33 Comments
Aug 25, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

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.

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Aug 25, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

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!

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Aug 25, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

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.

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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>.

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Aug 25, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

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.

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Aug 25, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

Reading this it clicked for me: the American South deployed “I got mine, screw everyone else” as a policy framework.

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That "I got mine" worldview is not just in the south, it's pretty much the entire Republican mindset.

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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.

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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.

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EXCELLENT piece!

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...

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Aug 25, 2023Liked by Hamilton Nolan

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.

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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.

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Perfectly epitomizes and represents liberal snobbery. And no, I'm not a trump supporter. I did not and would not vote for the reprehensible orange man.

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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.

FL

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/florida/fl.htm

NEW YORK

https://www.cdc.gov/nchs/pressroom/states/newyork/ny.htm

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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

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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.

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Curious, how much time have you spent in the South? What direct personal experiences can you draw from?

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author

I was born and raised in the South and therefore reserve the right to shit talk it as much as necessary.

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You don't have to be born in the South to find flaws in its politics. That is the kind of "representation" and "authenticity" crap that conservatives bitch about in liberals. You can just look at the numbers. The South has more than its share of murders, divorces, violence, terrorism, infant mortality, shortened life spans, and poverty. You can look at history. It has been a ball and chain for the rest of the country. There's a reason we got the Homestead Act, the transcontinental railroad, the Land Grant colleges and other nice things during the Civil War. The South wasn't holding the nation back then.

My girlfriend was born in Virginia. She says she was maybe five when she realized that there was something wrong with having to call white adults Mr. and Mrs. but that it was OK to call black adults by their first name. She was white and it rankled, as it should have.

P.S. Profanity has its place. We're guests on Nolan's site. He can "shit talk" all he wants.

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No reason for the profanity. What personal experiences have led you to these opinions?

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I'm originally from Florida and lived there for 30 years. I can back up this core part of Nolan's thesis: Since the state doesn't have an income tax, it rubber-stamps development of all kinds in the name of "economic progress". And since capital preservation is priority #1 for retirees, there's a general "NO" sentiment toward other types of funding. It's no way to run a government.

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What are we in middle school? You my friend are hilarious

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Did you reply to yourself? Usually it's advised to switch to an alt account for that.

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Uh probably I’m an idiot

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I love this platform I get called a snowflake and fascist all in one day. It’s late I better get some shut eye so I can joy ride in my crop duster tomorrow and drink my lemonade. I’m glad my question got answered

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I was born and spent decades in the south and have lived in most areas of the country. The south has good and bad people, and like everywhere I’ve ever been the ratios are nearly the same. It’s the posing as morally superior that is so repulsive to me. I’ve certainly been south long enough to recognize phony gentility- that “no need for that language, bless your heart, aw shucks” passive aggressive phoniness. Same goes for the disingenuous small town shtick about how nice and safe it is there. A large portion of city dwellers fled small town life in terror. Add a small town to typical southern mindset and what you get are mountains of secret cruelties and crimes. I have no interest in giving examples. If I was to do so I’d publish that book.

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Thanks for calling me a phony, I thought I was pretty direct.

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Phonyness, directness, and cheap moralizing are not only not mutually exclusive, but often go hand in hand.

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You make some very good points. I would extend your sentiments to the U.S. treats the Global South and how everyone, including northerners who don't fit your description of bad people here, have an obligation to fight for better conditions for all people both in the U.S. and outside. My first post was about the imperialism of global trade (https://bathruminations.substack.com/p/global-inequality) and I have an upcoming post about the book Cobalt Red and our reliance on what amounts to slave labor in the Congo, paralleling your idea of not "laying back and enjoying the fruits of the oppression."

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