par la perte, le deuil, les spectres, ils ne sont jamais, pour Amos Oz, de plates figures métaphoriques, mais des êtres de chair, de sang, de désirs, d’incertitudes, de chagrins, de tourments — auxquels, ultimement, Amos Oz invite Judas à se joindre. Judas qui se raconte alors à la première personne et que le romancier invite à regarder, non plus comme le Traître en majuscule, mais comme un homme aveuglé par la foi et rongé par le désespoir. Devenu un assassin par excès de vertu et de passion. Parce qu’il croyait au miracle. Judas, peut-être « le premier chrétien […]. Le dernier. Le seul ».

| Ha besora al-pi yehuda iskariot, traduit de l’hébreu par Sylvie Cohen, éd. Gallimard, 352 p., 21 €.

 Voir de plus:

Jésus dans l’art israélien une exposition surprenante

Beatrice Guarrera

Terra santa

16 mars 2017

Au musée d’Israël, jusqu’à 16 avril une exposition montre comment Jésus est représenté chez les artistes israéliens. Où l’on voit l’iconographie chrétienne symboliser parfois le peuple juif, parfois le palestinien.


(Jérusalem) – Jésus représenté par les artistes israéliens (juifs ou arabes): il a le visage d’un juif emmené dans un camp de concentration, il est sur la croix comme un bédouin auquel on a confisqué ses terres, il a le regard d’un enfant palestinien qui va mourir. L’exposition qui se tient jusqu’au 16 avril au Musée d’Israël à Jérusalem, intitulée « Voici l’homme: Jésus dans l’art israélien » (Behold the Man: Jesus in Israeli Art), a de quoi surprendre.

L’image de Jésus sur la croix représente depuis longtemps la plus grande souffrance de l’humanité. Celle d’un homme mort injustement dans d’affreux tourments, homme fils du Créateur, condamné par  ses propres créatures. La gravité de cet événement, qui bouleverse depuis plus de deux mille ans, est arrivée avec le temps à symboliser aussi autre chose, au point d’être utilisée par des artistes israéliens pour représenter la douleur avec la plus grande force d’expression possible. Des artistes juifs l’utilisent depuis le XIXe siècle jusqu’à aujourd’hui des Israéliens : certaines de leurs œuvres ont été choisies et rassemblées par le conservateur de l’exposition Amitai Mendelsohn. Parmi les auteurs, Maurycy Gottlieb, Marc Chagall, E.M. Lilien, Reuven Rubin, Igael Tumarkin, Moshe Gershuni, Motti Mizrachi, Menashe Kadishman, Michal Na’aman, Adi Nes et Sigalit Landau.

Marc Chagall avec sa célèbre « Crucifixion en jaune » a été l’un des premiers à transformer la crucifixion de Jésus en symbole de la souffrance du peuple juif. Pendant longtemps, les juifs ont considéré la représentation de la croix presque comme un tabou, alors qu’ils avaient été tenus pour être le « peuple déicide ». Au XIXe siècle, la situation a changé. Les illustrations de Ephraim Moses Lilian (Autrichien, 1874-1925)  utilisent très souvent la couronne d’épines, des croix et des images associées à la figure de Marie. Elles veulent symboliser aussi bien la souffrance juive de la diaspora que le rôle du sionisme, qui a conduit à la résurrection de la Terre d’Israël. Le mal de l’holocauste est rappelé dans la série « 6.000.001 » de Moshe Hoffman (Israélien, 1938-1983). Jésus sur la croix, qui ressemble à un juif, est attrapé par le bras par un soldat allemand. Dans d’autres œuvres, les artistes utilisent encore le symbole de la croix: des juifs en ligne face aux camps de concentration forment une croix, ou ces planches de bois cassées à l’intérieur de la clôture d’un camp de concentration.

Reuven Rublin représente lui-aussi Jésus: le sionisme aurait la mission de ramener aux juifs à la vie, tout comme Jésus est ressuscité pour donner la vie à l’humanité. Au contraire, la peinture de Naftali Bezem (Israélien né en Allemgane en 1924) donne un autre sens aux symboles chrétiens. Dans « Courtyard of the Third Temple » (cours du Troisième Temple) Bezem fait référence au massacre de Kafr Kassem en 1956, qui a causé la mort d’environ cinquante Palestiniens. Pour la première fois la figure de Jésus est reprise pour peindre une victime palestinienne.
Igael Tumarkin (israélien né en Allemagne en 1933) associe à la crucifixion la souffrance des bédouins, auxquels les terres ont été confisquées, et il réalise ainsi son œuvre en assemblant des lambeaux de vêtements sur une croix en bois. Une femme palestinienne avec un enfant dans les bras est le sujet de la photographie prise dans une prison par Micha Kirshner (Né en Italie en 1947). La référence à la Vierge Marie est claire: la femme souffre, comme Marie, et le destin de l’enfant sera celui de la mort, comme Jésus.

Un dernier repas avec les apôtres en tenue militaire est l’une des dernières œuvres de l’exposition: les soldats israéliens, émissaires d’un pouvoir plus puissant qu’eux, sont les victimes qui pourraient être trahies, tout comme Jésus.
Cette intéressante exposition du Musée d’Israël montre comment l’iconographie chrétienne est toujours d’actualité, capable de décrire les conflits de notre époque. Du point de vue des artistes, la question n’est pas celle de la foi mais de la force du symbole qui ont un caractère universel et de Jésus dont le charisme les fascine.

Jusqu’au 16 avril au musée d’Israël à Jérusalem.

Voir par ailleurs:

Betrayal in Jerusalem

Avishai Margalit

Judas

by Amos Oz, translated from the Hebrew by Nicholas de Lange
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 305 pp., $25.00

On a wintry day in Jerusalem in late 1959, 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, whose parents, we are told, “had lost their entire life savings in an instant, whose own research had stalled, who had dropped out of university, and whose girlfriend had suddenly married her former boyfriend,” decides to accept the position.

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. They are haunted by the memories of two others who have a presence in the house: Shealtiel Abravanel, Atalia’s dead father, and Micha, Atalia’s late husband and Wald’s son. As we learn later, Micha was killed in the 1948 war and his corpse savagely desecrated.

The 1948 war between Jews and Arabs in Palestine is called the War of Independence by Jews and Al Naqba, or the Catastrophe, by Palestinian Arabs. What is striking in Judas, Amos Oz’s captivating new novel, is that the Jewish Abravanels, both father and daughter, view the 1948 war as an unmitigated catastrophe. This is so in their own lives through the loss of Micha, and for Jews nationally by heaping misery on Jews and Arabs alike.

Oz’s story zooms in on the trio of the living, which has expanded to include Ash, then zooms out onto a quintet that includes the two living-dead with their tight hold on the living. 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. As Lord Byron once asked: “Is there anything in the future that can possibly console us for not being always twenty-five?” In the case of the stocky and bearded Ash, the answer is Atalia—the lady of the house. Ash, “shy, emotional, socialist, asthmatic,” falls deeply in love with her.

Ash is based on the nineteenth-century Russian literary archetype of the “superfluous man”: well-read, intelligent, idealistic, with copious goodwill, and yet utterly ineffectual. Ash can interpret the world but can barely change his own underwear. Like Goncharov’s Oblomov, he stays in bed until midday, a grown baby who dusts his beard with scented talc powder.

Ash is the novel’s link between the story that takes place in 1959 and the one about Jesus and Judas that took place in the first century. His academic research, which he had recently given up, was dedicated to the way in which Jews viewed Jesus. When he tries to explain his interest in the subject, he mumbles: “The figure of Jesus of Nazareth…and Judas Iscariot…and the spiritual world of the Chief Priests and Pharisees who rejected Jesus.”

In Mikhail Bulgakov’s masterpiece The Master and Margarita, written in the 1930s, Jesus and Judas’s Jerusalem is woven onto Stalinist Moscow of the 1930s by the Master, who is writing a biography of Pontius Pilate. Oz uses a similar device: Shmuel Ash’s historical research transplants Jesus and Judas onto the divided city of Jerusalem of the late 1950s.

Oz has a formidable rhetorical talent that doesn’t always work in his favor. 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.

By describing Ash and Atalia’s long walks through its narrow alleyways, Oz brings a wintry wind into his powerful depiction of the city in December. 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. (I have to confess that I am, perhaps, too susceptible to Oz’s evocation of Jerusalem. He and I attended kindergarten together and were raised in the same Jerusalem neighborhood, a place movingly, almost eerily evoked in Oz’s autobiographical novel A Tale of Love and Darkness.)

Oz is very particular about naming his leading characters: the name Ash is already a giveaway. Oz maintains without conviction that Shmuel, to the best of his knowledge, has no relation to the “well-known writer” Scholem Asch, who scandalized the Jewish world with his sympathetic trilogy written in the years of World War II on themes having to do with the life of Jesus. 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. Scholem Asch’s trilogy, which depicted Jesus in a favorable light, was taken as a betrayal by many 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. In Athalie, Racine’s 1691 play, she is the epitome of a fiercely independent woman, as is Oz’s Atalia, the commanding lady of the haunted house who bears herself regally. Meanwhile, Abravanel strongly suggests the name of the descendants of the leading Jewish families who were expelled from Spain in 1492.

“Abravanel? Such an aristocratic name,” says Ash to Atalia, before adding, “If I remember rightly he was the only one to oppose the creation of the state? Or else he was only opposed to Ben-Gurion’s approach?”

Much like the symbolic names and the dual plotlines, Oz’s book is a novel of ideas, of the kind that Vladimir Nabokov hated. 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” is shorthand for the justification—or the lack thereof—of founding the State of Israel. “Judas” stands for the idea of betrayal, or rather the ambiguity of betrayal. And “Jesus” suggests Judaism’s refusal to deal seriously with the challenge of Christianity.

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. Oz recognizes Ben-Gurion’s ability to get under one’s skin, whether as a friend or foe. After all, Ben-Gurion quite evidently got under Oz’s skin. Here is the admirer Wald:

There’s no one like Ben-Gurion…. The Jewish people has never before had such a far-sighted leader as Ben-Gurion. Few understand as he does that “the people shall dwell alone, and shall not be reckoned among the nations” is a curse and not a blessing.

And here is Ben-Gurion’s opponent Ash:

Ben-Gurion may have been in his youth a workers’ leader, a sort of tribune of the plebs, if you like, but today he heads a self-righteous, chauvinistic state and he never stops spouting hollow biblical phrases about renewing our days as of old and realizing the vision of the prophets.

Wald, the bereaved father who suffered from Ben-Gurion’s war, remains an admirer of Ben-Gurion. Ash, who belongs to a pathetic group of six dedicated to renewing socialism, is an opponent of Ben-Gurion from the left. Ash and Wald’s reactions to Ben-Gurion are not new. The interesting opposition to Ben-Gurion in the novel comes from an unexpected source: the late Shealtiel Abravanel, Atalia’s father, who

tried in vain to persuade Ben-Gurion in ’48 that it was still possible to reach an agreement with the Arabs about departure of the British and the creation of a single joint condominium of Jews and Arabs, if we only agreed to renounce the idea of a Jewish state.

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. He speaks Hebrew, Arabic, Turkish, French, English, and Ladino but, tellingly, not Yiddish, the language of Eastern European Jews. His opposition to Ben-Gurion cuts deep—he is hostile to the notion of the nation-state. In discussing Abravanel’s ideas with Atalia, Ash asks her: “Don’t you believe that in 1948 we fought because we had no alternative? That we had our backs to the wall?” “No,” she replies categorically. “You didn’t have your backs to the wall. You were the wall.”

Is this internal Zionist talk in the middle of a work of art, to borrow Stendhal’s simile, “like a gun shot in the middle of a concert, something vulgar, and however, something which is impossible to ignore”? I don’t think so. The ideological talk here is like the cannon shots in Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture: an integral part of the music, not an outside noise. 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. Indeed, he “always blamed himself for his disloyalty,” as if he were an enemy agent in the family, whereas his parents and sister felt that he betrayed them by betraying his calling as a religious leader to become a scholar. Betraying one’s parents is, in the writings of Oz, a big deal. Yet Ash’s betrayal of his parents doesn’t seem at all comparable with the evocation of Judas; Abravanel’s betrayal of Ben-Gurion—if it is in fact a betrayal—would. For Oz, notwithstanding this discrepancy, both betrayers seem to be in need, at the very least, of rehabilitation.

Indeed, Ash offers a radical reevaluation of Judas, who, he claims, “was the most loyal and devoted” of all of Jesus’s disciples. Ash believes that Judas “never betrayed him, but, on the contrary, he meant to prove his greatness to the whole world.” The Gnostic Gospel of Judas of the late second century already describes Judas as the only disciple to understand the true message of Jesus, while the other disciples are portrayed as lacking understanding. Moreover, in Ash’s view, the role of Judas in the redemptive scheme of humanity is to hand over Jesus to the Romans not as an act of betrayal, but as an expression of ultimate devotion.

During the Romantic movement, the theme of Judas as the true loyalist permeated literature. Even devout Catholic writers like François Mauriac and Paul Claudel contributed, if not to Judas’s radical reevaluation (from worst to best), then at least to Judas’s rehabilitation (“not so bad”).

Ash takes this idea even further: “Judas Iscariot was the founder of the Christian religion.” It would be wrong to take Ash’s half-baked ideas about Judas as the author’s own—Ash, we are told, wrote these words in his notebook “in a state of great excitement”—but bringing Judas into the novel is a way for Oz to deal with the ambiguity of betrayal, namely its susceptibility to reevaluation (or rehabilitation) from one generation to another. It is in the notion of betrayal, and not in Judas himself, that I suspect Oz is interested.

While Ash is an academic researcher, he is also an amateur private eye searching for Abravanel’s record. His investigation leads him to the State Archives in Jerusalem, where he meets a dour archivist, a certain Mr. Sheindelevich: “What is that you wish to know, precisely?” Mr. Sheindelevich asks. “After all,” he adds, “they all wanted as one man to set up a state, and they all knew as one man that we would have to defend ourselves by force.”

“Even Shealtil Abravanel?” Ash asks. The archivist tells him dryly: “He was a traitor.”

Ash reevaluates Judas, whereas Oz, to my mind, only rehabilitates Abravanel. He doesn’t side with Abravanel’s opposition to the idea of a nation-state in general, or to the idea of Israel in particular. What he does is to give Abravanel’s position legitimacy from a Zionist perspective.

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.* Jesus the Galilean Jew, the faith healer, was not a problem for most Jews. It is with Jesus Christ that the hostility begins.

No doubt, medieval Judaism produced nasty accounts of Jesus. As Wald puts it: “All these foul texts were written by narrow-minded little Jews because they were afraid of the attractive power of Christianity.” The standard account for the hostility of the Jewish attitude is suggested in the novel by Ash himself: “The Jews who wrote this polemic were certainly writing under the influence of their oppression and persecution by the Christians.” But Wald will have none of such explanations. “Surely if you want to challenge Jesus the Christian,” he says, “you have to elevate yourself, not descend into the gutter.”

Wald views the challenge of Christianity to Judaism in its possibility and promise of universal love. Wald, the bereaved father, does not believe in universal love: “Surely anyone who loves everybody does not really love anybody.” In my view, he speaks for Oz, for whom the main divide between Christianity and Judaism is the idea 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. In the days leading to Passover in 1948, Micha, Wald’s son and Atalia’s husband, was a promising mathematical logician, aged thirty-seven. 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. It therefore doesn’t include Jesus. The emblem of Jewish martyrology is Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his beloved son Isaac on Mount Moriah. Willingness to sacrifice oneself may seem relatively easy compared to a willingness to sacrifice one’s beloved child. Gershom Wald, in recounting the death of his only child, refers to Abraham: “He grew up with me without a mother. 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.” Wald rehearses the Israeli mantra that the death of those who were killed in the fighting of 1948 was not in vain. But then he starts to hear an inner voice: “I seemed to hear Shealtiel Abravanel asking me silently if I still believed that it was all worthwhile.”

Was it worth it? This hovering question can be seen as the bleeding scar of the novel. It doesn’t abate or get better with time. This horrific question is posed on all levels: personal—the death of Micha—and collective—the mutually inflicted pain by Jews and Arabs.

Shmuel Ash’s initiation rite in the haunted house takes three months. 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. (“If you stay with us any longer you’ll turn into a fossil,” she says.) His redemption means that he is ready to begin a new life, probably in one of the development towns in Israel’s south. 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? But we are left instead with that silent question of Abravanel’s—perhaps of the novel’s: Was it worth it?

Voir aussi:

“Judas” by Amos Oz: Curiosity, Desire, Betrayal, Loyalty…

Judas (2014) by Amos Oz translated by Nicholas de Lange (2016, Houghton Mifflin)

The shortlist for the 2017 Man Booker International Prize (@ManBookerPrizewas announced in April with the following six novels making it to the top: Compass by Mathias Enard (France), A Horse Walks Into a Bar by David Grossman (Israel), The Unseen by Roy Jacobsen (Norway), Mirror, Shoulder, Signal by Dorthe Nors (Denmark), Fever Dream by Samantha Schweblin (Argentina) and Judas by Amos Oz (Israel). The winner will be announced on June 14, 2017.

I have already written about Mirror, Shoulder, Signal and also The Traitor’s Niche by Albanian author Ismail Kadare that had made it to the longlist.

I recently finished Judas by Amos Oz (born 1939) – professor of literature at Ben-Gurion University in Beersheba and Israel’s most famous living author. Some of his other notable books are A Tale of Love and Darkness Scenes from Village LifeBetween Friends and My MichaelJudas has been translated into English by Nicholas de Lange, a professor of Hebrew and Jewish Studies at the University of Cambridge.

When I first saw the title and the cover of the book (top left version) and learnt about the reputation of the writer, I hesitated to read the work, thinking it might be too “elite”. It is indeed loaded with very big and important ideas going in all sorts of directions but what makes Judas accessible, ultimately, to one and all is its simple underlying “coming-of-age” template.

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. Since I haven’t written much on Judaism and the Jewish experience in history (just posts on a novel called For Two Thousands Years by Romanian writer Mihail Sebastian and metal sculptures of the body by Tel Aviv-based Ofer Rubin), I thought of picking this one up.

The period is 1959-60. The place is Jerusalem – a still-divided city (a battle in 1948 had made the Israelis capture the West and the Jordanians capture the East). Shmuel Ash is a twenty-five-old idealistic (and, at times, crazily emotional) student of history and religion who has been forced to abandon his MA thesis (on the “Jewish Views of Jesus”) – and with that the dreams of a future academic career. His father’s finances have collapsed, his allowance has been cut. His girlfriend Yardena has ditched him and married her former boyfriend – Nesher Sharshevsky, a hard-working hydrologist (specialist in “rainwater collection”). Adrift, without resources, Shmuel must urgently look for work.

Shmuel discovers a note on the campus noticeboard for a paid position. A companion is needed for an old man called Gershom Wald; he wants to be read to, argued with. The young student responds and is led to a strange house, where, along with the old man, he finds a woman in her 40s – Atalia Abravanel, Wald’s daughter-in-law – mysterious, attractive, haunted by ghosts from the past. Shmuel is taken by both the figures. Drawn to the former’s intellectual vigour and the latter’s sexual appeal.

As these three characters interact over the winter – against the hum of the domestic rituals of cooking and cleaning  – they open themselves up and find themselves changed. 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. According to the received wisdom of the popular mind, Judas – the ugly, greedy traitor – is synonymous with “the Jew” itself. All anti-Semitism in Western Civilisation, it is indicated in the novel…pogroms, the Inquisition, blood libels, the Holocaust…emerged from this reprehensible image in the New Testament. Gershom Wald points out: “And so that is indeed what the Jews possess in the deepest recesses of the Jew-hater’s imagination. 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. [Such positive reassessments have been around for a long time. Saint Vincent Ferrer, a Dominican preacher (1350–1419) is believed to have asserted that Judas was on God’s side. A Biblical scholar named William Klassen wrote a book called Judas: Betrayer or Friend of Jesus? in 2004.]

There are other traitors in and around the story. Atalia’s father Sheatiel Abravanel is called a traitor for passionately believing in the brotherhood between Arabs and Jews, for having opposed Ben-Gurion’s radical nationalistic approach to the founding of modern Israel. Outside this piece of fiction, the author himself has been referred to as a traitor by his countrymen – for proposing a two-state solution to the Israeli–Palestinian conflict. He has acknowledged this designation as a badge of honour.

The intense intellectual (and sexual) drama of Judas concludes in tender, touching moments. And although several tough issues remain (understandably) unresolved, one powerful observation is etched in the reader’s mind: “Every so often in history, courageous people have appeared who were ahead of their time and were called traitors or eccentrics.” Why, Abraham Lincoln, the liberator of the slaves, was called a traitor by his opponents, the German officers who tried to assassinate Hitler were executed as traitors…

Read Judas – a multi-layered, multi-faceted narrative that superbly articulates the ambiguities and complexities of human life and culture – if you want to entertain yourself with an old-fashioned novel of ideas (particularly if you appreciate the traditions of Dostoevsky and Thomas Mann).

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Part of a conversation between Shmuel Ash and Gershom Wald:

SA: All the power in the world. Take the combined power of the Soviet Union and the United States and France and Britain. 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.

SA: That’s what you think. That’s what the Jews in Israel think because they have no notion of the limits of power. 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.

“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.” (Photo: The Israeli Air Force crosses all of Israel from north to south, in honor of the country’s 63rd Independence Day by User “Israel Defense Forces”, CC BY 2.0, Wikimedia Commons)

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’t settle anything and it can’t solve anything. It can only stave off disaster for a while.

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Two videos:

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Voir aussi:

Israeli artist Adi Nes’s depiction of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper” substitutes Jesus’s apostles with Israeli soldiers. (Elie Posner/The Israel Museum)
January 5
At the center of the Israel Museum’s newest art exhibit stands an imposing, life-size marble figure of Jesus. The sculpture, titled “Christ Before the People’s Court,” would not be out of place in a church in Rome.Yet in this depiction, the Christian savior wears a Jewish skullcap.The sculpture, created by Russian Jewish artist Mark Antokolsky in 1876, is part of a collection of more than 150 artworks by 40 Jewish and Israeli artists who have used Christian imagery to challenge long-held taboos in both communities. It showcases the evolving attitudes of Jewish, Zionist and Israeli artists toward a figure whose place in Jewish history has been negotiated and reinterpreted over more than two millennia.It is a risky statement for an Israeli museum.Throughout history, Jews have traditionally shunned Jesus and his gospel. And while the Holy Land might be his accepted birthplace, for Jews in the modern state of Israel there is often resistance to learning about or even acknowledging Christianity.

  Marc Chagall’s “Yellow Crucifixion” shows the suffering of Jewish Holocaust victims through the image of Jesus Christ as a Jew. (Avshalom Avital/The Israel Museum)

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.

“We are talking about a 2,000-year-old tension between Judaism and Christianity and the fact that anti-Semitism grew in Christian thought and theology,” said the exhibition’s curator, Amitai Mendelsohn.

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.

It is a delicate subject for Jews everywhere, including in Israel, but artists by nature “are attracted to something that is forbidden for them,” he said.

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. “Those who do go might be stunned,” she said, “but I don’t think they will react badly.”

Some of the works, though, could offend pious Christians, she said. “They might feel the images are sacrilegious, but the wall texts are explanatory enough — if they read them, it should calm them down.”

While some of the older works by European Jews challenge Christian anti-Semitism or look at how Jesus’ Jewish roots could act as a bridge between the two religions, more-contemporary pieces explore Jesus as an anti-establishment figure who suffered at not being understood.

Ronit Steinberg, an art historian from Jerusalem’s Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, said the appeal for Jewish artists in depicting Jesus has changed over the years, but all are tied together by a common thread.

“In the 19th century, the main issue was the Jewish artist feeling emancipated, and it was important for those artists to connect with their surrounding and the time. For Israeli artists, it’s also a kind of emancipation from the heavy Jewishness of their country,” she said.

There’s the “Yellow Crucifixion,” a 1943 Marc Chagall painting showing Jesus as a Jew. 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.

Another artist, Moshe Hoffman, a Hungarian Jew who survived the Holocaust, used his art to question Christianity’s role in the genocide. In one work, “Six million and 1,” Hoffman shows a Nazi guard attempting to pull Jesus from the cross to make him Jewish prisoner number 6,000,001.

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 1984 and was a protest against the war Israel was fighting in Lebanon at the time. The title, “Mita Meshuna,” means both “strange bed” and “strange death” in Hebrew.

Perhaps the best-known contemporary artwork on display is Adi Nes’s depiction of Leonardo da Vinci’s “Last Supper,” which substitutes Israeli soldiers for the apostles.

Nes’s photograph sold at Sotheby’s for $250,000, the highest an Israeli photograph has ever fetched. And the image has become a cultural icon for Israelis, suggesting perhaps that Christian themes are becoming more acceptable in Jewish culture.

Voir enfin:

Column One: Israel and the American Jewish crisis

 The key to strengthening and supporting the community is to bypass its failed leadership and speak and interact directly with American Jews.
Caroline B. Glick
The Jerusalem Post
September 19, 2017

As the New Year 5778 begins, 88% of Israeli Jews say that they are happy and satisfied with their lives. This makes sense. Israel’s relative security, its prosperity, freedom and spiritual blossoming make Israeli Jews the most successful Jewish community in 3,500 years of Jewish history.

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 2015, assailants strike.

Western European Jewry’s crisis is exogenous to the Jewish communities. It isn’t the Jews who caused the crisis, which may in time cause the wholesale exodus of the Jews from Europe. 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 5778 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.

First, there is the problem of demographic collapse.

According to the Pew Research Center’s 2013 study of American Jewry, nearly 60% of American Jews intermarry. Based on the Pew data, the Jewish People Policy Institute published a report in June that noted that not only are 60% of American Jews who get married marrying non-Jews, only half of American Jews are getting married at all. And among those who are getting married, less than a third are raising their children as Jewish in some way.

Earlier this month, a study of American Jews was published by the Public Religion Research Institute. It found that not only hasn’t the situation improved since the Pew survey was published, the trend toward assimilation and loss of Jewish identity among American Jews has accelerated.

In 2013, 32% of American Jews under 30 said that they were not Jews by religion. Today the proportion of Jews under 30 who say they have no relation to the Jewish faith has ballooned to 47%.

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.

Whereas in 2013, 35% of American Jews identified as Reform, today, a mere four years later, only 28% identify as Reform. The situation among Conservatives is even worse. In 2013, 18% of American Jews identified as Conservatives. Today, only 14% do. Among Jews under 30 the situation is even starker. Only 20% of American Jews under 30 identify as Reform. Only 8% identify as Conservative.

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.

In 1999 the Reform movement tried to deal with the problem by strengthening the movement’s religious practices. 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. Between 2013 and 2017, the proportion of young American Jews who identify as Orthodox grew from 10% to 15%.

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.

Take for instance the case of Davis, California, imam Amman Shahin.

On July 21 Shahin gave a sermon calling for the Jewish people to be annihilated. His Jewish neighbors in the progressive Jewish communities of Davis and Sacramento didn’t call the police and demand that he be investigated for terrorist ties. They didn’t demand that his mosque fire him.

Instead, led by the Oakland Jewish Federation, local rabbi Seth Castleman and the JCRC, they embraced Shahin. They appeared with him at a public “apology” ceremony, where he failed to apologize for calling for his Jewish colleagues, and every other Jew, to be murdered.

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. They jumped on the bandwagon insisting that Trump’s initial condemnation of both groups was proof that he has a soft spot for neo-Nazis.

The problem with the strategy of selective outrage over antisemitism is that it isn’t at all clear who the target audience is. 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.

Last June, the government overturned an earlier decision to build a passageway connecting the Western Wall Plaza with Robinson’s Arch, along the Southern Wall, where egalitarian prayer services are held. 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 government’s first decision was non-political. 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.

And yet, rather than acknowledge that the decision was a setback but it didn’t harm the status of egalitarian prayer at the Wall, the Reform and Conservative movements declared war against the government and dragged much of the organized Jewish establishment behind them.

