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I despise the professional activist types, so self-satisfied in their nouveau poverty. Related Gully Coverage

Defining Class
The complexities of class, and the immobility recipe.

Nader's Vanishing Act
Is this the third party we need?

Letters to the Editor
Our readers debate about class.

U.S. Election 2000
Posturers, panderers, pretenders, and special interests.


Election 2000

Rich and Humble George

by Kelly Cogswell

OCTOBER 16, 2000. If I voted on looks alone, and I don't, George would be my man. He's that gracious combination of Ivy League and down home. It's also charming the way he mangles words despite his expensive education, and that he doesn't know who the President of Mongolia is, because I don't either. That's what his advisors are for. I also like that he's rich, but seemingly humble. God, I'd like to be rich and humble, like him.

Al's unconvincing and annoying. He's smart, but cold. A showoff. He's like a pedantic uncle, not a presidential father. I also hate his nose, and the strange way he moves his mouth when he's trying to choose a two-syllable word to make his ten-syllable point.

Forget Ralph. I despise the professional activist types, so self-satisfied in their nouveau poverty that stinks of college dorms and expensive health food stores. Instead of following the Dead, they follow the WTO. They can temp or freelance when their parents won't cough up the dough. They are not now, and never will be, the "working class." Choice, access, entitlement, and the kind of expansive leisure that activism requires, excludes them, even if their current income (parental global corporate assets excluded) doesn't.

The New Groovy Class
I'd love to see a real national discussion about class, but I have doubts it will happen in this election. The Naderites' smug pronouncements about corporations and globalization that pass as brilliant class analysis practically guarantees it won't.

Any real discussion of class should be messy and complicated. It should make you writhe and puke, since almost all of us are implicated in someone else's misfortune. Which is why, even more than Bush and Gore, I distrust the young white men, Greens and anarchists, who seem oddly thrilled with making "class", as they see it, the grooviest 'ism of the new millennium.

My take on them is that they're less about destroying the American class system than about erecting a big net to catch the white guy jumping off the twentieth century's top floor. By blaming global corporate politics alone for almost every economic and social ill, they are absolving themselves, and society, of racism, ethnocentrism, misogyny, and homophobia. They shrewdly choose to deny that these are four pillars of American society as we know it, and partners in the construction of class.

What Nader and the Greens have wrought is not a workers movement. It is a morality play they would like to impose from above on an unwilling white "working-class" they neither know, nor understand, or even like, and on the even more unwilling minorities and women they've sidelined. From the bottom, it looks like they are the new, youngish, good ole boys demanding we put the power back where it always has been: in the hands of one more white man as unapologetically specific in his white, straight cultural assumptions as Bush and Gore.

What's so radical about that?

You want a revolution, the falling guy's gotta hit the cement.

Related links:

For analysis and photos of the WTO in Seattle, from a truly independent viewpoint, beholden neither to the media or activist circles. Includes peek at activists, and activists' tactics.

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