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MSNBC: Mark Ames and Yasha Levine
Broke the Koch Brothers' Takeover of America
Class War For Idiots / January 22, 2011
By Mark Ames


In the summer of 2004, I published an article in the New York Press that answered Thomas Frank’s question “What’s the Matter With Kansas?” The Bush-Kerry campaign was heating up, and it was clear to me that the American left was going to make the same mistake it’s been making for 30 years, and will continue making until it faces some unpleasant truths about the rank, farcical psychology that drives American voting habits. Why don’t they vote in their own economic interests? Why don’t voters vote rationally, the way we were taught in grade school civics classes? In a rational world, with rational voters voting in their rational economic interests, Bush—who dragged America into two lost wars before destroying the entire financial system—would’ve been forced to resign before the first primary and exiled to Saudi Arabia; rationally, rational voters would have elected anyone or anything, John Kerry or a coconut crab, over that fuck-up of fuck-ups, George W. Bush.

The answer came to me just I was just finishing my book Going Postal. Researching and writing that book was a real mind-fuck: spending all those isolated months sloshing through Middle American malice. I realized something obvious when I pulled back from all that research and looked at the Kerry-Bush race: malice and spite are as American as baseball and apple pie. But it’s never admitted into our romantic, naïve, sentimental understanding of who Americans really are, and what their lives are really like.

If the left wants to understand American voters, it needs to once and for all stop sentimentalizing them as inherently decent, well-meaning people being duped by a tiny cabal of evil oligarchs—because the awful truth is that they’re mean, spiteful jerks being duped by a tiny cabal of evil oligarchs. The left’s naïve, sentimental, middle-class view of “the people” blinds them to all of the malice and spite that is a major premise of Middle American life. It’s the same middle-class sentimentality that allowed the left to be duped into projecting candidate Obama into the great progressive messiah, despite the fact that Obama’s record offered little evidence besides skin pigment to support that hope. (For the record, I called out the left’s gullible Obamaphilia during the primary campaigns in early 2008—here in Alternet, and here in The eXile.)


Here we are, in 2011—and although 2004 seems like a different world from today, separated by more events than we can make sense of, the left still hasn’t come around to answering that big Kansas mystery about Americans’ farcical voting habits. So the left was left baffled once again when, in 2009, millions of Americans volunteered as foot-soldiers to fight for a second-rate TV personality named Rick Santelli and his rich speculator friends at the Chicago Exchange, who called for a revolution to protect their money from “losers” because Santelli and his speculator buddies didn’t want to “subsidize losers’ mortgages.” Next thing you know, these same losers took to the streets to defend the semi-celebrity Santelli, his rich speculator pals, and the Koch brothers from… losers.

That is, they revolted against themselves.

The whole thing was absurd, of course—when Yasha Levine and I first broke the story in February, 2009 that the Tea Party was an Astroturf campaign funded by the (then little-known) Koch brothers and FreedomWorks, no one was more surprised by it all than we were.

It took a long time for the left to get behind our story, largely because it was just too damn depressing for the left to accept. But by then, the Tea Party story got even more absurd: what began as a tightly-coordinated PR campaign quickly exploded into a genuine mass protest movement. And why not? If Kansas had spent two decades voting against its rational interests in the polling booth, why wouldn’t Kansas take the next logical step and hit the streets for an anti-self-interest revolution?

And they weren’t just revolting against their own rational economic self-interest—they also rebelled against their health and longevity, storming town hall meetings with guns threatening any lawmaker who dared offer them cheaper, better health care of the sort enjoyed in every other First World country, where people live longer healthier lives than we do, at half the cost. Fueled by spite, these protesters proved to the world that Americans would rather die in misery and bankruptcy than live longer healthier lives. Thanks to them, Obama, who was never thrilled about offering us cheaper health care in the first place, made sure that whatever happened, we’d get the very worst health care reform possible, one that left everyone bitter except the health care plutocrats. A victory for the spite-ists, in other words.

Like the Grumpy Old Man character, Americans are miserable and we like it! We love it! Hallelujah!

Just as in 2004, today, in 2011, the left can’t make sense of it all. So the only way they can frame this contemporary American insanity is either by blaming it all on the oligarchs who exploit this latent spite, as if taking the oligarch funding out of the equation would solve it all…or, when getting too close to facing the awful possibility that maybe a lot of Americans are just contemptible jerks in dead-ender lives, the left retreats into the safe, comforting irony of Jon Stewart, where it’s stored away as just another zinger that requires no serious thought, no painful analysis.

Here is my article that tries to get the left to finally face the truth about American voters as they really are—to consider the possibility that maybe a huge bloc of American voters are worse than merely “irrational.” What if there’s not much to like about them at all? Or more importantly, why the hell do we need to like them; why is “likable” even a factor?

My longtime Alternet editor and friend, Jan Frel, has been pestering me to rework and republish this article. So here it is. I’ve edited it from the original, which can be found here.

*     *     *

Spite the Vote

June 15,2004

New York Press

It came on suddenly and without warning. Fuck the Democrats. Fuck the liberals. I hope Bush wins. I hope Bush steals another election and urinates into everyone’s wounds…

This interior rant lasted for a good five minutes before I snapped out of it. The realization that some pro-Republican sentiment lurks inside of me was enough to make me want to stick my head in the oven. Or throw myself out the window like the possessed priest at the end of The Exorcist.

What inspired this crazed outburst wasn’t any love for Bush. It was an instinctual reaction to a tonal shift I’ve detected among the American left. They’re losing that brave, cornered, hysterical tone that I’ve identified with, a tone that came from years of increasing marginalization combined with a sense that the whole country had gone completely insane.

For the first time in almost 30 years, the left has a chance to occupy the reality vacuum that opened up after the big barbecue in Fallujah. The left can sense that their time may have finally arrived, and they’re prematurely settling into their new role as saviors of the national soul, with their former hysteria already reverting to a smug, nurturing tone. The once-vicious humor, born of desperation and hatred, is again becoming nauseatingly didactic and responsible. This is a disaster. The left seems to be buying into the high school civics teacher’s idiotic lie that “you can’t just be de-structive, you have to be con-structive as well.”

What’s worse is that the new smug tone is being accompanied by high-profile outbursts of fake rage. Yesterday’s genuine fury has been hijacked and reified by painted-up frauds like Al Gore and Nancy Pelosi, who look about as comfortable feigning rage as Rumsfeld looked when he tried to squirt a few tears before Congress over Abu Ghraib.

Some people say that the Democrats are actually getting bolder and more vicious. I don’t buy it. What Gore and Pelosi and the others on their bandwagon are really trying to do is snuff out the real rage before it spreads and threatens their fake opposition. It’s a classic strategy in big politics: Co-opt the opposition, suck the life out of it and dump its dried-out shell on the side of the freeway, where it can never bother you again.

This is America, not Denmark. In this country, tens of millions of people choose to watch FoxNews not simply because Americans are credulous idiots or at the behest of some right-wing corporate cabal, but because average Americans respect viciousness. They are attracted to viciousness for a lot of reasons. In part, it reminds them of their bosses, whom they secretly adore. Americans hate themselves for the way they behave in public, always smiling and nodding their heads with accompanying really?s and uh-huhs to show that they’re listening to the other person, never having the guts to say what they really feel. So they vicariously scream and bully others into submission through right-wing surrogate-brutes. Spending time watching Sean Hannity is enough for your average American white male to feel less cowardly than he really is.

The left won’t accept this awful truth about the American soul, a beast that they believe they can fix “if only the people knew the Truth.”