The Reform leadership canceled a scheduled meeting with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and the Jewish Agency Board followed suit.

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.

Friedman said, “Yesterday, I heard something that I thought I’d never hear before. 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.

“That’s something unthinkable in my lifetime, up until yesterday. We have to do better. We must do better,” he said.

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.

The question for Israelis is what this failure of the mainstream American Jewish leadership means for the future of Israel’s relationship with American Jewry. 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.


Hillbilly elegy: Attention, une relégation sociale peut en cacher une autre ! (It’s the culture, stupid !)

17 septembre, 2017

Aux États-Unis, les plus opulents citoyens ont bien soin de ne point s’isoler du peuple ; au contraire, ils s’en rapprochent sans cesse, ils l’écoutent volontiers et lui parlent tous les jours. Alexis de Tocqueville
Toutes les stratégies que les intellectuels et les artistes produisent contre les « bourgeois » tendent inévitablement, en dehors de toute intention expresse et en vertu même de la structure de l’espace dans lequel elles s’engendrent, à être à double effet et dirigées indistinctement contre toutes les formes de soumission aux intérêts matériels, populaires aussi bien que bourgeoises.  Bourdieu
If you’re not working, over time you’re much more likely to develop attitudes and orientations and behavior patterns that are associated with casual or infrequent work. And then when you open up opportunities for people, you notice that these attitudes, orientations, habits and styles also change. William Julius Wilson
Crime, family dissolution, welfare, and low levels of social organization are fundamentally a consequence of the disappearance of work. William Julius Wilson
Racism should be viewed as an intervening variable. You give me a set of conditions and I can produce racism in any society. You give me a different set of conditions and I can reduce racism. You give me a situation where there are a sufficient number of social resources so people don’t have to compete for those resources, and I will show you a society where racism is held in check. If we could create the conditions that make racism difficult, or discourage it, then there would be less stress and less need for affirmative action programs. One of those conditions would be an economic policy that would create tight labor markets over long periods of time. Now does that mean that affirmative action is here only temporarily? I think the ultimate goal should be to remove it. William Julius Wilson
On brode beaucoup sur la non intégration des jeunes de banlieue. En réalité, ils sont totalement intégrés culturellement. Leur culture, comme le rap, sert de référence à toute la jeunesse. Ils sont bien sûr confrontés à de nombreux problèmes mais sont dans une logique d’intégration culturelle à la société monde. Les jeunes ruraux, dont les loisirs se résument souvent à la bagnole, le foot et l’alcool, vivent dans une marginalité culturelle. En feignant de croire que l’immigration ne participe pas à la déstructuration des plus modestes (Français ou immigrés), la gauche accentue la fracture qui la sépare des catégories populaires. Fracture d’autant plus forte qu’une partie de la gauche continue d’associer cette France précarisée qui demande à être protégée de la mondialisation et de l’immigration à la « France raciste ». Dans le même temps, presque malgré elle, la gauche est de plus en plus plébiscitée par une « autre France », celle des grands centres urbains les plus actifs, les plus riches et les mieux intégrés à l’économie-monde ; sur ces territoires où se retrouvent les extrêmes de l’éventail social (du bobo à l’immigré), la mondialisation est une bénédiction. Christophe Guilluy
La focalisation sur le « problème des banlieues » fait oublier un fait majeur : 61 % de la population française vit aujourd’hui hors des grandes agglomérations. Les classes populaires se concentrent dorénavant dans les espaces périphériques : villes petites et moyennes, certains espaces périurbains et la France rurale. En outre, les banlieues sensibles ne sont nullement « abandonnées » par l’État. Comme l’a établi le sociologue Dominique Lorrain, les investissements publics dans le quartier des Hautes Noues à Villiers-sur-Marne (Val-de-Marne) sont mille fois supérieurs à ceux consentis en faveur d’un quartier modeste de la périphérie de Verdun (Meuse), qui n’a jamais attiré l’attention des médias. Pourtant, le revenu moyen par habitant de ce quartier de Villiers-sur-Marne est de 20 % supérieur à celui de Verdun. Bien sûr, c’est un exemple extrême. Il reste que, à l’échelle de la France, 85 % des ménages pauvres (qui gagnent moins de 993 € par mois, soit moins de 60 % du salaire médian, NDLR) ne vivent pas dans les quartiers « sensibles ». Si l’on retient le critère du PIB, la Seine-Saint-Denis est plus aisée que la Meuse ou l’Ariège. Le 93 n’est pas un espace de relégation, mais le cœur de l’aire parisienne. (…)  En se désindustrialisant, les grandes villes ont besoin de beaucoup moins d’employés et d’ouvriers mais de davantage de cadres. C’est ce qu’on appelle la gentrification des grandes villes, symbolisée par la figure du fameux « bobo », partisan de l’ouverture dans tous les domaines. Confrontées à la flambée des prix dans le parc privé, les catégories populaires, pour leur part, cherchent des logements en dehors des grandes agglomérations. En outre, l’immobilier social, dernier parc accessible aux catégories populaires de ces métropoles, s’est spécialisé dans l’accueil des populations immigrées. Les catégories populaires d’origine européenne et qui sont éligibles au parc social s’efforcent d’éviter les quartiers où les HLM sont nombreux. Elles préfèrent déménager en grande banlieue, dans les petites villes ou les zones rurales pour accéder à la propriété et acquérir un pavillon. On assiste ainsi à l’émergence de « villes monde » très inégalitaires où se concentrent à la fois cadres et catégories populaires issues de l’immigration récente. Ce phénomène n’est pas limité à Paris. Il se constate dans toutes les agglomérations de France (Lyon, Bordeaux, Nantes, Lille, Grenoble), hormis Marseille. (…) On a du mal à formuler certains faits en France. Dans le vocabulaire de la politique de la ville, « classes moyennes » signifie en réalité « population d’origine européenne ». Or les HLM ne font plus coexister ces deux populations. L’immigration récente, pour l’essentiel familiale, s’est concentrée dans les quartiers de logements sociaux des grandes agglomérations, notamment les moins valorisés. Les derniers rapports de l’observatoire national des zones urbaines sensibles (ZUS) montrent qu’aujourd’hui 52 % des habitants des ZUS sont immigrés, chiffre qui atteint 64 % en Île-de-France. Cette spécialisation tend à se renforcer. La fin de la mixité dans les HLM n’est pas imputable aux bailleurs sociaux, qui font souvent beaucoup d’efforts. Mais on ne peut pas forcer des personnes qui ne le souhaitent pas à vivre ensemble. L’étalement urbain se poursuit parce que les habitants veulent se séparer, même si ça les fragilise économiquement. Par ailleurs, dans les territoires où se côtoient populations d’origine européenne et populations d’immigration extra-européenne, la fin du modèle assimilationniste suscite beaucoup d’inquiétudes. L’autre ne devient plus soi. Une société multiculturelle émerge. Minorités et majorités sont désormais relatives. (…)  ces personnes habitent là où on produit les deux tiers du PIB du pays et où se crée l’essentiel des emplois, c’est-à-dire dans les métropoles. Une petite bourgeoisie issue de l’immigration maghrébine et africaine est ainsi apparue. Dans les ZUS, il existe une vraie mobilité géographique et sociale : les gens arrivent et partent. Ces quartiers servent de sas entre le Nord et le Sud. Ce constat ruine l’image misérabiliste d’une banlieue ghetto où seraient parqués des habitants condamnés à la pauvreté. À bien des égards, la politique de la ville est donc un grand succès. Les seuls phénomènes actuels d’ascension sociale dans les milieux populaires se constatent dans les catégories immigrées des métropoles. Cadres ou immigrés, tous les habitants des grandes agglomérations tirent bénéfice d’y vivre – chacun à leur échelle. En Grande-Bretagne, en 2013, le secrétaire d’État chargé des Universités et de la Science de l’époque, David Willetts, s’est même déclaré favorable à une politique de discrimination positive en faveur des jeunes hommes blancs de la « working class » car leur taux d’accès à l’université s’est effondré et est inférieur à celui des enfants d’immigrés. (…) Le problème social et politique majeur de la France, c’est que, pour la première fois depuis la révolution industrielle, la majeure partie des catégories populaires ne vit plus là où se crée la richesse. Au XIXe siècle, lors de la révolution industrielle, on a fait venir les paysans dans les grandes villes pour travailler en usine. Aujourd’hui, on les fait repartir à la « campagne ». C’est un retour en arrière de deux siècles. Le projet économique du pays, tourné vers la mondialisation, n’a plus besoin des catégories populaires, en quelque sorte. (…) L’absence d’intégration économique des catégories modestes explique le paradoxe français : un pays qui redistribue beaucoup de ses richesses mais dont une majorité d’habitants considèrent à juste titre qu’ils sont de plus en plus fragiles et déclassés. (…) Les catégories populaires qui vivent dans ces territoires sont d’autant plus attachées à leur environnement local qu’elles sont, en quelque sorte, assignées à résidence. Elles réagissent en portant une grande attention à ce que j’appelle le «village» : sa maison, son quartier, son territoire, son identité culturelle, qui représentent un capital social. La contre-société s’affirme aussi dans le domaine des valeurs. La France périphérique est attachée à l’ordre républicain, réservée envers les réformes de société et critique sur l’assistanat. L’accusation de «populisme» ne l’émeut guère. Elle ne supporte plus aucune forme de tutorat – ni politique, ni intellectuel – de la part de ceux qui se croient «éclairés». (…) Il devient très difficile de fédérer et de satisfaire tous les électorats à la fois. Dans un monde parfait, il faudrait pouvoir combiner le libéralisme économique et culturel dans les agglomérations et le protectionnisme, le refus du multiculturalisme et l’attachement aux valeurs traditionnelles dans la France périphérique. Mais c’est utopique. C’est pourquoi ces deux France décrivent les nouvelles fractures politiques, présentes et à venir. Christophe Guilluy
Parler de relégation sociale n’a pas grand sens quand on est à dix minutes du métro et au coeur d’un marché de l’emploi gigantesque. Christophe Guilluy
J’ai suivi cette campagne avec un sentiment de malaise franchement (…) qui s’est peu à peu transformé en honte.  (…) Malaise parce que la deuxième France, dont vous parlez, la France qui est périphérique, qui hésite entre Marine Le Pen et rien,  je me suis rendu compte que je ne la comprenais pas, que je ne la voyais pas, que j’avais perdu le contact. Et ça, quand on veut écrire des romans, je trouve que c’est une faute professionnelle assez lourde.  (….) Parce que je ne la vois plus, je fais partie de l’élite mondialisée, maintenant. (…) Et pourtant, je viens de cette France. (…) Elle habite pas dans les mêmes quartiers que moi. Elle habite pas à Paris. A Paris, Le Pen n’existe pas. Elle habite dans des zones périphériques décrites par Christophe Guilluy. Des zones mal connues. (…) Mais le fait est que j’ai perdu le contact. (…) Non, je la comprends pas suffisamment, je veux dire, je pourrais pas écrire dessus. C’est ça qui me gêne, c’est pour ça que suis mal à l’aise. (…) Non, je suis pas dans la même situation. Moi, je ne crois pas au vote idéologique, je crois au vote de classe. Bien que le mot est démodé. Il y a une classe qui vote Le Pen, une classe qui vote Macron, une classe qui vote Fillon. Facilement identifiables et on le voit tout de suite. Et que je le veuille ou non, je fais partie de la France qui vote Macron. Parce que je suis trop riche pour voter Le Pen ou Mélenchon. Et parce que je suis pas un hériter, donc je suis pas la classe qui vote Fillon. (…) Ce qui est apparu et qui est très surprenant – alors, ça, c’est vraiment un phénomène imprévu – c’est un véritable parti confessionnel, précisément catholique. Dans tout ce que j’ai suivi – et, je vous dis, j’ai tout suivi  – Jean-Frédéric Poisson était quand même le plus étonnant. (…) Une espèce d’impavidité et une défense des valeurs catholiques qui est inhabituelle pour un parti politique. (….) Ca m’a interloqué parce que je croyais le catholicisme mourant. (…) [Macron] L’axe de sa  campagne, j’ai l’impression que c’est une espèce de thérapie de groupe pour convertir les Français à l’optimisme. Michel Houellebecq
Marine Le Pen aurait pu être la porte-parole du parti de l’inquiétude, elle aurait pu faire venir sur le plateau l’humeur de cette partie du pays qui voit sa disparition programmée et s’en désole. Elle aurait pu évoquer le séparatisme islamiste et l’immense tâche qui nous attend consistant à convaincre des dizaines, peut-être des centaines, de milliers de jeunes Français de l’excellence de leur pays, de ses arts, ses armes et ses lois. Or, du début à la fin, elle a paru retourner à son adversaire le procès en légitimité dont elle est sans cesse l’objet. Incapable de lui concéder le moindre point, autant que de lui opposer une véritable vision, elle a ânonné des mots-clefs comme « UOIF » et « banquier », croyant sans doute que cela suffirait à faire pleuvoir les votes, ce qui laisse penser qu’elle tient ses électeurs en piètre estime. Les insinuations sur l’argent de son adversaire, sa façon de dire à demi-mot au téléspectateur « si vous êtes dans la mouise, c’est parce que lui et ses amis se goinfrent », m’ont rappelé les heures sombres de l’affaire Fillon, quand des journalistes répétaient en boucle le même appel au ressentiment. L’autre France, celle qui n’a pas envie de l’avenir mondialisé et multiculti qu’on lui promet, mérite mieux que ce populisme ras des pâquerettes. (…) On n’est pas obligé, cependant, de hurler avec les bisounours. Quoi que répètent fiévreusement ceux qui adorent voler au secours des victoires, un faux pas, même de taille, ne suffit pas à faire de Marine Le Pen quelqu’un d’infréquentable. À la différence de l’intégralité de mes confrères qui se frottent les mains sur l’air de « je vous l’avais bien dit ! », je ne suis pas sûre qu’elle ait « montré son vrai visage ». L’ayant interviewée à plusieurs reprises, nous avons eu avec elles des engueulades homériques : jamais je ne l’ai vue, dans ces circonstances, faire preuve de la mauvaise foi fielleuse qu’elle a opposée à son adversaire – et je ne lui avais jamais vu, même sur un plateau, ce masque sarcastique. Avait-elle en quelque sorte intégré sa propre illégitimité, a-t-elle été mal conseillée par son cher Florian Philippot ou était-elle décidément très mal préparée à la fonction qu’elle briguait ? Toujours est-il qu’elle a raté son rendez-vous avec le peuple français. (…) Il faudra bien résoudre un jour ce petit problème de logique : il existe chez nous un parti que les tribunaux ne peuvent pas interdire, qui a le droit de se présenter aux élections, mais les électeurs n’ont pas le droit de voter pour lui et ses dirigeants n’ont pas le droit de gagner. Ce qui, on en conviendra, est assez pratique pour ceux qui l’affrontent en duel. On me dit qu’il respecte le cadre de la République, mais pas ses fameuses valeurs. Sauf que, pardon, qui est arbitre des valeurs, Le Monde, les Inrocks, Jacques Attali ? N’est-ce pas une façon bien commode d’exclure de la compétition ceux qui vous déplaisent ? Je ne me résous pas à vivre dans un monde où il y a une seule politique possible, un seul vote raisonnable et un seul point de vue acceptable. (…) Post Scriptum : je viens d’entendre un bout de la chronique de François Morel, l’un des papes du comico-conformisme sur France Inter. Il comparait – ou assimilait je ne sais – Marine Le Pen à une primate: Taubira, c’était dégueulasse; mais pour une Le Pen, c’est normal. Digne conclusion de la quinzaine de la haine (et de l’antifascisme nigaud) que nous a offerte la radio publique. Elisabeth Lévy
The paradox of France is that it is desperate for reform — and desperate not to be reformed. It wants the benefits of a job-producing competitive economy but fears relinquishing a job-protecting uncompetitive one. A Macron presidency will have to devote its intellectual and rhetorical energies to explaining that it can be one or the other, but not both. I don’t want to close this column without allowing for the awful chance that Le Pen might win. That would be a moral tragedy for France and a probable disaster for Europe. But it would also be a reminder that chronic economic stagnation inevitably begets nationalist furies. In the United States, a complacent left acquits itself too easily of its role in paving the way to the Trump presidency. Many of Le Pen’s supporters might be bigots, but their case against the self-satisfaction, self-dealing, moral preening and economic incompetence of the French ruling classes is nearly impeccable. Bret Stephens
Nous qui vivons dans les régions côtières des villes bleues, nous lisons plus de livres et nous allons plus souvent au théâtre que ceux qui vivent au fin fond du pays. Nous sommes à la fois plus sophistiqués et plus cosmopolites – parlez-nous de nos voyages scolaires en Chine et en Provence ou, par exemple, de notre intérêt pour le bouddhisme. Mais par pitié, ne nous demandez pas à quoi ressemble la vie dans l’Amérique rouge. Nous n’en savons rien. Nous ne savons pas qui sont Tim LaHaye et Jerry B. Jenkins. […] Nous ne savons pas ce que peut bien dire James Dobson dans son émission de radio écoutée par des millions d’auditeurs. Nous ne savons rien de Reba et Travis. […] Nous sommes très peu nombreux à savoir ce qu’il se passe à Branson dans le Missouri, même si cette ville reçoit quelque sept millions de touristes par an; pas plus que nous ne pouvons nommer ne serait-ce que cinq pilotes de stock-car. […] Nous ne savons pas tirer au fusil ni même en nettoyer un, ni reconnaître le grade d’un officier rien qu’à son insigne. Quant à savoir à quoi ressemble une graine de soja poussée dans un champ… David Brooks
Vous allez dans certaines petites villes de Pennsylvanie où, comme ans beaucoup de petites villes du Middle West, les emplois ont disparu depuis maintenant 25 ans et n’ont été remplacés par rien d’autre (…) Et il n’est pas surprenant qu’ils deviennent pleins d’amertume, qu’ils s’accrochent aux armes à feu ou à la religion, ou à leur antipathie pour ceux qui ne sont pas comme eux, ou encore à un sentiment d’hostilité envers les immigrants. Barack Hussein Obama (2008)
Pour généraliser, en gros, vous pouvez placer la moitié des partisans de Trump dans ce que j’appelle le panier des pitoyables. Les racistes, sexistes, homophobes, xénophobes, islamophobes. A vous de choisir. Hillary Clinton
America is coming apart. For most of our nation’s history, whatever the inequality in wealth between the richest and poorest citizens, we maintained a cultural equality known nowhere else in the world—for whites, anyway. (…) But t’s not true anymore, and it has been progressively less true since the 1960s. People are starting to notice the great divide. The tea party sees the aloofness in a political elite that thinks it knows best and orders the rest of America to fall in line. The Occupy movement sees it in an economic elite that lives in mansions and flies on private jets. Each is right about an aspect of the problem, but that problem is more pervasive than either political or economic inequality. What we now face is a problem of cultural inequality. When Americans used to brag about « the American way of life »—a phrase still in common use in 1960—they were talking about a civic culture that swept an extremely large proportion of Americans of all classes into its embrace. It was a culture encompassing shared experiences of daily life and shared assumptions about central American values involving marriage, honesty, hard work and religiosity. Over the past 50 years, that common civic culture has unraveled. We have developed a new upper class with advanced educations, often obtained at elite schools, sharing tastes and preferences that set them apart from mainstream America. At the same time, we have developed a new lower class, characterized not by poverty but by withdrawal from America’s core cultural institutions. (…) Why have these new lower and upper classes emerged? For explaining the formation of the new lower class, the easy explanations from the left don’t withstand scrutiny. It’s not that white working class males can no longer make a « family wage » that enables them to marry. The average male employed in a working-class occupation earned as much in 2010 as he did in 1960. It’s not that a bad job market led discouraged men to drop out of the labor force. Labor-force dropout increased just as fast during the boom years of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s as it did during bad years. (…) As I’ve argued in much of my previous work, I think that the reforms of the 1960s jump-started the deterioration. Changes in social policy during the 1960s made it economically more feasible to have a child without having a husband if you were a woman or to get along without a job if you were a man; safer to commit crimes without suffering consequences; and easier to let the government deal with problems in your community that you and your neighbors formerly had to take care of. But, for practical purposes, understanding why the new lower class got started isn’t especially important. Once the deterioration was under way, a self-reinforcing loop took hold as traditionally powerful social norms broke down. Because the process has become self-reinforcing, repealing the reforms of the 1960s (something that’s not going to happen) would change the trends slowly at best. Meanwhile, the formation of the new upper class has been driven by forces that are nobody’s fault and resist manipulation. The economic value of brains in the marketplace will continue to increase no matter what, and the most successful of each generation will tend to marry each other no matter what. As a result, the most successful Americans will continue to trend toward consolidation and isolation as a class. Changes in marginal tax rates on the wealthy won’t make a difference. Increasing scholarships for working-class children won’t make a difference. The only thing that can make a difference is the recognition among Americans of all classes that a problem of cultural inequality exists and that something has to be done about it. That « something » has nothing to do with new government programs or regulations. Public policy has certainly affected the culture, unfortunately, but unintended consequences have been as grimly inevitable for conservative social engineering as for liberal social engineering. The « something » that I have in mind has to be defined in terms of individual American families acting in their own interests and the interests of their children. Doing that in Fishtown requires support from outside. There remains a core of civic virtue and involvement in working-class America that could make headway against its problems if the people who are trying to do the right things get the reinforcement they need—not in the form of government assistance, but in validation of the values and standards they continue to uphold. The best thing that the new upper class can do to provide that reinforcement is to drop its condescending « nonjudgmentalism. » Married, educated people who work hard and conscientiously raise their kids shouldn’t hesitate to voice their disapproval of those who defy these norms. When it comes to marriage and the work ethic, the new upper class must start preaching what it practices. Charles Murray
Murray, the W.H. Brady Scholar at the American Enterprise Institute, contends that before the 1960s, Americans of all classes participated in a traditional common culture of civic and social engagement that valued marriage, industriousness, honesty and religiosity — credited as « American exceptionalism » by Alexis de Tocqueville in his 19th century classic « Democracy in America. » Today, that culture persists among highly educated elites, winners in globalization’s economic redistribution, but those vigorous virtues are dissolving among globalization’s losers, the 21st century working class. Increased demographic segregation means that the elites who run the nation know little about the ominous cultural breakdown creeping up the socioeconomic ladder. Murray describes a new, highly educated upper class of the most successful 5% of professionals and managers who direct the nation’s major institutions. Most reside in high-income, socially homogeneous « super ZIP Codes » near urban power centers. Exclusivity is self-reinforcing: Elites socialize primarily with and marry one another (« homogamy »), ensuring their children’s future dominance based on genetic intelligence, other inherited talents and a high-achievement culture nourished by access to elite educational institutions. To emphasize that the new cultural divide is largely based on class, not race/ethnicity, Murray confines core sections of « Coming Apart » to comparing socio-cultural differences among middle-aged whites (age 30-49) in two communities: upper-middle-class Belmont, Mass., and working-class Fishtown, Pa. (Murray builds somewhat « fictionalized » versions of these communities through statistically adjusted models that control for age, race, income and occupation to heighten the contrasts between them.) Belmont represents perhaps 20% of the total U.S. population; Fishtown, about 30%. Murray reveals alarming levels of social isolation and disengagement among Fishtown’s working-class whites. By the early 2000s, only 48% were married, down from 84% in 1960; children living in households with both biological parents fell from 96% to 37%; the number of disabled quintupled from 2% to 10%; arrest rates for violent crime quadrupled from 125 to 592 per 100,000 people; and the percent attending church only once a year nearly doubled from 35% to 59%. In 2008, almost 12% of prime-age males with a high school diploma were « not in the labor force » — quadruple the percentage from the all-time low of 3% in 1968. The well-educated, upper-middle-class whites in Murray’s Belmont model fare far better: 83% are married; 84% of children reside in two-biological-parent homes; less than 1% are on disability, though nearly 40% attend church only once a year. Nearly all adult males are in the workforce. The primary problem with « Coming Apart » is that Murray’s focus on a cultural divide among whites obscures something else: The destruction of values, economic sectors and entire occupational classes by automation and outsourcing. And don’t forget the massive movements of cheap legal and illegal immigrant labor: This factor sets up a classic conflict, the ethnically split labor market, in which you find unionized working-class whites pitted against minority newcomers who are willing to work for less (sometimes « off the books » and under abysmal conditions). Frederick Lynch
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. But from the community’s perspective, mobility can be a problem. 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. This is the classic “brain drain” problem: Those who are able to leave very often do. The brain drain also encourages a uniquely modern form of cultural detachment. Eventually, the young people who’ve moved out marry — typically to partners with similar economic prospects. They raise children in increasingly segregated neighborhoods, giving rise to something the conservative scholar Charles Murray calls “super ZIPs.” These super ZIPs are veritable bastions of opportunity and optimism, places where divorce and joblessness are rare. As one of my college professors recently told me about higher education, “The sociological role we play is to suck talent out of small towns and redistribute it to big cities.” There have always been regional and class inequalities in our society, but the data tells us that we’re living through a unique period of segregation. 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. This polarization reflects itself not just in our voting patterns, but also in our political culture: Not long before the election, a friend forwarded me a conspiracy theory about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in a pedophilia ring and asked me whether it was true. It’s easy to dismiss these questions as the ramblings of “fake news” consumers. 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. And when we’re surrounded by polarized, ideologically homogeneous crowds, whether online or off, it becomes easier to believe bizarre things about them. This problem runs in both directions: I’ve heard ugly words uttered about “flyover country” and some of its inhabitants from well-educated, generally well-meaning people. I’ve long worried whether I’ve become a part of this problem. For two years, I’d lived in Silicon Valley, surrounded by other highly educated transplants with seemingly perfect lives. It’s jarring to live in a world where every person feels his life will only get better when you came from a world where many rightfully believe that things have become worse. And I’ve suspected that this optimism blinds many in Silicon Valley to the real struggles in other parts of the country. So I decided to move home, to Ohio. (…) we often frame civic responsibility in terms of government taxes and transfer payments, so that our society’s least fortunate families are able to provide basic necessities. 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. Many people should leave struggling places in search of economic opportunity, and many of them won’t be able to return. 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. J. D. Vance
“ Hillbilly Elegy ” is a very important book and it also resonated with me in a very personal way because I also experienced the problems of rural poverty. 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 occasionally 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 10th grade education, my mother had a 10th grade education. My mother who lived to the ripe old age of 94, raised us by cleaning house occasionally. Initially we were on relief. We call it welfare now. She got off welfare and supported us by cleaning house; and what I distinctly remember about growing up in rural 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 professor and capital U on University, are very nearly zero. Like J.D. I’m an outlier. An outlier in — Malcolm Gladwell says in his book “ Outlier, The Study of Success. ” We are both outliers; but it’s interesting that J.D. never talks about holding himself up by his own bootstraps, and that’s something that I reject. I don’t refer to myself that way, because both J.D. and I, were in the right places at the right times, and we had significant individuals who were there to rescue us from poverty and enabled us to escape. We are the outliers being at the right place at the right time, and when I think about your question, that’s one thing I think about; how lucky I was. I had some significant individuals who helped me escape poverty. (…) ointing out some differences that I have with J.D. It’s really kind of a matter of emphasis. Not that we differ, it’s just a matter of emphasis. First of all, we both agree that too many liberal social scientists focus on social structure and ignore cultural conditions. You know, they talk about poverty, joblessness and discrimination, but they also don’t talk about some of the cultural conditions, that grow out of these situations, in response to these situations. Too many conservatives focus on cultural forces and ignore structural factors. Now J.D. has made the same point in “ Hillbilly Elegy ” and you also have made the same point in some subsequent interviews talking about the book. Now where we disagree and this relates back to your question, Camille, is in the interpretation of these cultural factors. J.D. places a lot of emphasis on agency. That people even in the most impoverished circumstances have choices that can either improve or exacerbate their situation, their predicaments. And I also think that a gency is important and should not be ignored, even in situations where individuals confront overwhelming structural impediments. But what J.D., and I’d like to hear your response to this J.D., wha t you don’t make explicit or emphasize enough from my point of view, is that agency is also constrained by these structural factors, even among people who you know, make positive choices to improve their lives, there are still constraints and I maintain th at the part of your book where you talking about agency, really cries out for a deeper interrogation. A deeper interrogation of how personal a gency is expanded or inhibited by the circumstance that the poor or working classes confront, including you know, their interactions and families, social networks , and institutions, in these distressed communities. In other words, what I’m trying to suggest is that personal agency is recursively associated with the structural forces within which it operates. And here you know, it’s sort of insightful to talk about intermediaries and insightful to talk about people who aid, who help you in making choices, and you do that well in the book. But here’s the point, given the American belief system on poverty and welfare in which Americans as you point out Camille, place far greater emphasis on personal shortcomings as opposed to structural barriers and especially when you’re talking about the behavior of African Americans. I believe that explanations that focus — don’t get me wrong, you don’t even talk about African Americans in the sense, I’m talking about people out there in the general public. Given this focus on personal shortcomings as opposed to structural barriers in a common for outcomes, I believe that explanations that focus on agency are likely to overshadow explanations that focus on structural impediments. Some people read a book, but they’re not that sophisticated, the take away will be those personal factors and you know, I would have liked to have seen you sort of try to put things in context you know. Talk about the constraints that people have. Now this relates to the second point I want to make. In addition, to feeling that they have little control over themselves, that is lack of agency. You point out that the individuals in these hillbilly communities tend to blame themselves — I’m sorry, blame everyone but themselves, and the term you used to explain this phenomenon is cognitive dissonance, when our beliefs are not consistent with our behaviors. And I agree, and many people often do tend to blame others and not themselves, but I think that when we talk about cognitive dissonance, we also have to recognize that individuals in these communities do indeed have some complaints, some justifiable complaints, including complaints about industries that have pulled off stakes and relocated to cheaper labor areas overseas and in the process, have devastated communities like Middletown, Ohio. Including complaints about automation replacing the jobs of cashiers and parking lot attendants. Including the complaints that government and corporate actions have undermined unions and therefore led to a decrease in the wages or workers in Middletown. (…) And let me also point out, here’s where we really do agree. We both agree that there are cultural practices within families and so on and in communities that reinforce problems created by the structural barriers. (…) Practiced behaviors that perpetuate poverty and disadvantage. So, this we agree. Too often liberals ignore the role of these cultural forces in perpetuating or reinforcing conditions associated with poverty or concentrated (inaudible). (…) even in extreme property, my mother kept telling me, you’re going to college. And my Aunt Janice also reinforced — my Aunt Janice was the first person in my extended family who got a college education, and I used to go to New York to visit her during the summer months, and I said you know, I want to be like Aunt Janice, you know? (…) you really see this when you look at neighborhoods. Neighborhoods in which an overwhelming majority of the population are poor, but employed are entirely different from neighborhoods in which people are poor but jobless. Jobless neighborhoods trigger all kinds of problems. Crime, drug addiction, gang behavior, violence. And one of the things that I had focused on when I wrote my book, When Work Disappears is what happens to intercity neighborhoods that experience increasing levels of joblessness. And we did some research in Chicago and it was really you know, sad, talking to some of the mothers who were just fearful about allowing their children to go outside because the neighborhood was so incredibly dangerous. And I remember talking with one woman and she says — who was obese and she says you know, I went to the doctor he said that I should go out and exercise. Can you imagine jogging in this neighborhood? Because the joblessness had created problems among young people who were trying to make ends meet and they’re involved in crime and drugs and so on. So, I would say that if you want to focus on improving neighborhoods, the first thing that I would do would try to increase or enhance employment opportunities. (…) I don’t know if the conditions have changed that much, since I wrote The Truly Disadvantaged. The one big difference is that I think there’s increasing technology and automation that has created problems for a lot of low skilled workers. You know, I mentioned automation replacing jobs that cashiers held, and parking lot attendants held. So, you have a combination not only of the relocation of industries overseas, that I talked about in The Truly Disadvantaged; but now you have increasing automation and technology replacing jobs, and this worries me because I think that people who have poor education are going to be in difficult situations increasingly down the road. You look at intercity schools, not only schools in intercities, but in many other neighborhoods, and kids are not being properly educated. So, they’re not being prepared for the changes that are occurring in the economy. I remember one social scientist saying that it’s as if — talking about the black population. It’s as if racism and racial discrimination put black people in their place only to watch increasing technology and automation destroy that place. So, the one significant difference from the time I wrote The Truly Disadvantaged in 1987, is the growing problems created by increasing technology for the poor.(…) it seems that poor whites right now are more pessimistic than any group, and the question is why. I was sort of impressed with your analysis of the white working class in the age of Trump. You know, you pointed out that when Barack Obama became president there were a lot of people in your community who were really struggling and who believe that the modern American meritocracy did not seem to apply to them. These people were not doing well, and then you have this black president who’s a successful product of meritocracy who has raised the hope of African Americans and he represented every positive thing that these working-class folks that you write about did not possess or lacked. And Trump emerged as candidate who sort of spoke to these people. What is interesting is that if you look at the Pew Research polls, recent Pew Research polls, I think you pointed this out in your book, the working-class whites right now are more pessimistic than any other group about their economic future and their children’s future. Now is that pessimism justified? I think they’re overly pessimistic. I still maintain that to be black, poor and jobless is worse than being white, poor and jobless, okay? But, for some reason, the white poor is more pessimistic. Now I think with respect to the black poor and working class has kind of an Obama effect you know. I think that may wear off and then blacks will become even more equally as pessimistic as whites in a few years. (this reminds me of your points J.D., reminds me of a paper that Robert Sampson, a colleague at Harvard and I wrote in 1995 entitled Toward a Theory of Race, Crime and Urban Inequality. A paper that has become a classic actually in the field of criminology because it’s generated dozens of research studies. Our basic thesis we were addressing you know, race and violent crime, is that racial disparities and violent crime are attributable in large part to the persistent structural disadvantages that are disproportionately concentrated in African American urban communities. Nonetheless, we argue that the ultimate cause of crime were similar for both whites and blacks, and we pose a central question. In American cities, it is possible to reproduce in white communities the structural circumstances under which many blacks live. You know, the whites haven’t fully experienced the structural reality that blacks have experienced does not negate the power of our theory because we argue had whites been exposed to the same structural conditions as blacks then white communities would behave – – the crime rate would be in the predicted direction. And then we had an epiphany. What about the rural white communities that you talk about. Where you’re not only talking about joblessness, you’re not only talking about poverty, but you’re also talking about family structure. So, here in Appalachia, you could reproduce some of the conditions that exist in intercity neighborhoods and therefore it would be good to test our theory in these areas because we’d be looking at the family structure. The rates of single parent families. We’d be looking at joblessness, we’d be loo king at poverty. So, we need to move beyond the urban areas and see if we can look at communities that come close to approximating or even worse in some cases, and some intercity neighborhoods. (…) Mark Lilla and a number of other post-election analysts observed that as you point out that the Democrats should not make the same mistake that they made in the last election, namely an attempt to mobilize people of color, women, immigrants and the LGBT community with identity politics. They tended to ignore the problems of poor white Americans. I was watching the Democratic convention with my wife on a cruise to Alaska, and one concern I had was there did not seem to be any representatives on the stage representing poor white America. I could just see some of these poor whites saying they don’t care about us. They’ve got all these blacks, they’ve got immigrants, they’ve got (inaudible), but you don’t have any of us on the stage. Maybe I’m overstating the point, but I was concerned about that. Now one notable exception, critics like Mark Lilla point out was Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders had a progressive and unifying populous economic message in the Democratic primaries. A message that resonated with a significant segment of the white lower-class population. Lower class, working class populations. Bernie Sanders was not the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump was able to, as we all know, capture notable support from these populations with a divisive not unifying populous message. I agree with Mark Lilla that we don’t want to make the same mistake again. We’ve go to reach out to all groups. We’ve got to start to focus on coalition politics. We have to develop a sense of interdependence where groups come to recognize that they can’t accomplish goals without the support of other groups. We have to frame issues differently. We can’t go the same route. We can’t give up on the white working class. (…) Addressing the question of increase in economic segregation. People don’t realize that racial segregation is on the decline, while economic segregation is a segregation of families by income is on the increase. William Julius Wilson
