Sunday, November 20, 2016



The American tree has shed its democratic leaves.

With the election of Donald Trump, the republic has taken a step towards fascism. As a charismatic demagogue prepares to place himself at the locus of power, only one question remains: What do we do now?

Though the prospect of a Trump presidency is utterly terrifying, we cannot be paralyzed by fear. If we wish to curtail Trump’s power, the demos must organize themselves and act as American democracy’s bulwark against Donald Trump.

There is no time to wait—the destruction of America is imminent. With Trump’s transition in full swing, the time to resist is now. As Donald Trump continues to fill the West Wing with white supremacists, it is imperative that we coalesce into a robust social movement capable of stopping the inevitable excesses of Trump’s tenure as POTUS. Without a strong counterbalance to Trump’s fascist tendencies, there will be no check on his power, leaving him free to enact his brutal policies with little pushback.

In fighting against Trump, the body politic cannot rely on beltway pundits or Democratic party operatives to do the tough work of fighting Donald Trump. It cannot expect the feckless GOP to stand up to their grotesque leader. Only a popular movement can muster up a strong resistance to Trump’s despotic rule.

There can be no dealing with this man. Bernie has lain down a gauntlet Trump cannot meet. Now, every day, and in every way, it is time to say “go fuck yourself” to Trump and his ilk, until the weapons capable of destroying him can be perfected. Trump is, for all his monstrosity, just a symptom; as daunting as the challenge of frustrating Trump and the GOP’s agenda at every turn will be, of even graver importance will be constructing an alternative vision capable of contending with the crisis of American life. The protests that have rocked America in the wake of the election — right out the gate, no quarter given — are a promising and heartening start…It is time to organize and prepare a politics that matters. It is time to confront and defeat Trump and those like him, not pay him soft homage. No more ceding the ground of what’s important to these snakes; we can’t anyway, our very lives depend upon it. Besides, we have a better way.

O’Sullivan’s call to action not only defines the challenge we face, but also lays out a plan to overcome that challenge. Indeed, simply removing an orange-skinned dictator from the Oval Office is not a sufficient response to the election of Donald Trump. Any movement that wishes to stop Trump must also destroy the vile racist program the Right has developed over the past half-century. When National Review writes an editorial supporting the nomination of Jeff Sesssions, an unabashed racist, as Attorney General, the bigotry of conservative America becomes abundantly clear.

And, to O’Sullivan and I, that’s why mass mobilization is the only answer to the white nationalism of Trump and the GOP.

No single politician or activist can do it on their own. Neither Elizabeth Warren nor Bernie Sanders has the ability to take down a whole ideological movement. Only a strong resistance from the masses offers any hope of stopping America’s precipitous fall into fascism.

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Elect Keith Ellison

The “deplorables” despise the Democrats.

A central cause of Sec. Clinton’s shocking defeat to Donald Trump, Clinton’s history of touting neoliberal economic policy precluded her from making inroads in the white working class (WWC). If the Democrats wish to win back the presidency from Trump and the GOP, they must abandon their stale centrism and elect Rep. Keith Ellison—a true progressive—as DNC chairman. By electing Keith Ellison as chairman of the DNC, the Democratic Party can build a coalition of black, Latino and white workers that will help elect Democrats at all levels of government.

Suspicious of Clinton’s rapport with Wall Street, members of the WWC, many of whom voted for Barack Obama in 2012, voted for Trump’s ethno-nationalist program. In the Democratic strongholds of Wisconsin, Michigan and Pennsylvania, white laborers rejected Clinton’s moderate economic plan, opting for Trump’s criticism of the “elite” class and his contempt for free trade.

In order to wrest power from the hands of Trump and the GOP, it is imperative that the Democrats steal some of the WWC vote. Only by acknowledging their long-held grievances will the Democratic party be able to appeal to this demographic and take back the Rust Belt.

While many of these WWC voters may be racist philistines, there is assuredly a significant portion of them who could have been swayed not to vote for Trump. Indeed, just because some downscale whites voted for Trump, it does not automatically qualify half of them as “irredeemable.” Instead of haranguing the WWC, the Democratic party needed to convince them to join a Leftist platform that addressed their economic anxiety. It behooves the party to pivot towards a progressivism that does not simply call struggling whites racist but tries to bring them into a broad, inclusive coalition.

