Commentary: Our Miserable 21st Century


Rufus F.

Rufus is an American curmudgeon in Canada. He has a PhD in History, sings in a garage rock band, and does a bunch of other stuff.

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156 Responses

  1. Avatar veronica d says:

    Oh gawd not more “real America” versus “the bubble” bullshit. Do these jackasses even listen to themselves?Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      Not getting that at all; maybe you could quote from the article to support your thesis?Report

    • Avatar North says:

      The bubble stuff is grating but there are some numbers and stats in there that do make a good case that for a certain segment of the population things have gotten really really bad despite the aggregate numbers looking better.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @north — Well yeah, but this is not new information. Acting like there is a “bubble,” or that “real Americans” know this, or that talking of “income inequality” are missing the point — well it’s all rubbish. It is simply this: we’ve been talking about this for ages. The “economic conservatives” refused to listen, while their own party got gutted out by the “angry white guy” crowd. So now they want to act like the left is unaware of economic hardship, but they have a unique insight.

        It’s blinkered nonsense.Report

        • Avatar North says:

          I’m inclined to agree with that, being an unabashed partisan myself.Report

          • Avatar Rufus F. says:

            Giving a quote is the convention with the linky links. I’d rather have gone with “read the frigging article”. I also didn’t take the article as being especially about “the left” nearly as much as saying things have gotten really really bad for a sizeable segment of the US population regardless of who’s been in charge over the last few decades at least. Most of it squares up with my experiences living in Buffalo a few years back. It’s critical of “pundits and politicians” to be sure, and in that it says almost exactly what Chris Hedges has been saying from the left for the last number of years.Report

            • Avatar Jaybird says:

              If your taste can be pilloried in public often enough, perhaps you will learn to just not say anything at all.

              Write something, then have your mouse hover over “submit”…

              Then press the X.

              That’s the goal. The X.Report

            • Avatar veronicad says:

              @rufus-f — I saw it last year when we drove out to Albany for a rock-n-roll show. Walking through downtown, more than half the storefronts were empty. It was depressing.

              Boston isn’t like that. We’re thriving. Empty storefronts are rare.

              Anyway, we know the guys in the band. One of them fixes motorcycles. The other does some kind of construction work. They’re cool guys, but yeah, I could tell things were different in their world, compared with mine.

              My point is, nothing in this article was new information to me.Report

              • Avatar Damon says:

                Bubble is generally applicable. You V, have some experience and exposure to outside the bubble. Others, most assuredly, do not. My actress friend? None. There ARE lots of people like my friend who’s world is confined to the theater district in Manhattan and the DC Metro area.Report

            • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

              I wonder if the problem is just technology and better transportation. A lot of the towns you mention to Veronica were thriving in the days of multi-day or week journeys by train, car, and boat. It made sense to have multiple ports/stops back then. Not so much anymore.Report

              • Avatar Jesse says:

                This is pretty much it. The economy needed dozens of towns with 10 to 20 thousand people in them fifty years ago. It doesn’t need those towns now.Report

              • Avatar LeeEsq says:

                The economy also needed many mid-seized cities with somewhere between 250,000 and 1,000,000 people in them fifty to sixty years ago. Buffalo had around 500,000 people in its hey day. Cleveland nearly a million and Saint Louis in the 800,000. Other Rust Belt cities were similar. The current economy gets by with having big metropolitan areas and a lot of struggling spaces in-between them.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                You’re assuming stability where none exists.
                50% of current jobs on the block in the next ten years.Report

              • Avatar Kolohe says:

                If Buffalo had the weather of Arizona, it would have its retirees and their economic input.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

                While I would not want to live in a Buffalo winter, the appeal of really hot and dry is something that I never got either.Report

              • Avatar Rufus F. says:

                I’m on the left. So I think what a society needs is far more important than what an economy needs. A society can’t vote for its abolition, so there’s nothing to gain in siding with the economy over the society. Note to the DNC.Report

              • Avatar James K says:


                Societies are built on economies. If there’s no economic reason for a town to exist anymore, there is no realistic way of maintaining that town – it will wither and die, and all the government can do is delay the inevitable.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                So, what the fuck are we going to do when 50% of the current jobs cease to exist in 10 or 20 years?

                if there is no economic reason for a COUNTRY to exist anymore, are we really, really going to let it drown? (All signs point to yes! Humans are cruel, man).Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      This would have been an interesting article except for the words. Seriously, the statistics were fine, but just about every word of the analysis was cliched.Report

  2. Avatar DensityDuck says:

    I have to say, I find arguments pointing to insecurity preferable to ones pointing to inequality. It’s quite easy to handle inequality arguments by pointing to the state of the lowest-decile American compared to the rest of humanity, or to say that it’s merely jealousy or a loser’s spite for the winners.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      Inequality doesn’t hurt anyone physically. Poverty does.Report

      • Avatar gregiank says:

        Societies with deep inequality are going to have more poverty, less class mobility and groups that are left out. Serious inequality is a symptom of a society where good middle/working class jobs are fewer, the rules are tilted towards the rich and decent work can’t lift people out of poverty that well.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          “Societies with deep inequality are going to have more poverty, less class mobility and groups that are left out.”

          Really? Why?

          If the tide is high enough, doesn’t every boat float?Report

          • Avatar gregiank says:

            If only the world worked the way poor metaphors do. If every boat was lifted by the tide then we would be just ducky. But it hasn’t worked that way. The richest and big business have been surfing a giant wave while everyone else is treading water.

            The essence of the inequality issue, which seems to be ignored, is that the economy is rigged to benefit the richest and big business. This very theme has been echoed by peeps on the left and right and Trump.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              “The richest and big business have been surfing a giant wave while everyone else is treading water.”

              The Biblical injunction is to clothe the naked, not style them. If they’re treading water then they aren’t drowning, and if they aren’t drowning then are we not done helping them as a society-level obligation?Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              “The essence of the inequality issue, which seems to be ignored, is that the economy is rigged to benefit the richest and big business.”

              How can you consider something ignored when it’s repeated non-stop?Report

              • Avatar gregiank says:

                Hmmm… Well it’s ignored by conservatives who seem allergic to the phrase economic inequality. That is sort of snarky but mentioning inequality seems to derail the conversation away from this issue. C’s talk around the issue when the I word is mentioned but many are fine to talk about it in other ways.Report

          • Avatar Stillwater says:

            If the tide is high enough, doesn’t every boat float?

            Yes they will float, if properly cared for. So I agree with you: people need to take the dangers of global warming seriously and get their boats ready.Report

      • Avatar Stillwater says:

        I’m not sure I understand what you just wrote, but it made me think of this:

        Wealth implies power, but power doesn’t imply wealth. If that’s correct, then the trick is to find a functional, equitable balance between the two which isn’t a Laffer.Report

      • Avatar Francis says:

        I disagree. Inequality (in this country at least) affects the diet, health care, physical environment, schooling and jobs that are on offer.

        Yes, there are people who climb out. What do you do with the people who don’t?Report

      • Avatar Pinky says:

        Inequality isn’t a problem if the bottom is high. I don’t care what my relative position is – or if I do, it’s only because I care about such things. It doesn’t impact me negatively to know that someone out there is doing better than me. To Gregiank: inequality doesn’t imply poverty. To Stillwater: government power is more likely to be a threat to me than wealthy people are. To Francis: it’s the absolute level that can have an effect on those things you listed, not the relative level.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          I don’t care what my relative position is

          Do you think that’s true universally?Report

          • Avatar Jaybird says:

            Do you think that’s true universally?

            Let’s assume that we have a society that is full of people who care what their relative position is.

            Do we have additional moral obligations to these people that we wouldn’t have had if they were people who didn’t care about their relative positions?Report

            • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

              Before we start spinning off in vaporous tangents based on “lets assume”, how about we nail that one down first?

              Because I believe that most people do care, very much about their relative position.
              We just finished an election where 60 million people, most of whom are comfortable, were said to be seething with rage at “elites”.

              When Density Duck asserts that its “easy” to handle arguments about inequality. I’m wondering for whom this is “easy”.

              Because whoever those folks are who think its easy to dispense with arguments about inequality are, they certainly don’t hold the whip hand in our politics.

