“Oppression,” but not class oppression

Bright Morning - Issue # 2

Good morning, everyone! ☕ We would like to thank all of you who are returning for Round Two of our weekly newsletter. We are incredibly pleased and thankful for all those who read last week’s issue, provided feedback, and shared our work with your inner circles. We hope that you enjoy this week’s issue just as much, if not more. 

“Oppression,” but not class oppression

In last week's issue, we identified a contradiction baked into the lexicon of “intersectionality.” Intersectionalists believe they are unlocking a so-called matrix of oppression by “acknowledging and problematizing” the ways through which identity groups are “systemically oppressed.” These identity groups are always based in race, gender, and sexual orientation. For example, an intersectionalist will argue that a white woman is more oppressed than a white man, but this same white woman is less oppressed than a black woman. The black woman, however, has more “privilege” (and less oppression) than a trans black woman. On and on it goes - it is interminable. Moreover, the intersectionalists never explain how, exactly, these groups are oppressed. Instead, they vaguely claim that the oppression is “systemic,” and that any further attempts at nuance are demonstrations of “fragility.” We questioned whether or not this is a useful framework for understanding the world. We believe it is not, specifically because it overemphasizes differences instead of similarities between individuals and groups, thus creating a hostile divide. It also conveniently leaves out the middle and working socioeconomic classes, which currently are under attack by cultural elites. Let’s look at a few examples, shall we?

How dare we attempt to understand the issues facing the working class?

The Nitty Gritty:

  • JD Vance is an American venture capitalist and author of the memoir Hillbilly Elegy

  • Netflix adapted the memoir into a full-fledged movie that was released on November 11th of this year. It was directed by Ron Howard and stars Amy Adams and Glenn Close

  • The movie garnered much criticism from the likes of The Independent, Vox and The Atlantic (to not much surprise) for pushing “Trumpism” et al.

Last month, Netflix released its adaptation of JD Vance’s memoir Hillbilly Elegy. The director, Ron Howard, did his best to depoliticize the film in comparison to its source material (JD Vance is a registered Republican 😱), choosing instead to focus on family drama and the troubled upbringing that Vance experienced growing up in Middletown, Ohio. The film also touches upon the culture clash that Vance experiences when he attends Yale Law School, specifically how Vance, the “hillbilly,” feels like an imposter among his urban (and in some cases, snobbish) peers and instructors. Overall, the film is decent. It has some strong performances (particularly from the always-exceptional Amy Adams), a good story, and a worthy message about the importance of effort in the pursuit of happiness, no matter how dire one’s situation might be. So, why talk about this?

The film was quickly condemned by legacy media outlets. In one review, The Independent said the film “perpetuates stereotypes about the poor,”  while another said the film fetishizes “bootstrapping poverty porn,” as if it is somehow ridiculous to imagine a working class individual from the Appalachians achieving the American Dream through sheer will and determination. One writer for The Atlantic even went so far as to say that Hillbilly Elegy is “one of the worst movies of the year.” Keep in mind this is the same year that saw the release of the unbearable Birds of Prey, which attempted to inject woke feminism into the Batman universe, and Cuties, the film which claimed to be a critique of the sexualization of little girls, while simultaneously sexualizing little girls with close up shots of their bums. The source material, which was initially well-received, is also now facing swift condemnation. In fact, at the moment of writing, an article titled “15 books about Appalachia to read instead of Hillbilly Elegy” is trending on Google, as if it is a moral error to read and empathize with Vance’s story. 

The audience, however, seemed to appreciate the film, giving it an overall approval score of 85% on Rotten Tomatoes. So, what can we infer from this? To this observer, the hostile reaction to the film and its source material seems to be yet another reflection of how out-of-touch cultural elites living in the walled gardens of academia look down upon, and even feel contempt for, the rural working class. But why? Is it because both the book and the film are sympathetic to the people who were more likely to vote for… *gasp* The Orange Man!? Is it because if we actually pay attention to what is going on in these forgotten towns, we might be forced to contend with the nuclear death blow to the white privilege narrative that so many journalists are conditioned to believe in? Or is there something deeper, something that is axiomatic to contemporary progressivism that is manifesting underneath the discourse? 

