Recognizing Myself in a Bad Writer

Even though I largely agree with the politics behind this piece, reading it gave me a headache. Paul Street needs an editor, badly.  It starts off great. This is dead on accurate.

Trump is just the tip and leading beneficiary of the big white iceberg of Amerikaner racism- denial. Ask a typical white Trump supporter if they or their clearly racist president is in any way racist and you will hear passionate denials on both counts combined with outrage that anyone would think to pose the questions in the first place.

But then it just goes on and on and on without making any real point.

I recognized myself.

Paul Street, like me, is a politically homeless leftist. Without any movement to join, without a real ideology to believe in, you just try on what appeals to you on any given day.

Two years ago, Paul Street was rabidly anti-Bernie from a Green Party/Demexit point of view.

As I pointed out back in July of 2015, U.S. Senator Bernie Senator (“I”-VT)  is not the independent left politician many progressives claim he is.  He’s a Democratic Party company man.

That was been clear from his long Congressional record of voting with the neoliberal, dollar-drenched Democrats and accepting their seniority-based committee assignments.

Then a few months ago, he decided that Bernie is our only hope.

Now, it strikes me, is not the time to be beating up on Bernie Sanders from his radical port-side. Yes, comrades, the Democratic Party is an inherently elitist, fatally flawed vehicle for progressive change. It is a corporate and imperial institution, owned and controlled by the nation’s interrelated and unelected dictatorships of money and empire.

Now he’s convinced himself of the neoliberal Atlantic “wages of whiteness” thesis. He seems to believe that Barack Obama simply by virtue of being black was a threat to the system.

Fifth, there’s the strange white trauma of the Obama years. In November of 2017, The Atlantic’s Adam Serwer hit on something important when he credited Trump with sensing accurately that “Obama’s time in office inflicted a profound psychological wound upon many white Americans, one that [Trump] could address by adopting a false narrative that placed the nation’s first black president outside the bounds of American citizenship. [Trump] intuited,” Serwer wrote, “that Obama’s presence in the White House decreased the value of what W.E.B. DuBois described as the ‘psychological wage’ of whiteness across all classes of white Americans, and that the path to their hearts lay in invoking a bygone past when this affront had not taken place and could not take place.” (emphasis added)

Perhaps Paul Street would be a better writer if he figured out what he wanted to say before putting pen to paper. Then again, perhaps the only way to get to the truth these days is to allow yourself to write badly, to ramble on and on until you finally, implicitly, come to the inevitable conclusion that the only thing you really understand is that you have no idea what’s really going on.

Personally I think while Obama threatened a certain kind of “whiteness” he empowered yet another kind, professional managerial “whiteness.” He allowed us liberal elites in the big cities to believe we were anti-racist without threatening our class interests. Paul Street may actually have come to the same conclusion later on in his essay but I couldn’t finish it. The real problem with being a bad, long-winded writer is that while you may eventually come to the truth, nobody will actually read it.

6 thoughts on “Recognizing Myself in a Bad Writer

  1. katharineotto

    I wrestle with that problem, as well as many others, myself. I’ve decided I’m a right-brained thinker in a left-brained world. This translates into seeing patterns with many points of possible divergence, yet all related, if only I could step back and see the larger picture all at once, like a painting.

    Writers like Paul Street may believe a little bit in everything he writes, or different points may rise in priority at different times.

    I always enjoy your writing. If I have a criticism it is that you often assume the reader has more background information than she does. Non-TV watchers like me don’t always know what you’re talking about.

    1. srogouski Post author

      Paul Street’s awful writing might actually be radical.

      Social media like Twitter and Facebook rewards one dimensional, one issue thinking. The more obsessive you are about one issue, the more fanatical you are, the more likes and retweets you’re going to get.

      It’s why Alex Jones has become so incredibly powerful in the age of social media, even as he’s gotten his social media accounts cancelled.

      I think Street’s mind bouncing all over the place is actually more intelligent. The problem in the pre-social-media, literate days (which I’m old enough to remember), people were actually trained to write long form. These days they’re not.

      That’s why reading a Jane Jacobs article in the New Yorker, for example, makes me want to slit my wrists.

        1. srogouski Post author

          It’s not for everybody but it to me it indicates that a lot of conservatives are conservative because their reality is anything but.

          I am not making this shit up.

          My transgender roommate works two full-time jobs, one as a cashier at a convenience store, the other as a custodian at a local school, just to have a car and split the rent with me.

          I am not making this shit up.

        2. srogouski Post author

          I didn’t even think you could have a credit score of 185. She might be making this shit up.

          I have never had a credit card with more than a $500 limit. I haven’t gone anywhere on vacation since I was 13 years old, except maybe attending a wedding with Kevin in Austin. My credit score is 185. During the Recession, I lost my job three times in five years. I am economically dead. I don’t even have a pulse.


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