Ok but WHY did the white men do this? Thoughts on Trump’s victory

November 10, 2016 § 2 Comments


By whitney waller (connect-the-dots) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

In this blogpost I take as my starting point Eric Kaufmann’s article “Trump and Brexit: why it’s again NOT the economy, stupid” (on the LSE British Politics and Policy blog). I think Eric has got some useful data but I am not convinced by the way he joins the dots and constructs his story of cause-and-effect. The story I would find more convincing would be to half-agree and half-disagree with him: I think he’s right to say it’s not class, but wrong to say it’s not the economy. I think he’s right to say that there is a values divide (“between those who prefer order and those who seek novelty” as Eric puts it), but he doesn’t convincingly explain the cause of the rise in ‘Right-Wing Authoritarianism’ (which he doesn’t link to white supremacy and misogyny, but should). His argument is that “rapid ethnic change [nationally or locally] leads to an increase in anti-immigration sentiment and populism.” This argument raise a new question: why?

He thinks the answer is that the rise in anti-immigration sentiment and populism is the response of those who can’t deal with rapid ethnic change – because of their values, which favour cultural continuity and order over novelty and diversity. I think there’s some truth in that, but I think that to suggest this is the whole explanation and that the economy has nothing to do with it – which is what Eric seems to do – is bizarre.

A quick look at the Daily Mail, Daily Express and Sun newspapers in the UK, or a quick listen to Trump’s speeches, suggests that anti-immigration sentiment is not simply “they’re not like us, our culture is being eroded”; instead, a really strong narrative stoking anti-immigration sentiment is “they are stealing our jobs and our taxes are going to give them houses and welfare benefits.” In other words, anti-immigration sentiment is closely tied to the economy. In the UK, this narrative goes further in order to target both the EU and human rights legislation: the immigrants are getting jobs and houses and benefits at the expense of natives because the EU’s human rights laws gives them preferential treatment over natives – so we need to get rid of the immigrants, the EU, and human rights legislation. In both the UK and the US, out-of-touch liberal elites are seen as favouring immigrants over natives.

At its core, this is not about Right-Wing Authoritarian voters feeling that rapid ethnic change threatens cultural continuity and order. Instead, it is about these voters coming to believe a narrative, promoted by right-wing populist voices in politics and the media, which sees rapid ethnic change as the cause of specific problems these voters face. Eric is right to say their decision about how to vote didn’t have “much to do with personal economic circumstances,” but only in the sense that rapid ethnic change is not, in fact, the real cause of the problems these voters face.

What he misses is that their decision about how to vote had everything to do with their perception of the cause of their personal economic circumstances. These voters feel as if the immigrants are the cause of the problems they face. They accept that narrative, and ignore data that suggests immigrants are not the cause. And crucially, the problems these people attribute to immigrants are economic problems. The narrative they find compelling and based their voting decision on is about clash of civilisations and competition, and yes, part of that competition is cultural, but a lot of it is economic: it’s about jobs, and who benefits from how the government spends tax revenues.

I think this narrative is factually incorrect insofar as the elites are not really favouring immigrants over natives; instead, I think the elites are favouring themselves over everyone else, and then turning the natives against the immigrants to prevent the natives and immigrants forming an effective coalition against the elites. Values matter insofar as they make divide-and-rule possible, by making it possible to construct immigrants, Muslims, and ‘nasty women’ as scapegoats for what elites are doing to non-elites. And this has been happening to an ever-increasing extent since the 1970s, hand-in-hand with increasingly precarious employment and living conditions for all non-elites. No non-elites like this very much, but non-elites respond to these conditions in different ways, depending on their values. Right-Wing Authoritarians respond by saying “Stop the world, I want to get off.” And more than anyone else, it is white men who say this. Why is that? I think Naomi Klein’s explanation works quite well:

Here is what we need to understand: a hell of a lot of people are in pain. Under neoliberal policies of deregulation, privatisation, austerity and corporate trade, their living standards have declined precipitously. They have lost jobs. They have lost pensions. They have lost much of the safety net that used to make these losses less frightening. They see a future for their kids even worse than their precarious present.

At the same time, they have witnessed the rise of the Davos class, a hyper-connected network of banking and tech billionaires, elected leaders who are awfully cosy with those interests, and Hollywood celebrities who make the whole thing seem unbearably glamorous. Success is a party to which they were not invited, and they know in their hearts that this rising wealth and power is somehow directly connected to their growing debts and powerlessness.