But what if the Truth is that Americans don’t want to know the Truth? What if Americans consciously choose lies over truth when given the chance–and not even very interesting lies, but rather the blandest, dumbest and meanest lies? What if Americans are not a likeable people? The left’s wires short-circuit when confronted with this terrible possibility; the right, on the other hand, warmly embraces Middle America’s rank soul and exploits it to their full advantage. The Republicans know Americans better than the left. They know that it’s not so much Goering’s famous “bigger lie” that works here, but the dumber and meaner the lie, the more the public wants to hear it repeated.

And this leads to another truth that the left still has trouble understanding: Millions of Americans, particularly white males, don’t vote for what’s in their so-called best interests. Thomas Frank recently attacked this riddle in his new book What’s the Matter with Kansas? but he fails to answer his own question. He can’t, in fact, because his is a flawed premise. Frank, who is at his best when he’s vicious, makes the same old error of falling back on the comforting lie that Middle Americans are actually innocent victims in all this, duped by an evil corporate-political machine that subtly but masterfully manipulates the psychological levers of cultural backlash, implying that if average Americans were left to their own devices, they would somehow make entirely rational, enlightened choices and elect sensible New Deal Democrats every time.

This puts Frank in a logical bind he never quite gets out of. Like all lefties, he is incapable of taking his ruthless analysis beyond a certain point—a point that considers the most obvious question no one has the guts to ask: “What if Americans don’t want to be enlightened? What if they’re a bunch of mean, miserable hicks as hostile to enlightened thinking as they are to the possibility of free, quality health care?”

The reason he can’t go there is simple: the entire left-progressive edifice, built on a Spielbergian caricature of decent honest Americana, collapses once they’re humanized.

The underlying major premise of humanist-leftist ideology assumes that people are intrinsically sympathetic, reasonable and fair, and are only spoiled by nefarious outside influences. But if you allow that tens of millions of Americans are defiantly mean and craven and defiantly ignorant, the humanist-left construct loses its purpose and self-destructs. “Why the fuck should I bother fighting for Middle Americans,” they ask, “if they’re just as loathsome, in their own petty way, as their exploiters, with whom they actively collaborate?”

Rather than grapple with that dilemma, the left pretends it doesn’t exist. The people are good—if only the people were enlightened and freed up to think for themselves, they’d behave differently, better, more earnestly and decently.

This giant flaw in the left-progressive construct, and their refusal to even begin grappling with it, is what keeps the left chasing its tail over the great Kansas mystery, and never getting any closer to answering their question: Why do so many working- and middle-class white males vote against what is obviously their own best interests?

I can tell you why. They do so out of spite. Put your ear to the ground in this country, and you’ll hear the toxic spite churning. It’s partly the result of commercial propaganda and sexual desperation–a desperation far more common than is admitted. If you didn’t know anything about how America’s propaganda worked, you’d think that every citizen here experienced four-dimensional multiple orgasms with beautiful, creative, equally satisfied partners, morning, noon and night. So-called “Reality TV” makes life seem so much more interesting and epic and dramatic than it really is for the overwhelming majority—whose misery and malice only grow worse when they compare their own lonely, boner-killing reality to the “reality” on their TVs. “No wonder my reality has never been filmed—I’m not even real in this culture.” From that follows a nagging fear that others might discover just how unfilmable their reality worlds are–and spite towards anyone whose reality is filmable.

The flat truth however is that despite all of our desperate attempts to convince ourselves otherwise, America is an erogenous no man’s land. Most white males here (at least the straight ones) have either dismal sex lives or no sex lives at all. No sex, no dates worth remembering, no romance worth reliving—even though a majority of Americans experience this barrenness on a daily basis, officially, consciously, it doesn’t exist. As bad as this hurts, the pain is compounded every time you expose yourself to the cultural lies that await you at every turn–that is, every waking hour and during deep REM sleep, when the subliminal messages kick in. This wretchedness leads to a desire for vengeance, to externalize the inner famine–it leads directly to the Republican camp.

Spite-voters also lack the sense that they have a stake in America’s future. That’s another area that separates the spite-bloc’s way of thinking from the progressive-left that wants to help them. There is something proprietary implied in all of the didacticism and concern found in the left’s tone—and they do all have that grating, caring tone, it’s built into the foundations of their whole structure. But consider this: The left struggles to understand why so many non-millionaire Americans vote Republican, and yet they rarely ask themselves why so many millionaires, particularly the most beautiful and privileged millionaires in Manhattan and Los Angeles, vote for the Democrats.

I can answer both. Rich, beautiful, coastal types are liberal precisely because their lives are so wonderful. They want to preserve their lives exactly as they are. If I were a rich movie star, I’d vote for peace and poverty relief. War and domestic insurrection are the greatest threats to their already-perfect lives–why mess with it? This rational fear of the peasantry is frequently misinterpreted as rich guilt, but that’s not the case. They just want to pay off all the have-nots to keep them from storming their manors and impaling them on stakes.

Republican elites don’t set off the spite glands in the same way, and it’s not only because of a sinister right-wing propaganda machine. Take a look at a photo of the late billionaire Sam Walton, a dessicated Calvinist in a baseball cap and business suit, and you’ll see why. If Republican billionaires enjoy their wealth, they sure as hell hide it well. As far as one can tell, Republican billionaires genuinely like working 18-hour days in offices, and attending dreary charity dinners. More importantly, it’s hard for us to imagine that these stuffy gray-haired plutocrats have interesting sex lives—nothing inspires murderous envy more than someone else’s great sex life, which is why a celebrity is so much more viscerally hateful than the richest, meanest plutocrat. These right-wing billionaires’ idea of having fun is a day on the golf green (a game as slow and frustrating as a day in the office) or attending conferences with other sleazy, cheerless Calvinist billionaires. If that’s what all their wealth got them, let ’em have it–so says the spite bloc. This explains why the Republican elite–the only true and all-powerful elite in America today–is not considered an “elitist” class in the spleens of the white male have-nots. Elitism as defined today is a synonym for “happy,” not “rich” or “powerful.” Happiness is the scarcest resource of all, not money. And the happy supply has been cornered by the beautiful, famous and wealthy coastal elite, the ones who never age, and who are just so damned concerned for the have-nots’ well-being. In that sense, you can see how the Republicans were able to successfully manipulate the meaning of “elitism” to suit their needs. They weren’t just selling dogshit to the credulous masses; they were selling pancreatic balm to the needy.

At the other end of the economic spectrum, non-millionaires who vote Republican know all-too-well that the country is not theirs. They are mere wage-slave fodder, so their only hope is to vote for someone who makes the very happiest people’s lives a little less happy. If I’m an obese 40-something white male living in Ohio or Nevada, locked into a permanent struggle with foreclosure, child support payments and diabetes, then I’m going to vote for the guy who delivers a big greasy portion of misery to the Sarandon-Robbins dining room table, then brags about it on FoxNews. Even if it means hurting myself in the process.

This explains the mystery of why Bush still has a chance of winning in November, even though most Americans acknowledge that his presidency is little more than a series of slapstick fuck-ups with apocalyptic consequences. Inspector Clouseau meets the Book of Revelations. Close to half of this country will support Bush simply to spite that part of America that it sees as most threatened by the Iraq debacle. If the empire ends up collapsing into that filthy, sizzling hellhole in the desert, if more terrorists are created to help set off dirty bombs in Manhattan or Los Angeles, our spiteful voter has a real chance of finally achieving some empowerment.

