Tokyo Damage Report

hollowing of the middle class

An interesting development in 2018 will be, the ideological hollowing-out of the middle class. (more paranoid version: the middle class is already hollowed out, and they’re just going to start SHOWING IT next year!)

It’s commonplace to speak of the middle class as being hollowed out economically.  As in, there are literally fewer of them. As in, families who are now broke but still clinging to middle-class norms and rituals, as if these have magic properties to ward off the medical or stock-market emergencies which will inevitably make them homeless in the end.

OK, so far so good.

What I’m proposing is that, under the surface of these middle-class norms and rituals. . . .there’s no unifying ideology anymore.  While pundits, pols, and Tweeters alike were all concentrating on the sexy radical margins, and on the economic aspect of hollowing, they were overlooking something even bigger, something that’s always gone hand-in-hand with economic hollowing: ideological polarization!

In other words, it’s not a problem of ‘fewer middle class, middle-of-the-road people.’

Instead, it’s a problem of, the middle class isn’t middle-of-the-road anymore, period. There’s no longer anything behind the norms and rituals (except the normie tendency to conceal one’s true feelings, for fear of looking fringe).

Think I’m just fucking around? Remember the 2012 Greek elections (when they were getting fucked up by the EU and Germany, basically). The results shocked the world: hella ‘normal’ Greeks were voting for straight-up communists, and nazis too.  And how we laughed! “Stupid Greece! Commies AND Nazis? Make up your mind! That is adorable!”

Now they’re laughing at US. Or probably not since we have nukes, but still, the shoe is on the other foot. And that foot proves what I’ve been saying all along: if you hollow a class economically, you hollow it politically as well.

 

A SHORT METAPHOR

The suburban lawn eroded from below by ideological rot (structural inequality, rigged economy, corruption, eroding legitimacy of all institutions, etc.). It continues to look very proper, until suddenly, you fall through a paper-thin lawn into a huge, yard-sized GLADIATOR PIT below, where combatants clad in polo shirts, and pony tails strung through baseball caps, execute each other, Thunderdome style.  Probably there will be poisonous spikes coming up from the floor also.

 

THE REVOLUTION THAT HAPPENED WHILE NO ONE WAS LOOKING

Despite everyone’s hot takes about how America is falling apart (and who to blame!), people from the most radical to the most beltway types all continue to assume the middle class is haplessly chilling. That it continues to be super normal and middle-of-the road.  Based on what, though? Why would we assume that, after pundits got all proved wrong by the election, and radicals never know what to do about normies anyway? So why would we ever in our freaking lives assume normies are chilling passively, awaiting someone (pundits? radicals? the gummint?) to save them?

As the suburbs have been getting more poor, more precarious, more short-term and more at the mercy of the same few giant multinational dorks… we’ve been quietly, privately getting more extreme, choosing sides, quietly drawing lines in the sand: “If things get worse than XYZ, I’m going to flip out, and bring my friends with me!”

(and if you ask me, the structural causes of street violence are: the economic instability, unpredictability, short-term-ism, and precarity of modern life. These things already govern our ‘legit’ poitics, job schedules, healthcare, and increasingly, friendships.  It’s no coincidence that the groups DOING the violence model their tactics on those same things: instability, unpredictability, precarity. A hundred tiny groups that coalesce and then vanish. A mask and knife in the back pocket, ready to turn a peaceful protester into a fearsome maniac)

In an era when nobody – even the radicals themselves-  knows which, or how many, of the ‘peaceful’ marchers is 5 seconds away from wilding out. . . who is to say that Soccer Mom #1003948 isn’t going to be one of the ones fucking shit up?

It’s not that I’m UN-concerned about 700 nazis in Charlottesville. It’s just that, I’m more concerned with the 7 million SECRET nazis that might be out there, waiting. Or the 7 million SECRET commies that might be living right next door to the secret nazis, but not know it yet!

 

BLUE STATE VS RED STATE = BULLSHIT OVERSIMPLIFICATION.

“But wait,” you say. “All the conservatives are in the heartland and South, and all the libs are on the coasts, right? So there’s no suspense which state is gonna go which way, right?”

I’d like to remind you that the whole blue-vs-red state thing was dreamed up by political consultants, futile-ly trying to simplify the masses to fit their bullshit marketing models. Plus as the 2016 Sanders/Trump drama showed, both parties’ base is alienated from the leadership.

I predict if this middle-class revolution goes down, it’s going to be more like the balkans: house-to-house fighting, not state-vs-state.

 

THE FORMER MIDDLE CLASS LEARNS TO WEAPONIZE ITS ONE REMAINING ASSET

So the middle class has lost its lifetime employment, its expectation that the kids will do even better, and most of its retirement fund.  What does it have left? Respectability.  Because it doesn’t cost the oligarchs money to let normies have respectability.

 

But what happens when the middle class loses everything else? They will take their one remaining asset, and weaponize it, in hopes of regaining their other shit:

More than their punching or shooting skills, respectability is the biggest asset that normies bring to a fight.

How? Huh?

Check it out: cops will harass ANYONE before they harass middle-class, clean-cut parents. Never mind people of color: if they’re bored or nervous enough, cops’ll harass white single moms, rich teens, weird old people, anyone. On the other hand, if they don’t let Mom and Dad Dockerlegs into the state fair, there IS no state fair.

So once a huge faction of normies secretly decides to all wild out at a particular event, they’ll be able to smuggle in hella weapons. They’ll be able to come in huge numbers (compared to if they were protestors). They’ll be able to push cops around (as we’ve already seen in Charlottesville, and those guys weren’t even respectable!).

Plus small-town suburb events aren’t policed as heavily as other events to begin with, because of respectability. Making them juicy targets!

And all of this won’t be lost on radicals, either: radicals will start deliberately targeting the middle class for the same reason they already target active-duty military people:  they bring assets to a fight which college kids, career felons, or homeless drifters don’t bring.

 

WHAT THAT WILL LOOK LIKE

I look forward to a future where common suburban rituals take on the ominous significance of Northern Irish religious festivals, or Middle East funerals, or Turkish soccer games.

We’re going to be living in an era when the most beloved, unifying, socially acceptable, Middle-American pastimes (Thanksgiving parades, Xmas lawn decorations, high school football games, etc.) erupt in well-organized violence as one faction or another unleashes their wrath upon a scapegoat.  I’m all for anything that makes average people dread these  things as much as I always have. That’s my high-minded political take on it.

“Is the high school reunion going to be an old-fashioned one this year, or a riot-type reunion like 2 years ago? No one knows what to wear!”

“Is the ‘County Fair Fun-Food Drive Charity-Blues Jam’ going to be bombed by the ‘Junior Varsity Football Incident Martyr’s Brigade’? Or will it be a normal charity blues jam? Either way you’ll need earplugs.”

Etc.

 

LEFTOVER PARANOID VIGNETTES

Grandma’s Book Club will study JG Ballard to learn strategy.

The Friars’ Club will view DAWN OF THE DEAD and other suburban-combat movies, for tactical tips.

And finally, at long last, suburban rappers will scare people.

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