Octomom: C’est la rivalité, imbécile ! (Baby-hoarding: The reproductive equivalent of your buying 30 giant bottles of ketchup at Costco, even though the cupboard is already overflowing)

3 janvier, 2018
 Voici, des fils sont un héritage de l’Éternel, Le fruit des entrailles est une récompense. Comme les flèches dans la main d’un guerrier, Ainsi sont les fils de la jeunesse. Heureux l’homme qui en a rempli son carquois! Psaumes 127: 3-5
Lorsque Rachel vit qu’elle ne donnait point d’enfants à Jacob, elle porta envie à sa soeur, et elle dit à Jacob: Donne-moi des enfants, ou je meurs! La colère de Jacob s’enflamma contre Rachel, et il dit: Suis-je à la place de Dieu, qui t’empêche d’être féconde? Elle dit: Voici ma servante Bilha; va vers elle; qu’elle enfante sur mes genoux, et que par elle j’aie aussi des fils. (…) Rachel dit: J’ai lutté divinement contre ma soeur, et j’ai vaincu. (…) Ruben (…) trouva des mandragores dans les champs. Il les apporta à Léa, sa mère. Alors Rachel dit à Léa: Donne moi, je te prie, des mandragores de ton fils. Elle lui répondit: Est-ce peu que tu aies pris mon mari, pour que tu prennes aussi les mandragores de mon fils? Et Rachel dit: Eh bien! il couchera avec toi cette nuit pour les mandragores de ton fils. Le soir, comme Jacob revenait des champs, Léa sortit à sa rencontre, et dit: C’est vers moi que tu viendras, car je t’ai acheté pour les mandragores de mon fils. Et il coucha avec elle cette nuit. Dieu exauça Léa, qui devint enceinte, et enfanta un cinquième fils à Jacob. Léa dit: Dieu m’a donné mon salaire parce que j’ai donné ma servante à mon mari. Et elle l’appela du nom d’Issacar. Genèse 30: 1-18
Tout comme d’autres types de comportement humain, l’ascétisme religieux peut être contaminé par l’esprit compétitif. (…) Nous vivons à une époque où les actions les plus saines comme les plus malsaines peuvent avoir la même motivation. (…) Il y a une grande ironie dans le fait que le processus moderne d’éradication de la religion en produit d’innombrables caricatures. On nous dit souvent que nos problèmes sont dus à notre incapacité à nous débarrasser de notre tradition religieuse mais ce n’est pas vrai. Ils sont enracinés dans la débâcle de cette tradition, qui est nécessairement suivie par la réapparition, dans des habits modernes, de divinités plus anciennes et plus féroces nées du processus mimétique. (…) nous entrons dans une hiérarchie de jeux compétitifs qui deviennent toujours plus subtils à mesure que l’escalade progresse. A la fin, ce processus peut aboutir à un rejet total de la compétition, ce qui peut être, même si ce n’est pas toujours le cas, la plus intense des compétitions. Ainsi, il existe des rivalités de renoncement plutôt que d’acquisition, de privation plutôt que de jouissance. Dans toute société, la compétition peut assumer des formes paradoxales parce qu’elle peut contaminer les activités qui lui sont en principe les plus étrangères, en particulier le don. Dans le potlatch, comme dans notre société, la course au toujours moins peut se substituer à la course au toujours plus, et signifier en définitive la même chose. Nous avons repéré l’ennemi et c’est nous. Chaque individu finit par trouver son équivalent personnalisé de la folie du potlatch. (…) La rivalité s’intensifie à mesure que le nombre d’imitateurs augmente. René Girard
Often connected with obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarding involves excessive collecting and an inability to throw things away, a pattern that in severe cases can lead to major health hazards. The syndrome even has its own reality program. A&E’s « Hoarders » takes viewers into homes that are literally collapsing under the weight of their own squalor. One episode featured a woman whose dead cats had been decomposing under her living room debris for a decade. Oh, and it’s doing great in the ratings. Just when we thought we knew everything there was to know about Nadya Suleman, there’s suddenly another Octo-news flash. In an accusation of gross negligence filed by the Medical Board of California against Michael Kamrava, the Beverly Hills doctor who performed the in vitro fertilization procedures that led to the births of Suleman’s 14 children, it’s been revealed that the Octomom demanded the creation of fresh embryos despite having a stockpile of frozen ones. This despite her claim that she pursued multiple pregnancies because she didn’t want her existing embryos to be destroyed or go unused. In other words, what’s disturbing here is not just that Kamrava « went beyond the reasonable judgment of any treating physician. » It’s that Suleman, with Kamrava, engaged in the reproductive equivalent of your buying 30 giant bottles of ketchup at Costco, even though the cupboard is already overflowing. Suleman, as far as I can tell, is a decent housekeeper, but am I the only one who sees her obsession with childbearing as a manifestation of the hoarding impulse? Am I the only one who reads about Suleman returning to the doctor for more embryo transfers just three or four months after giving birth and wonders just how different her mentality is from whatever drives someone to let newspapers pile up so they block the windows? I hear about Angelina Jolie wanting « up to 14 kids » and the Duggars giving all their children names that start with « J » and wonder if, in addition to being magnanimous or true to Scripture or whatever they’d like to think they’re being, they’re not also a little . . . compulsive? Of course, I’m not a psychologist, a fact I was reminded of when I called Gail Steketee, dean of the School of Social Work at Boston University and coauthor of the forthcoming « Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. » Steketee sees no connection between hoarding and addiction to baby-making or baby-adopting. In fact, she’s never heard the two referenced together. She points instead to hoarders’ problems with decision-making; with fundamental difficulties understanding what they need and don’t need. She thinks that behavior like Suleman’s « no doubt represents some form of need » but that « it’s unlikely to be similar to the need for information [a reason hoarders save years’ worth of newspapers], for keeping sentimental items or for having control over one’s stuff. » OK, so the research community isn’t backing my theory. But when we ask why we’re simultaneously so repelled and captivated by Suleman, perhaps we also need to ask why we’re so drawn in by stockpiling excess: Is it pure voyeurism? Is it strictly us versus them, the rational versus the nut jobs? Or does the notion of acquisition-run-amok resonate with an extreme ketchup buyer in all of us? LA Times

Après la syllogomanie, le syndrome de Noé, le syndrome de Diogène ou la bibliomanie, … la bébémanie ?

Angelina Jolie rêvant tout haut, pour compléter sa collection, de 14 enfants …

Séries de télé-réalité (« Hoarders », « Hoarding Buried alive ») suivant, il y a quelques années, la vie quotidienne de personnes souffrant de syllogomanie, (syndrome de Noé, syndrome de Diogène ou bibliomanie) …

Autre série de téléréalité (récemment arrêtée elle aussi) à la gloire d’une famille à « 19 enfants et ce n’est pas fini »

Incarnation d’un mouvement religieux dit « carquois pleins » anti-contraception et pro-enseignement à domicile et prônant une progéniture nombreuse …

Revndication, après l’aberration du « mariage homosexuel », de la « gestation pour tous » …

A l’heure où l’on reparle de la fameuse Octomom

Qui avait justement avec ses 14 enfants …

Dont une naissance d’octuplés, s’ajoutant, suite à une insémination de douze embryons, à six autres enfants dont une paire de jumeaux …

Défrayé la chronique il y a neuf ans …

Comment ne pas voir …

Dans cette véritable obsession de la gestation qu’elle incarne …

A l’image de l’authentique compétition gestative à laquelle se livrent, y compris via servantes-mères porteuses et mandragores viagra-, les deux proverbiales femmes du Jacob biblique …

Non seulement, avec le LA Times, la énième manifestation de la pulsion accumulatrice …

Mais aussi de cet esprit de compétition et de rivalité …

Qui, comme l’avait si brillamment montré René Girard, peu à peu gagne la moindre de nos conduites ?

Octomom, ‘Hoarders’ and compulsion
Whether it’s having lots of kids or just lots of stuff, Americans are compulsive about watching those who are compulsive.
Meghan Daum
The LA Times
January 07, 2010

Just when we thought we knew everything there was to know about Nadya Suleman, there’s suddenly another Octo-news flash. In an accusation of gross negligence filed by the Medical Board of California against Michael Kamrava, the Beverly Hills doctor who performed the in vitro fertilization procedures that led to the births of Suleman’s 14 children, it’s been revealed that the Octomom demanded the creation of fresh embryos despite having a stockpile of frozen ones. This despite her claim that she pursued multiple pregnancies because she didn’t want her existing embryos to be destroyed or go unused.

In other words, what’s disturbing here is not just that Kamrava « went beyond the reasonable judgment of any treating physician. » It’s that Suleman, with Kamrava, engaged in the reproductive equivalent of your buying 30 giant bottles of ketchup at Costco, even though the cupboard is already overflowing.

I know some of you are probably wagging your fingers at me — for comparing embryos to ketchup (hey, there are worse analogies) and for discussing Octomom at all (believe me, I’m wagging my finger at myself, then stabbing it into my eye). And yes, Sulemania has waned, but it hasn’t disappeared. The paparazzi still follow her every move, and the New York Times Magazine published a cover story in November about the filming of a British documentary series, « My Life As the Octomom. »

Of course, ultra-fecundity is in vogue these days, particularly in the realm of unscripted television. From the unceasing car alarm that is the din of « Jon & Kate Plus Eight » to the more subdued though strangely creepier Duggar family, who’ve added a 19th child to their reality show-making, home-schooling, birth-control-eschewing dynasty, there’s no doubt that large broods attract viewers. And why wouldn’t they? If there’s anything television audiences like watching more than cute kids, it’s adults whose lives are more harried and banal than their own.

Lately, however, I’ve been wondering if some of the interest in mega-families is cut from the same psychological cloth as another phenomenon that’s captured a lot of attention: hoarding. Often connected with obsessive-compulsive disorder, hoarding involves excessive collecting and an inability to throw things away, a pattern that in severe cases can lead to major health hazards.

The syndrome even has its own reality program. A&E’s « Hoarders » takes viewers into homes that are literally collapsing under the weight of their own squalor. One episode featured a woman whose dead cats had been decomposing under her living room debris for a decade. Oh, and it’s doing great in the ratings.

Suleman, as far as I can tell, is a decent housekeeper, but am I the only one who sees her obsession with childbearing as a manifestation of the hoarding impulse? Am I the only one who reads about Suleman returning to the doctor for more embryo transfers just three or four months after giving birth and wonders just how different her mentality is from whatever drives someone to let newspapers pile up so they block the windows? I hear about Angelina Jolie wanting « up to 14 kids » and the Duggars giving all their children names that start with « J » and wonder if, in addition to being magnanimous or true to Scripture or whatever they’d like to think they’re being, they’re not also a little . . . compulsive?

Of course, I’m not a psychologist, a fact I was reminded of when I called Gail Steketee, dean of the School of Social Work at Boston University and coauthor of the forthcoming « Stuff: Compulsive Hoarding and the Meaning of Things. » Steketee sees no connection between hoarding and addiction to baby-making or baby-adopting. In fact, she’s never heard the two referenced together. She points instead to hoarders’ problems with decision-making; with fundamental difficulties understanding what they need and don’t need. She thinks that behavior like Suleman’s « no doubt represents some form of need » but that « it’s unlikely to be similar to the need for information [a reason hoarders save years’ worth of newspapers], for keeping sentimental items or for having control over one’s stuff. »

OK, so the research community isn’t backing my theory. But when we ask why we’re simultaneously so repelled and captivated by Suleman, perhaps we also need to ask why we’re so drawn in by stockpiling excess: Is it pure voyeurism? Is it strictly us versus them, the rational versus the nut jobs? Or does the notion of acquisition-run-amok resonate with an extreme ketchup buyer in all of us?

I’m not sure what’s worse, that we want to gawk at it or that we secretly relate to it (either way, A&E wins). But one thing’s for sure: If Kamrava loses his medical license — a distinct possibility — maybe he could land a job at Costco.

Voir aussi:

EXCLUSIVE: Two bedrooms for 14 kids and living paycheck to paycheck – but Octomom tells how she is FINALLY ‘at peace’ with her octuplets after giving up stripping and searching for a man
Nadya Suleman, who now goes by Natalie, says she wants to share her story with other women after admitting her controversial pregnancy led her to the brink of suicide
Speaking to DailyMail.com the mom of 14 revealed: ‘Every day I would wake up with the ugliest, dead, visceral feeling inside of me’
Suleman’s notoriety landed her roles in porn films which she has now come to deeply regret. Although she admits residuals from the film help pay the bills
She became infamous in 2009 after undergoing IVF treatment and became pregnant with octuplets, even though she already had six and was unemployed
Now Suleman admits she was ‘very foolish, immature and selfish’ to have 14 children but can’t ‘imagine my life at this point in time any different than it is’
The 42-year-old reveals how she decided to make a change after a stranger approached her at a strip club and  told her: ‘You do not have to do this’

Karen Ruiz

The Dailymail

20 December 2017

‘Octomom’ Nadya Suleman says she is now finally ‘at peace’ after her financial problems and strain of trying to look after her 14 children led her to the brink of suicide.

Now, the controversial mother who gave birth to octuplets after in vitro fertilization (IVF), wants to share her story and personal battle with other women, hoping it will inspire them.

Nadya, 42, who now goes by the name of Natalie, has also turned her back on her media persona of ‘Octomom’ who she says ‘nearly destroyed me and my family.’

Speaking to DailyMail.com she revealed: ‘Every day I would wake up with the most ugly, dead, visceral feeling inside of me.

‘I didn’t want to live. I felt less than human as that character I was pretending to be, to survive and provide for my family.

‘What she was disgusted me and I did not want my children to remember me like that. I was forced into doing things I didn’t want to do because I was so terrified I couldn’t support them and give them the life I deserved.

‘When I abandoned it and went back to who I really am I had that sense of peace, internal joy.

‘Struggle is the best teacher. I have become more grateful for every minute of every day – little moments, not material things, can measure up to those times I have with my family.’

Natalie became infamous in 2009 when it was revealed she had undergone IVF treatment to become pregnant with eight children, even though she was already a mother of six and unemployed.

Her notoriety led her to do a pornographic film, which saw her win four Adult Video Network (AVN) awards, and appear in strip clubs.

Recalling the moment she realized she had to turn a corner she said: ‘I was so low I was taking prescription drugs, benzodiazepines.

‘I had to medicate to just get through what I was doing. I would mix it with alcohol which I later found out was what Whitney Houston, died from.

‘I didn’t want to be here anymore, but then I thought about my children and just had to keep going for them.’

She told how her breaking point came after she was approached by a stranger one night while she was working as a stripper.

‘I was in a strip club in Florida in February 2013, and this very tall man, this stranger came in. He walked straight to me and looked straight into my eyes.

‘He took my hand and grabbed my arm and said in a very gentle but firm way: « You do not have to do this. » He repeated it five times.

‘I couldn’t control the tears that were streaming down my face. I had that ugly feeling of nausea. I looked down for a moment, and looked up and he was gone,’ she says.

Natalie says she thought it was possible the man could have been ‘an angel’ and she decided to make a change: ‘I knew I had to be my healthy self again. I didn’t want my kids not to have a mom.’

Natalie has six children from her first five rounds of IVF – Elijah, 16, Amerah, 15, Joshua, 13, Aiden, 11, and 10-year-old twins Calyssa and Caleb.

The octuplets, Makai, Josiah, Isaiah, Jonah, Maliyah, Jeremiah, Nariyah and Noah turn nine in January, and are the only surviving set in the world.

To try and give them a more stable upbringing she moved the family back to Laguna, in Orange County, CA, where she had grown up.

But as she tried to get her life on track, in 2014 she was found guilty of welfare fraud, and ordered to do community service.

Natalie says she was innocent, and claims her management were to blame: ‘The only thing I was guilty of was being desperate and trusting.

‘I gave them my cards and checkbook and that is what happened. I was trying to manage my children instead of my money. The fraud, was totally expunged thankfully.’

Now Natalie works part time as a counselor, speaking to men and women who suffer drug and alcohol issues.

She says despite caring for 14 children on her own, she is not looking for a partner: ‘That’s just not me. My calling was to be a mom. I am happiest at home with the kids. And I knew when I did this I would be sacrificing a social life. But that’s OK because I’m not social.’

She confessed she was ‘very foolish, immature and selfish’ to have 14 children, and didn’t really think through the consequences: ‘I was on a mission. I just wanted to have a bunch of kids. But I couldn’t imagine my life at this point in time any different than it is.’

Natalie admits things are tight but she helps feed the family with food stamps.

The octuplets follow a vegan diet, but her other six children are ‘omnivores.’

She said: ‘We live paycheck to paycheck. It’s a struggle every day. I am very grateful for food stamps, and I do get some residuals from that horrible porn thing. But I am not worried.’

The family live in a two bedroom townhouse in Laguna Niguel, California and have converted the office into a third bedroom so all her children have beds to sleep in.

She says they ‘fight, play, fight and play again’ like any normal family.

A lot of the children are ‘shy and introverted,’ taking after their mom.

And she revealed that the octuplets know that their home life is different to most households: ‘The whole family, we are all kind of different. The kids say, « oh are we weird somehow? » and I say, « it’s OK to be different if there is nothing wrong with it.’ ‘The kids are happy and that is all that matters.’

Natalie’s son Aiden, 12, is autistic, which adds another dimension to family life.

She says his siblings help look after him: ‘Aiden is a challenge. But the other children they are like his guardian angels.

‘His brother Makai, he literally shadows him, and helps give him bites of food – they have a very special bond.

‘Aiden has the mind of an 18-month-old, he’s still non-verbal and in his diapers 24/7.

‘I am open with the kids and I teach them about autism.’Natalie’s son inspired her to write her book which she is hoping to get published.

‘Originally it wasn’t a memoir, it was about raising my son with disabilities and the challenges. But the little kids made it a lot more interesting,’ she says.

‘It’s a story that needs to be told and I think it will encourage a lot of women to draw up strength they didn’t know they had.

‘I believe it will help inspire women to keep pressing forward despite the pain and suffering they may be experiencing. If you set a goal you can achieve anything.

Voir également:

Octomom : finie la galère
Déjà mère célibataire de six enfants, « Octomom » a ensuite accouché d’octuplés. L’Amérique la prenait pour une folle. Aujourd’hui, elle s’en sort.

Karen Isère

Paris Match|

Octomom n’est plus. Natalie dit avoir « tué » l’avatar qui l’a menée en enfer. De ce surnom donné par les médias américains à la naissance de ses octuplés, elle avait pourtant aussitôt fait une marque déposée. En janvier 2009, Nadya Suleman, comme elle s’appelle alors, fait la une des médias pour avoir accouché, par césarienne, de huit prématurés. Minuscules, ils ont vu le jour, ou plutôt les couveuses, à 7 mois et demi. Le plus lourd pèse 1,5 kilo ; le plus léger, moins de 700 grammes. Dans les gazettes de la planète, l’image de mère courage vire illico au phénomène de foire : sans emploi, la parturiente de l’extrême a déjà six enfants de 2 à 7 ans, dont un fils autiste. De quoi séduire les Américains puritains, partisans de familles XXL ? Après tout, les nourrissons portent des prénoms bibliques. Et, lors de sa grossesse, Nadya a refusé qu’on lui retire quelques embryons. Autant de bons points pour les Pro-Life… A un détail près : elle fait des bébés toute seule. Cette pécheresse n’a pas de mari, ni même de compagnon, et sa progéniture est 100 % made in éprouvette. Haro sur l’« Octo » ! Elle assure avoir « juste » voulu donner la vie une septième fois. Mais on lui aurait implanté six « œufs », dont deux se sont divisés. En réalité, il y en avait même douze, alors qu’une procédure normale se limite à deux ou trois. Un « surdosage » qui vaudra au médecin responsable d’être radié. Selon les experts, il aurait aussi dû s’interroger sur la santé mentale de sa patiente. L’Amérique libérale, elle, torpille d’ailleurs la jeune femme à coups de munitions psy. Les talk-shows parlent de narcissisme, de déséquilibre, d’irresponsabilité… Sur le plateau de Whoopi Goldberg, on se repasse en boucle les éclats de rire stridents d’Octomom, tout en susurrant qu’elle devrait faire adopter ses bébés.

Ses confidences ne rassurent personne : fille unique, elle aurait toujours rêvé d’une grande fratrie et « manqué d’attention » de la part de son père, Edward, un ex-militaire irakien, et de sa mère, Angela, enseignante. Alors elle s’est offert une compensation. Et une vengeance inconsciente ? A 33 ans, Nadya loge toujours dans le trois-pièces de ses parents, qui l’aident à élever sa couvée du siècle et y engloutissent leurs pensions de retraite. Angela assure que sa fille dépense ses allocations en jouets : « Elle n’a aucune idée de ce qu’elle nous fait endurer, aux petits et à moi. » En pleine crise des subprimes, ses concitoyens s’étranglent de rage en apprenant aussi le coût de cette naissance à haut risque : quelque 2 millions de dollars, aux frais de l’Oncle Sam. Et ce n’est qu’un début ! Pauvre Trésor public, se lamente l’Amérique.

Dans « Home Alone », Octomom se masturbe sous un fil où sèchent culottes et chaussettes d’enfants

Nadya a de faux airs d’Angelina Jolie, mais ni Brad ni millions. A quelques encablures de Hollywood, elle va produire une version originale du rêve américain. Un show vendeur mais décadent. Si les octuplés portent tous le même deuxième prénom, Angel, « ange », la vie de leur mère n’aura rien d’éthéré. Octomom devient un logo et ses propos une logorrhée sans filet, comme quand elle confie vouloir adopter un petit cochon et lui faire porter des couches. Elle assure qu’elle va travailler. Et le prouve : supermaman pose en Bikini sur un lit couvert de croix, « comme Madonna », sort le single « Sexy Party », tourne dans « 666, The Devil’s Child » (« L’enfant du diable ») puis dans un film porno, « Home Alone » (« Seule à la maison »). Elle s’y masturbe sous un fil où sèchent culottes et chaussettes d’enfant. Le bon goût près de chez vous. La pluie de dollars s’évapore vite, dans un parfum de scandale. La « mom » que les Américains adorent détester sera même condamnée à deux cents heures de travaux d’intérêt général pour fraude aux allocations. Elle les purge encore.

Aujourd’hui, Natalie assure qu’elle avait confié son compte en banque à son agent et ignorait tout de cette malversation. Surtout, elle vomit ses années X : « Un travail honteux et déshumanisant. Certains racontent que je l’ai fait par plaisir, mais c’était juste pour payer les factures. Je n’éprouvais plus que dégoût pour moi-même, alors j’anesthésiais sans cesse mes émotions à l’aide d’anxiolytiques. » Un soir de 2013, elle rentre d’une séance de photos coquines quand elle trouve sa petite Amerah, alors âgée de 10 ans, paradant dans le salon en talons aiguilles. « J’ai eu la nausée et je me suis dit “stop”. J’ai compris que je préférais devenir SDF avec mes 14 enfants que de laisser une de mes filles prendre le même chemin que moi. Dès lors, je me suis sentie aussi libre que si je m’étais évadée de prison. » A l’entendre, la transition est rondement menée : titulaire d’une maîtrise de psychothérapie, elle déménage fissa et trouve un travail social auprès de femmes en difficulté. Exit Octomom, et même Nadya. Désormais, miss Suleman répond au prénom de Natalie.

