The following is a chapter from Trumpism and its Discontents. Click to download a PDF of the book here.

By Raka Ray


Cover of the trumpism book
The victory of Donald Trump in the 2016 presidential election came as a nasty surprise to many of us, especially on the two coasts of the United States. It heralded new forms of political motivation that we would do well to consider. In this chapter I combine my assessment of two core groups of Trump voters—people from Southern states such as Louisiana (based largely on my previously published reflections on Arlie Hochschild’s powerful book Strangers in Their Own Land) and working-class white men—to examine how a politics of resentment and revenge can become a mobilizing force.1   

Several years ago, determined to understand the heightened polarization between liberals and those on the Right—and between the red and blue states of the United States—sociologist Arlie Hochschild decided to cross what she called the “empathy wall”2 from liberal Berkeley, where she lived and worked, to right-wing Tea Partiers in Louisiana. The result of this journey was the book Strangers in Their Own Land, in which over several years of research and writing, she came to understand Louisiana’s Tea Party movement.3

In Strangers, Hochschild shows us a grim world in which older white Christian men and women, some of whom barely cling to the middle class, have learned to survive. Despite her differences from them and her discomfort with their often racist beliefs, she pays them respectful attention. The beauty of the book lies in its ability to render sympathetic and intelligible a group many liberals find simply unintelligible, if not abhorrent. 

If we look more closely at the land at the heart of the book, we see the ecological and human development tragedy that is Louisiana. The specific area she studies is “ground zero for production of American petrochemicals.”4 The state is hugely dependent on the oil and petrochemical industries. Jobs are hard to come by, levels of pollution are horrifying, there are sinkholes into which trees and roads disappear, and species of fish and birds go missing. In the great waterways and bayous, little bubbles of methane erupt, and hurricanes with disastrous environmental and socioeconomic consequences visit the land. The list of companies operating in Louisiana includes every major polluter that has made the news—Monsanto, Exxon, Shell, Texaco—and some others that have not. As Hochschild spends time with the people who inhabit this wretched polluted space where on some days people cannot leave the house for fear of breathing the air, where birds and trees and human beings are dying and diseased because of the disasters wrought by these companies, she finds the guiding paradoxes of her book: Why do these people who suffer terribly not want the government to help?  Why do these people who face great pollution resist regulation, protect the polluters, and blame the government for the results? And why, above all, do these people vote for Trump, as almost 60 percent of the voting population of this state did? 

VOTING FACT 1 “The [fewer]-than-five hundred counties that Hillary Clinton carried nationwide [in the 2016 presidential election] encompassed a massive 64 percent of America’s economic activity as measured by total output in 2015. By contrast, the morethan-2,600 counties that Donald Trump won generated just 36 percent of the country’s output—just a little more than one-third of the nation’s economic activity.”5

VOTING FACT 2 Fifty-nine percent of men voted for Trump as compared with 46 percent of women and 63 percent of white people who voted for Trump. When you add the element of whiteness to the statistic about men, white men’s votes were 63 percent for Trump. When you add education (as a proxy for class) to the statistic about white men, we see that 71 percent of white men with no college degrees voted for Trump.6

The question of why people in Louisiana would vote for Trump, as Hochschild asks, or why the working class, and the white working class in particular, voted for him has obsessed liberals in the United States. The ways in which the question is posed presupposes a paradox, or false consciousness, particularly a false class consciousness. It assumes that as a group, these people are voting against their class interests, whether they realize it or not. It replicates the sort of question Thomas Frank asks in his 2004 book, What’s the Matter with Kansas?7 It presupposes that these groups are practicing what Ann Orloff, Evren Savci, and I have elsewhere called a  “perverse politics,” a contrarian politics that works against group interests.8