I’m a bit of a fan boy of William Julius Wilson as I wrote Hillbilly Elegy, so it was real exciting to be able to get him to sign this book.  (…) Culture (…) is a really, really, difficult and amorphous concept to define, and one of the things that I was trying to do with “ Hillbilly Elegy ” is try to in some ways draw the discussion away from this structure versus personal responsibility narrative and convince us to look at culture as a third and I think very important variable. I often think that the way that conservatives, and I’m a conservative, talk about culture is in some ways an excuse to end the conversation instead of starting a much more important conversation. It’s look at their bad culture, look at their deficient culture, we can’t do anything to help them; instead of trying to understand culture as this much bigger social and institutional force that really is important that some cases can come from problems related to poverty and some cases can come from a host of different factors that are difficult to understand. So, here’s what I mean by that. One of the most important I think cultural problems that I talk about is the prevalence of family and stability and family trauma in some of the communities that I write about; and I take it as a given that that trauma and that instability is really bad, that it has really negative downstream effects on whether children are able to get an education, whether their able to enter the workforce, whether they’re  able to raise and maintain successful families themselves. I think it’s tempting to sort of look at the problems of family instability and families like mine and say there’s a structural problem if only people had access to better economic opportunities, they wouldn’t have this problem. I think that’s partially true, but also consequently partially false. I think there’s a tendency on the right to look at that and say these parents need to take better care of their families and of their children, and unless they do it, there’s nothing that we can do. And I think again, that is maybe partially true, but it’s also very significantly false. What I’m trying to point to in this concept of culture, is we know that when children grow up in very unstable families that it has important cognitive effects, we know that it has important psychological effects, and unless we understand the problem of family instability and trauma, not just as a structural problem, or problem with personal responsibility, but as a long-term problem, in some cases inherited from multiple generations back, then we’re not going to be able to appreciate what’s really going on in some of these families and why family instability and trauma is so durable and so difficult to actually solve. So, I tend to think of culture as in some ways, this way to sum all of the things that are neither structural nor individual. What is it that’s going on in people’s environments good and bad that make it difficult for them to climb out of poverty. What are the things that they inherit. It’s not just from their own families, but from multiple generations back. Behaviors, expectations, environmental attitudes that make it really hard for them to succeed and do well. That’s the concept of culture that I think is most important, and also frankly that I think is missing a little bit from our political conversation when we talk about these questions of poverty, we’re really comfortable talking about personal responsibility, we’re really comfortable talking about structural problems. We don’t often talk about culture in this way that I’m trying to talk about it, in “ Hillbilly Elegy. ” (…) the second point that I wanted to make (…) is this question of Agency and whether I overemphasize the role of Agency. I think that for me, this is a really tough line to tow because I’m sort of writing about these problems you know, having in my personal memory, I’m not that far removed from a lot of them. I know that myself, one of the biggest problems that I faced was that I really did start to give up on myself early in high school, and I think that’s a really significant problem. At the same time, I understand and recognize the problem that Bill mentions which is that we have this tendency to sort of overemphasize Personal Agency and to proverbially blame the victim for a lot of these problems. So, what I was trying to do with this discussion of Personal Agency in the book, and I may have failed, but this is the effort, this is what I’m really trying to accomplish. Is that the first instance, I do think that it’s important for kids like me in circumstances like mine, to pick up the book and to have at least some reinforcement of the Agency that they have. I do think that’s a significant problem from the prospective of kids who grew up in communities like mine. The second thing that I’m trying to do, is talk about Personal Agency, not jus t from the prospective of individual poor people, but from the entire community that surrounds them. So, one of the things that I talk about is as religious communities in these areas, do they have the, as I say in the book, toughness to build Churches that encourage more social engagement as opposed to more social disaffection. I think that’s a question of Personal Agency, not from the perspective of the impoverished kid, but from a religious leader and community leaders that exist in their neighborhood. So, I think that sense of Personal Agency is really important. One of the worries that I have, is that when we talk about the problems of impoverished kids and this is especially true amongst sort of my generation, so this is — I’m a tail end of t he millennials here, is that we tend to think about helping people, 10 million people at a time a very superficial level, and one of the calls to action that I make in the book with this — by pointing out to Personal Agency is the idea that it can be really impactful to make a difference in 10 lives at a very deep level at the community level. And I think that sometimes is missing from these conversations. And then, the final point that I’ll make is that there’s a difference between recognizing the importance of Personal Agency and I think ignoring the role of structural factors in some of these problems, right? So, the example that I used to highlight this in the book is this question of addiction. So, there’s some interesting research that suggests that people who believe inherently that their addiction is a disease, show slightly less proclivity to actually fight that addiction and overcome that addiction. So, that creates sort of a catch 22, because we know there are biological components to addiction. We know that there are these sorts of structural non-personal decision-making drivers of addiction, and yet, if you totally buy in to the non-individual choice explanation for addiction, you show less of a proclivity to fight it. So, I think that there is this really tough under current to some of our discussions on these issues, where as a society we want to simultaneously recognize the barriers that people face, but also encourage them not to play a terrible hand in a terrible way, and that’s what I’m trying to do with this discussion of Personal Agency. The final point that I’ll make on that, is that the person who towed that line better than anyone I’ve ever known was my Grandma, my Ma’ma who I think is in some ways the hero of the book. She always told me. Look J.D., like is unfair for us, but don’t be like those people who think the deck is hopelessly stacked against them. I think that’s a sentiment that you hear far too infrequently among America’s elites. This simultaneous recognition that life is unfair for a lot of poor Americans, but that we still have to emphasize the role of individual agency in spite of that unfairness and I think that’s again a difficult balancing act. I may not have struck that balancing act perfectly in the book, but that was the intention. (…) the first thing is definitely you know, going back to my grandma. I think if anybody had a reason for pessimism and cynicism about the future, it was her. It’s sort of difficult to imagine a woman who had lived a more difficult life and yet ma’ma had this constant optimism about the future, in the sense that we had to do better because that was just the way that America worked. I mean I think that she was this woman who had this deep and abiding faith in the American dream in a way that is obviously disappearing And in fact, as I wrote about in the book, was I started to see disappearing even you know, when I was a young kid in my early 20’s. So, I think that my grandma was a huge part of that. I also think that the Marine Corp was a really huge part of that, and this is sort of a transformational experience that I write about in the book. The military is this really remarkable institution. It brings people from diverse backgrounds together, gets them on the same team. Gets them marching proverbially and literally towards the same goal, and for a kid who had grown up in a community that was starting to lose faith in that American dream, I think that the military was a really useful way to, as I say in the book, teach a certain amount of willfulness as opposed to despair and hopelessness. So, I think that was a really critical piece of it. (…) On the other hand, one thing I really worried about and one thing that I increasingly worried about as I actually did research for the book, is this idea of faith and religion, not just as something that people believe in, but as an actual positive institutional and social role player in their lives. And one of the things you do see, that this is something that Charles Murray’s written about, is that you see the institutions of faith declining in some of these lower income communities faster than you do in middle and upper income communities. I don’t think you have to be a person of faith to think that that’s worrisome. I think you can just read a paper by Jonathan Gruber that talks about all of these really positive social impacts of being a regular participatory Church member. So, you know, I think I was lucky in that sense, but a lot of folks, and when I look at the community right now, it worries me a little bit that you don’t see these robust social institutions in the same way that you certainly did 30, 40 years ago, and even when I was growing up in Middletown. The last point that I’ll make about that, is that (…) these trends often take half a century or more to really reveal themselves and I do sometimes see signs of resilience in some of these communities that I sort of didn’t fully anticipate and didn’t expect when the book was published. So, one of the things I’ve started to realize for example is when we talk about the decline of institutional faith, even though I continue to worry about that, one of the institutions that’s actually picked up the slack are groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. They almost have this faith effect. It brings people together. There’s even a sort of liturgical element to some of these meetings that I find really, really fascinating and interesting. So, people try to find and replace community when it’s lost but you know, clearly, they haven’t at least as of yet, replaced it even remotely to the degree that it has been lost which is why I think you see some of the issues that we do. (…) on this question of identity politics, I think that what worries me is that a lot — it’s not a recognition that there are disadvantaged non-white groups that need some help or there needs to be some closing of the gap you know. When I talk to folks back home, very conservative people, they’re actually pretty open-minded if you talk about the problems that exist in the black ghetto because of problems of concentrated poverty and the fact that the black ghetto was in some ways created by housing policy. It was the choice of black Americans. It was in some ways created by housing policy. I find actually a lot of openness when I talk to friends and family about that. What I find no openness about is when somebody who they don’t know, and who they think judges them, points at them and says you need to apologize for your white privilege. So, I think that in some ways making these questions of disadvantage zero sum, is really toxic, but I think that’s one way that the Democrats really lost the white working class in the 2016 election. The second piece that occurs to me, and this applies across the political spectrum, is that what we’re trying to do in the United States, it’s very easy to be cynical about American politics, but we’re rying to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation, not just a conglomeration, an actual nation of people from all of these different tribes and unify them around a common creed. I think that’s really delicate. It’s basically never been done success fully over a long period in human history and I think it requires a certain amount of rhetorical finesse that we don’t see from many of our politicians on either side these days and that really, really worries me. (…) my general worry with the college education in the book at large is sort of two things. So, the first is that, I think we’ve constructed a society effectively in which a college education is now the only pathway to the middle class, and I think that’s a real failure on our part. It’s not something you see in every country, and I don’t think it necessarily has to be the case here. There are other ways to get post-secondary education and I absolutely think that we have to make that easier, and I really see this as sort of the defining policy challenge of the next 10 years is to create more of those pathways; because the second born on this is that college is a really, really culturally terrifying place for a lot of working class people. We can try to make it less culturally terrifying, we can try to make for the elites of our universities a little bit more welcoming to folks like me, and this is something that I wrote about in the book, really feeling like a true outsider at Yale for the first time, in an educational institution. I think that we also have to acknowledge that part of the reason that people feel like cultural outsiders is for reasons that aren’t necessarily going to be easy to fix, and if we don’t create more pathways for these folks, we shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of them aren’t going to take the one pathway that’s there, that effectively runs through a culturally alien institution.  (…) in certain areas, especially in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and so forth. I think the biggest under reported problem for the baby boomers is the fact that they are taking care of children that they didn’t necessarily anticipate taking care of because of the opioid crisis. This is the biggest dr iver of elder poverty in the State of Ohio, is that you have entire families that have been transplanted from one generation to the next. They were planning for retirement based on one social security income, and now all of a sudden, they have two, three additional mouths to feed. I think my concern for the baby boom generation is especially those folks of course because it’s not just bad for them, it’s bad for these children who are all of a sudden thrown into poverty because of the opioid addition of that middle generation of the parents, of the kids and the sons and daughters of the grandkids. And then the very last question, culture, I think of as a way to understand the sum of the environmental impacts that you can’t necessarily define as structural rights, so the effects of family instability and trauma that exists in people, the effects of social capital and social networks in people’s lives, You know, all of these things I think add up to a broad set of variables that can either promote upward mobility or inhibit upward mobility; and again I think we very often talk about job opportunities and educational opportunities, we very often talk about individual responsibility and Personal Agency. We very rarely I think talk about those middle layers and those institutional factors that in a lot of ways are the real drivers of this problem. (…) on the inequality and concentration wealth, the top thing, I’ll say this one area where I actually think conservative senator Mike Leaf from Utah has had some really, really, interesting ideas. One of the tax reform proposals Senator Leaf has advocated for is actually setting the capital taxation rate at the same rate as the ordinary income rate. Because that’s what’s really driving this difference, right. It’s not ordinary income earners. It’s not salaried professionals. Those Richard Reeve says that’s a problem. It’s primarily actually that folks in the global economy, especially the ultra-elite, folks in the global economy have achieved some sort of economic lift off from the rest of the country and I think that in light of that, it doesn’t make a ton of sense that we continue to have the taxation policy that we do. Frankly, that’s one of the reasons why I am sort of so conflicted about President Trump because I think in some ways instinctively at least the President recognizes this, but we’ll see what actually happens with tax reform over the next few months. The question about job competition is absolutely correct. You can’t just have a better educated workforce but hold the number of workers constant. At the same time, I do think there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem here right because you know, while the skills gap is overplayed and while it violates all of these rules of Econ 101, one of the things you hear pretty consistently from folks who would l ike to expand, would like to hire more, would like to produce more, is that there are real labor force constraints, especially in what might be called non-cognitive skills, right; and this is a thing that you hear a lot. In my home state if you really want to hire more, and you really want to produce more, and sell more, then the problem is the opioid epidemic has effectively thinned the pool of people who were even able to work. So, I do think that productivity is really important, but I also think that we tend to think of these things in too mathematical and sort of hyper-rational ways, but part of the reason productivity is held back, is because we have real problems in the labor market, and if you fix one, you could help another, and they may create a virtuous cycle. J.D. Vance
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. It hasn’t. The white middle class may like the idea of Trump as a giant pulsing humanoid middle finger held up in the face of the Cathedral, they may sing hymns to Trump the destroyer and whisper darkly about “globalists” and — odious, stupid term — “the Establishment,” but nobody did this to them. 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. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that. Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. 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. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. 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. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. They need real opportunity, which means that they need real change, which means that they need U-Haul. Williamson
This book is about (…) what goes on in the lives of real people when the industrial economy goes south. It’s about reacting to bad circumstances in the worst way possible. It’s about a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it. The problems that I saw at the tile warehouse run far deeper than macroeconomic trends and policy. too many young men immune to hard work. Good jobs impossible to fill for any length of time. And a young man [one of Vance’s co-workers] with every reason to work — a wife-to-be to support and a baby on the way — carelessly tossing aside a good job with excellent health insurance. 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. (…) 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. (…) I learned little else about what masculinity required of me other than drinking beer and screaming at a woman when she screamed at you. In the end, the only lesson that took was that you can’t depend on people. “I learned that men will disappear at the drop of a hat,” Lindsay [his half-sister] once said. “They don’t care about their kids; they don’t provide; they just disappear, and it’s not that hard to make them go.” (…) Dad’s church offered something desperately needed by people like me. For alcoholics, it gave them a community of support and a sense that they weren’t fighting addiction alone. 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. (…) Why didn’t our neighbor leave that abusive man? Why did she spend her money on drugs? Why couldn’t she see that her behavior was destroying her daughter? 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. The top floor of her home and many of her family’s possessions were ruined. This is the reality of our community. It’s about a naked druggie destroying what little of value exists in her life. It’s about children who lose their toys and clothes to a mother’s addiction. 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. We purchase homes we don’t need, refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy, often leaving them full of garbage in our wake. Thrift is inimical to our being. We spend to pretend that we’re upper class. And when the dust clears — when bankruptcy hits or a family member bails us out of our stupidity — there’s nothing left over. Nothing for the kids’ college tuition, no investment to grow our wealth, no rainy-day fund if someone loses her job. We know we shouldn’t spend like this. Sometimes we beat ourselves up over it, but we do it anyway. (…) Our homes are a chaotic mess. We scream and yell at each other like we’re spectators at a football game. At least one member of the family uses drugs — sometimes the father, sometimes both. At especially stressful times, we’ll hit and punch each other, all in front of the rest of the family, including young children; much of the time, the neighbors hear what’s happening. 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. The kids believe we’re really sorry, and we are. But then we act just as mean a few days later. (…) I once ran into an old acquaintance at a Middletown bar who told me that he had recently quit his job because he was sick of waking up early I later saw him complaining on Facebook about the “Obama economy” and how it had affected his life. I don’t doubt that the Obama economy has affected many, but this man is assuredly not among them. His status in life is directly attributable to the choices he’s made, and his life will improve only through better decisions. 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. (…) The wealthy and the powerful aren’t just wealthy and powerful; they follow a different set of norms and mores. … It was at this meal, on the first of five grueling days of [law school job] interviews, that I began to understand that I was seeing the inner workings of a system that lay hidden to most of my kind. … That week of interviews showed me that successful people are playing an entirely different game. (…) I believe we hillbillies are the toughest goddamned people on this earth. … But are we tough enough to do what needs to be done to help a kid like Brian? 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. These problems were not created by governments or corporations or anyone else. We created them, and only we can fix them. (…) I believe we hillbillies are the toughest god—-ed people on this earth. But 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. . . . I don’t know what the answer is precisely, but I know it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.” J.D. Vance
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. He writes that “hillbillies learn from an early age to deal with uncomfortable truths by avoiding them, or by pretending better truths exist. This tendency might make for psychological resilience, but it also makes it hard for Appalachians to look at themselves honestly.” (…) Vance talks about the hillbilly habit of stigmatizing people who leave the hollers as “too big for your britches” — meaning that you got above yourself. It doesn’t matter that they may have left to find work, and that they’re living a fairly poor life not too far away, in Ohio. The point is, they left, and that is a hard sin to forgive. What, we weren’t good enough for you?  This is the white-people version of “acting white,” if you follow me: the same stigma and shame that poor black people deploy against other poor black people who want to better themselves with education and so on. (…) Vance plainly loves his people, and because he loves them, he tells hard truths about them. He talks about how cultural fatalism destroys initiative. When hillbillies run up against adversity, they tend to assume that they can’t do anything about it. To the hillbilly mind, people who “make it” are either born to wealth, or were born with uncanny talent, winning the genetic lottery. The connection between self-discipline and hard work, and success, is invisible to them. (…) 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 has half-siblings by his mom’s different husbands (she has had five to date). In his generation, Vance says, grandparents are often having to raise their grandchildren, because those grandparents, however impoverished and messy their own lives may be, offer a more stable alternative than the incredible instability of the kids’ parents (or more likely, parent). (…) 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. I could not do justice here to describe the violence, emotional and physical, that characterizes everyday life in Vance’s childhood culture, and the instability in people’s outer lives and inner lives. 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. You can’t imagine that life could be any different. Religion among the hillbillies is not much help. Vance says that hillbillies love to talk about Jesus, but they don’t go to church, and Christianity doesn’t seem to have much effect at all on their behavior. Vance’s biological father is an exception. 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. (…) Vance says the best thing about life in his dad’s house was how boring it was. 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. God seems to exist only as a guarantor of ultimate order, and ultimate justice; Jesus is there to assuage one’s pain. 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. (…) 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. “As a teacher at my old high school told me recently, ‘They want us to be shepherds to these kids. But no one wants to talk about the fact that many of them are raised by wolves.” (…) 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. Unfortunately, most of the people in Vance’s neighborhood were like his mom: “consumerist, isolated, angry, distrustful.” (…) As I said earlier, the two things that saved Vance were going to live full time with his Mamaw (therefore getting out of the insanity of his mom’s home), and later, going into the US Marine Corps. I’ve already written at too much length about Vance’s story, so I won’t belabor this much longer. Suffice it to say that as imperfect as she was, Mamaw gave young Vance the stability he needed to start succeeding in school. And she wouldn’t let him slack off on his studies. She taught him the value of hard work, and of moral agency. The Marine Corps remade J.D. Vance. It pulverized his inner hillbilly fatalism, and gave him a sense that he had control over his life, and that his choices mattered.  (…) Anyway, Vance talks about how the contemporary hillbilly mindset renders them unfit for participation in life outside their own ghetto. They don’t trust anybody, and are willing to believe outlandish conspiracy theories, particularly if those theories absolve them from responsibility. Hence the enormous popularity of Donald Trump among the white working class. Here’s a guy who will believe and say anything, and who blames Mexicans, Chinese, and Muslims for America’s problems. The elites hate him, so he’s made the right enemies, as far as the white working class is concerned. And his “Make America Great Again” slogan speaks to the deep patriotism that Vance says is virtually a religion among hillbillies. (…) 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 (…) What he’s talking about is social capital, and how critically important it is to success. Poor white kids don’t have it (neither do poor black or Hispanic kids). You’re never going to teach a kid from the trailer park or the housing project the secrets of the upper middle class, but you can give them what kids like me had: a basic understanding of work, discipline, confidence, good manners, and an eagerness to learn. A big part of the problem for his people, says Vance, is the shocking degree of family instability among the American poor. “Chaos begets chaos. Instability begets instability. Welcome to family life for the American hillbilly.” (…) The worst problems of his culture, the things that held kids like him back, are not things a government program can fix. For example, as a child, his culture taught him that doing well in school made you a “sissy.” Vance says the home is the source of the worst of these problems. There simply is not a policy fix for families and family systems that have collapsed. (…) 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. It’s not that the problems Trump points to aren’t real, and it’s not that police brutality, especially towards minorities, isn’t a problem. It’s that these serve as distractions from the core realities that keep poor white and black people down. 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. (…) If white lives matter — and they do, because all lives matter — then sentimentality and more government programs aren’t going to rescue these poor people. Vance puts it more delicately than Williamson, but getting a U-Haul and getting away from other poor people — or at least finding some way to get their kids out of there, to a place where people aren’t so fatalistic, lazy, and paranoid — is their best hope. And that is surely true no matter what your race. Rod Dreher
I believe, and so does J.D., that government really does have a meaningful role to play in ameliorating the problems of the poor. 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. The solution, insofar as there is a “solution,” is not an either-or (that is, either culture or government), but a both-and. (…) The loss of industrial jobs plays a big role in the catastrophe. J.D. Vance acknowledges that plainly in his book. But it’s not the whole story. 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 60-pound pallets around. It paid $13 an hour with good benefits and opportunities for advancement. A full-time employee could earn a salary well above the poverty line. That should have made the gig an easy sell. Yet the factory’s owner had trouble filling jobs. During Vance’s summer stint, three people left, including a man he calls Bob, a 19-year-old with a pregnant girlfriend. Bob was chronically late to work, when he showed up at all. He frequently took 45-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. “He thought something had been done to him,” Vance writes. “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.” (…)  JDV openly credits his Mamaw and the Marine Corps with making him the man he is today. He does not claim he got there entirely on his own, by bootstrapping it. The American conservative
A harrowing portrait of the plight of the white working class J. D. Vance’s new book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis couldn’t have been better timed. For the past year, as Donald Trump has defied political gravity to seize the Republican nomination and transform American politics, those who are repelled by Trump have been accused of insensitivity to the concerns of the white working class. For Trump skeptics, this charge seems to come from left field, and I use that term advisedly. By declaring that a particular class and race has been “ignored” or “neglected,” the Right (or better “right”) has taken a momentous step in the Left’s direction. With the ease of a thrown switch, people once considered conservative have embraced the kind of interest-group politics they only yesterday rejected as a matter of principle. It was the Democrats who urged specific payoffs, er, policies to aid this or that constituency. Conservatives wanted government to withdraw from the redistribution and favor-conferring business to the greatest possible degree. If this was imperfectly achieved, it was still the goal — because it was just. Using government to benefit some groups comes at the expense of all. While not inevitably corrupt, the whole transactional nature of the business does easily tend toward corruption. Conservatives and Republicans understood, or seemed to, that in many cases, when government confers a benefit on one party, say sugar producers, in the form of a tariff on imported sugar, there’s a problem of concentrated benefits (sugar producers get a windfall) and dispersed costs (everyone pays more for sugar, but only a bit more, so they never complain). In the realm of race, sex, and class, the pandering to groups goes beyond bad economics and government waste — and even beyond the injustice of fleecing those who work to support those who choose not to — and into the dangerous territory of pitting Americans against one another. Democrats have mastered the art of sowing discord to reap votes. Powered by Now they have company in the Trumpites. Like Democrats who encourage their target constituencies to nurse grievances against “greedy” corporations, banks, Republicans, and government for their problems, Trump now encourages his voters to blame Mexicans, the Chinese, a “rigged system,” or stupid leaders for theirs. The problems of the white working class should concern every public-spirited American not because they’ve been forgotten or taken for granted — even those terms strike a false note for me — but because they are fellow Americans. How would one adjust public policy to benefit the white working class and not blacks, Hispanics, and others? How would that work? And who would shamelessly support policies based on tribal or regional loyalties and not the general welfare? As someone who has written — perhaps to the point of dull repetition — about the necessity for Republicans to focus less on entrepreneurs (as important as they are) and more on wage earners; as someone who has stressed the need for family-focused tax reform; as someone who has advocated education innovations that would reach beyond the traditional college customers and make education and training easier to obtain for struggling Americans; as someone who trumpeted the Reformicon proposals developed by a group of conservative intellectuals affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute and the Ethics and Public Policy Center; and finally, as someone who has shouted herself hoarse about the key role that family disintegration plays in many of our most pressing national problems, I cannot quite believe that I stand accused of indifference to the white working class. I said that Hillbilly Elegy could not have been better timed, and yes, that’s in part because it paints a picture of Americans who are certainly a key Trump constituency. Though the name Donald Trump is never mentioned, there is no doubt in the reader’s mind that the people who populate this book would be enthusiastic Trumpites. But the book is far deeper than an explanation of the Trump phenomenon (which it doesn’t, by the way, claim to be). It’s a harrowing portrait of much that has gone wrong in America over the past two generations. It’s Charles Murray’s “Fishtown” told in the first person. The community into which Vance was born — working-class whites from Kentucky (though transplanted to Ohio) — is more given over to drug abuse, welfare dependency, indifference to work, and utter hopelessness than statistics can fully convey. Vance’s mother was an addict who discarded husbands and boyfriends like Dixie cups, dragging her two children through endless screaming matches, bone-chilling threats, thrown plates and worse violence, and dizzying disorder. Every lapse was followed by abject apologies — and then the pattern repeated. His father gave him up for adoption (though that story is complicated), and social services would have removed him from his family entirely if he had not lied to a judge to avoid being parted from his grandmother, who provided the only stable presence in his life. Vance writes of his family and friends: “Nearly every person you will read about is deeply flawed. Some have tried to murder other people, and a few were successful. Some have abused their children, physically or emotionally.” His grandmother, the most vivid character in his tale (and, despite everything, a heroine) is as foul-mouthed as Tony Soprano and nearly as dangerous. She was the sort of woman who threatened to shoot strangers who placed a foot on her porch and meant it. Vance was battered and bruised by this rough start, but a combination of intellectual gifts — after a stint in the Marines he sailed through Ohio State in two years and then graduated from Yale Law — and the steady love of his grandparents helped him to leapfrog into America’s elite. This book is a memoir but also contains the sharp and unsentimental insights of a born sociologist. As André Malraux said to Whittaker Chambers under very different circumstances in 1952: “You have not come back from Hell with empty hands.” The troubles Vance depicts among the white working class, or at least that portion he calls “hillbillies,” are quite familiar to those who’ve followed the pathologies of the black poor, or Native Americans living on reservations. Disorganized family lives, multiple romantic partners, domestic violence and abuse, loose attachment to work, and drug and alcohol abuse. Children suffer from “Mountain Dew” mouth — severe tooth decay and loss because parents give their children, sometimes even infants with bottles, sugary sodas and fail to teach proper dental hygiene. “People talk about hard work all the time in places like Middletown [Ohio],” Vance writes. “You can walk through a town where 30 percent of the young men work fewer than 20 hours a week and find not a single person aware of his own laziness.” He worked in a floor-tile warehouse and witnessed the sort of shirking that is commonplace. One guy, I’ll call him Bob, joined the tile warehouse just a few months before I did. Bob was 19 with a pregnant girlfriend. The manager kindly offered the girlfriend a clerical position answering phones. Both of them were terrible workers. The girlfriend missed about every third day of work and never gave advance notice. Though warned to change her habits repeatedly, the girlfriend lasted no more than a few months. Bob missed work about once a week, and he was chronically late. On top of that, he often took three or four daily bathroom breaks, each over half an hour. . . . Eventually, Bob . . . was fired. When it happened, he lashed out at his manager: ‘How could you do this to me? Don’t you know I’ve a pregnant girlfriend?’ And he was not alone. . . . A young man with every reason to work . . . carelessly tossing aside a good job with excellent health insurance. More troublingly, when it was all over, he thought something had been done to him. The addiction, domestic violence, poverty, and ill health that plague these communities might be salved to some degree by active and vibrant churches. But as Vance notes, the attachment to church, like the attachment to work, is severely frayed. People say they are Christians. They even tell pollsters they attend church weekly. But “in the middle of the Bible belt, active church attendance is actually quite low.” After years of alcoholism, Vance’s biological father did join a serious church, and while Vance was skeptical about the church’s theology, he notes that membership did transform his father from a wastrel into a responsible father and husband to his new family. Teenaged Vance did a stint as a check-out clerk at a supermarket and kept his social-scientist eye peeled: I also learned how people gamed the welfare system. They’d buy two dozen packs of soda with food stamps and then sell them at a discount for cash. They’d ring up their orders separately, buying food with the food stamps, and beer, wine, and cigarettes with cash. They’d regularly go through the checkout line speaking on their cell phones. I could never understand why our lives felt like a struggle while those living off of government largesse enjoyed trinkets that I only dreamed about. . . . Perhaps if the schools were better, they would offer children from struggling families the leg up they so desperately need? Vance is unconvinced. The schools he attended were adequate, if not good, he recalls. But there were many times in his early life when his home was so chaotic — when he was kept awake all night by terrifying fights between his mother and her latest live-in boyfriend, for example — that he could not concentrate in school at all. For a while, he and his older sister lived by themselves while his mother underwent a stint in rehab. They concealed this embarrassing situation as best they could. But they were children. Alone. A teacher at his Ohio high school summed up the expectations imposed on teachers this way: “They want us to be shepherds to these kids. But no one wants to talk about the fact that many of them are raised by wolves.” Hillbilly Elegy is an honest look at the dysfunction that afflicts too many working-class Americans. But despite the foregoing, it isn’t an indictment. Vance loves his family and admires some of its strengths. Among these are fierce patriotism, loyalty, and toughness. But even regarding patriotism (his grandmother’s “two gods” were Jesus Christ and the United States of America), this former Marine strikes a melancholy note. His family and community have lost their heroes. We loved the military but had no George S. Patton figure in the modern army. . . . The space program, long a source of pride, had gone the way of the dodo, and with it the celebrity astronauts. Nothing united us with the core fabric of American society. Conspiracy theories abound in Appalachia. People do not believe anything the press reports: “We can’t trust the evening news. We can’t trust our politicians. Our universities, the gateway to a better life, are rigged against us. We can’t get jobs.” Conspiracy theories abound in Appalachia. Sound familiar? The white working class has followed the black underclass and Native Americans not just into family disintegration, addiction, and other pathologies, but also perhaps into the most important self-sabotage of all, the crippling delusion that they cannot improve their lot by their own effort. This is where the rise of Trump becomes both understandable and deeply destructive. He ratifies every conspiracy theory in circulation and adds news ones. He encourages the tribal grievances of the white working class and promises that salvation will come — not through their own agency and sensible government reforms — but only through his head-knocking leadership. He calls this greatness, but it’s the exact reverse. A great people does not turn to a strongman. The American character has been corrupted by multiple generations of government dependency and the loss of bourgeois virtues like self-control, delayed gratification, family stability, thrift, and industriousness. Vance has risen out of chaos to the heights of stability, success, and happiness. He is fundamentally optimistic about the chances for the nation to do the same. Whether his optimism is justified or not is unknowable, but his brilliant book is a signal flashing danger. Mona Charen
To further quell their culpability and show that the American Dream still functions as advertised, conservatives are fond of trotting out success stories — people who prove that pulling one’s self up by one’s bootstraps is still a possibility and, by extension, that those who don’t succeed must own their shortcomings. Lately, the right has found nobody more useful, both during the presidential election and after, than their modern-day Horatio Alger spokesperson, J. D. Vance, whose bestselling book “Hillbilly Elegy” chronicled his journey from Appalachia to the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, while championing the hard work necessary to overcome the pitfalls of poverty. Traditionally this would’ve been a Fox News kind of book — the network featured an excerpt on their site that focused on Vance’s introduction to “elite culture” during his time at Yale — but Vance’s glorified self-help tome was also forwarded by networks and pundits desperate to understand the Donald Trump phenomenon, and the author was essentially transformed into Privileged America’s Sherpa into the ravages of Post-Recession U.S.A. Trumpeted as a glimpse into an America elites have neglected for years, I first read “Hillbilly Elegy” with hope. I’d been told this might be the book that finally shed light on problems that’d been killing my family for generations. I’d watched my grandparents and parents, all of them factory workers, suffer backbreaking labor and then be virtually forgotten by the political establishment until the GOP needed their vote and stoked their social and racial anxieties to turn them into political pawns. In the beginning, I felt a kinship to Vance. His dysfunctional childhood looked a lot like my own. There was substance abuse. Knockdown, drag-out fights. A feeling that people just couldn’t get ahead no matter what they did. And then the narrative took a turn. Due to references he downplays, not to mention his middle-class grandmother’s shielding and encouragement, Vance was able to lift himself out of the despair of impoverishment and escaped to Yale and eventually Silicon Valley, where he was able to look back on his upbringing with a new perspective. (…) The thesis at the heart of “Hillbilly Elegy” is that anybody who isn’t able to escape the working class is essentially at fault. Sure, there’s a culture of fatalism and “learned helplessness,” but the onus falls on the individual. (…) Oh, the working class and their aversion to difficulty. If only they, like Vance, could take the challenge head on and rise above their circumstances. If only they, like Vance, weren’t so worried about material things like iPhones or the “giant TVs and iPads” the author says his people buy for themselves instead of saving for the future. This generalization is not the only problematic oversimplification in Vance’s book — he totally discounts the role racism played in the white working class’s opposition to President Obama and says, instead, it was because Obama dressed well, was a good father, and because Michelle Obama advocated eating healthy food — but it would be hard to understate what role Vance has played in reinvigorating the conservative bootstraps narrative for a new generation and, thus, emboldening Republican ideology. To Vance’s credit, he has been critical of Donald Trump, calling the working class’s support of the billionaire a result of a “false sense of purpose,” but Vance’s portrait of poor Americans is alarmingly in lockstep with the philosophy of Republicans who are shamefully using Trump’s presidency to forward their own agenda of economic warfare. (…) The message is loud and clear: Help is on the way, but only to those who “deserve” it. And how does one deserve it? By working hard. And the only metric to show that one has worked sufficiently hard enough is to look at their income, at how successful they are, because, in Vance’s and the Republican’s America, the only one to blame if you’re not wealthy is yourself. Never mind how legislation like this healthcare bill, cuts in education funding, continued decreases in after-school and school lunch programs, not to mention a lack of access to mental health care or career counseling, disadvantages the poor. Jared Yates Sexton (Assistant Professor of Creative Writing)
Hillbilly Elégie, qui vient de paraître aux éditions Globe traduit de l’anglais (américain) (…) est l’un des best-sellers de l’année aux Etats-Unis et son adaptation cinématographique est déjà en cours de tournage sous la direction de Ron Howard. Rien que ça ! Ensuite, c’est un livre hors du commun, qui a été salué avec un bel ensemble par la presse intellectuelle américaine, tant du côté conservateur que du côté libéral. On a beaucoup écrit qu’il constituait, en effet, l’une des clefs de cet événement tellement improbable : l’élection à la présidence des Etats-Unis « du Donald ». Ce n’est pourtant pas un essai politique. Il a été écrit avant que « le Donald » ne soit désigné comme candidat par les primaires républicaines. Et cependant, oui, il donne les clefs d’un facteur décisif ayant entraîné la victoire de Trump : le basculement de son côté de ces petits blancs, électeurs des Etats ravagés par le démantèlement des vieilles industries : Michigan, Pennsylvanie, Wisconsin, Ohio, ce qui reste de la Rust Belt, la ceinture de rouille. Rappelons que Trump a bénéficié massivement du « vote blanc ». Il est majoritaire dans cet électorat, même chez les femmes, alors qu’il affrontait, lui, le macho sans vergogne, la première candidate à la présidence de l’histoire des Etats-Unis. Mais ce qui est révélateur, c’est que Trump a obtenu ses meilleurs scores, chez les blancs qui n’ont pas fait d’études universitaires : 72 %, pour les hommes et 62 % chez les femmes. (…) Hillbilly Elégie est impressionnant parce que c’est un livre d’une rare honnêteté intellectuelle, alors qu’il est écrit depuis l’autre côté de la rive : son auteur, J.D. Vance s’est extrait de son milieu d’origine. Il a cessé d’être un hillbilly – autrement dit un crétin des collines, un plouc, un péquenaud – le vrai sens du mot hillbilly. Par un heureux concours de circonstances (son dressage chez les Marines) et grâce à une volonté de fer et une puissance de travail très américaines, il a intégré l’une des universités les plus prestigieuses du pays, Yale, et il est diplômé dans l’un des départements les plus prestigieux de cette université, son Ecole de droit. Né dans la classe ouvrière, il donc a rejoint les rangs de la grande bourgeoisie en devenant un avocat d’affaires renommé. (…) C’est un livre âpre, lucide, sans complaisance, écrit par un homme qui est, certes, passé de l’autre côté de la barrière des classes, mais qui garde une grande tendresse pour sa « communauté » d’origine. Et il se conclut par une série de recommandations sur la meilleure manière de remédier à la misère, tant matérielle que morale, où les siens se sont enfoncés. A travers son témoignage personnel, il nous livre une véritable enquête sur cette réalité sociale peu connue : le déclin de l’ancienne classe ouvrière blanche américaine. Son livre est d’un grand intérêt pour quiconque s’intéresse aux Etats-Unis ; mais il comporte aussi des leçons pour tous les pays anciennement industrialisés qui ont vu, comme le nôtre, fermer les usines et se désertifier certains territoires. Et d’abord son nom, Vance : il le porte par hasard. C’est celui de son géniteur, un chrétien évangéliste du Sud, alcoolique repenti, avec qui il n’a jamais eu le moindre contact avant son adolescence. Sa mère, en effet, est allée, durant toute sa vie d’homme en homme et de drogue en drogue. Comme beaucoup d’enfants de ce milieu, il a été traumatisé par la succession de ses « beaux-pères » de six mois ou d’un an. En quête d’un modèle masculin auquel s’identifier, il est passé de l’un à l’autre. Et l’instabilité à la fois géographique et affective de sa jeunesse en a fait un être angoissé. Première leçon de Hillbilly Elégie : être né dans une famille stable dont les membres adultes ne se hurlent pas après tous les soirs en se jetant à la figure tout ce qui leur tombe sous la main est un atout formidable pour réussir dans la vie…. La vraie famille de J.D., c’étaient ses grands-parents, d’authentiques hillbillies, eux, venus de leur Kentucky natal dans les années 1950 pour travailler dans l’Ohio voisin, où il y avait des mines et des aciéries. Mais Papaw et Mamaw (c’est comme ça qu’on dit Papy et Mamie chez les hillbillies) n’ont jamais oublié leur Kentucky natal, cette région des Appalaches connue pour la beauté de ses paysages… et l’arriération de ses habitants. Délivrance, le film de John Boorman, se passe, on s’en souvient, dans une région des Appalaches et donne de ses habitants une image assez peu flatteuse. Papaw et Mamaw, qui ne voyageaient jamais sans une arme à feu dans leur voiture, ont emporté dans leur Ohio d’adoption leur culture « hillbilly » des collines du Kentucky. Une culture que partageaient beaucoup de familles ouvrières originaires des Appalaches et qui imprègnent encore aujourd’hui les mentalités de leurs descendants. Papaw, ouvrier dans la grande aciérie locale et mécanicien apprécié, était un partisan du Parti démocrate, « le parti qui – je cite – défendait les travailleurs ». On était démocrate parce qu’on était ouvrier. Et c’est précisément cela qui a changé. Brice Couturier
En juin 2016, en pleine campagne présidentielle américaine, paraissait Hillbilly Elegy, un récit autobiographique signé d’un illustre inconnu. Il y racontait son enfance dans la « Rust Belt », cette large région industrielle du nord-est des Etats-Unis, touchée de plein fouet par les crises successives. Quelques semaines plus tard, un long entretien publié sur le site The American Conservative propulsait J.D. Vance au rang de phénomène : l’auteur y défendait la candidature de Trump, qui avait, selon lui, « le mérite d’essayer » de s’adresser aux Blancs les plus pauvres, d’en appeler à leur « fierté » et de vilipender cette « élite » honnie, incarnée par Barack Obama et par Hillary Clinton. Le discours frontal et brutal de la droite, la condescendance embarrassée de la gauche… Dans ce récit à la première personne, publié cette semaine en France (éditions Globe), l’écrivain pointait du doigt ce qui amènerait Donald Trump au pouvoir. (…) Hillbilly Elegy est une plongée dans ses racines, son enfance, son ascension sociale. Vance est né et a grandi entre le Kentucky et l’Ohio, dans cette région des Appalaches dont on entend régulièrement parler tantôt comme le siège de la pire épidémie d’addiction aux opiacés qu’ait connue le pays ces dernières années, tantôt comme cette zone dévastée par le chômage lié à la fermeture des mines de charbon. Vance, lui, s’en est tiré : après un passage dans les Marines, il a quitté son patelin pour partir étudier, d’abord à l’université d’Etat de l’Ohio, puis à la très réputée Yale, dans le Connecticut. A force de volonté, et avec le soutien d’une grand-mère exceptionnelle qui a pallié jusqu’à sa mort les manquements de ses parents (un père « qu’[il] connaissai [t] à peine » et une mère qu’il aurait « préféré ne pas connaître », écrit-il), Vance a réussi ce que peu parviennent à accomplir : il a changé de classe sociale. Il est, écrit-il, un « émigré culturel », qui affirme cependant être resté, au fond de lui, un « hillbilly », un Américain « qui [se] reconnaî [t] dans les millions de Blancs d’origine irlando-écossaise de la classe ouvrière américaine qui n’ont pas de diplôme universitaire ». Se réappropriant au passage ce terme popularisé pendant la grande dépression pour qualifier les migrants économiques venus de la campagne, et devenu depuis franchement péjoratif. Hillbilly Elegy se lit comme un document sur la pauvreté blanche en Amérique. Vance y décrit de l’intérieur une communauté qui vit d’aides alimentaires tout en se plaignant d’un Etat incompétent, passe « plus de temps à parler de travail qu’à travailler réellement », apprend à ses enfants « la valeur de la loyauté, de l’honneur, ainsi qu’à être dur au mal », mais persiste à confondre, chez ses petits, « intelligence et savoir », faisant passer pour idiots des gamins éduqués de manière inefficace. Parce qu’il parle des siens, le jeune homme dresse un constat très rude, dénonce la « fainéantise » de ses anciens semblables tout en appelant le monde politique à « juger moins et [à] comprendre plus ». En mars dernier, dans un éditorial du New York Times intitulé « Pourquoi je rentre chez moi », Vance annonçait sa décision de quitter la Californie pour retourner dans les Appalaches, où il a créé une association de lutte contre la conduite addictive aux opiacés et a participé, au cours des derniers mois, à de nombreux meetings du Parti républicain.M le magazine du Monde

