Read "Deer Hunting with Jesus" by Joe Bageant

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It's a book. On paper. Find a copy, and read it.

Deer Hunting with Jesus: Dispatches from America's Class War
Joe Bageant
Copyright © 2007 by Joseph L. Bageant
ISBN 978-0-307-33936-2

(TODO: I have got to get this in a CCK type that formats for some microformat or semantic markup that formats for "book review"— and I guess I should make this into an actual Book review, also.)

While ordering the book (which you can do through his site) you can read the author's blog:
http://www.joebageant.com

Bageant and his book are important because they give part of an answer to the question that has to haunt every radical, progressive, revolutionary or Che Guevera t-shirt manufacturer: how can so many be treated so badly for so long (I'm talking millenia) without fighting back?

(Of course, people can rise up, and have in the past risen up, in large numbers to set some things right, or at least different, which worries the relatively few capitalists, lords, estate owners, royalty, some well-paid servants of empire, and probably the occasional fabulously wealthy manufacturer of Che Guevera t-shirts.)

Bageant, in loving description of what he calls his people, gives the answer to how many of us who are disadvantaged and harmed and disrespected go on supporting or accepting the way things are.

In short: staggering ignorance. Ignorance so pervasive and so complete we must all take responsibility. In addition to talk radio and television, Bageant points to the fact that well-off Republicans actually meet working-class whites face-to-face. (More important than party affiliation, Bageant is talking about people who believe they have a personal stake in continued inequality, are against social services let alone economic justice, and are for empire, police, and war.) Such people may repeat stories from right-wing propaganda outlets, including online outposts of the echo machine, and these stories may "sound right" (a quality Bageant emphasizes frequently) or could probably be total inanities, but they carry weight coming from a neighbor who is deemed successful.

Liberals, in whose ranks Bageant includes himself, are exceedingly unlikely to sit down for beers with so-called rednecks or white trash (Joe makes a distinction).

The conclusion he reaches is that there are millions of people in the United States who are Republicans by default. And some even vote.

From a radical perspective (and Joe Bageant, though not so outspoken in this book, is himself no believer that voting for corporate-vetted Democrats will save our country or the world), it's not merely liberal expansion of folks' horizons, exposure to literature and art and political theory, or even enlightened self-interest that working-class whites need.

We need the solidarity of experienced organizers, people who give a damn and have resources to share, and a movement with clear ideals of justice and liberty. And above all, a story about our lives that sounds right and is also true.

And the guy can write. Please stop reading my sad blog post, and read his book.

Bageant overstates the case a bit. The substantial majority of working class people have a basic understanding that they are being screwed, and many may even vaguely know who is ordering the screwdriver twisted. In a very limited example, the poorer people in the U.S. are, the more likely we are to vote for Democratic candidates. However, that includes black people, the most politically aware group in our population, and all colored people, who tend to be more conscious of unfairness and oppression. So that leaves an awful lot of ignorance concentrated among us whites.

In the acknowledgements, Bageant listed some online news sources and, mostly, blogs that he found useful for information and as allies. Most I don't know. (I'll get these in link form soon.)

Jeffrey St. Clair, http://counterpunch.org
Andrew Paterson, http://energygrid.com
Tony Sutton, http://coldtype.net
Sunil Sharma, http://dissidentvoice.org
Ben Conover, http://onlinejournal.com
Jeff Tiedrich, http://smirkingchimp.com (esp. Mizz Grizz on the forum)
http://democraticunderground.com (esp. Wiley White, the "Brokeback Carpet Layer")
Patrice Greanville, http://cjonline.org
Katherine Yurica, http://yuricareport.com
Thomas Baypeyras, http://orbite.info (French)
And deepest gratitude to George Salzman, whose web site (not in Bageants links) is http://site.www.umb.edu/faculty/salzman_g/

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