The answer is often that it is their culture (which leads these people to a false consciousness) that trumps what should be their true economic interests. In this chapter I consider both the states that voted for Trump and the specific segments of the population (working-class white men) that did so. Although I stick with Louisiana, my analysis is also broadly relevant for other Southern states that voted heavily for Trump, such as West Virginia, Alabama, and Oklahoma. In my analysis I attend to the nexus of the history of the US state and capitalism—with an analysis of capitalism that understands that in the United States, it is a system that is simultaneously raced and gendered as well as internally differentiated by state.  I suggest that in order to actually understand why downwardly mobile, older white men and women in Louisiana lurch to the Right, we have to understand that a) they live in a colonial state, b) they are the losers in an era of financialized capital, and c) the nature of their loss is something more than economic. By this I mean that we need to avoid making the recurring mistake of thinking that we can separate class interests from other interests. In other words, rather than thinking about whether explanations can be sought in culture or economics, or both, we need to move to an understanding of the economic as always already more than the economic. 

Not a Liberal Democratic State 

In the story Hochschild tells of these people from Louisiana, and of the Tea Partiers in particular, it is the state that they resist. In her assessment, because they feel left behind although they have done the right things all of their lives (that is, they have worked hard, been good neighbors, and gone to church) and because it feels to them that the state is not on their side, they have turned against the state.  And in doing so, they have turned against their own interests.  Despite her empathy and affection for her subjects, Hochschild’s analysis is ultimately one that assumes that these Louisianans have false consciousness because a more accurate analysis would lead to their awareness that the enemy is capitalism, not the state.

In Hochschild’s theory of the American state, the governing system can be unfeeling and can often fail, but under it all she sees a liberal democratic, even pluralistic, state.  For Hochschild and other American liberals, the US government may not be perfect, but the real problem is the private sector (the one from whom to seek protection) while the state is the solution (the protector).  The conventional understanding of the United States in political science, and indeed in the social sciences in general, is that the country is a prototype of a liberal democratic capitalist state. It may be a liberal democracy in crisis, as Bowles and Gintis pointed out almost forty years ago,9 or it may be one in retreat or under threat both externally (from China or Russia) and internally from populism. Or it could be under threat from the political rationality of neoliberalism.10 But this pluralistic, liberal democratic state is assumed to be the modern norm to which states such as Turkey, China, or Rwanda are unfavorably compared. It is also compared with states that are “better”—such as the social democratic Norway. The problem arises, for Hochschild, when the state is under the wrong governing regime (Republican), but even so, there is always the possibility of good in the state—something to work toward—for that is what one does in a liberal democracy.

But Hochschild’s respondents in Louisiana feel more betrayed by the state than by capitalism.  The state is not seen as their own. It is seen, rather, as a being that overregulates, breaks promises, and helps others who are not “of them,” and it is represented by officials who live off their taxes. Where Hochschild sees an openand-shut case for more (good) government, her respondents see a need for less government and increasingly vote Republican.  To Hochschild, these Louisianans have become strangers in their own land. Through it all she sympathetically and lovingly shows us their point of view, but the implication is that they are practicing a perverse politics, one that ultimately works against their interests, because they do not recognize their enemy.  

But what if we were to relax the assumption that the United States is a liberal democratic state—or always acts like one? What if we were to think of the US state, in the case of Louisiana, as a neoliberal version of a historically colonial, extractive state?  I suspect that we would then conclude that Louisiana is indeed being governed by outsiders who do not have their interests at heart.  

Louisiana used to be the number-one producer of crude oil in the nation as well as the number-two producer of natural gas.  Much of this production has dropped in the past decade, but Louisiana is still one of the top oil- and natural gas-producing states in the country. In terms of Louisiana’s economy, oil, gas, and their byproducts are unquestionably the most important sources of revenue, followed by gambling. In 1982, more than 40 percent of the state’s revenue came from oil and natural gas.  Alas, no more. With a fall in oil prices, hundreds of millions of dollars’ worth of chemical plant expansions and construction projects are on hold.  When oil prices fell, most of the country rejoiced because it gained, but the states most dependent on oil suffered—as Louisiana has been suffering now. Louisiana ranks forty-ninth in the country in human development and last in health. In investigating Louisiana further, I discovered that it is also the state with the highest incarceration rate in the country and is one of five states that does not have a mandated minimum wage.  

