Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Working Class Language

This video of a "Trump convoy" in rural Massachusetts last month is being passed around social media with indignant exclamations about the racism of Trump supporters, by people who pretend as if they've never heard this kind of language, as if they and their friends don't talk this way. It's in the sound track of CB chatter which someone laid over the video.

This is the vile language of the working class, not racism. The working class talks like this everywhere and always has. The nigger this and nigger that is incidental. Black, Hispanic, White, Indian, Asian working class people all talk this way, because they all need someone to look down on. They need ways to feel superior to someone, anyone, and ways to feel like they are a member of the group they're in, and to do that they always look for an "other" and then talk disparagingly about them. It's the same as when sports fans say things like, Yankees rule. Cowboys suck.

This is the working class. It's this way for a reason. We need to look at the reasons why all working class people talk this way, and why they feel the way they do. Angry, bitter, and desperately needing to belong to something, anything.


  1. "people who pretend as if they've never heard this kind of language, as if they and their friends don't talk this way."

    I think you got this wrong this time, all wrong. Wrong on the language of the "working class", wrong on the "working class" all together. Wrong on everyone talking like this. Wrong that it is not racism, just the language of the working class.

    This is the language of racism, in this case low life white racism. No two ways about it. Not sure what economic scale you attribute to the "working class" of people in the video and sound track.

    1. By working class I mean people who work for a paycheck, and who don't live off rent or investments. People who have to sell their labor to get food to eat, and sell it to the other ones. That dynamic creates critical differences between those two groups, and critical similarities within the groups regardless of race, ethnicity or anything else.

      As for language, what, you haven't been around truck drivers, worked in a steel mill, did yard work? Were you ever a teenage boy?

      I could have developed the argument further and better, though, that racism and similar kinds of divisions follow from class divisions. You have to look beyond this immediate situation. Any one of those people doing that talking, if they happened to casually come into contact with a Black person, wouldn't use that language, and within a few minutes, when each person's initial guard came down, they'd be talking like they knew each other. Yes, they can go for months and years and not talk to a black person, and keep talking like this, because this is an expression of emotions they don't know what else to do with, and which come from class dynamics that they aren't even conscious of because there's no language for it or discourse about it in the United States.

      And if the language isn't in these precise words, the sentiments are embedded widely in our society and have become part of its structure. Blacks are placed in prison at double and triple the rate of whites and are denied home loans for certain areas not by people like this, but by people who don't swear and who go to church every Sunday, and who would also converse on friendly terms with a Black person they had to wait in a long line with. Because those decisions, to concentrate policing in Black neighborhoods and for realtors to segregate neighborhoods, are at heart economic decisions. With racial elements.

      And of course it's in the interests of the ruling class and it's media propagandists to attribute everything to race, which keeps us divided and not able to unite against them, and diverts attention from the class war they wage upon on us. It keep people from being aware of the relationship between the working class and the Capitalist class, the power and psychological aspects of it.

      The tiny minority of people who join white supremacist groups is something else. A higher percentage of the population is probably in mental institutions or on medication for psychological problems.

      Thanks for letting me know what you think NM. I'm not necessarily discounting what you say, I just wanted to try to make people aware that there is more to racism than just what we hear about it on TV and read in the paper. When I saw that video I was just checking the news and social media before I went to work, and didn't like the narrow and simplistic way it was being portrayed and wrote a quick blog post about it. I thought about this last night and in fact I just got home from work and went to the blog to expand on my argument but your comment was already made.

  2. But that "vile language," regardless of class, creates and perpetuates a culture of hate and division and racism.

    Are you suggesting that if people who resort to such language were to somehow rise up the socio-economic ladder that they would no longer speak such "vile language?" That they would no longer blame those who are different for their woes, the inequities they would still encounter? Do you suggest, further, that redistribution of wealth, position and power would be the end of racism, would bring on instead an everlasting period of acceptance, of inclusion, of harmony?

    Your understanding of racism is different, more narrowly defined, than mine. Language does define us, always has, always will.

    1. Thanks for your comment, Ms C, which came in while I was writing the above response to NM's comment. I think it mostly applies to yours also.

  3. I think I like your political musings better the overgeneralized sociological ones. "All" as applied certain "groups" of classes seems a bit dated for the times. Even for some of my generation. Certainly more for the next two generations.... Of course many of my P9 friends whose strike was broken at Hormel in Austin, or other blue collar types may ALL have been converted to PC by their constant exposure to MINNESOTA NICE...::

  4. A major new analysis from Gallup, based on 87,000 interviews the polling company conducted over the past year provides mixed evidence that economic distress has motivated Trump support. "His supporters are less educated and more likely to work in blue collar occupations, but they earn relative high household incomes, and living in areas more exposed to trade or immigration does not increase Trump support. There is stronger evidence that racial isolation and less strictly economic measures of social status, namely health and intergenerational mobility, are robustly predictive of more favorable views toward Trump, and these factors predict support for him but not other Republican presidential candidates."

    1. Of course, Dr Sax. They see the handwriting on the wall. They're alright, but they realize that under traditional Republicans, among whom you can count Democrats like the Clintons, Obama, Heinrich and the rest, their grandkids will have diminishing opportunity. It's kind of mincing words to say that that's not having to do with economics, or socioeconomic status.

      And as I say, if they hang out with a Black person or a Muslim or anyone else for a few minutes they soon realize that they haven't stolen their job and in fact have the same problems as they do.