[Marxism] Fwd: The dark rigidity of fundamentalist rural America: a view from the inside

Louis Proyect lnp3 at panix.com
Tue Jan 17 19:52:26 MST 2017

I grew up in rural, Christian, white America. You’d be hard-pressed to 
find an area in the country that has a higher percentage of Christians 
or whites. I spent most of the first 24 years of my life deeply embedded 
in this culture. I religiously (pun intended) attended their Christian 
services. I worked off and on, on their rural farms. I dated their 
calico skirted daughters. I camped, hunted, and fished with their sons. 
I listened to their political rants at the local diner and truck stop. I 
winced at their racist/bigoted jokes and epithets that were said more 
out of ignorance than animosity. I have also watched the town I grew up 
in go from a robust economy with well-kept homes and infrastructure turn 
into a struggling economy with shuttered businesses, dilapidated homes, 
and a broken down infrastructure over the past 30 years. The problem 
isn’t that I don’t understand these people. The problem is they don’t 
understand themselves, the reasons for their anger/frustrations, and 
don’t seem to care to know why.

In deep-red white America, the white Christian God is king, figuratively 
and literally. Religious fundamentalism is what has shaped most of their 
belief systems. Systems built on a fundamentalist framework are not 
conducive to introspection, questioning, learning, change. When you have 
a belief system that is built on fundamentalism, it isn’t open to 
outside criticism, especially by anyone not a member of your tribe and 
in a position of power. The problem isn’t “coastal elites don’t 
understand rural Americans.” The problem is rural America doesn’t 
understand itself and will NEVER listen to anyone outside their bubble. 
It doesn’t matter how “understanding” you are, how well you listen, what 
language you use…if you are viewed as an outsider, your views are 
automatically discounted. I’ve had hundreds of discussions with rural 
white Americans and whenever I present them any information that 
contradicts their entrenched beliefs, no matter how sound, how 
unquestionable, how obvious, they WILL NOT even entertain the 
possibility it might be true. Their refusal is a result of the nature of 
their fundamentalist belief system and the fact I’m the enemy because 
I’m an educated liberal.


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