Je reçois des bons alimentaires de l’Etat, mais ils ne paient qu’un tiers de ce que mes enfants consomment

« On me traite de paresseuse qui profite des allocations, s’insurge-t-elle, alors que je travaille depuis trois ans et demi. Oui, je reçois encore des bons alimentaires de l’Etat, mais ils ne paient qu’un tiers de ce que mes enfants consomment en nourriture. » Elle venait de prendre ce nouveau départ quand sa mère fut atteinte d’un cancer de l’utérus. « Cela nous a beaucoup rapprochées, dit Natalie. Nous avions enfin la relation dont j’avais toujours rêvé. Elle s’est éteinte dans mes bras, fin 2014. Juste après, mon père a annoncé qu’il se soûlerait jusqu’à ce que mort s’ensuive. Je l’ai accueilli chez moi. Un soir, nous avons entendu un énorme choc. Sous l’empire de l’alcool, il était tombé dans l’escalier. Les pompiers sont arrivés à temps pour le sauver, mais il est resté tétraplégique et sous assistance respiratoire. Il ne peut même plus parler. »

De ses années nases, Natalie veut faire table rase. Tout en assumant ses erreurs. La bouche en cœur, et comme gonflée à l’hélium, elle a longtemps nié avoir eu recours à la chirurgie esthétique, notamment dans l’émission d’Oprah Winfrey. « En fait, dit-elle maintenant, je me suis fait augmenter la poitrine après avoir allaité trois enfants, j’ai subi une abdominoplastie après la naissance des jumeaux et je me suis fait faire par deux fois des injections dans les lèvres. Mais le résultat était si affreux que j’en avais honte. Alors j’ai menti. Je me sens soulagée de l’avouer enfin. » Elle estime aussi ses enfants capables d’entendre la vérité : « Ils savent ce que j’ai fait sous le nom d’Octomom. Je leur dis que j’ai commis des actions honteuses. Ils me répondent qu’ils m’aiment et m’aimeront toujours. » Au programme, donc, des confessions, mais aussi des bénédicités à chaque repas et l’église le dimanche. Le soir, la repentie fait jouer son petit monde au « jeu de la gratitude » : chacun doit trouver dix éléments pour lesquels il se sent reconnaissant. Natalie ne rêve même pas d’un amoureux : « Je ne peux pas prendre de mon temps aux enfants pour l’offrir à un étranger. Je suis mariée avec eux. »

Publicités

Reconnaissance de Jérusalem/Trump: Quand la condamnation est unanime (From Lincoln to Ike, Reagan or Bush, almost all GOP presidents have been stereotyped as not very bright and guess who got to have the last laugh in the end ?)

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George Orwell disait,  je crois dans 1984, que dans les temps de tromperie généralisée, dire la vérité est un acte révolutionnaire. David Hoffmann
Le langage politique est destiné à rendre vraisemblables les mensonges, respectables les meurtres, et à donner l’apparence de la solidité à ce qui n’est que vent. George Orwell
Tout racisme est un essentialisme et le racisme de l’intelligence est la forme de sociodicée caractéristique d’une classe dominante dont le pouvoir repose en partie sur la possession de titres qui, comme les titres scolaires, sont censés être des garanties d’intelligence et qui ont pris la place, dans beaucoup de sociétés, et pour l’accès même aux positions de pouvoir économique, des titres anciens comme les titres de propriété et les titres de noblesse. Pierre Bourdieu
Reagan, je l’ai trouvé comme il est : habité de certitudes. Américain typique, il n’est pas très exportable. Mitterrand (sommet d’Ottawa, 1981)
Son étroitesse d’esprit est évidente. Cet homme n’a que quelques disques qui tournent et retournent dans sa tête. Mitterrand (sommet de Williamsburg, 1983)
Il est temps de tuer le président. Monisha Rajesh
Trump c’est le candidat qui redonne aux Américains l’espoir, l’espoir qu’il soit assassiné avant son investiture. Pablo Mira (France Inter)
This is a message to Trump the idiot. You idiot, your promise to Israel will not be successful. You idiot, Jerusalem is the capital of Palestine for all eternity. Idriss
The Palestinians could have issued a low-key response, saying simply that no one, not even Trump, could decide the future of Jerusalem without their agreement. They could have kept their channels to the United States open and waited to see if anything would come of the much-vaunted Trump peace proposal. Instead, they declared “days of rage” that quickly fizzled, and then effectively severed ties with the Americans by announcing they would be boycotting any scheduled meetings with administration officials. This is idle talk based on wishful thinking. No other country has the resources, the skilled and experienced diplomatic corps, the investment in the region and the credibility to become the brokers of the process. The European Union is mired in a near-existential crisis, with Brexit cutting off one of its major members; its unofficial leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is struggling to build a coalition at home; and its unofficial leader-in-waiting, French President Emmanuel Macron, lacks the experience and attention span to devote himself properly. Russia has ulterior motives and does not really wish to help bring peace, just enhance its influence. China, which launched a Mideast conference this past week, is too far away – physically and mentally – to be much more than a bystander. And, most important, Israel can and will veto any other partner besides the Americans. Haaretz
Securing national borders seems pretty orthodox. In an age of anti-Western terrorism, placing temporary holds on would-be immigrants from war-torn zones until they can be vetted is hardly radical. Expecting “sanctuary cities” to follow federal laws rather than embrace the nullification strategies of the secessionist Old Confederacy is a return to the laws of the Constitution. Using the term “radical Islamic terror” in place of “workplace violence” or “man-caused disasters” is sensible, not subversive. Insisting that NATO members meet their long-ignored defense-spending obligations is not provocative but overdue. Assuming that both the European Union and the United Nations are imploding is empirical, not unhinged. Questioning the secret side agreements of the Iran deal or failed Russian reset is facing reality. Making the Environmental Protection Agency follow laws rather than make laws is the way it always was supposed to be. Unapologetically siding with Israel, the only free and democratic country in the Middle East, used to be standard U.S. policy until Obama was elected. (…) Expecting the media to report the news rather than massage it to fit progressive agendas makes sense. In the past, proclaiming Obama a “sort of god” or the smartest man ever to enter the presidency was not normal journalistic practice. (…) Half the country is having a hard time adjusting to Trumpism, confusing Trump’s often unorthodox and grating style with his otherwise practical and mostly centrist agenda. In sum, Trump seems a revolutionary, but that is only because he is loudly undoing a revolution. Victor Davis Hanson
Donald Trump is on course to win re-election in 2020, senior British diplomats believe, as he approaches his first full year in office. They think that despite a string of negative headlines the US president has largely kept his support base onside since entering White House. Possible Democratic contenders are seen as either too old – such as Bernie Sanders and Joe Biden – or lacking in the name recognition needed to defeat Mr Trump. There is also a belief the US president has curbed some of his most radical policy instincts since taking office, such as ignoring Nato or pulling out of Afghanistan. The Telegraph
Nearly a year into his presidency, Mr. Trump remains an erratic, idiosyncratic leader on the global stage, an insurgent who attacks allies the United States has nurtured since World War II and who can seem more at home with America’s adversaries… He has assiduously cultivated President Xi Jinping of China and avoided criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — leaders of the two countries that his own national security strategy calls the greatest geopolitical threats to America. NYT
A website archiving all of Donald Trump’s tweets calculated that he “stupid-tweeted” 183 times since Oct. 7, 2011. That’s a whole lot of stupid. It’s over 30 stupids per year for the past 6 years, not to mention his oral stupids. In fact, calling people stupid is probably Donald Trump’s crowning example of staying on message. And I suspect he’ll continue to use this art form for as long as his mouth works and his fingers – or even just his middle ones – can gesticulate. But stupid-speak does not stupid make. In fact, his stupid strategy can be called insightful, crafty, and productive. His bullying paid off. He has earned the title America’s stupid-caller-in-chief. Stupid people can’t do that. But what’s impeccably good for the goose is not necessarily good for those of us who would love a gander at his impeachment. And the principal difference between him calling us stupid and us returning the favor is that he is in power. (…) Speaking from experience, no single political party or their voters has a lock on stupid. (…) While it may be good for a chuckle, calling or even thinking someone else stupid is virtually guaranteed to give them the last laugh. Jason Lorber (Vermont Democrat)
This time one year ago, the assumption dominating political coverage was that the only people more stupid than Donald Trump were the deplorables who elected him. Since then, of course, President-elect Trump has become President Trump. Over his 11 months in office, he has put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and four times as many judges on the appellate courts as Barack Obama did his first year; recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; withdrawn from the Paris climate accord; adopted a more resolute policy on Afghanistan than the one he’d campaigned on; rolled back the mandate forcing Catholic nuns, among others, to provide employees with contraception and abortifacients; signed legislation to open up drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; initiated a bold, deregulatory assault on the administrative state—and topped it all off with the first major overhaul of the tax code in more than 30 years. And yet that Mr. Trump is a very stupid man remains the assumption dominating his press coverage. Add to this the sorry experience America had recently had with men, also outside conventional politics, who ran successfully for governorships: former pro wrestler and Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. Their respective administrations each began with high enthusiasm but ended in defeat and disillusionment. What would make anyone think Mr. Trump would do better? In one sense he is not unique: Almost all GOP presidents are stereotyped as not very bright. Ask Ike, or George W. Bush, or even Lincoln. Nor is it uncommon, in the headiness of a White House, for even the lowliest staffer to come to regard himself as the intellectual superior of the president he works for. In Mr. Trump’s case, critics equate lowbrow tastes (e.g., well-done steaks covered in ketchup) as confirmation of a lack of brainpower. It can make for great sport. But starting out with the assumption that the president you are covering is a boob can prove debilitating to clear judgment. Quick show of hands: How many of those in the press who continue to dismiss Mr. Trump as stupid publicly asserted he could never win the 2016 election—or would never get anyone decent to work for him in the unlikely miracle he did get elected? The WSJ
Jérusalem est, évidemment, et depuis toujours, la capitale d’Israël. Et il y a quelque chose, non seulement d’absurde, mais de choquant dans le tollé planétaire qui a suivi la reconnaissance, par les Etats-Unis, de cette évidence. (…) D’où vient, alors, mon malaise ? (…) Et, deux semaines après cette annonce que j’attendais, moi aussi, depuis des années, pourquoi cette inquiétude qui m’étreint ? (…) D’abord Trump. Je sens trop le côté gros malin, acculé par des défaites diverses et consécutives, qui a trouvé là son coup fumant de fin de première année de mandat. Ami des juifs, dit-il ? Protecteur et saint patron d’Israël ? Pardon, mais je n’y crois guère. Je ne pense absolument pas que Donald Trump soit mû par le sentiment d’une union sacrée de l’Amérique et d’Israël ou, comme on disait déjà du temps des Pères pèlerins des Etats-Unis, de la nouvelle et de l’ancienne Jérusalem. Je n’imagine pas l’âme de Trump disponible, de quelque façon que ce soit, à la reconnaissance de la singularité juive, à la célébration des paradoxes de la pensée talmudique ou au goût de l’aventure qui animait la geste ardente, lyrique et héroïque des pionniers laïques du sionisme. Et je ne pense pas davantage que les fameux néo-évangélistes qui forment, paraît-il, ses bataillons d’électeurs les plus solides aient la moindre idée de ce qu’est, en vérité, cet Etat nommé par des poètes, bâti par des rêveurs et poursuivi jusqu’à aujourd’hui, dans le même souffle ou presque, par un peuple dont le roman national est semé de miracles rationnels, d’espérances sous les étoiles et de ferveurs logiques. Eh bien ? Eh bien l’Histoire nous apprend qu’un geste d’amitié abstrait, insincère, délié de l’Idée et de la Vérité, amputé de cette connaissance et de cet amour profonds qu’on appelle, en hébreu, l’Ahavat Israël, ne vaut, finalement, pas grand-chose – ou, pire, elle nous enseigne comment, en vertu d’une mauvaise chimie des fièvres politiques dont le peuple juif n’a eu que trop souvent à endurer l’épreuve et les foudres, il y a tous les risques que ce geste, un jour, se retourne en son contraire. (…) M. Trump a-t-il pensé à tout cela quand il a mis ses petites mains dans le dossier «Jérusalem» ? Bernard-Henri Lévy
Je partage l’attachement à Israël, de tous les juifs, mais d’un autre côté, la décision de Trump me paraît catastrophique parce qu’elle risque d’embraser la région, parce qu’elle risque d’empêcher la reprise des négociations entre les Palestiens et les Israéliens. Les Américains auraient dû procéder tout autrement. Benyamin Netanyahu ne propose rien aux Palestiniens. Il les pousse au désespoir et à l’extrémisme. Alain Finkielkraut
BHL n’a pas besoin des éditoriaux du Monde, ni même de ceux de Ha’aretz, car il sait déjà. Il sait ce qui est bon pour Israël et ce qui ne l’est pas. Il sait que Jérusalem est la capitale d’Israël, mais il sait aussi que Trump ne peut pas faire quelque chose de bon pour les Juifs. Ainsi BHL peut écrire dans son dernier éditorial que “Jérusalem est, évidemment, et depuis toujours, la capitale d’Israël” et qu’il “y a quelque chose, non seulement d’absurde, mais de choquant dans le tollé planétaire qui a suivi la reconnaissance, par les Etats-Unis, de cette évidence”. Mais dans la même foulée, il va convoquer A. B. Yehoshua, Amos Oz et même le rav Steinman z.l. pour nous expliquer doctement pourquoi la reconnaissance de la capitale d’Israël par les Etats-Unis n’est pas bonne pour les Juifs. (…) Dans son envolée lyrique sur tout ce que “l’âme de Trump” est incapable de saisir des subtilités du judaïsme, BHL commet une double erreur. La première est d’opposer de manière caricaturale la grandeur d’Israël et des Juifs et les basses motivations qu’il attribue (sans aucune preuve) à Donald Trump. En cela, il rejoint les pires adeptes du “Trump bashing”, qu’il prétend ne pas imiter. La seconde, plus grave encore, est de croire qu’en politique – et en politique internationale surtout – les intentions priment sur les actes. Or rien n’est plus faux. Car en réalité, peu nous importe ce que pense Trump, en son for intérieur, des Juifs. Après tout, l’histoire récente est pleine d’exemples de dirigeants politiques qui appréciaient les Juifs et le fameux “génie juif” célébré par BHL, et qui ont été les pires adversaires de l’Etat d’Israël. Ce qui compte ce sont les actes envers Israël, Etat et peuple. A cet égard, la reconnaissance de notre capitale Jérusalem est un acte fort et riche de signification, qui n’engage pas seulement le président Trump et les Etats-Unis, mais le reste du monde, qui s’engagera lui aussi sur cette voie, comme c’est déjà le cas. Cette reconnaissance est une décision politique capitale, qui n’obéit pas à un calcul passager et mesquin, comme le prétend BHL, car elle engage les Etats-Unis de manière ferme, et quasiment irréversible. Peu nous importe, dans ces circonstances, de savoir si Trump apprécie la “pensée talmudique” ou l’esprit juif viennois… L’attitude de BHL et d’autres intellectuels juifs vis-à-vis de Trump (et de Nétanyahou) ressemble à celle des rabbins non sionistes (et des Juifs assimilés) à l’égard de Theodor Herzl, qui n’était pas assez “casher” (ou trop Juif) à leurs yeux. Dans son mépris pour Donald Trump et pour l’Amérique qu’il incarne (ces “fameux néo-évangélistes” dont il parle avec dédain), BHL montre qu’il ne comprend rien à ce pays et à l’identification spirituelle et charnelle des chrétiens américains, sionistes ou évangélistes, au peuple et à la terre d’Israël. En réalité, BHL sait très bien que la reconnaissance de notre capitale par le président Trump est une bonne chose pour Israël. Seulement voilà, il éprouve comme il l’avoue un sentiment de “malaise”. Pour la simple et bonne raison que depuis des mois, depuis l’élection de Trump et même avant, BHL explique à qui veut l’entendre que Trump n’est pas un ami des Juifs. Il l’a dit à maintes reprises, sur CNN où il expliquait en février dernier que “Trump a un problème avec les Juifs” et dans le New York Times où il appelait les Juifs à se méfier du président américain. La seconde erreur de BHL est de croire qu’en politique internationale, les intentions priment sur les actes. “Trump, Dioclétien et le gardien de cochons” : sous ce titre quelque peu mystérieux, BHL s’était livré il y a presqu’un an à une attaque au vitriol contre le nouveau président des Etats-Unis, Donald Trump, accusé par avance de trahison envers Israël et de mépris envers les Juifs. Et pour mieux asséner ses coups, BHL conviait en renfort Freud, le Talmud, Kafka, Rachi et Proust… Après avoir pronostiqué pendant des semaines que Trump allait perdre car “l’Amérique de Tocqueville” n’élirait pas un tel homme, BHL annonçait alors l’inéluctable trahison de Trump envers Israël. C’est pourtant le même BHL qui avait, avec une certaine dose de courage intellectuel, et contrairement à d’autres, reconnu le danger de la politique d’Obama envers Israël à l’occasion du vote de la Résolution 2334 au Conseil de Sécurité. (“Mais voir cette administration qui a tant concédé à l’Iran, tant cédé à la Russie… se rattraper en donnant de la voix, in extremis, contre ce mouton noir planétaire, ce pelé, ce galeux, qu’est le Premier ministre d’Israël, quelle misère !” écrivait-il alors.) Entretemps, Trump a été élu, il est devenu le président américain le plus pro-israélien depuis 1948, comme l’ont prouvé non seulement sa dernière décision sur Jérusalem, mais aussi son attitude à l’ONU et face au président de l’Autorité palestinienne (ce sinistre has-been que même les pays arabes ont fini par lâcher et que seule la France continue de soutenir). Trump est en train de promouvoir une véritable “révolution copernicienne” au Moyen-Orient, pour reprendre l’expression de Michel Gurfinkiel, en reléguant au second plan le conflit israélo-arabe et en abandonnant la politique désastreuse du soutien à “l’Etat palestinien” et aux concessions israéliennes. Mais tout cela est trop simple et limpide pour notre amateur de “paradoxes talmudiques”. Aussi BHL s’évertue à démontrer, faisait feu de tout bois, que cela n’est pas bon pour Israël. Peu importe si les faits lui donnent tort, puisque lui-même est persuadé d’avoir raison. Pierre Lurçat
Toute unanimité est suspecte. Le Talmud stipule que si une condamnation est unanime, le tribunal doit gracier l’accusé. (…) Depuis 70 ans Jérusalem est la capitale en activité d’Israël et les Etats qui ont reconnu Israël ont reconnu cette réalité. N’est-ce pas à la résidence du Président à Jérusalem que leurs Ambassadeurs déposent leurs lettres de créance ? N’est-ce pas dans la Knesset à Jérusalem que Nicolas Sarkozy et François Hollande ont prononcé leurs importants discours ? Jérusalem est pour les diplomates le sein que l’hypocrite Tartuffe ne saurait voir. Déterminer sa capitale est un acte de souveraineté nationale : l’Allemagne réunifiée a choisi Berlin et malgré les souvenirs sinistres, personne n’a protesté. Ne pas admettre Jérusalem capitale d’Israël, c’est sous-entendre que bien que l’Etat d’Israël existe, il n’est pas totalement légitime. C’est ouvrir un boulevard à ceux qui espèrent la destruction du pays. La décision de Trump avait été actée il y a vingt-cinq ans par le Congrès américain et réitérée par l’ensemble des candidats à la Présidence, dont Barack Obama à l’Aipac en juin 2008. Sommes-nous si habitués à ce que les promesses n’engagent que ceux qui y croient, que nous trouvions choquant qu’elles soient respectées ? D’autant que les mots prononcés avec la reconnaissance n’écartent aucune évolution géopolitique ultérieure. Le problème de cette déclaration n’est pas son contenu mais le haro général qu’elle a suscité. Si l’accusé n’a trouvé personne pour le soutenir, disent les commentateurs du traité Sanhedrin, un soupçon pèse sur le travail des juges. Le soupçon est ici celui du panurgisme : montrer qu’on est un partisan de la paix, comme « l’ensemble de la communauté internationale», cette paix que recherchent, c’est un axiome, les dirigeants palestiniens. Ce discours lénifiant a conforté l’ambiguïté et n’a rien apporté à la résolution du conflit. Depuis que l’Unesco a déclaré, dans une résolution qui a bénéficié de beaucoup de lâchetés et de silences, que Jérusalem n’avait historiquement à voir qu’avec l’Islam, les dernières illusions sont tombées sur la validité de ces institutions internationales, perverties par le jeu des majorités automatiques et des pressions qui les accompagnent. Négliger les réalités présentes, discourir sur Jérusalem « capitale de la paix », ce qu’elle n’a malheureusement presque jamais été, voire rêver à un « corpus separatum », probablement défendu par des soldats népalais et bangladais, c’est rêver. La situation aurait été différente si les États arabes n’avaient pas déclenché la guerre en 1947, si les Jordaniens avaient écouté les objurgations israéliennes en juin 1967, et a fortiori si les Israéliens avaient perdu l’un ou l’autre de ces conflits. On ne refait pas le passé. Esquiver la vérité sous prétexte de ne pas heurter les sensibilités des ennemis d’Israël a fait suppurer la plaie qu’est devenu le conflit israélo-palestinien. Craindre de dire la vérité sous prétexte que cela pourrait « entraîner l’enfer sur la terre » (dixit le Hamas), c’est fortifier la menace terroriste. Les marionnettistes qui attisent les braises sont iraniens ou islamistes sunnites et pas américains. Ceux qui l’ignorent regardent le doigt quand le sage désigne la lune. C’est ce que dit non pas la Guemara, mais un proverbe chinois… Richard Prasquier

Rira bien qui rira le dernier !

Insultes, moqueries, appels à l’assassinat, condamnations, imprécations …

A l’heure où se confirme chaque un peu plus…

L’étendue des mensonges  que le précédent leader du Monde libre était prêt à couvrir …

Pour finaliser, avant la déjudaïsation de Jérusalem des derniers jours de son mandat, son tristement fameux accord nucléaire …

Avec, entre trafic de drogue et assassinats politiques, l’Etat terroriste iranien et ses affidés libanais ou argentins …

Et au lendemain d’une reconnaissance de Jérusalem

Qui a fait à nouveau le plein d’unanimité contre le président Trump …

Y compris – ô combien significativement ! – par ceux-là mêmes …

Qui comme notre BHL national ou même, plus étonnament, notre Finkielkraut l’appelaient depuis longtemps de leurs voeux …

Comment ne pas repenser …

Avec l’un de nos rares dirigeants à avoir sauvé l’honneur, le président du CRIF Richard Pasquier …

Et au-delà du racisme de l’intelligence si caractéristique justement de nos intelligentsias …

Au fameux avertissement du Talmud contre les verdicts trop unanimes …

Mais aussi ne pas déjà entrevoir …

Avec les plus lucides de ses critiques …

Comme les conseillers mêmes de la Première ministre britannique …

Que la plaisanterie pourrait bien un jour se retourner contre eux ?

Johnny, Trump et Jérusalem. Que dit la Guemara ?
Richard Prasquier
CRIF
15/12/2017

Cette semaine, l’actualité impose son contenu. Pour Johnny, respect. Il a rendu service en amortissant par l’impact médiatique de son décès le déchaînement de critiques qui a accueilli la déclaration du Président américain sur Jérusalem. Belle conclusion pour cet homme qui fut un authentique ami d’Israël.

L’unanimité des dithyrambes adressés au rocker français, qui n’avait pourtant pas que des admirateurs, fait pendant à l’unanimité des blâmes adressés au président américain. Toute unanimité est suspecte. Le Talmud stipule que si une condamnation est unanime, le tribunal doit gracier l’accusé. Cette décision saugrenue, je la comprends mieux aujourd’hui.

