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The Half-Life of Deindustrialization: Why Donald Trump Is Just A Symptom


#1

The Half-Life of Deindustrialization: Why Donald Trump Is Just A Symptom

Sherry Linkon

Every four years, the white working class gets a fresh round of attention from candidates and the media. At campaign stops in Rust Belt cities, candidates promise to fix the economy, while pundits yet again claim that white working-class voters are the key to election victory. The pattern is being repeated this year, but this time, both the news media and social media seem especially baffled by the attitudes and behavior of working-class voters.


#2

"David Brooks suggested that working-class people should not be so strongly affected by the economic hardship of deindustrialization."

And now, an analysis of the Balfour Declaration from my dog...


#3

Bernie Sanders as well as Donald Trump have found a lot of support from white working class voters in these type of areas. This support appears to be basically antiestablishment. I think candidates traveling around the country found that there are two Amrericas, one that is fairly prosperous and centered in larger metropolitan areas and the other one experiencing continuous hard times in these areas that used to prosper from factory work. The latter are in a difficult situation as factories are not coming back and in whatever factories do come back most of the labor will be done by robots not people. But these areas that are doing so poorly may soon have a lot of company as computers and robots will probably be replacing many workers in metropolitan areas including many white-collar workers. While all candidates promise jobs in the near future we will probably see permanent mass unemployment due to automation. This will no doubt eventually affect people around the world.


#4

"Over the past year, we’ve begun to notice how deindustrialization is, over the course of decades, generating both real illnesses in the form of rising rates of suicide, drug addiction and death and a kind of social dis-ease, a sense of having been excluded from . . .America."

I believe that the increase in occurrences of "senseless" massacre murders is one of the primary symptoms of exactly this, a grudge against the future for being unwelcoming, for not seeming to have a place that the perpetrators can look forward to getting to.

But it's not just confined to "America.". The whole of the electro-mechanical civilization is affected.


#6

As Jill Stein has said (paraphrasing), the problems that bring about the rise of Trump are caused by neoliberal policies, and electing another one to fight that trend, is just throwing fuel on the fire.


#7

An excellent and important analysis, though I think a misapplication of the notion of half-life. The effects of deindustrialization seem to be more of entropy: They will not simply dissipate over time. We may not be able to do much about the loss of community, but I have heard of projects, such as one in Pennsylvania teaching coal miners coding, that can provide the economic base from which people can recreate their own community institutions.


#8

What we don't need as a country is to nibble around the edges.
Setting up a project here and a project there is nothing more than a neoliberal groupthink solution to a massive problem.

What we need is a complete makeover of a failed political and economic system.

And that's something that the moderates will fight against tooth and nail because they still believe that Capitalism works.


#9

I grew up in the rust belt, more specifically, the Youngstown Ohio area, home to the late great mafiosa populist Jim Trafficant. I graduated high school in 1982, so my formative years occurred at the peak of the titular 'deindustrialization' of the region.

I am now much older, living a comfortable but non-affluent life on the West Coast. Yet every day, way in the back of my mind, the fear of joblessness, vast, empty, cold and dark like an abandoned factory, lurks. And it is this fear which keeps me at my desk with head down, rather than marching in the streets with my fist in the air.


#10

Go back to your Donald Trump rally.


#11

But apparently this "desk job" allows you time to post here during workday hours.


#12

Tell us about YOUR job, SR.


#13

Tiny excerpt from Vaclav Havel's open letter to the Secretary General of the Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1975:

"...why are people behaving the way they do?....For any unprejudiced observer, the answer is, I think, self-evident: they are driven to it by fear. For fear of loosing his job, the schoolteacher teaches things he does not believe; fearing for his future, the pupil repeats them after him:.......Fear of the consequences of refusal leads people to take part in elections, to vote for the proposed candidates and to pretend that they regard such ceremonies as genuine elections......."


#15

Maybe you thought this was a smart quip, but in reality it just shows that you don't "get it." Low wages aren't about the number of workers or their documentation. They're the result of corporate manipulation to increase profit margins and attract investment.


#16

The only problem I see with this mini-analysis is that the fate of the working class in the US has always been tenuous and subject to the vagaries of those who have managed to acquire wealth, power and status. There may have been a brief time period when industrial jobs paid well and benefits were good, but it was more of an aberration that a permanent condition, and we have returned to the 19th century capitalist model that produced obscene wealth inequality, worker oppression, and social dysfunction.


#17

Aberration, indeed !

Only a few Murkins know, or want to admit that the middle class as we knew it existed only from 1930s to the 1980s. If more Murkins acknowledged that fact we would not have seen the two corporate candidates get 98% of the vote while four far superior third party candidates got the rest in 2012.


#18

Honey, my comments are infinitely more nuanced than your infantile pro-Trump and/or blame voters ad nauseum pabulum.

And as for "my job," I am semi-retired and as most know, a writer. That means my time is my own... whereas the typical up-first kids in uniform are on paid gigs posting to set up message consensuses that would NOT ordinarily (as in organically) occur.

YOU know who you are. And the people who project the matter onto me are like those who show up at the scene of the crime to pronounce their alleged innocence.

Deny. Threaten. Make counter-accusations.

It's gone on so long here any regular (who's not part of a tag team) should be able to see it for what it is.


#20

Neoliberals (Clinton) and pro-globalization folks will tell us, this is how it is, those old manufacturing jobs are not coming back, they are overseas for good, and/or robotics have replaced them.

Here's what I see on the ground:
Yesterday: We used to make high-quality products that lasted forever, and paid good union wages with only 1 income earner per household. Executives were millionaires.
Today: We now have cheaply made and purchased imports, that we trash and buy new ones when needed, that in the long run, are more expensive and create more trash. Executives are hundred-millionaires.

It looks like a sell-out, and that's how working people see it, and I don't see any other way to explain it. imo, this is part of what drives the pro-Trump crowd.


#21

David Brooks is a conservative, one per center pundit.


#22

They are overseas for good because they put them there!


#23

Automation is dehumaizing, and the concept of "efficient" is an antithesis to humanity.