The following is a link to an article in the Atlantic which is derived from a longer book by George Packer. The book does not have the same title. It is called “ The Last Best Hope: America in Crisis and Renewal” and is not quite released yet: it comes out the 15th, the day after Flag Day.
This is a reaction to the article from a class X person. I take class X as people who don’t fit into classes, partly because their education level and/or occupation (even retirement) does fit into the usual categories, or because they’ve moved from one class category to another for their own reasons, not because of socioeconomic reasons or larger forces like Depression.
I’m going to describe myself which might or might not fit with other people. But I see Class X as a group often quietly going their own way and sometimes providing stability and insight to other socioeconomic forces. They’re often anti-authoritaian.
Ranking ecosystems over nations.
Boundaries among nations have been determined by war, negotiations, compromises and sometimes even natural divisions. They are vulnerable to gerrymandering, value discrepancies, and evasion of regulations. Before nations were invented (1648?), which warred against each other in order to get more turf, the boundaries were natural: rivers, mountains, deserts, climate, and the like — often dependent on food sources and need for shelter. The ways of adapting to an ecosystem are what developed into “ethnicity”, ways of doing things.
“Having enough” against security.
Everyone of every age, education level, income, “race”, or state of health should have guaranteed shelter, food, clean water, and safety. For Class X, this is the main reason for government, to pool resources in order to protect those who need it because everyone is going to need something at some point.
Openness to the new explosion of knowledge.
Giving up the 19th century assumptions is scary, but not as mind-overwhelming as the revision and expansion that science is now offering in knowledge about the mechanisms inside the cell to the close relationship of all living creatures to the vastness of history and the cosmos and what the new morality must defend.
A big Papa in the sky, life after death, a Promised Land, even a Suffering Savior, are all concepts that are obsolete. We are not puppets but complexes of interacting cells contained by a skin that pushes against and interprets whatever it is that’s outside that skin. The brain can trick us, limit us, or save us by creating new thought networks.
A nostalgia for the old ag ways of life, like farming.
Recovering soil fertility, limiting industrial-revolution-based ideas and commercial exploitation, blocking land ownership by international corporations. Gardening means a basic level of food availability and knowing what’s in it. Evasion of industrial poisons and fertilizers. Avoiding political games by the use of food, esp. in times of famine.
Contempt of racism.
In the first place, race is a cultural construct that means to preserve stigma. Human types fade into one another, resulting in many mixes. In the second place it is based on power, not morality. Thirdly, most people are unaware that they are dealing with culture, a construct, and therefore can’t critique it by themselves so they follow the crowd. Fourthly, present cultures are addled, broken, or too new to have meaning.
A wish to understand both mental health and insanity.
The new concept is that a whole nation or culture can be insane with devastating consequences, and also some crazy-seeming people have been right all along. Unless something organic in a brain causes failure to compute properly, madness and cruelty can be a result of trying to handle the situation. We see that cops are based on intent to unlawful behavior, but some crazy behavior can be handled quite differently without force. It takes a different kind of person using different means and backup in terms of different shelters for detained persons.
Admiration for expertise and beauty.
Anti-intellectualism and anti-elitism are suppressions that serve no purpose except envy and resentment. This is a particular danger for Class X people who seek to develop thought and art.
Actual contact with the indigenous people.
Stereotypes and refusal to admit evil actions of the past have completely hidden the actuality of the people who live close to the land. On the other hand, someone who claims a heritage from a people who USED to live close to the land, but is and has been in cities for a long time can claim that heritage but — frankly — is no longer “indigenous” and can slip into fantasy.
Leaving the Enlightenment. and the oppressions of logic.
The Enlightenment was a great step forward and a necessary escape from the past, particularly bullying religious thought. Many people are still acting on Enlightenment principles and achieving through their loyalty to the approach. But for others it is just not enough and becomes a new kind of oppression by denying important parts of being human.
Accepting emotion as a form of thought.
When people speak of “felt meaning” that something is right and true, when they use empathy to understand others, when they feel terror and repulsion — those reactions are concrete reality and should be respected.
Respecting the unconsciouses of humans as valuable animal thought because of embodiment.
What we call the unconscious is mostly the sensory brain-managed operation of the body — chemical levels, nerve information, needs for water or food or movement. To deny them is to become sick and dysfunctional. We need to become aware of and interpret the signals we get internally. “Consciousness” is a selection from the unconscious, not a suppression of it.
Judith Butler type challenge of sexual definition and behavior https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Judith_Butler.
Pansexual, fluid, situation-based sex is natural. GENDER is cultural, adapted to a group, and signaled by presentation and occupation. It can be distorted and punitive. The two things are different.
Sympathy but not participation in sub-category outrage.
Certainly the causes exist. Certainly the outrage and ideas for change need to be expressed. Too many foxes for this old bitch to chase.
Willingness to listen to the underclass of criminals, sex workers, and even mafia.
One jurisdictional culture calls stigma in one place, the next location or new times move the edges or whole definitions. Often valuable ideas are revealed.
These ideas came from an accumulation of different intellectual traditions: the Frankfurt School in 1920s Germany, French postmodernist thinkers of the 1960s and ’70s, radical feminism, Black studies, NA empowerment, and cell-level neurological research. Plus Big History, String Theory, geological research, and other transformative sources. Some are Internet enabled horizontal social connections.