Thursday, March 31, 2011

De mortuis nil nisi bonum

Stacy McCain is a right-wing blogger. McCain has written a diatribe against Joe Bageant after Joe's passing. After personal insults, essentially calling Joe a fraud, he said this:

"Bageant and his hagiographers would have us believe that the capitalist system which made all this possible is, nevertheless, brutally oppressing the rednecks of Winchester, Va., and other working-class whites all over America."

So, capitalism made it possible for Joe and others to succeed, but it didn't contribute at all to the generations of poor people throughout Appalachia, the MS Delta, or the 3rd World? Failure to "succeed", from Mr. McCain's perspective is a personal issue, but success is all made possible because of the capitalist system. This is the Horatio Alger Myth and is the same message delivered in every school to this day, but it's not an argument that is either logical, or evidenced based.

The other primary point of McCain's post is this - Joe and other "progressive populist" don't actually like people, they think people are "stupid", he says:

"And while all this capitalist exploitation is blindingly apparent to Good Ol’ Redneck Joe, his trailer-park-dwelling kindred are so stupid they don’t even know what’s good for them."... "(after quoting from one of Joe's essay's)Feel free to go read the whole thing, a prime specimen of that weird species of progressive “populism” which expresses itself as a thoroughgoing contempt for actual people."

It's clear from McCain's post that he hasn't read much of Joe's body of work. Joe railed against Democrats. He railed against coastal, middle-class liberals. And, yes, he surely railed against the corporate elite and their ponzi scheme they call capitalism. But, it wasn't out of spite or hatred for his fellow man, it was a deep belief in the goodness of people and a belief that we all are "our brothers keeper"... as Joe pleads in this video

I never met Joe Bageant and, going back to the Hitchen's clip below, I may have been disappointed if I had (although the eulogies from people who had met Joe have been universal in their praise of the person)... I didn't have to meet Joe, I actually read his work. McCain has not, and he used Joe's death to retread tired old conservative arguments against a stereotype of an enemy that doesn't exist. McCain's is an argument that millions of good people tune in and hear everyday on Hannity, Limbaugh, etc. But, to hear Joe's argument you can't, by and large, turn on the radio or the t.v., primarily because the class-war McCain accuses Joe of waging is over... and the people lost.

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