States with similar rates of voting for Trump, such as Alabama and West Virginia, are the states with the lowest Human Development Index—health, education, economy, infrastructure.11 One could read the phenomenon with relative ease into a framework of colonialism. Typically, colonialism involves exploitation of land, raw materials, labor, and other resources of the colonized nation. The extractive type of colonialism occurs in places that are rich in resources such as cotton, minerals, and oil. Indeed, Louisiana bears the hallmarks of extractive colonialism—a slash-andburn attitude toward raw material, weak systems of property rights, poor educational systems, and no credible exit option for the masses of people. Although it is true that Louisianans get to vote for their government, unlike those people in actually colonized situations, there is no credible exit option for them because both Democrats and Republicans have operated with a similar logic in Louisiana. This system operates by banning unions, lowering wages, and offering corporate tax rebates.12   Economists Acemoglu, Johnson and Robinson (2001) have found that development has been slowest in areas where extractive institutions were established for the financial gain of the colonizing country.13 I think we could well consider Louisiana to be a case of extractive, internal colonialism. 

Analyses of colonialism further tell us that there is always a cultural narrative that accompanies colonialism.  As the colonizing world benefits economically from colonization, it often justifies its colonial rule by advertising the benefits of civilization that they have brought to the colonized. Thus, just as England grew rich from India’s natural resources and its preexisting industry and advertised its civilizing mission in emancipating India’s women, so too can we think of the financial centers of the US North benefiting from the raw material of Louisiana—through fracking and the rapacious extraction of oil and natural gas from a state with weaker regulations than, say, California—while maintaining civilizational superiority over Louisiana inhabitants, especially the rural, whom they consider rednecks, hicks, bigots, or white trash. These people have not traveled much, do not eat sushi, do not tell their children not to eat sugar. They are rooted in their place while the elite are cosmopolitan, from anywhere. 

Against an assemblage of colonialism and extraction, how should we understand the political subjectivities of Hochschild’s subjects? Would we still see the story as one of false consciousness? Faced with a neoliberal, extractive colonial state—one that seems to regulate ordinary people but not the rich—why would these people look to it for help?  Following their self-interest might well mean refusing to trust the state government and its alliances with Northern elites because it has not historically been for them. Think of Hillary Clinton and her close ties to the financial capital—she, not Donald Trump, was the preferred candidate of Wall Street—and think of the rise of the economies of California and New York. 

The Decline of the Fordist Compact

Not all Louisianans are the subjects of Hochschild’s book. Her book is not about black, immigrant, young, or educated Louisianans but rather about older white working-class Louisianans, mostly men but also some women. Let me now shift to this demographic group and consider their understanding of the world they inhabit. 

To do that, we need to understand the nature of the compact between capitalism and the US state during the twentieth century a little further.

Between the first and the last quarter of the twentieth  century in the United States, the organization of the economy that is called Fordism provided good jobs that involved assembly-line manufacturing of standardized goods, paid higher wages so that workers could afford to buy the products they made, and promised relatively continuous employment. Fordism was built on an understanding of the nexus between productivity, wages, and consumption. Nancy Fraser (2016) refers to this period as “state[-]managed capitalism,”14 a historical achievement that emerged out of democratic struggle. But Fordism, by definition, meant more than that. Premised as it was on large-scale industrial production and domestic consumerism, Fordism was never just a feature of the capitalist economy. It simultaneously reflected patriarchy: the ideology of Fordism subsumed within it the family wage—the idea that one income alone, the man’s income—could support the entire family. The family wage assumed a certain family form and a division of labor in which men took care of production while women took care of consumption (and also subsidized the nourishment and social reproduction of workers). The belief that men rather than women would work the good jobs stemmed from gendered assumptions about the right place for men and women and also from the fact that (in the absence of any provision for equal pay for men and women) it made sense for women, whose earning capacity was far lower than men’s, to be the ones to stay at home. Thus, at the very heart of many men’s understanding of themselves as men was their capacity to provide for their families. This also being an era when state investments were being made in health care, education, and old age, a good life was imaginable and well within the grasp of most working-class men.15