It’s simple mathematics: Bring down the coastal elite and the single 40-something Ohio salesman might actually matter. And if they’re not brought down, at the very least bad right-wing policies make happy coastal elites’ lives a little less perfect, a little less enviable—at least they’re suffering from indigestion and palpitations over the possibility that insane right-wing policies could ruin them at any time. And in a world of so little possibility and so much petty malice, that’s better than nothing.

This is why all the talk about “personal interests” is a sham, a delusion that the left needs to get over. Spite voters don’t care solely about their own rational economic interests, nor are they bothered by how “the left talks as if they know what everyone’s best interests are,” an argument you often hear from the whiney right. What bothers the Spite-ists is that the left really does know what’s in their interests. If you’re miserable, you don’t want to be told what’s best for you by someone who’s correct–it’s sort of like being occupied by a foreign army with good intentions. You’d rather fuck things up on your own, something you’re quite good at, and bring others down with you—than live with the shame of having been helped by someone more decent and talented than you.

Spite voting is mostly a white male phenomenon, which is why a majority of white males vote Republican. It comes from a toxic mix of thwarted expectations, cowardice, shame, and a particular strain of anomie that is unique to the white American male experience.

Spite voting is not just an American problem; it’s a flaw in democracies everywhere. When I lived in Kosovo in the late summer of 2000, I asked my Serb friends there if they thought Milosevic was going to win the upcoming Serbian presidential elections. Most were pessimistic. They told me of friends, young people even, who voted for Milosevic “just out of spite.” The Serbian spite voters believed that if the opposition got their way and Serbia became as tame and civilized as Luxembourg, all those college-educated Otpor protestors and pro-Western intellectuals would simply take the privileges enjoyed by Milosevic’s cronies for themselves. They didn’t want caste-based happiness and its accompanying propaganda, so they voted for Milosevic precisely because he was wrong, because he was a vote against hope. Under Milosevic, nearly every Serb was fucked equally, and that suited some people, particularly some Serbian males, just fine. But if you’re a failure under two completely different regimes, then the inescapable conclusion would be that it’s your own damn fault. Better to keep the villain in, and the young ambitious go-getters out.

George W. Bush and Milosevic have a lot in common. Before Milosevic, the Serbs were loved by everyone in the West. But as their third-way socialist economy crumbled and they perceived a threat from local Muslim populations, Milosevic pandered to the people’s darkest fears. He dragged them into what we call “wars of choice” and turned the international community against them, to the point where Serbia was the most reviled nation in Europe. He attacked the U.N. and the West as anti-Serb, and kept the country in a permanent state of war and fear and isolation. Like Bush, Milosevic destroyed his little empire almost as quickly as he assumed control of it. It took a decade and massive covert and overt Western efforts to finally get Milosevic out of power and into the dock. For many a spiteful Serb male, those years of decline, hatred and isolation were glorious years indeed.

Sadly, the chances of the international community putting their blue helmets where their whingeing mouths are to overthrow Bush, liberating us from our own bad judgment, are nil to negative-nil.

But all’s not lost. There is still a chance to get the spite-ists vote to defect. Kerry might be the right candidate to blunt some of Bush’s natural spite-support.

One look at Bush and you’ll see why: Bush is the privileged frat-boy/jock asshole that every spiteful male recognizes from his school days. Spiteful males may have supported him in the past, but only because Bush’s cartoonish stupidity gave a daily dose of stomach cramps to the responsible, concerned Americans who voted for Gore. And really, what white male in his spiteful mind could possibly have voted for Al Gore, with that obsequious “Am I pleasing you?” smile he beamed at you? Spiteful white males don’t want to be pleased, for fuck’s sake–they want other people to be dis-pleased.

Kerry, on the other hand, has that long mortician’s face, and a dull, forgetful delivery that puts you to sleep, making it hard for the spiteful voter to work up a hate-sweat just on pure knee-jerk instinct. With Kerry, the spleen just daydreams about other things.

If there were one perfect spite-ist president, it was Richard Nixon. He looked mean, spoke mean and stomped on the hippies who were having too many orgasms, the last real orgasms this country ever witnessed. Kerry shares some of the same repulsive physical qualities as Nixon, repulsive in the sense that he doesn’t look like a tv anchor–which is a good thing. And while Kerry may not stomp on hippies, it’s hard to imagine that he ever enjoyed a single minute of his life. There is nothing about Kerry to make a man envious, even if he is rich and famous. You get the sense that Kerry’s greatest joy in life is sitting alone in his office at the end of a long day, thumbing through his fresh collection of business cards and coveting the connections that each one brings. When it comes to the spite intangibles, Kerry is the closest thing to Nixon that the Democrats have ever fielded.

Kerry won’t draw the spite vote, but his creepy face, along with Bush’s jock glow, just might neutralize it–out of spite. All the left has to do is not stir up the wrong bile. That means keeping the focus on Bush’s corporate-jock clique, and keeping it mean. Just don’t let us know how responsible and concerned you are. Don’t let us know that you care about us, and the election is all yours.

*          *          *

Addendum, January 20, 2011: Clearly, Kerry didn’t read my piece.

But even if he had, he wouldn’t have known how to save himself. Rove and the Republicans know their spite, and know how to harness that spite and focus it on a target, no matter how inoffensive that target might seem—even if the target was a house plant with hair like John Kerry.

That’s why the Republicans focused on Kerry’s war hero record. Everyone was shocked by this strategy: “Why would the Republicans go after Kerry’s war record when Bush and Cheney were deserters?” The answer was obvious if you understood how spite works. Kerry’s war heroism secretly pissed off untold millions of American males, especially middle-aged white American males, who identified with the cowardice and loud-mouthed hypocrisy of the Republican war deserters, because most white middle-class American males were war deserters too. It’s like the homophobe closet-case phenomenon: most boomers who deserted the Vietnam War resent that stain on their past, so naturally they’re for the rankest, basest draft-dodging hypocrites like Rush Limbaugh or Newt Gingrich, who dignify draft-dodging as machismo, and turn that private stain into a purple heart.

Compare the shame of the average white male American’s Vietnam record to Kerry’s war record: He saw real combat and faced real danger and killed real living people, rather than just yapping about killing in the comments section of Pajamas Media like most white males, or shouting about it on FoxNews with all the draft-dodging warmongers there…Then there’s Kerry’s far braver turn to anti-war activism after he returned home, a defiance that none of these spiteful voters ever had the courage to show in public, for fear of getting yelled at by their bosses. And most offensive of all, Kerry’s cinematic Swift Boat that he rode up the Mekong, clutching his M-16 like some fucking action hero movie star.  He lived the life every dead-ender American wishes he had lived, daydreaming about courage in his wretched cubicle.

No shit Kerry’s war record would set off all that envy and malice among middle-aged white Americans—and draw them closer to the side of the shameless war deserters– the side with Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh and the rest of them.

On top of being an action hero, Kerry spoke French. That meant he had sex. And his rich wife spoke foreign languages with ease, whereas most spiteful American males can’t even read a fucking Taco Bell menu.

The final death blow was releasing the photo of Kerry wind-surfing like some happy coastal Californian celebrity…Add all that up, and what you get is the picture of a man who has had an interesting, enviable sex life. The very picture of hate to the millions of Americans stuck in eventless, dreary, unfilmable lives.

Clearly a guy like this could not be allowed into the White House.

