‘White Trash’ – A book review of our family – II
by Ramin Mazaheri on 10 Mar 2017 1 Comment

Forget what you knew about the Civil War


“We are not told the whole story, then, because social insecurities and ongoing class tension preoccupied the politicized population too.”


Is it any wonder the WTR is so anti-government when it is no exaggeration to say that the first thing the US federal government ever did for White Trash was to launch the Civil War!


Because our Southern American readers have just spit up their coffee over the previous paragraph, I will quote extensively here:

– “By 1861, both sides saw the other as an alien culture doomed to distinction… The two class systems – slave and free – were locked in a battle for domination and only one would survive.”


– “In (Commanding General of the Northern Army and future President Ulysses S) Grant’s estimation, the war was fought to liberate non-slaveholders, families exiled to poor land, who had few opportunities to better themselves or educate their children. ‘They too needed emancipation.’”


– “Discontented whites had been given the vote and, ‘being the majority they are the depositories of all your political power’.” James Henry Hammond, leading pro-slavery intellectual.


– “Sherman (general who led the total war/scorched earth “March to the Sea” campaign) made sure his men understood the class dimension of their campaign…They (Northern soldiers) saw secession as a fraud perpetrated against hapless poor whites.”


And, my favorite:

– “As one angry Southern writer declared, the northern party should not be called “Black Republicans”, but “Red Republicans,” for their real agenda was not just the abolition of slavery, but inciting class revolution to the South.”


(This is the very first mention of Socialism in the book, and there are only 3 others!)


In this way, the Civil War was the death of aristocracy in the US, but only the feudal kind – a capitalist kind was immediately elevated without any of the leavening of European socialism.


What capitalists and free-market proponents have always hidden is that Northern troops truly were rallied by an ideology in which “…they were benefactors of a government and society that promised class mobility and a genuine respect for the working man.”


What’s key is that this was the first time any such promises were made in American history. Of course, we working men and women are still fighting today for these promises to be delivered. But, because this America, we have to get back to race politics. Ugh.


The Age of Eugenics (class groans audibly)


Because Socialist ideas could make no headway in the US, what reigned supreme instead was Social Darwinism. It was simply “nature” that men were unequal; that Whites were the supreme race; that legitimized the imperialist doctrine of Manifest Destiny – and no legislation could change that, so why even try?


It’s the same thing today….


The idea that “biology is destiny” is fundamentally rejected by communists, who award primacy to environment and culture. When we compare the literacy, health and security levels of White Trash in the US with the same indicators among Cuban, Iranian and Soviet Trash there is no comparison that the latter won out in a much, much faster manner.


But while the politically-correct revolution (PCR) focused on the White supremacy aspect of the eugenics era, this book focused on the fact that White Trash were also just as condemned for their lack of “fitness” to survive.


Because just imagine how the conquering Northerners viewed White Trash, who are now White Trash War Refugees, flooding into St. Louis? Northern White Trash were now occupying Southern White Trash – it’s the poor who staff all armies, after all.


The author relates plenty of historical examples of Northerners talking of the “worthless barbarian” they had conquered; of the “ignorant, illiterate, and vicious” poor white, who had simply stopped disappearing into the bushes of the postwar South.


Blacks were often viewed more positively in the Reconstruction era: they were industrious strivers, now that their wages went all the way to something from nothing.


The pre-war Northern White Trash had been threatened by the “no-wage” system of the south, but now they were threatened biologically if they procreated with White Trash War Refugees.


It sounds crazy, but it’s true!


You know it’s true because this late 19th century era was the time of “eugenics mania” across the West as well as the colonial “Scramble for Africa”, and the two went hand in hand, of course. This was the time of Nietzsche’s “Ubermench” – the White Superman.


And in the US the Northern White (Trash) Superman was superior, genetically as well, to the Southern White (Trash) Conquered Superman.


This era produced fears of “mongrel” blood; hypotheses that isolated White mountain folk were genetically “pure”, just not “graded up”; sterilization laws in most of the country; “fitter family” competitions at state fairs just like blue ribbons for county’s prize pig; the idea of a “aristogenic” class (genetic leadership class).


