“Status Socialism”

It occurs to me that there’s an obvious link here with the idea that the contemporary populist right is heavily driven by ressentiment—and that a lot of our current politics has less to do with actual policy disagreements than with resolving status anxieties. You can think of patriotism as a kind of status socialism—a collectivization of the means of self-esteem production. You don’t have to graduate from an Ivy or make a lot of money to feel proud or special about being an American; you don’t have to do a damn thing but be born here. Cultural valorization of “American-ness” relative to other status markers, then, is a kind of redistribution of psychological capital to those who lack other sources of it.

-Julian Sanchez

I think this is worth noting for several reasons and not just because it uses the word “Socialism.” Because as Thomas Frank explains so well, the U.S. working class has been sold SOMETHING in place of wage increases, and obsessive patriotism is part of it.

Patriotism these days too often seems like the acceptable name for “White Pride.” But that’s another story entirely, isn’t it? (And is, obviously, not always the case.)

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One Response to “Status Socialism”

  1. queenemily says:

    Yes and yes. It’s patriotism and a particularly dubious and limited version of Protestant Christianity linked *to* the patriotic (thereby invalidating the universal claims of Christianity but never mind)…

    I think the racial aspect of patriotism (“White Pride” indeed) is a fairly widespread thing that applies to other countries too. The “imagined community” (to use Benedict Anderson’s term) of the nation is fairly restrictive at the best of times, but it’s obviously especially narrowed post 9/11 and the increasing disdain for the multicultural project. I know quite a few people who lay low on Australia Day precisely because the chance of random racist, homophobic and transphobic violence is dramatically increased that day…

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