Attention: une relégation sociale peut en cacher une autre ! (It’s the culture, stupid !)

« Amers, accros des armes et de la religion » (Obama), « pitoyables « Hillary Clinton), « sans-dents » (Hollande), « fainéants » (Macron) …

Quatre mois après l’élection volée que l’on sait …

Qui a vu suite à l’assassinat médiatico-politique du candidat de l’alternance …

Et au fourvoiement et auto-sabordement – jusqu’à en oublier son texte – de la candidate des victimes de l’immigration sauvage et de l’insécurité culturelle …

L’élection par défaut d’un candidat qui au-delà de sa réelle volonté de réformer une France jusqu’ici irréformable …

Ne prend même plus la peine, à l’instar de ses prédécesseurs américains ou français, de cacher son mépris pour les « gens qui ne sont rien » et autres « illettrés » ou « fainéants »  …

Et en ces temps où après la passion que l’on sait pour les immigrés et en gommant du coup toute la dimension délictuelle, nos belles âmes n’ont que le mot « migrant » à la bouche …

Comment ne pas voir …

Alors que sort la traduction française du livre de « l’auteur américain qui avait vu venir Trump » (Hillbilly elegy, J.D. Vance) …

Et après la revanche de ces véritables « immigrés de l’intérieur » …

Qui aux Etats-Unis ont largement contribué à la victoire de Trump

Celle qui pourrait bien venir

De tous ceux qui au-delà des cas extrêmes de familles déstructurées, de fatalisme social et d’addictions aux opiacés de la Rust belt américaine dont parle Vance …

Mais à l’instar des vraies victimes de la mondialisation de la « France périphérique » évoqués par le géographe Christophe Guilly …

Ne se résignent pas, face au rouleau compresseur de la prétendue « modernité » et du « progrès », à la disparition programmée de leur culture nationale ?

J.D. Vance, l’auteur américain qui avait vu venir Trump

Publié pendant la campagne présidentielle, « Hillbilly Elegy » est devenu un best-seller. J.D. Vance, 33 ans, y raconte cette Amérique blanche et pauvre dont il est issu. Et qui a porté Trump au pouvoir.

M le magazine du Monde

Clémentine Goldszal

04.09.2017

En juin 2016, en pleine campagne présidentielle américaine, paraissait Hillbilly Elegy, un récit autobiographique signé d’un illustre inconnu. Il y racontait son enfance dans la « Rust Belt », cette large région industrielle du nord-est des Etats-Unis, touchée de plein fouet par les crises successives. Quelques semaines plus tard, un long entretien publié sur le site The American Conservative propulsait J.D. Vance au rang de phénomène : l’auteur y défendait la candidature de Trump, qui avait, selon lui, « le mérite d’essayer » de s’adresser aux Blancs les plus pauvres, d’en appeler à leur « fierté » et de vilipender cette « élite » honnie, incarnée par Barack Obama et par Hillary Clinton.

Le discours frontal et brutal de la droite, la condescendance embarrassée de la gauche… Dans ce récit à la première personne, publié cette semaine en France (éditions Globe), l’écrivain pointait du doigt ce qui amènerait Donald Trump au pouvoir. En août 2016, Hillbilly Elegy entrait dans la liste des meilleures ventes du New York Times (il y figure encore aujourd’hui). Cinq mois plus tard, au lendemain de l’élection, les ventes faisaient un nouveau bond. Sous le choc, les progressistes américains cherchaient à comprendreceux qui avaient porté Trump au pouvoir : traditionnellement démocrates, les Etats de la Rust Belt avaient cette fois-ci largement soutenu le candidat républicain.

L’histoire d’une ascension sociale

J.D. Vance a 33 ans, le visage rond, la raie sur le côté, les yeux bleus. Il s’exprime bien, et son livre est remarquablement écrit. Pas de la grande littérature, mais un ton sans détour, qui lui permet d’exprimer avec une grande clarté sa pensée complexe. Il est marié – à une jeune femme rencontrée durant ses études de droit à Yale – et, à la sortie de son livre, vivait encore à San Francisco, où il gagnait très bien sa vie dans la finance.

Hillbilly Elegy est une plongée dans ses racines, son enfance, son ascension sociale. Vance est né et a grandi entre le Kentucky et l’Ohio, dans cette région des Appalaches dont on entend régulièrement parler tantôt comme le siège de la pire épidémie d’addiction aux opiacés qu’ait connue le pays ces dernières années, tantôt comme cette zone dévastée par le chômage lié à la fermeture des mines de charbon.

J.D. Vance parle de « la classe ouvrière américaine oubliée »

Vance, lui, s’en est tiré : après un passage dans les Marines, il a quitté son patelin pour partir étudier, d’abord à l’université d’Etat de l’Ohio, puis à la très réputée Yale, dans le Connecticut. A force de volonté, et avec le soutien d’une grand-mère exceptionnelle qui a pallié jusqu’à sa mort les manquements de ses parents (un père « qu’[il] connaissai [t] à peine » et une mère qu’il aurait « préféré ne pas connaître », écrit-il), Vance a réussi ce que peu parviennent à accomplir : il a changé de classe sociale.