Phone banking laborers in Ohio for Sanders’ presidential campaign, I know first-hand how much a message of economic security for all people (black, Latino, Asian, white) can resonate with the WWC.

As polls during the primary hinted at, a Sanders-style is the most effective way to combat the racist populism of Donald Trump. With a progressive economic message, Senator Bernie Sanders started a dialogue with struggling whites that made him incredibly popular within the WWC. This popularity was borne out by the variety of head-to-head polls showing Sanders doing much better than Clinton in a general election with Trump.

The Democrats need to embrace Sanders and his political vision, starting with a change in party leadership.

That is why the Democratic party should make Rep. Keith Ellison the chairman of the DNC. A black Muslim and a true fighter for racial and economic justice, Ellison, a Sanders surrogate during the primaries, is the perfect person to shape the new Democratic vision. It is so vital that Ellison becomes head of the DNC because, in that capacity, he would be able to dictate Democratic policy, purge special interests from the party and allocate funds to important grassroots organizations.

Furthermore, Ellison repudiates the notion that the Democrats cannot appeal to the WWC without compromising their commitment to racial and gender equality. As a Minnesota representative, Keith Ellison, like Bernie Sanders, showed America that politicians are not compelled to use racist appeals when trying to capture the WWC vote.

In short, Ellison’s staunch support for economic and racial equity, along with his sympathy for the WWC, makes him the ideal politician to lead the party’s transition from being a party of elites to a tribune of everyday Americans.

The Democrats cannot afford to choose another establishment stalwart, like Debbie Wasserman Schultz, who sabotaged Sanders’ campaign, or Donna Brazile, to steer the metaphorical ship. The party must shake things up and elect Keith Ellison, a progressive caucus member who can change the core philosophy of the Democratic Party and help them win the WWC vote.

Whatever upsides there are to Howard Dean being the DNC chairman, they are outweighed by his commitment to the current Democratic leadership. Despite his progressive persona during the 04’ primaries, Dean, a big pharma lobbyist, exists as an establishment figure who will only perpetuate the status quo and alienate struggling whites. If party officials elect Dean, it would send a strong signal that Democrats have failed to learn the lessons of this election.

Instead of a party that pays lip-service to “diversity” while, at the same time, providing favorable economic conditions to economic elites on Wall Street and in Silicon Valley, the Democrats should be a group that fights for all of the working class—black, Latino and white.

The Democrats must respond to the allure of Trump’s ethno-nationalism with a progressive, not a centrist, platform. With Keith Ellison spearheading a leftist movement, the Democrats will stem the tide of neo-fascism and bring the WWC into the party with a message of egalitarianism.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Culture Wars

If you’re not focusing on class as your primary thing, then I can’t see how you can build an anti-racist program or anti-sexist program, unless it just means purely yelling at people and changing consciousness. – Bhaskar Sunkara, Founding Editor at Jacobin Magazine