Laissons les arguments juridiques et historiques qui soulignent que l’illégalité de la décision du président américain n’est pas si flagrante que cela. Ils confortent les convaincus, mais glissent malheureusement sur les autres. Les considérations religieuses et mystiques ne sont pas recevables, laïcité oblige.

Limitons-nous aux faits. Depuis 70 ans Jérusalem est la capitale en activité d’Israël et les Etats qui ont reconnu Israël ont reconnu cette réalité. N’est-ce pas à la résidence du Président à Jérusalem que leurs Ambassadeurs déposent leurs lettres de créance ? N’est-ce pas dans la Knesset à Jérusalem que Nicolas Sarkozy et François Hollande ont prononcé leurs importants discours ?

Jérusalem est pour les diplomates le sein que l’hypocrite Tartuffe ne saurait voir. Déterminer sa capitale est un acte de souveraineté nationale : l’Allemagne réunifiée a choisi Berlin et malgré les souvenirs sinistres, personne n’a protesté. Ne pas admettre Jérusalem capitale d’Israël, c’est sous-entendre que bien que l’Etat d’Israël existe, il n’est pas totalement légitime. C’est ouvrir un boulevard à ceux qui espèrent la destruction du pays.

« Ne pas admettre Jérusalem capitale d’Israël, c’est sous-entendre que bien que l’Etat d’Israël existe, il n’est pas totalement légitime.»

La décision de Trump avait été actée il y a vingt-cinq ans par le Congrès américain et réitérée par l’ensemble des candidats à la Présidence, dont Barack Obama à l’Aipac en juin 2008. Sommes-nous si habitués à ce que les promesses n’engagent que ceux qui y croient, que nous trouvions choquant qu’elles soient respectées ? D’autant que les mots prononcés avec la reconnaissance n’écartent aucune évolution géopolitique ultérieure.

Le problème de cette déclaration n’est pas son contenu mais le haro général qu’elle a suscité. Si l’accusé n’a trouvé personne pour le soutenir, disent les commentateurs du traité Sanhedrin, un soupçon pèse sur le travail des juges. Le soupçon est ici celui du panurgisme : montrer qu’on est un partisan de la paix, comme « l’ensemble de la communauté internationale», cette paix que recherchent, c’est un axiome, les dirigeants palestiniens. Ce discours lénifiant a conforté l’ambiguïté et n’a rien apporté à la résolution du conflit.

Depuis que l’Unesco a déclaré, dans une résolution qui a bénéficié de beaucoup de lâchetés et de silences, que Jérusalem n’avait historiquement à voir qu’avec l’Islam, les dernières illusions sont tombées sur la validité de ces institutions internationales, perverties par le jeu des majorités automatiques et des pressions qui les accompagnent.

Négliger les réalités présentes, discourir sur Jérusalem « capitale de la paix », ce qu’elle n’a malheureusement presque jamais été, voire rêver à un « corpus separatum », probablement défendu par des soldats népalais et bangladais, c’est rêver. La situation aurait été différente si les États arabes n’avaient pas déclenché la guerre en 1947, si les Jordaniens avaient écouté les objurgations israéliennes en juin 1967, et a fortiori si les Israéliens avaient perdu l’un ou l’autre de ces conflits. On ne refait pas le passé.

Esquiver la vérité sous prétexte de ne pas heurter les sensibilités des ennemis d’Israël a fait suppurer la plaie qu’est devenu le conflit israélo-palestinien. Craindre de dire la vérité sous prétexte que cela pourrait « entraîner l’enfer sur la terre » (dixit le Hamas), c’est fortifier la menace terroriste. Les marionnettistes qui attisent les braises sont iraniens ou islamistes sunnites et pas américains. Ceux qui l’ignorent regardent le doigt quand le sage désigne la lune. C’est ce que dit non pas la Guemara, mais un proverbe chinois…

Voir aussi:

The ‘Stupidity’ of Donald Trump

He’s had far more success than Arnold Schwarzenegger or Jesse Ventura

This time one year ago, the assumption dominating political coverage was that the only people more stupid than Donald Trump were the deplorables who elected him.

Since then, of course, President-elect Trump has become President Trump. Over his 11 months in office, he has put Neil Gorsuch on the Supreme Court and four times as many judges on the appellate courts as Barack Obama did his first year; recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel; withdrawn from the Paris climate accord; adopted a more resolute policy on Afghanistan than the one he’d campaigned on; rolled back the mandate forcing Catholic nuns, among others, to provide employees with contraception and abortifacients; signed legislation to open up drilling for oil in the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge; initiated a bold, deregulatory assault on the administrative state—and topped it all off with the first major overhaul of the tax code in more than 30 years.

And yet that Mr. Trump is a very stupid man remains the assumption dominating his press coverage.

Let this columnist confess: He did not see Mr. Trump’s achievements coming, at least at first. In the worst sense, populism means pandering to public appetites at the expense of sound policy. Too often populists who get themselves elected find either that they cannot implement what they promised, or that when they do, there are disastrous and unexpected consequences.

Add to this the sorry experience America had recently had with men, also outside conventional politics, who ran successfully for governorships: former pro wrestler and Navy SEAL Jesse Ventura in Minnesota and actor Arnold Schwarzenegger in California. Their respective administrations each began with high enthusiasm but ended in defeat and disillusionment. What would make anyone think Mr. Trump would do better?

Start with Mr. Ventura. His populism, like Mr. Trump’s, featured open ridicule of the press. At one point he issued press cards listing them as “official jackals.” Also like Mr. Trump, he was treated as simple-minded because he was not a professional pol. When David Letterman listed his top 10 campaign slogans for Mr. Ventura, No. 1 was “it’s the stupidity, stupid.”

In his first year Mr. Ventura’s approval rating soared to 73%, and while in office he did manage to push through tax rebates and a property-tax reform. By his last year, however, his vetoes were regularly overridden, spending had shot up, and the magic was gone. In the end, he decided against seeking a second term.

Next came Mr. Schwarzenegger, who in 2003 announced his run for governor on “The Tonight Show.” Mr. Schwarzenegger’s pitch was essentially Mr. Trump’s: The state’s politics had been so corrupted by the political class that Californians needed a strongman from the outside to shake it up.

The Governator did succeed in getting himself re-elected three years later, which is more than Mr. Ventura did. In the end, however, he was defeated by those he’d denounced as the “girlie men” of Sacramento, and his package of reforms went nowhere. The man who entered office promising to cut spending and revive the state’s economy ended up signing a huge tax increase, while debt nearly tripled under his watch.

Now we have President Trump. In one sense he is not unique: Almost all GOP presidents are stereotyped as not very bright. Ask Ike, or George W. Bush, or even Lincoln. Nor is it uncommon, in the headiness of a White House, for even the lowliest staffer to come to regard himself as the intellectual superior of the president he works for.

In Mr. Trump’s case, critics equate lowbrow tastes (e.g., well-done steaks covered in ketchup) as confirmation of a lack of brainpower. It can make for great sport. But starting out with the assumption that the president you are covering is a boob can prove debilitating to clear judgment.

Quick show of hands: How many of those in the press who continue to dismiss Mr. Trump as stupid publicly asserted he could never win the 2016 election—or would never get anyone decent to work for him in the unlikely miracle he did get elected?

The Trump presidency may still go poof for any number of reasons—if the promised economic growth doesn’t materialize, if the public concludes that his inability to ignore slights on Twitter is getting the best of his presidency, or if Democrats manage to leverage his low approval ratings and polarizing personality into a recapture of the House and Senate this coming November. And yes, it’s possible to regard Mr. Trump’s presidency as not worth the price.

But stupid? Perhaps the best advice for anti-Trumpers comes from one of their own, a Vermont Democrat named Jason Lorber. Way back in April, in an article for the Burlington Free Press, the retired state politician wrote that “while it may be good for a chuckle, calling or even thinking someone else stupid is virtually guaranteed to give them the last laugh.”

Is that not what Mr. Trump is now enjoying at the close of his first year?

 Voir également:

Trump, the Insurgent, Breaks With 70 Years of American Foreign Policy
President Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from an anchor of the international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable.
Mark Landler
New York Times
Dec. 28, 2017

WASHINGTON — President Trump was already revved up when he emerged from his limousine to visit NATO’s new headquarters in Brussels last May. He had just met France’s recently elected president, Emmanuel Macron, whom he greeted with a white-knuckle handshake and a complaint that Europeans do not pay their fair share of the alliance’s costs.

On the long walk through the NATO building’s cathedral-like atrium, the president’s anger grew. He looked at the polished floors and shimmering glass walls with a property developer’s eye. (“It’s all glass,” he said later. “One bomb could take it out.”) By the time he reached an outdoor plaza where he was to speak to the other NATO leaders, Mr. Trump was fuming, according to two aides who were with him that day.

He was there to dedicate the building, but instead he took a shot at it.

“I never asked once what the new NATO headquarters cost,” Mr. Trump told the leaders, his voice thick with sarcasm. “I refuse to do that. But it is beautiful.” His visceral reaction to the $1.2 billion building, more than anything else, colored his first encounter with the alliance, aides said.

Nearly a year into his presidency, Mr. Trump remains an erratic, idiosyncratic leader on the global stage, an insurgent who attacks allies the United States has nurtured since World War II and who can seem more at home with America’s adversaries. His Twitter posts, delivered without warning or consultation, often make a mockery of his administration’s policies and subvert the messages his emissaries are trying to deliver abroad.

Mr. Trump has pulled out of trade and climate change agreements and denounced the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran. He has broken with decades of American policy in the Middle East by recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. And he has taunted Kim Jong-un of North Korea as “short and fat,” fanning fears of war on the peninsula.

He has assiduously cultivated President Xi Jinping of China and avoided criticizing President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia — leaders of the two countries that his own national security strategy calls the greatest geopolitical threats to America.

Above all, Mr. Trump has transformed the world’s view of the United States from a reliable anchor of the liberal, rules-based international order into something more inward-looking and unpredictable. That is a seminal change from the role the country has played for 70 years, under presidents from both parties, and it has lasting implications for how other countries chart their futures.

Mr. Trump’s unorthodox approach “has moved a lot of us out of our comfort zone, me included,” the national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, said in an interview. A three-star Army general who served in Iraq and Afghanistan and wrote a well-regarded book about the White House’s strategic failure in Vietnam, General McMaster defined Trump foreign policy as “pragmatic realism” rather than isolationism.

“The consensus view has been that engagement overseas is an unmitigated good, regardless of the circumstances,” General McMaster said. “But there are problems that are maybe both intractable and of marginal interest to the American people, that do not justify investments of blood and treasure.”

Mr. Trump’s advisers argue that he has blown the cobwebs off decades of foreign policy doctrine and, as he approaches his first anniversary, that he has learned the realities of the world in which the United States must operate.

They point to gains in the Middle East, where Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman is transforming Saudi Arabia; in Asia, where China is doing more to pressure a nuclear-armed North Korea; and even in Europe, where Mr. Trump’s criticism has prodded NATO members to ante up more for their defense.

The president takes credit for eradicating the caliphate built by the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq, though he mainly accelerated a battle plan developed by President Barack Obama. His aides say he has reversed Mr. Obama’s passive approach to Iran, in part by disavowing the nuclear deal.

While Mr. Trump has held more than 130 meetings and phone calls with foreign leaders since taking office, he has left the rest of the world still puzzling over how to handle an American president unlike any other. Foreign leaders have tested a variety of techniques to deal with him, from shameless pandering to keeping a studied distance.

“Most foreign leaders are still trying to get a handle on him,” said Richard N. Haass, a top State Department official in the George W. Bush administration who is now the president of the Council on Foreign Relations. “Everywhere I go, I’m still getting asked, ‘Help us understand this president, help us navigate this situation.’

“We’re beginning to see countries take matters into their own hands. They’re hedging against America’s unreliability.”

Few countries have struggled more to adapt to Mr. Trump than Germany, and few leaders seem less personally in sync with him than its leader, Chancellor Angela Merkel, the physicist turned politician. After she won a fourth term, their relationship took on weighty symbolism: the great disrupter versus the last defender of the liberal world order.

In one of their first phone calls, the chancellor explained to the president why Ukraine was a vital part of the trans-Atlantic relationship. Mr. Trump, officials recalled, had little idea of Ukraine’s importance, its history of being bullied by Russia or what the United States and its allies had done to try to push back Mr. Putin.

German officials were alarmed by Mr. Trump’s lack of knowledge, but they got even more rattled when White House aides called to complain afterward that Ms. Merkel had been condescending toward the new president. The Germans were determined not to repeat that diplomatic gaffe when Ms. Merkel met Mr. Trump at the White House in March.
Trump’s Way

At first, things again went badly. Mr. Trump did not shake Ms. Merkel’s hand in the Oval Office, despite the requests of the assembled photographers. (The president said he did not hear them.)

Later, he told Ms. Merkel that he wanted to negotiate a new bilateral trade agreement with Germany. The problem with this idea was that Germany, as a member of the European Union, could not negotiate its own agreement with the United States.

Rather than exposing Mr. Trump’s ignorance, Ms. Merkel said the United States could, of course, negotiate a bilateral agreement, but that it would have to be with Germany and the other 27 members of the union because Brussels conducted such negotiations on behalf of its members.

“So it could be bilateral?” Mr. Trump asked Ms. Merkel, according to several people in the room. The chancellor nodded.

“That’s great,” Mr. Trump replied before turning to his commerce secretary, Wilbur Ross, and telling him, “Wilbur, we’ll negotiate a bilateral trade deal with Europe.”

Afterward, German officials expressed relief among themselves that Ms. Merkel had managed to get through the exchange without embarrassing the president or appearing to lecture him. Some White House officials, however, said they found the episode humiliating.

For Ms. Merkel and many other Germans, something elemental has changed across the Atlantic. “We Europeans must really take our destiny into our own hands,” she said in May. “The times in which we can fully count on others — they are somewhat over.”

Mr. Trump gets along better with Mr. Macron, a 40-year-old former investment banker and fellow political insurgent who ran for the French presidency as the anti-Trump. Despite disagreeing with him on trade, immigration and climate change, Mr. Macron figured out early how to appeal to the president: He invited him to a military parade.

But Mr. Macron has discovered that being buddies with Mr. Trump can also be complicated. During the Bastille Day visit, officials recalled, Mr. Trump told Mr. Macron he was rethinking his decision to pull out of the Paris climate accord.

That prompted French diplomats to make a flurry of excited calls to the White House for clarification the following week, only to find out that American policy had not changed. White House officials say that Mr. Trump was merely reiterating that the United States would be open to rejoining the pact on more advantageous terms.

But the exchange captures Mr. Trump’s lack of nuance or detail, which leaves him open to being misunderstood in complex international talks.

There have been fewer misunderstandings with autocrats. Mr. Xi of China and King Salman of Saudi Arabia both won over Mr. Trump by giving him a lavish welcome when he visited. The Saudi monarch projected his image on the side of a hotel; Mr. Xi reopened a long-dormant theater inside the Forbidden City to present Mr. Trump and his wife, Melania, an evening of Chinese opera.

“Did you see the show?” Mr. Trump asked reporters on Air Force One after he left Beijing in November. “They say in the history of people coming to China, there’s been nothing like that. And I believe it.”

Later, chatting with his aides, Mr. Trump continued to marvel at the respect Mr. Xi had shown him. It was a show of respect for the American people, not just for the president, one adviser replied gently.

Then, of course, there is the strange case of Mr. Putin. The president spoke of his warm telephone calls with the Russian president, even as he introduced a national security strategy that acknowledged Russia’s efforts to weaken democracies by meddling in their elections.

Mr. Trump has had a bumpier time with friends. He told off Prime Minister Theresa May on Twitter, after she objected to his exploitation of anti-Muslim propaganda from a far-right group in Britain.

“Statecraft has been singularly absent from the treatment of some of his allies, particularly the U.K.,” said Peter Westmacott, a former British ambassador to the United States.

Mr. Trump’s feuds with Ms. May and other British officials have left him in a strange position: feted in Beijing and Riyadh but barely welcome in London, which Mr. Trump is expected to visit early next year, despite warnings that he will face angry protesters.

Aides to Mr. Trump argue that his outreach to autocrats has been vindicated. When Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman visited the White House in March, the president lavished attention on him. Since then, they say, Saudi Arabia has reopened cinemas and allowed women to drive.

But critics say Mr. Trump gives more than he gets. By backing the 32-year-old crown prince so wholeheartedly, the president cemented his status as heir to the House of Saud. The crown prince has since jailed his rivals as Saudi Arabia pursued a deadly intervention in Yemen’s civil war.

Mr. Trump granted an enormous concession to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he announced this month that the United States would formally recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel. But he did not ask anything of Mr. Netanyahu in return.

That showed another hallmark of Mr. Trump’s foreign policy: how much it is driven by domestic politics. In this case, he was fulfilling a campaign promise to move the American Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv. While evangelicals and some hard-line, pro-Israel American Jews exulted, the Palestinians seethed — leaving Mr. Trump’s dreams of brokering a peace accord between them and the Israelis in tatters.

With China, Mr. Trump’s cultivation of Mr. Xi probably persuaded him to put more economic pressure on its neighbor North Korea over its provocative behavior. But even the president has acknowledged, as recently as Thursday, that it is not enough. And in return for Mr. Xi’s efforts, Mr. Trump has largely shelved his trade agenda vis-à-vis Beijing.

“It was a big mistake to draw that linkage,” said Robert B. Zoellick, who served as United States trade representative under Mr. Bush. “The Chinese are playing him, and it’s not just the Chinese. The world sees his narcissism and strokes his ego, diverting him from applying disciplined pressure.”

Mr. Trump’s protectionist instincts could prove the most damaging in the long term, Mr. Zoellick said. Trade, unlike security, springs from deeply rooted convictions. Mr. Trump believes that multilateral accords — like the Trans-Pacific Partnership, from which he pulled out in his first week in office — are stacked against America.

“He views trade as zero-sum, win-lose,” Mr. Zoellick said.

For some of Mr. Trump’s advisers, the key to understanding his statecraft is not how he deals with Mr. Xi or Ms. Merkel, but the ideological contest over America’s role that plays out daily between the West Wing and agencies like the State Department and the Pentagon.

“There’s a chasm that can’t be bridged between the globalists and the nationalists,” said Stephen K. Bannon, the president’s former chief strategist and the leader of the nationalist wing, who has kept Mr. Trump’s ear since leaving the White House last summer.

On the globalist side of the debate stand General McMaster; Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis; Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson; and Mr. Trump’s chief economic adviser, Gary D. Cohn. On the nationalist side, in addition to Mr. Bannon, stand Stephen Miller, the president’s top domestic adviser, and Robert Lighthizer, the chief trade negotiator. On many days, the nationalist group includes the commander in chief himself.

The globalists have curbed some of Mr. Trump’s most radical impulses. He has yet to rip up the Iran nuclear deal, though he has refused to recertify it. He has reaffirmed the United States’ support for NATO, despite his objections about those members he believes are freeloading. And he has ordered thousands of additional American troops into Afghanistan, even after promising during the campaign to stay away from nation-building.

This has prompted a few Europeans to hope that “his bark is worse than his bite,” in the words of Mr. Westmacott.

Mr. Trump acknowledges that being in office has changed him. “My original instinct was to pull out,” he said of Afghanistan, “and, historically, I like following my instincts. But all my life I’ve heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the Oval Office.”

Yet some things have not changed. Mr. Trump’s advisers have utterly failed to curb his Twitter posts, for example. Some gamely suggest that they create diplomatic openings. Others say they roll with the punches when he labels Mr. Kim of North Korea “Little Rocket Man.” For Mr. Tillerson, however, the tweets have severely tarnished his credibility in foreign capitals.

“All of them know they still can’t control the thunderbolt from on high,” said John D. Negroponte, who served as the director of national intelligence for Mr. Bush.

The tweets highlight that Mr. Trump still holds a radically different view of the United States’ role in the world than most of his predecessors. His advisers point to a revealing meeting at the Pentagon on July 20, when Mr. Mattis, Mr. Tillerson and Mr. Cohn walked the president through the country’s trade and security obligations around the world.

The group convened in the secure conference room of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, a storied inner sanctum known as the tank. Mr. Mattis led off the session by declaring that “the greatest thing the ‘greatest generation’ left us was the rules-based postwar international order,” according to a person who was in the room.

After listening for about 50 minutes, this person said, Mr. Trump had heard enough. He began peppering Mr. Mattis and Mr. Tillerson with questions about who pays for NATO and the terms of the free trade agreements with South Korea and other countries.

The postwar international order, the president of the United States declared, is “not working at all.”

Voir enfin:

Analysis The Palestinians Just Gave Netanyahu What He Always Wanted for Christmas

If there is one goal the Israeli premier has devoted his entire career to, it is trying to sever ties between the Americans and the Palestinians – and Abbas has handed it to him wrapped with a bow
Anshel Pfeffer

Haaretz

Dec 27, 2017

Ever since President Donald Trump announced the United States’ decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, the focus has been almost entirely on the global chorus of condemnation, the overwhelming votes against Trump’s proclamation in the UN Security Council and General Assembly, and the – so far – tiny handful of countries supporting the move.

But while attention has largely been on these symbolic moves, something that escaped notice is that, in the aftermath of the recognition gesture, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has accomplished one of his most cherished policy goals: Finally driving a massive wedge between the United States and the Palestinians.

When last Friday Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas published his Christmas message, announcing that the Palestinians “will not accept the U.S. as the mediator in the peace process, nor are we going to accept any plan from the U.S. side,” he could not have come up with a better Christmas present for Netanyahu.
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If there is one goal Netanyahu has devoted his career to – from the days when he was a Zionist student activist at MIT in the early 1970s – it is trying to sever ties between the Americans and the Palestinians. And Abbas gave it to him, just like that.

The battle against the U.S. administration recognizing the PLO and entering official talks with it dominated Israeli foreign policy throughout the 1980s, when Netanyahu was a diplomat in Washington and at the UN.

Thirty years ago, when leaving the diplomatic service to enter politics full-time with the Likud party, Netanyahu timed his resignation to follow a meeting between then-Secretary of State George P. Shultz and PLO-affiliated Palestinian academics, to portray it as an act of protest against the talks. Between 1988 and 1991, as deputy foreign minister his brief was mainly devoted to appearing in the American media, advocating against U.S.-PLO ties.

As prime minister (initially from 1996-1999 and then from 2009), Netanyahu had to contend with the new realities of the post-Oslo era – and, of course, with the administrations of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama, which openly supported a Palestinian state. But every engagement of his with the Palestinians was slow, grudging and through gritted teeth.

He has never given up on his stated intent to convince the world – and when Netanyahu thinks of the world, it will always be the world as it looks from the Oval Office – that the Palestinian issue is a sideshow and its leadership does not deserve an equal place at the table.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, May 23, 2017.
U.S. President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, May 23, 2017.Stephen Crowley/NYT

Netanyahu has never really cared about Jerusalem, beyond its symbolic significance. His government has not made any real efforts to solve the everyday problems of Israel’s poorest city. And even the much-beloved canard of moving the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem was never that high on his priority list. But the support for recognizing Jerusalem among Trump’s evangelical base, and the fact the U.S. president was willing to go ahead with the recognition as a low-cost (from his perspective) way of signaling he was keeping his election promises and showing how different he was from Obama, was a wonderful opportunity for Netanyahu.

