Books · Political · Whiteness & racism

Ill Fares the Reader

Ill Fares the LandIll Fares the Land by Tony Judt
My rating: 2 of 5 stars

Yawn yawn. The world is a miserable mess, billionaires are greedy, politicians do nothing because the dogma of free markets and small government is running the show, pretending private sector booms aren’t just cashing out years (decades) of careful public sector investment and development. Nod nod nod. I can’t figure out why Judt thinks he’s so original here. he must be hanging out with the wrong crowd.

He certainly isn’t hanging out with the crowd I read anyway. Didn’t Naomi Klein write a much less cringey (but still cringey) critique of ‘identity politics’ in No Logo? Seriously Tony, if you’re going to complain about ‘political correctness’ ‘relativism’ ‘excessive influence of special interests’ ‘narcissism’ etc don’t count on my vote. No matter how ‘moral’ the frustrated young folk you are addressing are in their approach to politics, they will have to do better than this. When you compare gated communities to African American Studies courses you are talking ahistorical assimilationist caca.

Early on, talking about the benefits of social democracy (for which he thanks Keynes, extensively), Judt states that people trust each other more in ethnically homogenous countries (the data he uses comes, I think, from Wilkinson and Pickett’s book The Spirit Level) and those with ‘little anxiety about immigration’ I was a little concerned that he left that hanging, but I waited patiently for him to return to this point in his ‘What is to be Done?’ chapters. I waited and waited! And he didn’t come back to it, so we have to conclude that diversity is the problem, and its immigration that destroys trust. Careless. Or he really means that.

Oh the politicians of today. Pygmies! Not like Churchill!

I wish I was irresponsibly satirizing, but I’m not, just condensing what he actually said.

It gets my goat that I agree with him about many things. Yes, mixed economies work quite well. Yes, welfare is a good thing and governments need to stop stripping it away. Yes, the NHS is totally awesome. Yes it would be horrible if supermarkets were run by the state. Yes, Margaret Thatcher screwed us all. Too bloody right we need more economic equality.

This makes me think that I might be voting for one of those white guys who comment on blog posts and articles saying ‘forget about race, it’s all about class’ or ‘it’s sad that you feel this way. We’re all just human’ *shudder*

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