Il est, écrit-il, un « émigré culturel », qui affirme cependant être resté, au fond de lui, un « hillbilly », un Américain « qui [se] reconnaî [t] dans les millions de Blancs d’origine irlando-écossaise de la classe ouvrière américaine qui n’ont pas de diplôme universitaire ». Se réappropriant au passage ce terme popularisé pendant la grande dépression pour qualifier les migrants économiques venus de la campagne, et devenu depuis franchement péjoratif.

Hillbilly Elegy se lit comme un document sur la pauvreté blanche en Amérique. Vance y décrit de l’intérieur une communauté qui vit d’aides alimentaires tout en se plaignant d’un Etat incompétent, passe « plus de temps à parler de travail qu’à travailler réellement », apprend à ses enfants « la valeur de la loyauté, de l’honneur, ainsi qu’à être dur au mal », mais persiste à confondre, chez ses petits, « intelligence et savoir », faisant passer pour idiots des gamins éduqués de manière inefficace. Parce qu’il parle des siens, le jeune homme dresse un constat très rude, dénonce la « fainéantise » de ses anciens semblables tout en appelant le monde politique à « juger moins et [à] comprendre plus ».

Une parole conservatrice audible

En mars dernier, dans un éditorial du New York Times intitulé « Pourquoi je rentre chez moi », Vance annonçait sa décision de quitter la Californie pour retourner dans les Appalaches, où il a créé une association de lutte contre la conduite addictive aux opiacés et a participé, au cours des derniers mois, à de nombreux meetings du Parti républicain.

Depuis le printemps, les ténors du parti ont d’ailleurs multiplié les appels du pied pour le convaincre de se présenter aux élections sénatoriales, qui se tiendront en novembre. Son nom est devenu familier des lecteurs de la presse quotidienne, son visage apparaît souvent à la télévision (il est devenu éditorialiste pour CNN, en janvier, et signe régulièrement dans les colonnes du New York Times). Plus d’un million d’exemplaires de son livre ont déjà été écoulés, et les droits ont été vendus à plus d’une dizaine de pays.

Les médias semblent avoir trouvé en J.D. Vance une parole conservatrice audible, reçue comme l’émanation articulée de la rage confusément exprimée par les Blancs les plus pauvres d’Amérique. En mai dernier, Bill Gates recommandait même sur son blog la lecture d’Hillbilly Elegy, affirmant y avoir trouvé « des informations nouvelles sur les facteurs culturels et familiaux qui contribuent à la pauvreté ».

 Voir aussi:

La grande colère des petits Blancs américains

Brice Coutourier
France Culture
15/09/2017

Voir de même:

Why I’m Moving Home

COLUMBUS, Ohio — In recent months, I’ve frequently found myself in places hit hard by manufacturing job losses, speaking to people affected in various ways. 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.

It’s a conflict I know well: I left my home state, Ohio, for the Marine Corps when I was 19. And while I’ve returned home for months or even years at a time, job opportunities often pull me away.

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.

But from the community’s perspective, mobility can be a problem. 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. This is the classic “brain drain” problem: Those who are able to leave very often do.

The brain drain also encourages a uniquely modern form of cultural detachment. Eventually, the young people who’ve moved out marry — typically to partners with similar economic prospects. They raise children in increasingly segregated neighborhoods, giving rise to something the conservative scholar Charles Murray calls “super ZIPs.” These super ZIPs are veritable bastions of opportunity and optimism, places where divorce and joblessness are rare.

As one of my college professors recently told me about higher education, “The sociological role we play is to suck talent out of small towns and redistribute it to big cities.” There have always been regional and class inequalities in our society, but the data tells us that we’re living through a unique period of segregation.

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. This polarization reflects itself not just in our voting patterns, but also in our political culture: Not long before the election, a friend forwarded me a conspiracy theory about Bill and Hillary Clinton’s involvement in a pedophilia ring and asked me whether it was true.

It’s easy to dismiss these questions as the ramblings of “fake news” consumers. 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. And when we’re surrounded by polarized, ideologically homogeneous crowds, whether online or off, it becomes easier to believe bizarre things about them. This problem runs in both directions: I’ve heard ugly words uttered about “flyover country” and some of its inhabitants from well-educated, generally well-meaning people.

I’ve long worried whether I’ve become a part of this problem. For two years, I’d lived in Silicon Valley, surrounded by other highly educated transplants with seemingly perfect lives. It’s jarring to live in a world where every person feels his life will only get better when you came from a world where many rightfully believe that things have become worse. And I’ve suspected that this optimism blinds many in Silicon Valley to the real struggles in other parts of the country. So I decided to move home, to Ohio.

It wasn’t an easy choice. 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.

But there were practical reasons to move: I’m founding an organization to combat Ohio’s opioid epidemic. We chose Columbus because I travel a lot, and I need to be centrally located in the state and close to an airport. And the truth is that not every motivation is rational: Part of me loves Ohio simply because it’s home.

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. Middletown is in some ways a classic Midwestern city: Once thriving, it was hit hard by the decline of the region’s manufacturing base in recent decades. But the town is showing early signs of revitalization, thanks in part to the efforts of those like Ami.

Talking with Ami, I realized that we often frame civic responsibility in terms of government taxes and transfer payments, so that our society’s least fortunate families are able to provide basic necessities. 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. Many people should leave struggling places in search of economic opportunity, and many of them won’t be able to return. 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.

 Voir encore:

Hillbilly America: Do White Lives Matter?

Yesterday I read J.D. Vance’s new book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture In Crisis. Well, “read” is not quite the word. I devoured the thing in a single gulp. If you want to understand America in 2016, 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. He’s a hillbilly, in other words, and is not ashamed of the term. 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. I’m still trying to process this extraordinary book.

Vance’s people come from Kentucky and southern Ohio, a deeply depressed region filled with hard-bitten but proud Scots-Irish folks. He begins by talking about how, as a young man, he got a job working in a warehouse, doing hard work for extra money. He writes about how even though the work was physically demanding, the pay wasn’t bad, and it came with benefits. 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. It’s about reacting to bad circumstances in the worst way possible. It’s about a culture that increasingly encourages social decay instead of counteracting it. The problems that I saw at the tile warehouse run far deeper than macroeconomic trends and policy. too many young men immune to hard work. Good jobs impossible to fill for any length of time. And a young man [one of Vance’s co-workers] with every reason to work — a wife-to-be to support and a baby on the way — carelessly tossing aside a good job with excellent health insurance. 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. He writes that “hillbillies learn from an early age to deal with uncomfortable truths by avoiding them, or by pretending better truths exist. This tendency might make for psychological resilience, but it also makes it hard for Appalachians to look at themselves honestly.”

This was one of many points at which Vance’s experience converged somewhat with mine. 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. That’s not a characteristic Scots-Irish people hold dear.

Vance talks about the hillbilly habit of stigmatizing people who leave the hollers as “too big for your britches” — meaning that you got above yourself. It doesn’t matter that they may have left to find work, and that they’re living a fairly poor life not too far away, in Ohio. The point is, they left, and that is a hard sin to forgive. What, we weren’t good enough for you?

This is the white-people version of “acting white,” if you follow me: the same stigma and shame that poor black people deploy against other poor black people who want to better themselves with education and so on.

The most important figure in Vance’s life is his Mamaw (pron. “MAM-maw”), Bonnie Vance, a kind of hillbilly Catherine the Great. 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. And she saved Vance’s life.

Vance plainly loves his people, and because he loves them, he tells hard truths about them. He talks about how cultural fatalism destroys initiative. When hillbillies run up against adversity, they tend to assume that they can’t do anything about it. To the hillbilly mind, people who “make it” are either born to wealth, or were born with uncanny talent, winning the genetic lottery. The connection between self-discipline and hard work, and success, is invisible to them. Vance:

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 has half-siblings by his mom’s different husbands (she has had five to date). In his generation, Vance says, grandparents are often having to raise their grandchildren, because those grandparents, however impoverished and messy their own lives may be, offer a more stable alternative than the incredible instability of the kids’ parents (or more likely, parent).

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. Here’s Vance on models of manhood:

I learned little else about what masculinity required of me other than drinking beer and screaming at a woman when she screamed at you. In the end, the only lesson that took was that you can’t depend on people. “I learned that men will disappear at the drop of a hat,” Lindsay [his half-sister] once said. “They don’t care about their kids; they don’t provide; they just disappear, and it’s not that hard to make them go.”

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.

I could not do justice here to describe the violence, emotional and physical, that characterizes everyday life in Vance’s childhood culture, and the instability in people’s outer lives and inner lives. 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. You can’t imagine that life could be any different.

Religion among the hillbillies is not much help. Vance says that hillbillies love to talk about Jesus, but they don’t go to church, and Christianity doesn’t seem to have much effect at all on their behavior. Vance’s biological father is an exception. 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. Vance:

Dad’s church offered something desperately needed by people like me. For alcoholics, it gave them a community of support and a sense that they weren’t fighting addiction alone. 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.

Vance says the best thing about life in his dad’s house was how boring it was. 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. God seems to exist only as a guarantor of ultimate order, and ultimate justice; Jesus is there to assuage one’s pain. 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.

About Vance’s father’s fundamentalism, I got more details about what this blog’s reader Turmarion, who lives in Appalachia, keeps telling me about that region’s fundamentalism. 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. “[T]he deeper I immersed myself in evangelical theology, the more I felt compelled to mistrust many sectors of society. 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. I believe that some Christians coming out of fundamentalism may react so strongly against their miserable, unhappy background that they don’t appreciate the extent to which there really are people and forces out to “get” them. When you have lived almost all your Christian life among highly assimilated Christians who generally don’t pay attention to these things, their complacency can drive you crazy. 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. “As a teacher at my old high school told me recently, ‘They want us to be shepherds to these kids. But no one wants to talk about the fact that many of them are raised by wolves.”

He continues:

Why didn’t our neighbor leave that abusive man? Why did she spend her money on drugs? Why couldn’t she see that her behavior was destroying her daughter? 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. The top floor of her home and many of her family’s possessions were ruined. This is the reality of our community. It’s about a naked druggie destroying what little of value exists in her life. It’s about children who lose their toys and clothes to a mother’s addiction.

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. We purchase homes we don’t need, refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy, often leaving them full of garbage in our wake. Thrift is inimical to our being. We spend to pretend that we’re upper class. And when the dust clears — when bankruptcy hits or a family member bails us out of our stupidity — there’s nothing left over. Nothing for the kids’ college tuition, no investment to grow our wealth, no rainy-day fund if someone loses her job. We know we shouldn’t spend like this. Sometimes we beat ourselves up over it, but we do it anyway.

More:

Our homes are a chaotic mess. We scream and yell at each other like we’re spectators at a football game. At least one member of the family uses drugs — sometimes the father, sometimes both. At especially stressful times, we’ll hit and punch each other, all in front of the rest of the family, including young children; much of the time, the neighbors hear what’s happening. 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. The kids believe we’re really sorry, and we are. 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. Unfortunately, most of the people in Vance’s neighborhood were like his mom: “consumerist, isolated, angry, distrustful.”

As I said earlier, the two things that saved Vance were going to live full time with his Mamaw (therefore getting out of the insanity of his mom’s home), and later, going into the US Marine Corps. I’ve already written at too much length about Vance’s story, so I won’t belabor this much longer. Suffice it to say that as imperfect as she was, Mamaw gave young Vance the stability he needed to start succeeding in school. And she wouldn’t let him slack off on his studies. She taught him the value of hard work, and of moral agency.

The Marine Corps remade J.D. Vance. 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. Hard work, self-respect, and self-discipline were at the core of my dad’s ethic, for sure. There was no more despicable person in my dad’s way of seeing the world than the sumbitch who won’t work. I doubt that I’ve ever known a man more willing to do hard physical labor than my father was. 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. They don’t trust anybody, and are willing to believe outlandish conspiracy theories, particularly if those theories absolve them from responsibility.

I once ran into an old acquaintance at a Middletown bar who told me that he had recently quit his job because he was sick of waking up early I later saw him complaining on Facebook about the “Obama economy” and how it had affected his life. I don’t doubt that the Obama economy has affected many, but this man is assuredly not among them. His status in life is directly attributable to the choices he’s made, and his life will improve only through better decisions. 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. Here’s a guy who will believe and say anything, and who blames Mexicans, Chinese, and Muslims for America’s problems. The elites hate him, so he’s made the right enemies, as far as the white working class is concerned. And his “Make America Great Again” slogan speaks to the deep patriotism that Vance says is virtually a religion among hillbillies.

Trump doesn’t come up in Vance’s narrative, but in truth, he’s all over it. Vance is telling his personal story, not analyzing US politics and culture broadly. It’s also true, however, that the GOP elites set themselves up for their current disaster, by listening to theories that absolved themselves of any responsibility for problems in this country from immigration and free trade (Trump is not all wrong about this).

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:

The wealthy and the powerful aren’t just wealthy and powerful; they follow a different set of norms and mores. … It was at this meal, on the first of five grueling days of [law school job] interviews, that I began to understand that I was seeing the inner workings of a system that lay hidden to most of my kind. … That week of interviews showed me that successful people are playing an entirely different game.

What he’s talking about is social capital, and how critically important it is to success. Poor white kids don’t have it (neither do poor black or Hispanic kids). You’re never going to teach a kid from the trailer park or the housing project the secrets of the upper middle class, but you can give them what kids like me had: a basic understanding of work, discipline, confidence, good manners, and an eagerness to learn. A big part of the problem for his people, says Vance, is the shocking degree of family instability among the American poor. “Chaos begets chaos. 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. For example, as a child, his culture taught him that doing well in school made you a “sissy.” Vance says the home is the source of the worst of these problems. 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. … But are we tough enough to do what needs to be done to help a kid like Brian? 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. 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. It’s not that the problems Trump points to aren’t real, and it’s not that police brutality, especially towards minorities, isn’t a problem. It’s that these serve as distractions from the core realities that keep poor white and black people down. 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.D. Vance? 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?

Vance’s book sends me back to Kevin D. Williamson’s stunning National Review piece on “The White Ghetto” — Appalachia, he means. This is the world J.D. Vance came out of, though he saw more good in it that Williams does in his journalistic tour. It also brings to mind Williamson’s highly controversial piece earlier this year (behind subscription paywall; David French excerpts the hottest part here) in which he said:

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. It hasn’t. The white middle class may like the idea of Trump as a giant pulsing humanoid middle finger held up in the face of the Cathedral, they may sing hymns to Trump the destroyer and whisper darkly about “globalists” and — odious, stupid term — “the Establishment,” but nobody did this to them. 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. It wasn’t Beijing. It wasn’t even Washington, as bad as Washington can be. It wasn’t immigrants from Mexico, excessive and problematic as our current immigration levels are. It wasn’t any of that. Nothing happened to them. There wasn’t some awful disaster. There wasn’t a war or a famine or a plague or a foreign occupation. 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. So the gypsum business in Garbutt ain’t what it used to be. 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. Donald Trump’s speeches make them feel good. So does OxyContin. What they need isn’t analgesics, literal or political. 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. I still wouldn’t have put it the way he did, but reading Vance gives me reason to reconsider my earlier judgment. 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. If white lives matter — and they do, because all lives matter — then sentimentality and more government programs aren’t going to rescue these poor people. Vance puts it more delicately than Williamson, but getting a U-Haul and getting away from other poor people — or at least finding some way to get their kids out of there, to a place where people aren’t so fatalistic, lazy, and paranoid — is their best hope. And that is surely true no matter what your race.

The book is called Hillbilly Elegy, and I can’t recommend it to you strongly enough. It offers no easy answers. But it does tell the truth. I thank reader Surly Temple for giving it to me.

UPDATE: Hello Browser readers. 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.D. Vance about the book. I posted it last Friday, and it has gone viral. This past weekend was a record-setting one for TAC; Vance’s interview was so popular it crashed our server. Take a look at the piece and you’ll understand why. This extraordinary young writer is tapping into something very, very deep in American life right now. I’ve been getting plenty of e-mails from liberals saying how much they appreciated the piece, because Vance tells difficult truths that both liberals and conservatives need to hear.

Voir aussi:

Why Liberals Love ‘Hillbilly Elegy’

My friend Matt Sitman tweets:

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.D. Vance did with me deeply resonated with them, and inspired them to buy the book. (By the way, that interview was published two weeks ago today, and it’s still drawing so much web traffic to this site that our servers are struggling to handle it.) I’ll give you a sample below of the kind of correspondence I’m getting (with a couple of tweaks to protect privacy). There’s lots of it just like these below:

Mr. Dreher, this article was fantastic.

I grew up in rural Alabama, proudly declared myself “politically somewhere to the right of Attila the Hun”, and enlisted when I was 17. I had a difficult time getting out at 23 years old, several states away from my family, with a grownup’s bills to pay but an MOS that didn’t match the career I was suited for or needed as a civilian. I spent the next several years desperately poor but “self-sufficient” – as far as I knew, anyway.

In reality, of course, I had zero understanding of how taxes work. I saw about a 28% bite taken out of my paycheck, and didn’t understand that FICA/SS didn’t ultimately go to anybody but me, myself, and I, and that I wasn’t actually paying any income tax. I also had heard of but didn’t really understand or care about things like “every federal tax dollar that leaves SC has three federal tax dollars pass by it coming in.”

Truth be told, I wasn’t just unaware, I actively disbelieved that I wasn’t “self sufficient” at all, and I naively thought that I was paying for the “welfare” that the tiny, tiny portion of the population “poorer than me” was getting. I was also completely unaware that I was “desperately poor” at all. I was making $6/hr and I thought I was middle class! I knew people who made $10/hr, and I thought they were on the low end of upper class!
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. I am not, today, someone who would normally read articles from a site called “American Conservative”.

But I read yours, and I’m glad I did. What you and J.D. Vance had to say in that article are exactly what I want to hear from the conservative wing of American politics. Speaking candidly, I’m unlikely to be a “conservative” again – I’m a progressive, and likely to stay that way. But what you and Vance said was thoughtful, and reasonable, and – like I try to very publicly be myself, having “been there and done that” – understanding of the realities of the working poor. It’s the real and sensible ballast that even the best of real and sensible balloons (if you’ll permit the analogy between conservative and progressive, and we can both agree to handwave away the fact that the current DNC is neither as real or as sensible as it should be) needs.

That’s probably way too much to slog through, but seriously: thank you.

Another one:

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 am certainly going to read Hillbilly Elegy and look forward to reading more of your articles, By the way I am black, liberal, I most often vote Democrat and I don’t like Trump (for Reasons too high in number to state). 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.

Thank you for a refreshing read in a sea partisan sludge.

Another one, this from a reader who mistakenly believed that J.D. Vance’s experiences were mine. Still, his letter is fascinating:

I wandered in on this article today… and couldn’t stop reading. I’m Californian, a progressive and a Sanders supporter, a former Nader supporter, a former UAW organizer, currently a medical
devices engineer in [state], and have a Ph.D. in engineering. 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’m sorry to hear about your experiences at Yale Law. And I’m glad that I didn’t go to a private school, or a school in the East Coast. After moving to [my current state] 3 years ago I’ve found that liberals “out east” (east of the Sierra Nevadas) seem to come from privilege, are more dogmatic, disconnected from the working class, and can be super competitive and vindictive. 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. It wasn’t until friends from high school began shipping back from Desert Storm all crazy and screwed up that I found common cause with these 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’ve read “Rivethead” and “Deer Hunting with Jesus” and felt this familiarity. I will look for your book.

And here’s another one:

I just wanted to write and tell you that I was fascinated by your interview with the author JD Vance, and I speak as a socialist, agnostic, gay white male who’s never voted Republican in all his years! As a lifelong resident of the suburbs of Houston, Texas, it’s long occurred to me how insulated I am from the struggles of poor and working-class folks today; however my family started out poor, with my parents divorcing when I was six. Luckily our mother was strong enough to help us make it out of the hole by excelling in her profession as a nurse. I remember her telling me that in the days when my sister and I were very young, for Christmas she’d spend $20 on each of us at the dollar store, and she always hoped that we enjoyed our presents. That made me love my mom so much more, and I realized how lucky we’d been to have her, given how things might have turned out. 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)! I would like to feel as hopeful for the future as Mr Vance seems to, but I’m afraid that until November (though hopefully not after!) I’ll be suffering a case of non-stop indigestion. Maybe we could all use a touch of that hillbilly idealism in our lives.

Anyway, that’s enough rambling out of me. Cheers for an excellent interview, and congratulations for gaining a new reader of the blue persuasion!

I could go on and on. I’m getting so many e-mails like these above that I can’t begin to respond to them all. I’m passing every one of them on to J.D. Vance, though. Interestingly, if I’ve received a single e-mail from a conservative about the interview, I can’t remember it.

I’m genuinely surprised and grateful for all these generous e-mails, and I’m sure J.D. is too. 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. And I’ve gotten plenty of e-mails from liberals who either come from poverty or who work with poor people for a living, who praise JDV’s points about the poor needing to understand that whatever structural problems they face, they retain moral agency.

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? To be sure, I’ve received a handful of letters from angry liberal readers who reject the idea that there’s anything wrong with poor and working class white people that government action can’t solve. I believe, and so does J.D., that government really does have a meaningful role to play in ameliorating the problems of the poor. 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. The solution, insofar as there is a “solution,” is not an either-or (that is, either culture or government), but a both-and. 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 60-pound pallets around. It paid $13 an hour with good benefits and opportunities for advancement. A full-time employee could earn a salary well above the poverty line.

That should have made the gig an easy sell. Yet the factory’s owner had trouble filling jobs. During Vance’s summer stint, three people left, including a man he calls Bob, a 19-year-old with a pregnant girlfriend. Bob was chronically late to work, when he showed up at all. He frequently took 45-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.

“He thought something had been done to him,” Vance writes. “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.”

Perhaps Vance’s key to success is a simple one: that he just powered through his difficulties instead of giving up or blaming someone else.

“I believe we hillbillies are the toughest god—-ed people on this earth,” he concludes. “But 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. . . . I don’t know what the answer is precisely, but I know it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.”

The loss of industrial jobs plays a big role in the catastrophe. J.D. Vance acknowledges that plainly in his book. But it’s not the whole story. Anybody who comes to Hillbilly Elegy thinking that it’s going to tell a story that affirms the pre-conceived beliefs of mainstream conservatives or liberals is going to be surprised and challenged — in a good way.

By the way, the viral nature of the TAC interview with J.D. Vance has pushed Hillbilly Elegy onto the bestseller list (more details of which will be available shortly). It’s No. 4 on Amazon’s own list as of this morning. 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.

UPDATE: A reader writes to point out:

The Washington Post review you quote states, Perhaps Vance’s key to success is a simple one: that he just powered through his difficulties instead of giving up or blaming someone else.” I think that misses the point of the book. J.D. fully acknowledges the importance of his Mamaw, Marine Corps drill instructors, and wife in changing his outcomes.

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’s right about that, and I shouldn’t have posted that WaPo review without commenting. JDV openly credits his Mamaw and the Marine Corps with making him the man he is today. He does not claim he got there entirely on his own, by bootstrapping it.

Voir également:

RACE, CLASS, AND CULTURE: A CONVERSATION WITH WILLIAM JULIUS WILSON AND J.D. VANCE
THE BROOKINGS INSTITUTION
Washington, D.C.
Tuesday, September 5, 2017

MS. BUSETTE: Thanks Richard. I’m indebted to Richard who had the foresight to invite Bill and J.D. for this conversation well before I arrived at Brookings (…) Today we’re going to be covering some very timely and sensitive topics. Topics that explore who we are as Americans and why we are still struggling with entrenched poverty increasing in equality and the tragic waste of significant human potential; some 30 years after Bill Wilson first published his watershed book, “ The Truly Disadvantaged. ” As we begin this conversation, I want our audience to understand the personal experiences you both bring to your perspectives on poor Americans. Bill and J.D., I’d like each of you to share with us a personal experience from your childhood that had a profound impact on you and your perspectives on poverty, and Bill I’m going to ask you to go first.

MR. WILSON: Thank you. So, in answer to that challenging question, I should point out first of all that “ Hillbilly Elegy ” is a very important book and it also resonated with me in a very personal way because I also experienced the problems of rural poverty. 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. You know, I reviewed a book in the New York Times, Kathy Edin and Luke Shaefer’s book, “ Two Dollars a Day, Living on Almost Nothing in America. ” That book really captured my experiences, and I distinctly remember the times when we went hungry because my mother did not have any money and it was during the winter time and sometimes she had to use her own creativity in coming up with food because she couldn’t draw from the garden.

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.D. I’m an outlier. An outlier in — Malcolm Gladwell says in his book “ Outlier, The Study of Success. ” We are both outliers; but it’s interesting that J.D. never talks about holding himself up by his own bootstraps, and that’s something that I reject. I don’t refer to myself that way, because both J.D. and I, were in the right places at the right times, and we had significant individuals who were there to rescue us from poverty and enabled us to escape. We are the outliers being at the right place at the right time, and when I think about your question, that’s one thing I think about; how lucky I was. I had some significant individuals who helped me escape poverty.

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you Bill. J.D.?

MR. VANCE: Well first, thanks Camille, thanks Richard for hosting this. It’s really wonderful to be here and I’m a bit of a fan boy of William Julius Wilson as I wrote Hillbilly Elegy, so it was real exciting to be able to get him to sign this book. I think that the story that stands out to me is, and there’s a bit of a background here which is that you know, I was six or seven years old, and I remember my mom who was trying to get some sort of certification to become a nurse; and eventually after a couple of years, I remember being old enough that she sort of had to test how to draw blood on me, and that was sort of something I volunteered for because I thought it was really cool, because I was a weird kid; and I remember that eventually she made it and she was able to work as a nurse for a couple of years, and this just so happened to overlap with a period w here she was married to a truck driver. A guy who hadn’t graduated from high school, but was able to drive a truck and so you think about those two incomes together, there was this period where I felt like we had genuinely made it where we had this financial stability that was pretty remarkable given the history of my family. 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. I think you know, one of the things that taught me, and one of the ways I think it influenced the way that I think about poverty and inequality and upward mobility, is that the problems that a lot of poor families face aren’t purely income related. That some of the lessons that you learn, some of the things that you acquire when you are really struggling, they follow you even when you’re not struggling in a purely material sense. 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.

MS. BUSETTE: Great, thank you very much. Thank you both very much. You know I want to talk a little bit about the place of poverty in the American narrative. And that narrative is complicated. In a recent survey conducted by The American Enterprise Institute and the Los Angeles Times, white Americans linked poverty with laziness and lack of ambition, and when we think of the welfare reform debates from the 1990’s, there were ungenerous terms used to describe the poor. The National Opinion Research Center also released a survey that shows that over the last two d ecades, there has never been such a bigger divide between white Republicans and white Democrats when it comes to the views of the intelligence and work ethic of African Americans. More generally, Americans think of poverty as an individual failure, and i ts opposite financial success is the result of hard work and smarts. I want each of you to reflect on these narratives of poverty and give us your perspective. Bill, I’m going to start with you.

