The River

Monday, May 05, 2008

Dave Pollard on Joe Bageant's book, Deer Hunting With Jesus

My friend Joe Bageant's book Deer Hunting With Jesus explains through personal stories his brutal assessment of just how strong the class system in the US really is, why the classes are and always have been at war, and why that plays perfectly into the hands of the right-wing political and economic interests there. These are stories about the people Joe grew up with and calls friends, and to write about their lives so bluntly and candidly is an act of incredible courage and honesty.

This is a society where poverty and illness are stigmatized as symptoms of laziness, ignorance and self-neglect, a society built on two-way class vs class fear of the unknown and misunderstood. The principal determinant of one's class in America, and the hermetic worldview that comes with it, is education.

More than anything, Deer Hunting is a plea to those of progressive inclination to meet with their working-class peers, at a grass-roots level, to understand how they live, how they think, and why they think that way, and to find, as hard as it will be to do so, common cause with them against the corporatist exploiters and their right-wing political and religious handmaidens, and common cause for universal health care, quality education for all, a fair pension and a decent wage for a day's work -- the end of the "dead-end social construction that all but guarantees failure".

I'd given away three copies of Joe's book before I'd ready anything beyond the brilliant introduction -- I just knew the people I gave them to needed to read the book more than I did. If you've read Lakoff, and kind of understand the huge divide between conservative and liberal worldviews, you have to read Bageant, so you really understand the chasm between the worldviews of the uneducated and educated. When you read Joe's astonishing stories, all of a sudden what George Lakoff says makes sense. And, just as astonishingly, so does Bush's 2004 win, and the terrifying prospect that Republican arch-conservatives could be poised to establish a dynasty in the US that will accelerate the Cheney-Bush regime's project for endless war, bankrupting and dismantling government, and ending the separation of church and state, and which will last until that country's final, ghastly unraveling occurs (I'm betting that will happen later this century).

I can't recommend Joe's book highly enough. He has been traveling throughout the U.S. and elsewhere promoting it. Recently, our intrepid reporter, the best alive today hands down, noted on his site:

A couple of weeks ago at a speaking engagement I asked the audience to raise their hands if they thought total collapse was the only catalyst that can bring meaningful change to America. Every hand went up

I was struck damned near speechless. Three years ago when that question was asked, a hand seldom went up in the audience.

Something is afoot inside Americans, something no candidate dare talk about nor the media dare mention.

The man has universal appeal. His writing carries within it that which we wish for ourselves, i.e. our own voices.
Yep, his writing is democratic and revolutionary.
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