The elections in 2006 and 2008 showed that the only way that the “left” (such as it is) can sneak into power is when the right self-destructs and creates a void, setting the spite bloc adrift. That’s what happened in 2006—that and revelations that nearly every single Republican homophobe was a closeted cock-addict. Spite almost made a big comeback  in the 2008 elections—people forget this but McCain-Palin pulled ahead over Obama in September 2008, and their lead expanded to 5% points in a New York Times poll by the middle of the month…and then the financial markets collapsed, and the Republican rats melted into the hills, leaving the Spiteists high and dry.

This Gallup graphic captures that sudden absence of malice, or what Gallup calls a lack of “enthusiasm”:

gallup enthusiasm1

But not for long. All it took to get America’s spite on again was a few weeks of watching a successful, suave black guy who overcame prejudice and a broken home to make it to the top—and that was it: the spite floodgates were unleashed. At least if you’re led by privileged dumbshits like Bush, it means there’s no meritocracy to speak of in this country, and that means it’s not your fault that your life didn’t turn out the way you hoped it would. If you never had a chance in the first place, that at least is some comfort—Obama ruined that excuse, and suggested that we might, after all, live in something like a meritocracy, the scariest thought of all for the spiteists.

That’s where we are now. And it’ll continue to get worse than anyone thought imaginable because only one side is exploiting America’s spite. It’s like the one-sided class war that Warren Buffet spoke about:

“There’s class warfare, but it’s my class, the rich class, that’s making war, and we’re winning.”

Another way of saying that could be, “There’s spite and envy all right, but it’s my enviable class, the billionaires, that’s harnessing that spite and using against the left, which doesn’t want to acknowledge how spiteful Americans can be– and that’s why we’re winning.”

But the left should see this as an opportunity. It doesn’t take a rocket scientist—or even a marketing whiz– to imagine how the left could tap into all that spite, envy, and petty malice. It’s right there in front of all of our faces. We can use spite to reform this wrecked country! After all, the spite we want to arouse is absolutely legit, totally justified and in fact way overdue! Why is the left so wobbly-kneed about bringing up the obvious? It’s about time the American people started to feel the anger and bitterness they should be feeling toward the people who’ve robbed and suckered them all these years!

All we have to do is drive home the obvious to Americans:

There’s a class war going on, like Warren Buffett says, and they’re kicking your asses every time and laughing all the way to the bailed-out bank—just in time for the bank to foreclose on your house! Americans don’t have tea parties, we have bar-b-ques for fuck’s sake, and we drink Coke or beer. “Tea Party”—what’s next, the “Vienna Ball” protest movement? Hundreds of thousands of “Viennaballers” in Mozart costumes hitting the streets demanding hereditary titles for our billionaires? Suck up to them all you want to, they’ll still despise you. They have yachts and airplanes and mansions all over the world and children who will never see a bill or worry about a single thing beyond remembering their servants’ names– and it’s all thanks to robbing you and your family blind. No shit you’re angry! You have every reason to be angry!

Wake up and smell the spite—or choke on it. There’s no other choice. It’s not going away.

Mark Ames is the author of Going Postal: Rage, Murder and Rebellion from Reagan’s Workplaces to Clinton’s Columbine.

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Add your own

  • 1. Congrats!  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 8:20 am

    I’m going to pretend that I’m not offended by your article and say something faggy like “oh that’s obvious” or “I wasn’t offended, I was bored.” Why would I do that? because I’m a sad troll. The spiteful fag you’re writing about. And you’re an elite liberal New York TV hero joo.

  • 2. Brer Rabbit  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 8:21 am

    Spot on, man, though I’d like to correct a small oversight if I may. You should spend more time here in the deep south where you would find that our college- and middle-aged white women are usually just as grasping, venal, and petty in all the same ways and for all the same reasons (which they will happily outline for you) as their cowardly cracker-man counterparts. On second thought, just take my word for it. I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.

  • 3. jonnym  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 9:41 am

    As much as I agree with your article, I don’t think we of the left (such as it is) can successfully turn that spite to our advantage.

    That spite is like a coal fire, it needs to be stoked constantly to keep burning — which is why the right has talk radio and TV news mostly locked up. They peddle their hate and lies as a way to keep the fires of spite burning. We leftists have no media infrastructure that can compete. Our spite is certainly more justified, probably more constructive (most of the time), but that doesn’t count for much when so few people are going to hear about it.

  • 4. C367  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 10:08 am

    Brer Rabbit, trouble is, many women do not think for themselves, especially (but not exclusively) in conservative ambients. Just pick up and repeat what their husbands or fathers do. Dad or hubby hates Susan Sarandon’s guts, she hates her too.
    In this case, our Mary Jane grows up as petty and spiteful as her loser dad, marries a carbon copy of her loser dad, and lives a petty, spiteful life exactly like her mom did.
    You know, there’s a saying which I feel nails it on the head:
    know why you don’t need to cover your bucket when you go fishing for crabs?
    ’cause if a crab crawls up to flee, ten others’ll grab onto its legs and pull it back down.

  • 5. Lavrentij "Anarchy99" Lemko  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 10:37 am

    “You know, there’s a saying which I feel nails it on the head:
    know why you don’t need to cover your bucket when you go fishing for crabs?
    ’cause if a crab crawls up to flee, ten others’ll grab onto its legs and pull it back down.”

    That does it. Society runs on spite and malice. Now to reread some key passages from Celine.

  • 6. Eddie  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 10:41 am

    A lot more of unfounded American beliefs can be explained if we let go if this endlessly repeated(by Americans themselves) mantra that Americans are God fearing decent people with a strong sense of justice and a built in longing for freedom.

    Free markets:
    You have just been raped by a corporation yet you cling to the notion of free markets, even though it is clear to everyone(including you) that the markets a neither free nor fair.

    You are an idiot and like many other idiots your greatest fear is being publicly outed as one.

    Why it makes sense:
    The so called invisible hand of market publicly exonerates you from being an idiot. You know very well that the markets sometimes act irrational, perhaps even crazy; this fact alone absolves you from your own painfully stupid decisions.
    After all you where not the only one to make bad financial decisions. Everybody lost money, even the so called great sage of Omaha, Warren Buffett.

  • 7. John Figler  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 11:03 am

    Well… it’s a tempting proposition. Very tempting indeed. And you certainly have given the left more, and better, ammo with the Vienaballer line than it has had since 1968… but, well, you assume that the average fucked up white male is intelligent enough to elaborate something like “I hate that fucking all-day fucking California stars because they have much more pussy than I will ever get” and then tie it to “damn, I’ll vote the Reps to give them a bit of a payback”.

    Most of them could not make the connection even if they cared. Even they should realize that since money for hookers, (before, during and after the two weeks or so of dismal sex in the common dismal marriage the most fortunate of them would get), is the only thing keeping them away from total sex starvation they should vote for the guy making them have more money, even if it’s welfare checks.

    I think it must be something else.

  • 8. RanDomino  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 11:47 am

    John Figler: Of course they’re not making the connection consciously.

  • 9. Vegetables  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 12:05 pm

    A corollary to the spite-voter bloc theory, which I also relate to, is the scotch-Irish peasant rage theory of American politics.

    Scotch-Irish meaness can explain anti-elitist sentiments, racism, war mongering, psychotic religious convictions, drug abuse… basically whiteness itself.

  • 10. The Cosmist  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 12:19 pm

    My friends, all this spite and anger is a symptom of a greater crisis: America has stopped looking up at the stars and dreaming big dreams; we have lost our cosmic vision.

