This links to Part One--The Century of the Self 1 - Happiness Machines
This links to Part Two--The Century of the Self 2 - The Engineering of Consent
The image below links to the full documentary (four hours).
My family of origin was middle-class, and though bi-racial and bi-cultural, I was raised in a relatively sheltered and privileged manner. This was in an American enclave in the Philippine Islands. I left home early for the US, and my life experiences changed me considerably, especially when (in the 70s) I became a working single mom. I identified with the counter-culture movement of the 60s, and as I grew older, with progressive and radical politics.
So, from my point of view, this video definitely has a white middle-class vantage point. I’m not condemning it, because the documentary helped so much to fill in the gaps of my understanding of some of the things going on at the time. Also, I sometimes share this vantage point. Still, I don't like how this video leaves out where everybody else was coming from!
What was going on with me at the time was a process of increasing radicalization. My rejection of mainstream culture didn't evolve into a preoccupation with personal development and the accumulation of consumer goods. It was more like a jumping-off stage for re-linking with the history of the US labor movement, civil rights and other movements for expanding the democratic rights of the people. Above all, it was the civil disobedience and protest movements that defined that era for me.
I rejected Freud early on (thanks to Betty Friedan), and found EST and such totally repulsive. When Reagan was elected I took it to mean that fascism was subtly on the rise again. Today I’d call it corporate rule. We have yet to see how closely Trump can bring us to actual fascism. He's doing a pretty good job so far.
Many people in “my America” back then despised “yuppy-ism” (the transformation of counter-culture hippies into prosperous consumers) and rejected the pursuit of individualist concerns over social ones. The failure of hippie culture caused us to become even more politically extreme. I myself became a marxist in the 70s—until total disillusionment set in a decade later.
But then, disconnected from activism and the progressives I once knew, I became alienated and also more prosperous than I'd ever been (not counting childhood). In short, I was a "late bloomer," not sucked into the consumerist culture until the late 80s. And, it didn't even last very long. The “dot com bubble" crashed, and I lost a job I’d held for 15 years. There's nothing like being laid off in your 50s, especially if you’re a woman, to snap your senses back to reality.
Middle Class - Working Class
Okay, I got a little wordy there, describing where I’m coming from. What I started out meaning to say is this. Middle-class people have never been the majority of whites, although this class strata does seem to exert a lot of influence over popular culture. Especially as their issues are often backed by corporate culture and their media.
Many working-class whites could once rival the incomes of many college-educated middle-class whites. It was probably handy for state propaganda reasons to lump such working-class with the middle-class. But, while income is significant, it's not everything. Obviously the average auto worker and such have very different work and life experiences than people that have gone to college and work at jobs involving at least some measure of decision-making and thinking.
My personal observation is that working-class people (and not just whites) are often resistant to much of middle-class culture, even repelled by it. I think there have always been far more working-class than middle-class whites, and unfortunately it’s from the white working class that Trump garners so much of his support.
Political and cultural "intelligentsia” of all countries tend to come from educated middle- and upper-class people, and often they end up being the ideological and organizational leaders of political movements. But their culture? orientation? is often at odds with the masses. They often just don’t know how to relate to working-class whites or how to move them; instead only criticizing, vilifying and alienating them.
I once felt intense prejudices against “rednecks.” Today I see what a mistake this was. I think progressives should have been trying to figure out how to relate to them and influence them. On the other hand, I might be willing to find out if we have common ground, but my experience, again and again, is that they are not. On the contrary, they seem more of a threat to me and “my kind” than ever. So I have no idea how to interact with such people any better now than before.
It seems to me that Bernie could exert great appeal to that sector, though mass exposure to leadership like his may have come too late. I hope not!