MR. WILSON: Okay, that’s a very challenging question and I ‘m going to try to answer it by also pointing out some differences that I have with J.D. It’s really kind of a matter of emphasis. Not that we differ, it’s just a matter of emphasis. First of all, we both agree that too many liberal social scientists focus on social structure and ignore cultural conditions. You know, they talk about poverty, joblessness and discrimination, but they also don’t talk about some of the cultural conditions, that grow out of these situations, in response to these situations. Too many conservatives focus on cultural forces and ignore structural factors. Now J.D. has made the same point in “ Hillbilly Elegy ” and you also have made the same point in some subsequent interviews talking about the book. Now where we disagree and this relates back to your question, Camille, is in the interpretation of these cultural factors. J.D. places a lot of emphasis on agency. That people even in the most impoverished circumstances have choices that can either improve or exacerbate their situation, their predicaments. And I also think that a gency is important and should not be ignored, even in situations where individuals confront overwhelming structural impediments. But what J.D., and I’d like to hear your response to this J.D., wha t you don’t make explicit or emphasize enough from my point of view, is that agency is also constrained by these structural factors, even among people who you know, make positive choices to improve their lives, there are still constraints and I maintain th at the part of your book where you talking about agency, really cries out for a deeper interrogation. A deeper interrogation of how personal a gency is expanded or inhibited by the circumstance that the poor or working classes confront, including you know, their interactions and families, social networks , and institutions, in these distressed communities. In other words, what I’m trying to suggest is that personal agency is recursively associated with the structural forces within which it operates. And here you know, it’s sort of insightful to talk about intermediaries and insightful to talk about people who aid, who help you in making choices, and you do that well in the book. But here’s the point, given the American belief system on poverty and welfare in which Americans as you point out Camille, place far greater emphasis on personal shortcomings as opposed to structural barriers and especially when you’re talking about the behavior of African Americans. I believe that explanations that focus — don’t get me wrong, you don’t even talk about African Americans in the sense, I’m talking about people out there in the general public. Given this focus on personal shortcomings as opposed to structural barriers in a common for outcomes, I believe that explanations that focus on agency are likely to overshadow explanations that focus on structural impediments. Some people read a book, but they’re not that sophisticated, the take away will be those personal factors and you know, I would have liked to have seen you sort of try to put things in context you know. Talk about the constraints that people have. Now this relates to the second point I want to make. In addition, to feeling that they have little control over themselves, that is lack of agency. You point out that the individuals in these hillbilly communities tend to blame themselves — I’m sorry, blame everyone but themselves, and the term you used to explain this phenomenon is cognitive dissonance, when our beliefs are not consistent with our behaviors. And I agree, and many people often do tend to blame others and not themselves, but I think that when we talk about cognitive dissonance, we also have to recognize that individuals in these communities do indeed have some complaints, some justifiable complaints, including complaints about industries that have pulled off stakes and relocated to cheaper labor areas overseas and in the process, have devastated communities like Middletown, Ohio. Including complaints about automation replacing the jobs of cashiers and parking lot attendants. Including the complaints that government and corporate actions have undermined unions and therefore led to a decrease in the wages or workers in Middletown. You know, I just , I’m sorry, I’m going on too far, I’ll let you respond.

MS. BUSETTE: That was interesting. Now, here’s your chance.

MR. VANCE: Sure. So, I’ll make two broad points. One hopefully more responsive to your initial question, second more responsive to Bill’s concerns. So, first this point about culture, which is a really, really, difficult and amorphous concept to define, and one of the things that I was trying to do with “ Hillbilly Elegy ” is try to in some ways draw the discussion away from this structure versus personal responsibility narrative and convince us to look at culture as a third and I think very important variable. I often think that the way that conservatives, and I’m a conservative, talk about culture is in some ways an excuse to end the conversation instead of starti ng a much more important conversation. It’s look at their bad culture, look at their deficient culture, we can’t do anything to help them; instead of trying to understand culture as this much bigger social and institutional force that really is important that some cases can come from problems related to poverty and some cases can come from a host of different factors that are difficult to understand. So, here’s what I mean by that. One of the most important I think cultural problems that I talk about is the prevalence of family and stability and family trauma in some of the communities that I write about; and I take it as a given that that trauma and that instability is really bad, that it has really negative downstream effects on whether children are able to get an education, whether their able to enter the workforce, whether their able to raise and maintain successful families themselves. I think it’s tempting to sort of look at the problems of family instability and families like mine and say the re’s a structural problem if only people had access to better economic opportunities, they wouldn’t have this problem. I think that’s partially true, but also consequently partially false. I think there’s a tendency on the right to look at that and say these parents need to take better care of their families and of their children, and unless they do it, there’s nothing that we can do. And I think again, that is maybe partially true, but it’s also very significantly false. What I’m trying to point to in this concept of culture, is we know that when children grow up in very unstable families that it has important cognitive effects, we know that it has important psychological effects, and unless we understand the problem of family instability and trauma, not just as a structural problem, or problem with personal responsibility, but as a long – term problem, in some cases inherited from multiple generations back, then we’re not going to be able to appreciate what’s really going on in some of these families a nd why family instability and trauma is so durable and so difficult to actually solve. So, I tend to think of culture as in some ways, this way to sum all of the things that are neither structural nor individual. What is it that’s going on in people’s environments good and bad that make it difficult for them to climb out of poverty. What are the things that they inherit. It’s not just from their own families, but from multiple generations back. Behaviors, expectations, environmental attitudes that mak e is really hard for them to succeed and do well. That’s the concept of culture that I think is most important, and also frankly that I think is missing a little bit from our political conversation when we talk about these questions of poverty, we’re real ly comfortable talking about personal responsibility, we’re really comfortable talking about structural problems. We don’t often talk about culture in this way that I’m trying to talk about it, in “ Hillbilly Elegy. ”

MR. WILSON: Can I just —

MR. VANCE : Sure.

MR. WILSON: No, go ahead J.D.

MR. VANCE: (laughing)

MR. WILSON: No, no, I agree. It’s a matter of emphasis, that’s all I’m saying.

MR. VANCE: So this, yeah.

MR. WILSON: And let me also point out, here’s where we really do agree. We both agree that there are cultural practices within families and so on and in communities that reinforce problems created by the structural barriers.

MR. VANCE: Absolutely.

MR. WILSON: Reinforce. Practiced behaviors that perpetuate poverty and disadvantage. So, this we agree. Too often liberals ignore the role of these cultural forces in perpetuating or reinforcing conditions associated with poverty or concentrated (inaudible).

MS. BUSETTE: So —

MR. VANCE: Absolutely. So, the second point that I wanted to make, and I’ll try to be brief is this question of Agency and whether I overemphasize the role of Agency. I think that for me, this is a really tough line to tow because I’m sort of writing about these problems you know, having in my personal memory, I’m not that far removed from a lot of them. I know that myself, one of the biggest problems that I faced was that I really did start to give up on myself early in high school, and I think that’s a really significant problem. At the same time, I understand and recognize the problem that Bill mentions which is that we have this tendency to sort of overemphasize Personal Agency and to proverbially blame the victim for a lot of these problems. So, what I was trying to do with this discussion of Personal Agency in the book, and I may have failed, but this is the effort, this is what I’m really trying to accomplish. Is that the first instance, I do think that it’s important for kids like me in circumstances like mine, to pick up the book and to have at least some reinforcement of the Agency that they have. I do think that’s a significant problem from the prospective of kids who grew up in communities like mine. The second thing that I’m trying to do, is talk about Personal Agency, not jus t from the prospective of individual poor people, but from the entire community that surrounds them. So, one of the things that I talk about is as religious communities in these areas, do they have the, as I say in the book, toughness to build Churches that encourage more social engagement as opposed to more social disaffection. I think that’s a question of Personal Agency, not from the perspective of the impoverished kid, but from a religious leader and community leaders that exist in their neighborho od. So, I think that sense of Personal Agency is really important. One of the worries that I have, is that when we talk about the problems of impoverished kids and this is especially true amongst sort of my generation, so this is — I’m a tail end of t he millennials here, is that we tend to think about helping people, 10 million people at a time a very superficial level, and one of the calls to action that I make in the book with this — by pointing out to Personal Agency is the idea that it can be real ly impactful to make a difference in 10 lives at a very deep level at the community level. And I think that sometimes is missing from these conversations. And then, the final point that I’ll make is that there’s a difference between recognizing the impo rtance of Personal Agency and I think ignoring the role of structural factors in some of these problems, right? So, the example that I used to highlight this in the book is this question of addiction. So, there’s some interesting research that suggests t hat people who believe inherently that their addiction is a disease, show slightly less proclivity to actually fight that addiction and overcome that addiction. So, that creates sort of a catch 22, because we know there are biological components to add iction. We know that there are these sorts of structural non – personal decision – making drivers of addiction, and yet, if you totally buy in to the non – individual choice explanation for addiction, you show less of a proclivity to fight it. So, I think that there is this really tough under current to some of our discussions on these issues, where as a society we want to simultaneously recognize the barriers that people face, but also encourage them not to play a terrible hand in a terrible way, and that’s wh at I’m trying to do with this discussion of Personal Agency. The final point that I’ll make on that, is that the person who towed that line better than anyone I’ve ever known was my Grandma, my Ma’ma who I think is in some ways the hero of the book. She always told me. Look J.D., like is unfair for us, but don’t be like those people who think the deck is hopelessly stacked against them. I think that’s a sentiment that you hear far too infrequently among America’s elites. This simultaneous recogniti on that life is unfair for a lot of poor Americans, but that we still have to emphasize the role of individual agency in spite of that unfairness and I think that’s again a difficult balancing act. I may not have struck that balancing act perfectly in the book, but that was the intention.

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you.

MR. WILSON: Camille, do you mind if I follow – up because I mean this is an interesting conversation and you just raised a point there about optimism which I think is very, very important. Because you know, one point that resonated with me in your book is that you pointed out, I think it was 2010 – 2011, by the way, I read your book twice you know so (laughter) that’s how I remembered it, and I enjoyed it both times. I’m going to say —

MR. VANCE: That’s good.

MR. WILSON: — it’s a great book. You pointed out that in 2010 or 2011, you were overwhelmingly hopeful about the future, and that for the first time in your life, you felt like an outsider in Middletown, Ohio. And what made you feel like an alien as you put it, was your optimism. And I think that that’s the key. People who have some hope for the future behave differently. And I think that if there were some way to generate hope and optimism among people in Appalachia, or among the Appalachian transplants, you would see a change in their behavior, and this argument applies not only to those in distress rural communities, but also distressed urban communities. And I think immediately of the Harlem Children Zone. The kids who are lucky enough to be a part of — I assume all of you know about the Harlem Children’s Zone. The kids who are lucky enough to be a part of the Harlem Children’s Zone, are kids who develop in the process a hopeful feeling. A feeling that they have a future, and therefore they’re not going to do anything to jeopardize that future. You became optimistic. What factors led you to develop that optimism?

MR. VANCE: Yeah, that’s a good question. I might ask you the same question when I’m done answering —

MR. WILSON: Right.

MR. VANCE: — but you know, the first thing is definitely you know, going back to my grandma. I think if anybody had a reason for pessimism and cynicism about the future, it was her. It’s sort of difficult to imagine a woman who had lived a more difficult life and yet ma’ma had this constant optimism about the future, in the sense that we had to do better because that was just the way that America worked. I mean I think that she was this woman who had this deep and abiding faith in the American dream in a way that is obviously disappearing And in fact, as I wrote about in the book, was I started to see disappearing even you know, when I was a young kid in my early 20’s. So, I think that my grandma was a huge part of that. I also think that the Marine Corp was a really huge part of that, and this is sort of a transformational experience that I write about in the book. The military is this really remarkable institution. It brings people from diverse backgrounds together, gets them on the same team. Gets them marching proverbially and literally towards the same goal, and for a kid who had grown up in a community that was starting to lose faith in that American dream, I think that the military was a really useful way to, as I say in the book, teach a certain amount of willfulness as opposed to despair and hopelessness. So, I think that was a really critical piece of it. You know, at some level, in some cases I think it’s impossible to reconstruct that in the past. I knew that I was a really hopeless and in some cases detached kid early in high school. I knew that by 2010, I was feeling really optimistic about the future and I do sometimes wonder how easy it is to reconstruct what took me from point A to point B, but those two factors are my best guess.

MS. BUSETTE: Did you want to answer his question.

MR. WILSON: You know, even in extreme property, my mother kept telling me, you’re going to college. And my Aunt Janice also reinforced — my Aunt Janice was the first person in my extended family who got a college education, and I used to go to New York to visit her during the summer months, and I said you know, I want to be like Aunt Janice, you know?

MR. VANCE: Sure.

MR. WILSON: Key people in our lives —

MR. VANCE: Absolutely.

MR. WILSON: We are the outliers J.D.

MR. VANCE: Yep.

MR. WILSON: And Malcom Gladwell since.

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you both for that interchange. I think that was incredibly interesting and very illuminating. I want to go back to something you mentioned J.D., which is this question of culture. You know Bill, I know that the term cultural poverty has a very divisive history and still conjures up very vitriolic debates today. But Bill, you have over an extraordinary career, created meaningful distinctions about poverty and within that jargon of poverty and you’ve also situated jobless poverty in particular within changes in the economy. Could you tell us what the experiential differences are between jobless poverty and the employed poor?

MR. WILSON: Well you really see this when you look at neighborhoods. Neighborhoods in which an overwhelming majority of the population are poor, but employed is entirely different from neighborhoods in which people are poor but jobless. Jobless neighborhoods trigger all kinds of problems. Crime, drug addiction, gang behavior, violence. And one of the things that I had focused on when I wrote my book, When Work Disappears is what happens to intercity neighborhoods that experience increasing le vels of joblessness. And we did some research in Chicago and it was really you know, sad, talking to some of the mothers who were just fearful about allowing their children to go outside because the neighborhood was so incredibly dangerous. And I remember talking with one woman and she says — who was obese and she says you know, I went to the doctor he said that I should go out and exercise. Can you imagine jogging in this neighborhood? Because the joblessness had created problems among young people who were trying to make ends meet and they’re involved in crime and drugs and so on. So, I would say that if you want to focus on improving neighborhoods, the first thing that I would do would try to increase or enhance employment opportunities.

MS. BUSETTE: Great, thank you.

MR. WILSON: I have another story. This just reminds me. I was talking with a mother, young mother. Actually, she’s young now from my point of view, middle 30’s and her son had just been shot in the neighborhood, killed. Str ay bullet from a gang fight. She said her son was not a member of the gang, that’s one of the reasons why she was so fearful, so concerned about keeping her children indoors. She said you know Mr. Wilson, no one cared that my son died. His death was not reported in any of the newspapers. It wasn’t reported on the radio, TV. No one cared Mr. Wilson that my son died. And I just keep thinking about these families who live in these dangerous jobless neighborhoods and what they have to endure.

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you. One of the things that comes out clearly from your work Bill, and from your book J.D., is the erosion of social networks and social capital. J.D., your book is really an extended love letter to your grandparents who raised you. Can you tell us a little bit about how the social connections that they had were important to their resilience they showed as parents, as your parents?

MR. VANCE: Sure. So, my grandparents lived in, I think grew up in a little town that had much more robust communities than the town that I grew up in. And so, a lot of the relationships they developed, my grandfather was a 35-year union welder, at Armco. Later, A.K. Steel. My grandmother was a little bit more socially isolated than my grandfather but still had built up a network of friends over that time, and you know, going back to Bill’s point about having diverse networks of people who actually give you a sense of what’s possible and what’s out there, that was really, really, powerful for me, right. So, you know, of my grandparents three kids, one obviously is my mom, but my uncle and aunt were doing pretty well when I was a young kid, and so that gave me this sense of what’s out there, what’s possible. That’s really powerful. My grandfather had a number of friends most of whom were working class like him, but some of whom you know, owned the local businesses or owned local stores or mechanic shops, things like that. So that also gave me the sense of what was possible. And I think ultimately though I went to the Marine Corps and then off to college. I also think the obvious implication is that some of those social networks and connections would have had really powerful economic benefits if I had eventually tried to rely on them. I think that what was so wonderful about my grandparent’s social networks is that they were intact enough for me to still have relied upon them. On the other hand, one thing I really worried about and one thing that I increasingly worried about as I actually did research for the book, is this idea of faith and religion, not just as something that people believe in, but as an actual positive institutional and social role player in their lives. And one of the things you do see, that this is something that Charles Murray’s written about, is that you see the institutions of faith declining in some of these lower income communities faster than you do in middle and upper income communities. I don’t think you have to be a person of faith to think that that’s worrisome. I think you can just read a paper by Jonathan Gruber that talks about all of these really positive social impacts of being a regular participatory Church member. So, you know, I think I was lucky in that sense, but a lot of folks, and when I look at the community right now, it worries me a little bit that you don’t see these robust social institutions in the same way that you certainly did 30, 40 years ago, and even when I was growing up in Middletown. The last point that I’ll make about that, is that (…) these trends often take half a century or more to really reveal themselves and I do sometimes see signs of resilience in some of these communities that I sort of didn’t fully anticipate and didn’t expect when the book was published. So, one of the things I’ve started to realize for example is when we talk about the decline of institutional faith, even though I continue to worry about that, one of the institutions that’s actually picked up the slack are groups like Alcoholics Anonymous and Narcotics Anonymous. They almost have this faith effect. It brings people together. There’s even a sort of liturgical element to some of these meetings that I find really, really fascinating and interesting. So, people try to find and replace community when it’s lost but you know, clearly, they haven’t at least as of yet, replaced it even remotely to the degree that it has been lost which is why I think you see some of the issues that we do.

MS. BUSETTE: Alright, thank you. Bill, I know you have something to say on that —

MR. WILSON: Sure.

MS. BUSETTE: — but I wanted to kind of position the question in a slightly different way than I did for J.D. The economy certainly became significantly since you first penned The Truly Disadvantaged. And what, from your perspective, what effects have those changes had on social organization and poverty?

MR. WILSON: Well, I don’t know if the conditions have changed that much, since I wrote The Truly Disadvantaged. The one big difference is that I think there’s increasing technology and automation that has created problems for a lot of low skilled workers. You know, I mentioned automation replacing jobs that cashiers held, and parking lot attendants held. So, you have a combination not only of the relocation of industries overseas, that I talked about in The Truly Disadvantaged; but now you have increasing automation and technology replacing jobs, and this worries me because I think that people who have poor education are going to be in difficult situations increasingly down the road. You look at intercity schools, not only schools in intercities, but in many other neighborhoods, and kids are not being properly educated. So, they’re not being prepared for the changes that are occurring in the economy. I remember one social scientist saying that it’s as if — talking about the black population. It’s as if racism and racial discrimination put black people in their place only to watch increasing technology and automation destroy that place. So, the one significant difference from the time I wrote The Truly Disadvantaged in 1987, is the growing problems created by increasing technology for the poor.

MR. VANCE: Bill, could I ask a question —

MR. WILSON: Sure.

MR. VANCE: — because this is something I was you know, looking through your book on my Kendall earlier today, and I kept on coming back to this question, and I’m curious what you think. Which is if the civil rights movement had happened in the early 20th century as opposed to the mid-20th century, do you think that black Americans would be more caught up than they are right now? In other words, do you think that it happened, the civil rights advancements happened at a time when technology was just really starting to hammer the economies that they relied on, and if it happened in an area where there weren’t quite the same premiums on human capital, that maybe they could have caught up a little bit better than they have over the past 50 years?

MR. WILSON: So what you’re saying is that if civil rights movement had happened at this time?

MR. VANCE: Sorry, the early 20th century?

MR. WILSON: Oh, the early 20th century

MR. VANCE: Yeah, that’s right.

MR. WILSON: Right.

MR. VANCE: So, if it had happened when we were just transitioning from the proverbial farm to the factory, do you think it would have had a significant difference?

MR. WILSON: I’m not sure.

MR. VANCE: Right, what else can you say.

MR. WILSON: What do you think?

MR. VANCE: — reading The Truly Disadvantaged today, I was thinking maybe the answer is yes, because part of what happened, with the civil rights movement is that the economy was rapidly changing just to some of these legal structures were you know, as black Americans were freed from some of these legal structures. And I do wonder if the economy — it was in some ways as these legal changes were happening in a very positive way, the economy hit black Americans super hard, and I wonder if those legal structures would have fallen at a time when the economy wasn’t changing so rapidly. Maybe things would be a little bit different today?

MR. WILSON: This reminds me of the point that Bayard Rustin raised in the early 1960’s. He said, you know, it’s great to outlaw discrimination and prejudice, but it’s also important to recognize that if you have a referee in the ring, and you say there will be no discrimination, but one fighter has had all of the training and the other fighter has not, which fighter is going to come out ahead? And so, he says much more emphasis has now got to be placed on dealing with these basic economic problems and he told Martin Luther King, Jr. he said look, he says what good is it to be allowed to eat in a restaurant if you can’t afford a hamburger; so, we’re going to have to address some of these fundamental economic problems —

MR. VANCE: Sure.

MR. WILSON: — that are devastating the community. So that reinforces your point too.

MS. BUSETTE: That is a perfect segue to a set of questions that I want to ask you both. It’s about the question of Race in America. We know that racism and discrimination have a long history in the U.S., and that the effects of that history are still experienced by individuals on a daily basis today. When those experiences are aggregated, we can see large mobility, wealth and income gaps between white Americans and African Americans. We are also hearing, and reading and seeing about the culture of the sphere, the opioid epidemic and the disability culture in rural and Rust belt America. So, I’m going to ask a sensitive question. Are there differences between being black, jobless and poor, and being white jobless and poor? And if so, what are they and why? Bill, I’m going to give you the honor of tackling that first (laughter).

MR. WILSON: You know, that’s a very interesting question because I was just — you know J.D. you wrote in your book about the problems of poor whites and it seems that poor whites right now are more pessimistic than any group, and the question is why. I was sort of impressed with your analysis of the white working class and the age of Trump. You know, you pointed out that when Barack Obama became president there were a lot of people in your community who were really struggling and who believe that the modern American meritocracy did not seem to apply to them. These people were not doing well, and then you have this black president who’s a successful product of meritocracy who has raised the hope of African Americans and he represented every positive thing that these working-class folks that you write about did not possess or lacked. And Trump emerged as candidate who sort of spoke to these people. What is interesting is that if you look at the Pew Research Polls, recent Pew Research polls, I think you pointed this out in your book, the working – class whites right now are more pessimistic than any other group about their economic future and their children’s future. Now is that pessimism justified? I think they’re overly pessimistic. I still maintain that to be black, poor and jobless is worse than being white, poor and jobless, okay? But, for some reason, the white poor is more pessimistic. Now I think with respect to the black poor and working class has kind of an Obama effect you kn ow. I think that may wear off and then blacks will become even more equally as pessimistic as whites in a few years.

MR. VANCE: I’d really like for you to run those numbers right now, and see if the rates among pessimism among working class blacks are changed or inverted relative to where they were a couple of years ago. You know, people ask me what I see as the similarities between working class blacks and working-class whites, and what the differences are, and whenever they ask me what the differences are I always say, talk to Bill Wilson, he’s a lot smarter about this stuff than I am. But the thing that jumps out to me most when I think about the differences, is that housing policy, especially housing policy back in the 50’s and 60’s affects modern day black Americans much more than it does modern day white Americans. Especially the working and non-working poor. What I mean by that is that I think that you know, partially because of research that Bill has done and partially for research that a lot of other folks have done. Concentrated poverty is really bad. It’s worse than just being poor. To be sort of socially isolated in these islands of all the other poor people and I think that’s a much more common experience among black Americans because of the residuals effects of housing policy in the 50’s and 60’s, so I think that to me, if I was going to pick one single factor, that was driving the continued difference, I would probably say housing policy. The sort of question of how to you know, is it better or worse to be working-class or sort of poor, jobless and white, versus poor, jobless and black. I think all things being equal certainly poor jobless and black is sort of worse off if you look at wealth numbers, if you look at income numbers, that’s still the case. I do worry a little bit that we don’t have the vocabulary to really talk about the full measure of disadvantage in the country right now. What I mean by that is that we’re pretty comfortable talking about class, we’re pretty comfortable talking about gender, we’re reasonably comfortable talking about race, but when we talk about things like single parent families, family trauma, concentrated poverty. All of these things that would go into what I would call the disadvantage bucket or the privileged bucket, it’s not those three factors, it’s probably two dozen or three dozen factors. We’re really bad about talking about everything except for race, class and gender. And I think that’s one way that the conversation has really broken down, especially in the past few years.

MS. BUSETTE: Alright, thank you.

MR. WILSON: So, this reminds me of your points J.D., reminds me of a paper that Robert Sampson, a colleague at Harvard and I wrote in 1995 entitled Toward a Theory of Race, Crime and Urban Inequality. A paper that has become a classic actually in the field of criminology because it’s generated dozens of research studies. Our basic thesis we were addressing you know, race and violent crime, is that racial disparities and violent crime are attributable in large part to the persistent structural disadvantages that are disproportionately concentrated in African American urban communities. Nonetheless, we argue that the ultimate cause of crime were similar for both whites and blacks, and we pose a central question. In American cities, it is possible to reproduce in white communities the structural circumstances under which many blacks live. You know, the whites haven’t fully experienced the structural reality that blacks have experienced does not negate the power of our theory because we argue had whites been exposed to the same structural conditions as blacks then white communities would behave – – the crime rate would be in the predicted direction. And then we had an epiphany. What about the rural white communities that you talk about. Where you’re not only talking about joblessness, you’re not only talking about poverty, but you’re also talking about family structure. So, here in Appalachia, you could reproduce some of the conditions that exist in intercity neighborhoods and therefore it would be good to test our theory in these areas because we’d be looking at the family structure. The rates of single parent families. We’d be looking at joblessness, we’d be loo king at poverty. So, we need to move beyond the urban areas and see if we can look at communities that come close to approximating or even worse in some cases, and some intercity neighborhoods. This reminds me, I was reading an interview, excellent interview. Remember I wrote to you that first time I read this interview, it was before I even read Hillbilly Elegy and I went and read the book after reading this interview; or maybe it was in Hillbilly Elegy where you refer to the research of the economist Raj Chetty who did some path breaking research on concentrated poverty, single parent families and mobility.

MR. VANCE: Yep.

MR. WILSON: And the reports in the newspapers focused on concentrated poverty and then talk about rates of single parent families which he also emphasized, you see.

MR. VANCE: Yep.

MR. WILSON: But if you want to capture both, it might be good to focus on rural areas like the ones you wrote about, and see if some of the same factors are reproduced that I read about in The Truly Disadvantaged.

MS. BUSETTE: Oh there’s no second book for you (laughter). So, my colleague Richard Reeves has recently published a piece that demonstrated that there’s a century economic mobility gap between black and white men. So, in a sense, the historically lower rates of upward mobility have delayed the economic ascent of black men by a century. Should we be concerned?

MR. WILSON: Could you repeat that?

MS. BUSETTE: Yeah. The historically lower rates of upward mobility have delayed for black men, have delayed the economic ascent of black men by a century compared to white men. So, the question is, should we be concerned, and do we need differentiated sets of policies to address black economic mobility and on the other hand, white economic mobility?

J.D., I’m going to give that to you first (laughter).

MR. WILSON: You should have sent these questions to us ahead of time (laughter) —

MS. BUSETTE: No, no.

MR. WILSON: — so we could have thought —

MS. BUSETTE: That’s the fun (laughter). Yeah, no fun in that.

MR. VANCE: Well, I think you asked two questions. The first was should we be concerned. My answer to that is yes, and I’ll let Bill take the second question (laughter). So, you know, this question of should we have differentiated policies. I think it depends on what we mean by differentiated right. So, to take Bill’s — something he said earlier, this question of technological change and the way that it’s impacting these communities, I think that requires us to fundamentally rethink the way that we approach higher education. That’s been my persistent frustration, thinking about policy over the past couple of years. Is we have this rapidly changing economy. We haven’t changed our institutions or even our institutional thinking to match up to that rapidly changing economy. But if you’re focused on sort of correcting those gaps or if you’re just basically focused on giving help to the people who need it, then you’re going to have a differentiated application of help because black Americans need it, you know, maybe on average more than white Americans. If we talk about sort of the negative effects for example of concentrated poverty, this is something that I really worry about, and back to Raj Chetty, a different paper that he published show that there are these really interesting positive effects of the Moving to Opportunity Study. But my guess is that concentrated poverty equally hurts black and white Americans, it’s just that black Americans experience it more. So, there’s going to be a differentiated effect if you try to rectify that problem, but not because you say we’re going to try to help black people more than white people, just because you’re going to say, I want to help the problem of concentrated poverty and because they’re suffering from it more. That effect will at least be differentiated. But I don’t know, I haven’t thought about sort of whether you should go into it sort of before the fact and try to apply these things differently. My guess is that that’s probably politically not a great idea, and may not be necessary from a moral perspective either, but I’m curious as to what Bill thinks.