“Even with such racial overtones, the major target of eugenicists was the poor white woman,” which I include due to its importance.


Why were Southern Trash so far behind, from a genetic/health standpoint? Obviously, it was the centuries-long lack of public education funding and basic health or sanitation programs – it was not genetics, but the dominance of capitalist policies instead of socialist policies.


Fortunately, with the 1917 Russian Revolution this hysterical, discredited, absurd ideology all evaporated. But only in the USSR. “The 1920s saw social exclusiveness masquerade as science as disdain for rural backwardness and the mongrel taint intensify. In a culture under siege, white trash meant impure, and not quite white.”


Are we still White Trash when all Whites are poor?


White Trash went nationwide in the 1920s… but not in your family, I’m sure, superior anti-Trumper. When unemployment hit 20%, the definition of White Trash suddenly expanded. In 1934 the frontier was official closed by the government, ending the so-called “safety valve” of the disproven “frontier migration thesis” of alleviating poverty and providing social mobility (so easily conflated with personal mobility in the US).


By 1937, the author writes, “…most Americans had already come to accept the uncomfortable truth about their national situation: equal opportunity was a grand illusion.” But many formerly middle-class Whites found their Trashy status intolerable, and so White Trash Power spurred the demands for the first government assistance to White Trash since the war refugee assistance after the Civil War.


To make a long Depression story short: The United States could not remedy the problems of the Great Depression until they finally overcame their hatred of White Trash.


(And we see the same phenomenon at play with today’s Great Recession and Trump, whose right-hand man Steve Bannon is a self-described “Leninist” who urges economic protectionism in order to, one hopes, redistribute wealth to the re-enlarged class of White Trash in America.)


It is not until 1935 that we first read of a centrally-planned, government-supported effort at attempting an obviously socialist remedy in the history of the United States: the Farm Security Administration.


This meant actually helping peasants: Loans for farm improvements, loans to improve living conditions like adding outhouses (indoor plumbing comes later), government education programs for new farmers, building experimental communities instead of tolerating shantytowns, etc.


It’s almost as if America realized that the government could do something, anything at all, to help clean up White Trash? What a radical use for taxes….


The head of this agency was mocked as a “parlor pink” who was “winking at Marx” – and this was the 2rd and 3th reference to Marxism or socialism in this entire book devoted to class analysis, with 4 references in the book total! Only in America….


(And this lack of Marxism is why the book got a major publisher – Penguin Random House. Had she added in more Marx…goodbye book deal.)


“The New Deal’s mission was to make individualism available to those ordinarily deprived it, freeing the many from their virtual imprisonment at the hands of the few.”


Winking at Marx indeed, Ms. Isenberg! Did you have to fight your editor to get that line included, LOL?


The Red Radical Isenberg proves (at least to me) that the famed Tennessee Valley Authority program – which coordinated among many southern states and created monumental public works – is the apex of socialism in America.


Its success is not disputed by anyone, not even school textbooks. It built not just dams and bridges, but libraries, recreation facilities, training centers, unprecedented adult education programs – “The TVA led to well-designed communities….”


The TVA remains a testament to the need for central planning today, whose success in creating steady economic progress amid capitalism’s inevitable depressions is attested to by the long-term growth rates of nations with 5-year economic plans like China, Iran and others.


“The straitjacket of states’ rights had suffocated southern progress long enough.”


Indeed. People are calling for a new TVA program today, and much of Trump’s legacy will rest on if he funds similar employment/public works programs.


Or we can just go back to mass war, like the US did with World War II. Lotta money to be made there… but the Pentagon never did economic redistribution to White Trash.


Very interesting vignette, especially if you have read this far: At this time an intellectual sent questionnaires to top academics to define what “poor white” meant to them. The most common adjective was “shiftless.” “It was connected to a string of synonyms: purposeless, hand to mouth, lazy, unambitious, no account, no desire to improve themselves, inertia.”


Basically, today’s version of “welfare queens”. Sure….


(To be concluded…)

Courtesy The Saker


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