I.             Introduction
Within intellectual circles, a debate revolving around culture rages on. In this debate, many crucial questions have been raised about asked. What is culture? How is it created? What does it take to change it? In 2014, during the height of the Black Lives Matter protests, many people tried to ask these questions about the culture of impoverished black communities. Some argued that poverty and all its trappings—violence, hunger, inadequate housing—are mainly a product of a culture that promote ignoble values. In “The Wounds Public Policy Can’t Heal,” an article that frequently alludes to black culture, David French, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, reprimands libertine, progressive elites, like the founders of Black Lives Matter, for “offering government band-aids to cover the gaping wounds created by living the very life of sexual self-indulgence and radical personal autonomy” (French). Others claimed that focusing on the supposedly “deficient” culture of marginalized people allows people to ignore systemic issues like institutional racism and classism. In “The Poverty of Culture,” Heideman and Jonah Birch chastise their liberal cohorts for legitimizing the idea of a cultural “black pathology,” a notion that “give[s] succor to those who seek to block any attempt at addressing the real causes of racial inequality” (Heideman and Birch).
Now, with the rise of Trump, intellectuals are asking the very same questions about the Appalachian hillbilly, a group plagued by drug addiction, health problems and unemployment. Similar to the argument surrounding black culture, within this conversation, there are two dominant perspectives. On one end of the debate, people posit that Appalachians, by holding onto their deficient culture, are responsible for their own turmoil. Exemplified by J.D. Vance’s critically acclaimed Hillbilly Elegy, this theory holds that, if Appalachians want to escape their chaotic situation, it is incumbent on them, not the government. “I don’t know what the answer is precisely, but I know it starts when we stop blaming Obama or Bush or faceless companies and ask ourselves what we can do to make things better” (Vance 178-9). On the other side of the spectrum, there are some who see culture inextricably tied to class. To them, culture is not something that is created by the individual, but rather, it is shaped by nefarious social forces that keep people trapped in a vicious cycle of poverty. Emblematic of this perspective is Michael Harrington’s seminal 1962 book, The Other America. In Harrington’s world, “The first step toward the new poverty was taken when millions of people proved immune to progress. When that happened, the failure was not individual and personal, but a social [emphasis added] product” (Harrington 9-10).
While both Vance and Harrington’s frameworks make convincing arguments, Harrington’s is more insightful because it recognizes the current cultural landscape of impoverished communities while still acknowledging the economic and political trends that led them there. If one wishes to diagnose, and provide a prescription for, the chaos of Appalachian society, one must emphasize how structural factors shape hillbilly values, as Harrington does in The Other America. Indeed, while culture plays a part in deciding whether a group—geographic, ethnic, economic, etc.—of people flourish, it is important to recognize how one’s culture is defined by their socioeconomic limitations. An honest account of why Appalachian values prove self-destructive would better emphasize their history as an exploited and politically alienated group. Accepting this reality, society must enact a series of governmental interventions that brings prosperity to a community so often expected to pick itself up.
II.          What Is Culture?
In trying to conceptualize the terrible culture of Appalachian, J.D. Vance uses an ethncultural argument that racializes his fellow Appalachians, linking them to a Scots-Irish ethnicity. Though seemingly innocuous, describing Appalachians in ethnic terms has pernicious effects that cannot be ignored. Comparing Appalachian migrants in the Rust Belt to “southern blacks arriving in Detroit,” Vance uses a racial attack to criticize hillbillies. “…these migrants disrupted a broad set of assumptions held by northern whites about how white people appeared, spoke, and behaved…the disturbing aspect of hillbillies was their racialness [emphasis added]” (Vance 43). Offensive to both groups, Vance’s assertion that “southern blacks” and “Appalachians” carry a distinct “racialness” lacks veracity and nuance. According to Prof. Bob Hutton, “…Scots-Irish, hillbilly, and even the term ‘culture’ serve as shorthand that make for a much simpler story than one that explores the contingencies of Appalachian poverty” (Hutton). Indeed, to Hutton, much of Vance’s work “…smacks of racial determinism, even if ‘culture’ replaces biology in his account” (Hutton). Using this racial attack, Vance ties all Appalachians to a common ethnicity, enabling him to attribute their culture to a shared set of ethnic values.