    I am therefore founding a new spiritual movement to revive the cosmic consciousness that was dawning in the days of 2001: A Space Odyssey and the Apollo missions. I am calling this new religion “Cosmism”, and taking my inspiration from the great cosmic visionaries like Carl Sagan and Arthur C. Clarke. A revived space program and a renewed cosmic vision for humanity is our best hope of defeating the pessimists and preventing the failure of the human enterprise in this century. For more information about Cosmism, please click on my name above.

  • 11. exploitedtimes  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 12:30 pm

    Brilliant! You should be getting the big left strategist checks for these roadmaps to success, but that would be rational.

  • 12. rah  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 12:49 pm

    No one ever went broke underestimating the intelligence of the American people. Once a colony, always a colony.

  • 13. Brick  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 1:04 pm

    “stop sentimentalizing them as inherently decent, well-meaning people being duped by a tiny cabal of evil oligarchs—because the awful truth is that they’re mean, spiteful jerks being duped by a tiny cabal of evil oligarchs.”

    Oof, the truth hurts. Good article, and even better original article.

    I remember quite well when my high school was giving out college scholarships in the auditorium: $1000 here, $2000 there, lots of nice kids and hard workers getting a bit of help from a reasonably rich school district… then, to my chagrin, they asked me to stand up and said I’d won a national scholarship basically just for scoring high on a test and filling out a form. I got looks that turned my blood cold, and it didn’t stop until I got the hell out of there.

    Then again, the most hateful of looks were from the preps, not from the tech-school and barely-graduated crowd. In this way, I think you (Ames) should consider that Americans hate the person just above them almost as much (or perhaps more) than the person way above them. However, keep in mind that this refers to matters of economics, talent, etc. In the realm of sex, one is jealous of absolutes; one envies the man with the goddess rather than the man who’s screwing someone just slightly cuter or more fun than your own catch.

  • 14. Fred  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    It’s not the true “losers” of American society- that is, the working class or the truly poor- that joined the Tea Party to protest the stimulus or health care reform. A brief glance at the tea party ranks as well as consulting the polling data makes it clear that the Tea Party and their supporters are solidly middle class and particularly lower-middle class. And the fact is that they’re very consciously voting for their economic interests, or at least their immediate economic interests. As last year’s New York Times/ CBS poll showed, their driving conviction is that “the policies of the Obama administration are disproportionately directed at helping the poor rather than the middle class or the rich.” They’re fine with their own social security and Medicare; they just don’t want these same government benefits to be expanded to provide for poor people- an ugly fact that explains such absurdities such as “Get your government hands off my Medicare.” They don’t want to help pay for government support for the working class because it raises their taxes and results in a less disciplined labor force, both of which are immediate threats to them given the lower-middle class’ ultimately precarious position on the socio-economic ladder. This is all spiteful as hell, yeah, but not to the extent that it compels them to act against their own economic interests.

    It’s not like spite and meanness don’t permeate the Tea Party movement- removing the spite from the Tea Party would be, as Uncle Ruckus said, “like removing the stink from shit.” But like the stink, this spite is more a symptom than a cause. The cause is the class dynamics of American society in particular and capitalist society in general; the effect is the hysteria, the paranoia, the vague or explicit white resentment, and the petty malice that recalls older reactionary American middle-class movements such the John Birch society, the KKK, the White Citizen’s council, etc. The Tea Party is centrally about class warfare; failure to understand that results in the some of the sheer speculation in the above article.

    Still, I’m glad someone is trying to write an American version of The Mass Psychology of Fascism; we need it.

  • 15. az  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    I agree, Mark. What America needs is a Stalin: someone ugly, foreign, probably a gangbanger at some point, who barely speaks the language, but someone you really can’t envy as he works all the time and is willing to do anything to fuck up those liberal elitists: put them in gulags, throw them out of their cushy apartments into sharashkas, etc. I mean think about it, the purges were basically the elimination of anything resembling a middle class from Soviet society economically, intellectually, politically, and physically. The answer has been Stalin all along. The man’s only problem was not eliminating the position he made for himself before fags like Khrushchev, Brezhnev, and Gorbachev could take it and fuck up everything he did.

  • 16. Fissile  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 3:27 pm

    @ #10 The Cosmist, You may want to pick another name for your religion. It sounds a lot like “Cosmotheism”, which is a religion invented by the late, and not so lamented, American Neo-Nazi loon, William Luther Pierce. See here:

  • 17. az  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 3:34 pm

    Hell, Stalin even gave a pat on the back to those workaholics pulling 80 hour weeks. The man’s own slogan was “American efficiency and Russian revolutionary sweep”!

  • 18. az  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 4:05 pm

    Fred: Yeah the teabaggers are on the wrong side of the class war, but guess what, both the liberals and conservatives want the same thing in the end as far as they go. Liberals want to elevate the poor to be “lower-middle class” in mentality and possibly income, which makes the teabaggers enraged as they feel that they are entitled to be better off than the poor. The conservatives want to fuck everyone over and make the middle and lower-middle class to be as badly off as the poors, but the teabaggers don’t care about this as then it’s not their fault that they’re in the same shitboat as the blacks and Latinos.

    Sorry eXiled editors, this is my last comment.

  • 19. Martin Blank  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Let me condense my agreement with some of the comments above and say the US is fucking medieval. The finer points of analysis are just window dressing.

    That said, Mark has nailed it: hateful of anyone enjoying the decency and pleasure that is denied them cradle to grave, most Americans can only muster the energy to send a postcard of ignorance to the rest of the body politic. There’s no left to speak of, and certainly no opposition party. The article would be more complete by kicking a few Baby Boomers in the teeth, but that’s just me.

    When serious decline started to appear 20+ years ago, I thought the US would return to its roots as an ignorant, racist, imperial backwater. So far, so good. Hide your books.

  • 20. Fissile  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 4:23 pm

    @#14 Fred, I agree, the Tea-Tards are driven by a, “I’ve got mine” mentality. But what is their true motive for opposing help for the poor? Are they really fearful that helping the poor will cost them? More than likely, Tea-Tards are just petty, mean, pieces of shit who define their own paltry successes at the expense of others….a type of Schadenfreude. Where’s the fun of being lower middle class if you don’t have beggars to piss on? More importantly, why do Tea-Tard types cheer the ultra-rich? After all, the plunder of the Wall Street thieves is more than likely coming from the middle class and not the poor, since the poor haven’t got much to plunder.

    Case in point, the old geezer that lives across the street. This man is in his eighties, and a WWII “veteran”. He joined the Army in 1945 and was still in training when the war ended. Since he’s technically a WWII veteran, he received all the benefits veterans were entitle to, without the post traumatic stress. He went to college for free, and obtained low cost mortgages under the GI bill. He spent his entire working career employed by “private” government defense contractors. This man came from a dirt poor family of East European immigrants. Had it not been for opportunities extended to him by the government, he would have joined his father at the saw mill when he turned 16. Yet this man has an appalling hatred for anyone he considers “not a quality person”, usually, but not limited to recent immigrants. If such people get ahead as a result of government help, they are “leaches”. If they get ahead by their own bootstraps, they are “probably selling drugs”. At the same time, the old coot absolutely worships the tiny brained hominids who run the local town council….all of them Republicans. In all my life I’ve never seen such a collection of petty, vicious, hypocritical, jackals in human form.

    I’m convinced that Tea-Tards would be in opposition to helping the less fortune even if you could prove to them that doing so wouldn’t cost them a penny. It goes farther than that, Tea-Tards will actually spend their own money to make sure that others less fortunate don’t get ahead. How do you explain this phenomenon of cutting off your own nose to spite your face? How about stupidity combined with total lack of character?