But there is more: Fordism was linked to the suburbanization of homes in which mass production and mass consumption were linked via government-backed mortgages.16   It also involved the elimination of left-wing elements from the labor movement and other political organizations.17 All of these things occurred within a frame in which America was becoming a world hegemon. And all these also occurred within a framework of the protection of white interests. Suburbanization was a white phenomenon, as was much of the solidarity on the assembly lines of the Fordist workers. The stable, solid working-class identity, the loss of which is today mourned by so many progressives, was also solidly white and was built on the backs of the labor of a nonunionized, more poorly paid, other working class. Excluded from the family wage compact were men whose wages were not high enough: blacks and immigrants. Also excluded were women who were not attached to men and women whose men would never earn enough to support their families by themselves. 

The family wage ideal, then, was a reality for a privileged few.18  As early as the late 1940s, black women such as Claudia Jones wrote furiously against the assumption that only men could earn a family wage, given that black women were often the only breadwinners in their households and the lowest paid workers in the nation, and about their concentration in the lowest paid segments of the job market.19 The workers Jones wrote about were not part of the assembly-line skilled working class, they were enclaved and segregated in domestic work or agricultural work, the sorts of labor ignored by Fordism.20   More contemporaneously, ideals of good motherhood have still assumed that good mothers stay at home. The power of this idea is such that women continue to pay a wage penalty for motherhood, whereas men earn a wage premium for fatherhood.

Thus, the Fordist economy created a two-tiered system in which white men received certain assurances and benefits, and most other people worked in a lower paid, unstable, and insecure labor market. The newly created welfare state was similarly two tiered. One element of the welfare state was based on insurance for earned income (old-age insurance and unemployment compensation)—these were considered deserved benefits. The other strand was for nonworkers, the poor and dependents, who were increasingly seen as the undeserving.  But not all workers received insurance and benefits; for example, employment sectors in which people of color dominated, such as the domestic and agricultural work discussed by Jones,21 were excluded from these insurance policies. These workers therefore became increasingly dependent on the government policies for the poor and dependents. Despite being workers, they too came to be seen as those who received “unearned handouts” or as the undeserving poor.22

To be clear, then, the organization of the economy that marked much of twentieth-century America was one that privileged white male workers, even those in the skilled working class. The ability to live a certain American life was not, as the American Dream promised, the result of individual hard work but rather a result of the US state providing subsidies to encourage the buying of homes and suburbanization, of wiping out radical politics, and encouraging an ideology that divided the population into the deserving and undeserving poor while maintaining that most powerful of all ideologies about meritocracy, the American Dream.

The slow decline of Fordism, starting in the late sixties and continuing through the seventies, coincided with waves of social movements claiming, on the one hand, for brown and black people and for women, the right to consume and live stably that Fordism had provided exclusively for white workers.23 On the other hand, these movements fought for sexual freedom and for rights for gays and lesbians—demands against the sexually normative framework of the family wage.24 Occurring simultaneously with the decline of Fordism and the decline of the family wage, then, came the rise of dual-earner families and a challenge to the very ideology of the family wage.  As the possibility of the family wage began to slip, and the “two-earner” families became the norm even for middle-class families, the New Right (composed of the new social conservatives and evangelicals) began to build its agenda based on the need to return to the good old days. In doing so, they pitted the very poorest of the poor, black women, characterized as those who took advantage of the system, against honest wage workers.