              As someone might ask, “Wanna know why Trump won?”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird says:

                Oh, I believe that all sorts of people care about their relative position. So, good. We’ve hammered the answer to that question down. Hell, let’s even say that there are more people concerned with relative positions than not.

                I’m curious as to what my/our obligation to people who care about their relative position vis-à-vis their relative position would be.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I got a little fancy in my phrasing. Let’s say it differently. A person has no reason other than vanity to care about which rung he’s on, provided he can realistically expect to be able to meet his needs.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Well, again, is that just you, or do think people feel that way generally?
                Also again, Trump voters are pretty well off, but they seem plenty aggrieved.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                “Well off” needs a objective definition, because I know a lot of people who would appear to be “well off”, but lack financial security for various reasons.Report

              • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


                I partially agree here. Well off is a relative term and can depend on geographical and many other factors. Plus there is something built into human nature where we always seem to look up and say “those people are well off” instead of looking down and being thankful for what we have.

                There are a lot of people in the US who might be income wealthy but aren’t necessarily capital wealthy.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I’m actually agreeing here.
                But notice how in many discussions about globalism the defenders of the current trade structure talk about how even the poorest Americans are at the pinnacle of historical wealth and prosperity- the “Iphones and tee shirts” argument, I call it.

                But as DD pointed out, its security that matters, since most Americans are now painfully aware of their own economic fragility.

                And in the end, it insecurity and inequality mingle together and become inseparable.

                All this talk about “coastal elites”- should we dismiss this as envy and sore loserdom? Should we give them lectures about how their relative position is still high?

                Because it isn’t really even about raw economics, so much as it is a combination of economics, social exclusion and lack of solidarity.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                I acknowledge that everything you said is true, along with what @inmd said below about equality under the law, but I think that for a lot of people, that insecurity has less to do with inequality that it does with something more basic:

                A house. We have a generation, or more, of people who are for all intents and purposes, house poor. For various reasons, from fast talking mortgage brokers, to social pressure, to being in a good school district, to expecting personal economic conditions to improve or remain constant in the near term, a lot of people bought more house than they could really afford for the length of the mortgage.

                Even if those people have adequate retirement savings (and many do not, and they don’t trust SS), they live under a constant threat of losing their house if their income goes down more than a bit, and they don’t have enough liquid savings* to ride out a gap in full employment. And neither the banks, nor the government, has shown any sympathy or mercy for the homeowner in dire straights. A renter can get Section 8 assistance if things go to hell, a home owner gets put out on the street and watches their credit rating burn for the next 7 years.

                *Something else the political & business elite have scoffed at for a long time – the idea of keeping a significant cushion. They want that money out there stimulating the economy, not sitting in a boring savings account.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I’m reluctant to answer this question because I think we’ve gotten into a more interesting idea, economic security. Absolute or real income is a measurable thing that has impact. Relative income is a bit more ephemeral if we’re talking about perception, and it has no impact on quality of life. But economic security – that’s hard to quantify, but it’s definitely something real. That’s interesting.

                Do most people care about their relative economic ranking? Yes. I don’t have any illusions about that. But it shouldn’t be a focus of our economic policy. I’d like it if good looks were distributed more “equitably” too, but I’d hate to live in a society that tried to regulate it.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                I’ll tie this back into our discussions about automation.

                I wonder how many middle class people look at the headlines about the Wendy’s kiosks and Uber’s driverless cars, and instead of guffawing over those silly lazy workers, think instead “Holy crap, that could be me!”

                About the only job that seems safe from automation is writing essays at National Review.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “I wonder how many middle class people look at the headlines about the Wendy’s kiosks and Uber’s driverless cars, and instead of guffawing over those silly lazy workers, think instead “Holy crap, that could be me!””

                It is really fascinating to me how you write something like this–apparently seriously!–and then sniff about Trump voters being “well-off”, implying that they’ve got no sound basis for economic concern.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                No actually I am agreeing about the insecurity part, that even comfortably middle class Trump voters feel a very real gnawing sense of anxiety about their future.

                We’re having a bit of a 3 way conversation, with you talking about insecurity and Pinky talking about a rising tide.

                My point is that even if people are well off, the insecurity and relative position makes them angry, even when someone can logically say they shouldn’t be angry.

                People’s anger is not based so much on where they are, but on where they think they should be.Report

              • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

                People’s anger is not based so much on where they are, but on where they think they should be.

                Wrong, it’s where they are afraid of where they could wind up. Anger is born out of fear much more readily than envy.Report

              • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

                Point taken.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                I think Chip’s main goal in the post you’re replying to was to depict the other side as stupid. It’s a structure he uses a lot. Broad unspecified group looks at something and reaches a conclusion that Chip thinks is conservative but if you asked them about something else they’d look at you stupidly and not see the connection. They’re the Chip Daniels Players, and they do most of the crowd scenes and dance work in his show.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “When Density Duck asserts that its “easy” to handle arguments about inequality. I’m wondering for whom this is “easy”.”

                Simple. You’re jealous about the guy who has more. Just like all those MRAs angry that women won’t have sex with them.Report

        • Avatar greginak says:

          No it doesn’t guarantee poverty. However is the bottom high in this country???? I’d say no. High inequality is a strong symptom of a system that is rigged towards the wealthy and big business. Heck lots of Trumpet believe the system is rigged against them. If the bottom isn’t high then we have a problem and we have a problem.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Yes, the bottom is high in this country. Nobody goes blind from malnutrition. People don’t die from lack of food. People aren’t constantly sick with malaria or giardia.

            Everything is relative.

            We still got problems. sureReport

      • How do you define poverty, though, if not relative to the rest of society? There is no absolute measure by which 2017 has more poverty than, say, the late 80s, which we remember fondly as a boom. The reasons that things are gloom and doom today are two:

        1. Increased inequality, with the non-college-educated, rural population seeing themselves falling behind and likely to fall further so in relative, not necessarily absolute terms.
        2. The people in category 1 are white.Report

        • Avatar Kim says:

          Economics defines the richness of a society by how much it costs to generate energy. When we get down to 1 to 8 or so, we’re going to be in some deep shit.Report

  3. Avatar veronica d says:

    The “employment versus population” figure is interesting. Here is a larger view than what the article gives:

    I’m assuming gender is playing a huge role in the mid-80’s uptick, from which we are falling now. Sadly, I couldn’t find a nice graph that shows gender makeup. (If you know of one, please link.) In any case, this is in some ways a gender story.

    But we knew that.Report

  4. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    I also find the “bubble v. Real America” grating, but getting past that, the article is a pretty sobering take on how awful the economy is.

    Its also good to connect this to our discussions about automation and globalism, to see how resistant the problem is to easy answers.

    Even my fellow Dems don’t have good answers at the ready.Report

    • Avatar veronica d says:

      Oh I agree, but there are huge parts of the story this article misses, including the fact that minorities remain objectively worse off than whites, even as whites believe otherwise. Likewise male income continues to outpace female income, which the article gives the impression that most men don’t work. This is false. Likewise, while there has been a huge shift in the ratio, men still work more than women do:

      That said, men expect to win out more than they do, just as whites expect minorities to suffer, but not them. That is a very ugly part of the story.

      And thus Trump.Report

  5. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    Here is some fun history about Commentary.

    It was founded in the post-WWII as a leftist but anti-Communist magazine. What became the CIA provided a lot of funding for the magazine. A lot of the original writers and staff at Commentary were part of the New York Intellectuals. Largely poor, Jewish-Americans who were young radicals in the 1930s while college students but eventually soured on Communism. The original division in the 1930s was were you for Trotsky or Stalin and people sat in Alcove I or Alcove II of the cafeteria at City College in NYC based on this affiliation. The Trotskyites would eventually go on to the Partisan Review.

    The Trotskyites were Irving Howe and Daniel Bell. The Stalinists were people like Irving Kristol and maybe Nathan Glazer.

    For whatever reason, the powers that be decided that Commentary would be a Jewish magazine. In the documentary Arguing the World, Kristol stated that you had to rewrite the essay’s submitted by rabbis to make the intelligible.

    Howe and Daniel Bell largely stayed on the left. Kristol and Glazer moved to the right (though Glazer who is probably still alive, came back to the left.) In the 1960s, Commentary became the home of the neo-conservatives and has stayed on the right. It was the original organ of the neo-conservatives.