For the people who saw security and status as their birthright – and that means white men most of all – these losses are unbearable.

Naomi Klein points the finger at the rise of the Davos class, and I think she is right to do so. What this means is that while Eric is right to say it’s not the working-class who voted for Trump, he is wrong to say it’s not the economy. It is the economy: it’s neoliberalism. Moreover, it is class, too: but rather than it being about the working-class, it’s about everyone outside the Davos class.


Pollution in New Cross

March 4, 2014 § Leave a comment

Useful info about my neighbourhood: http://www.newsshopper.co.uk/news/11038665.New_Cross_Road_and_Blackwall_Tunnel_among_most_polluted_roads_in_the_country/

Simon Danczuk’s “Growth not Gramsci” *sigh*

July 10, 2013 § Leave a comment

Here’s a nice response to Simon Danczuk’s recent attack on the “extreme left in British politics.” No time right now to comment on Ed Miliband and the unions.

On critique

July 7, 2013 § Leave a comment

Thanks to Crossdale for sharing this critique of Goldsmiths art students on facebook…I found the language somewhat amusing (because verbose); the basic point (I think?) is “if you claim to be critiquing capitalism and you just present capitalism as an abstract boogieman then you’re not doing it right – capitalism is not just an abstract boogieman, it does real things to real humans, subjecting them to pain, misery, and death.” It should go without saying that the point has significance beyond Goldsmiths art students.

New Cross-ing: Housing Crisis, what Housing Crisis?

July 1, 2013 § Leave a comment

A Deptford housing cooperative now accommodating 120 people continues to thrive in “a crisis” London housing market described as desperately short of affordable private renting and home ownership.

In the last fortnight renters across London have staged protests against disproportionate fees and rents charged by letting agents. At a speech in Worcester on April 25, Ed Miliband laid out propositions for housing reform, and proposed a landlord’s register to go some way to regulating the private rental housing market and protecting tenants. The coalition government is offering subsidised mortgages to try to help first-time buyers onto the housing ladder. Politicians are acknowledging that there is a problem with housing provisions in the UK.

However, at Sanford Housing Co-operative in Deptford, some 120 people are managing to avoid the pitfalls of the traditional housing market. For around 40 years, Sanford Walk has been nestled in the nook of a branching train line in suburban south London. It’s a peaceful, private street with verdant gardens, a pond full of frogs and fish and an impressive bike shed built from old railway sleepers. It was set up by student activists in the 1970s to provide affordable accommodation for single people priced out of the London housing market.

See http://www.eastlondonlines.co.uk/2013/05/sanford-co-operative-housing-alternative-in-south-east-london/

Useful reference points on collective low-budget organising and urban practice

June 25, 2013 § 1 Comment

The following text comes from a call for papers recently shared on the Anthropology Matters mailing list (the place to be if you are an anthropologist in the UK):