The post-Fordist new economic order involved the turn to a neoliberal form of capitalism. Within the present regime of globalized, financialized capitalism, manufacturing has been relocated to low-wage regions of the world, and many skilled blue-collar jobs have simply disappeared because of automation. The new regime has both recruited women into the paid workforce (especially with their increase in the service sector) and promoted state and corporate disinvestment from social welfare. 

For the past forty years, white men’s median income, adjusted for inflation, has remained virtually stagnant while that of white women has nearly doubled. Median incomes of black women have more than doubled, and black men’s median incomes have gone up somewhat. Even despite the Great Recession of 2008 and modest economic growth, white women, black men, and black women have made some progress. But any increases in white men’s incomes have gone mainly to the wealthy. 

As global production has become feminized and masculinity delinked from work across the world, some observers suggest that a new era has begun, heralding, as journalist Hanna Rosin puts it, the “end of men.”25 This new era is marked by the loss of traditional men’s jobs and the simultaneous rise of women’s employment in fields previously dominated by men.26 Today one in seven men in their prime is unemployed, compared with one in twenty in 1950.27 And poor whites report having much less hope for the future and more stress than poor African Americans and Hispanics do (despite the fact that the latter two groups face higher objective disadvantages). 

I want to be clear that I am not saying that white men are no longer dominant. White men still dominate the power positions in transnational corporations. Women’s entry into paid work in large numbers has not ended occupational sex segregation or the glass ceiling.28

But because Fordism was simultaneously about class and race and gender, the reaction to the decline has been premised on all three: when white working-class men lost their jobs (due primarily to the momentum of capitalism), they lost their sense of masculinity, their control over women, and some of their previous advantage over people of color—the race advantage that prevented them from really being poor. They lost who they thought they were, not just their jobs. When Joan Williams (2017) warns that we should not mistake the economic resentment of members of the white working class as racism,29 she is only partly right. The very model of their good life depended upon certain exclusions, and thus their resentment cannot but be simultaneously about race and class. In addition, those who lived in what Marc Edelman has called “sacrifice zones,”30 those rural, exploited, internally colonized areas, faced with their immiseration and the increasing affluence of the nodes of financial capital, thus faced a crisis that encompassed all aspects of their lives, and the politics that followed had to address the complexity of this loss. 

The Politics of Resentment

What kinds of politics, then, does this moment produce?31 Let us accept that it is a moment of the rise of right populism. By populism, I accept Ernesto Laclau’s and Chantal Mouffe’s understanding of populism not as an ideology but rather as a strategy that divides the world into two political camps of the underdogs and those in power.32 How, then, can we account for the rise of the populist Right in the United States? And can we do so without assuming that the adherents of right-wing populism, the populations we have been discussing thus far, are purely irrational, uneducated, and atavistic?

It is useful to think about this question via a return to the question posed earlier in this chapter about whether the explanations lie in culture or in economics. Philosopher Nancy Fraser’s description of two sorts of recent political struggles in the United States—struggles over redistribution and struggles over recognition33 — provides a useful way to think about the politics stemming from these losses. Fraser defines struggles over redistribution as struggles over material inequality—income and property ownership, access to paid work, education, and health care. Redistribution, then, refers to socio-economic injustice. Struggles over recognition, on the other hand, refer to symbolic injustice such as cultural domination, lack of recognition, and disrespect as marginalized groups—those who are gay, trans, black, or women— struggle for inclusion. 

What I have been arguing thus far is that while Fraser analytically separates struggles over redistribution and struggles over recognition, in practice, in people’s lives, these things are always already intertwined.34 In a wonderful book, Landscape for a Good Woman, historian Caroline Steedman writes eloquently of her British working-class mother’s rage at the world in which she could not afford a “new look skirt.”35 Steedman’s account of her mother makes clear that economic injustices are experienced in a deeply embodied way, that her mother experienced a particular form of gendered shame when social workers came to their house and thus that for her mother, the injuries of class were therefore never just about class. Neither middle-class feminists nor Marxists were able to address the desires of a working-class woman who was the breadwinner of the family and who also had to be on the dole. Her mother became a working-class conservative whose primary politics was a politics of envy, a politics that derived from her experience of being a white working-class woman in 1950s and 1960s Britain. 