    The Neocons are truly lost. They remained anti-Trumpers which is admirable but this rendered them powerless. They have burned any and all bridges they had with the left especially during the Bush II years and they are now a powerless former part of the Republican Party.

    Make of this what you will but I wonder if they are slowly but inexpertly/inartfully trying to reestablish some connections with the left.Report

    • Avatar Pinky says:

      “Are you now or have you ever been an anti-Communist?”Report

    • Avatar Damon says:

      “The Neocons are truly lost.”

      God, I hope so. They’ve been responsible for, or contributed to, some of the worst FP adventuresome we’ve done in recent decades. Good riddance to them.Report

      • Avatar Kolohe says:

        Trump’s foreign and military policy so far is shaking out to be neoconservative-adjacent. But it’s also Obama adjacent. The problem is both adjacencies are on axes in the worst direction, instead of the best. The only saving grave is that there is an absolute zero in political constituency for a huge personnel surge overseas, even though both Mattis (I think) and McMaster (definitely) believe you can’t really win a war without some sort of “credible ground force to compel the outcome” (note that McMaster also believes that host nation/local national forces can’t exclusively be these ground forces)Report

  6. Avatar Saul Degraw says:

    As to the actual issues on inequality, nobody knows what to do.

    The actual Industrial Revolution resulted in displacement and lowered wages for most people for decades before things began picking up again. There was a small class of people who managed to adapt and become successful or join in the gains of the Industrial Revolution. These were largely skilled tradespeople who learned to adapt and scale. A rough analogy might be that this small class includes today’s techies. They aren’t all going to produce timeless companies but they will produce something profitable enough to make themselves rich via selling stock once something hits an IPO or gets bought out by a Google or Facebook.

    The other issue is that the period between 1945-1973 might have been ahistorical and abnormal and we are now returning to “normal” growth which is much slower for most. We have largely taken all the low-hanging fruit of economic growth and development. Now comes the really difficult stuff.

    The last issue that is related to the second and that historically inequalities great leveler is always catastrophe. The Black Death made worker’s wages rise because the survivor’s would just leave until given better wages and treatment. Edward III slapped down on this as fast as he could. WWII also led to an unprecedented raise in standards of living, possibly because the world was reduced to rubble. The Great Depression led to a very limited safety net being introduced in the US.

    Other depressions led to misery and starvation because they were seen as natural. It took an entire century before the left was able to get into charge and institute social welfare measures to deal with an economic catastrophe and even then, they needed to compromise.Report

    • Avatar veronicad says:

      As to the actual issues on inequality, nobody knows what to do.

      Exactly. Take this from the article:

      We already knew from other sources (such as BLS “time use” surveys) that the overwhelming majority of the prime-age men in this un-working army generally don’t “do civil society” (charitable work, religious activities, volunteering), or for that matter much in the way of child care or help for others in the home either, despite the abundance of time on their hands. Their routine, instead, typically centers on watching—watching TV, DVDs, Internet, hand-held devices, etc.—and indeed watching for an average of 2,000 hours a year, as if it were a full-time job. But Krueger’s study adds a poignant and immensely sad detail to this portrait of daily life in 21st-century America: In our mind’s eye we can now picture many millions of un-working men in the prime of life, out of work and not looking for jobs, sitting in front of screens—stoned.

      Having lived for decades listening to (mostly) the right describe minorities as “welfare queens” and “moochers” and (gasp!) “porch monkeys,” this paragraph hits me in a strange way. The thing is, I have no idea what to do for these guys, not even the first clue. We can hope for jobs, but the kind of massive-scale manufacturing/infrastructure work is probably not coming back, and even if it did, you need skills these days. They don’t have skills. So far as I can tell, they lack the initiative to get skills.

      Right? I dunno. I’m all for jobs training and educational investments and all of that. Please. Bring it. But realistically, will that help much? Are these guys gonna step up and go to school — and if they do, will they end up at some sketchy “cooking school” (or whatever) long on promises but short on actual careers?

      I’m not going to judge these guys for watching TV — I guess. It’s their life, their time. Whatever. I know people who spend their time in worse ways —

      — after all, we are each of us just trying to stay busy between life and death. I do math. They play vidya. Whatever.

      Honestly I guess I’m happy keeping them clothed, fed, and stoned — if that is what they choose.

      It doesn’t sound inspiring or admirable, but I’ve yet to see any other realistic suggestion that has any chance of working.


      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

        Vocational/Job Retraining has limited success.

        Not everyone is cut out for every job and unlike what a lot of people say, this is not just a matter of learning new skills or swallowing pride.Report

        • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

          One of the ironies of the “bad economy” is that unlike previous bad economies, the lack of work is not accompanied by a crushing poverty.

          As many people are quick to point out, even the poorest generally get enough to eat, and can find places to live, even if it is a couch or garage.

          Which actually gives us an opening to have a discussion about work; what is is, what it means, what we want to get from it.

          Work used to have a dual purpose, one to provide material things, and two, to provide meaning and purpose.

          If the first purpose is no longer necessary due to automation, we can adjust our cultural attitude towards work itself, moving it from a mandatory “sweat of the brow” thing to something that we elect to have.Report

          • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

            I’ve been thinking a lot about the meaning and purpose thing and it’s an interesting problem. Since I work from home like a crazy cat person (but with dogs), I listen to a lot of podcasts to hear human beings talking, and my preferences lean toward comedy people and talks with people who are doing cool stuff, so I hear a lot of talk from people who are wealthy enough to do nothing at all and who hang around with groups of people at the same income level. Something that comes out in a lot of the conversations is what people do when they don’t need to work anymore.

            There seem to be people who find meaning and purpose (and who, if you take away their #1 meaning and purpose task, have a todo list of other things they’d do to find meaning and purpose) and people who don’t really know what to do with themselves. It seems to show up on the poor/unemployed end of the spectrum and the wealthy/no need to be employed end of the spectrum in kind of similar ways: repetitive overconsumption of the same nonsense every day in increasing amounts (TV, drugs, “partying”, gambling).

            I think we have a monkey need to strive against adversity that used to be taken care of by staying alive that most people now have satisfied by the need to go to a job every day. If you don’t have that, you’re either a person who finds something meaningful to do for the sake of it, or life gets pretty weird pretty fast. Some people strike it rich and start new projects while some people don’t know what to do with themselves and consume themselves into oblivion. It seems like being a discouraged worker with enough support to survive without strictly “needing” to do something could put you into the same failure mode.

            I get the feeling we’re still trying to adjust our brains to the whole work/money/savings/leisure thing.Report

            • Avatar LeeEsq says:

              Its always been like this though. Nearly every leisure class had members who used all their free time in a productive or interesting manner and people who fretted their freedom away in useless or self-destructive ways. Using wealth and leisure time productively or interestingly requires a certain amount of intelligence, curiosity, and discipline. There are people across the socio-economic scale who aren’t intelligent enough, curious enough, or disciplined enough to be able to handle this. They either just go into some sort of stupor or act in an increasingly self-destructive manner.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “Using wealth and leisure time productively or interestingly requires a certain amount of intelligence, curiosity, and discipline. ”

                It also requires the experience of life to know what you could do with your free time. If all you’ve ever done is listen to school lectures and while away your free time on an Xbox, then of course you’re hardly going to have any idea what to do without a job.

                So maybe college will return to Saul DeGraw’s ideal; a place focused strictly on liberal arts, philosophy, creative work, historical knowledge. Something to plant seeds in fertile minds to see what flowers grow from them, rather than an introduction to the drudgery that is the rest of your life.Report

              • Avatar Troublesome Frog says:

                If all you’ve ever done is listen to school lectures and while away your free time on an Xbox, then of course you’re hardly going to have any idea what to do without a job.

                Or likewise, if most of your key struggles in life were to make yourself materially better off (go from riding the bus to driving a car, from a car to a reliable car, etc.) like they are for most people, suddenly having tons of money puts you in a weird place. If you keep going the “get better stuff” route as a primary goal, you end up owning a bunch of tigers and fleet of helicopters and generally acting like a crazy person because you inexplicably get no satisfaction from them. You need a hobby, and fast.Report

        • Avatar Jaybird says:

          THE WEST WING
          5X19 – “TALKING POINTS”

          You knew we were for free trade. You knew it when you endorsed us five
          years ago.

