Monday, September 03, 2012

I'm cheating...

...by using a comment from another post as a post in itself.

Anyhow, a commenter noted "Since you apparently don't like populists..." and I replied that there are two probable reasons for that:

1. The word "populist" is so often followed by "demagogue" that it's hard not to mentally think of the latter when hearing the former. I have come to associate it with rabble just waiting for their rouser.

2. Where I come from, "common" is still used as a term of insult, ranked somewhere between "poor" and "lowdown" if I remember my taxonomy aright. I believe it to be a holdover from the days when America was still fondly imagined as the land of the Natural Aristocrat, rather than the Proud (to be a) Peasant. The latter attitude no doubt came west in steerage in the baggage of many of my ancestors.

30 comments:

Ed Rasimus said...

What is there to like about "populists"? Seriously, it connotes someone who gathers a crowd, asks them what they want, then promises to give it to them free of charge and without regard to economic reality.

It is easy to be a populist, but hard to balance the books at the end of the day. At some point the productive class notices and either leaves or stops producing.

Canthros said...

Populism is a politics of the mob. It does not have a particularly great record.

It is an unfortunately short step from democracy to populism. Frankly, I think both parties are practicing a form of the latter; they're just appealing to different mobs.

It will take a pretty serious sea change to kick populism qua populism back out of American politics. For starters, you'd have to have voters more familiar with history than "that class I failed in high school".

og said...

I failed every English class I took, I annoyed my teachers to no end. My grammar is still dismal and my typing horrible (though I can usually spell). I knew all my life I was going to be the guy who fixed stuff, and I have adequate communication skills to accomplish that. (painfully, more so than my "Superiors")

Still, it grates on me to see really horrible grammar and premeditated misuse of words, by people who should by all rights be better than that. The number of ostensibly well educated people who can't string ten words together is appalling to me, and Thursday when our service manager said "Isn't this great? our new serviceman uses commas and spaces and understandable grammar" I was very annoyed. "Why would you celebrate ONE guy who does that out of fourteen? That's disgusting" To be proud of being deliberately second rate is so... democrat.

Chris said...

For many, the concept of American Exceptionalism means that we can succeed at something (like populist policies or pacifying Afghanistan) that has always been a failure in the past.

Chris said...

@og - Thank you for your mini-rant, as it is a pet peeve of mine also. Complimenting an adult on basic, elementary-school skills is like thanking the cashier for handing you the correct change (which has been pre-calculated by the register, since we no longer expect people to be able to make change without electronic help).

Cormac said...

Og: failing English and still managing to use "ostensibly" in context in his rant...
Something tells me there's as much wrong with the education system as there is with many of the people being shoveled through it... some people will just figure out how to assemble (or scramble) the base components of a language, and others will treat the written word like monkey men gawking at an obelisk in the middle of nowhere.

AM said...

It ain't cheating, just "condensed inspiration" methinks.

pax said...

I believe it to be a holdover from the days when America was still fondly imagined as the land of the Natural Aristocrat, rather than the Proud (to be a) Peasant.

Speaking of cheating, there's a whole essay hiding in this sentence somewhere. Maybe even a book.

Unknown said...

In Henry V, even Pistol who is a grunt asked a disguised Henry:

Discuss unto me; art thou officer?
Or art thou base, common and popular?

Yup. Popular was a pejorative.

og said...

Tam, really,what did you expect?

Anonymous said...

The common (heh) thread of distaste in recent posts? It's the "ist" .

Call me an istist.

PB

Tam said...

I can't believe I actually said "mentally think", as if it were possible to think some other way... :rolleyes:

Tam said...

"Did you ever wish you had sonic hearing?"

Tam said...

pax,

"Speaking of cheating, there's a whole essay hiding in this sentence somewhere. Maybe even a book."

Yeah, at some point the Typical American stopped looking at nobility and saying "I'm as good as you," and instead began saying "You're no better than me." But when?

NotClauswitz said...

Populism is to "Popular" as Progressiveism is to "Progress" and Liberalism is to "Liberal"...

Kristopher said...

Chris: Thank the cashier anyway.

He or she is making near minimum wage to help you get your stuff.

I always look the hired help right in the eye and thank them.

I get outstanding service simply because I don't treat them like robots.

Ed said...

At the conclusion of the Constitutional Convention of 1787, a woman asked Dr. Benjamin Franklin "Well, Doctor, what have we got, a republic or a monarchy?" Franklin replied "A republic, if you can keep it." Not a democracy with majority rule, but a republic with elected representatives, a judiciary, and an executive branch, constrained by the rules defined by the Constitution. How inconvenient for some.

