06/16/2005: More "David Brooks Get it Wrong Again on Class Musings"...
Ahh...here we go again with the alter-ego of the nefarious David Brooks attempting to re-write all 50’s and 60’s history right up to the present day with his own personal “let’s attack them Liberals with a bunch of false crap” in this one: Joe Strauss to Joe Six-Pack.
”….If you read Time and Newsweek from the 1950's and early 1960's, you discover they were pitched at middle-class people across the country who aspired to have the same sorts of conversations as the New York and Boston elite.
The magazines would devote pages to the work of theologians like Abraham Joshua Heschel or Reinhold Niebuhr. They devoted as much space to opera as to movies because an educated person was expected to know something about opera, even if that person had no prospect of actually seeing one.
Middlebrow culture was killed in the late 50's and 60's, and the mortal blows came from opposite directions. The intellectuals launched assaults on what they took to be middlebrow institutions, attacks that are so vicious they take your breath away.
Clement Greenberg called the middlebrow an "insidious" force that was "devaluing the precious, infecting the healthy, corrupting the honest and stultifying the wise." Dwight Macdonald lambasted the "tepid ooze" of the Museum of Modern Art and the plays of Thornton Wilder. Basically, these intellectuals objected to the earnest and optimistic middle-class arrivistes who were tromping over everything and dumbing down their turf.
At the same time, pop culture changed. It was no longer character-oriented; it was personality-oriented. Readers felt less of a need to go outside themselves to absorb works of art as a means of self-improvement. They were more interested in exploring and being true to the precious flower of their own individual selves.
Less Rembrandt, more Me. Fewer theologians, more dietitians….”
But luckily we have David’s own tortured, "Alice Through The Looking Glass" recreational drug-induced stupor of words from back in 2004 before the Nov. Election to bash him upside his pointy little-pinhead:
“…there are two sorts of people in the information-age elite, spreadsheet people and paragraph people. Spreadsheet people work with numbers, wear loafers and support Republicans. Paragraph people work with prose, don't shine their shoes as often as they should and back Democrats.
C.E.O.'s are classic spreadsheet people. According to a sample gathered by PoliticalMoneyLine in July, the number of C.E.O.'s donating funds to Bush's campaign is five times the number donating to Kerry's.
Professors, on the other hand, are classic paragraph people and lean Democratic. Eleven academics gave to the Kerry campaign for every 1 who gave to Bush's. Actors like paragraphs, too, albeit short ones. Almost 18 actors gave to Kerry for every 1 who gave to Bush. For self-described authors, the ratio was about 36 to 1. Among journalists, there were 93 Kerry donors for every Bush donor. For librarians, who must like Faulknerian, sprawling paragraphs, the ratio of Kerry to Bush donations was a whopping 223 to 1.
Laura Bush has a lot of work to do in shoring up her base.
Data from the Center for Responsive Politics allows us to probe the emerging class alignments, but the pattern is the same. Number people and word people are moving apart.
Accountants, whose relationship with numbers verges on the erotic, are now heavily Republican. Back in the early 1990's, accountants gave mostly to Democrats, but now they give twice as much to the party of Lincoln. Similarly, in the early 1990's, bankers gave equally to the two parties. Now they give mostly to Republicans, though one notices that employees at big banks, like Citigroup and Bank of America, are more likely to give to Democrats.
But lawyers - people who didn't realize that they wanted to be novelists until their student loan burdens were already too heavy - are shifting the other way. This year, lawyers gave about $81 million to Democrats and about $31 million to Republicans.
Media types are Democratic, of course, but one is dismayed to learn that two-thirds of employee donations at Rupert Murdoch's News Corporation went to Democrats. Whatever happened to company loyalty?
If you look at the big Kerry donors, you realize that the days of the starving intellectual are over. University of California employees make up the single biggest block of Kerry donors and Harvard employees are second, topping folks from Goldman Sachs and others in the supposedly sell-out/big-money professions.
Academics have had such an impact on the Democratic donor base because there is less intellectual diversity in academia than in any other profession. All but 1 percent of the campaign donations made by employees of William & Mary College went to Democrats. In the Harvard crowd, Democrats got 96 percent of the dollars. At M.I.T., it was 94 percent. Yale is a beacon of freethinking by comparison; 8 percent of its employee donations went to Republicans.
It should be noted there are some professions that span the spreadsheet-people/paragraph-people divide. For example, lobbyists give equally to both parties. (Could it possibly be that lobbyists don't have principles?) And casino people split their giving, with employees at Harrah's giving mostly to Democrats and employees at MGM Mirage giving mostly to Republicans.
Why have the class alignments shaken out as they have? There are a couple of theories. First there is the intellectual affiliation theory. Numerate people take comfort in the false clarity that numbers imply, and so also admire Bush's speaking style. Paragraph people, meanwhile, relate to the postmodern, post-Cartesian, deconstructionist, co-directional ambiguity of Kerry's Iraq policy.
I subscribe, however, to the mondo-neo-Marxist theory of information-age class conflict. According to this view, people who majored in liberal arts subjects like English and history naturally loathe people who majored in econ, business and the other "hard" fields. This loathing turns political in adult life and explains just about everything you need to know about political conflict today.
It should be added that not everybody fits predictably into the political camp indicated by a profession…”
So, let’s see…who’s really responsible for a the cultural malaise of a country listening to a “dumbed down President” who can’t talk his way out a paper bag at any press conferences without Jeff Gannon to “help” him out on any issue, let alone responsible for the attacks on the “middlebrow culture” according to David’s trite little piece of anaylsis???
Oh, and let’s not forget the all out rape, ravage plunder and destroy assault on our national educational budget and educational Pell Grants by the GOP and Team Bush. The “Let’s Spend us into Deficit Overdrive to Create My War Legacy Priorities” bAdministration.
Remember those things…Pell Grants? Money from our government to actually allow them middle class and lower income folk to AFFORD to send their kids to get a college education to become even passingly familiar with this “loss of culture among the middlebrow” Dear David laments so poetically!!
And which GOP Budgets have systematically year after year cut with the same slash and burn pen – all endowment programs with an approach to winnowing this middle-class. The main agenda being to the improving [via tax cuts and legislative efforts like the Bankruptcy Act, the Death Tax Ac, Soc Sec. Privatization accounts, etc.] the conditions for the very rich and creating [in increasing numbers] the ranks of the very poor.
So, get you history and facts correct, David Brooks, when you wish to point fingers at the sorry state of the national culture and educational opportunities for these learned skills.
Karen on 06.16.05 @ 06:18 AM CST