          Yeah, ’cause you told us we might lose old economy jobs – shoe manufacturing– to some dirt-poor country, but if we trained ourselves we’d get better jobs. Now they’re being vacuumed out of here, too.

          We’re going to fight for more job training, more transition assistance…

          I have members on their third and fourth career. What are they supposed to
          train for now, nuclear physics? Cello playing? Or should they just give up
          and bag groceries for minimum wage?Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            The people cry, “jobs, jobs!” I say, “let them write code!”Report

          • Avatar Slade the Leveller says:

            There was just a story on NPR’s Morning Edition that echoed this, centered on Erie, PA. I believe. I can’t find a link, but I do remember a guy being interviewed who’d been laid off and retrained 3 or 4 times.Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              It’s the problem of training people for boom-and-bust jobs. In the past 20 years, it’s been stock brokerage, construction and house flipping, fracking and oil drilling. There was a sudden need for workers so everyone was being trained for the positions. They didn’t last, because the economic oddity that created the need eventually dissipated. Maybe now it’s coding (although I don’t think it’ll ever boom enough to bust).

              If someone wants to find long-term success, he should look at the intersection between what he does well, what he’s interested in, and what has steady and decent compensation. Things like meteorology, designing lamps, seafood wholesaling, those kind of things. (Irony alert: I chose professions that can’t be called “those kind of things” because they have nothing in common.) But if I’m running a massive job training program, I’m going to funnel people into the fields that are experiencing the greatest growth. Medical assistants and prison guards, or coders, or whatever. It’s not irresponsible to train untrained workers for those positions. It’s just got a built-in risk that organic career development is less prone toward.Report

      • Avatar James K says:


        The thing is, I have no idea what to do for these guys, not even the first clue.

        Neither do I. The problem is that I am worried that the whole economic basis for a lot of smaller communities has simply gone. Primary sector jobs and the more basic manufacturing do best when located near their resources, which makes having a lot of small towns make sense. But service jobs and sophisticated manufacturing wants to be near its customers, or where it can get a lot of cheap labour. That means we can expect to see more centralisation of population in the future as all the jobs concentrate into a few large cities. Is there anything that could replace the small-town jobs of old? I can’t think of anything. I might be wrong, perhaps something new will appear that turns everything around. But the trends at the moment don’t look good.Report

  7. Avatar Chip Daniels says:

    Adding to the Commentary article, the essay from Laurie Penny on Milo’s crowd of hangers-on, and this essay from Dale Beran on the 4 Chan crowd (and Belle Waring’s critique of it) and how both of these help explain Trump, and more importantly, what comes after.

    It reminds me of the observation that large groups of idle young men without direction or purpose can become an explosive problem for society to handle.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


      I am still highly skeptical of the whole 4chan/shitposting explains why Trump one for a variety of reasons:

      1. No one can tell me how many dedicated 4chaners/trolls/gamergaters are out there. I realize part of this is by the design of 4chan and maybe there is no good way of determining this;

      2. 4chan obviously influenced a lot of net culture from what I hear they basically created the concepts of win, epic, and fail. However, the Internet culture is a young person’s culture; and

      3. Trump supporters and voters tend to be older and whiter than average.

      Now there are obviously plenty of millennials who are not as progressive as previously hoped or imagined but I still don’t think 4chan culture has any correlation to Trump’s freak victory. Despite the Occulus Rift guy wanting to prove that meme magic is real and shitposting works.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        This is a good point.
        Its probably good to pull back from the idea that this stuff explains Trump, but rather explains a rising tide of nihilism and ennui.

        I somehow tie the weak economic prospects of millennials to the fading prospects of Boomers, and maybe I shouldn’t.

        But even among the leftist young, I see a sense of hopelessness.

        The idea which I grew up with as a Boomer- that you would graduate at 22, get a job, get married, buy a house, start to raise a family by 30- all seems like a quaint anachronism to people who are being asked to shoulder massive debt, then graduate and work for free until what, sometime in their 30s.

        What connects this to the Trump voters I know, comfortably middle class homeowners?
        Maybe it is the hopelessness, the sense that the future just doesn’t hold much for them.
        Not financially, so much as they see a world that just doesn’t make sense.

        I read somewhere one of those Trump voter profiles where they pointed out it was not the Trumpist themselves that was economically anxious, but their children and relatives, that provoked the fury at the “elites”.

        So maybe thats the connection I make, that the 50 something guy sees his kids wrestle with underemployment, hanging out playing videogames and then sees hustling illegal immigrants and slick Silicon Valley Pajama Boys appearing to get all the goodies.
        I know I have seen plenty of these “back in my day” rants on Facebook that have that as the underlying complaint.Report

        • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


          I think part of the reason so many late Gen Xers/Millennials are having a hard time in the economy is that Boomers are staying on because they can’t retire and/or can’t imagine retiring.

          The Greatest Generation generally grew up poor. They certainly remember the Great Depression and WWII. Retirement without starvation probably seemed like a minor miracle to them. Heaven on Earth. Now the Boomers are bored by the concept though this might be more among Boomers who achieved White-Collar success.

          But the other issue as I pointed out is that the period between 1948-1973 might have been a huge freak accident in the West and one that can not be repeated or viewed.

          And you yourself noted how poverty does not equal complete and total misery/starvation anymore, the libertarians among us would probably use the same facts and say “Success!! This is Progress!! This is Wealth!!! Poor people have video games, they have access to cheap food, they largely have housing that our ancestors would be envious of. Why are all of you liberals complaining? Capitalism works!!”Report

          • Avatar LeeEsq says:

            To a certain or large extent, the libertarians are correct about this point. Many of the people suffering would be suffering incredibly more if they were in the past. They might happier and healthier in places with a bigger welfare state but that remains to be determined.Report

          • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

            Except it seems to be the Trump voters who are complaining the most.

            Again, its not like snowflake liberals are gunning down bankers.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Blowing up Europe can’t be repeated?
            Pray tell why not?Report

      • Avatar veronicad says:

        @saul-degraw — It doesn’t explain Trump (as such) so much as it explains Milo. But still, from Beran’s article:

        In other words, we can append a third category to the two classically understood division of Trump supporters:

        1) Generally older people who naively believe Trump will “make America great again”, that is to say, return it to its 1950s ideal evoked by both Trump and Clinton.

        2) The 1 percent, who know this promise is empty, but also know it will be beneficial to short term business interests.

        3) Younger members of the 99 percent, like Anon, who also know this promise is empty, but who support Trump as a defiant expression of despair.

        Yeah, I don’t know the exact numbers here, and he does seem to leave out the median Trump voter: that “well off” douchebag from the exurbs with a good job and a garage full of barely used power tools and golf clubs, but all the same, these are real cultural currents.

        Anyway, my (former) brother-in-law is kinda from the “exurbs” tribe, but he’s got a bit of both #1 and #3 in him also, sad to say.

        This from Waring’s article:

        …Wait, no. I don’t deny Beran is talking about something interesting, but this is wrong-headed. These guys have cornered themselves into their mother’s basements, a point he makes explicitly above in the section I quote. And laughing at people with dumb complaints about how chicks only want to sex up alpha males isn’t the same as denying that the patriarchy…hurts men too. Nor is their personal felt hurt unreal or null. It’s as if someone were reproaching critics of Dostoyevsky’s man of ressentiment by saying “your insistence that Lake Como isn’t in Rome is hurting him!” Lake Como isn’t in Rome. That his fantasies include ‘Lake Como being moved to Rome for the occasion’ is precisely what makes them fantasies; that he is miserable no one will deny; that it is in some important way his fault is clear; as is the fact that he will hurt others and may be unable to care. This article is brilliant right up until the point where it goes (analogously speaking) full “the Left is at fault for not convincing white Trump voters, and is wrong for labeling them racist assholes, and caring about trans people cost us the election. Also Bernie.” Because while it’s true that feminism could, in fact, save these people from this loathsome pit they are in, it doesn’t follow that it’s a failure on the part of the political Left that they are down in the pit to begin with. The kernel of a good point is that people hate to be mocked, and one is unlikely to accept a rope thrown down by someone laughing at you, but on another, more important level, no.

