Unnecessariat

This blog article on the white underclass is the kind of thing I wish I could write. I’m not exactly in the demographic the writer discusses. I’m college educated. I don’t drink or take drugs. I live in New Jersey, not the rural Midwest. But I closely identify with the idea that the American ruling class thinks of many of us as an “unnecessariat,” people they wish would simply go away. At protests in solidarity with the Second Intifada, I used to see people wearing shirts that said “we’re all Palestinians.” I think that’s probably truer than most of us think. The Israelis don’t want the Palestinians as a cheap labor force. They just want them to go away. The American ruling class no longer needs large parts of the American working class. So they’ve created the conditions where many people will simply kill themselves through drugs and alcohol. Many of the casualties of this new class war are women. I used to think women were more flexible and stronger than men, that they were better at establishing networks of support and less likely to fall into depression and homelessness. But that doesn’t seem to be the case any more. The Washington Post article the blogger links about the death by alcoholism of a 54-year-old woman in Oklahoma almost conjures up an American version of Sátántangó, the great Hungarian film about a community fallen into utter despair, a despair that makes them vulnerable to being manipulated by demagogues like Donald Trump.

More Crows than Eagles

I remember AIDS. I’m older than you probably think I am, and I remember what AIDS in America meant in the eighties, when William F. Buckley suggested all “carriers” be tattooed, and the Wizard of Id got in trouble in Canada (fr) for a joke in which Robbing Hood’s “Merry Men” were rounded up into quarantine camps. Mostly what I remember is the darkness- the world seemed apocalyptic. Everyone, at least in the gay men’s community, seemed to be sick, or dying, or taking care of someone else who was sick or dying, or else hurling themselves headlong into increasingly desperate and dramatic activism the like of which has hardly been seen since. I was actually watching the MacNeil/Lehrer news hour when ACT-UP broke in and nearly handcuffed Robert MacNeil to his desk. The tenor is just unreproducible; you get a taste of it in some of Sarah Schulman’s…

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5 comments

  1. christopherdutton56christopherdutton56 · · Reply

    ..couldna said it better myself!…and a beuatiful word….Unecessariat

  2. Your Gloria Steinem yesterday was a revelation. I guess CIA employment is just about as good as Putin working for the KGB. You’re smart when you know how to kill people. Free lessons, and you get paid. Canada debating “assisted suicide” legislation, Quebec confused, wanting to use doctors to dispose of “unnecessariats.” Seems like it could turn into a big business, I thought once of a story about two nurses as “angels of the night” driving around in a large vehicle, answering appointments from old men who want a thrill before being dumped at the morgue. Is suicide the new orange? I decided not to go there, it’s not hard but I DO like all the colors of life, and I wake up each day, thanking my god for another day, just to see how I can help someone or have a thought that contributes to a fine existence as a sentient being, able to consider right and wrong and try to count the stars (in the sky).

  3. […] a job, she’s adrift on the sea of the vast underclass without a life jacket, a member of the “unnecessariat” who’s nothing more than a reflection of her place, or to be more accurate, her lack of place […]

  4. […] For the Ivy League educated, professional class in Park Slope, Cambridge, Princeton, Silicon Valley, or Washington, D.C., the disappearance of the American working class is not a thing to be mourned. On the contrary, rich liberals have no objection to the idea that Asian, Mexican, or Indian workers will do the manual labor while the United States becomes one big London, Paris or Manhattan, an administrative and financial center with a need for service workers, but not industrial or clerical workers, “Cloud City” from the old Star Trek series where a chosen few people of color are allowed to join the elite, and where the dirty work is done far away, and in a foreign language. The problem is what to do with the existing working class, especially the existing “white working class,” in places like Scranton, Pennsylvania, Sandusky, Ohio, or Flint, Michigan. Not everybody can, or would even want to learn how to code Java. There can only be so many hedge fund managers and political consultants. What do you with people who simply have no economic reason to exist? There’s no place in Cloud City for the “Unnecessariat.” […]

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