‘White Trash’ – A book review of our family – III
by Ramin Mazaheri on 11 Mar 2017 3 Comments

Elvis, the great White Trash rehabilitator


All hail the King:

“Elvis had achieved what no white trash working-class male had ever dreamt possible: he was at once cool and sexually transgressive and a “country boy”. No longer a freakish rural outcast, as in the past, Elvis was a ‘Hillbilly Cat,’ something many teenage boys wished they could be.”


The King in American-style democracy should be White Trash… that’s simple numbers. Of course, communism is not mere “majority rule” democracy (which is actually “mob rule”) but elevates all together, realizing that harmony is produced by adding black ink to a white page.


Cultural sidebar: The author notes that popular early television shows like “The Beverly Hillbillies” and “The Andy Griffith Show” were mainly based on caricatures of White Trash, but also contained characters who were positive White Trash figures, like the star of the latter.


More importantly, these shows “…tapped into suspicions that modern America had failed to create a genuine melting pot; the cultural distance between rural and urban life, between rich and poor, was immense.”


And this cultural divide remains the main divide in Trumpian America because when was it ever resolved? Crucially, it’s the 1960s which mark the true entry of White Trash into the American power structure.


Finally giving White Trash, not just Blacks, the vote


The passing of the 24th amendment in 1964 – the banning of poll taxes – is rarely brought up, despite being one of just 27 amendments to the US Constitution. What’s given far more press is the Voting Rights Act of 1965, when Blacks who were finally given the right to vote. Giving Blacks the vote is correct, of course, and gives one a nice feeling that America has become a moral society.


So why is America not more openly proud of the 24th amendment? Because America ignores class, of course.


The author demonstrates that poll taxes were always used to disenfranchise White Trash as well. It’s much more well-known that prior to the post-Civil War introduction of poll taxes you had to be a landowner to vote in the US, but from 1865-1964 countless Whites were denied franchise, especially in the South.


If you insist on focusing on racial/identity politics you cannot explain, much less appreciate, the significance of the 24th amendment. So we can use the elimination of poll taxes as when White Trash, when all Trash, truly began the WTR. I’m getting a little misty here – sniff, sniff – for when the WTR turns into the ATR: the American Trash Revolution (i.e. communism).


And it should not be thought of as a coincidence that giving Trash the vote lent democratic support for major socialist-inspired successes like Johnson’s “Great Society” programs. The civil rights movement meant: “Whites could no longer speak for people of color. Men could no longer speak for women.”


And now that White Trash truly had the right to vote, even in the South, politicians had to address them. Address them only with policies, but also changing their image to win their vote.


Saxophone-playing Bill did this; fake cowboy Dubya did this; Trump did this.


By the end of the 1980s “white trash” was finally reclaimed as a class having cultural value. In 1996 a man was charged with a hate crime for using the epithet “cracker”, while “redneck” became a badge of pride.


This was, of course, part of the PCR: “A larger trend was turning America into a more ethnically conscious nation, one in which ethnicity substituted for class. The hereditary model had not been completely abandoned; instead, it was reconfigured to focus on transmitted cultural values over inbred traits.” (Emphasis mine)


And this is the failure of Trumpism: Because It lacks the modernity and unity of socialism, it is merely an updating of the totally discredited ideologies of eugenics, racism, Darwinism. “White Trash versus the world!”


Of course, the moneyed White conservatives funding Trump also rely on a false and imagined economic history: “The same self-made man who looked down on white trash others had conveniently chosen to forget that his own parents escaped the tar-paper shack only with the help of the federal government.”


It is only via the promotion, application and enforcement of communism that people finally learn it is morally wrong to resent government programs which uplift the poor.


Again, a book on class but no Marx? Only in America….


Because no book review is “objective” unless it contains criticism….


Nearly 125 of the book’s 460 pages are just the footnotes: This strongly implies that the author is primarily a technocrat in her worldview.


This is a book by a major publisher and not an obscure university press – 27% of the book should have gone towards ideological discussion instead of anal facts us average readers will never bother to pursue.


Despite the Communist Manifesto being written in 1848, the revolutions of 1848, and the fact that Marx worked as journalist in New York, the first reference to communism does not occur until about 1861, just prior to the outbreak of the civil war. As previously stated: 4 references to socialism in a book about class seems willfully blind.


The author’s lack of political intelligence to accept and promote Marxism implies the acceptance of the contrary view – capitalism and racism.


And there is proof of this: Isenberg decries capitalism’s eugenics-filled and racist worldview and yet the title of her otherwise-fine epilogue is, “America’s Strange Breed”. (Emphasis mine)


It is not ironic but sad and bewildering that she uses this term to title this section, because the epilogue is otherwise rightly filled with condemnations of outdated genetic human branding of “breeds”.


But without communist class solidarity, one will always rest upon divisions: national, ethnic, religion, skin color – “breeds”.


Of course communists don’t believe in breeds. In Cuba nobody has improved more than Blacks (except women) after 1961. Russia was the first empire founded on affirmative action. Iran’s Supreme Leader is ethnically Azeri and Iran has the largest Jewish population in the Middle East outside of Israel (with their own parliamentary representative).


“The sad fact is, if we have no class analysis, then we will continue to be shocked at the numbers of waste people who inhabit what self-anointed patriots have styled the ‘greatest civilization in the history of the world.’” (Emphasis mine)


I don’t’ see what’s sad about it? Class analysis is, by the author’s own admission, a freeing perspective. She clearly has some sort of bias against it, and that is to her own detriment.


And yet despite clearly not being a Marxist, the author is not interested in religion’s role in White Trash, either positive or negative? The only examination of lower-class Christianity is not until the 1980s and the Jimmy and Tammy Faye Bakker televangelism scandal. What about all the storefront holy-rollers, Pentecostal snake-handlers, etc.? Why only the sensational Bakkers and not the radio-era evangelists? Ignoring religion is the author’s right, but it should be all or nothing, I would think.


A far more major fault is that the author – who teaches at Louisiana State University and lives in Virginia – focuses way too much on Southern White Trash at the expense of both Western and Northeastern White Trash: “(Teddy) Roosevelt would have agreed: the distinct culture of the West did not translate to the South,” but this is certainly not true of America 115 years later.


Television and the internet have created a situation where the “country twang” accent is a clear class delineation from coast to coast. Someone who speaks with a twang certainly lives all over the rural areas of so-called “blue states”.


Finally, the author, perhaps due to the lack of sympathy for humanity instilled by communism, vacillates too often between sympathy for White Trash and a clear abhorrence of them. She recounts way too many stories of a sensational or titillating nature about hut-dwelling, violent, unstable, dirty White Trash peasants.


If just a portion of these boringly scandalous stories had been replaced by proper ideological-based condemnations of the system she has studied, her book would have profited the reader much more both intellectually and socially.


Great book overall. Now all we need is to get this White Trash painted red!


(This book review is paired with an editorial which uses the author’s insights to analyze the role of White Trash in the election of Donald Trump.)

Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. His work has appeared in various journals, magazines and websites, as well as on radio and television.



Courtesy The Saker


User Comments Post a Comment

Back to Top