From Vance’s perspective, Appalachians exist as an ethnic group who hold specific values. To Vance, many of these values exist as terrible aspects of a culture that keeps people locked into a state of decrepitude. “We do not like outsiders or people who are different from us, whether the difference lies in how they look, how they act, or, most important, how they talk. To understand me, you must understand that I am a Scots-Irish hillbilly at heart” (Vance 6). To show how these “bad” Appalachian attitudes foster irresponsibility, Vance uses the bigoted tropes of the lazy welfare queen and the promiscuous mother This is problematic for a couple of reasons. First, these Appalachian archetypes, and Vance’s definition of Appalachian culture as a whole, are dubious because they rely “exclusively on personal experiences,” like “Caudill and Weller[‘s]…culture of poverty theories” (Haynes 16). He has “known [emphasis added] many welfare queens” and others who “gamed the welfare system” (Vance 9). And he “noticed [emphasis added] that a Facebook friend (an acquaintance from high school with similarly deep hillbilly roots)…was constantly changing boyfriends—going in and out of relationships...with four children” (Vance 107). Second, these clichés, co-opted from the language of racism and classism, see Appalachians, not as an exploited class, but as a lazy, violent ethnicity. Though writing in the 1960s, Harrington’s criticism of this theory is pertinent. “Here is the most familiar version of social blindness: ‘The poor are that way because they are afraid of work…they prefer to live on the dole and cheat the taxpayers” (Harringotn 14). Instead of researching the economic and political histories of the Appalachian community, Vance lazily promotes an unfounded and stereotypical portrait of the hillbilly.
Though Harrington’s position certainly warrants some criticism, it is still substantially more edifying than Vance’s because it defines culture in economic terms. Indeed, Harrington is not perfect. Like Vance, he uses the term “hillbilly” and gives rural and urban Appalachians a distinct identity (although it is one based on their poverty, not their ethnicity). Prof. Ada B. Haynes calls this approach into question, when, criticizing Harrington’s “culture of poverty,” she states, “When taken to the extreme, culture of poverty theories posit the Appalachian culture not only as deviant but as pathological” (Harington 15) (Haynes 15). Also, Haynes, using a study by Thomas Ford, discredits the notion that Appalachians are distinct in their cultural attitudes. “The Southern Appalachian people…to be sure…retain the impress of their rural heritage, but for the most part their way of life…their aspirations are not radically different from those of most other Americans” (Haynes 17). Still, Harrington’s analysis holds water. While Prof. Haynes offers up some sharp criticism of Harrington’s work, Harrington’s “culture of poverty” is somewhat misunderstood by Haynes. Contrary to Haynes’ belief that “none of the culture of poverty theories focus on the material conditions which shape the culture (Keefe, 1988),” Harrington goes to great lengths to show you the “mighty historical and economic forces that keep the poor down” (Harrington 14). Furthermore, Harrington’s “culture of poverty” is compelling because, unlike Haynes, it tackles Vance’s argument head-on, attempting to explain the violence, drug abuse and prejudice Vance sees in Appalachian culture using an economic lens, as opposed to a racial one. “Poverty in the United States is a culture, an institution, a way of life” (Harrington 16). Tying poverty and culture together, Harrington, unlike Vance, uses a well-reasoned, material framework that allows him to see “bad” ethnicities (i.e. Appalachians) in terms of their class, not their race.
III.       Blame Game
As he does in his description of hillbilly culture, Vance, using anecdotal evidence, shows that economic insecurity cannot explain why Appalachians hold onto their destructive culture. His experiences taught him “that this story of economic insecurity, at best, is incomplete” (Vance 8). As opposed to Michael Harrington, Vance concludes that political and economic marginalization do not explain why Appalachians continue to live in squalor. Stemming from a worldview that thinks everyone has the ability to choose how they live their lives, Vance, instead, ignorantly blames the beleaguered Appalachian for their own cultural deterioration. This feeling is apparent when he, self-righteously, points out that despite the dwindling numbers of available factory jobs, there were still positions open to laborers who wanted them. The problem, however, was that Appalachian men were too irresponsible to fill them. “The problems that I saw at the tile warehouse run far deeper than macro-economic trends and policy. Too many young men immune to hard work…There is a lack of agency here” (Vance 9). Looking from Vance’s vantage point, National Review’s Kevin D. Williamson echoes this sentiment. In “The Father-Führer,” Williamson bluntly criticizes Appalachians for being “morally…indefensible.” “Forget your sanctimony about struggling Rust Belt factory towns and your conspiracy theories about the wily Orientals stealing our jobs…The white American underclass is in thrall to a vicious, selfish culture whose main products are misery and used heroin needles” (Williamson). Though Williamson is a bit crasser than Vance in his evaluation, his critique reinforces Vance’s theory. “These problems were not created by governments or corporations or anyone else. We created them” (Vance 178). From Vance and Williamson’s parochial perspective, Appalachians take the lion’s share of the blame for their milieu.
Unlike those who adopt a class framework that relies on historical and analytical evidence, Vance and Williamson base their conclusions on piety and “ignorant, smug moralisms.” People in Vance’s intellectual camp “view the effects of poverty—above all, the warping of the will and spirit that is a consequence of being poor—as choices [emphasis added]” (Harrington 15-6). Ignoring the brutal economic assault that public and private sector have mounted against poor Appalachians, or “material conditions which shape the culture” they think that culture is something that exists separately from economic status (Haynes 16). For Vance and Williamson, poverty does not create culture, but rather, culture creates, and sustains, poverty. To substantiate this claim, they use personal experience, an incredibly biased source of evidence, to supplement their arguments. A propos J.D. Vance, Prof. Bob Hutton states, “If faced with empirical evidence that suggests his experience is more exception than rule, he can always fall back on the position that Hillbilly Elegy is simply his own personal ‘journey’ — a brilliant, infuriating paradox for anyone looking to criticize him” (Hutton). Though they write eloquently about the problems facing the hillbilly, their warrants are grounded in shaky evidence that leads them to ignorantly blames poor Appalachians, not economic and political domination, for the inability of the hillbilly to lift themselves out of poverty.