He didn’t expect the world to suddenly fall in line with the U.S. president’s proclamation. Quite the opposite. He saw how much anger and opposition it would provoke, and therefore stoked Trump’s ego with encouragement and praise.

Netanyahu played the cards dealt to him brilliantly. The bigger the hoopla around Trump’s empty gesture, the bigger the insult to the Palestinians – an insult not delivered by Israel, but directly by the White House.

Trump himself made it clear the recognition of Jerusalem was not meant to prejudice the outcome of future negotiations between Israel and the Palestinians. He even emphasized that the United States was not recognizing any specific borders of Israel’s capital. The United States hasn’t even changed its policy on not writing “Israel” in the passports of U.S. citizens born in Jerusalem, much less made any concrete steps for actually moving the embassy. But Netanyahu still declared that Trump’s announcement was an event of great historical importance, on a par with the Balfour Declaration and King Cyrus’ decree to rebuild the Jewish temple in Jerusalem.

The Palestinians could have issued a low-key response, saying simply that no one, not even Trump, could decide the future of Jerusalem without their agreement. They could have kept their channels to the United States open and waited to see if anything would come of the much-vaunted Trump peace proposal.

Instead, they declared “days of rage” that quickly fizzled, and then effectively severed ties with the Americans by announcing they would be boycotting any scheduled meetings with administration officials.

No one has any illusions that this a favorable presidency as far as they are concerned. But, let’s face it, every single U.S. presidency has always been much more pro-Israel than pro-Palestinian. The “honest broker” label has always been a myth. The only reason the United States has been mediating between the two sides for so long is that it’s the world’s sole superpower and has been invested in the region for so many years.

There is always talk of another government stepping in as a potential mediator between Israel and the Palestinians. This is idle talk based on wishful thinking. No other country has the resources, the skilled and experienced diplomatic corps, the investment in the region and the credibility to become the brokers of the process.

The European Union is mired in a near-existential crisis, with Brexit cutting off one of its major members; its unofficial leader, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, is struggling to build a coalition at home; and its unofficial leader-in-waiting, French President Emmanuel Macron, lacks the experience and attention span to devote himself properly. Russia has ulterior motives and does not really wish to help bring peace, just enhance its influence. China, which launched a Mideast conference this past week, is too far away – physically and mentally – to be much more than a bystander. And, most important, Israel can and will veto any other partner besides the Americans.

All of this may change in the future if successive administrations follow Obama and Trump’s example by retreating from America’s traditional role in the region. But it will take decades for a new player to grow into the role of ultimate patron of the diplomatic process. By the time that happens, Abbas and Netanyahu will no longer be on the stage themselves.

It is much more likely that a new U.S. administration will reassert itself within a few years. When that happens, the Palestinians will have to rebuild their relationship with Washington and, depending on the views of that administration, it may be a better one than they had in the past. But for now at least, they have given Netanyahu what he’s always wanted for Christmas.
read more: https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/1.831169


Education: Trop intelligents pour être heureux (Harvard’s new Jews: How Ivy League schools’ fear of over-representation, stereotyping or preferences for athletes, large donors, alumni and under-represented groups sublty discriminate against Asian students)

17 décembre, 2017

The image of Asian-Americans as a homogeneous group of high achievers taking over the campuses of the nation’s most selective colleges came under assault in a report issued Monday.

The report, by New York University, the College Board and a commission of mostly Asian-American educators and community leaders, largely avoids the debates over both affirmative action and the heavy representation of Asian-Americans at the most selective colleges.

But it pokes holes in stereotypes about Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders, including the perception that they cluster in science, technology, engineering and math. And it points out that the term “Asian-American” is extraordinarily broad, embracing members of many ethnic groups.

“Certainly there’s a lot of Asians doing well, at the top of the curve, and that’s a point of pride, but there are just as many struggling at the bottom of the curve, and we wanted to draw attention to that,” said Robert T. Teranishi, the N.Y.U. education professor who wrote the report, “Facts, Not Fiction: Setting the Record Straight.”

“Our goal,” Professor Teranishi added, “is to have people understand that the population is very diverse.”

The report, based on federal education, immigration and census data, as well as statistics from the College Board, noted that the federally defined categories of Asian-American and Pacific Islander included dozens of groups, each with its own language and culture, as varied as the Hmong, Samoans, Bengalis and Sri Lankans.

Their educational backgrounds, the report said, vary widely: while most of the nation’s Hmong and Cambodian adults have never finished high school, most Pakistanis and Indians have at least a bachelor’s degree.

The SAT scores of Asian-Americans, it said, like those of other Americans, tend to correlate with the income and educational level of their parents.

“The notion of lumping all people into a single category and assuming they have no needs is wrong,” said Alma R. Clayton-Pederson, vice president of the Association of American Colleges and Universities, who was a member of the commission the College Board financed to produce the report.

“Our backgrounds are very different,” added Dr. Clayton-Pederson, who is black, “but it’s almost like the reverse of what happened to African-Americans.”

The report found that contrary to stereotype, most of the bachelor’s degrees that Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders received in 2003 were in business, management, social sciences or humanities, not in the STEM fields: science, technology, engineering or math. And while Asians earned 32 percent of the nation’s STEM doctorates that year, within that 32 percent more than four of five degree recipients were international students from Asia, not Asian-Americans.

The report also said that more Asian-Americans and Pacific Islanders were enrolled in community colleges than in either public or private four-year colleges. But the idea that Asian-American “model minority” students are edging out all others is so ubiquitous that quips like “U.C.L.A. really stands for United Caucasians Lost Among Asians” or “M.I.T. means Made in Taiwan” have become common, the report said.

Asian-Americans make up about 5 percent of the nation’s population but 10 percent or more — considerably more in California — of the undergraduates at many of the most selective colleges, according to data reported by colleges. But the new report suggested that some such statistics combined campus populations of Asian-Americans with those of international students from Asian countries.

The report quotes the opening to W. E. B. Du Bois’s 1903 classic “The Souls of Black Folk” — “How does it feel to be a problem?” — and says that for Asian-Americans, seen as the “good minority that seeks advancement through quiet diligence in study and work and by not making waves,” the question is, “How does it feel to be a solution?”

That question, too, is problematic, the report said, because it diverts attention from systemic failings of K-to-12 schools, shifting responsibility for educational success to individual students. In addition, it said, lumping together all Asian groups masks the poverty and academic difficulties of some subgroups.

The report said the model-minority perception pitted Asian-Americans against African-Americans. With the drop in black and Latino enrollment at selective public universities that are not allowed to consider race in admissions, Asian-Americans have been turned into buffers, the report said, “middlemen in the cost-benefit analysis of wins and losses.”

Some have suggested that Asian-Americans are held to higher admissions standards at the most selective colleges. In 2006, Jian Li, the New Jersey-born son of Chinese immigrants, filed a complaint with the Office for Civil Rights at the Education Department, saying he had been rejected by Princeton because he is Asian. Princeton’s admission policies are under review, the department says.

The report also notes the underrepresentation of Asian-Americans in administrative jobs at colleges. Only 33 of the nation’s college presidents, fewer than 1 percent, are Asian-Americans or Pacific Islanders.

Voir aussi:

Data check: Why do Chinese and Indian students come to U.S. universities?

Two new reports document the continued growth in the overall number of students coming to the United States from other countries. Those pursuing undergraduate degrees in so-called STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields make up 45% of the undergraduate total, and their share of the graduate pool is even larger. But within that broad picture are some surprising trends involving China and India, the two countries that supply the largest number of students (see graphic, above).

One is that the flow of Chinese students into U.S. graduate programs is plateauing at the same time their pursuit of U.S. undergraduate degrees is soaring. Another is the recent spike in graduate students from India occurring despite a continuing small presence of Indian students at the undergraduate level.

In August, ScienceInsider wrote about a report from the Council of Graduate Schools (CGS) on the most recent acceptance rates for foreign students at U.S. graduate programs. Last week the report was updated to reflect this fall’s actual first-time enrollment figures. And yesterday the Institute of International Education (IIE) issued its annual Open Doors report, which covers both undergraduate and graduate students from elsewhere enrolling in the United States as well as U.S. students studying abroad.

According to IIE, 42% of the 886,000 international students at U.S. universities in 2013 to 2014 hailed from China and India. China makes up nearly three-fourths of that subtotal. In fact, the number of Chinese students equals the total from the next 12 highest ranking countries after India.

This year’s IIE report also includes a look at 15-year trends. For example, foreign students compose only 8.1% of total U.S. enrollment, but their numbers have grown by 72% since 1999, making international students an increasingly important part of U.S. higher education.

Their presence has long been visible within graduate programs in science and engineering fields, of course. But the new Open Doors report documents a surge in undergraduate enrollment from China, to the point where it almost equals the number of graduate students in the country—110,550 versus 115,727. In 2000, the ratio was nearly 1-to-6.

Trying to understand such trends keeps university administrators up at night. And the more they know, the better they can be at anticipating the next trend. That’s why ScienceInsider turned to Peggy Blumenthal. She’s spent 30 years at IIE, most recently as senior counselor to its current president, Allan Goodman, and that longevity has given her a rich perspective on the ebb and flow of international students. Here is her perspective on what’s moving the needle for Chinese and Indian students.

An explosion of Chinese undergraduates

The numbers: Chinese undergraduate enrollment in the United States has grown from 8252 in 2000 to 110,550 last year. Almost all of that growth has occurred since 2007, and there has been a doubling since 2010.

The reasons: A high score on China’s national college entrance examination, called the gaokao, enables a Chinese student to attend a top university and can punch their ticket to a successful career. It requires years of high-stress preparation, however. A growing number of parents choose to remove their children from that pressure cooker, Blumenthal says, and look for alternatives abroad. The chance for a liberal arts education at a U.S. university is an attractive alternative to the rigid undergraduate training offered by most Chinese universities, she adds.

The U.S. system of higher education, Blumenthal says, offers Chinese families “a unique opportunity to shop” based on the price, quality, and reputation of the institution. The cost of out-of-state tuition at a top public U.S. university is a relative bargain for China’s growing middle class, she notes, and community colleges are dirt cheap.

Recent changes in immigration policies have made the United Kingdom and Australia less desirable destinations among English-speaking countries, according to Blumenthal. She also thinks that U.S. colleges have built a sturdy support system based on their decades of experience in hosting foreign students. “In Germany or France you’re pretty much on your own” in choosing classes, completing the work, and earning a degree, she says. “Nobody is there to help if you’re having trouble.”

Flat Chinese graduate enrollment

The numbers: The CGS report says that the number of first-time graduate students this fall from China fell by 1%, the first time in the decade that it has declined. Thanks to that dip, the growth in the overall number of Chinese graduate students on U.S. campuses slowed to just 3% this fall, compared with double-digit increases in recent years. U.S. academic scientists may not be aware of this emerging trend because of the sheer number of Chinese graduate students on U.S. campuses. IIE puts the number last year at 115,727, and the CGS report says they represent one-third of all foreign graduate students.

The reasons: Chinese graduate students have more options at home now. “China has pumped enormous resources into its graduate education capacity” across thousands of universities, Blumenthal says. An increasing proportion of the professors at those universities have been trained in the United States and Europe, she says, and upon their return they have implemented Western research practices. “They are beginning to teach more like we do, publish like we do, and operate their labs like we do.”

At the same time, she says, the added value of a U.S. graduate degree has shrunk in relation to a comparable Chinese degree. “That’s not true for MIT [the Massachusetts Institute of Technology] or [the University of California,] Berkeley, of course—those degrees still carry a premium in the job market,” she says. “But for the vast majority of Chinese students, it’s not clear that an investment in a U.S. degree is worth it, especially when the rapid growth of the Chinese economy has created such a great need for scientific and engineering talent.”

In the United States, a tight job market often translates into more students attending graduate school in the hope that it will give them an edge. But high unemployment rates among college graduates in China haven’t created a potentially larger pool of applicants to U.S. graduate programs, she says, because those students are not competitive with their U.S. peers.

“They are probably not English speakers and would have trouble passing the TOEFL [an assessment of English language skills],” she surmises. “So they might only get into a fourth-rate U.S. graduate program.” In contrast, she says, U.S. graduate programs have historically gotten “the cream of the crop” from China. And if a larger proportion of those students can build a career in China, fewer need apply to U.S. graduate programs.

Few Indian undergraduates

The numbers: India barely registers on a list of originating countries for U.S. undergraduates. Compared with China, home to 30% of all U.S. international undergrads, Indian students compose only 3% of the pool. And the overall total for 2013—12,677—actually reflects a drop of 0.5% from 2012.

The reasons: Top-performing Indian students are well-served at the undergraduate level by the country’s network of elite technology institutes, known as IITs. India has also never had a strong connection to the United States at the undergraduate level, according to Blumenthal. In addition, she says, “many Indian parents are reluctant to send their girls abroad, especially at the undergraduate level.” By contrast, she says, China’s one-child-per-family rule has meant that they have “one shot at success, male or female.”

Soaring graduate enrollment from India

The numbers: The incoming class of Indian students for U.S. graduate programs is 27% larger this year than in 2013, according to CGS’s annual survey. And that increase follows a 40% jump in 2013 over 2012. However, CGS officials note that the Indian numbers have historically been more volatile than those from China; the increases for 2011 and 2012 were 2% and 1%, respectively.

The reasons: U.S. graduate programs have benefited from several recent developments that, together, have opened the floodgates for Indian students. For starters, India’s investment in higher education hasn’t yet had much effect on graduate education, Blumenthal says. Unlike in China, she says, “in India there’s been very little effort to upgrade the quality of the faculty.”

At the same time, it’s becoming harder for graduates of India’s universities to follow the traditional path of doing their further training in Britain or Australia, as many of their professors had done in previous generations. For the United Kingdom, tuition increases, visa restrictions, and a tightening of rules for those seeking work permits after college have all created greater barriers to entry, Blumenthal says. “It sends a message from the U.K. government that [it’s] not really interested in international students,” she says. “They are now regarded as simply another category of immigrants” rather than a valuable future source of intellectual capital.

In Australia, Blumenthal notes, there’s a growing backlash against earlier government attempts to recruit more international students. “People think they let in too many,” she says. “They didn’t fit in, they didn’t speak English, and there was a perception that they were taking away jobs from Australians.”

A recent strengthening of the rupee against the U.S. dollar has made U.S. graduate education more affordable for the middle class, she adds. And sluggish economic growth in India has meant fewer jobs for recent college graduates.

Foreign Student Dependence

New report provides breakdown on international enrollments by discipline and institution, showing that there are graduate STEM programs in which more than 90 percent of students are from outside the U.S.

Elizabeth Redden
July 12, 2013

International students play a critical role in sustaining quality science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) graduate programs at U.S. universities, a new report from the National Foundation for American Policy (NFAP) argues.

It will come as no surprise to observers of graduate education that the report documents the fact that foreign students make up the majority of enrollments in U.S. graduate programs in many STEM fields, accounting for 70.3 percent of all full-time graduate students in electrical engineering, 63.2 percent in computer science, 60.4 percent in industrial engineering, and more than 50 percent in chemical, materials and mechanical engineering, as well as in economics (a non-STEM field). However, the report, which analyzes National Science Foundation enrollment data from 2010 by field and institution, also shows that these striking averages mask even higher proportions at many individual universities. For example, there are 36 graduate programs in electrical engineering where the proportion of international students exceeds 80 percent, including seven where it exceeds 90. (The analysis is limited to those programs with at least 30 full-time students.)

Graduate Electrical Engineering Programs With More Than 90 Percent International Enrollment

University Number of U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents Enrolled Full-Time Number of International Students Enrolled Full-Time Percent International Enrollment
University of Texas at Arlington 16 229 93.5
Fairleigh Dickinson University 3 42 93.3
Illinois Institute of Technology 31 400 92.8
University of Houston 16 180 91.8
State University of New York at Buffalo 19 189 90.9
New Jersey Institute of Technology 21 201 90.5
Rochester Institute of Technology 11 105 90.5

    National Foundation for American Policy analysis of National Science Foundation data from 2010.

“International students help many universities have enough graduate students to support research programs that help attract top faculty and that also thereby help U.S. students by having a higher-quality program than they otherwise would have,” said Stuart Anderson, NFAP’s executive director and author of the report. Without them, he said, “you’d see a shrinking across the board where you’d have just certain schools that are able to support good programs. That would lead to a shrinking of U.S. leadership in education and technology if you have many fewer programs with high-quality research and top-level professors.”

“To some extent this reflects some of what’s going on in our society within the U.S. in terms of trying to push for more interest in STEM fields,” said Jonathan Bredow, professor and chair of the electrical engineering department at the University of Texas at Arlington, a program with more than 90 percent international enrollment.  “Domestic students tend to be more interested in going out and getting a job right after a bachelor’s degree. Some see a value of getting a master’s degree but in terms of the Ph.D., I think it’s largely seen as unnecessary.”

“There’s a relatively small number of high-quality domestic students who can be accepted into our master’s and Ph.D. programs,” said Leonid Tsybeskov, professor and chair of the electrical and computer engineering department at the New Jersey Institute of Technology. He added that those domestic students who are strong candidates typically apply to higher-ranked programs than NJIT’s.

Indeed, said Anderson, “You talk to the professors, they say, ‘O.K., if we were MIT or Stanford we could get all the top U.S. students,’ but by definition there are only a few of those schools. Obviously everyone can’t be MIT or Stanford. » At the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the proportion of international students in graduate electrical engineering programs is 52.5 percent and, in computer science, 35.3 percent. At Stanford, 56 percent of graduate electrical engineering students and 43.7 percent of graduate computer science students are international.

The report also emphasizes the value that international students can bring to the U.S. economy after graduation as researchers and entrepreneurs. Measures that would make it easier for STEM graduate students to obtain visas to work in the U.S. after graduation – measures that many in higher education see as crucial to the U.S. maintaining its edge in attracting international graduate students — are pending in Congress (and are included in the comprehensive immigration bill recently passed by the Senate).

« This report is very well-timed,” said Julia Kent, director of communications and advancement for the Council of Graduate Schools. “Obviously, for the policy reasons — the pending legislation about STEM visas — and second because there is data out there right now which suggests that we have some cause for concern in this country about the flow of international graduate students to the United States which we have always counted on. There is now more competition for international graduate students. Other countries are developing policies to promote the influx of foreign students to their shores, and there are also ways in which the current economy in the United States has reduced funding support for graduate students, which makes it more difficult to attract students to U.S. programs with attractive funding packages.”

CGS data on applications to U.S. graduate schools released in April show that total international applications grew by a meager 1 percent this year and that there were actually drops in applications from certain key sending countries, including China (-5 percent), South Korea (-13 percent) and Taiwan (-13 percent). On the plus side, applications from India increased 20 percent.

« It’s too soon to know how this data will actually affect enrollments, but the preliminary data show that there is some cause for concern,” Kent said.

Graduate Computer Science Programs With More than 90 Percent International Enrollment

University Number of U.S. Citizens or Permanent Residents Enrolled Full-Time Number of International Students Enrolled Full-Time Percent International Enrollment
San Diego State University 13 160 92.5
Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi 6 70 92.1
Illinois Institute of Technology 35 392 91.8
University of Missouri at Kansas City 8 81 91
University of New Haven 5 49 90.7
San Jose State University 35 323 90.2
Fairleigh Dickinson University 6 55 90.2

     National Foundation for American Policy analysis of National Science Foundation data from 2010.

Voir par ailleurs:

The Chosen The Hidden History of Admission and Exclusion at Harvard, Yale and Princeton By Jerome Karabel Illustrated. 711 pages. Houghton Mifflin. $28.

Nick Carraway and Sherman McCoy went to Yale. Amory Blaine and Doogie Howser went to Princeton. Oliver Barrett IV and Thurston Howell III went to Harvard. Charles Foster Kane was thrown out of all three. What these fictional characters all have in common, of course, is that they are all white, privileged males — completely representative figures, until the late 1960’s and early 70’s, of the student population at those three Ivy League schools.

In his informative but often vexing new book, Jerome Karabel, a professor of sociology at the University of California, Berkeley, looks at the admissions process at the so-called Big Three and how the criteria governing that process have changed over the last century in response to changes in society at large. His book covers much of the same ground that Nicholas Lemann covered — a lot more incisively — in his 1999 book « The Big Test: The Secret History of the American Meritocracy, » and it also raises some of the same questions that Jacques Steinberg, a reporter for The New York Times, did in his 2002 book, « The Gatekeepers: Inside the Admissions Process of a Premier College. »

Mr. Karabel writes that until the 1920’s, Harvard, Yale and Princeton, « like the most prestigious universities of other nations, » admitted students « almost entirely on the basis of academic criteria. » Applicants « were required to take an examination, and those who passed were admitted. » Though the exams exhibited a distinct class bias (Latin and Greek, after all, were not taught at most public schools), he says that « the system was meritocratic in an elemental way: if you met the academic requirements, you were admitted, regardless of social background. »

This all changed after World War I, he argues, as it became « clear that a system of selection focused solely on scholastic performance would lead to the admission of increasing numbers of Jewish students, most of them of eastern European background. » This development, he notes, occurred « in the midst of one of the most reactionary moments in American history, » when « the nationwide movement to restrict immigration was gaining momentum » and anti-Semitism was on the rise, and the Big Three administrators began to worry that « the presence of ‘too many’ Jews would in fact lead to the departure of Gentiles. » Their conclusion, in Mr. Karabel’s words: « given the dependence of the Big Three on the Protestant upper class for both material resources and social prestige, the ‘Jewish problem’ was genuine, and the defense of institutional interests required a solution that would prevent ‘WASP flight.’ « 

The solution they devised was an admissions system that allowed the schools, as Mr. Karabel puts it, « to accept — and to reject — whomever they desired. » Instead of objective academic criteria, there would be a new emphasis on the intangibles of « character » — on qualities like « manliness, » « personality » and « leadership. » Many features of college admissions that students know today — including the widespread use of interviews and photos; the reliance on personal letters of recommendation; and the emphasis on extracurricular activities — have roots, Mr. Karabel says, in this period.

Despite the reformist talk of figures like the Harvard president James Bryant Conant, Mr. Karabel contends, the admissions policy of the Big Three remained beholden to « the wealthy and the powerful. » And despite changes wrought by the G.I. Bill and the growing influence of faculty members, the Big Three still looked in 1960 much as they had before World War II: « overwhelmingly white, exclusively male and largely Protestant. »

Mr. Karabel reports that on the eve of President John F. Kennedy’s election, the three schools were « still de facto segregated institutions — less than 1 percent black and, in the case of Princeton, enrolling just 1 African-American freshman in a class of 826. » And while anti-Semitism was officially taboo, he notes, « Harvard rejected three-quarters of the applicants from the Bronx High School of Science and Stuyvesant that year (compared to just 31 percent from Exeter and Andover) while Yale limited the Jewish presence in the freshman class to one student in eight. »

All that changed in the 1960’s and 70’s, with new admissions policies pioneered by reformers like the Yale president Kingman Brewster and his dean of admissions, R. Inslee Clark Jr., known as Inky. With federal research money and foundation grants pouring into the Big Three, the schools became less dependent on the largess of their alumni, and a radically altered social environment — galvanized by the civil rights and student protest movements — spurred the impetus for change.