  • 21. coldequation  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 6:01 pm

    When will Kansas voters learn that it’s in their interest to flood their neighborhoods with millions of low-IQ, crime prone third world immigrants while simultaneously implementing social programs that amount to a transfer of wealth from people like the average native Kansan to people like them? And that it’s in their interest to pass laws that discriminate against their own children in favor of those same IQ-challenged, melaninically blessed soon-to-be-majorities? And that we should pursue the kind of soft on crime policies that led to the crime wave of the 60s-90s?

    The Republicans are clearly useless, nothing but puppets of the rich, but that doesn’t mean the left is looking out for Americans either. Who’s looking out for you? Nobody, that’s who!

  • 22. Zhu Bajie  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 6:30 pm

    There’s a Left in America? Ha ha ha ha!

  • 23. R  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 6:57 pm

    Don’t like using Down’s syndrome kids as a laughingstock or as a visual gag to illustrate the stupidity of the American public. It has the odor of good old fashioned American sadism.

  • 24. RanDomino  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 7:26 pm

    thanks for mentioning The Mass Psychology of Fascism, I came back to say that- “It’s partly the result of commercial propaganda and sexual desperation” is basically the thesis of that book. It’s too bad Reich couldn’t have written it just a few years earlier; four or five and the 20th century might have turned out a lot differently.
    Bonus: It’s free online

  • 25. FunTimeSteve  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 7:35 pm

    What’s your take on the Unabomber Manifesto’s critique of leftists?

  • 26. weaver  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 8:37 pm

    Yes, very funny, just like the original. The problem with this schtick masquerading as an analysis, apart from the longstanding American incapacity to comprehend the difference between a leftist and a liberal, is the notion attributed (falsely) to Tom Frank that working class people _would_ be acting “rationally” or “in their economic interest” by voting Democratic. In fact working people have no more reason to give their vote to the corporate whores in the Democratic Party than they do to choose the Republicans. The rational, realist, strategic decision would be to deny the Democrats their votes until they behave like candidates worth voting for (and Kerry wasn’t). This is in fact what happens, because Democrats do not win elections by stealing Republican votes but by gaining votes from the one third to one half of American voters who otherwise wouldn’t have voted. Obama was elected with those kind of votes, and those votes evaporated in 2010 when he turned out (unsurprisingly) to be a stand-for-nothing imperialist Wall Street gimp like every other president. Democrats lose elections when their potential supporters decide there’s no point voting, not when they vote Republican instead.

    So the obvious solution would be deciding the spiteists can fuck off coz they’re always going to vote Republican anyway, and start trying to convince that section of the population sensible enough not to vote that you might do something crazy like represent them if they did. Which won’t happen – American political parties serve the same masters and whereas other two party democracies are, at least historically, based on differentiated class identities, the US two party system consists of appealing to one of two sets of useful idiots: the ones who think the Republicans give a shit about God; and the ones who think the Democrats give a shit about the people.

  • 27. Victorvalley Villain  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 8:39 pm

    The first basic law of human stupidity asserts without ambiguity that: Always and inevitably everyone underestimates the number of stupid individuals in circulation.

  • 28. Victorvalley Villain  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 8:42 pm

    And how Carlo M. Cipolla defines stupid there:

    A stupid person is a person who causes losses to another person or to a group of persons while himself deriving no gain and even possibly incurring losses.

  • 29. Lavrentij "Anarchy99" Lemko  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 10:38 pm

    The strange, fearsome origins of The Angry White Man (aside from Kevin Philips late 60s The Emergence of a Republican Majority):

    Must read! 1969!

  • 30. paul cripps  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 11:02 pm

    get your kids out of the worst education system in the fucking world. make sure they get involved in a vocation that gives them the opportunity to work anywhere in the world and tell them never, ever get married.oh yea great article, but really only in america could a war hero be turned into a coward and traitorous cowards like those motherfuckers bush and cheney turned into heroes.

  • 31. MonkeyMouth  |  January 22nd, 2011 at 11:59 pm

    Wow. Best articles(s) i have read in a loooooong time. just wait until foxnews heard of this, you hippie treasonist. your mother’s, your father’s, your uncles, etc dirty laundry swinging from those fox spotlights. dig in. the right already got rid of Jay Marvin (WLS chicago remember?). Art Bell is retired and replaced by a hack. Larry King was castrated in 1872….and Dylan ratigan will never see the ‘light’ of prime time.
    only one point here…..your articles doesnt explain clinton much. the spite worked in his favour cuz of reagan, dont you think? and you article at one point said kerry never enjoyed a day in his life, then went on to say how he spoke french, etc etc. But jeez…i am just nitpicking. getting you ready for your future defending yourself from the FoxTerrorists.
    We love you, mark……trust me. you are really picking up steam. dont let your foot off the gas for one minute.\
    can’t you hear Glenn beck saying …”'”and this guy, ames, i think it is, used the word ‘cock’ in his article.’ (pauses to wipe his drool off his hankie)….’ how can we listen to this toilet humour? ‘
    mark, may the force be with you, always, brother.

  • 32. Skinner'sHorse  |  January 23rd, 2011 at 2:25 am

    I think you’re a little off on this one. Whenever Americans are polled on individual issues they come out overwhelmingly in favour of the progressive positions. They vote for their perception of the party, not what the party will actually do.

    You’re right of course that angry white men feel disempowered in our society – and voting Republican is a way for them to recapture a sense of empowerment by asserting identity, saying “I’m part of the insider group. Or at least I will be in a couple of years when I’m rich!”

    The solution for the left is to become the insiders again. Stop playing at politics and assert dominance. Then they’ll vote for you.

  • 33. Tyler  |  January 23rd, 2011 at 6:08 am

    I think this spite argument applies to all of humanity, not just American white trash. It explains Russian gopniks worshipping Putin entirely. It explains India’s politics of dynasticism and fatalism. People resist change just like we resist inertia. Much easier to say we never had a chance. Much easier to hate the successful and their great sex lives.

    You’re onto something, Mark, run with it.

  • 34. Bruce  |  January 23rd, 2011 at 7:02 am

    Would they really rather spite, Than FIGHT?

  • 35. ariot  |  January 23rd, 2011 at 7:49 am

    I’m reminded that our “Revolution” was inspired from the top down.

    So did we do it wrong from the start?

  • 36. Pushkin  |  January 23rd, 2011 at 12:34 pm

    What percentage of Americans ever bother to vote? Barely 50%, right? If the elections are decided by a hair-thin majority of roughly one half of voters (which is to say, by approximately 1/4 of all 18+ Americans), can we really say that the winning candidate is what Americans really want?

  • 37. Zhu Bajie  |  January 23rd, 2011 at 5:54 pm

    “When will Kansas voters learn that it’s in their interest to flood their neighborhoods with millions of low-IQ, crime prone third world immigrants” = Typical US invasion in support of “liberty” in Panama or Iraq or some place!

  • 38. C  |  January 23rd, 2011 at 6:36 pm

    “Remember, Democracy never lasts long. It soon wastes, exhausts and murders itself! There was never a Democracy that did not commit suicide.”

    – Samuel Adams

    A natural democracy, with people voting in their self interest, gradually becomes a socialist republic. This is obvious given the pyramid structure of wealth distribution, especially in a capitalist economy. Most voters are at the bottom of that structure, and would naturally vote money to themselves, in their self interest.

