Archive for December 8, 2019

Future of One Ethno-Religious Group in USA is Not Looking Bright: 1

December 8, 2019 12 comments

Let me begin by saying that I have a feeling this post is going to get more than its fair share of comments. With that out of the way, let me state an observation I made a few years ago. The general public perception of, and good-will towards, a certain ethno-religious group in USA has really gone down over the past decade. More worryingly, for them, this decline shows no sign of slowing down- nor does it appear to have reached even a temporary floor. Just so that all of you know, I was not born into any monotheistic religion nor do I believe in any other religion, be it traditional or secular. Furthermore, I have worked with many people belonging to this specific ethno-religious group throughout my career and don’t have an especially negative or positive opinion about them. In other words, I have no dog in this fight.

With that in mind, let us finally get into this rather controversial topic. But before going there, it is important to understand that the vast majority of this group aren’t rich or powerful- with most being somewhere between middle-class and upper-middle class. But for reasons, historical and contemporary, the majority of this group ends up being seen as no different from their own rich and increasingly disliked minority. My point is that this association is now increasingly having negative consequences for their overall public image and this will, sooner or later, find its way into real life- especially if the average quality of life in countries such as USA keeps going down. To understand what I am talking about, you might want to brush up on your European history, and not just the part between 1933-1945. Moreover, the causes behind this current trend are multi-factorial and have a lot with do with how things worked out after 1945, especially in USA.

1] The public has lost faith in neoliberalism and its institutions. Oddly enough, the most important reason for the increasingly negative public perception of this group is accidental. As I have often hinted in many of my previous posts, the past twenty years have become the two “lost”decades for most people in this country. And yes, there are many culprits- ranging from deindustrialization, loss of stable jobs and careers, negative effects of unchecked corporate monopolization. However the top 10-20% (not just the top 1%) have done OK during this period. It just so happens that the top 10-20% have a noticeably higher percentage of aforementioned group. Now this was not a problem during the period between 1945-2001.. you know, when the economy was kinda working for most people. But it becomes rather hard to ignore when the economy has not worked for most people for past twenty years.

To make matters worse, the managerial class of this country (both middle and upper) who are most closely associated with laying off people, closing factories, running hostile HR departments also contain a noticeably high percentage of this group. The occupations and professions which people most closely associate with their immiseration often unfortunately have a hard to ignore percentage of said group. Furthermore, professions which have preserved their income via cartel formation (doctors, dentists etc) or through closed-off private ‘clubs’ (large law firms, investment banking etc) also have a rather noticeable percentage of this group. Once again, none of this would have mattered if the economy was working for most people- but it isn’t! And it gets worse..

The academic defense of neoliberal economic policies in USA, is conducted by paid credentialed “academics”, “scholars”, “experts” and other assorted intellectuals. Once again, a rather large percentage of the more famous intellectual defenders of neoliberalism unfortunately belong to this group. To be clear, I am not suggesting that the majority of people from this group subscribe to neoliberalism. Indeed, there is good evidence that a fair number of them do actively oppose neoliberalism. However, in the minds of the public, the imposition and defense of neoliberal economic policies (aka their immiseration) is now associated with this group- significantly more so than others. This was not always the case. In fact, during a good part of the last century this group produced many famous people who preached in defense of socialism, justice and equality.

2] Greatly increased insularity and living in social, cultural bubbles is not helpful. One of the many effects of the neoliberal transformation of USA in past forty years has been the vastly increased levels of intellectual and political and polarization. We all know that people living in affluent areas and suburbs of coastal cities have vastly different views on a number of topics from their counterparts living in less affluent parts of the same state. It only gets worse when you start comparing the social and cultural bubbles of those living in affluent coastal zip-codes with their counterparts in some city or large town in the ‘flyover’ states. I have made this point in a number of recent posts such as link 1, link 2 and link 3. The educational and geographical concentration of aforementioned group result in them taking stances on many issues (gun control, SJW-ism and other “woke” performative behavior etc) which are at odds with most people in this country.

To make matters worse, supporting fashionable “woke” fads, trends and behaviors while also been seen as the human face of neoliberal immiseration makes one look especially hypocritical, fake and well.. despicable. Once again, other affluent whites of various European ancestries who are credentialed in the same institutions and living in same zip-codes also inhabit the same social bubble. However the lack of a distinctive last name or ancestry shields them from being subject to the same degree of public contempt. There is a reason why the alt-right has been so successful at labeling the coastal elite as rootless cosmopolitans with no real connection to this country. And there is a reason that this trend gathered steam after 2010. In future posts of this series, I will go into how connecting one’s religious identity to a particular country and embracing a strident version of race-based nationalism is not a good idea as well as being deeply ironic.

What do you think? Comments?