Thursday, May 12, 2016

An explanation for the Donald?

Political science professor Lealle Ruhl draws on the greats for her lectures.
Why do people vote against the interests of their own class? Because they think someday they'll belong to a better one. Call it aspirational mobility, the delusion that they'll magically become rich.

 Political science professor Lealle Ruhl says if you listen to people on transit or in coffee shops talking about buying property in Vancouver, you'll catch a whiff. They'll say things like, "If everybody dies and leaves me all their money, I can afford it." Won't happen, not on normal salaries, says the dynamic instructor, whose continuing education classes at Simon Fraser University fill up so fast that she's teaching the same course back-to-back this summer to meet the demand.

 In her five-lecture series, "Understanding Identities in the 21st Century," Ruhl pulls together a pantheon of greats like John Stuart Mill, Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Machiavelli and Marx to discuss personal and collective identity, class, citizenship and politics.

 On Thursday, she drew on Thomas Frank's 2004 What's the Matter with Kansas? to talk about why the declining working class isn't fighting for its existence. One of the factors, she said, is easy credit that blurs the distinction between the classes. If you can buy a tiny slice of what the Kardashians have, you can project yourself into the delusion of wealth. Another point: The disparity between classes is as wide now (the one percent versus the 99) as it ever was in the 19th century, but the general sense in developed democracies is that class simply doesn't exist.

 An interesting situation as billionaire Donald Trump moves closer to the U.S. presidency, the desperate of America behind him.

1 comment:

  1. Along with the very thought provoking content of Lealle’s classes, I love to observe her as a teacher. To emphasize a point and to give it a personal face, she often gives examples from experiences with her students or in this case overhearing things. I did this too but it didn’t ever occur to me to make something up to make a point. Last week she gave an example of a Serb and Croat, both students in one of her classes. Now, there could well have been those students but….?
    Too late for me to use that technique myself!

    Aspirational mobility and projecting yourself into the delusion of wealth. I do have a real life example of that I could have used if I was teaching. The son of friends of ours is getting married this weekend and the father’s comments are thus:
    “They are perfectly matched. They both have to have the latest designer items, are both in debt, have poor credit ratings, and insecure jobs.”