[Marxism] Fredrik deBoer: “I think the problem of white poverty is under-discussed in left-wing circles.”

Joseph Catron jncatron at gmail.com
Fri Jun 27 18:00:28 MDT 2014

(Posting is not necessarily agreeing. Personally, I'd go a bit further
than deBoer does here and say that a lot of white middle-class leftist
contempt for "rednecks," "white trash," etc. is itself a form of
racism. Or, perhaps, that much of what passes for racism is in fact
classism. But they're too similar to be wholly different creatures.
And I certainly don't think the young white leftist approach to white
poverty he critiques here can be reduced to simple disregard.)

"Left-wing thought has become utterly dominated by intersectionality.
(Or, really, a vague and loose concept that has taken the name of the
more rigorous and specific theory of intersectionality.) Marxist and
socialist journals publish tons and tons of work on race and gender,
far more than they do on class as an overarching phenomenon. Left-wing
publishing, for good and bad, is defined in large measure by a
particular social and cultural group. And that group has little use
for issues of class that aren’t ancillary to issues of race and
gender. Just check the publishing records of the popular left. Find
how many of them concern, say, the destitute white underclass of the
Appalachian mountains. You won’t find many!

"There are many reasons for why discussions of race and gender move
the needle with the young left in a way that class analysis doesn’t.
Obviously, a genuine desire to address racial and gender injustice is
a very large part. But less helpfully, there’s a powerful lack of
familiarity with poor white people among many young leftists. Many or
most of them grew up in economic security or affluence and went to
elite colleges. In such environments, they had little or no
opportunity to experience white poverty as a lived phenomenon. In
contrast, their experiences of black and Hispanic people stem largely
from media portrayals of such people as poor, criminal, and generally
dysfunctional. White poverty plays outside of the narrative that they
have developed from this limited perspective. Another major reason is
implicit racism. They talk endlessly about their high regard for
'POC.' But their tendency to see poverty and hopelessness as
inherently associated with people of color ultimately reveals a
condescension, a quiet belief that black and Hispanic people can’t
help but be poor. Though they direct apathy at best towards the white
poor and concern for poor people of color, ultimately they belittle
both, in that their lack of concern for white poverty implies that
they think white people deserve it while black and Hispanic people
can’t be expected to do better. It’s the soft bigotry of low
expectations for people of color and high expectations for white
people. The truth is that in both cases, there are systemic
inequalities that contribute to the immisseration of both groups,
though surely they are different for each."


"Hige sceal þe heardra, heorte þe cenre, mod sceal þe mare, þe ure
mægen lytlað."

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