Dear all, we invite papers for our special issue in ephemera about ‘Saving the city’: Collective low-budget organizing and urban practice until August, 18th 2013, see also: http://www.ephemerajournal.org/content/%E2%80%98saving-city%E2%80%99-collect ive-low-budget-organizing-and-urban-practice Call for papers for an ephemera special issue on: ŒSaving the city¹: Collective low-budget organizing and urban practice Issue Editors: Paula Bialski, Heike Derwanz, Lena Olaison, Birke Otto, Hans Vollmer In times of financial and economic crisis, cities have become sites of austerity measures, permanent fiscal restraint, declining tax revenues, bankruptcies and ever-increasing cuts to public services. In order to Œsave the city¹, Jamie Peck argues that the imperative to Œcut back and save¹ and Œwork your way out of debt¹ results in urban policies such as structural adjustment, privatization, public-private partnerships, and welfare retrenchments (Peck, 2012; see also Peck et al., 2009). While existing institutional arrangements, collectivist, social-state based ideals and redistributive systems are diminishing, there has been a proliferation of collectively organized urban practices. In light of these developments, urban dwellers are working creatively with urban scarcity to develop new forms of organizing the city parallel and/or in contrast to centralized, state-based infrastructure, and are forced to do so with a low budget. These include collectively organized urban survival strategies such as car sharing as opposed to car ownership; travelling using online hospitality networks (e.g. CouchSurfing) instead of hotel accommodation (Bialski, 2012; Rosen et. al., 2011); second-hand shopping, cloth swapping and Œdumpster diving¹ versus mass consumption and throwaway culture (Gregson and Crewe, 2003); or DIY-building rather than ready-made (Brodersen, 2003; Drotschmann, 2010). Other examples include urban farming and cooperative gardening (Schmelzkopf, 1995); local currency systems (Hughes, 2005); transport ticket sharing, house squatting (Neuwirth, 2005); up-cycling of sewage and trash, and other forms of re-using and re-valuing urban resources. As the city is made up of multiple forms of organizing, forming an alternative, low-budget solution often means moving away from the more centralized and top-down forms of urban organization into the decentralized and local. These self-organized, collective saving practices all involve Œcomplex encounters, connections and mixtures of diverse hybrid networks of humans and animals, objects and information, commodities and waste¹ (Sheller and Urry, 2006: 2). Here cultures of frugality and sharing (Botsman and Rogers, 2010; Doherty and Etzioni, 2003) emerge, creating new economic forms that have long-term effects on the urban space. Their emergence poses new questions regarding the relation of these practices to capital, the state, and citizen responsibilities of citizen. For example, how do long-term self-organized projects alleviate and replace the responsibility of state-run systems in favor of the entrepreneurial urbanism (Harvey, 1989) and what are its effect in terms of gentrification processes, splintering urbanism and the loss of urban commonalities (Graham and Marvin, 2001; Harvey, 2012; Brenner et al., 2012)? While these practices transform the urban setting, the motivations as to why people and communities deploy new forms of budget organizing are not so clear-cut. Such practices are an expression of a lack of material means and imposed abstinence (Oswalt, 2005; Bude et al., 2011), but also manifestations of conscious decisions to save money and resources. Quite simply, these practices can occur out of necessity and/or choice. What these activities have in common is that they bring on a new awareness of scarcity, low-cost and local production, they produce new forms of value, other measures of calculating, smaller cycles of exchange and coordination and collective organization under the principle of frugal living. Such saving practices engage actors in bottom-up, improvised, flexible, local organization (Pacione, 1997) that creates solidarity and new forms of urban cooperation. To what extent are these practices strictly a middle-class phenomenon, and at what levels of the urban do they force urban dwellers into underground and illegal economies (Venkatesh, 2006; Sharff, 1987)? This ephemera Special Issue asks what new forms of urbanity are produced through the interplay with or under the impression of austerity policies that we can observe all over Europe and the US. Here, we are less interested in the analysis of top-down policies and city governance, but ask how living in the city continues under these circumstances? What new urban forms of organizing emerge based on everyday practices of saving in the city? How are daily living conditions affected by austerity urbanism and what are the self-organized and cooperative practices that people develop in such circumstances? What are systems of reciprocity and redistribution build in this age of austerity? What are the responsibilities of citizens to the city they live in (Massey, 2004)? What are bottom-up progressive politics, networking initiatives? What are alternative urbanities? To this end, we ask for contributions, from both a theoretical