    The western European socialist countries, and perhaps Canada and New Zealand, are the best example this world has of true democracies in action. Nor surprisingly, these countries have the highest democracy rankings.

    The fact that we are claimed to be a so called “democracy” and yet have one of the most capitalist economies on the planet, even in the face of an exponentially rising population, should tip every thinking human off to a choice of two potential truths:

    Possible truth #1: That we do not have a capitalist economy.

    Possible truth #2: That our so called ‘democracy’ is a farce. It doesn’t exist in an effective form.

    We all know that Possible truth #1 is false.

    I think that what it really boils down to is something extremely simple. That is that the media is too sophisticated to not have full control of the mind of the average person, at the average degree of intelligence. Its just too easy to give opinions to people who fall in the IQ range of 80-100. The paradoxes aren’t apparent to them. Not in how legislation is executed nor in what such execution infers about the nature of our democracy.

    And then, of course, there is the corporate money that steers the action of politicians. Like it would a Mexican Sheriff.

    A democracy in which the rules favor the top of the pyramid, at the gross expense of the base, is by definition not a democracy.

  • 39. Scotch-Irish dude  |  January 23rd, 2011 at 8:47 pm

    Hopefully, the tea partiers will show how mean they truly are and execute all the leftist scum: Democrats, neo-cons, Obamaites, etc.

    We need a cleansing of blood, and we have most of the guns.

  • 40. rick  |  January 24th, 2011 at 12:17 am

    I remember that one. Brilliant, funny stuff.

  • 41. Homer Erotic  |  January 24th, 2011 at 7:19 am

    It’s a shame that you and Matt Taibbi had the falling out you are reported to have had. You both talk real talk like nobody else in the pundit world.

    @Scotch-Irish Dude: You would no doubt have the field-day of your wettest eliminationist wet-dreams, because I can attest to the fact that the Democrats, Obamaites, and Kostards are self-deluded pussies who would be *utterly* *incapable* of shooting back. I can just see it:

    Typical Kostard: “Somebody shooting at me? Oh, you’re just being a paranoid conspiracy-theorist, nobody’s shooting at…” {BANG!}

  • 42. I'm A Doctor  |  January 24th, 2011 at 8:14 am

    I’m too much of a pussy to deal with this article, so just ignore anything I have to say in the comments section. I hope someone at eXiled Online just deletes this, if they don’t, I’ll just post something sad.

  • 43. TG  |  January 24th, 2011 at 9:52 am

    Glad you re-posted this, because it gives me an opportunity to tell you how much I enjoyed that funny and insightful and tightly written piece, and to tell you how often I’ve re-posted the NYPress link on other blogs to show my fellow liberals the true ugly and moronic face of the modern conservative base.

  • 44. Jack Boot  |  January 24th, 2011 at 11:33 am

    In his otherwise spot-on article about America’s pro-Thanksgiving turkeys, Mr. Ames neglects one vital factor – religion.

    The Tea-Baggers are Jesus-freaks almost to a man (Jesus-Baggers, maybe?)
    Without doubt, no one detests pleasure more than a monotheist – hence their hatred of Hollywoodies & suchlike.

    They will cheerfully cut their own throats if Pere Reynard can convince them it’s God’s will.

    Of course, the Washington/Wall Street Axis of Weevil is no more capitalist than Stalin’s Russia was socialist – but no matter…

  • 45. Diet Coke  |  January 24th, 2011 at 12:37 pm

    The fact that miserable people will always want to destroy your happiness is the ultimate proof that democracy can’t work.

    Don’t be a fool! You must protect yourself from mean people by any means necessary.

  • 46. Peckerwood  |  January 24th, 2011 at 1:50 pm

    This article is so true. My relatives constantly brag about how great things used to be. You know, in the good old days of tapeworm, high infant mortality, gratuitous violence against Negroes, etc. I’m from Virginia, a state that has been officially against fun for 400 years.

    When people do laugh and have fun around here, it tends to be in a mean-spirited, hateful way. I’m not talking about those islands of bourgeois and or semi-hippies you find scattered around Appalachia. I’m talking about down to earth, angry hill-billies. The same resentful, obsequious, hate our elites but die for them attitude that we’ve had since Charles II called us to go fight the Puritans. That’s the thing about downhome folks, they hate the elites, but they will cravenly follow what they say. Some fat fart will put himself in the grave, cheered on by his relatives saying “what do them doctors know, anyway”, but try some non-chenical, homeopathic, lifestyle treatments that are not Merck approved, and you will be a local scandal.

    I bet money that most of the kids in “Let Us Now Praise Famous Men” and/or either killed brown people overseas, gleefully gave money to Jerry Falwell or Oral Roberts, and proudly voted for Reagan.

  • 47. Peckerwood  |  January 24th, 2011 at 1:58 pm


    regarding your greatest generation neighbor,

    what you got to understand is that the man is a peasant, just like pop at the sawmill. Peasants hate everyone, and they are selfish of their rights, but hate for anybody to get anything they don’t have. Money says his great-grandpa was d$ck on the manor back in the old country. 60 years of US agitprop, telling him how great he is, probably hasn’t helped much. My grandfather was the same, turned 18 in 1945 got all the perks, but you think that got the Gaelic meaness out of his bones?

    Most Americans are only a generation or two removed from peasantry.

    Being reminded of my grandfather, chocked full of Irish rage, brings up a question,

    what does Mr. Ames think of the celt (i.e. paunch white guy) as victim meme so beloved of these guys, all my angry relatives, the ones who were quasi middle class, loved Braveheart.

  • 48. Skeeve  |  January 24th, 2011 at 3:26 pm

    Dear Cosmist: I used to be one of you until it dawned on me that human expansion into space wasn’t going to make us a better species. It would just mean that we’d take our warmongering ways off the planet to infect and corrupt the rest of the universe. Better that we should go extinct here and now, and save E.T. the trouble of exterminating us.

    (If you don’t believe that this is the future that’s waiting for us out there, go and read some contemporary science fiction, especially the Drake/Weber/Flint variety. It’s fucking fascist to the bone; war, war, war for all eternity).

  • 49. Skeeve  |  January 24th, 2011 at 3:29 pm

    I like the spite theory, and it explains so much more than just the pettiness of white voters over economic issues. It also explains the seeming death wish of Republican voters over issues like arms control and environmental destruction. I’ve never understood people who want more nuclear weapons and offshore drilling, but now it’s a little clearer.

    I wonder if they realize, though, that as Tom Lehrer said, “We will all got together when we go.”

  • 50. old exile fan  |  January 24th, 2011 at 4:14 pm

    Nice rant!

  • 51. Flatulissimo  |  January 24th, 2011 at 5:11 pm

    Ames again demonstrates why he’s about my favorite writer around.

    @29 – that 1968 article was great. One of the angry white males is quoted as saying “I’ll tell ya somethin’. There’s a lotta people who just ain’t gonna put up with it much longer.”

    Yeah, whatever. How much longer? 40 years later and the same people who were complaining in Hamill’s article have only continued to whinge, and haven’t done shit otherwise. This is one of the things that gives me hope, and which Ames touches on in his article – in addition to being spiteful, these people are also complete pussies. They will wail and moan about how the “America they knew” is disappearing, but they won’t do shit about it except cast their spite votes and wallow in their own bile. If you think a KOStard is any more of a pussy than these folks, you are dreaming. No segment of contemporary America has a claim on pussies, because they are the majority in any given segment of our society.

    And even if they did pick a fight, which they won’t, all a progressive pussy has to do is run up a slight incline and the fat fucks would collapse from a heart attack if they tried to chase them.