In order for the politics of envy (“I wish I had what they have”) to turn into a politics of resentment (“Why should they have what they have?”), more needs to happen. It needs to come into contact with particular political discourses.  And here we come to the question of why, at this historical moment, rural white Louisianans and white working-class men moved toward the discourse of the Right rather than that of the Left.36

To begin with, although the Left has presented many strikingly accurate critiques of the state, in its political actions, it continues to make claims on the state as if it is liberal and democratic. In the writings of the dominant forces of the Left, there is no consideration of the effects of uneven development or internal colonialism. In terms of redistribution and recognition, the Left has viewed these two sorts of demands with considerable tension. Despite periodic calls for a united Left in which both sorts of struggles can be integrated, the Left’s understanding of the current problems remains caught between perceived oppositions between economic and cultural hurts, between a politics based on interests versus a politics based on identity. Social movements involving economic justice, cultural justice (for example, trans-friendly bathrooms), and the environment are often hostile to each other. Groups such as Black Lives Matter that do combine the politics of recognition and redistribution had not, until very recently, resonated with a wide audience. The events of the Spring of 2020, post the death of George Floyd, however, indicate that this is beginning to change.

 The Right in the United States has been far more adept at understanding the interweaving of redistribution and recognition than the Left has, is quick to identify the state as an enemy rather than an ally, and has been able to capitalize on and to promote available American cultural narratives with deep roots—narratives that simultaneously harken back to the ideal of the family wage and to the glory of the American empire –to create a powerful politics of resentment. 

Narrative 1: The American Dream. This, one of the driving narratives of America, claims that if you work hard enough in America, you will be successful.37  Pulitzer Prize–winning author Viet Thanh Nguyen calls the myth of the American Dream the signal example of America’s successful colonization.38   For this myth to work, one must believe that hard work pays off and that one must be self-sufficient. The corollary myth, therefore, is that of the deserving versus the undeserving poor. The deserving poor are those like the working-class whites in Louisiana who have had jobs that were taken away from them.  The undeserving poor are those who simply do not want to work and whom the state assists. And we have seen how the perception of who the undeserving are came to be.

Narrative II: The American People. The Right has tapped into a deep core of nativism—a construction of “the people” in a way that excludes numerous categories of them. Here, the Right can capitalize on people’s anxieties that immigrants are not just taking away jobs from the deserving but also, through their numbers, turning America into a less white place. Trump’s popular slogan “Build the wall” reflects this deep core.

Narrative III: The American Family.  Undergirding the idea of the American nation and the American dream is the American family. The mythic structure of the American family, forged through the history of capitalism, is that men should be the breadwinners (implying that women who try to lead or compete should be put back in their place). These ideas do not, of course, originate with capitalism and also have deep roots within Christianity. 

The highly funded cultural entrepreneurs of the right wing, both evangelicals and others, heighten these three elements that enable the transformation of the politics of envy into the politics of resentment: resentment of immigrants and other nonwhite groups who can only make it with the state’s help, resentment of women who appear to be making it, and above all, resentment of the state that has once again turned its back on them. In asserting their right to be resentful, ordinary rightwing populists in the United States deploy what Jennifer Sherman has called moral capital39 —the capital that a person turns to when he or she has nothing else, a moral superiority that says, “We did it ourselves. We are not like those people who need handouts.  We are superior. This is the American way.” 