Hollywood is essential, you are not

The nitty gritty:

  • The no-sense, inconsistent draconian lockdowns continue in many countries across the globe

  • In California, most counties are on stay-at-home orders, while lawmakers galivant in public

  • Angela Marsden (among others), owner of Pineapple Hill Grill in LA County posted a devastatingly ironic video that went viral last week showing the hypocrisy of lockdown orders

Another week, another display of the effects from the vomit-inducing governmental overreach that is the COVID-19 lockdowns in California. In a viral video on social media, the owner of the LA-based restaurant Pineapple Hill Grill & Saloon was brought to tears as she showed viewers an outdoor patio for a movie production company that was being set up across the street from her restaurant. This was at the same time that her restaurant was forced to close down for indoor and outdoor dining, despite all the work she had put into making it safe for customers. The video is tough to watch. Viewers can hear the pain and frustration in her voice as she describes how she will lose her livelihood.

If this is not heartbreaking enough, wait until you hear the demented response from LA Mayor Eric Garcetti - the same kind and caring leader who said that he would shut off water and power for homes that had “illegal gatherings,” all while he was participating (maskless! 😱) in a recreation of Woodstock ‘69 during the Black Lives Matter protests this past summer. Garcetti said that his “heart goes out to her” and that “no one likes these restrictions, but I do support them.” Sorry Eric, you do not believe in lockdowns, but you do enjoy them. Otherwise, you would have heeded the warning from the WHO and the Great Barrington Declaration when they stated that lockdowns are too damaging and unsustainable for the working and middle classes. But of course, this falls on deaf ears for our leaders. What is more, the message is clear: it is safe for Hollywood to dine on a patio, but everyday people cannot be trusted to do the same. Hollywood and the cultural and political elites are essential, but you are not. Remember that.

All protests are equal, but some are more equal than others

The Nitty Gritty

  • In Canada, a protest organized by “Hugs Over Masks” was charged and fined while organizers of a defund the police protest were left untouched on the same day, in the same city

North of the border in Hamilton, Ontario, we witnessed an egregious double-standard in the application of pretend laws against “illegal gatherings.” Last week, there was a protest called Hugs Over Masks organized in the city’s downtown area to protest the COVID-19 lockdown restrictions. Three individuals involved were charged under the Reopening Ontario Act and issued fines of a whopping $10,000 each. For those who are sympathetic to lockdown restrictions, this might sound reasonable, right? After all, they were violating the law by organizing “illegal gatherings.” Well, on that same day, there was another protest called Defund HPS (Hamilton Police Service) organized not two blocks from the Hugs Over Masks event. However, unlike the heretical Hugs Over Mask protest, Defund HPS walked away unscathed and no charges were issued for anyone involved. Interesting. Both events were in direct violation of the Reopening Ontario Act as the number of people in attendance exceeded the number of people permitted at an outdoor gathering, but the law was only applied to one group. Now why might that be? Maybe COVID supports defunding the police and Black Lives Matter? Or, could it be that institutions that are supposed to uphold equality under the law have become so crippled by progressive ideology that only certain political grievances are now tolerated, or in this case, encouraged?

Conclusion: Revenge of the Sith

Upon looking at each example, it would appear that something is up. It seems to be the case that our leaders and cultural elites are either apathetic to, or even contemptuous for, everyday people. We have open hostility towards representations of rural, working-class Americans, half-hearted and smug responses to the legitimate grievances of business owners, and politically-based double standards in the application of the law. What is going on here? We are supposed to live in a liberal society, but each of these examples are precisely illiberal. What is more, where are the progressives? Are they not supposed to be the ones who want to speak truth to power and stand up for the little guy? Instead, they can be found cheering this on. Again, it looks like intersectionality forgot to include class divides in their so-called matrix of oppression. But why?

Perhaps it is the case that there is something rotten in the heart of the progressive doctrine. Contemporary progressivism should not be confused with classical liberalism, which we do believe in. Instead, contemporary progressivism is the bastard child of Marxism and Applied Postmodernism. When the disastrous effects of Marxism became apparent in the 1960s, left-wing intellectuals had their dreams shattered - the communist utopia would not be ushered in. What were they to do? Well, along came the Critical Theorists who wanted to “update” Marxism. They argued that the working class let them down because the working class failed to develop a class consciousness to overthrow the bourgeoisie. The solution for Critical Theorists was to swap out class oppression for identity-based oppression rooted in race, gender, and sexual orientation. The grievances of the Critical Theorists were attractive to the Postmodernists, who saw an opportunity to apply their theories of deconstruction to “societal privilege.” And just like that, out of the obscure corners of academia, these two schools of thought merged and we saw the birth of contemporary progressivism. This is why contemporary progressivism will never respect, or even acknowledge, the grievances of the working class. At the heart of their doctrine, there is the language of resentment for the working class for their so-called failure to usher in the fever dreams of radical left-wing intellectuals. Like Emperor Palpatine and the Sith in Star Wars, progressive ideology has been festering for years, slowly creeping into our institutions and discourse, and now it is back for revenge.