        This so much, and scale it out. I’m absolutely sick of fragile white dudes who cry “snowflake snowflake snowflake” when they are the saddest snowflakes of all.Report

    • Avatar Jesse says:

      I think people underestimate how much young males have always been shitheads to one degree or another. The only bad thing is that instead of five idiot 16 year olds making retard jokes like would’ve happened in 1997, now they can alll talk on the Internet.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I am increasingly feeling like a casualty in the battle between the MRA/4chan crowd and the Feminist/Poly-Amorous crowd. I look at the MRA/4chan crowd and see horrible, mean-spirited and bitter people but I can’t entirely buy the arguments made against them from the Left. There are just too many contradictions from my own experience or what I observe in reality.

      In Belle Waring’s critique of Dale Beran’s article she repeats the often repeated line that Patriarchy hurts men to but at least from my observation many women are even more enthusiastic of traditional gender even if they identify as progressive feminists. There are women I know who describe themselves as feminists but can insist with a straight face that men are “the natural pursuing gender” or complain about how men shame women but post less than artful attempts to court them via online dating on social media to mock them (I can’t imagine any man doing this and getting away with it. On a subway ride home several months ago, I overheard two women expressing their disproval of a friend’s boyfriend for the crime of being short, etc.

      There is just an incredible amount of raw anger in these conversations that is leaving a lot of heat, little light, and much in the way of collateral damage.Report

      • Avatar veronica d says:

        @leeesq — There are 150 million women in America. You’ll find just about every behavior. And saying “a so-called feminist said X” — well fine. So what?

        What does “enthusiastic of traditional gender” mean in precise terms? Do they support the lack of right to own property? The legality of marital rape? Requiring that their fathers approve of their husband?

        Or do you mean they like tall, handsome guys?

        But then, what is the overlap between those women and the “nerd feminists” on the front lines of gamergate?Report

        • Avatar LeeEsq says:

          @veronica-d, “enthusiastic of traditional gender” means nothing more than I was typing late at night. What I meant to type was “enthusiastic enforcers of traditional gender roles when it serves their purposes.” Based on my observation, few people are actively against all traditional gender roles but will rather want them gone when it does not suit them but wants them enforced when it does suit them. This true for both genders.Report

          • Avatar veronica d says:

            @leeesq — I think most mainstream straight women these days want a man who is somewhat masc/dom regarding sex and romance, but less so when it comes to relationship structure and life decisions. This seems a reasonable thing to want. Likewise, I think a lot of contemporary women, as they settle into their professional lives, want to silo their romantic interactions with men from their professional and social interactions with men, inasmuch as constantly being a “sexual target” is wearisome.

            In other words, they want to “do the dance” with this man but not those men. Again, inasmuch as flirting is never quite innocent, this seems a reasonable thing to want.

            Of course, the exact “shape” of these things will depend on the woman. In particular, it will depend on her social context. If you meet women at punk rock shows, you’ll find they value things on a different spectrum from the women you meet at professional events.

            To a degree. It’s complicated. Society hasn’t really worked out the details. We’re still using an ill-considered mix of old models and new models, with different social spaces occupying different point. It’s confusing.

            In any case, you can indeed find social spaces that turn gender roles completely on their heads. In my world, they’re commonplace. Of course, you have to want to be in a space where gender roles get turned on their heads. If you do so, you’ll be with those kinds of people. You’ll fit in only if you fit in.

            I suspect many men do not want to fit in to these spaces, which was a central theme to Beran’s piece. It is not only that the -chan crowd cannot perform masculinity well. It is that they so wish they could. It is that they believe the gender roles, fully and completely, and see their own circumstances as failure.

            Which they then externalize. This is classic ressentiment.

            Anyway, you say women “enforce” gender roles. How exactly do they do this?

            If I ignore transphobic bigots, they’ll still come after my job, my freedom. They’ll pass irrational laws that hurt me. They’ll oppose reasonable laws that could really help me. They will harass me, up to and including violence.

            If you ignore stuck up women, what happens?Report

            • Avatar Kim says:

              The “chan” crowd simply say that MTF trans people are better exemplars of Toxic Masculinity than they are.
              (source cited for “this isn’t how women speak about this stuff”)Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                “this isn’t how women speak about this stuff”


              • Avatar Kim says:

                You cannot possibly expect your ideological adversaries (even if they are only playing devils advocate) to use the currently fashionable applelations to distinguish between people unless you actually bother to explain these to them, rather than simply namecalling with words that your conversational partner doesn’t actually understand. [Am I ragging on you for your friends being idiots? Ayup. Them’s folks you can change, I figure. ]

                (Was it clear that I was quoting someone? I hope it was.)Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kim — I have no idea what point you’re trying to make.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                The chan crowd knows that most of ’em are losers, sure. But I think you mischaracterize them if you think that they want to be these Hyper Masculine Alphas, and are just really bad at it.

                People who want to be Hyper Masculine Alphas don’t characterize trannies as perfect exemplars of Toxic Masculinity.

                To understand /b/ is to understand their relationship with Obama, far more than their relationship with Trump.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Well, I don’t just mean the -chans — although I guess folks these days are using that as a codeword for a rather broad sweep of internet subculture — but really a kind of cross section of the “manosphere”, including neoreaction, the -chans, the redpillers/mras/pua choads (some of them), the sadsack incels who are cast off from there, etc. It’s a mishmash.

                So yeah. It’s a disparate group. They do, however, have a unifying factor: a kind of weird relationship to masculine success, and in particular what they perceive as the supposed power of women.

                Which is not to say they agree with each other. No doubt most incels find the redpillers to be loathsome phonies and wannabe jocks, whereas the redpillers (I assume) dismiss the incel crow as “gayfags” and so on.

                Blah blah blah. Cope.

                Anyhow, the two things this mismash of male failure agrees on: 1) women have it easy, and 2) it’s all the fault of feminism.

                Well, lets just say you won’t get many downvotes for making those points.

                It’s not that they all wish they were “alphas,” although plenty do. It’s that they’ve internalized the whole notion of “alphadom/betadom/gammadom” and their place in it. In other words, they believe their own repulsive bullshit.

                And this, I believe, drives their particular fascination with queerness and transness. We’ve stepped out of the system. Many of us do quite well, living in our cool queer communes (where we get to have sex).

                This combined with the fact that many of the more “committed” -chan-types are themselves pretty gender-weird — this is a recipe for badness.

                Myself, I’m dating a hawt young trap. Can you imagine!


                If you wanna make the Obama point, then do so.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                living in our cool queer communes

                aka cults.

                [seriously, i’m not trying to insult you in particular, as I really do credit you for going out of your comfort zone by engaging on this site, which isnt’ particularly queer-friendly]

                /b/ had a weird racist hate-love on with Obama, where they’d certainly vote for him, as he was Kewl, but also call him the n-word. He was like crack for them. Trump, on the other hand, is boring.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kim — I should have said “co-op” not “commune.” Honestly, they’re not really that “cultish,” outside of the normal “OMG can you guys give social justice stuff a rest” sense. But yeah.

                I think Amy Dentata summed up the queer co-op experience best:

                This site seems mostly LGBTQ friendly, at least given its mission of diverse viewpoints. Which is to say, there aren’t many site like this where I won’t be misgendered constantly or called a “faggot.” So here I remain.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Any group where “out-group” friendships are highly discouraged is fringing on cultish behavior, particularly when the group makes part of its mission to recruit the disaffected and unfriendable.

                Besides, you have classes on how to “recruit queer allies” aka doormats. [This may not be decipherable until you understand that queer people have more “standing” than nonqueer people…]

                (Playing devils advocate is fun. I know someone who is somewhat passionate about these sorts of things — actually started his own cult at one point, got bored and walked off).Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Yeah, but “fringing on cultish behavior” is different from “cult,” full-stop. You have to squint a lot to see things that way, and at some point the effect is in your squinting, not the world.

                Anyhow, a fair number of my friends live in co-op situations, which is actually a pretty popular way to be a starving grad student but still live in Boston/Camberville. Honestly, none of them that I frequent have that “cult feel” so much as “over-earnest young folks with weird lives” feel.

                But on the other hand, the Boston scene seems to have far less dysfunction than what I hear about from the west coast scenes. Certainly we have very little of the “cult of personality” stuff.