There is, however, one further final step: the Nietzschean understanding of ressentiment40 derived from Nietzsche’s analysis of those who felt powerless and weak. It is true that many Louisianans felt powerless and excluded. Yet we must also consider that for some there was a particular resentment born of dethronement—the decline of racial and patriarchal capital. The resentment of the dethroned in the absence of alternatives provided an opening for the politics of revenge. And it just so happens that in Donald Trump there arrived a leader with a will to power, a person who above all is driven by the need to seek revenge. In Wendy Brown’s words, to his supporters, it does not matter what policies he pursues, only that he opposes those they hold responsible for their suffering.”41 This heady brew, this concatenation of factors, both long-term and contingent, caused the sufferers of internal colonialism and the losers in the New World Order to become absorbed in the promises of the  Right and to hail as their answer Donald Trump. 

  • 1Arlie R. Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (New York: New Press, 2016).
  • 2Ibid., 5.
  • 3The analysis of Hochschild was previously published in Raka Ray, “A Case of Internal Colonialism?: Arlie Hochschild’s Strangers in Their Own Land,” British Journal of Sociology 68, no. 1 (2017): 129-133.
  • 4Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land, 21.
  • 5Mark Muro and Sifan Liu, “Another Clinton–Trump Divide: High-Output America vs. Low-Output America,” The Avenue Nov. 11, 2016.
  • 6I am not going to explore why affluent white men voted for Trump. That was a vote for a Republican status quo and less complicated to explain.
  • 7Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas?: How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (New York: Metropolitan Books, 2007).
  • 8Ann S. Orloff, Raka Ray, and Evren Savci, “Introduction: Perverse Politics?: Feminism, Anti-Imperialism, Multiplicity,” in Perverse Politics?: Feminism, Anti-Imperialism, Multiplicity (Bingley, UK: Emerald Group, 2016), 1–17.
  • 9Samuel Bowles and Herbert Gintis, Schooling in Capitalist America: Educational Reform and the Contradictions of Economic Life (New York: Basic Books, 1976).
  • 10Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015). “This type of political order rests on the republican principle, takes constitutional form, and incorporates the civic egalitarianism and majoritarian principles of democracy. At the same time, it accepts and enforces the liberal principle that the legitimate scope of public power is limited, which entails some constraints on or divergences from majoritarian decision making.” See William A. Galston, “The Populist Challenge to Liberal Democracy, Journal of Democracy 29, no. 2 (2018): 10.
  • 11Social Science Research Council, “Measure of America: Mapping America,” Retrieved from
  • 12In turn, these companies, paying virtually no taxes, give back to the community as charity or largesse—to the Audubon Nature Institute, for example—thus earning the gratitude of the people of Louisiana.
  • 13Acemoglu, Daron, Simon Johnson, and James A. Robinson. “The colonial origins of comparative development: An empirical investigation.” American Economic Review 91.5 (2001): 1369-1401
  • 14Nancy Fraser, “Contradictions of Capital and Care,” New Left Review 100, no. 99 (2016): 117.
  • 15There is some debate about how it came to be (whether it was for the interests of capitalists or working-class men or also a preference of working-class women). Either way, when we think about the impact of the decline of Fordism, the corresponding decline of “good” jobs cannot then be seen as simply an issue of class.
  • 16Richard L. Florida and Marshall M. A. Feldman, “Housing in US Fordism,” International Journal of Urban and Regional Research 12, no. 2 (1988): 187-210.
  • 17It became the state’s role to ensure the conditions for capitalism (privately owned economic growth) and to ameliorate the extreme distributional inequities produced by it. See James O’Connor, The Fiscal Crisis of the State (New York: St. Martin’s,1973); Lindlom, C. E. “Politics and Markets: The World’s Political-Economic Systems.” (1977) New York: Basic Books ; Bob Jessop, The Capitalist State (New York: New York University Press, 1982), 9–12.