Instead of excoriating Appalachians for hanging onto a culture that prevents them from changing their economic reality, Harrington and Haynes use empiricism to explain how poor Appalachians suffered significant economic and political abuse. Starting as early as the 19th century, capitalists sought to exploit Appalachian land and labor as a way to unscrupulously make a profit. “The separations of producers from the means of production became the primary untdertaking of the corporations upon initial contact with the region (Gaventa, 1976; Lewis, 1976)…Not only outside industrialists, but the local elite also participated in this separation of labourers from the means of production” (Haynes 49). In the subsequent century, economic and political abuse continued to negatively impact Appalachians. During the 1930s, many of the poor did not feel the beneficial effects of “unemployment compensation [and] the Wagner act,” and were left out of the burgeoning middle class of the post-World War II era (Harrington 9). “These were people in the unorganizable jobs, in the South, in the minority groups, in the fly-by-night factories that were low on capital and high on labor” (Harrington 9). Appalachians felt this acutely when, during the mechanization of the post-War period, many hillbilly farmers remained poor while “the big corporate farms gained” (Harrington 39). And, for the hillbillies who migrated to urban centers, they were forced to live in “the slums…and…work…the dirtiest and most menial jobs” (Harrington 96). In short, since the early stages of industrialization, the highest strata of economic and political power were the primary shapers of Appalachian society, as they expropriated private property, controlled labor laws and enforced racial segregation[1].
Lastly, structural barriers trap Appalachians that prevents people from obtaining financial and cultural stability. As previously mentioned, a group of people’s culture is intimately tied to their economic standing. In reality, no matter the ethnicity, if a group of people are ravaged by nefarious economic and political actors, they are bound to live in a state of material and cultural poverty. Poor people were “born…in the wrong section of the country, in the wrong industry, or in the wrong racial or ethnic group” (Harrington 14-5). Furthermore, those who live in this poverty are stuck there, due to, what Harrington calls, “a vicious circle” (Harrington 15). Of course, considering their total dismissal of the economic and political background of Appalachian life, Vance and Williamson disagree with this. When Vance states, in reference to his drug-addicted mother’s rough childhood, “No person’s childhood gives him or her a perpetual moral get-out-of-jail-free card,” he is speaking to the fact Harrington’s “vicious circle,” does not give people the license to be immoral. While, on a superficial level this may be true, it ignores how poverty forces people into making decisions that exacerbate their situation. Showing how “the poor get sick more than anyone else in the society,” Harrington demonstrates how the “vicious circle” functions. “The poor get sick more than anyone else in the society. That is because they live…under unhygienic conditions; they have inadequate diets, and cannot get decent medical care…they lose wages and work, and find it difficult to hold a steady job. And because of this, they cannot pay for good housing, for a nutritious diet, for doctors” (Harrington 15). Clearly, the rapacious greed of powerful capitalists and politicians, not the uncouth behavior of the Appalachian, placed hillbillies into poverty (which, as Harrington laid out, is not only a class distinction, but also a culture), trapping them into a vicious cycle of poverty, sickness and hopelessness.
IV.       Burn The Bootstraps
For those who implicate Appalachians in the creation and perpetuation of their poverty-creating culture, only the hillbilly can fix her/his community. If, like David French, one believes that, “…millions of Americans aren’t doing their best. Indeed, they’re barely trying,” the only solution to Appalachian poverty, then, is for hillbillies to start trying “their best” (French). Though a somewhat laughable idea, this prescription acts as the main argument for many intellectuals, including Vance. Indeed, since Appalachians “created” the problems, “only [Appalachians] can fix them” (Vance 178). From Vance’s perspective, the predicament Appalachians find themselves in cannot be fixed by a policy proposal; no government intervention can enlighten the Appalachian masses. “Public policy can help, but there is no government that can fix these problems for us.” Ignoring the economic and political marginalization that Appalachians face, Vance offers up a nonsensical, cruel solution to the hillbilly: Save yourselves.