and an empirical perspective, that critically analyze the practices, objects, discourses and histories that inform notions of Œlow-budget urbanity¹. We welcome contributions from within the broad study of urban, collective organization  ­ e.g. from management and organization studies, human geography, urban studies, urban theory, city planning, social anthropology, sociology, accounting, political theory ­ with an emphasis on the material and social economy of frugal urban practice. Possible topics include, but are not limited to the following: * Anthropological perspective on everyday practices of saving in the city * Calculating a low-budget to survive in the city * How new practices emerge out of political struggles (e.g. reclaim the streets, squatting, collective gardening) * Collective organization, collective entrepreneurship * New practices that help trace the historical trajectories of low-budget urban life * The way people perform a budget and the materialities that surround this performance * The networks and communities that create an alternative urbanity * Politics of saving money * Alternative forms of collective organizing in the city * Sharing and exchange * Thrift, frugality, conscious saving * Recycling, up-cycling * Low-resource urbanities Deadline for submissions: 18 August 2013 All contributions should be submitted to one of the issue editors: Paula Bialski (paula.bialski@hcu-hamburg.de), Heike Derwanz (heike.derwanz@hcu-hamburg.de), Birke Otto (birke.otto@hcu-hamburg.de), Lena Olaison (lo.lpf@cbs.dk), Hans Vollmer (hans.vollmer@hcu-hamburg.de). Please note that three categories of contributions are invited for the special issue: articles, notes, and reviews. All submissions should follow ephemera¹s submissions guidelines (www.ephemerajournal.org/how-submit <http://www.ephemeraweb.org/journal/submit.htm> ). Articles will undergo a double blind review process. Please do not hesitate to contact one of the editors with any queries you might have, or to propose a note or review contribution. References Bialski, P. (2012) Becoming intimately mobile: Warsaw studies in culture and society. Warsaw: Peter Lang. Brenner, N., P. Marcuse and M. Mayer, (2012) Cities for people, not for profit: Critical urban theory and the right to the city. London: Routledge. Botsman, R. and R. Rogers (2010) What¹s mine is yours: The rise of collaborative consumption. New York: HarperBusiness. Brodersen, S. (2003) Do-it-yourself work in North-Western Europe. Copenhagen: Rockwool Foundation. Bude, H., T. Medicus and A. Willisch (2011) ÜberLeben im Umbruch: Am Beispiel Wittenberge: Ansichten einer fragmentierten Gesellschaft. Hamburg: Hamburger Edition. Doherty, D. and A. Etzioni (2003) Voluntary simplicity: Responding to consumer culture. Oxford: Rowman and Littlefield. Drotschmann, M. (2010) ŒBaumarkt 2.0. Do-it-yourself, Youtube und die Digital Natives¹, Journal of New Frontiers in Spatial Concepts, 2: 18-27. Graham, S. and S. Marvin (2001) Splintering urbanism: Networked infrastructures, technological mobilities and the urban condition. London: New York: Routledge. Gregson N. and L. Crewe (2003) Second-hand cultures. Oxford: Berg. Harvey, D. (1989) ŒFrom managerialism to entrepreneurialism: The transformation in urban governance in late capitalism¹, Geografiska Annaler, 71(1): 3-17. Harvey, D. (2012) Rebel cities. London: Verso. Hughes, A. (2005) ŒGeographies of exchange and circulation: Alternative trading spaces¹, Progress in Human Geography, 29(4): 496-504. Massey, D. (2004) ŒGeographies of responsibility¹, Geografiska Annaller, 86(1): 5-18. Neuwirth, R. (2005) Shadow cities: A billion squatters, a new urban world. New York: Routledge. Oswalt, P. (2005) Schrumpfende Städte. Band 1: Internationale Untersuchung. Ostfildern-Ruit. Pacione, M. (1997) ŒLocal exchange trading systems as a response to the globalisation of capitalism¹. Urban Studies, 34: 1179-1210. Peck, J. (2012) ŒAusterity urbanism¹, City, 16(6): 626-655. Peck, J., N. Theodore and N. Brenner (2009) ŒNeoliberal urbanism: Models, moments, and mutations¹, SAIS Review, 29(1): 49-66. Rosen, D., P. R. Lafontaine and B. Hendrickson (2011) ŒCouchsurfing: Belonging and trust in a globally cooperative online social network¹, New Media & Society, 13(6): 981-998. Schmelzkopf, K. (1995) ŒUrban community gardens as contested space¹, Geographical Review, 85(3): 364-381. Sharff, J. (1987) ŒThe underground economy of a poor neighborhood¹, in L. Mullings (ed.) Cities of the United States: Studies in urban anthropology. New York: Columbia University Press. Sheller, M. and J. Urry (2006) Mobile technologies of the city. New York: Taylor & Francis. Venkatesh, S. A. (2006) Off the books: The underground economy of the urban poor. Chicago: Harvard University Press. ­­­­­ Dr. Heike Derwanz HafenCity Universität Hamburg Forschungsinitiative Low Budget Urbanität Winterhuder Weg 31 22085 Hamburg Tel: 040 42827-4612 Mail: Heike.Derwanz@hcu-hamburg.de www.low-budget-urbanity.de

New blogpost on citizenship published for the Citizenship after Orientalism project

December 4, 2012 § Leave a comment

I have published a new blogpost for the Oecumene: Citizenship after Orientalism” project at the Open University, titled “As a citizen of the world…”

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