Steeped in anger and compassion
One might think that a party which so clearly is allied with big business would not be a natural support base for those without chances, without education, without jobs with much meaning, often raised as natural cannon fodder for America’s wars. Except of course that there is obviously always someone to blame, and the choice of where blame should lie can always be devolved somewhere.
It might seem that the more logical culprit would be big business, and the Party which most represents the interests of capital. Bageant, himself raised as a ‘poor white cracker’, but lucky enough to be born at a time of greater egalitarian thinking and action, where the possibility existed for better and further education for the poor and dispossessed, found himself with opened eyes. He was in the position of understanding from WITHIN why the disenfranchised can be seduced for a mess of pottage (cheap, insubstantial home ownership, the fruits of consumer ‘choice’) but sold short of what might enable clear thinking, clear understanding – namely, his own route – meaningful education to enable analyis.
He points to the failure, currently, of education which actually teaches people to think. Horrified to realise that the cost of education means that elite education is only freely available to the moneyed, or those who already know the essential value of education – and how much of the education system in the States is deeply, entrenchedly of a right-wing, fundamentalist bias – the ‘Bible colleges’ are the ones the poor can afford. He uncovers a conspiracy of infiltration into politics by a firebrand, fundamentalist Christianity which has very little to do with ‘free-thinking’ Christian thought which made Christianity, in some places,a natural ally with politics which sought to lessen inequality – I think, for example, of the Quakers, and Methodism.
Bageant, having come from disadvantage, though escaped, told the stories of his erstwhile cultural and class brothers and sisters, with compassion for why they are as they are, and clear rage at those who foster the inequalities and create the system which condemns so many in ‘the land of the free’ to anything but freedom, – proper education, healthcare and proper pensions to allow dignified end of life, being so inaffordable.
I discovered the wonderful mind map above,inspired by Bageant’s book, on Flicr, under Commons licence and assume the author is Austin Kleon, Link to Mind Map
Sadly, I have discovered, since I initially wrote this review a couple of years ago, Bageant has died. He was a writer with a clarity of heart, mind, and vision, in my book.