Although Vance and his friends at National Review do offer up some policy reforms, these reforms exist as paternalistic solutions that do not provide any material assistance. While Vance’s proposal to stop Section 8 housing segregation is noble this one small solution, one of the few that he provides, does not get to the core of the problem—economic and political abuse and alienation. In his National Review piece, “Social Inequality Matters as Much as – or More Than – Economic Inequality,” Oren Cass exemplifies this problem, arguing that social reforms, not economic stimulus, are the only ways to improve the situation of impoverished people. His research “suggests that today’s emphasis on economic resources is a mistake. The focus should be on disrupting the cycle of poverty in which social decay in one generation inhibits the development of the next, individuals ill-prepared for life and work face limited opportunity, and their ensuing struggles cause further social decay” (Cass). For Vance, who loathes how people “gamed the welfare system,” and Cass, if the government has any role in helping poor people, it is in their ability to stop enabling bad behavior, particularly in the realm of welfare dependancy. In reference to Appalachian laziness, David French states, “And that’s where disability or other government programs kicked in…You don’t have to do any work (your disability lawyer does all the heavy lifting), you make money, and you get drugs” (French). In this myopic perspective, if society is to help, it should only be through making the working class more “responsible” for their own lives and less dependent on government assistance.
In lieu of a program of “personal responsibility,” Harrington’s suggests that the American government provide Appalachians with substantial economic relief. Fully dismissive of the idea that poor people are somehow “dependant,” Harrington, based on the history of poverty in America, sees large-scale interventions as the only way for society to alleviate the pains of Appalachian poverty. “To a large extent, the answer…will be determined by the political response of the United States…If serious and massive action is not undertaken, it may be necessary for statisticians to add some old-fashioned, pre-welfare-state poverty to the misery of the other America” (Harrington 14). As opposed to those who “base their culture of poverty theories exclusively on personal experiences,” Harrington uses evidence to prove that the only way to solve a “culture of poverty” is with political action (Haynes 16). “Because of this, the new poverty is something that cannot be dealt with by first aid. If there is to be a lasting assault on the shame of the other America, it must seek to root out of this society an entire environment, and not just the relief of individuals” (Harrington 11). Specifically, if society wishes to ameliorate the dire situation of Appalachians, there must be a major investment into Appalachian infrastructure and social services. In his chapter on Appalachian life, Harrington states, “The whole structure of backwardness and decay, including bad public facilities, lack of water control, and the struggle with soil erosion, could be dealt with. But such a program would be truly massive. It would require a basic commitment from the Federal Government” (Harrington). To Harrington, an economic and political response to the exploitation of the Appalachian community, not a lecture on morality and responsibility, is the key to solving the “backwardness” of hillbilly culture.
            Though a drastic change in the material conditions of the Appalachian is not the panacea for all the cultural attitudes that keep Appalachians “immune to progress,” it is a fulcrum part of any plan which aspires to solve the problems of hillbilly culture. When it comes to certain aspects of hillbilly culture—racism, sexism and xenophobia—it is apparent that there are serious problems that economic redistribution cannot solve. “…working on ending economic inequality alone will not change the reality of racism and discrimination that people of color continue to face on a daily basis. Let’s not forget that if a fair and just society is the goal, racial equity needs to be a priority,” says Elaine Gross, President of Erase Racism (Gross). However, this does not mean that the government should not try to improve the economic and political reality of today’s Appalachia. Take the white working class support for Trump. To Seth Ackerman of Jacobin Magazine, even if many Trump’s voters (many of them Appalachian) support him because of their racist culture, that is no reason to ostracize them even more, pushing them deeper into poverty. “if a cordon sanitaire is placed around that demographic territory and hung with the notorious label, ‘Trump Vote,’ the Democrats will be even more likely to let the party system drift down its current path: into the culture-war politics of the reactionary Tammany-versus-Klan 1920s” (Ackerman). So, though a material solution may not fully eradicate racism and sexism from Appalachian culture, if we ever hope to fix hillbilly culture, we must reach out them and offer up a material solution. As Bhaskar Sunkara said in his Vox interview, “yelling at” Appalachians will only exacerbate their economic pains, sinking them deeper into poverty, despair and bigotry.
V.          Conclusion
In conclusion, when plumbing the nuanced debate surrounding Appalachia’s deficient culture, it is readily apparent that economic and political abuse play a much more significant part in shaping Appalachian culture than ethnicity, race or traditional values. Moreover, wee see that the materialist framework of Harrington and his ideological allies better explains Appalachian culture and poverty than Vance’s ethno-cultural framework. Contra Vance, Harrington proposes that Appalachian culture is simply a manifestation of the poverty hillbillies live in. Refusing to blame the culture of the Appalachian for their destitute society, Harrington uses historical and analytical data to show how economic abuse and political exclusion are the true causes of the destruction of the hillbilly community. While Vance insists that Appalachians have to clean up their own mess, Harrington, in recognizing Appalachian history, correctly pushes for a massive economic intervention by the government, one that would help bring much-needed progress to a group of people stuck in a fraught situation. Indeed, instead of lecturing hillbillies on the virtues of responsibility, we should acknowledge the domination of economic and political over the Appalachian community. With this recognition, then, society as a whole can push for a material solution that gives the hillbilly economic security and a political voice.