MR. WILSON: I agree. Certainly, in this day and age it’s not a good idea. But, if you ask me, what am I most concerned about right now in addressing problems of poverty and so on. I’m concerned about jobs. Although I wouldn’t phrase it this way, I wouldn’t say that we need public sector jobs for black males, I would say we need public sector jobs for people who live in concentrated poverty and that would apply to white males, not only males, but females as well. As well as blacks. But which group would benefit disproportionately from a public sector’s jobs program. It would be black males, because black males have these high prison records; and therefore because of their prison records, many of them find it extremely difficult because of the incarceration rates, many of them find it extremely difficult to find jobs in the private sector. Therefore, at least as a temporary as opposed to a permanent solution, I would like to see public sector job creation for those who have difficulty finding employment in the private sector. When I speak of public sector jobs, I mean the type of jobs provided by the WPA during the Great Depression. Jobs that would improve the infrastructure in our communities, including the under-funded National Park Service, state and local park districts. I just feel that public sector jobs are very, very important particularly for black adults who have been stigmatized by prison records and who thus find it virtually impossible to find jobs in the private sector. Now, saying that. I’m on to no illusion that these programs and a program like public sector job program would garner widespread support in the current political climate, but I feel that we have to start thinking seriously, about what should be done when we have a more favorable political climate, and when people from both parties are willing to consider seriously policies that could make a difference.

MS. BUSETTE: We have time for one more question, and I’m going to start, J.D., with you. So, in a paper by Richard Reeves and another colleague of mine, Eleanor Krouse, that was released today, the evidence is that rural areas with the best rates of upward mobility are the ones with the highest rates of out migration, especially among young people. Should we just accept that some communities are essentially dying, and focus our efforts on helping people move on to other places with more opportunity, or should we be trying to turnaround these blighted areas?

MR. VANCE: That is a really tough one. So, I’m going to try to judicially split the baby here and I’ll probably fail but — (laughter). When I think about should we try to fix these blighted areas, I think that it depends on how we define area, right? Because my concern with some of these out-migration arguments is that we say, if you can’t find a good job in West Virginia, you should move to San Francisco, California, and they’re two concerns with that. The first is that try to convince somebody that they could afford a place in San Francisco, California when it’s a two-bedroom apartment costs you $4,500 a month. So, I think that again, going back to housing policy, that really makes this out migration pretty difficult. The second thing is that you really do — I think we have to understand there’s a difference between out migration from let’s say Eastern Kentucky to Southwestern Ohio verses Eastern Kentucky to San Diego, California, because the former allows you to preserve some important social contacts and social connections. It is cheaper to move there, it’s less culturally intimidating to move there. I mean I cannot imagine what my grandparents would have said if you would have told them in the 1940’s that they had to move to modern day San Francisco. It really would have been, you need to move to an entirely different country. Maybe an entirely different planet. And I think that’s important. So, the way that I think about this problem is that we have to accept that while out migration has to be a part of the solution, we can’t just say every single person in Breathitt County Kentucky has to leave, and Breathitt County Kentucky gets to close up shop. But if we can regionally develop big cities like Lexington, like Pittsburgh, like Columbus, Ohio, that obviously has downstream effects and that allows you to have out migration to places that isn’t so culturally foreign and enables people to maintain those social connections even as they move to areas with higher employment; and oh, by the way, still play a positive role in the communities back home. I think that’s the way that I approach that particular problem.

MS. BUSETTE: Alright, thank you.

MR. WILSON: You know my colleague at Harvard, Robert Sampson and former student Patrick Sharkey who is at NYU have argued for durable investments in disadvantaged neighborhoods to counter the persistent disinvestments in such neighborhoods, and I was wondering if you use that argument and focus on Appalachia for example, what would investments look like? And I’m going to put this question to you J.D., if you’re talking about investments in these communities, would it include such things as hospitals, clinics, road construction, shopping centers, daycare centers, these kinds of things. Would that be helpful? Would those things be helpful?

MR. VANCE: Yes, so I think it would definitely be helpful. One of the concerns I have with what we’ve seen with regional economic development is that it very often happens through the avenue of let me provide you tax credit so that you can open up new retail, right? I don’t think that’s especially durable economic development, right. I mean, I think we have to think of local economies as sort of a pyramid. You need real industries, manufacturing, then you have retail on top of it, but you can’t really rebuild some of these economic centers with just retail. There is actually an interesting bill that’s moving through Congress right now, that would in some ways place long-term capital investment at parity with short-term capital investment like tax credits. That would allow things like Venture Capital investment and much bigger longer – term patient capital to invest in some of these areas and create you know, more durable jobs in more durable sectors. But I also think, and my thinking honestly has probably changed in the past few years, though maybe change isn’t the right word, as I start to think about this a little bit more seriously. When I look at you know, some of the work David Autor has done about the China Shock and the way that it’s impacted some of these areas. I do think that we’ve been so caught up in thinking about long term well-being as purely as a function of consumption, that we haven’t thought about the fact that if you pay three cents less for a widget at Walmart, but half of your community just lost its job, your purchasing power is slightly greater, but your community has lost something really significant. I think that’s been missing from our conversations about economics in jobs, especially on the right, but I really think across the spectrum we focus too little on bringing good durable, high paying work into some of these areas. And consequently, if you look at just a policy across the board, we’ve congratulated ourselves, because purchasing power, even among the low income has gone up, not recognizing the purchasing power that comes from a government transfer is a lot different from purchasing power that comes from a good job.

MS. BUSETTE: Great. Thank you both very much. We are now going to take questions from the audience. So, (inaudible) from Brookings. So, I’d like everybody to be able to say who they are and the organization they’re coming from, and then ask your question please. Thank you. And I’ll take a couple of these. I’ll take yours first and then we’ll take a few more.

SPEAKER: First thing I want to do is thank both of you for such a thoughtful conversation. I mean Camille asked you really tough provocative questions, so it was a great conversation. I think I want to add to the provocative question list here. We haven’t talked much about our politics going forward and how they may play out in terms of things that you both might be in favor of. Bill, you say you’re for a public jobs program, but obviously that’s politically going to be extremely difficult to convince much of the public including many of the so-called white working class that J.D. has been studying. They don’t like government programs. They don’t like handouts. They want I think, as I read it, the literature, including your book, they want real jobs, not government jobs. In fact, they really dislike a lot that they see in first line government workers. With that background and thinking about you know, where does our politics go from here, I happened to have read this weekend, a new small essay by Mark Lilla who is arguing quite controversially that the Democratic party needs to put less emphasis on identity politics. That means staying away presumably from racial divides and culture and all of that. And, do you have any thoughts about generally how we bring the country back together again politically and specifically this notion that maybe the Democratic party is losing the white working-class by putting too much emphasis on immigrants, minorities, women etcetera?

MS. BUSETTE: I’ll let you Gabby — I’ll let you gather your thoughts there.

MR. WILSON: I’ll take a shot —

MS. BUSETTE: Wow, a brave man.

MR. VANCE: I hope that there’s vodka in this (laughter).

MR. WILSON: So you know, I blurbed Mark Lilla’s book.

SPEAKER: Oh, did you? That’s right, I remember.

MR. WILSON: I blurbed it. What’s the title of the book ?

SPEAKER: The Once in a Future Liberal.

SPEAKER: That’s right.

MR. WILSON: The Once in a Future Liberal. Yeah, I blurbed the book. You know, Mark Lilla and a number of other post-election analysts observed that as you point out that the Democrats should not make the same mistake that they made in the last election, namely an attempt to mobilize people of color, women, immigrants and the LGBT community with identity politics. They tended to ignore the problems of poor white Americans. I was watching the Democratic convention with my wife on a cruise to Alaska, and one concern I had was there did not seem to be any representatives on the stage representing poor white America. I could just see some of these poor whites saying they don’t care about us. They’ve got all these blacks, they’ve got immigrants, they’ve got (inaudible), but you don’t have any of us on the stage. Maybe I’m overstating the point, but I was concerned about that. Now one notable exception, critics like Mark Lilla point out was Bernie Sanders. Bernie Sanders had a progressive and unifying populous economic message in the Democratic primaries. A message that resonated with a significant segment of the white lower-class population. Lower class, working class populations. Bernie Sanders was not the Democratic nominee and Donald Trump was able to, as we all know, capture notable support from these populations with a divisive not unifying populous message. I agree with Mark Lilla that we don’t want to make the same mistake again. We’ve go to reach out to all groups. We’ve got to start to focus on coalition politics. We have to develop a sense of interdependence where groups come to recognize that they can’t accomplish goals without the support of other groups. We have to frame issues differently. We can’t go the same route. We can’t give up on the white working class.

MS. BUSETTE: Okay, J.D., did you want to tackle that or —

MR. VANCE: Yeah, sure I’ll —

MS. BUSETTE: — shall we go for other questions?

MR. VANCE: — I can briefly answer. I mean as a Republican who is deeply worried about the American right, this gives me a great chance to rift on the other side. So, just a couple of thoughts as you ask the question and as Bill was responding. The first is that on this question of identity politics, I think that what worries me is that a lot — it’s not a recognition that there are disadvantaged non-white groups that need some help or there needs to be some closing of the gap you know. When I talk to folks back home, very conservative people, they’re actually pretty open-minded if you talk about the problems that exist in the black ghetto because of problems of concentrated poverty and the fact that the black ghetto was in some ways created by housing policy. It was the choice of black Americans. It was in some ways created by housing policy. I find actually a lot of openness when I talk to friends and family about that. What I find no openness about is when somebody who they don’t know, and who they think judges them, points at them and says you need to apologize for your white privilege. So, I think that in some ways making these questions of disadvantage zero sum, is really toxic, but I think that’s one way that the Democrats really lost the white working class in the 2016 election. The second piece that occurs to me, and this applies across the political spectrum, is that what we’re trying to do in the United States, it’s very easy to be cynical about American politics, but we’re rying to build a multi-racial, multi-ethnic, multi-religious nation, not just a conglomeration, an actual nation of people from all of these different tribes and unify them around a common creed. I think that’s really delicate. It’s basically never been done success fully over a long period in human history and I think it requires a certain amount of rhetorical finesse that we don’t see from many of our politicians on either side these days and that really, really worries me.

MS. BUSETTE: Okay, thank you both. I ‘m going to take three other questions and then we can answer them. So, this gentleman here, young lady here with her hand up, and then I’ll take yeah, the person right in the back there. Okay, yeah, on this side first.

SPEAKER: Thank you very much. I’ve known Bill Wilson for years, I’ve known J.D. over the telephone (overlapping conversations) all over town.

MR. VANCE: A fellow Middletonian.

SPEAKER: Yes, I tried to catch you at the book fair on Saturday. The line, for those of you who weren ‘t there, stretched all the way out of the DC Convention Center and down (inaudible) Avenue. I’ve never seen anything like it since the Beatles came to town (laughter). But anyway, yes, I’m a fellow middie, and from class of 65, so I went there before you were born. We just had our 50th anniversary reunion here a couple of years ago. I’m delighted by your book. Folks ask me if I ever thought of writing a memoir, and I said my life was too dull, my (inaudible) was too quiet. When I grew up we were an all-American city. You may have read that in your history books. Back in the 50’s we were one of the all-American cities in America. A few years ago, Forbes chose Middletown as one of 10 fastest dying cities in America. This tells you what’s happened over time. So, I have a lot of things I’d love to inject, but I’m just going to ask one question. As you know I’ve talked before about when I came out of Middletown High in 65 I was able to work at the steel mill at Armco, and make enough money to pay my tuition at Ohio University, go Bobcats. For tuition in 1965 at Ohio U was $770. With room and board $1,240. It wasn’t hard for me, the son of a mother who was a cook and a father who was a factory worker to move up to the middle class, thanks to Ohio’s excellent higher education system. Years later of course you went to the Marines to get a scholarship to go to Ohio State —

MR. VANCE: True.

SPEAKER: — and so it was possible, but it certainly is tougher now to go from working class Middletown, we don’t have the steel mill jobs in the summer anymore. The five paper mills that we used to have are all gone. All the industries up and down I – 75, all the way to Detroit, General Motors, Frigidaire, GM, Delco Battery, Huffy Bicycle, National Cash Register, and I could go on and on and on, but what Bill Wilson writes about in the you know they’ve gone overseas or other types of chains have gone on. We were talking about automation back in the 50’s, and the 60’s and of course we see what has happened, and it’s still happening. But my question really is we haven’t talked much about those front row kids like yourself there who had a chance to go to college and found a way there. That route has gotten tougher. Do you think we need to do something to make it easier to get higher education? Some schooling beyond high school?

MS. BUSETTE: Okay great, thank you. This woman here with the red sweater. Please, thank you.

MS. RISER : Thank you gentleman, it’s extremely challenging —

MS. BUSETTE: Can you say your name please.

MS. RISER: I will say my name. It’s Mindy Riser and I have worked and continued to with a number of NGO’s across the world concerned with social justice. My question is about a segment of the American population, you haven’t talked about, and that is the aging baby boomers who come in all colors, shapes and sizes. Some of these folks will have social security, which isn’t very much, some will not at all. We’ve talked about the challenges of jobs. What is going to happen to these people, some of whom will not get jobs and will rely on diminishing social security and that is not exactly assured anymore either. So, I’d like you to address that part of the population whose future does not look all that bright.

MS. BUSETTE: Great, thank you. And then we have one way in the back there. She has her hand up. Thank you

MS. LEO: Hi, my name is Chin Leo and I’m a correspondent from China’s Nu Hahn News Agency. Actually, I have two questions for J.D. One is that you mentioned about (inaudible) which could be the third important element from the personal structural agencies to have those poverties. So, I just wanted to maybe categorize say more about this (inaudible) so what it could include. Because when I just read about your book, first I thought it maybe something related to the peace treaty of American, like those people who used to work in the hill. The mountain or the farmers, but it turns out, maybe there is something more or different from that, so can you just say more about it. And second question is about the globalization. I think both of the speakers just mentioned that the process of globalization just, the country being so large to the poverty or just make it a faster pace, for those working class in America no matter white or black to become obvious problem. So, do you think what could be the solution for this or is it really necessary just like President Trump said that anti-globalization could be one of the solutions or a necessary one. Thank you.

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you. So, we have a question on ways to make it easier to get a higher education, what about job opportunities for aging baby boomers and then a special set just for you, where you can you know, if you’d like to, maybe go into a little more about what you meant by culture, and then for both of you if you want to discussion globalization and its effect on poverty in the U.S.

MR. WILSON: Well I just — to answer your question very quickly, forget the political climate, but I’d like to see us increase the Pell Grants to make it possible for folks who don’t have much income, increase the Pell Grants.

MS. BUSETTE: Okay great. J.D., do you want to address any of these?

MR. VANCE: Yes, so my general worry with the college education in the book at large is sort of two things. So, the first is that, I think we’ve constructed a society effectively in which a college education is now the only pathway to the middle class, and I think that’s a real failure on our part. It’s not something you see in every country, and I don’t think it necessarily has to be the case here. There are other ways to get post-secondary education and I absolutely think that we have to make that easier, and I really see this as sort of the defining policy challenge of the next 10 years is to create more of those pathways; because the second born on this is that college is a really, really culturally terrifying place for a lot of working class people. We can try to make it less culturally terrifying, we can try to make for the elites of our universities a little bit more welcoming to folks like me, and this is something that I wrote about in the book, really feeling like a true outsider at Yale for the first time, in an educational institution. I think that we also have to acknowledge that part of the reason that people feel like cultural outsiders is for reasons that aren’t necessarily going to be easy to fix, and if we don’t create more pathways for these folks, we shouldn’t be surprised that a lot of them aren’t going to take the one pathway that’s there, that effectively runs through a culturally alien institution.

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you. Other questions.

MR. WILSON: Yeah, we have to —

MR. VANCE: Oh yeah sorry. There’s a couple of others so yeah, on the baby boomer question I’ll try to be very quick but I don’t necessarily have a fantastic answer to this, but let me add one thought that I had while you were asking that question, which is that in certain areas, especially in Ohio, Kentucky, West Virginia and so forth. I think the biggest under reported problem for the baby boomers is the fact that they are taking care of children that they didn’t necessarily anticipate taking care of because of the opioid crisis. This is the biggest dr iver of elder poverty in the State of Ohio, is that you have entire families that have been transplanted from one generation to the next. They were planning for retirement based on one social security income, and now all of a sudden, they have two, three additional mouths to feed. I think my concern for the baby boom generation is especially those folks of course because it’s not just bad for them, it’s bad for these children who are all of a sudden thrown into poverty because of the opioid addition of that middle generation of the parents, of the kids and the sons and daughters of the grandkids. And then the very last question, culture, I think of as a way to understand the sum of the environmental impacts that you can’t necessarily define as structural rights, so the effects of family instability and trauma that exists in people, the effects of social capital and social networks in people’s lives, You know, all of these things I think add up to a broad set of variables that can either promote upward mobility or inhibit upward mobility; and again I think we very often talk about job opportunities and educational opportunities, we very often talk about individual responsibility and Personal Agency. We very rarely I think talk about those middle layers and those institutional factors that in a lot of ways are the real drivers of this problem.

MR. WILSON: I just want to add just one point. I think that this is too radical to seriously consider right now, but at some point, I think we’re going to hav e to think about it, and that is to give cash assistance to reduce the tax rate for those who are experiencing compounded deprivation. At some point, we’re going to be faced with a problem. We’re going to have to rescue people and some economists are talking about the negative income tax and so on, but it’s something that we’re going to have to be thinking about.

MS. BUSETTE: Great. Thank you. I’m going to take three more. This gentleman here, this lady here. Ignacio?

MR. AARON: I’m Henry Aaron Brookings. My question is for J.D. Vance, I’ve heard in your comments what strikes me as a genuine and heartfelt sympathy for the economic and social circumstances, not only of blue whites in Appalachia, but also for the concentrated poverty in urban areas. You have a genuine sympathy for both. You also stated that you come to this concern as a conservative and as a Republican. Now, in looking at the current political environment, which is I think where we need to start rather that our aspirations for a different environment, we would really like it in the future. Starting from the current economic environment, I note that we’ve spent all of 2017 on a political debate which now seems, from my standpoint mercifully to be coming to an end about doing away with The Affordable Care Act. We are about to have a month long high stakes debate about the child health insurance program which President Trump’s budget proposes significantly to cut. We are confronting the possibility of a major fight over the national debt cap which at least some elements in Congress would like to use as a pressure tool to reduce the size and scope of the federal government. We are debating whether to reform entitlement programs and notably disability insurance, which if one looks at a map of where disability benefits are most received, looks like the map for your book actually. Kentucky, Arkansas, Alabama, Mississippi, Ohio, Pennsylvania. My question is, as a conservative Republican, how do you reconcile the concern you’ve expressed with the apparent agenda from those with whom you identify politically.

MS. BUSETTE: Okay, so we’re going to take two more questions (laughter) in this round. This lady right here and then Ignacio.

MS. DANIELS: Hello, my name is Samara Robard Daniels, I actually married into an Appalachian family myself, so I’ve had a close look at the situation myself. I’m wondering if you had to sort of envision of not being a political leader, but maybe a more philosophical substantive role model, what qualities aside from the typical like you know, honesty and so forth. I mean what would be the sort of gestalt of that leader that would perhaps you know, mobilize. I mean that can happen, but because of the technological age, we don’t have that sort of, you know, more renaissance minded philosophical temperament is not sort of percolating and I’m wondering if you had to envision it, what would be a role model, and similarly for you, what do you see? What would be the gestalt of that leader?

MS. BUSET TE: Alright, thank you. Ignacio?

MR. PESO: Hello, thank you the three of you for the discussion, it was very fascinating.

MS. BUSETTE: Can you say your name?

MR. PESO: My name is Ignacio Peso and my question actually starts with an article I read in the New York Times a few days ago. Maybe it was two days ago. It’s about like the role of private firms also. It was a comparison between the job conditions and years ago, with a lady from Kodak who was able to rise and get an opportune job, get an education, and then in the end the same private firm rising to her position, and right now janitor in Apple, right. I think in this conversation we talk a lot about like the power of stories and how they convey mobilities and talk about like more structural aspects. I was wondering, what is your opinion about like how — what’s the role of private firms in this discussion, and what sort of policies can you envision regarding that. Thank you.

MS. BUSETTE: Okay, thank you. So, we have a question about reconciling your concerns with concentrated poverty with the served agenda of the GOP. A question around what do role models who are sort of embodying you know an un-way out sort of; and when we think about the poverty debate what do those people look like. And then what’s the role of private firms in economic mobility for poor and low-income Americans.

MR. WILSON: Could you repeat the second question?

MS. BUSETTE: What does a leader look like who could possibly lead us towards a set of solutions when we think about poverty in the US ?

MR. VANCE: I guess I’ll start because the question about I think the GOP is directed specifically at me. The first thing that I’ll say about that is that I agree with many of the conservative critiques that are levied sort of against some Democratic policy. I very rarely, at least if we’re defining Republican policies or what comes out of Congress, I very rarely agree with Republican Congress about how to answer those critiques. The way that I broadly look at this philosophically is that there is a distinction and an important one between libertarianism and conservatism. So, I will partially try to answer your question about outsourcing. I think that for example on this question of labor unions, I think that the sort of classic libertarian answer to this question which is really dominant on the right for the past 30 years, is that effectively for a whole host of reasons, labor unions are anti-competitive, they’re bad for non – members and they’re bad for actual firms. Consequently, for cartel reasons, they’re sort of bad from a public policies perspective. I think a better conservative answer to the fact that we’ve gone from 35 percent private labor participation to 6 percent private labor participation, is to recognize that labor unions can be economically destructive to recognize that labor unions as Burke would say, could also be incredibly important social institutions that play a positive role in communities, and so the question is not how do we destroy labor unions, but it’s how do we reform labor unions so they actually work in the 21st century and I think that would answer partially your question about outsourcing. There’s a really fascinating article by Oren Cass of the Manhattan Institute of Conservative Think Tank about how we might reform labor unions so that they actually accomplish something economically important, so that they can rebuild themselves and increase private participation, but I think that’s a conservative idea. Has it come from a Republican Congress? No, it has not. Have I been a constant critic of Republican domestic policy for the past five years, because I think we’re not thinking about these issues; absolutely. The flip side of it, is that I think that much of what I see on the left is or at least sometimes thinks that these cultural problems that I write about and care about, are invisible and don’t actually exist. Now, does that mean that sort of very thoughtful left of center think tank fellows don’t care about these problems? Does that mean that Bill Wilson doesn’t think about these problems? No, but I certainly think that the Democratic party in some ways thinks that these questions of culture and long-term multi-generational environmental effects are sort of inv isible to a lot of their policy making. So, I agree with the conservative critique there and I think the conservatives have to offer some alternative vision which we have failed to do, for not just the past five years, but maybe for a little bit longer than that. So, you know my view of my role in this ecosystem is to try to take us from criticizing a lot of what’s been done in the past that’s wrong, and a lot of those criticisms I agree with, to actually doing something that’s different. But I do think, the last point I’ll make about this, the fundamental hell that we have to get over. The fundamental problem that conservatives have to accept is that sometimes you have to spend money to solve social problems. Not always does that mean that government is always the answer. Certainly, it doesn’t, but I think this sort of baseline constant refusal to accept that sometimes you have to spend money is at the core of our real problem, and if we can get past that, I actually think there might be some good ideas coming out of the right and hopefully I can be a part of that.

MR. WILSON: Let me address the question about the ideal leader. The leader (inaudible) move us forward. For me, a role model would be one who would use the bully pulpit to reinforce and promote the principle of equality of life chances. The philosopher James Fiscan coined the notion principle of equality of live chances, and according to this principle if we can predict with a high degree of accuracy, where individuals end up in the competition for preferred positions, merely by knowing, their race, class, gender and family background, then the conditions under which their motivations and talents have developed must be utterly unfair. Supporters of this principle believe that a person should not be able to enter a hospital ward of healthy newborn babies and predict with considerable accuracy where they will end up in life, simply by knowing their race, class, gender, family background, or the ecological areas where their parents reside. I repeat, for me, a rural ideal role model would be one who would use the bully pulpit to reinforce and promote the principle of equality of live chances.

MS. BUSETTE: Great. Thank you both. We’re going to take a few more questions. The gentleman in the back. The gentleman with the glasses and next to him the gentleman with the orange shirt.

MR. RAWLINS: Quincy Rawlins with the Institute for Educational Leadership here in Washington D.C. You’ve addressed this tangentially, but I wonder, it seems that this may be overly simplistic, by the flip side of extreme poverty seems to be extreme concentration of wealth. Not only in this country but obviously across the world, and I wonder if we can address any of the problems that you guys have talked about without directly addressing the concentration of wealth, and the fact that many corporations and super rich in this country are not paying their fair share of taxes in my view.

MS. BUSETTE: So, we have the gentleman in the glasses and the suit here, next to the gentleman with the orange T – shirt.

MR. COLLENBERG: Hi, Richard Collenberg with the Century Foundation. You both have talked about the effects of concentrated poverty, and I’m wondering what you would advocate in terms of public policy, and I’ll throw out one idea that Bill and I have talked about a little bit. You know, in 1968, 50 years ago, we saw the passage of the Fair Housing Act and since then, racial segregation has declined to a similarity index of 79 to 59. So, a hundred would be pure segregation, zero would be perfectly integrated. Meanwhile we’ve seen an increase in economic segregation, and I’m wondering what you all would think about an Economic Fair Housing Act that would go after the issue of concentrated poverty by addressing the discrimination that goes on in terms of exclusionary zoning, where certain neighborhoods are basically off limits for working class people because of apartment buildings or townhouses aren’t allowed to be built there.

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you.

MR. ASHANAGA: Michael Ashanaga Trans Union. Mr. Vance, you’ve put forward several different roads out of poverty. You know, better education, cultural change, job training, cheaper colleges I guess. But the problem is I see that that does not create jobs. That just creates competition for jobs, so at the end of the day, even if everyone is well educated, wouldn’t there still be a lot of poverty?

MS. BUSETTE: Okay, so we have our question on the concentration of wealth in the U.S., a question about an economic fair housing kind of policy to address concentrated poverty, and then finally, whether the policy prescriptions around creating a better and more educated — more skilled and education workforce actually addresses the true cause of poverty.

MR. WILSON: Let me just say that addressing the problem of concentration of wealth and inequality, that is a major problem that we have to confront. I would say yes, we have to deal with that problem. That has to be high on our agenda, on the public agenda. That’s all I want to say about that, because we could go on and on talking about that. Addressing the question of increase in economic segregation. People don’t realize that racial segregation is on the decline, while economic segregation is a segregation of families by income is on the increase. So yes, I would support your proposal of dealing with exclusivity zoning. Say a little bit more about that. I mean, you just probably said I’ll bet piece on that so we (laughter).

MR. COLLENBERG: Well the basic notion is that you know, here we had some success through a legal policy The Fair Housing Act where we’ve seen this decline in racial segregation, and yet what replaced kind of the old racial zoning from the 1920’s has been economic zoning, and so, it seems to me, that just as it should be shameful to exclude people from entire neighborhoods based on race, it ought to be as concerning to us in our culture and in our policy to have laws that in essence are excluding people based on class. In Montgomery County Maryland where I live, there is an alternative to that policy. It’s called Inclusionary Zoning, where the notion was that if people are good enough to, you know, take care of resident’s kids, if they’re able to teach the children, if they’re able to take care of the lawns, they ought to be good enough to live in these communities as well.

MR. WILSON: That’s why I wanted to give you the floor Rick (laughter).

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you very much. So, J.D., did you want to address any of these questions around concentrated poverty, the Economic Fair Housing kind of Act —

MR. VANCE: Sure.

