November 6, 2010 1 Comment
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.
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.)