I’ve been rethinking what blogging is for, and recognizing that my 2004-ish notions of its utility and purpose are, well, anachronistic. In the days before The Facebook and Twitter, back when hypertext seemed like the New Jerusalem of the conveyance of ideas via personal writing for the Web, my own blog felt like a channel to communicate discoveries and thoughts to an audience of … ah. People who added my blog to their RSS feeds, and thus would be notified whenever I posted something new. Those would mostly be friends to whom I’d sent the blog’s URL, plus maybe a few people who happened to stumble on the blog in other ways and added it to their RSS feeds. A pretty select, not to say limited, group. And now, in 2016, tending an RSS feed is just not something that people do.
So my blog postings, when I get around to making them, wander out into the aether and just keep wandering. Very occasionally a real person makes a comment on one of my posts, but most of the incoming traffic is basically spam (though why anybody would bother baffles me), and I’m mostly communicating with myself. I’ve decided that’s a good thing, not a limitation or still less a reason to stop using the medium. So the primary purpose is to record for myself things that I might want to find again, and/or be able to trace back to when I first encountered. Any communication with others that results is just gravy, though certainly very welcome gravy.
Today’s case in point of something I might wish to find later comes from the just-arrived New York Review of Books, from an article by Mark Danner on “The Magic of Donald Trump” in which he cites Richard Rorty, writing in 1997. That’s 19 years ago, right? Rorty died in 2007, but ‘prescient’ is perhaps an understatement:
members of labor unions, and unorganized unskilled workers, will sooner or later realize that their government is not even trying to prevent wages from sinking or to prevent jobs from being exported. Around the same time, they will realize that suburban white-collar workers—themselves desperately afraid of being downsized—are not going to let themselves be taxed to provide social benefits for anyone else.
At that point, something will crack. The nonsuburban electorate will decide that the system has failed and start looking around for a strongman to vote for—someone willing to assure them that, once he is elected, the smug bureaucrats, tricky lawyers, overpaid bond salesmen, and postmodernist professors will no longer be calling the shots. A scenario like that of Sinclair Lewis’ novel It Can’t Happen Here may then be played out. For once a strongman takes office, nobody can predict what will happen. In 1932, most of the predictions made about what would happen if Hindenburg named Hitler chancellor were wildly overoptimistic.
One thing that is very likely to happen is that the gains made in the past forty years by black and brown Americans, and by homosexuals, will be wiped out. Jocular contempt for women will come back into fashion. … All the resentment which badly educated Americans feel about having their manners dictated to them by college graduates will find an outlet. (in Achieving Our Country: Leftist Thought in TwentiethCentury, pp 89-90)
(a Google search for richard rorty “nonsuburban electorate” gets 420 hits, so it’s not like Mark Danner is the first to note the passage in connection with the present).
Yup, something I may want to locate again.