                I dunno. I can only see what I see.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                … you still have the house of cards dude, right?

                When you know someone who does sociology research online… well…

                (BTW, do you believe Chris-chan is actually a trannie?)Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kim — I have no idea what you’re talking about.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Chinese expat… fled to America… (I think that’s Wu’s husband, if I remember correctly…)Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                I’ve met Brianna Wu. She liked my hair. I’ve never met her husband. I don’t know what you’re asking me to weigh in on.Report

    • Avatar Kim says:

      4chan is dead. Anyone trying to use the last death rattle of a site to make a point needs some reality checks imposed.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      Waring approvingly quotes the Beran talking about how horrible the people on 4chan are, but then she gets grumpy when he suggests that maybe forcing people into alienated isolation might just maybe have some little thing to do with them becoming disaffected nihilists who trigger you for lulz.

      Beran says (and Waring quotes): “we can understand this group as people who have failed at the real world and have checked out of it and into the fantasy worlds of internet forums and video games. These are men without jobs, without prospects, and by extension (so they declaimed) without girlfriends. Their only recourse, the only place they feel effective, is the safe, perfectly cultivated worlds of the games they enter.”

      Waring interprets this as “These guys have cornered themselves into their mother’s [sic] basements…” which implies that, to her, they don’t have to be there. That there are things they could do, changes they could make, ways they could act differently, that would give them the human intimacy they supposedly crave, that would cause them to develop the empathy everyone says they lack.

      Which, no; if they were able to do that then they wouldn’t have to do that, because they wouldn’t be in their mothers’ basements to begin with.Report

      • Avatar gregiank says:

        “…forcing people into alienated isolation…” is just a bit over the top. Well actually its way far past the top.Report

      • Avatar Chip Daniels says:

        Well, who exactly forced them to be this way?
        Global economic forces?Report

      • Avatar veronicad says:

        @densityduck — There are a few different issues here. First, I’m not going to attack these guys for their economic circumstances, given that the economy is way outside of their control. Which is to say, there is nothing wrong with their sleeping in their parent’s basement.

        But to choose to remain there all day every day — is that caused by the economy?

        I don’t know. I dislike “bootstrap” arguments. Perhaps these guys are really doing the best they can. Perhaps not.

        That, however, is not what Waring is complaining about. Instead, she is responding to the aggressive misogyny, racism, transphobia, homophobia, fatphobia, etc., that comes out of these communities. The point is, these men are not just lonely. They are not merely isolated. They are also tremendously hateful and cruel.

        Have you spent any time on a site like [NSFW] Check it out (or not). Browse around. Read some threads.

        No one forces these guys to hang on sites like that, instead of joining and trying to have an actual social life. Of course, if you read how these guys perceive women — they are not decent people. One gets the sense that they don’t want to participate in relatively normal mixed social activities — such as ultimate frisbee or contra dancing or SCA or LARPing or any number of cool nerdy things they can try, even on a limited budget. Instead, if you read what they say, they wish they could “slay,” which means date hawt women. But (evidently) they cannot. So instead they choose to rot.

        Which goes back to Beran’s article. Yes indeed, the twin promises of “provider” or “playboy” are both out of reach for these men. Which, that sucks I guess, but they have choices.

        I have plenty of younger friends hit hard by the economy. Many live at home, or in “queer communes” (which are just rundown urban apartments where groups of 4-6 people share expenses), or in one case (my poly g/f), who just kind of bops around and shacks up with her various partners. It’s not a great life, but she makes it work.

        The point is, they get out. That have friends, interests, goals, etc. The economy sucks, but life is there to live. They’re living it.Report

        • Avatar DensityDuck says:

          ” these men are not just lonely. They are not merely isolated. They are also tremendously hateful and cruel.”

          And who’s out there giving them reasons not to be?

          Waring writes: “No. Just, no. Fuck these guys…people hate to be mocked, and one is unlikely to accept a rope thrown down by someone laughing at you, but on another, more important level, no.”

          I don’t look at that and see someone who’s interested in anything from the 4chan crowd but their utter silence. I see someone who would ask “what do you do for fun”, and on hearing “well I read 4chan a lot” would say “screw you asshole, have fun never having sex” and leave.

          “No one forces these guys to hang on sites like that…”
          Right, just like no one forces black people to live in the ghetto. And, similarly, when the white people decide that the ghetto’s cheap apartments and fun ethnic grocery stores are a winning combination and gentrify all the existing occupants out of the neighborhood, nobody sees it as capital displacing the masses; they see it as people’s choice to tear up their lives and flee because they just can’t handle living in civilized society.Report

          • Avatar veronicad says:

            @densityduck — Please explain this further:

            And who’s out there giving them reasons not to be?

            The reason not to be hateful and cruel is called basic human decency. I mean seriously, think about what you are saying here.

            These are men who are shunning society because they don’t get everything they want, particularly in terms of sex and romance. They still have homes and food. Most have middle-class backgrounds. Most have some access to education. But yeah, the economy sucks — {insert long conversation about the millennials here}. None of this justifies misogyny or racism or homophobia or fatphobia, etc. They choose these things on their own terms.

            I don’t look at that and see someone who’s interested in anything from the 4chan crowd but their utter silence. I see someone who would ask “what do you do for fun”, and on hearing “well I read 4chan a lot” would say “screw you asshole, have fun never having sex” and leave.

            I agree that would be a very unkind thing to say. In fact, the -chans were pretty varied places, and I certainly have friends who were channers, but who are perfectly lovely people. I’m a nerd. I like anime. Trust me, my culture overlaps with that culture a lot. However, as I said above, “4chan” has become a kind of shorthand for a certain subset of the site’s culture, which if you want to see it clearly illustrated, I gave a link to Unlike the -chans, that site is singularly terrible from tip to tail. It is a rancid cesspit of fail.

            Much of that kind of attitude emerged from the -chans, but it was never exclusively the chans, nor everyone on the chans. I’ve made that clear. I’m sure Waring would agree.

            By the way, what you “see” in Waring’s post is a combination of your imagination and a very unfair reading. I seriously doubt she would respond as you characterized.

            This is deeply ill-considered:

            Right, just like no one forces black people to live in the ghetto. And, similarly, when the white people decide that the ghetto’s cheap apartments and fun ethnic grocery stores are a winning combination and gentrify all the existing occupants out of the neighborhood, nobody sees it as capital displacing the masses; they see it as people’s choice to tear up their lives and flee because they just can’t handle living in civilized society.

            Actually blacks were forced to live in the ghetto. Look up “redlining.” Regarding gentrification, people move because they are priced out. Rent goes up. Taxes go up. The retail landscape changes, and services that once existed in the neighborhood are replaced by restaurants and shops the previous residents cannot afford. So yeah, they choose to leave, in the sense they cannot afford to remain.

            So you analogy is crap. I don’t blame these men for living with their parents. I was pretty clear on that. The point is, there are many things for which you cannot blame these men, but we can blame them for being hateful little shits.

            They are indeed hateful little shits. That’s on them.Report

            • Avatar DensityDuck says:

              “The reason not to be hateful and cruel is called basic human decency.”

              Well, yes.

              From their viewpoint, they haven’t been shown any.

              “These are men who are shunning society because they don’t get everything they want, particularly in terms of sex and romance.”

              Yeah, because who the hell would want SEX AND ROMANCE in their lives, I mean, come on here, why can’t we all just accept that asexual celibacy is the only morally-correct way to exist these days?

              “as I said above, “4chan” has become a kind of shorthand for a certain subset of the site’s culture”

              This is a restatement of “I don’t hate black people, I hate niggers“.

              ” I seriously doubt she would respond as you characterized.”

              Except for the part where she says “fuck those guys” and “but on another, more important level, no”, I guess?

              “Actually blacks were forced to live in the ghetto. Look up “redlining.” ”

              Which is defined as intentionally denying services and access to capital to persons in a certain category, and that’s entirely in keeping with my argument about how social marginalization breeds disaffected nihilists.

              Meaning that if people won’t date lonely loser nerds, then the lonely loser nerds will not have a chance to be anything else.

              “Regarding gentrification, people move because they are priced out.”