Ed Foster said...

I believe it was transplanted Englishman John Derbyshire who explained the difference between a "working class" Englishman and his American equivalent this way:

An English navvy is digging a ditch as a Rolls glides by, with a well dressed gentleman sitting in the back. The navvy thinks "I'll see you out of that fine car some day and down here scratching in the mud with me, you fat bastard".

His American counterpart looks up as the Cadillac rolls by and thinks "That could be me in twenty years if I work hard enough and smart enough".

The great cultural enemy of America, at least since the 1920's, has always been Britain. Lovely people as individuals, but anybody worthy over there has surrendered to the mob in the hope that things won't fall apart until they're dead.

If Maggie Thatcher ran today, even the Tories would laugh at her.

What makes Britain's collapse into socialism dangerous to us is the fact that they speak the same language we do (sort of), and maintain, externally, the same forms of justice we do.

The British power elite, products of the politically hard left "grade two" tier of public universities in the late '50's through the early '80's, have gradually usurped the tradition controlled British political system fairly easily, since there is no legally binding "Bill of Rights" in British Juris Prudence.

Look at what the Clintons tried to foist on the U.S. in the early '90's, and consider Bill Clinton's time in Oxford. Coincidence? I.T.N.

A certain, usually urban, element of America has always aped the style and thought of Britain's movers and shakers, and that affect makes it easier to disseminate the "Bolshie" or Fabianist pseudo-ideology and disinformation, usually accompanied with an amused sneer.

What was it Bill Buckley said about liberals? "It's not that they are averse to letting conservatives express their opinions, it's the droll humor of imagining such simplistic cretins might actually think they could have a coherent opinion".

Chris said...

Kristopher: I usually do thank the cashier if they make any attempt whatsoever to rise above the robotic. But those that don't verbalize either the amount of the total or the change, and dump it into your hand (bills first, then coins, so that I have to grab it quickly to avoid dropping said coins), not so much.

Anonymous said...

I guess I have made it in the blog world by having you grab a sentence fragment from me and make it into a post. I can't really say I am a populist myself since I hold positions like pro-free trade, pro-immigration, pro-hard money (though Bernanke makes WJB look like a hard money man), etc. But I share their perceptions that those running our government, large corporations, major cultural institutions and the like (i.e. the elite) are completely clueless, out of control and in some cases evil.

Tam said...

Anon 5:39,

"I can't really say I am a populist myself..."

Didn't say, or even imply, that you were.

Any butthurt you feel is all on you. Feel free to stick around for the free-form reindeer games, wherein anybody's comment can be taken as a jumping-off point for somebody else's blatherings, as you just witnessed. ;)

Anonymous said...

And participated in.

Actually, I was just trying to impress you that I knew stuff about WJB. Keep up with the good stuff. I read you everyday.

Justthisguy said...

Ah, yes, "common". As a Southern boy, my Momma used that word to train me, as in "Don't do that; it makes you look common!"

kishnevi said...

Another instance I just stumbled on of the "greatness" of America's populace--someone in an Internet forum who meant Napoleon but said Neapolitan, to a chorus of general confusion until someone else tumbled onto the real meaning.

Unknown at 11:20 AM--Pistol was simply referring to the distinction between (in modern parlance) officers and enlisted men.

Tam said...

" I was just trying to impress you that I knew stuff about WJB."

Heck, just knowing that I wasn't the only kid who stayed awake though AmHist 101 is what gives me the strength to go on. :)

Anonymous said...

O.T. err... sorry but
MONSTER HUNTER LEGION today!
dast

Anonymous said...

re: Monster Hunter Legion
O.T. and sorry again, but amazon canuckistan has Sept 4 release, and amazon.com shows Sept 9. Larry C's blog says this week.
All the best. d.

Matt G said...

Tam is TOO a populist.
Last time I saw her, she had a toaster on her hip.

Ed said...

Common? That's a good quality in sense, honesty and decency.

"In the present case it is a little inaccurate to say I hate everything. I am strongly in favor of common sense, common honesty and common decency. This makes me forever ineligible to any public office of trust or profit in the Republic. But I do not repine, for I am a subject of it only by force of arms.
- H. L. Mencken (1946)

Justthisguy said...

Well, Ed, I do say that I am among the last of the real democrats (there may be as many as three or four of us left)

In that I am a believer in:

Small business,
Small farms,
Small government, and
Small arms.