« By the mid-1970’s, » Mr. Karabel writes, « the formula — that is, the new admissions criteria and practices — used by the Big Three had been fully institutionalized: need-blind admissions, no discrimination against women or Jews, and special consideration for historically underrepresented minorities as well as athletes and legacies. »

It is Mr. Karabel’s thesis that these sorts of changes were adopted by the Big Three out of a desire « to preserve and, when possible, to enhance their position in a highly stratified system of higher education. » The institutions were « often deeply conservative » and « intensely preoccupied with maintaining their close ties to the privileged, » he writes, arguing that when change did come it almost always derived from one of two sources: because « the continuation of existing policies was believed to pose a threat either to vital institutional interests » (i.e., Yale and Princeton decided to admit women when they realized that their all-male character was hobbling them in their efforts to compete with Harvard for the very best students) or « to the preservation of the larger social order of which they were an integral — and privileged — part » (i.e., the Big Three’s adoption of vigorous race-based affirmative action after the race riots of 1965-68).

Although Mr. Karabel’s narrative becomes mired, in its later pages, in a Marxist-flavored philosophical questioning of the very idea of meritocracy, his account of changing admissions policies at Yale, Harvard and Princeton serves a useful purpose. It puts each school’s actions in context with the others’ and situates those developments within a broader political and social context. While at the same time it shows, in minute detail, how the likes of Nick Carraway, Oliver Barrett IV and Amory Blaine went from being typical students at the Big Three to being members of just one segment of coed, multicultural and increasingly diverse student bodies — if, that is, they could even manage to be admitted today.

 Voir aussi:

Why the SAT Isn’t a ‘Student Affluence Test’
A lot of the apparent income effect on standardized tests is owed to parental IQ—a fact that needs addressing.
Charles Murray
WSJ
March 24, 2015
… The results are always the same: The richer the parents, the higher the children’s SAT scores. This has led some to view the SAT as merely another weapon in the inequality wars, and to suggest that SAT should actually stand for “Student Affluence Test.”

It’s a bum rap. All high-quality academic tests look as if they’re affluence tests. It’s inevitable. Parental IQ is correlated with children’s IQ everywhere. In all advanced societies, income is correlated with IQ. Scores on academic achievement tests are always correlated with the test-takers’ IQ. Those three correlations guarantee that every standardized academic-achievement test shows higher average test scores as parental income increases.

But those correlations also mean that a lot of the apparent income effect is actually owed to parental IQ. The SAT doesn’t have IQ information on the parents. But the widely used National Longitudinal Survey of Youth contains thousands of cases with data on family income, the mother’s IQ, and her children’s performance on the math and reading tests of the Peabody Individual Achievement Test battery, which test the same skills as the math and reading tests of the SAT.

For the SAT, shifting to more than $200,000 of family income from less than $20,000 moved the average score on the combined math and reading tests to the 74th percentile from the 31st—a jump of 43 percentiles. The same income shift moved the average PIAT score to the 82nd percentile from the 30th—a jump of 52 percentiles.

Now let’s look at the income effect in the PIAT when the mother’s IQ is statistically held constant at the national average of 100. Going to a $200,000 family income from a $1,000 family income raises the score only to the 76th percentile from the 50th—an increase of 26 percentiles. More important, almost all of the effect occurs for people making less than $125,000. Going to $200,000 from $125,000 moves the PIAT score only to the 76th percentile from the 73rd—a trivial change. Beyond $200,000, PIAT scores go down as income increases.

In assessing the meaning of this, it is important to be realistic about the financial position of families making $125,000 who are also raising children. They were in the top quartile of income distribution in 2013, but they probably live in an unremarkable home in a middle-class neighborhood and send their children to public schools. And yet, given mothers with equal IQs, the child whose parents make $125,000 has only a trivial disadvantage, if any, when competing with children from families who are far more wealthy.

Why should almost all of the income effect be concentrated in the first hundred thousand dollars or so? The money itself may help, but another plausible explanation is that the parents making, say, $60,000 are likely to be regularly employed, with all the things that regular employment says about a family. The parents are likely to be conveying advantages other than IQ such as self-discipline, determination and resilience—“grit,” as this cluster of hard-to-measure qualities is starting to be called in the technical literature.

Families with an income of, say, $15,000 are much more likely to be irregularly employed or subsisting on welfare, with negative implications for that same bundle of attributes. Somewhere near $100,000 the marginal increments in grit associated with greater income taper off, and further increases in income make little difference.

Let’s throw parental education into the analysis so that we can examine the classic indictment of the SAT: the advantage a child of a well-educated and wealthy family (Sebastian, I will call him) has over the child of a modestly educated working-class family (Jane). Sebastian’s parents are part of the fabled 1%, with $400,000 in income, and his mother has a college degree. But her IQ is only average. Jane’s family has an income of just $40,000 and mom has only a high-school diploma. But mom’s IQ is 135, putting her in the top 1% of the IQ distribution.

Which child is likely to test higher? Sebastian is predicted to be at the 68th percentile on the PIAT. Jane is predicted to be at the 78th percentile. If you want high test scores, “choose” a smart but poor mother over a rich but dumb one—or over a rich and merely ungifted one.

One way of analyzing the effect of “privilege” — wealth and parental investment — on test scores and outcomes as adults would be to check how much an only child is advantaged relative to a child in a larger family.

For example, consider my wife v. myself. Harvard social scientist Robert D. Putnam’s new book Our Kids uses a super-simplified definition of class based solely on parents’ educational levels. By Putnam’s standards, my wife, whose mother and father both had masters degrees, would have grown up upper middle class. In contrast, my father had a junior college 2-year diploma and my mother had only a high school diploma, so I’d be lower middle class, I guess.

On the other hand, I was an only child, while my wife has three siblings. So, growing up, I never felt terribly strapped for money nor, especially, for parental time and energy, while my wife’s upbringing was more exigent.

Although you don’t hear about it much now that small families are the norm, back in my Baby Boom childhood, the privileged nature of being an only child — only children were widely said to be spoiled — was a frequent subject of conversation. This was especially true since I went to Catholic schools for 12 years, where very large families were common. For example, one friend, the class clown and best singer (his rendition of “MacNamara’s Band” in 4th grade remains a vivid memory), had eight siblings in his Irish family.

How privileged was I by being one of a family of three rather than one of a family of eleven?

My friend from the huge family has had a long, successful career as a TV sportscaster, along with some TV and movie credits as a comic actor. If you live in L.A., you’ve seen him on TV dozens of times over the last 30 years. So, growing up in a huge family didn’t ruin his life.On the other hand, if he’d been an only child with a real stage mother for a mom, I could imagine somebody with that much presence (his affect is reminiscent of that of the late Philip Seymour Hoffman or of a straight Nathan Lane) becoming a semi-famous character actor with maybe one or two Best Supporting Actor nominations.

Back during my more egalitarian childhood, people didn’t think that much about tutoring and Tiger Mothering, but, to some extent it works.

For example, I have had a pleasant life, but looking back I can see wasted opportunities. After my freshman year at Rice I came home and got a summer job at Burger King. After my sophomore year, I repaired dental equipment. Finally, after my junior year I worked as the assistant to the Chief Financial Officer of a big weedwacker manufacturing company. But what did the Burger King and repair jobs do for me other than teach me not to be a fry cook or repairman? These days I would have plotted to get internships in Silicon Valley or D.C. or Wall Street and had my parents pay my rent.

So, yes, I do think I was privileged to have the extra resources I was afforded by being an only child, even if I didn’t exploit my privileges as cunningly as I could have.

Quantifying how big a privilege that was seems challenging but doable. In fact, I’m sure somebody has done it already, and I invite commenters to link to studies.

It seems to me that measuring the effects of being an only child ought to be the first thing we do when we decide to theorize about Privilege.

By the way, however, there are other factors that may matter more in determining how Privileged you are. For example, my parents happened to turn out to be winners in the Great American Random Lottery of choosing a neighborhood to buy a home in during the 1950s — the demographics of their neighborhood have barely changed since the 1950s.

In contrast, my in-laws had the bad luck to draw what nightmarishly turned out to be one of the shortest straws in America: the Austin neighborhood on the West Side of Chicago. It was almost all white until Martin Luther King came to Chicago in 1966 to demand integration. Being good liberals, my in-laws joined a pro-integration group of neighbors who all swore to not engage in white flight. But after three years and three felonies against their small children, my in-laws were pretty much financially wiped out by trying to make integration work in Austin. And thus after they finally sold out at a massive loss, they wound up living in a farmhouse without running water for the next two years.

Bizarrely, while the once-pleasant street where my wife grew up in Austin looks nowadays like a post-apocalyptic wasteland, a couple of miles to the west is Superior Street in Oak Park, IL where my father grew up in the 1920s. It looks like an outdoor Frank Lloyd Wright museum today. The Wright district was saved by Oak Park’s secret, illegal, and quite effective “black-a-block” racial quota system imposed on realtors to keep Oak Park mostly white (and, these days, heavily gay).

So a not insignificant fraction of White Privilege in 2015 actually consists of whether or not the Eye of Sauron turned upon your parents’ neighborhood or not.

Voir également:

Les raisons du succès scolaire des jeunes d’origine asiatique

Lucile Quillet

Le Figaro étudiant

13/06/2013

La spectaculaire réussite des enfants d’immigrés asiatiques se confirme au bac. Et pourtant, leurs parents s’impliquent peu dans leurs devoirs, mais ils veillent à leurs horaires, les placent souvent dans le privé et jouent à fond la carte du bilinguisme.

À force d’entendre «si j’avais eu ta chance…», ils sont d’autant plus motivés. Leurs parents sont venus de loin et ont choisi la France pour offrir à leur progéniture un meilleur avenir.

Les jeunes Asiatiques ont particulièrement bien compris la leçon et fusent comme des comètes au-dessus du lot. Lycée, bac, études supérieures, ils se montrent performants à chaque étape. «Petits déjà, ils redoublent peu à l’école», assure Yaël Brinbaum, co-auteure de l’étude Trajectoires et Origines conduite par l’Insee et l’Ined. Plus de 60% d’entre eux seront orientés dans des filières généralistes. Plus que la moyenne nationale (50%).

Parmi les enfants de non bacheliers, les jeunes d’origine asiatiques se distinguent tout particulièrement. Ils seront encore 60% à décrocher le bac ,contre 50% pour les autres. Un quart iront jusqu’à bac+3 voire plus lorsque seulement 16,5% des descendants d’immigrés y accèdent.

Moins de télé, plus de bibliothèques

Paradoxalement, les familles d’origine asiatique sont celles qui s’impliquent le moins dans les devoirs, réunions de parents d’élèves et rencontres avec les professeurs. «Les mères ne parlent pas très bien français, les pères ont des métiers très prenants. Par contre, ces familles croient fortement à l’école et investissent énormément sur la scolarité de leur enfant. Ils sont très exigeants», explique Jean-Paul Caille, ingénieur de recherche au ministère de l’Enseignement supérieur.

Les parents ne se mettent pas au bureau de leur enfant, mais s’assurent qu’il est sérieux dans son travail. «Ils contrôlent plus le temps devant la télévision, les horaires du coucher. Il faut aussi que les loisirs soient compatibles avec l’école, comme des cours d’apprentissage de leur langue maternelle». Ce bilinguisme est un trésor qu’ils soignent. Les mères d’Asie du Sud-Est sont celles qui parlent le plus leur langue maternelle à la maison (57%). D’après Jean-Paul Caille, les jeunes d’origine asiatique fréquentent plus que les autres les bibliothèques et sont deux fois plus que la normale à prendre des cours particuliers à l’entrée en sixième.

Travail rigoureux et autorité parentale stricte et aussi une meilleure naissance. Les parents d’origine asiatique investissent plus sur la scolarité car ils en ont les moyens. Là où environ 75% des jeunes d’origine turque ou portugaise ont des parents ouvriers, employés de service ou inactifs, ceux d’origine asiatique ne sont que 58% à exercer dans ces fonctions. «Souvent, leurs parents sont artisans, commerçants, tiennent des bars tabac et gagnent bien leur vie. Ils sont les enfants d’immigrés qui bénéficient des conditions socio-économique et origines sociales les plus favorables». Ce portefeuille plus fourni leur permet d’être 15% à fréquenter un collège privé, soit deux fois plus que les enfants d’origine marocaine ou turque.

Pourtant moins d’un tiers des jeunes d’origine turque a le bac

Les autres enfants d’immigrés tentent aussi de se distinguer. À classe sociale équivalente, ils feront mieux que le reste des Français. Mais les parcours sont inégaux selon le pays d’origine des parents, tout comme le traitement des élèves à l’école. 14% des enfants d’immigrés -trois fois plus que la moyenne- déclarent «avoir été moins bien traités» lors des décisions d’orientation. Une discrimination dont ne semblent pas souffrir les jeunes originaires d’Asie du Sud-Est, qui s’en déclarent à peine plus victimes que la moyenne.

Les 10 raisons du succès des Chinois en France

Dans cet article je vais expliquer les principales raisons qui font que la communauté chinoise en France réussit mieux que les autres communautés immigrées d’une manière générale.

Le constat

Selon la seule étude disponible sur le sujet, publiée par l’Insee et l’Ined,

  • 27% des descendants de parents asiatiques occupent aujourd’hui un poste de cadre,
  • contre 14% en moyenne pour les Français toutes origines confondues,
  • 9% pour les fils de Maghrébins
  • 5% pour ceux d’Afrique subsaharienne.

48% des Français d’origine asiatique décrochent un diplôme du supérieur, contre 33% en moyenne en France. Enfin une autre statistique remarquable de l’étude : 27% des enfants d’immigrés chinois sont cadres, contre 14% en moyenne pour les Français

Cette réussite des asiatiques en France est particulièrement frappante pour la deuxième génération des 50 000 Indochinois arrivés dans les années 1950, au moment de l’indépendance, et des 250 000 « boat people » vietnamiens qui ont fui leurs pays dans les années 1970 et dont la majorité était en fait d’origine chinoise. Mais les fils de migrants venus de Chine populaire à partir des années 1980 s’en sortent plutôt bien aussi.

Comment expliquer une telle percée, alors que tant d’autres immigrés – et de Français de souche – peinent à gravir l’échelle sociale  ?

Les 10 facteurs clés de succès de la communauté chinoise en France :

  1. Le travail
  2. Une communauté soudée
  3. Un système de financement efficace
  4. Une hyperfocalisation sur la réussite scolaire des enfants
  5. L’enrichissement de la Chine
  6. La méconnaissance de la culture chinoise
  7. Une communauté peu politisée
  8. L’accent mis sur le pragmatisme dans la culture chinoise
  9. Une volonté de réussir (La « Face »)
  10. Le sens des affaires chinois

Le travail

C’est un peu le grand cliché : le chinois est bosseur. Un cliché qui comme tous devrait être sérieusement relativisé notamment par des français qui aiment à s’adonner à une forme d’auto critique. Mais comme tout cliché il y a peut être une part de vérité.

Aujourd’hui on compte 600 000 Français d’origine chinoise. Certes plusieurs dizaines de milliers d’entre eux travaillent encore sans papiers comme petites mains dans la confection, la maroquinerie ou le bâtiment, pour des salaires de misère. On a tous en tête le passage de la vérité si je mens dans la fabrique chinoise clandestine.

Mais, après des années de labeur, beaucoup ont fini par s’en sortir en reprenant un commerce – restaurants, épiceries, fleuristes ou bars-tabacs. Ils en détiendraient désormais près de 35 000 ! Certains commencent même à créer des chaînes de magasins (la plus connue d’entre elles, l’enseigne Miss Coquine, compte près de 80 boutiques en France), ou encore à lancer leurs propres marques (Miss Lucy, par exemple).

Une communauté soudée

Contrairement à la majorité des étrangers présents en France – et en particulier aux Maghrébins, dont les différentes nationalités et ethnies ne s’apprécient guère – la plupart des chinois peuvent compter sur le soutien de leurs compatriotes.

Un système de financement très efficace

Les Chinois pratiquent un système de prêts proche de la « tontine » Africaine  : les membres de la famille et les proches mettent une partie de leurs économies dans un pot commun, dans lequel les membres de la diaspora puisent pour monter leur affaire. Il n’y a pas d’intérêt ni même durée de remboursement fixe. La tontine repose sur la confiance, confortée par la réciprocité des dons  : ceux qui reçoivent doivent eux-mêmes offrir de l’argent aux autres, notamment à l’occasion de leur mariage. Ces prêts informels, qui peuvent facilement atteindre plusieurs dizaines de milliers d’euros, sont une clé essentielle dans la réussite de la diaspora chinoise.

Après avoir économisé en moyenne 160 000 euros pendant une dizaine d’années, de nombreuses familles chinoises peuvent s’acheter un commerce sans passer par la case prêt bancaire ce qui ne manque pas d’alimenter le débat sur l’origine des fonds.

Une hyperfocalisation sur la réussite scolaire des enfants

Depuis plus de mille ans, les élites de Chine sont recrutées par un système d’examen national accessible à tous, qui permet aux plus pauvres de se hisser tout en haut de la pyramide. Résultat  : même lorsqu’ils quittent leur patrie, les adultes s’échinent au turbin et ils poussent leur progéniture à en faire autant à l’école. La focalisation sur la réussite scolaire fait partie des valeurs familiales chinoises. Ceci est vrai pour l’ensemble des asiatiques en France :

L’enrichissement de la Chine

Si la Chine n’avait pas connu un boom économique depuis la fin des années 70, les migrants ne s’en sortiraient pas de façon aussi spectaculaire. La montée en puissance de l’empire du Milieu leur a en effet ouvert des opportunités immenses notamment dans l’import-export. En fait, les Chinois de France ont procédé exactement comme des multi­nationales  : ils ont créé des comptoirs commerciaux pour vendre les produits fabriqués en Chine.

La méconnaissance de la culture chinoise

Pour beaucoup de français la culture chinoise reste un mystère. L’ignorance est souvent totale vis-à-vis d’un peuple qui suscite autant d’intérêt que de craintes. Et cette ignorance est un atout sur lequel les chinois peuvent jouer. Il connaissent les codes des chinois avec qui ils négocient. Certains réseaux commerciaux à la limite de la mafia profitent de cette opacité de la communauté chinoise.

Une communauté peu politisée

Il y a une communauté assez puissante de français d’origine chinoise en France mais qui est très discrète et qui réussit. Le communautarisme chinois a longtemps été un communautarisme de séparation. Les chinois pour parler de façon brutale n’ont jamais emmerdé les français, jamais fait dans le communautarisme victimaire. Ils ne reprochent pas la colonisation à la France, ils réussissent économiquement ce qui fait qu’il y a très peu de racisme anti chinois.

En fait souvent les chinois en France ne prétendent pas vraiment être assimilés mais ne posant pas de problèmes finalement on ne leur demande que l’intégration. C’est le contraire du communautarisme victimaire des autres minorités avec des institutions politiques telles que le CRAN (Conseil Représentatif des Association Noires) ou encore le CRIF (Conseil Représentatif des Institutions Juives de France).

Néanmoins aujourd’hui avec la création du CRAF (Conseil Représentatif des Associations Asiatiques de France) ont peut s’interroger pour savoir si une forme de communautarisme victimaire asiatique ne va pas être mis en place.

Certains estiment à tort selon moi que le succès économique des chinois en France tire profit de leur retard dans leur reconnaissance politique. Ce serait un succès en trompe l’œil. Voici un exemple de revendications antiracistes qu’on peut entendre ces temps-ci provenant de représentant souvent auto-proclamé de la communauté asiatique :

L’accent mis sur le pragmatisme dans la culture chinoise

Les chinois contrairement à l’image de sagesse teinté d’exotisme de beaucoup de français sont sans doute le peuple le plus pragmatique du monde. L’accent est toujours mis sur le consensus et l’efficacité (le maximum d’effets pour un minimum de coût) ce qui facilite leur intégration. Ce pragmatisme chinois est selon moi tout entier contenu dans la phrase célèbre de Deng Xiaoping au moment du virage réformiste des années 80 : « peu importe que le chat soit gris ou noir pourvu qu’il attrape les souris ».

Une volonté de réussir (La « Face »)

Les chinois ont une volonté de réussir qui est d’abord assez matérialiste. Réussir c’est d’abord devenir riche. Mais cela renvoie aussi à la notion de « face  » en Asie. On peut le traduire par l’honneur, la volonté de ne pas déchoir. C’est particulièrement vrai pour les membres de la diaspora dont on attend qu’ils ramène le plus de devises étrangère possible. C’est l’oncle d’Amérique sauce chinoise…

Le sens des affaires chinois

Les chinois sont avant tout un peuple de commerçants. Leurs réseaux sont issus de la diaspora, forme de solidarité au fond assez proche de ce qu’a pu être la communauté juive dans la France d’avant guerre. Souvent les membres de la diaspora qui ont le mieux réussi sont approchées par de riches Chinois, désireux d’investir en France, notamment dans l’immobilier.

Alors les chinois : enfants modèles de l’intégration Républicaine à la française ? Le débat est ouvert


Reconnaissance de Jérusalem: Trump, le président qui tient ses promesses (Trump: Today, I am delivering)

6 décembre, 2017

Jérusalem. Illustration. (Crédit : Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Avenir, l’afficheur qui tient ses promesses. Avenir

Les principaux extraits de l’annonce de Trump sur Jérusalem

Verbatim: Voici les annonces les plus importantes de l’allocution de Donald Trump mercredi, lorsque le président américain a déclaré qu’il reconnaissait Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël

OLJ/AFP
06/12/2017

– ‘Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël’ –

« Ce n’est rien de moins qu’une reconnaissance de la réalité », a-t-il ajouté pour justifier son choix.
« Après plus de deux décennies de dérogations nous ne sommes pas plus près d’un accord de paix entre Israël et les Palestiniens », a-t-il également assuré, en référence à une loi américaine de 1995 imposant le déplacement de l’ambassade.
Une clause permet cependant aux présidents de repousser son application pour six mois. Bill Clinton, George W. Bush et Barack Obama l’ont systématiquement actionnée.
« Ce serait une folie de penser que répéter la même formule permettrait maintenant de produire un résultat meilleur ou différent », a-t-il martelé, alors qu’il devait cependant lui aussi signer la dérogation, la nouvelle ambassade n’étant pas encore construite.

– ‘Déménagement de l’ambassade’ –

– « Je demande au département d’Etat de préparer le déménagement de l’ambassade américaine de Tel-Aviv vers Jérusalem », a annoncé le président républicain debout à son pupitre, devant un portrait du premier président américain George Washington.
« Cela va lancer un processus de recrutement d’architectes, d’ingénieurs et d’urbanistes pour que la nouvelle ambassade, lorsqu’elle sera finie, soit un magnifique hommage à la paix », a-t-il développé en évoquant sa construction dans la ville sainte.

– ‘Capitale du peule juif’ –

« Il y a 70 ans les Etats-Unis, sous le président Truman, ont reconnu l’Etat d’Israël. Depuis, Israël a établi sa capitale dans la ville de Jérusalem – la capitale choisie par le peuple juif dans les temps anciens. De nos jours, Jérusalem est le siège du gouvernement israélien moderne. C’est le siège du Parlement israélien, la Knesset, et de la Cour suprême israélienne », a déclaré le président américain.
« Jérusalem est aujourd’hui, et doit le rester, un endroit où les Juifs vont prier au mur des Lamentations, où les chrétiens suivent le Chemin de croix, et où les musulmans vont prier à la mosquée al-Aqsa », sur l’esplanade des Mosquées, a-t-il ajouté.