              You’re not disagreeing with me. You are failing to see that there’s more than one kind of price. Sometimes the price is “be acceptable to the influencers”, and sometimes the cost is higher than people want to pay, particularly when the reason they’re in the ghetto is that the influencers are the ones who put them there.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Hey moderators, my comment got eaten and it won’t let me re-post.Report

              • Avatar Burt Likko says:

                I don’t see any further comments from you on this thread since 2/28/17 at 1:56 p.m. EST.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @burt-likko — I’ve tried reposting it a few times, but it keeps coming back “duplicate”, even though I don’t see it in the page. After a quote from DD’s post, my first text is “Here is where we hit the brick wall”. If I do a text search on this page that phrase does not show up.

                I’ll try again now.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                Yeah, because who the hell would want SEX AND ROMANCE in their lives, I mean, come on here, why can’t we all just accept that asexual celibacy is the only morally-correct way to exist these days?

                Here is where we hit the brick wall, because who is going to sleep with these guys?

                That’s it. That’s the big deal. No woman wants them, and unless you institute sexual slavery, they will in fact die alone.

                And their response so far seem to be to double down on how repulsive they are, as if they can just turn up “the alpha” and get laid. But it doesn’t work. It keeps not working, cuz they’re doing it wrong, so you get men who shun the world and wallow in hate.

                No one owes them sex. Women are right to reject them, because they are deliberately loathsome.

                So what do I do for them? I can try to explain how social skills work — but have you ever actually tried that? First off, social skills are actually hard. No cheat codes exist. There are no “character points” you can put into “charisma” and win! You have be patient, get involved, step out, take chances, go slow, accept pain, etc.

                Or you can — you know — not do those things and blame women for not liking your cheeto stained ass.

                In any case, easy advice is easy. When your boxing coach tells you to keep your hands up and chin down, you need to keep your hands up and your chin down.

                But you won’t. You’ll drop your hands. You’ll raise your chin, again and again. Until after getting punched a few hundred times, you’ll start to get it.

                You can read “keep your eye on the ball” in a book, but it don’t mean shit until you’ve swung the bat again and again and again.

                “Be confident!”

                Ha! True, but how?


                The point is, I understand these guys. I know what they say. I’ve listened to them.

                I know they believe they’ve been cheated of romance, but they’re full of shit. They haven’t been cheated. They just can’t find a woman who wants them, but they were never owed a woman. You can’t be cheated out of what was never yours.

                Sorry snowflakes, you aren’t owed a “female.”

                Cuz women are people and we get to pursue love, sex, and romance on our own terms. You meet us halfway. Or not. Your choice.

                Most guys figure it out well enough. Sure, we’ll probably always have the “battle of the sexes,” but honestly, most people I know are str8 and most of them find love.

                These guys — instead of accepting that women are people with complex needs, and that they have to play the social game on equal terms, they blame everyone but themselves and dig the hole so deep the light doesn’t hit them. They invent (on their own) the most blinkered, misogynistic social theories, which explain everything but help nothing.

                They’re suffering, and sure, they’re gonna try to make the rest of us suffer through Trumpism, but whatever. I’ll survive Trump. Most of my friends will. We’ll lose a few, but that was always in the cards.

                These guys —

                I’ve found love. Lived it, lost it, found it again. I’ve been lonely, hopeless, but I carried on, without giving in to hate or blame. (It’s no one else’s fault that I’m shy.) I’ve gone through ups and downs. Most people do.

                These guys —

                Oh my what a mess.

                Honestly if you asked me the worst way to deal with loneliness, I’d point to these guys. Yeesh.

                They’re doing it wrong. They’re doubling down. They hate women. They hate me. Mostly, it seems, they hate themselves. I can’t help them. In the end, I can only smh.Report

              • Avatar DensityDuck says:

                “No woman wants them, and unless you institute sexual slavery, they will in fact die alone.”

                So. Like I said. The attitude is “you’re an irredeemable shit and will never be loved by anyone. You will never get what you want, you will never have the thing you desire, and you do not deserve to. You do not deserve the thing that you want to have, and this is inherent to who you are, a fundamental aspect of your being, something you will never be able to change. Hey, wait, why are you being such a jerk all of a sudden? It’s not my fault that you are how you are.”

                See, you’re coming off like you honestly believe you aren’t doing anything here, that it’s just these own people’s moral failures that’s causing their misery. But your words are the same words as the shopowner who says that if black people wouldn’t steal stuff then he wouldn’t have to follow them around the store watching them, and he isn’t “racist” because they really are all like that, he knows it because he knows a lot of them and he’s been around them all his life, and that the key to success is hard work and self-discipline and not asking for handouts, and he’s living proof because look at how well he’s done despite all the hard times he’s been through.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                So. Like I said. The attitude is “you’re an irredeemable shit and will never be loved by anyone.

                That seems like a plausible outcome. But I’m not saying “irredeemable.” That’s your word, and it’s the foundation of your misunderstanding. I don’t know if they’re “irredeemable” shits. They are certainly, right now, vicious little shits.

                Can they be redeemed? I dunno. Their lives, their journey.

                It’s the misogyny and racism and fatphobia and homophobia, etc. It is not that they live in their parent’s basement (not all do) nor that they have shitty jobs (some have okay jobs) nor any of that. It is that they are repulsive.

                In fact, I know people who have crappy jobs and live at home (and are fat and bearded also), but who do not behave as these guys do. They struggle. They’re not always happy with life, but they make it work. In nothing else, they don’t blame women for their own issues.

                Here’s the deal: I don’t think women treat these men particularly unfairly. Which is to say, I want women to make their best choices, from their best selves. We all fall short, but life is lived. I’m not going to love a man who hates me, nor am I going to want to get close to a “redpill” guy or anything like that. Just, nope. Why on earth would I? Explain.

                No seriously, explain. How does this work?Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                And you can try to compare these guys to black people all you want, but it won’t work. Just because you can dream up an analogy does not mean the analogy is apt. These men (most of them) are not black. They don’t face racism, nor homophobia, nor sexism, etc. They’re for the most part average white dudes in a shitty economy, who have responded to setback in the most childish possible way. They compare their lives to a fictional Don Draper or how they imagine hip hop stars live, or whatever other unrealistic bullshit they dream up, and then freak out when life falls short.

                They cannot get what they want, but what they want was never realistic. Women are people with their own hearts and minds. These guys want mommy-part-two (but with blowjobs). No woman wants to be that.

                In other words, they are right wingers who embody every failure mode the right wing pretends to hate. They’re utterly thin skinned and weak.


              • Avatar Kim says:

                Mommy part two with blowjobs is Chinese, not American.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @kim — From the men’s perspective, they might not articulate a “mommy-part-two” aesthetic, in the sense of a kink or whatever.

                [cw: TMI TMI TMI]
                (Which actually, one of my current relationships definitely does hit that kink, and hard. But consent is consent, and we’re both getting something out of it. Honestly, it’s actually really sweet.)

                However, look at this from the perspective of potential women. These guys are frustrated man-children, with very little clue about how to take care of themselves. In other words, you have guys who struggle to do their own laundry, so if a woman wants to date him — does she end up doing his laundry, or just snuggle up to his funk?

                The point is, by “mommy-part-two” I mean, in effect, dating an overgrown, emotionally stunted child. No one wants to do that.Report

              • Avatar veronica d says:

                @burt-likko — Now it worked. I don’t know what was happening.

                Whatever you did, thanks 🙂Report

          • Avatar DensityDuck says:

            And, too, here is a column that makes a very similar point, 6 years earlier:

            The point being “this hyper-bro posture is an attitude informed by misogyny but not engendered by it, and is in reality a reaction to what is perceived as a strong declaration by society that what human connections it permits will not be permitted to you”.Report

    • Avatar DensityDuck says:

      Beran writes, “younger Trump supporters know they are handing their money to someone who will never place their bets?—?only his own?—?because, after all, it’s plain as day there was never any other option.”

      Personally, I’d temper this somewhat and pull a bit instead from Thompson’s “Rum Diaries”(*), where he talks about the guy who–I misquote, here–“knew the game was rigged but was also sure that when the deal went down, he’d figure out some way to beat the rig and come out on top after all”.