MS. BUSETTE: — and creating a better skilled and you know, more education workforce, but whether or not that addresses the true cause of poverty in the US.

MR. VANCE: So, on the inequality and concentration wealth, the top thing, I’ll say this one area where I actually think conservative senator Mike Leaf from Utah has had some really, really, interesting ideas. One of the tax reform proposals Senator Leaf has advocated for is actually setting the capital taxation rate at the same rate as the ordinary income rate. Because that’s what’s really driving this difference, right. It’s not ordinary income earners. It’s not salaried professionals. Those Richard Reeve says that’s a problem. It’s primarily actually that folks in the global economy, especially the ultra-elite, folks in the global economy have achieved some sort of economic lift off from the rest of the country and I think that in light of that, it doesn’t make a ton of sense that we continue to have the taxation policy that we do. Frankly, that’s one of the reasons why I am sort of so conflicted about President Trump because I think in some ways instinctively at least the President recognizes this, but we’ll see what actually happens with tax reform over the next few months. The question about job competition is absolutely correct. You can’t just have a better educated workforce but hold the number of workers constant. At the same time, I do think there’s a bit of a chicken and egg problem here right because you know, while the skills gap is overplayed and while it violates all of these rules of Econ 101, one of the things you hear pretty consistently from folks who would l ike to expand, would like to hire more, would like to produce more, is that there are real labor force constraints, especially in what might be called non-cognitive skills, right; and this is a thing that you hear a lot. In my home state if you really want to hire more, and you really want to produce more, and sell more, then the problem is the opioid epidemic has effectively thinned the pool of people who were even able to work. So, I do think that productivity is really important, but I also think that we tend to think of these things in too mathematical and sort of hyper-rational ways, but part of the reason productivity is held back, is because we have real problems in the labor market, and if you fix one, you could help another, and they may create a virtuous cycle.

MS. BUSETTE: Thank you both …

Voir encore:

What Hillbilly Elegy Reveals About Trump and America

Mona Charen

July 28, 2016

A harrowing portrait of the plight of the white working class J. D. Vance’s new book Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and a Culture in Crisis couldn’t have been better timed. For the past year, as Donald Trump has defied political gravity to seize the Republican nomination and transform American politics, those who are repelled by Trump have been accused of insensitivity to the concerns of the white working class. For Trump skeptics, this charge seems to come from left field, and I use that term advisedly. By declaring that a particular class and race has been “ignored” or “neglected,” the Right (or better “right”) has taken a momentous step in the Left’s direction. With the ease of a thrown switch, people once considered conservative have embraced the kind of interest-group politics they only yesterday rejected as a matter of principle. It was the Democrats who urged specific payoffs, er, policies to aid this or that constituency. Conservatives wanted government to withdraw from the redistribution and favor-conferring business to the greatest possible degree. If this was imperfectly achieved, it was still the goal — because it was just. Using government to benefit some groups comes at the expense of all. While not inevitably corrupt, the whole transactional nature of the business does easily tend toward corruption.

Conservatives and Republicans understood, or seemed to, that in many cases, when government confers a benefit on one party, say sugar producers, in the form of a tariff on imported sugar, there’s a problem of concentrated benefits (sugar producers get a windfall) and dispersed costs (everyone pays more for sugar, but only a bit more, so they never complain). In the realm of race, sex, and class, the pandering to groups goes beyond bad economics and government waste — and even beyond the injustice of fleecing those who work to support those who choose not to — and into the dangerous territory of pitting Americans against one another. Democrats have mastered the art of sowing discord to reap votes. Powered by Now they have company in the Trumpites.

Like Democrats who encourage their target constituencies to nurse grievances against “greedy” corporations, banks, Republicans, and government for their problems, Trump now encourages his voters to blame Mexicans, the Chinese, a “rigged system,” or stupid leaders for theirs. The problems of the white working class should concern every public-spirited American not because they’ve been forgotten or taken for granted — even those terms strike a false note for me — but because they are fellow Americans. How would one adjust public policy to benefit the white working class and not blacks, Hispanics, and others? How would that work? And who would shamelessly support policies based on tribal or regional loyalties and not the general welfare?

As someone who has written — perhaps to the point of dull repetition — about the necessity for Republicans to focus less on entrepreneurs (as important as they are) and more on wage earners; as someone who has stressed the need for family-focused tax reform; as someone who has advocated education innovations that would reach beyond the traditional college customers and make education and training easier to obtain for struggling Americans; as someone who trumpeted the Reformicon proposals developed by a group of conservative intellectuals affiliated with the American Enterprise Institute and the Ethics and Public Policy Center; and finally, as someone who has shouted herself hoarse about the key role that family disintegration plays in many of our most pressing national problems, I cannot quite believe that I stand accused of indifference to the white working class.

I said that Hillbilly Elegy could not have been better timed, and yes, that’s in part because it paints a picture of Americans who are certainly a key Trump constituency. Though the name Donald Trump is never mentioned, there is no doubt in the reader’s mind that the people who populate this book would be enthusiastic Trumpites. But the book is far deeper than an explanation of the Trump phenomenon (which it doesn’t, by the way, claim to be). It’s a harrowing portrait of much that has gone wrong in America over the past two generations. It’s Charles Murray’s “Fishtown” told in the first person. The community into which Vance was born — working-class whites from Kentucky (though transplanted to Ohio) — is more given over to drug abuse, welfare dependency, indifference to work, and utter hopelessness than statistics can fully convey. Vance’s mother was an addict who discarded husbands and boyfriends like Dixie cups, dragging her two children through endless screaming matches, bone-chilling threats, thrown plates and worse violence, and dizzying disorder. Every lapse was followed by abject apologies — and then the pattern repeated. His father gave him up for adoption (though that story is complicated), and social services would have removed him from his family entirely if he had not lied to a judge to avoid being parted from his grandmother, who provided the only stable presence in his life.

Vance writes of his family and friends: “Nearly every person you will read about is deeply flawed. Some have tried to murder other people, and a few were successful. Some have abused their children, physically or emotionally.” His grandmother, the most vivid character in his tale (and, despite everything, a heroine) is as foul-mouthed as Tony Soprano and nearly as dangerous. She was the sort of woman who threatened to shoot strangers who placed a foot on her porch and meant it. Vance was battered and bruised by this rough start, but a combination of intellectual gifts — after a stint in the Marines he sailed through Ohio State in two years and then graduated from Yale Law — and the steady love of his grandparents helped him to leapfrog into America’s elite.

This book is a memoir but also contains the sharp and unsentimental insights of a born sociologist. As André Malraux said to Whittaker Chambers under very different circumstances in 1952: “You have not come back from Hell with empty hands.” The troubles Vance depicts among the white working class, or at least that portion he calls “hillbillies,” are quite familiar to those who’ve followed the pathologies of the black poor, or Native Americans living on reservations. Disorganized family lives, multiple romantic partners, domestic violence and abuse, loose attachment to work, and drug and alcohol abuse. Children suffer from “Mountain Dew” mouth — severe tooth decay and loss because parents give their children, sometimes even infants with bottles, sugary sodas and fail to teach proper dental hygiene.

“People talk about hard work all the time in places like Middletown [Ohio],” Vance writes. “You can walk through a town where 30 percent of the young men work fewer than 20 hours a week and find not a single person aware of his own laziness.” He worked in a floor-tile warehouse and witnessed the sort of shirking that is commonplace. One guy, I’ll call him Bob, joined the tile warehouse just a few months before I did. Bob was 19 with a pregnant girlfriend. The manager kindly offered the girlfriend a clerical position answering phones. Both of them were terrible workers. The girlfriend missed about every third day of work and never gave advance notice. Though warned to change her habits repeatedly, the girlfriend lasted no more than a few months. Bob missed work about once a week, and he was chronically late. On top of that, he often took three or four daily bathroom breaks, each over half an hour. . . . Eventually, Bob . . . was fired. When it happened, he lashed out at his manager: ‘How could you do this to me? Don’t you know I’ve a pregnant girlfriend?’ And he was not alone. . . . A young man with every reason to work . . . carelessly tossing aside a good job with excellent health insurance. More troublingly, when it was all over, he thought something had been done to him. The addiction, domestic violence, poverty, and ill health that plague these communities might be salved to some degree by active and vibrant churches.

But as Vance notes, the attachment to church, like the attachment to work, is severely frayed. People say they are Christians. They even tell pollsters they attend church weekly. But “in the middle of the Bible belt, active church attendance is actually quite low.” After years of alcoholism, Vance’s biological father did join a serious church, and while Vance was skeptical about the church’s theology, he notes that membership did transform his father from a wastrel into a responsible father and husband to his new family. Teenaged Vance did a stint as a check-out clerk at a supermarket and kept his social-scientist eye peeled: I also learned how people gamed the welfare system. They’d buy two dozen packs of soda with food stamps and then sell them at a discount for cash. They’d ring up their orders separately, buying food with the food stamps, and beer, wine, and cigarettes with cash. They’d regularly go through the checkout line speaking on their cell phones. I could never understand why our lives felt like a struggle while those living off of government largesse enjoyed trinkets that I only dreamed about. . . . Perhaps if the schools were better, they would offer children from struggling families the leg up they so desperately need?

Vance is unconvinced. The schools he attended were adequate, if not good, he recalls. But there were many times in his early life when his home was so chaotic — when he was kept awake all night by terrifying fights between his mother and her latest live-in boyfriend, for example — that he could not concentrate in school at all. For a while, he and his older sister lived by themselves while his mother underwent a stint in rehab. They concealed this embarrassing situation as best they could. But they were children. Alone. A teacher at his Ohio high school summed up the expectations imposed on teachers this way: “They want us to be shepherds to these kids. But no one wants to talk about the fact that many of them are raised by wolves.”

Hillbilly Elegy is an honest look at the dysfunction that afflicts too many working-class Americans. But despite the foregoing, it isn’t an indictment. Vance loves his family and admires some of its strengths. Among these are fierce patriotism, loyalty, and toughness. But even regarding patriotism (his grandmother’s “two gods” were Jesus Christ and the United States of America), this former Marine strikes a melancholy note. His family and community have lost their heroes. We loved the military but had no George S. Patton figure in the modern army. . . . The space program, long a source of pride, had gone the way of the dodo, and with it the celebrity astronauts. Nothing united us with the core fabric of American society. Conspiracy theories abound in Appalachia. People do not believe anything the press reports: “We can’t trust the evening news. We can’t trust our politicians. Our universities, the gateway to a better life, are rigged against us. We can’t get jobs.”

Conspiracy theories abound in Appalachia. Sound familiar? The white working class has followed the black underclass and Native Americans not just into family disintegration, addiction, and other pathologies, but also perhaps into the most important self-sabotage of all, the crippling delusion that they cannot improve their lot by their own effort. This is where the rise of Trump becomes both understandable and deeply destructive. He ratifies every conspiracy theory in circulation and adds new ones. He encourages the tribal grievances of the white working class and promises that salvation will come — not through their own agency and sensible government reforms — but only through his head-knocking leadership. He calls this greatness, but it’s the exact reverse. A great people does not turn to a strongman.

The American character has been corrupted by multiple generations of government dependency and the loss of bourgeois virtues like self-control, delayed gratification, family stability, thrift, and industriousness. Vance has risen out of chaos to the heights of stability, success, and happiness. He is fundamentally optimistic about the chances for the nation to do the same. Whether his optimism is justified or not is unknowable, but his brilliant book is a signal flashing danger.

— Mona Charen is a senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center.

Voir enfin:

Hillbilly sellout: The politics of J. D. Vance’s “Hillbilly Elegy” are already being used to gut the working poor

Conservatives and the media treated Vance’s memoir like « Poor People for Dummies. » Watch his damaging rhetoric work

When Republican Representative Jason Chaffetz took to the airwaves Tuesday to defend his party’s flailing Affordable Care Act replacement plan, he told CNN, “Americans have choices … so, maybe, rather than getting that new iPhone that they just love, and they want to go spend hundreds of dollars on that, maybe they should invest in their own healthcare.” Pushback was swift as many were quick to point out the Congressman was equating a $700 phone to healthcare costs that can often spiral into six figures, but some were equally shocked by the callousness of his remarks.

Was Chaffetz insinuating that the poor would rather spend money on frivolous things than their own self-care?

To people like myself, who grew up poor, this criticism is certainly nothing new. In conversations with Republicans about the challenges facing my working-class family, I’ve gotten used to being asked how many TVs my parents own, or what kind of cars they drive. At the heart of those questions is a lurking assumption that Chaffetz brought into the light: Maybe the poor deserve their lot in life.

This philosophy, while absurd on its face, effectively cripples any momentum toward helping suffering populations and is an old favorite of the Republican Party. It’s the same reasoning that led Ronald Reagan to decry “welfare queens” and Fox News to continually criticize people on assistance for buying shrimp, soft drinks, “junk food,” and crab legs. It gives those disinclined to part with their own money an excuse not to feel guilty about their own greed.

To further quell their culpability and show that the American Dream still functions as advertised, conservatives are fond of trotting out success stories — people who prove that pulling one’s self up by one’s bootstraps is still a possibility and, by extension, that those who don’t succeed must own their shortcomings. Lately, the right has found nobody more useful, both during the presidential election and after, than their modern-day Horatio Alger spokesperson, J. D. Vance, whose bestselling book “Hillbilly Elegy” chronicled his journey from Appalachia to the hallowed halls of the Ivy League, while championing the hard work necessary to overcome the pitfalls of poverty.
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Traditionally this would’ve been a Fox News kind of book — the network featured an excerpt on their site that focused on Vance’s introduction to “elite culture” during his time at Yale — but Vance’s glorified self-help tome was also forwarded by networks and pundits desperate to understand the Donald Trump phenomenon, and the author was essentially transformed into Privileged America’s Sherpa into the ravages of Post-Recession U.S.A.

Trumpeted as a glimpse into an America elites have neglected for years, I first read “Hillbilly Elegy” with hope. I’d been told this might be the book that finally shed light on problems that’d been killing my family for generations. I’d watched my grandparents and parents, all of them factory workers, suffer backbreaking labor and then be virtually forgotten by the political establishment until the GOP needed their vote and stoked their social and racial anxieties to turn them into political pawns.

In the beginning, I felt a kinship to Vance. His dysfunctional childhood looked a lot like my own. There was substance abuse. Knockdown, drag-out fights. A feeling that people just couldn’t get ahead no matter what they did.

And then the narrative took a turn.

Due to references he downplays, not to mention his middle-class grandmother’s shielding and encouragement, Vance was able to lift himself out of the despair of impoverishment and escaped to Yale and eventually Silicon Valley, where he was able to look back on his upbringing with a new perspective.

“Whenever people ask me what I’d most like to change about the white working class,” he writes, “I say, ‘the feeling that our choices don’t matter.’”

The thesis at the heart of “Hillbilly Elegy” is that anybody who isn’t able to escape the working class is essentially at fault. Sure, there’s a culture of fatalism and “learned helplessness,” but the onus falls on the individual.

As Vance writes: “I’ve seen far too many people awash in genuine desire to change only to lose their mettle when they realized just how difficult change actually is.”

Oh, the working class and their aversion to difficulty.

If only they, like Vance, could take the challenge head on and rise above their circumstances. If only they, like Vance, weren’t so worried about material things like iPhones or the “giant TVs and iPads” the author says his people buy for themselves instead of saving for the future.

This generalization is not the only problematic oversimplification in Vance’s book — he totally discounts the role racism played in the white working class’s opposition to President Obama and says, instead, it was because Obama dressed well, was a good father, and because Michelle Obama advocated eating healthy food — but it would be hard to understate what role Vance has played in reinvigorating the conservative bootstraps narrative for a new generation and, thus, emboldening Republican ideology.

To Vance’s credit, he has been critical of Donald Trump, calling the working class’s support of the billionaire a result of a “false sense of purpose,” but Vance’s portrait of poor Americans is alarmingly in lockstep with the philosophy of Republicans who are shamefully using Trump’s presidency to forward their own agenda of economic warfare. Certainly Jason Chaffetz’s comments are fueled by the same low opinion of the poor as Vance’s, as is Speaker of the House Paul Ryan’s legislative agenda, which is focused on disabling the social safety net.

Though Vance’s name doesn’t appear in the Republican ACA replacement bill, the philosophy at the heart of it is certainly in tune. While the proposed bill would cost millions of Americans their access to care — Vance himself tweeted a link Tuesday to a Forbes article that stated as much while lauding the legislation — it makes sure to benefit the wealthy, gives a tax break to insurance CEOs and moves the focus of health care in America to an age-based model instead of income.

The message is loud and clear: Help is on the way, but only to those who “deserve” it.

And how does one deserve it?

By working hard. And the only metric to show that one has worked sufficiently hard enough is to look at their income, at how successful they are, because, in Vance’s and the Republican’s America, the only one to blame if you’re not wealthy is yourself. Never mind how legislation like this healthcare bill, cuts in education funding, continued decreases in after-school and school lunch programs, not to mention a lack of access to mental health care or career counseling, disadvantages the poor.

Of the problems facing working-class America, Vance writes in “Hillbilly Elegy,” “There is no government that can fix these problems for us.”

And, at least partially, one has to agree.

There is no government that can fix these problems, or at least, no government we have now.

Jared Yates Sexton is an Assistant Professor of Creative Writing. His campaign book « The People Are Going To Rise Like The Waters Upon Your Shore » is out now from Counterpoint Press.

Voir enfin:

J.D. Vance, the False Prophet of Blue America

The bestselling author of « Hillbilly Elegy » has emerged as the liberal media’s favorite white trash–splainer. But he is offering all the wrong lessons.

J.D. Vance is the man of the hour, maybe the year. His memoir Hillbilly Elegy is a New York Times bestseller, acclaimed for its colorful and at times moving account of life in a dysfunctional clan of eastern Kentucky natives. It has received positive reviews across the board, with the Times calling it “a compassionate, discerning sociological analysis of the white underclass.” In the rise of Donald Trump, it has become a kind of Rosetta Stone for blue America to interpret that most mysterious of species: the economically precarious white voter.

Vance’s influence has been everywhere this campaign season, shaping our conception of what motivates these voters. And it is already playing a role in how liberals are responding to Donald Trump’s victory in the presidential election, which was accomplished in part by a defection of downscale whites from the Democratic Party. Appalachia overwhelmingly voted for Trump, and Vance has since emerged as one of the media’s favorite Trump explainers. The problem is that he is a flawed guide to this world, and there is a danger that Democrats are learning all the wrong lessons from the election.

Elegy is little more than a list of myths about welfare queens repackaged as a primer on the white working class. Vance’s central argument is that hillbillies themselves are to blame for their troubles. “Our religion has changed,” he laments, to a version “heavy on emotional rhetoric” and “light on the kind of social support” that he needed as a child. He also faults “a peculiar crisis of masculinity.” This brave new world, in sore need of that old time religion and manly men, is apparently to blame for everything from his mother’s drug addiction to the region’s economic crisis.

“We spend our way to the poorhouse,” he writes. “We buy giant TVs and iPads. Our children wear nice clothes thanks to high-interest credit cards and payday loans. We purchase homes we don’t need, refinance them for more spending money, and declare bankruptcy, often leaving them full of garbage in our wake. Thrift is inimical to our being.”

And he isn’t interested in government solutions. All hillbillies need to do is work hard, maybe do a stint in the military, and they can end up at Yale Law School like he did. “Public policy can help,” he writes, “but there is no government that can fix these problems for us … it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better.”

Set aside the anti-government bromides that could have been ripped from a random page of National Review, where Vance is a regular contributor. There is a more sinister thesis at work here, one that dovetails with many liberal views of Appalachia and its problems. Vance assures readers that an emphasis on Appalachia’s economic insecurity is “incomplete” without a critical examination of its culture. His great takeaway from life in America’s underclass is: Pull up those bootstraps. Don’t question elites. Don’t ask if they erred by granting people mortgages and lines of credit they couldn’t afford to repay. Don’t call it what it is—corporate deception—or admit that it plunged this country into one of the worst economic crises it’s ever experienced.

No wonder Peter Thiel, the almost comically evil Silicon Valley libertarian, endorsed the book. (Vance also works for Thiel’s Mithril Capital Management.) The question is why so many liberals are doing the same.


In many ways, I should appreciate Elegy. I grew up poor on the border of southwest Virginia and east Tennessee. My parents are the sort of god-fearing hard workers that conservatives like Vance fetishize. I attended an out-of-state Christian college thanks to scholarships, and had to raise money to even buy a plane ticket to attend grad school. My rare genetic disease didn’t get diagnosed until I was 21 because I lacked consistent access to health care. I’m one of the few members of my high school class who earned a bachelor’s degree, one of the fewer still who earned a master’s degree, and one of maybe three or four who left the area for good.

But unlike Vance, I look at my home and see a region abandoned by the government elected to serve it. My public high school didn’t have enough textbooks and half our science lab equipment didn’t work. Some of my classmates did not have enough to eat; others wore the same clothes every day. Sometimes this happened because their addict parents spent money on drugs. But the state was no help here either. Its solution to our opioid epidemic has been incarceration, not rehabilitation. Addicts with additional psychiatric conditions are particularly vulnerable. There aren’t enough beds in psychiatric hospitals to serve the region—the same reason Virginia State Sen. Creigh Deeds (D) nearly died at the hands of his mentally ill son in 2013.

And then there is welfare. In Elegy, Vance complains about hillbillies who he believes purchased cellphones with welfare funds. But data makes it clear that our current welfare system is too limited to lift depressed regions out of poverty.

Kathryn Edin and H. Luke Shaefer reported earlier this year that the number of families surviving on $2 a day grew by 130 percent between 1996 and 2011. Blacks and Latinos are still disproportionately more likely to live under the poverty line, but predominately white Appalachia hasn’t been spared the scourge either. And while Obamacare has significantly reduced the number of uninsured Americans, its premiums are still often expensive and are set to rise. Organizations like Remote Access Medical (RAM) have been forced to make up the difference: Back home, people start lining up at 4 a.m. for a chance to access RAM’s free healthcare clinics. From 2007 to 2011, the lifespans of eastern Kentucky women declined by 13 months even as they rose for women in the rest of the country.

According to the Economic Innovation Group, my home congressional district—Virginia’s Ninth—is one of the poorest in the country. Fifty-one percent of adults are unemployed; 19 percent lack a high school diploma. EIG estimates that fully half of its 722,810 residents are in economic distress.

As I noted in Scalawag earlier this year, the Ninth is not an outlier for the region. On EIG’s interactive map, central Appalachia is a sea of distress. If you are born where I grew up, you have to travel hundreds of miles to find a prosperous America. How do you get off the dole when there’s not enough work to go around? Frequently, you don’t. Until you lose your benefits entirely: The Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program (TANF), passed by Bill Clinton and supported by Hillary Clinton, boots parents off welfare if they’re out of work.


At various points in this election cycle, liberal journalists have sounded quite a bit like Vance. “‘Economic anxiety’ as a campaign issue has always been a red herring,” Kevin Drum declared in Mother Jones. “If you want to get to the root of this white anxiety, you have to go to its roots. It’s cultural, not economic.”

At Vox, Dylan Matthews argued that while Trump voters deserved to be taken seriously, most were actually fairly well-off, with a median household income of $72,000. The influence of economic anxiety, he concluded, had been exaggerated.

Neither Drum or Matthews accounted for regional disparities in white poverty rates, and they failed to anticipate how those disparities would impact the election. Trump supporters were wealthier than Clinton supporters overall, but Trump’s victories in battleground states like Wisconsin, Michigan, and Ohio correlated to high foreclosure rates. In Pennsylvania, Wisconsin, and Michigan, Trump outperformed Mitt Romney with the white working class and flipped certain strategic counties red.

But Matthews was right in at least one sense: Trump Country has always been bigger than Appalachia and the white working class itself. You just wouldn’t know this from reading the news.

In March, Trump won nearly 70 percent of the Republican primary vote in Virginia’s Buchanan County. At the time, it was his widest margin of victory, and no one seemed surprised that this deeply conservative and impoverished pocket in southwest Virginia’s coal country handed him such decisive success. And no one seemed to realize Buchanan County had once been a Democratic stronghold.

A glossy Wall Street Journal package labeled it “The Place That Wants Donald Trump The Most” and promised readers that understanding Buchanan County was key to understanding the “source” of Trump’s popularity. The Financial Times profiled a local young man who fled this dystopia for the University of Virginia; it titled the piece “The Boy Who Escaped Trump Country.” And then there was Bloomberg View: “Coal County is Desperate for Donald Trump.” (The same piece said the county seat, Grundy, “looks as if it fell into a crevice and got stuck.”)

And then Staten Island went to the polls. A full 82 percent of Staten Island Republicans voted to give Trump the party’s nomination, wresting the title of Trumpiest County away from Buchanan. The two locations have little in common aside from Trump. Staten Island, population 472,621, is New York City’s wealthiest borough. Its median household income is $70,295, a figure not far off from the figure Matthews cites as the median income of the average Trump supporter. Buchanan County, population 23,597, has a median household income of $27,328 and the highest unemployment rate in Virginia. Staten Island, then, tracks closer to the Trumpist norm, but it received a fraction of the coverage.

No one wrote escape narratives about Staten Island. Few plumbed the psyches of suburban Trumpists. And no one examined why Democratic Buchanan County had become Republican. Instead, the media class fixated on the spectacle of white trash Appalachia, with Vance as its representative-in-exile.


“A preoccupation with penalizing poor whites reveals an uneasy tension between what Americans are taught to think the country promises—the dream of upward mobility—and the less appealing truth that class barriers almost invariably make that dream unobtainable,” Nancy Isenberg wrote in the preface to her book White Trash. If the system worked for you, you’re not likely to blame it for the plight of poor whites. Far easier instead to believe that poor whites are poor because they deserve to be.

But now we see the consequences of this class blindness. The media and the establishment figures who run the Democratic Party both had a responsibility to properly identify and indict the system’s failures. They abdicated that responsibility. Donald Trump took it up—if not always in the form of policy, then in his burn-it-all-down posture.

No analysis of Trumpism is complete without a reckoning of its white supremacy and misogyny. Appalachia is, like so many other places, a deeply racist and sexist place. It is not a coincidence that Trumpist bastions, from Buchanan County to Staten Island, are predominately white, or that Trump rode a tide of xenophobia to power. Economic hardship isn’t unique to white members of the working class, either. Blacks, Latinos, and Natives occupy a far more precarious economic position overall. White supremacy is indeed the overarching theme of Trumpism.

But that doesn’t mean we should repeat the establishment failures of this election cycle and minimize the influence of economic precarity. Trump is a racist and a sexist, but his victory is not due only to racism or sexism any more than it is due only to classism: He still won white women and a number of counties that had voted for Obama twice. This is not a simple story, and it never really has been.

We don’t need to normalize Trumpism or empathize with white supremacy to reach these voters. They weren’t destined to vote for Trump; many were Democratic voters. They aren’t destined to stay loyal to him in the future. To win them back, we must address their material concerns, and we can do that without coddling their prejudices. After all, America’s most famous progressive populist—Bernie Sanders—won many of the counties Clinton lost to Trump.

There’s danger ahead if Democrats don’t act quickly. The Traditionalist Worker’s Party has already announced plans for an outreach push in greater Appalachia. The American Nazi Party promoted “free health care for the white working class” in literature it distributed in Missoula, Montana, last Friday. If Democrats have any hope of establishing themselves as the populist alternative to Trump, they can’t allow American Nazis to fall to their left on health care for any population.

By electing Trump, my community has condemned itself to further suffering. The lines for RAM will get longer. Our schools will get poorer and our children hungrier. It will be one catastrophic tragedy out of the many a Trump presidency will generate. So yes, be angry with the white working class’s political choices. I certainly am; home will never feel like home again.

But don’t emulate Vance in your rage. Give the white working class the progressive populism it needs to survive, and invest in the areas the Democratic Party has neglected. Remember that bootstraps are for people with boots. And elegies are no use to the living.