– ‘Solution à deux Etats’ –

« Les Etats-Unis restent déterminés à aider à faciliter un accord de paix acceptable pour les deux parties », a déclaré Donald Trump, en précisant: « J’ai l’intention de faire tout ce qui est en mon pouvoir pour aider à sceller un tel accord ».
Le milliardaire a également assuré que les Etats-Unis soutenaient une « solution à deux Etats », si les deux parties « se mettaient d’accord » sur cette question.
« En attendant, j’appelle toutes les parties à maintenir le statu quo sur les lieux sacrés de Jérusalem, dont le mont du Temple, aussi connu comme Haram Al-Sharif », une autre appellation donnée à l’esplanade des Mosquées, a-t-il conclu.

– ‘Appel au calme’ –

« Avec la déclaration d’aujourd’hui, je réaffirme l’engagement de longue date de mon administration en faveur de la paix et de la sécurité dans la région ».
« Aujourd’hui nous appelons au calme, à la modération, et à ce que les voix de la tolérance l’emportent sur les pourvoyeurs de haine », a-t-il enfin déclaré, en ajoutant que son vice-président Mike Pence se rendrait « dans la région dans les jours à venir ».
« Merci. Dieu vous bénisse. Dieu bénisse Israël. Dieu bénisse les Palestiniens. Et Dieu bénisse les Etats-Unis », a-t-il déclaré pour clore son discours.

Voir aussi:

Israël-Palestine
OLJ/Agences
06/12/2017

Suite à la déclaration du président américain, Donald Trump, qui a reconnu Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël et annoncé le début des préparatifs pour le transfert de l’ambassade américaine de Tel Aviv à Jérusalem, les réactions ont fusé de toutes parts :

– Premier à réagir, le Premier ministre israélien Benjamin Netanyahu a salué mercredi comme un « jour historique » la reconnaissance par le président américain de Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël. M. Netanyahu a aussi affirmé que la décision du président américain ne changerait rien en ce qui concerne les lieux saints des trois grandes religions monothéistes à Jérusalem, affirmant l’engagement israélien à maintenir le « statu quo ».

-Le président palestinien Mahmoud Abbas a, quant à lui, affirmé que les Etats-Unis ne pouvaient plus jouer leur rôle historique d’intermédiaire de la paix avec les Israéliens. « Par ces décisions déplorables, les Etats-Unis sapent délibérément tous les efforts de paix et proclament qu’ils abandonnent le rôle de sponsor du processus de paix qu’ils ont joué au cours des dernières décennies », a-t-il dit sur la télévision palestinienne. « Jérusalem est la capitale éternelle de l’Etat de Palestine », a-t-il ajouté.

– Le Hamas a, lui, déclaré, que Trump a ouvert « les portes de l’enfer » pour les intérêts américains dans la région. Ismaïl Radouane, un haut responsable du Hamas s’exprimant devant des journalistes dans la bande de Gaza, a appelé les pays arabes et musulmans à « couper les liens économiques et politiques » avec les ambassades américaines, et à expulser les ambassadeurs américains.

-Le secrétaire général de l’Organisation de libération de la Palestine (OLP), Saëb Erakat, a déclaré que le président américain avait « détruit » la solution dite à deux Etats en annonçant la reconnaissance de Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël. M. Trump a aussi « disqualifié les Etats-Unis de tout rôle dans un quelconque processus de paix », a ajouté M. Erakat devant des journalistes.

– La décision du président américain de reconnaître « unilatéralement » Jérusalem comme capitale de l’Etat d’Israël est « regrettable », a déclaré, pour sa part Emmanuel Macron. « C’est une décision regrettable, que la France n’approuve pas et qui contrevient au droit international et aux résolutions du Conseil de sécurité de l’Onu », a déclaré le chef de l’Etat français lors d’une conférence de presse, à Alger. « Le statut de Jérusalem est une question de sécurité internationale qui concerne toute le communauté internationale, le statut de Jérusalem devra être déterminé par les Israéliens et les Palestiniens dans le cadre de négociations sous l’égide des Nations unies », a-t-il ajouté.
Le chef de l’Etat a rappelé « l’attachement de la France et de l’Europe à la solution de deux Etats, Israël et la Palestine, vivant côte à côte en paix et en sécurité dans des frontières internationalement reconnues avec Jérusalem comme capitale des deux Etats. »
« Pour l’heure je lance un appel au calme, à l’apaisement et à la responsabilité de tous, nous devons éviter à tout prix les violences et privilégier le dialogue », a-t-il dit. « La France est prête avec ses partenaires à prendre toutes les initiatives utiles en ce sens ».

– Le statut de Jérusalem ne peut être résolu que par une « négociation directe » entre Israéliens et Palestiniens, a déclaré, de son côté, le secrétaire général de l‘ONU, Antonio Guterres en rappelant avoir toujours été « contre toute mesure unilatérale ». « Il n’y a pas d’alternative à la solution de deux Etats » avec « Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël et de la Palestine », a ajouté le patron des Nations unies.

-La Turquie a pour sa part qualifié d' »irresponsable », a décision de M. Trump. « Nous condamnons la déclaration irresponsable de l’administration américaine (…) cette décision est contraire au droit international et aux résolutions de l’ONU », a réagi le ministre turc des Affaires étrangères Mevlut Cavusoglu sur Twitter.

-« Le royaume exprime de profonds regrets après la décision de reconnaître Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël. Il a déjà mis en garde contre les graves conséquences que peut avoir cette décision injustifiée et irresponsable », a souligné, dans un communiqué, l’Arabie saoudite.

-L‘Iran a, lui, prévenu que la décision de Trump provoquera une « nouvelle Intifada ». Le ministère des Affaires étrangères a dénoncé dans un communiqué une « provocation et une décision insensée de la part des Etats-Unis (…) qui va provoquer une nouvelle Intifada et pousser à des comportements plus radicaux, à davantage de colère et de violence ».

La présidence syrienne, sur page officielle Facebook, estime que « l’avenir de Jérusalem n’est pas déterminé par un Etat ou un président mais par son histoire, sa volonté et la détermination de ceux qui sont loyaux à la cause palestinienne ».

-La Jordanie a, quant à elle, dénoncé une violation du droit international. « La décision du président américain de reconnaître Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël, et le transfert de l’ambassade des Etats-Unis vers cette ville, constitue une violation des décisions du droit international et de la charte des Nations unies », a estimé le porte-parole du gouvernement jordanien, Mohammed Moumeni, dans un communiqué.

– Le président libanais, Michel Aoun, a affirmé mercredi que la décision de Donald Trump « menace le processus de paix et la stabilité dans la région ». « La décision de M. Trump est dangereuse, a souligné le président Aoun. Elle menace la crédibilité des États-Unis en tant que parrain du processus de paix dans la région et torpille la situation particulière acquise par Jérusalem tout au long de l’histoire. Cette décision a ramené le processus de paix entre les Palestiniens et les Israéliens dix ans en arrière et a abattu toutes les tentatives de rapprocher les points de vue entre les deux parties ». M. Aoun a également mis en garde contre « les retombées que pourrait avoir cette décision sur la stabilité de la région et peut être sur le monde entier ». Le président libanais a appelé « les pays arabes à faire front pour rendre à Jérusalem son identité arabe et à faire pression pour rendre toute leur considération aux résolutions internationales et à l’initiative de paix arabe, seul moyen pour parvenir à une paix juste et globale ».

– Le Premier ministre libanais, Saad Hariri, a affirmé que la décision du président Trump est « une démarche rejetée par le monde arabe et augure de dangers qui menacent la région ». « Le Liban condamne et rejette cette décision et annonce en ce jour le plus haut degré de solidarité avec le peuple palestinien et son appui à son droit à l’édification d’un Etat indépendant avec pour capitale Jérusalem », a-t-il ajouté.

Le Royaume-Uni n’est « pas d’accord » avec la décision du président Trump, a déclaré la Première ministre britannique Theresa May. Elle a également estimé que cette décision n’était « d’aucune aide » pour les perspectives de paix dans la région.

– La cheffe de la diplomatie européenne Federica Mogherini a exprimé au nom de l’Union européenne sa « sérieuse préoccupation » après la décision du président Donald Trump. « L’Union européenne exprime sa sérieuse préoccupation à propos de l’annonce aujourd’hui du président des Etats-Unis Trump sur Jérusalem et les répercussions que cela peut avoir sur la perspective de paix », a affirmé Mme Mogherini dans un communiqué.

– Le Canada a estimé que le statut de Jérusalem dépend de la résolution du conflit israélo-palestinien. « La question du statut de Jérusalem ne peut être résolue que dans le cadre d’un règlement général du conflit israélo-palestinien », a affirmé Chrystia Freeland, ministre des Affaires étrangères.
« Nous demeurons fermement engagés envers l’objectif d’une paix juste, globale et durable au Moyen-Orient qui inclut la création d’un Etat palestinien vivant côte à côte avec l’Etat d’Israël dans la paix et dans la sécurité », a-t-elle ajouté dans un communiqué. Le gouvernement canadien, « allié indéfectible de l’Etat d’Israël », appelle l’ensemble des protagonistes au « calme » et fera son possible pour « soutenir la création de conditions nécessaires pour que les parties puissent trouver une solution ».

– La chancelière allemande Angela Merkel a déclaré mercredi que son gouvernement ne soutenait pas la décision du président américain. Le gouvernement allemand « ne soutient pas cette position car le statut de Jérusalem ne peut être négocier que dans le cadre d’une solution de deux Etats », a déclaré la chancelière, citée dans un tweet de son porte-parole, Steffen Seibert.

Voir également:

 

Russia Recognizes Jerusalem as Israel’s Capital. Why Can’t the U.S.?
Trump must soon decide whether to move the embassy. Doing so would help promote peace.
Eugene Kontorovich
May 14, 2017

President Trump’s visit to Israel next week is expected to lead to some announcement about his Jerusalem policy. The trip will coincide with celebrations of the 50th anniversary of the city’s reunification after the Six Day War. Only days after the visit, the president will have to decide between waiving an act of Congress or letting it take effect and moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem from Tel Aviv—as he promised last year to do if elected.

Jerusalem is the only world capital whose status is denied by the international community. To change that, in 1995 Congress passed the Jerusalem Embassy Act, which mandates moving the U.S. Embassy to a “unified” Jerusalem. The law has been held in abeyance due to semiannual presidential waivers for “national security” reasons. President Obama’s final waiver will expire June 1.
There’s no good reason to maintain the charade that Jerusalem is not Israeli, and every reason for Mr. Trump to honor his campaign promise. The main arguments against moving the embassy—embraced by the foreign-policy establishment—is that it would lead to terrorism against American targets and undermine U.S. diplomacy. But the basis of those warnings has been undermined by the massive changes in the region since 1995.

While the Palestinian issue was once at the forefront of Arab politics, today Israel’s neighbors are preoccupied with a nuclear Iran and radical Islamic groups. For the Sunni Arab states, the Trump administration’s harder line against Iran is far more important than Jerusalem. To be sure, a decision to move the embassy could serve as a pretext for attacks by groups like al Qaeda. But they are already fully motivated against the U.S.
Another oft-heard admonition is that America would be going out on a limb if it “unilaterally” recognized Jerusalem when no other country did. An extraordinary recent development has rendered that warning moot. Last month Russia suddenly announced that it recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Note what happened next: No explosions of anger at the Arab world. No end to Russia’s diplomatic role in the Middle East. No terror attacks against Russian targets. Moscow’s dramatic Jerusalem reversal has largely been ignored by the foreign-policy establishment because it disproves their predictions of mayhem.

To be sure, Russia limited its recognition to “western Jerusalem.” Even so, it shifted the parameters of the discussion. Recognizing west Jerusalem as Israeli is now the position of a staunchly pro-Palestinian power. To maintain the distinctive U.S. role in Middle East diplomacy—and to do something historic—Mr. Trump must go further. Does the U.S. want to wind up with a less pro-Israel position than Vladimir Putin’s ?
The American response to real attacks against U.S. embassies has always been to send a clear message of strength. After the 1998 al Qaeda bombings of U.S. embassies in Kenya and Tanzania, Washington did not shut down those missions. Instead it invested in heavily fortified new facilities—and in hunting down the perpetrators.

Moving the embassy to Jerusalem would also improve the prospect of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. It would end the perverse dynamic that has prevented such negotiations from succeeding: Every time the Palestinians say “no” to an offer, the international community demands a better deal on their behalf. No wonder no resolution has been reached. Only last week, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas insisted that new negotiations “start” with the generous offer made by Israel’s Prime Minister Ehud Olmert in 2008. Relocating the embassy would demonstrate to the Palestinian Authority that rejectionism has costs.

If Mr. Trump nonetheless signs the waiver, he could do two things to maintain his credibility in the peace process. First, formally recognize Jerusalem—the whole city—as the capital of Israel, and reflect that status in official documents. Second, make clear that unless the Palestinians get serious about peace within six months, his first waiver will be his last. He should set concrete benchmarks for the Palestinians to demonstrate their commitment to negotiations. These would include ending their campaign against Israel in international organizations and cutting off payments to terrorists and their relatives.

This is Mr. Trump’s moment to show strength. It cannot be American policy to choose to recognize a capital, or not, based on how terrorists will react—especially when they likely won’t.

Mr. Kontorovich is a department head at the Kohelet Policy Forum and a law professor at Northwestern University.

Voir de même:

Sputnik

Moscou réitère sa position selon laquelle les peuples israélien et palestinien doivent former deux États indépendants avec leurs capitales à Jérusalem-Ouest et à Jérusalem-Est respectivement, et appelle les parties à revenir à la table des négociations.

Moscou considère que Jérusalem-Est doit être la capitale du futur État palestinien et Jérusalem-Ouest celle d’Israël, a déclaré jeudi le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères.

Jérusalem
« Nous confirmons notre attachement aux résolutions de l’Onu quant aux principes de règlement, y compris le statut de Jérusalem-Est en tant que capitale du futur État palestinien. Parallèlement, nous jugeons nécessaire de déclarer que dans ce contexte, nous considérons Jérusalem-Ouest comme la capitale de l’État israélien », lit-on dans un communiqué.Les paramètres du règlement des problèmes relatifs au statut définitif des territoires palestiniens, y compris celui de Jérusalem, doivent être concertés au cours de négociations directes entre les parties concernées, a encore souligné le ministère.

La Russie s’engage à poursuivre son assistance au processus de paix entre Palestiniens et Israéliens. Une attention soutenue sera accordée au libre-accès des croyants aux lieux saints de Jérusalem.

Jérusalem
Moscou considère toujours que la formule « deux Etats pour deux peuples » est optimale pour le règlement de ce conflit, et correspond aux intérêts des peuples israélien et palestinien comme des pays de la région et de la communauté internationale.En revanche, le vide dans les relations israélo-palestiniennes, alors que les deux parties ont suspendu les négociations politiques depuis déjà trois ans, aggrave la situation, souligne encore le communiqué.

Voir encore:

La Russie reconnait Jérusalem Ouest comme capitale d’Israël et Jérusalem est comme capitale des palestinien, quel est le contexte?

07 Avr 2017

La Russie est l’un des premiers pays à afficher cette position ; elle réaffirme que Jérusalem Est devrait être la capitale d’un futur état palestinien, pourquoi Poutine et le ministère des affaires étrangères russes ont-ils fait une tel choix?  L’article du Jerusalem Times en général favorable à la Russie se félicite de cette décision, dont nous tentons de voir les implications géostratégiques et de montrer en quoi le choix de l’intervention de Trump est susceptible de bouleverser une donne de négociation et d’équilibre au Moyen orient.  (note de Danielle Bleitrach)

TIMES OF ISRAEL STAFF

6 avril 2017

La Russie a annoncé jeudi qu’elle reconnaissait Jérusalem Ouest comme la capitale d’Israël, ce qui en fait l’un des premiers pays au monde à prendre cette décision.

Dans un communiqué publié sur son site internet, le ministère russe des Affaires étrangères indique qu’il pense que Jérusalem Est devrait être la capitale d’un futur état palestinien. Voici une rapide traduction de ce communique:

« Parallèlement, nous devons établir que dans ce contexte, nous voyons Jérusalem Ouest comme la capitale d’Israël », a indiqué le ministère.

Moscou continue de considérer la formule pour la négociation d’un règlement à deux Etats comme la meilleurs et la plus amicale  pour le peuple palestinien et le peuple  israélien, ainsi que favorable aux intérêts de tous les pays de la région et de  la communauté internationale dans son ensemble.
Nous réaffirmons notre attachement aux résolutions de l’ ONU sur les principes du règlement, y compris le statut de Jérusalem – Est comme capitale du futur Etat palestinien. En même temps, nous estimons qu’il est nécessaire de dire que dans ce contexte , nous considérons Jérusalem – Ouest comme la capitale de l’Etat d’Israël

Les paramètres spécifiques pour aborder l’ensemble des questions du statut final des territoires palestiniens, y compris le problème de Jérusalem, devraient être l’objet de  négociations directes entre les parties.

Commentaire de danielle Bleitrach:

Cette déclaration nous parait devoir être  doit être vue dans le contexte de la guerre contre la Syrie et les menaces que Donald Trimp a mis hier à exécution et que nous analysons également dans . le contexte des négociations de ce dernier avec la Chine.

.la déclaration reprend les anciennes déclarations de la Russie mais y inclut une  reconnaissance de la capitale jérusalem ouest mais la subordonne  à la création d’un Etat palestinien ( « dans ce contexte »)

Donc cette affirmation nouvelle doit être lue selon nous également comme une tentative de réduire les tensions en Syrie.  La pression sur le président Trump pour lancer une guerre contre le gouvernement de la Syrie ne cesse d’augmenter et l’accusation apparemment absurde et obsessionnelle d’une élection de Trimp qui serait le produit de l’intervention russe en fait partie, elle est même centrale, elle vise d’ailleurs non seulement la Syrie mais l’Iran.  Et l’affaire de l’attaque chimique attribuée au gouvernement syrien alors que l’on ne voit pas qu’elle serait son intérêt semble entrer dans ces manoeuvres. L’intervention cette nuit contre le gouvernement syrien témoignerait de la victoire de ce camp.

le ministre de la Défense israélien Lieberman, qui a toujours eu d’excellent rapport avec Poutine,  a accusé la Syrie et a relayé les accusations contre Bachar El assad.: :

Lieberman a dit que les avions syriens ont effectué les deux attaques chimiques, qui ont été « directement ordonné et planifié par le président syrien Bachar el-Assad. » Il a souligné qu’il était « 100 pour cent certain. » Le ministre de la Défense a dit qu’il ne savait pas si la Russie était impliqué dans l’attaque.
La Russie et la Syrie ont nié que l’un d’eux utilisé des munitions chimiques. Ils disent que la force aérienne syrienne a bombardé un dépôt de munitions d’Al-Qaïda qui, à leur insu, peuvent avoir inclus des armes chimiques.

Hier le premier ministre israélien Netanyahoo a appelé le président russe et on sait qu’il y a eu une discussion orageuse alors que jusqu’ici les relations étaient positives (Tel Aviv a même à l’inverse de paris été illuminée aux couleurs russes après l’attentat de saint Petesbourg) M. Poutine a souligné, en particulier, qu’il est inacceptable de faire des accusations sans fondement contre toute partie jusqu’à ce qu’une enquête internationale approfondie et objective ait été menée.A-t-il été question de l’évolution de la position russe sur Jérusalem Ouest? on l’ignore… En tous les cas c’est une offre qui légitimerait la décision parallèle de Trump d’installer l’ambassade des Etats-Unis à Jérusalem, même si la déclaration russe la subordonne à la reconnaissance d’un Etat palestinien. Ne pas oublier qu’en 2013, l’intervention russe aux côtés des Syriens a débuté par l’obtention de la démolition par la Syrie de son arsenal chimique sous contrôle international, par cet acte la Russie a marqué ce qui demeure sa position être le garant de l’existence de la Syrie mais aussi d’Israêl. On ne comprend rien au coup d’Etat peu de temps après en Ukraine si on ne le lie pas à ce relatif succès et à l’implication de la Russie dans une solution qui préserve l’existence des Etats et leur souveraineté. A la même époque, aux Etats-Unis la pression montait de la part d’une partie des juifs américains les plus à droite et des néo-conservateurs pour qu’il y ait intervention en Syrie. En tous les cas, le choix de Trump n’a pas été de saisir le rameau d’olivier mais bien d’affirmer la volonté des Etats-Unis d’intervenir partout ou les intérêts des Etats Unis et de ses alliés paraissaient menacés. C’est un choix qui remet en cause tout position internationale et qui revendique le rôle de gendarme sans la moindre caution internationale. Nul doute qu’elle ravisse l’aile la plus extrémiste partout mais elle est auto-suicidaire.

Un million d’Israéliens sont d’origine russe. Ils ont émigré en Israël dans les années 1980 et 90. Ils  votent en majorité pour les conservateurs. Ils admirent aussi et chérissent Poutine. C’est une raison pour laquelle aucun homme politique israélien, en particulier Netanyahoo,jusqu’ici ne pouvait se permettre un grand conflit politique avec la Russie. le cas Liberman est particulièrement illustrateur de ce groupe. Jusqu’à présent tout a été fait pour préserver l’équilibre de cette politique de la part des uns et des autres,et il est clair que ce qu’avait obtenu le gouvernement israélien avec cette reconnaissance est désormais éclipsé par l’intervention de Trump.Est-ce qu’elle a été accomplie avec l’accord ou sans l’aval du dit gouvernement israélien? Nul ne peut le dire mais il est clair qu’une bataille diplomatique a été perdue au profit de l’exercice de la force dont nul ne peut prévoir l’issue.

l’intervention hier de Domald Trump qui selon nous s’explique beaucoup plus dans le cadre des relations avec la Chine et les négociations entamées en Floride pourraient bien remettre en cause ce qui a été jusqu’ici un facteur d’équilibre tout à fait relatif  au Moyen orient dans une transaction permanente où les alliances étaient préservées et le donnant-donnant la règle. ici aussi la stratégie du fou de la nouvelle administration est devenue l’inauguration d’un nouveau far west. Apocalypse now!

Danielle Bleitrach

Voir de même:

Trump Exposes the Cause of Palestinian Rage

Jonathan S. Tobin

National Review

6 December, 2017

If recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital leads to violence, that’s a rejection of any idea of peace. The reaction from the foreign-policy establishment and America’s European and Arab allies is unanimous. All are opposed to President Donald Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Moreover, the very real possibility of violence from the Palestinians, and perhaps even bloody riots throughout the Muslim world, in reaction to a statement scheduled to be delivered today has once again brought down a hail of criticism assailing the president’s judgment. But while this may complicate America’s position in the Middle East and further confuse an already muddled peace process between Israel and the Palestinians, the brickbats aimed at Trump are ignoring the most significant aspect of the controversy.

If Trump acknowledges something that has been a reality for nearly 70 years — Jerusalem has been Israel’s capital since the conclusion of its War of Independence in 1949 — but, as is likely, doesn’t immediately move the U.S. embassy from Tel Aviv or explicitly recognize Israel’s right to all of Jerusalem, then any resulting Arab or Muslim violence will make explicit something that most of those opposed to the president usually refuse to acknowledge. The anger about a change in U.S. policy won’t stem from its supposed negative impact on peace negotiations but from a desire to destroy the Jewish state.

The timing of Trump’s statement is curious given the fact that his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, has been trying to revive peace negotiations with Saudi help. But continuing America’s historic refusal to recognize Israel’s rights in Jerusalem would have meant continuing to allow U.S. policy to be held hostage by extremists who have no interest in peace on any terms.