  • 18Patricia Hill Collins, “It’s All in the Family: Intersections of Gender, Race, and Nation,” Hypatia 13, no. 3 (1998): 62-82; Laura R. Martin, (2017). “Historicizing White Nostalgia: Race and American Fordism,” Blind Field: A Journal of Critical Inquiry (Aug. 3, 2017…
  • 19Claudia Jones, An End to the Neglect of the Problems of the Negro Woman! (New York: Jefferson School of Social Science, 1949).
  • 20Ibid. Aware of the importance of the image of black women, she decried that black women in film and media were not portrayed “in [their] real role as breadwinner, mother[,] and protector of the family but as a traditional mammy who put the care of families and children of others above [their] own.” Ibid., 5.
  • 21Jones, End to the Neglect.
  • 22See Martin, “Historicizing White Nostalgia
  • 23Ibid.
  • 24Melinda Cooper, Family Values: Between Neoliberalism and the New Social Conservativism (New York: Zone Books, 2017), 21.
  • 25Hanna Rosin, “The End of Men,” Atlantic 306, no. 1 (2010): 56–72.
  • 26Raka Ray, Jennifer Carlson, and Abigail Andrews, The Social Life of Gender (Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage, 2018).
  • 27“Men Without Work: A Global Well-Being and Ill-Being Comparison,”….
  • 28Women still only make up 4.6 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs and sit on 16.9 percent of Fortune 500 corporate boards, the key decision-making positions in global industry (see Judith Warner and Danielle Corley, The Women’s Leadership Gap (Center for American Progress, 2014).…. Even fewer of these are women of color.
  • 29Joan C. Williams, White Working Class: Overcoming Class Cluelessness in America (Cambridge, MA: Harvard Business Review Press, 2017).
  • 30Marc Edelman, “Sacrifice Zones in Rural and Non-metro USA: Fertile Soil for Authoritarian Populism,” Open Democracy (February 19, 2018).…
  • 31Chantal Mouffe suggests that the hegemonic neoliberal formation is under attack from both right and left populisms.
  • 32Chantal Mouffe, For a Left Populism (New York: Verso Press, 2018).
  • 33Nancy Fraser, “From Redistribution to Recognition?: Dilemmas of Justice in a ‘Post-Socialist’ Age,” New Left Review 212 (1995): 68–93. Though Fraser has since modified this formulation to add the concept of representation, I refer to the original essay here.
  • 34One of the few analysts who insists on seeing Fordism as a compact that was simultaneously about class and gender, Melinda Cooper suggests that part of the problem with politics today is that the Left’s nostalgia for a return to Fordism is simultaneously and unconsciously a nostalgia for the patriarchal system of the family wage. In other words, the Left has not absorbed the understanding that Fordism was simultaneously about class, gender, and race, and thus the politics that responds to the decline of Fordism is also about class, gender, and race. Cooper, Family Values: Between Neoliberalism.
  • 35Caroline Steedman, Landscape for a Good Woman: A Story of Two Lives (New Brunswick, NJ: Rutgers University Press, 1987).
  • 36While I do not address the question here, there is a long history of the rise of evangelical and other discourses of the Right as well as a long history of their financial backing that must also be considered. Here I consider only why the discourse of the Right was attractive at all to this group of men.
  • 37The latest Pew study shows that the American Dream no longer means equality of opportunity but now means freedom to live life the way one wants. Samantha Smith, Most Think the “American Dream” is Within Reach for Them (Washington D.C.: Pew Research Center, Oct. 31, 2017).…
  • 38Viet Thanh Nguyen, Keynote address, Asian American and Diaspora Studies Program 50th Anniversary (University of California– Berkeley, Berkeley, CA, Nov. 2, 2019)..
  • 39Jennifer Sherman, “Coping with Rural Poverty: Economic Survival and Moral Capital in Rural America,” Social Forces 85, no. 2 (2006): 891–913.
  • 40Friedrich Nietzsche, Nietzsche: On the Genealogy of Morality and Other Writings. (1887; Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2017).
  • 41Wendy Brown, Undoing the Demos: Neoliberalism’s Stealth Revolution (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2015), 179.