Tuesday, May 13, 2014


One of the things that I keep reading about the rise of the UK Independence Party is that it appeals to angry people. This is OK as far as it goes, but the sentence isn't complete. No, UKIP appeals to angry people with bugger all to be angry about. It isn't tapping into real deprivation or discontent, but suburban self-pity. So I was pleased to come across this article about the same phenomenon in the United States.

Kathleen Geier skewers a piece of conservative resentment by Tal Fortgang that seems to have gone viral in the States. She is deliciously contemptuous:
Fortang is a college freshman, after all, and it reads very much like the kind of thing a young, upper middle class, white dude with a pretentious vocabulary (see: “Weltanschauung”) and no experience in the real world would write.
But her real points are about the way it was taken up by a fawning press and by the author's of denial of privilege and claim to victimhood. This is a common trick, she writes:
... today’s plutocrats face a huge obstacle: they have struggled with zero major obstacles or hardships in their lives. This makes it very hard to craft biographies and stump speeches that can make the candidate relatable to the average Joe and Jane Sixpack. What to do? The answer, it seems, is to wheel out the grandparents. Cue the violins.
As she says,
They are madly envious of women, people of color, sexual minorities, and the poor for whatever public sympathy they get for their suffering, and they desperately want in on the action.
 The difference in the UK is that you don't have to dredge up any evidence. You just have to pretend.

The whole narrative doesn't just rest on scapegoating or blaming the victims, but on the bizarre claim that the privileged are the real, authentic victims, despite their easy, lucky lives. It is a political discourse based on the grumblings of saloon bar bores, complaints that everything is going to the dogs, together with a sense of peeved indignation that they haven't got even more. What a waste of their lives. Why don't they just enjoy themselves?


Anonymous said...

It strikes me that Farage is not so much a "saloon bar bore" or the "voice of the pub" but rather the voice from the southern golf club bar; safely protected from the proles by a hefty membership fee with the "ladies" nicely segregated into their own chintz lounge.

Anonymous said...

sorry meant to say thats from me Peter