Friday, September 16, 2011

Remembering Joe Bageant

Among sentient people everywhere there is a deep, visceral unease, and among those most aware there is genuinely acute suffering. -- Joe Bageant

During my research of distant lands for prospective expatriation, I've met quite a few interesting people. Some are wannabes, some usedtobes;some are expats who've done their level best to export their North American lifestyles fully intact to gated communities in developing countries where The Help is relatively cheap; some have sought to abandon a life of conspicuous consumption for a sustainable one, living off the land among locals insted; or at least a cheaper, less stressful one,of teaching yoga, tending bar or running a hostel.  One expat that I unfortunately never had the pleasure to meet since stumbling across his writings (he passed away in March), was Joe Bageant.

I thought of Joe today when I learned of the latest sidestep, of the Obama Administration, "delaying" implementation of climate change rules.  (No, not the ozone standard ones that were shelved last month; these are whole OTHER ones that have been delayed before, and maybe will again, before they're abandoned altogether.  When is this dude going to learn there's no amount of caving that's going to make Congressional Republicans like him?  He may be only half Black, but it is the half that's visible, after all.)

Not that the "deep,visceral unease" is attributable to the President, or his complexion (well, my unease isn't, anyway) but it is exacerbated by his (in)actions. As Joe put it, "the great mocha hope turned out to be a Trojan horse for Wall Street and the Pentagon."

But I digress--

Joe Bageant was described as a 'redneck socialist', reared in Winchester,Va as a member of what he called the 'white underclass'. You can read what he has to say about himself in About Joe but his essays, blog posts, and interactions with readers is more revealing.   He wrote and spoke unflinchingly about capitalism and classism-- and that *might* be why his books are more widely read elsewhere than in America (ya think?).   One book seemed aptly titled to be a bestseller here, right up there by Palin's or Beck's: Deer Hunting with Jesus -- until you get to the subtitle: Dispatches from America's Class War.

His commentary, biting, witty and often longwinded, refreshingly tells it like it is, to wit:

As an Anglo European white guy from a very long line of white guys, I want to thank all the brown, black, yellow and red people for a marvelous three-century joy ride. During the past 300 years of the industrial age, as Europeans, and later as Americans, we have managed to consume infinitely more than we ever produced, thanks to colonialism, crooked deals with despotic potentates and good old gunboats and grapeshot. Yes, we have lived, and still live, extravagant lifestyles far above the rest of you. And so, my sincere thanks to all of you folks around the world working in sweatshops, or living on two bucks a day, even though you sit on vast oil deposits. From Waltzing at the Doomsday Ball.

In America: Y ur Peeps B so Dum? he writes: Purposeful ignorance allows us to enjoy cheaper commodities produced through slave labor, both foreign, and increasingly, domestic, and yet "thank god for his bounty" in the nation's churches without a trace of guilt or irony.
Our hyper capitalist system, through command of our research, media and political institutions, expands upon and disseminates only that information which generates money and transactions. It avoids, neglects or spins the hell out of information that does not.

also from the Doomsday Ball piece, this little gem:
Compounding our ignorance and naiveté are the officials and experts, politicians, media elites, and especially economists, who interpret the world for us and govern the course of things. The go-to guys. They don't know either. But they've got the lingo down.

Joe and Noam Chomsky are featured in a documentary coming to an art house near you, The Kingdom of Survival.  Here's a clip:

1 comment:

Ali Haider said...

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