An inferiority complex-ridden region depends on eating its own.
All under the guise of freedom. The freedom to know how to help your fellow man, refuse to do it, watch him flounder, then exploit his vulnerability.
Actually, providing low cost labor pool has been the south’s thing for decades -- until a lot of the jobs went overseas. (Yes, I know; manufacturers are still locating in the south, but getting cheap labor is only part of it. In the case of car companies, at least, it’s a political hedge. If it wasn’t that, *all* the car manufacturers in the south would be in Mexico.)
Parallel to Hamilton’s post, is the fact that white southerners believe in suffering and self-abuse. Hence the continued election of the kind of politicians to which Hamilton refers. One can’t help them and they don’t want to be helped. See, for example, “Dying of Whiteness” and Case and Deaton’s “Deaths of Despair “.
The problem described in the post isn’t just the politicians but the little people as well.
Very well said! As a 77 year old white cis male, one of the steadily unfolding horrors of my life has been that, after being born in Texas, leaving at 18, I have nevertheless witnessed the "Southern-ization" of our entire society, much along the lines the author described. It is as if very lunatic cult I experienced as a tallow youth in Dallas long ago has gone mainstream and captured the Commanding Heights of our society, polity, and economy. It is a ghastly, grotesque spectacle. Thank you for this column!
That whole thing about there not being enough space in elite private schools for all the rich people moving to Florida is the most <chef's kiss> thing to ever <chef's kiss>.
Another outstanding piece of writing. I've never put it together so succinctly in my mind, though a lot of those thoughts have been kicking around for decades. I'll definitely share this. Thank you.
Reading this it clicked for me: the American South deployed “I got mine, screw everyone else” as a policy framework.
Thanks Hamilton. You are very clear, as usual. Excellent article. I was wondering about human nature. Show me one rich person in US happy to pay tax and look after people in poverty. The right wing is what they do, here, there and everywhere. Take care.
The South (well, Florida) even does this for other counties. In a very short amount of time Miami will be an island where only certain parts remain above the rising sea. They will build huge condo buildings on the last remaining plots of land, which will be entirely made up of “luxury” condos, and owned by extremely wealthy South Americans looking to hide their money from tax and inflation. All in the name of not letting their vast wealth be taxed in order to provide basic necessities to the local Colombian/Argentinian/Peruvian/Brazilian/etc population.
Once Florida is gone, it will be funny to watch the wealthy Hispanics from South and Central America displace the racist elite in another Southern city. I hope it’s Charleston, because the idea of an Argentinian cattle rancher ripping down a historic plantation, obviously built on slave labor, and replacing it with some modern monstrosity is going to cause more consternation there than anything else. Once the plantations are replaced by modern cinderblock mansions it might erode that Southern identity.
Now, that won’t directly help the black and poor white people of the South in the short term, but as the Dixie freedom bullshit gets replaced maybe it helps destroy the myth, and thus the migration south.
Made me think of a quip from the Scottish economist Mark Blyth about the precarious position of the wealthy: (paraphrased)
Ultimately, the Hampdens lie on an indefensible beachhead...Eventually they will be coming to get you...
Great piece. And particularly tragic that just as the post-slavery system of exploiting the rural black population in the South was the model for mobilizing colonial agricultural labor around the world, the modern South's model of elites keeping their societies undeveloped and getting rich off of their people's low wages is the model for many third world elites today.
The South was so focused on the cash crops, mainly cotton, of its small ruling class that it imported food well into the 20th century. That was the golden era of small family farming in the Midwest. There was good money in farming to feed the impoverished workers of the South who fed the fortunes of the South's wealthy. When the Depression hit, the South's economy collapsed and took the Midwest with it.
Outstanding! Just so perfectly encapsulates the organizational reality of the south. So much I miss and love about home there but this crushing reality makes it so hard to think about returning.
I was cheering your post, but admittedly I have confirmation bias as I am a lifelong New Yorker and consider NYC the center of the universe.
That said, your post made me look up some health stats from the CDC comparing NEW YORK to FL. links below.
Notably, FL "leads" NY in rates of Teen Births, Infant Mortality, Divorce, Drug Overdose Deaths, Firearm Injury Deaths, Homicides, and Covid 19 Deaths.
The basis for the inferiority complex is rooted in the slave system mentality. First they know that they’re incapable of doing the hard work; then they realize they have rationalized away all real morality in the service of greed. Then there’s the feeling that the people they have oppressed have become stronger every respect because of the system they created, and in spite of all the abuse. Even if it’s below conscious awareness it shows up in anger, resentment, and hatefulness. The plantation states politicians will be shown as paper tigers when the oil 💵 runs out and climate change really gets really nasty, it’s only a question of when, and it’s sooner than they think. Then the real ugliness begins.
I might be missing something but the cost of living benefit that is drawing more people south in the post-COVID era has a lot more to do with housing cost than labor cost doesn’t it? Housing costs have much more to do with NIMBYism than labor. People are migrating because real estate and rents are expensive, not because cappuccinos are.
Also shouldn’t we be applauding corporate wealth and jobs moving outside of tradition metropolises? Bringing cities like Charlotte, Austin, Miami into intellectual/economic/cultural prominence improves economic opportunity and reduces polarization across the country
Curious, how much time have you spent in the South? What direct personal experiences can you draw from?