While any mention of a shift on Jerusalem is being treated as demonstrating pro-Israel bias and a virtual Trump declaration of war on Middle East peace, the likely details of the statement contradict those assumptions. If Trump fails to refer to Jerusalem as a “united” city, he will actually be preserving the ambiguity in the U.S. position that peace-process advocates claim is necessary to keep the flagging hopes for a two-state solution alive.

The 1947 United Nations partition resolution, which called for the creation of Jewish and Arab states in what was then British Mandate for Palestine, set aside Jerusalem as an international zone. This impractical plan was a dead letter from the outset, since neither the Palestinian Arabs nor the rest of the Arab and Muslim world were prepared to accept the creation of a Jewish state even if it did not include even part of the holy city and was matched by a new Arab nation. But the lack of international sanction for Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem that has served as the pretext for non-recognition of the city’s status as the capital is no bar to a two-state solution. In what must now be conceded as the unlikely prospect that the Palestinian Authority will ever agree to peace with Arab neighborhoods in the city serving as a capital for a second state, what possible reason could anyone have for opposing American recognition that western Jerusalem is Israeli?

The answer is painfully obvious.

The ceasefire that ended the first Arab–Israeli war in 1949 left Jerusalem split, with the western portion controlled by Israel and the rest, including the Old City and the most sacred Jewish shrines, occupied (illegally, as far as every nation in the world other than Britain and Pakistan were concerned) by Jordan. In 1967, the Six-Day War ended with the barriers dividing the city torn down as Israeli forces unified Jerusalem. The Jewish state soon annexed the portions that Jordan had occupied, but the international community still did not recognize Israel’s hold on the city and the continued presence of its government.

The conceit of a two-state solution is that both Israel and the putative Palestine would have their capital in Jerusalem. How the city would be repartitioned without reverting to its pre-1967 status, in which two armed enemies were separated only by ugly walls and a no man’s land, has never been made clear. Moreover, despite the constant criticism of Israel’s desire to keep the capital united — the only time in history that the holy places of the three monotheistic religions have been open to all has been during the last 50 years of Israeli sovereignty — or its building of new Jewish neighborhoods there or settlements elsewhere in the West Bank, the main reason why a Palestinian state has not been created is the Palestinians’ refusal to accept such a solution. Israel offered the Palestinians independence in a state that included a share of Jerusalem in 2000, 2001, and 2008 but was turned down each time (first by Yasir Arafat and then by his successor Mahmoud Abbas). That’s why Trump giving U.S. recognition to western Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is not even a theoretical bar to a two-state solution. Yet Palestinians consider even that minimal step, without moving the U.S. embassy to the place where Israel’s government actually sits, a flagrant insult to their national pride — and many of their supporters feel the same way. If their anger is expressed in riots, which might bring to mind the reaction to 2005 publication of satirical cartoons in a Danish newspaper, then Trump will be accused of fomenting violence.

But while all of Trump’s predecessors considered this threat reason enough to avoid recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital — which entailed signing repeated waivers to a 1995 law that mandated moving the U.S. embassy there — what this does is essentially allow terrorists to dictate U.S. policy on a matter that wouldn’t preclude peace. What the foreign-policy establishment — including many State Department veterans responsible for decades of failure in the Middle East — also fails to see is that allowing that current situation to continue is itself a barrier to peace. As long as the Palestinians and their foreign enablers are allowed to hold on to the illusion that their century-old war on Zionism will eventually succeed, the sea change in their political culture that might enable peace will never happen.

While there is little chance that Trump’s attempt to jolt them into reality will succeed, such a change is a prerequisite for successful negotiations, not a barrier to them. That said, it should also be conceded that Trump’s entirely defensible stand on Jerusalem is at odds with the strategy his son-in-law is pursuing toward Middle East peace. Kushner’s “outside-in” approach, which rests on the assumption that the Saudis can bribe or bully an unwilling Palestinian Authority and its Hamas rivals into peace, is just as unlikely to succeed as any other plan. It’s hard to imagine the Saudis’ willingly allowing themselves to be construed as backing Israeli sovereignty over any part of Jerusalem even if Riyadh views the Jewish state as an ally against Iran and has little real sympathy for the addition of another unstable Arab nation to the region. That illustrates the uncoordinated and often confused attitude of a Trump administration that similarly can’t decide between its justified hostility toward Iran and its desire for détente with Russia. But no matter what happens after Trump’s Jerusalem statement, it is wrong to blame him for any violence or subsequent lack of progress toward peace between Israel and the Palestinians. The continued Palestinian refusal to accept the legitimacy of a Jewish state or Jewish ties to Jerusalem that is made manifest by their threats of a new intifada over a largely meaningless gesture by Trump remains the real problem. Trump may not be advancing a peace process that is already doomed, but he may give those willing to look clearly at the situation another demonstration of Palestinian intransigence.

— Jonathan S. Tobin is the editor in chief of JNS.org and a contributor to National Review Online.

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Donald Trump Strikes a Blow against International Anti-Semitism

By moving America’s embassy to Jerusalem, the U.S. confronts the bigoted double standards of the international community.

David French

National Review

December 6, 2017

President Trump’s decision to formally recognize that Jerusalem is the capital of Israel and to announce plans to move America’s embassy to the seat of Israel’s government is one of the best, most moral, and important decisions of his young administration. On this issue, he is demonstrating greater resolve than Republican and Democratic presidents before him, and he is defying some of the worst people in the world.

Think I’m overstating this? Think I’m too enthusiastic about an isolated diplomatic maneuver — especially when that maneuver, to quote the New York Times, “isolates the U.S.” and “has drawn a storm of criticism from Arab and European leaders”? Let’s consider some law, history, and context.

First, sovereign nations are entitled to name their capital, and it is the near-universal practice of other nations to locate their embassies in that same capital. I say “near-universal” because the nations of the world have steadfastly refused to recognize Israel’s capital. They’ve steadfastly placed their embassies outside of Jerusalem. They do so in spite of the Jewish people’s ancient connection to the City of David and in spite of the fact that no conceivable peace settlement would turn over the seat of Israel’s government to Palestinian control — even if parts of East Jerusalem are reserved for a Palestinian capital. Israel’s government sits on Israeli land, and it will remain Israeli land.

Yet the international community condemns America for recognizing reality, for treating Israel the way the world treats every other nation. Why?

Powered by From the birth of the modern nation-state of Israel, an unholy mixture of anti-Semites and eliminationists have both sought to drive the Jewish people into the sea and — when military measures failed — isolate the Jewish nation diplomatically, militarily, and culturally. Working through the U.N. and enabled by Soviet-bloc (and later) European allies, these anti-Semites and eliminationists have waged unrelenting “lawfare” against Israel. (Lawfare is the abuse of international law and legal processes to accomplish military objectives that can’t be achieved on the battlefield.)

The scam works like this: The U.N. and other international bodies establish rules that apply only to Israel, or they hold Israel to higher standards than any other nation on earth; then, when Israel (or its primary ally, America) object to those unjust rules and double standards, the Arab world threatens unrest, riots, or, at worst, renewed jihad. A cowardly European community goes along, perpetuating injustice in the name of “stability.”

The examples are legion. Time and again the U.N. Human Rights Council and the U.N. General Assembly dedicate more resolutions to condemning Israel than the rest of the world’s nations combined. The world’s Islamic countries vote in unified lockstep against Israel, in spite of the fact that many of these countries are thousands of miles from the Middle East. They’re often motivated by vile anti-Semitic bias, and their populations are shot-through with bigotry. According to a 2013 Anti-Defamation League survey, a whopping 74 percent of North African and Middle Eastern residents registered anti-Semitic beliefs. Even 61 percent of far-away Malaysians have anti-Semitic attitudes.

The U.N., moreover, adjusted its definition of refugees for the special and sole benefit of Palestinians. Contrary to conventional international law, the U.N. treats the descendants of Palestinian war refugees as refugees themselves. Thus, incredibly, the population of Palestinian “refugees” from the 1948 and 1967 conflicts is growing. The result is a perpetual, unique, and artificial crisis, one that is designed specifically to place pressure on one nation on planet Earth: Israel.

When it comes to the scrutiny placed on the Israeli military, one hardly knows where to begin. The IDF takes greater care than any other actively engaged military in the world (including the U.S.) to avoid civilian casualties. Its routine conduct of military operations goes above and beyond the requirements of the law of armed conflict. By contrast, Israel’s terrorist opponents violate the law of armed conflict not just as a matter of course but as a matter of strategy. They target civilians on purpose. They use human shields. They hide weapons in civilian locations like mosques and hospitals. Yet when armed conflict breaks out, the anti-Semitic legions cheer Hamas and condemn the IDF.

The bottom line is that to be Israeli in the world is to face unique challenges. In international competitions, athletes will sometimes forfeit rather than compete against Israelis. Universities will impose sanctions on Israeli academics that they’ll impose on no one else. You’ll find yourself barred from entering numerous countries. And when defenders of these double standards bleat about “Israeli occupation,” remember that they don’t impose the same penalties on nations with far worse records on human rights. That, friends, is textbook anti-Semitism.

If ‘stability’ means the perpetuation of double standards, the isolation of Israel, and continued kowtowing to threats of violence, then it’s time to call the Arabs’ bluff. If “stability” means the perpetuation of double standards, the isolation of Israel, and continued kowtowing to threats of violence, then it’s time to call the Arabs’ bluff. If the most powerful nation in the history of the world doesn’t have the moral strength to even properly recognize Israel’s capital, it gives aid and comfort to those who impose unique burdens on the Jewish state. Will America’s Arab allies — nations that depend on our alliances to confront a growing Iranian threat — forsake their own national security to protest an embassy location? It’s time to find out.

The Trump administration has made the right move. Now let’s see how the bigots respond.

Voir enfin:

Full Video and Transcript: Trump’s Speech Recognizing Jerusalem as the Capital of Israel, “The Recognition of Reality”

Today, President Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel finally moving forward Jerusalem embassy act of 1995. This is a truly historic day. President Trump’s speech today is one for the ages. He is now a historical figure of monumental proportion.

Mr. Trump made the formal announcement during a speech in the Diplomatic Reception Room of the White House, with Vice President Mike Pence standing behind him.

_______

PRESIDENT TRUMP:

Thank you. When I came into office, I promised to look at the world’s challenges with open eyes and very fresh thinking.

We cannot solve our problems by making the same failed assumptions and repeating the same failed strategies of the past. All challenges demand new approaches.

My announcement today marks the beginning of a new approach to conflict between Israel and the Palestinians.

In 1995, Congress adopted the Jerusalem Embassy Act urging the federal government to relocate the American Embassy to Jerusalem and to recognize that that city, and so importantly, is Israel’s capital. This act passed congress by an overwhelming bipartisan majority. And was reaffirmed by unanimous vote of the Senate only six months ago.

Yet, for over 20 years, every previous American president has exercised the law’s waiver, refusing to move the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem or to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital city. Presidents issued these waivers under the belief that delaying the recognition of Jerusalem would advance the cause of peace. Some say they lacked courage but they made their best judgments based on facts as they understood them at the time. Nevertheless, the record is in.

After more than two decades of waivers, we are no closer to a lasting peace agreement between Israel and the Palestinians.

It would be folly to assume that repeating the exact same formula would now produce a different or better result.

Therefore, I have determined that it is time to officially recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

While previous presidents have made this a major campaign promise, they failed to deliver.

Today, I am delivering. I’ve judged this course of action to be in the best interests of the United States of America and the pursuit of peace between Israel and the Palestinians. This is a long overdue step to advance the peace process. And to work towards a lasting agreement.

Israel is a sovereign nation with the right, like every other sovereign nation, to determine its own capital. Acknowledging this is a fact is a necessary condition for achieving peace. It was 70 years ago that the United States under President Truman recognized the state of Israel.

Ever since then, Israel has made its capital in the city of Jerusalem, the capital the Jewish people established in ancient times.

Today, Jerusalem is the seat of the modern Israeli government. It is the home of the Israeli Parliament, the Knesset, as well as the Israeli Supreme Court. It is the location of the official residence of the prime minister and the president. It is the headquarters of many government ministries.

For decades, visiting American presidents, secretaries of State and military leaders have met their Israeli counterparts in Jerusalem, as I did on my trip to Israel earlier this year.

Jerusalem is not just the heart of three great religions, but it is now also the heart of one of the most successful democracies in the world. Over the past seven decades, the Israeli people have by the a country where Jews, Muslims and Christians and people of all faiths are free to live and worship according to their conscience and according to their beliefs.

Jerusalem is today and must remain a place where Jews pray at the Western Wall, where Christians walk the stations of the cross, and where Muslims worship at Al Aqsa Mosque. However, through all of these years, presidents representing the United States have declined to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. In fact, we have declined to acknowledge any Israeli capital at all.

But today we finally acknowledge the obvious. That Jerusalem is Israel’s capital. This is nothing more or less than a recognition of reality. It is also the right thing to do. It’s something that has to be done.

That is why consistent with the Jerusalem embassy act, I am also directing the State Department to begin preparation to move the American embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. This will immediately begin the process of hiring architects, engineers and planners so that a new embassy, when completed, will be a magnificent tribute to peace.

In making these announcements, I also want to make one point very clear. This decision is not intended in any way to reflect a departure from our strong commitment to facilitate a lasting peace agreement.

We want an agreement that is a great deal for the Israelis and a great deal for the Palestinians. We are not taking a position of any final status issues including the specific boundaries of the Israeli sovereignty in Jerusalem or the resolution of contested borders. Those questions are up to the parties involved.

The United States remains deeply committed to helping facilitate a peace agreement that is acceptable to both sides. I intend to do everything in my power to help forge such an agreement.

Without question, Jerusalem is one of the most sensitive issues in those talks. The United States would support a two-state solution if agreed to by both sides. In the meantime, I call on all parties to maintain the status quo at Jerusalem’s holy sites including the Temple Mount, also known as Haram al-Sharif. Above all, our greatest hope is for peace. The universal yearning in every human soul.

With today’s action, I reaffirm my administration’s longstanding commitment to a future of peace and security for the region. There will, of course, be disagreement and dissent regarding this announcement. But we are confident that ultimately, as we work through these disagreements, we will arrive at a peace and a place far greater in understanding and cooperation. This sacred city should call forth the best in humanity.

Lifting our sights to what is possible, not pulling us back and down to the old fights that have become so totally predictable.

Peace is never beyond the grasp of those willing to reach it.

So today we call for calm, for moderation, and for the voices of tolerance to prevail over the purveyors of hate. Our children should inherit our love, not our conflicts. I repeat the message I delivered at the historic and extraordinary summit in Saudi Arabia earlier this year: The Middle East is a region rich with culture, spirit, and history. Its people are brilliant, proud and diverse. Vibrant and strong.

But the incredible future awaiting this region is held at bay by bloodshed, ignorance and terror.

Vice President Pence will travel to the region in the coming days to reaffirm our commitment to work with partners throughout the Middle East to defeat radicalism that threatens the hopes and dreams of future generations.

It is time for the many who desire peace to expel the extremists from their midsts. It is time for all civilized nations and people to respond to disagreement with reasoned debate, not violence. And it is time for young and moderate voices all across the Middle East to claim for themselves a bright and beautiful future.

So today, let us rededicate ourselves to a path of mutual understanding and respect. Let us rethink old assumptions and open our hearts and minds to possible and possibilities.

And finally, I ask the leaders of the region political and religious, Israeli and Palestinian, Jewish and Christian and Muslim to join us in the noble quest for lasting peace.

Thank you. God bless you. God bless Israel. God bless the Palestinians and God bless the United States.

Thank you very much. Thank you.

COMPLEMENT:

Why Trump is right in recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital

Alan Dershowitz
Washington Examiner

President Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital is a perfect response to former President Barack Obama’s benighted decision to change American policy by engineering the United Nations Security Council resolution declaring Judaism’s holiest places in Jerusalem to be occupied territory and a “flagrant violation under international law.” It was Obama who changed the status quo and made peace more difficult, by handing the Palestinians enormous leverage in future negotiations and disincentivizing them from making a compromised peace.

It had long been American foreign policy to veto any one-sided Security Council resolutions that declared Judaism’s holiest places to be illegally occupied. Obama’s decision to change that policy was not based on American interests or in the interests of peace. It was done out of personal revenge against Prime Minister Netanyahu and an act of pique by the outgoing president. It was also designed improperly to tie the hands of President-elect Trump. President Trump is doing the right thing by telling the United Nations that the United States now rejects the one-sided Security Council resolution.
So if there is any change to the status quo, let the blame lie where it should be: at the hands of Obama for his cowardly decision to wait until he was a lame-duck president to get even with Prime Minister Netanyahu. Trump deserves praise for restoring balance in negotiations with Israel and the Palestinians. It was Obama who made peace more difficult. It was Trump who made it more feasible again.
The outrageously one-sided Security Council resolution declared that “any changes to the 4 June 1967 lines, including with regard to Jerusalem,” have “no legal validity and constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” This means, among other things, that Israel’s decision to build a plaza for prayer at the Western Wall — Judaism’s holiest site — constitutes a “flagrant violation of international law.” This resolution was, therefore, not limited to settlements in the West Bank, as the Obama administration later claimed in a bait-and-switch. The resolution applied equally to the very heart of Israel.
Before June 4, 1967, Jews were forbidden from praying at the Western Wall, Judaism’s holiest site. They were forbidden to attend classes at the Hebrew University at Mt. Scopus, which had been opened in 1925 and was supported by Albert Einstein. Jews could not seek medical care at the Hadassah Hospital on Mt. Scopus, which had treated Jews and Arabs alike since 1918. Jews could not live in the Jewish Quarter of Jerusalem, where their forbearers had built homes and synagogues for thousands of years.
These Judenrein prohibitions were enacted by Jordan, which had captured by military force these Jewish areas during Israel’s War of Independence, in 1948, and had illegally occupied the entire West Bank, which the United Nations had set aside for an Arab state. When the Jordanian government occupied these historic Jewish sites, they destroyed all the remnants of Judaism, including synagogues, schools, and cemeteries, whose headstones they used for urinals. Between 1948 and 1967, the United Nations did not offer a single resolution condemning this Jordanian occupation and cultural devastation.
When Israel retook these areas in a defensive war that Jordan started by shelling civilian homes in West Jerusalem, and opened them up as places where Jews could pray, study, receive medical treatment and live, the United States took the official position that it would not recognize Israel’s legitimate claims to Jewish Jerusalem.
It stated that the status of Jerusalem, including these newly liberated areas, would be left open to final negotiations and that the status quo would remain in place. That is the official rationale for why the United States refused to recognize any part of Jerusalem, including West Jerusalem, as part of Israel. That is why the United States refused to allow an American citizen born in any part of Jerusalem to put the words “Jerusalem, Israel” on his or her passport as their place of birth.
But even that ahistoric status quo was changed with Obama’s unjustified decision not to veto the Security Council Resolution from last December. The United Nations all of the sudden determined that subject to any further negotiations and agreements, the Jewish areas of Jerusalem recaptured from Jordan in 1967 are not part of Israel. Instead, they were territories being illegally occupied by Israel, and any building in these areas — including places for prayer at the Western Wall, access roads to Mt. Scopus, and synagogues in the historic Jewish Quarter — “constitutes a flagrant violation under international law.” If that indeed is the new status quo, then what incentives do the Palestinians have to enter negotiations? And if they were to do so, they could use these Jewish areas to extort unreasonable concessions from Israel, for which these now “illegally occupied” areas are sacred and non-negotiable.
Obama’s refusal to veto this one-sided resolution was a deliberate ploy to tie the hands of his successors, the consequence of which was to make it far more difficult for his successors to encourage the Palestinians to accept Israel’s offer to negotiate with no preconditions. No future president can undo this pernicious agreement since a veto not cast can never be retroactively cast. And a resolution once enacted cannot be rescinded unless there is a majority vote against it, with no veto by any of its permanent members, which include Russia and China, who would be sure to veto any attempt to undo this resolution.
Trump’s decision to officially recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital helps to restore the appropriate balance. It demonstrates that the United States does not accept the Judenrein effects of this bigoted resolution on historic Jewish areas of Jerusalem, which were forbidden to Jews. The prior refusal of the United States to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital was based explicitly on the notion that nothing should be done to change the status quo of that city, holy to three religions. But the Security Council resolution did exactly that. It changed the status quo by declaring Israel’s de facto presence on these Jewish holy sites to be a “flagrant violation under international law” that “the U.N. will not recognize.”
Since virtually everyone in the international community acknowledges that any reasonable peace would recognize Israel’s legitimate claims to these and other areas in Jerusalem, there is no reason for allowing the U.N. resolution to make criminals out of every Jew or Israeli who sets foot on these historically Jewish areas. (Ironically, Obama prayed at what he regarded as the illegally occupied Western Wall.)
After the United Nations, at the urging of Obama, made it a continuing international crime for there to be any Israeli presence in disputed areas of Jerusalem, including areas whose Jewish provenance is beyond dispute, Trump was right to untie his own hands and to undo the damage wrought by his predecessor. Some have argued that the United States should not recognize Jerusalem because it will stimulate violence by Arab terrorists.
No American decision should ever be influenced by the threat of violence. Terrorists should not have a veto over American policy. If the United States were to give in to threat of violence, it would only incentivize others to threaten violence in response to any peace plan. So let’s praise Trump for doing the right thing by undoing the wrong thing Obama did at the end of his presidency. Alan Dershowitz

Diplomatie. Plusieurs pontes démocrates ont soutenu par le passé et soutiennent aujourd’hui la reconnaissance de la ville sainte comme capitale de l’État hébreu.

Valeurs actuelles

7 décembre 2017

La décision historique de Donald Trump de reconnaître Jérusalem comme capitale d’Israël a été condamnée quasi unanimement dans le monde entier, des chancelleries européennes aux pays arabes en passant par le pape François, mais a reçu toutefois des soutiens aux États-Unis, de la part des élus républicains mais aussi de plusieurs pontes démocrates du Capitole, alors que les parlementaires du parti de gauche restent divisés.

Le leader de la minorité démocrate au Sénat, Chuck Schumer, a ainsi conseillé en privé le président américain de déclarer la ville israélienne capitale “indivisible” de l’État hébreu. En 1995, une loi votée par le Congrès affirmait déjà que Jérusalem devait “rester une ville indivisible” et “être reconnue comme capitale de l’État d’Israël”, tout en autorisant le président à reporter le transfert de l’ambassade pour des raisons de sécurité nationale.

En octobre dernier, Chuck Schumer appelait encore Donald Trump à transférer l’ambassade de Tel Aviv à Jérusalem, arguant que cette décision allait “montrer au monde que les États-Unis reconnaissent définitivement Jérusalem comme la capitale d’Israël”. Le sénateur Ben Cardin, leader démocrate au sein de la commission aux Affaires étrangères, a lui aussi réitéré son soutien. “Jérusalem est la capitale d’Israël, il n’y a rien de nouveau”, a-t-il déclaré.

Les Clinton et Obama aussi

Par le passé, la candidate malheureuse à la Maison Blanche, Hillary Clinton, a elle-même défendu la position actuelle de Donald Trump. En 1999, alors First Lady, elle considérait ainsi Jérusalem comme la “capitale éternelle et indivisible d’Israël” et avait juré de se faire “un défenseur actif et engagé” du transfert de l’ambassade américaine, en cas d’élection au siège de sénateur de l’État de New York. Son mari Bill, alors candidat à la Maison Blanche, avait lui aussi promis, en 1992, de reconnaître Jérusalem comme capitale de l’État hébreu.