      I mean, I seem like I’m defending these guys, but what I’m trying to push back against is the idea that they have something more going on than idly poking society with a stick because it’s vaguely amusing to watch it twitch. I’m sure that some of them support Trump because they honestly believe he’ll make the world better, and some of them support Trump because they honestly believe he’ll make their world better, but I think that most of them have Pepe avatars and say “HEIL TRUMP” because it freaks the normies and that’s funny.

      (*) and isn’t it weird that even my counter-model for this philosophy comes from a depressing gin-soaked rambleReport

      • Avatar DensityDuck says:

        “instead of despairing over trying and failing, celebrate not-trying? Celebrate retreating into the fantasy worlds of the computer. Steer into the skid?—?Pepe style. Own it. ”

        And–as I keep saying–there’s only so many times you can call someone a vicious pathetic loser with no hope of redemption before they start to believe you.Report

  8. Avatar Rufus F. says:

    We all noticed that Trump ran to the left of the Democrats on economic issues and won, right?

    If so, we’re cool.Report

    • Avatar Jaybird says:

      By definition, he couldn’t have.Report

    • Avatar LeeEsq says:

      I still dispute the notion that Trump ran as anything but a rightist populist.Report

    • Avatar Saul Degraw says:

      @rufus-f @jaybird

      Trump did not run to the left of either HRC or Bernie on economic issues except in possibly a very fraudulent way that was destroyed as soon as he started announcing his cabinet.

      Trump did not promise universal health care but latched unto the 8 years of Republican “repeal and replace.” And it turns out that the GOP can’t come up with a replacement plan that doesn’t result in tens of millions losing their insurance. After all what did Trump say about healthcare yesterday? “No one could predict how hard it is.”

      There is no running to the left on economic issues if it means saying “Brown people are taking yer jobs!!!!”

      What is Trump ending up doing? He appointed a Wall Street guy as Treasury Secretary to oversee Wall Street and tried to appoint a Labor Secretary who thinks wages are too high. How is that running to the Left?

      Lies about being able to keep manufacturing jobs in the US are not running to the Left. They are a con man’s pitch and nothing more.

      The way to anyone can sincerely think that Trump ran to the left of the Democratic Party is if they are out to merely go aganist the Democratic Party and land alleged zings. There is a long tradition of lefty purity ponyism though.

      What is it about so many lefties that it causes them to prefer getting zero percent of what they want instead of 70 or 80 percent of what they want? I swear that a lot of them want to be in the minority because power means compromise. Staying out of power means they can be “theoretical” and “pure” like a new born lamb.Report

      • Avatar LeeEsq says:

        On your last paragraph, a lot of the Leftists have a very total viewpoint so having to compromise on the most minor issue seems like a great act of heresy to them. They don’t want to remain out of power so they can be pure, they want power so they can impose their purity on others but they want it all for themselves. Having to admit that there will be millions or tens of millions that will never agree with them is too much for them to bear.Report

      • Avatar Kim says:

        The American System ain’t left?
        Since when is protectionism not a leftist thing?

        Trump appointed HILLARY’s PICK as Treasury Secretary. Left Left Left.

        I prefer pinning the next recession on Trump rather than on a Democrat. NEXT!Report

        • Avatar Pinky says:

          Nationalism isn’t left or right, as defined in the US. It’s also neither left nor right as defined by Europe, but that’s just a coincidence.Report

          • Avatar Kim says:

            Trade Protectionism is not remotely the same thing as nationalism, although they do sometimes share a bed.Report

            • Avatar Pinky says:

              There’s a general thing that we haven’t been talking about in the past few decades. It’s nationalism, protectionism, English-only education, immigration, isolationism, and probably a few other things I can’t think of offhand. Call it whatever you like, it’s a thing. That thing isn’t the property of the left or the right in this country.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                That’s pretty much ScotchIrish (Borderlanders if you want to take the terminology used in Albion’s Seed). Throw in Patriotism (the folks that actually join the military), and a few other things… Remember, these are the folks with vietnamese wives.Report

              • Avatar Pinky says:

                Oh, come on. That’s silly. This stuff is a theme in every culture.Report

              • Avatar Kim says:

                Nope. not really. Allow me to introduce you to some more Quakers. They accepted everybody.Report

      • Avatar Rufus F. says:

        I appreciate the notion that losing control of the Presidency and Congress and the Supreme Court constitutes having “70 or 80 percent” of power, but I just take it as more evidence that the Democrats run really shitty candidates with monumentally lousy messages. What I want really is for them to not get beaten by emotionally unstable, inexperienced, compulsively lying television personalities, but I honestly am skeptical that the Democratic Party has any serious plan to do that at this point.

        Trump is a con artist, no doubt. But when the local manufacturing plant is moving to Mexico because the trade policies passed by the Democratic President in the 90s did exactly what everyone knew they would, and there are two candidates running: one of whom has the message “that’s just terrible, but maybe if we gave the corporations more tax incentives, that might help convince them to stay!”; and another one whose message is “tax the shit out of anything they try to import here”, which one sounds like it’s worth a shot?Report

  9. Avatar Oscar Gordan says:

    Inequality is a necessary, but not sufficient condition to indicate large scale economic insecurity.Report

    • Avatar InMD says:

      I think the additional component driving the anger described in the article is increasing awareness that economic inequality results in different treatment by our various institutions, public and private. This is a serious problem in a country where equality before the law (even if not in means) is culturally enshrined.

      Now there are plenty of historically disadvantaged groups in this country for whom this is not news, but in the last 30 years it has come to white middle America. No one can play it off anymore after 2008. So I think there are really 2 issues to contend with, the first being economic insecurity but the second being cognizant of the fact that coastal elites, particularly in government and high finance, aren’t subject to the same rules as everyone else.

      You can be relatively well off from a historical perspective but still seething with rage when the precarious of your particular situation compared to that of others appears to you to result from inconsistent application of the rules.Report

      • Avatar Saul Degraw says:


        I still really cringe at the use of coastal elite because the phrase is so void as to be meaningless.

        There are still plenty of right-wingers who use the phrase as short-hand for people who live on or near the costs regardless of income or any other demographic feature. Remember in Palin land, a Hispanic hotel maid who lives in an immigrant neighborhood in Queens is also part of the coastal elite.

        The other factor is that complaints about bankers is often not very far from starting to talk about Jews so I get sensitive. I am an upper-middle class professional and very fortunate. I realize that I can come up with cash in an emergency because I have my own and also a support network and this is very lucky for me. But lots of coastal dwelling Bay Area or other city people do not have these and we share the same city. I am also not exactly making decisions that cause havoc on the global economy but I’m Jewish so I can get drawn into those accusations easily. Especially because I am a lawyer even though I am more likely to be against a bank than represent one in litigation.Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          I’m not saying that the target of the anger is completely rational, or that it isn’t also wrapped up in certain rural/small town versus urban cultural resentments and contradictions. White collar urban professionals with some cultural capital are one of the scapegoats, as are illegal aliens and other immigrants (albeit for different reasons). Just because aspects of the criticism aren’t valid doesn’t mean there’s nothing to them. Hell I think us coastal professional types are too easily bought off by the actual elites in this country just because they speak our language, i.e. the super wealthy in big finance, corporate America, and at the top tiers of the federal government.

          As for the sensitivity regarding finance, I kind of think thats a personal problem. Where anti-Semitism appears push back. It’s wrong and stupid, but I don’t think anyone should back off on asking hard questions about why exactly there haven’t been any consequences for Wall Street, and I’m certainly not going to read anti-Semitism into those criticisms where there’s no evidence of it.Report

      • Avatar Oscar Gordon says:

        When it comes to legal inequality entering the awareness of the middle class, you can thank the war on drugs – especially as it pertains to painkiller abuse and sudafed, but also the specter of CAF and wrong door raids.

        The irony of Trump is that I don’t see him changing that, even though I suspect a lot of people who voted for him expect him to reign in the cops hitting middle class citizens.Report

        • Avatar InMD says:

          I think you’re right and I think its one of the many reasons Trump is destined to disappoint most of his supporters.

          From am even bigger picture perspective I think that kind of inequality is exactly why the more libertarian minded should be more concerned about it. I’m not sure that our form of government can function when inequality is stretched too far. I think it invites all kinds of abuse and petty tyranny. The kind of stuff where libertarian critiques are the most convincing.Report