Works Cited
Ackerman, Seth. "Sympathy for the Devil?" Jacobin Magazine. N.p., 20 Oct. 2016. Web. 24 Oct. 2016. <>.
Cass, Oren. "Social Inequality Matters as Much as — or More Than — Economic Inequality." National Review n.d.: n. pag. National Review Online. 19 Oct. 2015. Web. 16 Oct. 2016. <>.
French, David. "Working-Class Whites Have Moral Responsibilities." National Review Online. N.p., 14 Mar. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <>.
French, David. "The Wounds Public Policy Can't Heal." National Review Online. N.p., 9 Aug. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <>.
Harrington, Michael. The Other America. New York: MacMillan, 1963. Print.
Haynes, Ada B. Poverty In Central Appalachia. New York: Garland, 1997. Print.
Heideman, Paul, and Jonah Birch. "The Poverty of Culture." Jacobin Magazine. N.p., 16 Sept. 2014. Web. 16 Oct. 2016. <>.
Hutton, Bob. "Hillbilly Elitism." Jacobin Magazine. N.p., 1 Oct. 2016. Web. 16 Oct. 2016. <>.
Matthews, Dylan. "Inside Jacobin." Vox. N.p., 21 Mar. 2016. Web. 14 Oct. 2016. <>.
Vance, J.D. Hillbilly Elegy. New York City: HarperCollins, 2016. Ipad.
Williamson, Kevin D. "The Father Fuhrer." National Review n.d.: n. pag. National Review Online. 28 Mar. 2016. Web. 18 Oct. 2016. <>.

[1] “Company town paternalism provided housing, churches, school, stores and medical care with separate facilities for blacks and white (Turner & Cabbell, 1985)” (Haynes 50).