Plus récemment, le candidat démocrate Barack Obama avait, lui aussi, défendu l’actuelle décision du président Trump. “Tout accord négocié avec le peuple palestinien doit préserver l’identité d’Israël en tant qu’État juif, doté de frontières sûres, reconnues et défendables, déclarait-il, le 4 juin 2008, dans un discours prononcé devant l’AIPAC, principal lobby pro-israélien aux États-Unis. Et Jérusalem restera la capitale d’Israël et elle doit rester indivise.” Quelques heures, plus tard, le sénateur de l’Illinois en campagne rétropédalait face au tollé.


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:


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
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
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
We can suggest what you should do next, what you care about. Imagine: We know where you are, we know what you like. A near-term future in which you don’t forget anything, because the computer remembers. You’re never lost. Eric Schmidt (Google)
I don’t believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time. (…) Let’s say you’re walking down the street. Because of the info Google has collected about you, we know roughly who you are, roughly what you care about, roughly who your friends are. (…) I actually think most people don’t want Google to answer their questions. They want Google to tell them what they should be doing next. Eric Schmidt
The average American doesn’t realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists (…) Washington is an incumbent protection machine. Technology is fundamentally disruptive. (…) Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line. (…) With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches. We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less now what you’re thinking about. Eric Schmidt
There’s such an overwhelming amount of information now, we can search where you are, see what you’re looking at if you take a picture with your camera. One way to think about this is, we’re trying to make people better people, literally give them better ideas—augmenting their experience. Think of it as augmented humanity. Eric Schmidt
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
Many of the more privileged Americans who frequent fancy restaurants, stay in hotels and depend on hired help for lawn and pool maintenance, home repair and childcare don’t think illegal immigration is that big of a deal. Those in the higher-paid professions do not fear low-wage competition for their jobs in law, medicine, academia, the media, government or the arts. And many who have no problem with the present influx live in affluent communities with good schools insulated from the immediate budgetary consequences of meeting the needs of the offspring of the 11 million here illegally. These wealthier people aren’t so much liberal in their tolerance of illegal immigration as they are self-interested and cynical. In contrast, the far more numerous poor and lower middle classes of America, especially in the Southwest, are sincerely worried — and angry. (…) For the broad middle class, the poor and minorities — people who dine mostly at home, travel infrequently, mow their own lawns and change their children’s diapers — inexpensive service labor is not seen as much of a boon to them. Plus, lower- and middle-class Americans live in communities where schools are more impacted by an influx of Spanish-only speakers. And as janitors, maids, groundskeepers, carpenters, factory workers and truckers, they fear competition from lower-wage illegal alien laborers. Legal immigrants who wait years in line to enter the United States legally can be particularly unsympathetic to others who cut in front — in violation of the law. Victor Davis Hanson (October 6, 2006)
The furor of ignored Europeans against their union is not just directed against rich and powerful government elites per se, or against the flood of mostly young male migrants from the war-torn Middle East. The rage also arises from the hypocrisy of a governing elite that never seems to be subject to the ramifications of its own top-down policies. The bureaucratic class that runs Europe from Brussels and Strasbourg too often lectures European voters on climate change, immigration, politically correct attitudes about diversity, and the constant need for more bureaucracy, more regulations, and more redistributive taxes. But Euro-managers are able to navigate around their own injunctions, enjoying private schools for their children; generous public pay, retirement packages and perks; frequent carbon-spewing jet travel; homes in non-diverse neighborhoods; and profitable revolving-door careers between government and business. The Western elite classes, both professedly liberal and conservative, square the circle of their privilege with politically correct sermonizing. They romanticize the distant “other” — usually immigrants and minorities — while condescendingly lecturing the middle and working classes, often the losers in globalization, about their lack of sensitivity. On this side of the Atlantic, President Obama has developed a curious habit of talking down to Americans about their supposedly reactionary opposition to rampant immigration, affirmative action, multiculturalism, and political correctness — most notably in his caricatures of the purported “clingers” of Pennsylvania. Yet Obama seems uncomfortable when confronted with the prospect of living out what he envisions for others. He prefers golfing with celebrities to bowling. He vacations in tony Martha’s Vineyard rather than returning home to his Chicago mansion. His travel entourage is royal and hardly green. And he insists on private prep schools for his children rather than enrolling them in the public schools of Washington, D.C., whose educators he so often shields from long-needed reform. In similar fashion, grandees such as Facebook billionaire Mark Zuckerberg and Univision anchorman Jorge Ramos do not live what they profess. They often lecture supposedly less sophisticated Americans on their backward opposition to illegal immigration. But both live in communities segregated from those they champion in the abstract. The Clintons often pontificate about “fairness” but somehow managed to amass a personal fortune of more than $100 million by speaking to and lobbying banks, Wall Street profiteers, and foreign entities. The pay-to-play rich were willing to brush aside the insincere, pro forma social-justice talk of the Clintons and reward Hillary and Bill with obscene fees that would presumably result in lucrative government attention. Consider the recent Orlando tragedy for more of the same paradoxes. The terrorist killer, Omar Mateen — a registered Democrat, proud radical Muslim, and occasional patron of gay dating sites — murdered 49 people and wounded even more in a gay nightclub. His profile and motive certainly did not fit the elite narrative that unsophisticated right-wing American gun owners were responsible because of their support for gun rights. No matter. The Obama administration and much of the media refused to attribute the horror in Orlando to Mateen’s self-confessed radical Islamist agenda. Instead, they blamed the shooter’s semi-automatic .223 caliber rifle and a purported climate of hate toward gays. (…) In sum, elites ignored the likely causes of the Orlando shooting: the appeal of ISIS-generated hatred to some young, second-generation radical Muslim men living in Western societies, and the politically correct inability of Western authorities to short-circuit that clear-cut connection. Instead, the establishment all but blamed Middle America for supposedly being anti-gay and pro-gun. In both the U.S. and Britain, such politically correct hypocrisy is superimposed on highly regulated, highly taxed, and highly governmentalized economies that are becoming ossified and stagnant. The tax-paying middle classes, who lack the romance of the poor and the connections of the elite, have become convenient whipping boys of both in order to leverage more government social programs and to assuage the guilt of the elites who have no desire to live out their utopian theories in the flesh. Victor Davis Hanson
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 …

Continuent jusqu’ici à bénéficier ces nouveaux maitres de morale et de mépris qui les dirigent ?

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:

Self-made wealth in America

Robber barons and silicon sultans

Today’s tech billionaires have a lot in common with a previous generation of capitalist titans—perhaps too much for their own good

The Economist

 

IN THE 50 years between the end of the American civil war in 1865 and the outbreak of the first world war in 1914, a group of entrepreneurs spearheaded America’s transformation from an agricultural into an industrial society, built gigantic business empires and amassed huge fortunes. In 1848 John J. Astor, a merchant trader, was America’s richest man with $20m (now $545m). By the time the United States entered the first world war, John D. Rockefeller had become its first billionaire.

In the 50 years since Data General introduced the first mini-computers in the late 1960s, a group of entrepreneurs have spearheaded the transformation of an industrial age into an information society, built gigantic business empires and acquired huge fortunes. When he died in 1992, Sam Walton, the founder of Walmart, was probably America’s richest man with $8 billion. Today Bill Gates occupies that position with $82.3 billion.

The first group is now known as the robber barons. The second lot—call them the silicon sultans—could face a similar fate. Like their predecessors, they were once revered as inventive mould-breakers, delivering gadgets to the masses. But just like Rockefeller and the other “malefactors of great wealth”, these new capitalists are losing their sheen. They have been diversifying into businesses that have little to do with computers, while egotistically proclaiming that they alone can solve mankind’s problems, from ageing to space travel. More pointedly, they stand accused of being greedy businessfolk who suborn politicians, employ sweatshop labour, stiff other shareholders and, especially, monopolise markets. Rockefeller once controlled 80% of the world’s supply of oil: today Google has 90% of the search market in Europe and 67% in the United States.

Together, the two groups throw light on some of the most enduring themes of American history—both the country’s extraordinary ability to generate vast wealth and its enduring ambivalence about concentrations of power. Henry Ford, the youngest of the robber barons, once said that history is more or less bunk. He was wrong. The silicon sultans have the advantage of being able to learn from their predecessors’ mistakes. It is not entirely clear that they are doing so.

History rhymes

All business titans have certain things in common—a steely determination to turn their dreams into reality, a gargantuan appetite for success and, as they grow older, a complicated relationship with the fruits of their labour. But the robbers and sultans have more in common than most: they are the Übermenschen of the past 200 years of American capitalism, the people who feel the future in their bones, bring it into being—and sometimes go too far.

The most striking similarity is that they refashioned the material basis of civilisation. Railway barons such as Leland Stanford and E.H. Harriman laid down more than 200,000 miles of track, creating a national market. Andrew Carnegie replaced iron with much more versatile steel. Ford ushered in the era of the automobile. Mr Gates tried to put a computer in every office and in every home. Larry Page and Sergey Brin put the world’s information at everybody’s fingertips. Mark Zuckerberg made the internet social. Just as the railroad made it possible for obscure companies to revolutionise everything from food (Heinz) to laundry (Procter & Gamble), the internet allows entrepreneurs to disrupt everything from retailing (Amazon) to transport (Uber).

Both relied on the relentless logic of economies of scale. The robber barons started with striking innovations—in Ford’s case, a more efficient way of turning petrol into power—but their real genius lay in their ability to “scale up” these innovations to squeeze the competition. “Cut the prices; scoop the market; run the mills full,” as Carnegie put it. The silicon sultans updated the idea. Mr Gates understood the imminent ubiquity of personal computers, and the money to be made from making their software. Messrs Brin and Page grasped that their search engine could create a massive audience for advertisers. Mr Zuckerberg saw that Facebook could profit from inserting itself into the social lives of a sizeable chunk of the world’s population.

Economies of scale allowed the robber barons to keep reducing prices and improving quality. Henry Ford cut the price of his Model T from $850 in its first year of production to $360 in 1916. In 1924 you could buy a much better car for just $290. The silicon sultans performed exactly the same trick. The price of computer equipment, adjusted for quality and inflation, has declined by 16% a year over the five decades from 1959 to 2009. Each iPhone contains the same amount of computing power as was housed in MIT in 1960.

The robber barons denounced regulators in the name of the free market, but monopoly suited them better. Rockefeller rued the “destructive competition” of the oil industry, with its cycle of glut and shortage, and set about ensuring continuity of supply. The first trust, Standard Oil’s, established in 1882, was designed to persuade his rivals to give up control of their companies in return for a guaranteed income and an easy life. “The Standard was an angel of mercy reaching down from the sky and saying ‘Get into the ark. Put in your old junk. We will take all the risks’,” he wrote.

Others followed. Although the Sherman Anti-Trust Act of 1890 outlawed these devices as restraints on free trade, the barons either neutralised the legislation or got round it with another control-preserving device, the holding company. By the early 20th century trusts and holding companies held nearly 40% of American manufacturing assets. Alfred Chandler, the doyen of American business historians, summed up the hundred years following the civil war as “ten years of competition and 90 years of oligopoly”.

The silicon sultans have it easier. They sometimes brush with the law—Google and Apple have been scolded for creating informal agreements to prevent poaching wars—but network effects, whereby the more customers a service has, the more valuable it becomes, mean that their businesses tend towards monopoly anyway. In the digital world, the alternative is often annihilation. As Peter Thiel, PayPal’s cerebral founder, put it in “Zero to One”: “All failed companies are the same: they failed to escape competition.”

The result, in both cases, is an unparalleled concentration of power. A century ago the barons had a lock on transport and energy. Today Google and Apple between them provide 90% of smartphone operating systems of; over half of North Americans and over a third of Europeans use Facebook. None of the five big car companies, by contrast, controls more than a fifth of the American market.

The 0.000001%

The silicon sultans are some of the few businesspeople who can compete with the robber barons in terms of ownership. Carnegie made a point of always owning more than half of his company. Today most firms are widely held by large numbers of shareholders: the largest individual shareholder in Exxon, the grandchild of Standard Oil, is Rex Tillerson, the company’s chief executive. He owns 0.05% of the stock. But tech is different. Together Google’s two founders, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and its executive chairman, Eric Schmidt (who also sits on the board of The Economist’s parent company) control two-thirds of the voting stock in Google. Mark Zuckerberg owns 20% of Facebook shares but almost all of its “class B” shares, which have ten times the voting power of ordinary shares.

The tech titans are not as rich in relative terms as the robber barons. When Rockefeller retired in the early 20th century, his net worth was equal to about one-thirtieth of America’s annual GNP. When Mr Gates stepped aside as CEO of Microsoft in 2000 his net worth might have equalled 1/130th of it. But they nevertheless represent the most significant concentration of business wealth in the world. In 2013 34% of billionaire-entrepreneurs aged 40 or under made their money in high tech.

What makes these concentrations of wealth all the more striking is that they followed on the heels of two of the most egalitarian periods in American history. The 1830s-40s saw America (outside the slave-owning South) establish itself as the land of participatory politics and individualism that Alexis de Tocqueville celebrated in “Democracy in America”. The years between the second world war and the late 1970s were years of low inequality of income in the United States.

Both the robber barons and the silicon sultans helped to create a very different America, divided by class and obsessed with money. In “The Theory of the Leisure Class”(1899), Thorstein Veblen showed how an egalitarian society was becoming an aristocratic one. In “Capital in the Twenty-First Century” (2013) Thomas Piketty made similar claims for the past 40 years.

The culture they helped to create troubled barons of both eras. Andrew Carnegie, who had risen from bobbin-boy to steel magnate in 17 years, worried about the contrast between “the palace of the millionaire and the cottage of the labourer”. Though he stretched the bounds of good taste when, as perhaps the richest man in the world, he wrote a pamphlet entitled “The Advantages of Poverty” (1891), he was nevertheless sincere in worrying that class division was producing “rigid castes” living in “mutual ignorance” and “mutual distrust” of each other. Mr Thiel contrasts the egalitarian Silicon Valley of his childhood, in which everybody lived in identikit houses and attended first-rate state-funded schools, with today’s divided Valley. But they have taken their strictures only so far. Carnegie bought a ruined castle in Scotland, Skibo, for $85,000 and maintained a staff of 85. Mr Thiel bought an oceanfront spread in Maui for $27m.

No sooner had they transformed themselves from challengers into incumbents than the robber barons succumbed to the two great temptations of a successful middle age: undisciplined growth and unqualified self-belief. Rockefeller spilled into a succession of adjacent businesses—he bought forests to supply his company with wood, established plants to turn the wood into barrels, produced chemicals for refining and bought ships and railroad cars to carry his products. Harriman turned from financing railways to dabbling in finance more generally.

The tech barons are following a similar arc. Google is pouring its super-profits into a succession of loosely related industries: robotics, energy, household appliances, driverless cars and anti-ageing. The company may well be fashioning a world in which it has a hand in everything humans do—driving them to work, adjusting their thermostats, making (and monitoring) their phone calls, and, of course, organising their information. Facebook has spent $2 billion on a start-up that makes virtual-reality equipment. Elon Musk, one of the founders of PayPal, has moved into electric cars and rockets. Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s founder, is also investing in private space travel.

Both groups started dreaming ever bigger dreams. The robber barons turned their hands to solving social problems. Ford led a peace convoy to Europe to put an end to war. When he arrived in Norway and gave the locals a long lecture on tractor production in faltering Norwegian, a local commented that you have to be a very great man to say such foolish things. In the Valley, extending life to 100 or 120 is a passion; Mr Thiel even talks about abolishing death. Reforming the state is another hobby; again Mr Thiel takes things to the limit with a project to establish a collection of floating city states in international waters outside the reach of governments. Reinventing food—creating meat substitutes in particular—is another recent craze: Messrs Brin, Gates and Thiel have invested in alternative food companies.

The most controversial sideways move the robber barons made was into day-to-day politics. A critic once wrote that Rockefeller’s company did everything to the Pennsylvania legislature except refine it. The Senate was known as “the millionaire’s club”. Robber barons bought newspapers—Ford turned the Dearborn Independent into a mouthpiece for his cranky views on the Jews. Not content with establishing what Arthur Schlesinger junior called “government of the corporations, by the corporations and for the corporations”, a growing number of robber barons and their children went into politics themselves. Two of Rockefeller’s children became governors—Nelson of New York and Winthrop of Arkansas—and Nelson went on to be Gerald Ford’s vice-president.

The silicon sultans swore that they would not repeat this mistake, and indeed they have gone nothing like as far as their predecessors. Yet politics is both necessary to business and irresistible to the self-important. This year Google’s political action committee spent more on campaigns than Goldman Sachs, a company legendary for its political connections. Mr Zuckerberg has founded a pressure group, fwd.us, to push for immigration reform. The prospectus for the group, headed by one of Mr Zuckerberg’s former Harvard room-mates, boasts that the tech industry will become “one of the most powerful political forces” because “we control massive distribution channels, both as companies and as individuals”. These “channels” include old-media redoubts such as the Washington Post (bought by Mr Bezos) and the New Republic (bought by Facebook’s Chris Hughes) as well as new media empires such as Yahoo. Silicon Valley is now a regular stop in fundraising and an established part of America’s revolving-door culture. Al Gore, a former vice-president, has been a senior adviser to Google. Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating officer, started her career as chief of staff to Larry Summers when he was treasury secretary.

The backlash

The age of the robber barons led inexorably to the age of populist revolt, with mass strikes, anti-monopoly legislation, social reforms and, eventually, the New Deal of the 1930s. The robber barons had ruined too many people and broken too many rules. Ida Tarbell (whose father had been ruined by Rockefeller) proved to be the most devastating critic: a series of brilliant articles in McClure’s magazine aired Rockefeller’s dirty laundry and popularised the term robber baron. Theodore Dreiser, a novelist, skewered the new rich in “The Titan” and “The Financier”. Some economists worried that America was becoming as unequal as Europe.

A cohort of politicians and lawyers fairly swiftly translated the backlash into policy. Teddy Roosevelt thundered against the “criminal rich”. Woodrow Wilson followed up with even more vigorous attacks on corporate America. The 16th amendment to the constitution introduced an income tax for the first time, and the 17th amendment decreed that senators should be elected by popular vote rather than appointed by local legislatures.

That the tech barons have attracted only a fraction of the ire of the robber barons is not surprising: with relatively small, highly paid workforces, they are not involved in the battles with unions that turned the robber barons into ogres. In 1901 US Steel, Carnegie’s creation, employed a quarter of a million men—more than the army and navy combined. Today Google employs more than 50,000, Facebook 8,000 and Twitter 3,500. The electronic toys the tech barons make also inspire more affection among consumers than the commodities or infrastructure that the robber barons produced. But there are nevertheless growing rumbles of discontent. Starting in 1994, the American government successfully prosecuted Microsoft for predatory pricing and undermining competition. The EU is currently mulling various ways of reducing Google’s dominance in the search market, and has even proposed splitting its search engine operations in Europe from the rest of its business.

Aside from monopoly and inequality, the main gripe against the tech barons concerns privacy. The tech industry makes much of its money from hoovering up private information.“We know where you are,” says Mr Schmidt. “We know where you’ve been. We can more or less know what you’re thinking about.” The EU is drafting a privacy directive, to come into effect in 2016, which could introduce strict rules about data collection.

Despite these growing worries, there is no sign that the trend will reverse. For all the dramatic changes between the railway age and the silicon age, America still has the right formula for producing entrepreneurs. It sucks in talent from all over the world: Carnegie was the son of an impoverished Scottish textile weaver, Mr Brin the son of Russian immigrants. It tolerates failure: the list of barons who failed at least once before they succeeded includes R.H. Macy, H.J. Heinz, Henry Ford and Steve Jobs. And it encourages ambition. Mark Twain and Charles Dudley Warner put their finger on an enduring national trait in “The Gilded Age” (1873): “In America nearly every man has his dream, his pet scheme, whereby he is to advance himself socially or pecuniarily.” Walt Whitman did the same: he celebrated “the extreme business energy, and this almost maniacal appetite for wealth prevalent in the United States”. And the ability to produce such men has allowed America, once again, to pull ahead of the rest of the West.

At the same time, the backlash against the robber barons points to another enduring theme: the tension between big business and democracy. Americans’ admiration for self-made millionaires leads them to be suspicious of huge organisations. Charles Francis Adams, a great-grandson of America’s second president, warned that companies were bent on “establishing despotisms which no spasmodic popular effort will be able to shake off”.

Louis Brandeis, one of the greatest Supreme Court judges, became the voice of the campaign against “the curse of bigness”. “Mere bigness” is an offence against society, he argued, because democracy “cannot endure” when you have huge concentrations of wealth in the hands of a few. Today’s Supreme Court is as comfortable with bigness as Brandeis was uncomfortable with it. Presidents habitually cuddle up to huge organisations in order to raise the money they need to run for office. Yet suspicion of size is growing once again on both the Tea Party right and the Democratic left.

So is bigness capable of redeeming itself? The final enduring theme in the story of the American barons is the story of philanthropy. Carnegie pronounced that “the man who thus dies rich dies disgraced”. The robber barons (including Carnegie) did not exactly die poor. But almost all of them became philanthropists in old age. Carnegie tried to make equality of opportunity mean something by founding 2,811 public libraries. Rockefeller’s intellectual legacy, the University of Chicago, is one of America’s greatest.

Mr Gates’s foundation is one of the largest in the world; and he and his fellows are following their predecessors by applying the same mixture of imagination and hubris to philanthropy that they applied to business. In America entrepreneurs do not just create bigger fortunes. They also cast longer shadows.

Voir également:

Google’s CEO: ‘The Laws Are Written by Lobbyists’
Derek Thompson
The Atlantic
Oct 1, 2010

« The average American doesn’t realize how much of the laws are written by lobbyists » to protect incumbent interests, Google CEO Eric Schmidt told Atlantic editor James Bennet at the Washington Ideas Forum. « It’s shocking how the system actually works. »In a wide-ranging interview that spanned human nature, the future of machines, and how Google could have helped the stimulus, Schmidt said technology could « completely change the way government works. »

« Washington is an incumbent protection machine, » Schmidt said. « Technology is fundamentally disruptive. » Mobile phones and personal technology, for example, could be used to record the bills that members of Congress actually read and then determine what stimulus funds were successfully spent.

Schmidt pushed back on the claim that the White House doesn’t understand business. He acknowledged that the American business community distrusts the administration, but he said the criticism are mostly about tone. He also brushed off the idea that the White House needs more business executives as an argument about « symbolism » rather than substance.On the hot topic of China versus America, he made a pithy distinction between what makes the world’s leading powers uniquely successful. America is a bottoms-up entrepreneurial engine, and China is more like « a well-run large business. » »America’s research universities are the envy on the world, » he said. « We have 90 percent of the top researchers in the world. We also have a bizarre policy to train people and then kick them out by not giving them visas, which makes no sense at all. »China governs like a large industrial company, he added. « It wants to maximize its cash flow. It wants to maximize its internal and external demand. All of the interesting new ideas [for example, doubling down on solar tech] can be understood as a business expansion. »The end of the interview turned to the future of technology. When Bennet asked about the possibility of a Google « implant, » Schmidt invoked what the company calls the « creepy line. » »Google policy is to get right up to the creepy line and not cross it, » he said. Google implants, he added, probably crosses that line.At the same time, Schmidt envisions a future where we embrace a larger role for machines and technology. « With your permission you give us more information about you, about your friends, and we can improve the quality of our searches, » he said. « We don’t need you to type at all. We know where you are. We know where you’ve been. We can more or less now what you’re thinking about.

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
Quarzƒ
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?


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,