The Gaping Divide Towards the Globalized World in Our Post-Industrialized Society

Clare McCullough

There has always been a divide between the skilled workers and unskilled workers. Race is an important intersection to examine, for example, unlike the many examples of discrimination against African Americans, for unskilled white America, as it has been pointed out by Gest in his book The New Minority, there hasn’t been many obstacles put in their path other than the ones they lay themselves. The subtle changes to our rhetoric and economy have been mounting over the post-industrial period, creating a stark political division.

A division and cognitive dissidence that has been illustrated in the book, Strangers in Their Own Land, where preventable environmentally-caused fatal diseases and general community degradation is a moot moral point in voting compared to abortion. In dialogues, an “us” versus “them” rhetoric becomes apparent, as put by Kevin Williamson in his article, “Chaos in the Family, Chaos in the State: The White Working Class’s Dysfunction”,  in fact there is a “rhetorical need to invent moral debasement”. Lending itself to this growing resentment is the new hyper-mobile world in which fake and biased news has been a constant comfort and an accessible aid to those who only consume things that suit their current worldview, creating a self-reinforcing propaganda bubble. This mindset is exacerbated by a rapidly changing demographic and social ills such as the doubling divorce rate. According to Williamson, this mindset sees the concept of a traditional family as having been destroyed and “traditional avenues for achieving respect, status, and permanence” are no longer available.  This perception of the challenges of globalization has been filled in with promises of protectionism, anti-immigration, and national security with nationalistic flair. As the blue-collar jobs move overseas, those who would be qualified for no other work than unskilled labor are no longer able to contribute to the family the same way that their grandfathers did.

Lastly and most importantly are the economic changes in our post-industrial society. The single-industry towns in which there was plenty of jobs and opportunity from one business, but like many farms that rely on a mono-culture, when the industry left the town there was nothing there but empty warehouses and pollution. Resentment builds up against those who take what little they have left, the “those” meaning the government’s taxation and, everyone else seems to be cutting in line in front of the white blue-collar worker. These post-traumatic towns, as referred to in The New Minority, are the ruins of a society thriving before globalization. According to Williamson, we now make the capital goods, while more and cheaper consumer goods are created by poorer countries than the US. The white working class has not been victimized by outside forces, they have failed to adjust to a changing society that demands change.

We see this in the fiction book, The Age of Miracles. We see those who adjust their clocks to the earth’s slowing turn and try to get on with their lives and then the people grasping onto the past era; Clock timers vs real timers. These changes were subtle just like they are in real life, the minutes pooling into hours and slowing changing the composition of the day. The main character’s neighbor Sylvia was a real-timer. She stayed the longest out of all the real timers on the block, when the others all left and created their own new communities, and those left behind were subject to prejudice and aggression from neighbors. This resentment between the groups comes from a nostalgia much like what the white working class feel today.

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