Much of this is wrong, but that’s okay because everyone is wrong

by zunguzungu

When Americans are characterized as “clinging” to religion because of economic conditions, a presidential candidate shows an uncomfortably patronizing view of people’s agency under economic oppression. Marxists who try to talk about the relationship between economy and cultural superstructure are called (and call each other) vulgar for oversimplifying how culture and economics interact. When Thomas Frank suggests that Kansans are turning against their own self-interest by voting Republican, it is aptly observed that leftists vote against their own self-interest all the time.

Yet.

When liberals observe a correlation between religious fanaticism and anti-Americanism, they show themselves unable to understand what it is that religion actually does, essentially acceding to the spurious argument that Islam = Terrorism. When Marxists and liberal modernizers alike look at Africans as people that just want to be like Americans, and only need the start-up capital to do it, they show themselves to be as ethnocentric as all get out, as well as having internalized a vicious neo-liberal mentality in which become western is the same thing as becoming “free.”

And yet.

A lot of Africans do want to be Americans, and who the fuck can blame them? My USA passport is a valuable thing to have. And isn’t the whole problem that people in the rust belt don’t have agency? How does talking about their power to choose undo the lack of choice their world gives them?

Perhaps this is going to be more difficult than I thought.