  • 52. CensusLouie  |  January 24th, 2011 at 6:19 pm

    The subject of this article is expanded upon in the book The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movement. Its thesis is pretty much: every mass movement (religions, cults, revolutions) in history has sprung from self-hating individuals who aren’t so much concerned with improving their lives as they are tearing down the current system.

    The entire reality-denying nature that runs through a lot of them comes from the constant effort of never acknowledging that their failures are entirely their own shortcomings. This is why they long for a jackbooted authoritative system: without individuality and free will, failures can never be your own fault. This is also why they cling to the free market myth; as long as you can blame your financial failures on government regulations (I’m sure we all know some Randians who have some sort of get rich quick / tax evasion business failure in their past) then it is never your own shortcomings that prevent you from becoming a self made American dream millionaire.

    And yeah, not getting laid is a big part of it. I guarantee anyone who ever tries online dating will find dozens of women’s profiles that state “No Republicans.” They can smell insecurity from a mile away, and insecurity is the foundation of reactionaries.

  • 53. joe  |  January 24th, 2011 at 11:33 pm

    @The Cosmist: Shut up nerd.

  • 54. joe  |  January 24th, 2011 at 11:37 pm

    No but seriously. I think you just answered the Fermi paradox. As soon as some elite coastal liberals start a moon/nudist colony. Out come the restate spite fueled nukes to play some asteroid billiards. A few slingshot maneuvers later and bam we got ourselves another extinction event.

  • 55. Dr. Luny  |  January 25th, 2011 at 3:14 am

    This reminds me of something Slavoj Zizek said. Basically he was saying that the most important thing for us to learn today is that it’s OK not to enjoy, it’s okay not to have sex with beautiful young women and go windsurfing and buy that sweet, manly car that costs more than your house. Constantly confronted with the ideal world of television where everyone is young and sexy, and always says things that sound smart or funny, people form absurd expectations for social behavior both their own and others, and are unable to form relationships with people who can’t speak like a television script. The clearly upper-class world on TV and in movies sets the standard of comparison impossibly high for most people in terms of consumption as well, but it’s not purely a class distinction. You were right to talk about sexual envy. The spite is seldom consciously articulated. Instead, what right-wing rhetoric and religion do is create a sense of moral superiority for self-hating failures, and sexual failure adds a powerful libidinal impulse that can be manipulated. Is it any wonder that the religions that gobbled up most of the world in the past couple millenia had strong sexual taboos?

    Capitalism is today the driving force in the cultural development. What C said about the media being too sophisticated to not have control of the mind of the average person is absolutely correct, but this manifests itself, not just in superficial political rhetoric, but in the basic structure of our psychosocial environment. The problem of perpetual inferiority is to be solved through enjoyment by consumption, but of course that’s no solution, you’re still inferior to the people on television, and that’s where the spite comes in. In a media environment in which the only people you see are wealthy successful types, only the wealthy, successful, and sexed-up Hollywood and professional liberals, the very objects of the common man’s envy and spite, are there to represent the left in popular consciousness. The right-wing elites, as you said, simply hide behind their dignified calvinist masks and stoke the fires of resentment.

  • 56. Spade  |  January 25th, 2011 at 8:34 am

    “… Americans are miserable and we like it! We love it! Hallelujah!”

    Sounds like the Russians without the “Hallelujah” schtick.

  • 57. wsoko52  |  January 25th, 2011 at 8:45 am

    Bingo! I’ve seen the same thing for years. However, your piece misses an important element – the outdated American electoral system that gives Spite-ists the deciding influence. Spite-its are a numerical minority – I guess no more than a quarter or so of the population. But in the winner-takes-all electoral system, they tip the balance if they are mobilized. That poses a problem for the liberals, because if they tried to mobilize that spiteful element, they would lose the core supporters. Right wingers have no such a problem, they can mobilize spite-ists and maintain the loyalty of their core supporters. The only way minimize the spite-ist influence is to switch to the EU-style proportional representation system. That is why in the EU hateful political rhetoric is limited to the fringe right.

  • 58. Lavrentij "Anarchy99" Lemko  |  January 25th, 2011 at 9:07 am

    To paraphrase Eric Bogosian in Oliver Stone-directed “Talk Radio” (1988), we Americans are afraid of the Bogeyman and we are afraid of living without him.


  • 59. Zach  |  January 25th, 2011 at 10:40 am

    Oh for gods sake.

    “..Fueled by spite, these protesters proved to the world that Americans would rather die in misery and bankruptcy than live longer healthier lives…”

    Close, but no cigar, junior. The word you are looking for is not spite. Its “Fear”.

    Fueled by fear. Sh*t watering face wrinkling artery stopping coldassed fear. Buried under an avalanche of craptastic decrepit red state public education — Whole Foods Nation has long, long ago opted out — wall to wall AM radio — UNOPPOSED, at any level of serious contest, by the likes of anyone ‘Left’– and a general forty year combo of propoganda blitzkreig and relentless, relentless economic crushdown to put Putin and every one of his forbears to hangdog shame.

    While the ‘Left’ coasts along with its Iphones, cool and secure in the comfort of feeling cool and secure.

    These folks, we folks, your fun new punching bag neighbors, have been abandoned by your “Left” from time immemorial. Dirty ingrates that they / we are.

    So your snazzy premise, and I grant you its pretty snazzy, restates as: People immersed in fear, behave badly, act out against their own interests.

    Oh, stop the presses.

    “Thanks to them, Obama…”

    Ok that there is pretty much where you could have heard yourself and thought, “ wait.”

  • 60. Lavrentij "Anarchy99" Lemko  |  January 25th, 2011 at 11:47 am

    @Zach — so the operative question should not be why these loner freaks lose it every now and again and have a shooting spree, but why there is not more?

  • 61. Whoopdy Do  |  January 25th, 2011 at 12:18 pm

    I have never seen such a collection of elite leftist misconception. You people have it so wrong, yet are so convinced of your intellectual superiority, that it’s just mind boggling. As someone who actually agreed with Aames’ “mini-slave-rebellion” thesis on the Zakaria show last Sunday, and knowing full well that none of you will listen, I will waste a few minutes.

    1. The Tea Partiers (not baggers, that’s just one more instance of your elitism) are NOT AGAINST THE POOR. They’re simply against having the things they’ve earned for themselves taken and given to those who haven’t worked for it. What’s unfair about that?

    2. The Tea Partiers are pro-free market and anti-regulation, but not pro-corporation. They feel the corporations have a right to sell their wares in any dirty, underhanded fashion they want (ie, the entire stock market), and customers dumb enough to buy into it deserve what they get. What they’re AGAINST is government bailouts, sponsorship and outright ownership of said crooked corporations. Shouldn’t you be against that, too?

    3. All of this is topped off by the grotesque photo used to head the article. If you think that’s funny, I believe you have lost sight of what’s good and right.

    Your side had two years of in power with complete control of government and all you think to do was throw money at the problem. Now that Olbermann’s off the air, why not do yourselves a favor and actually listen to the other side?

  • 62. ira  |  January 25th, 2011 at 2:16 pm

    Actually I had the same insight years ago in trying to understand why Americans can so easily be led into hating, and then attacking, other countries — places that five minutes before they couldn’t have even located on a map,(to quote Ambrose Bierce, ‘war is God’s way of teaching Americans geography).

    If one’s life is pretty fulfilling, it would take an awful lot to enrage that person to the point where he would support the massive killing of people with whom he has never had any real contact. On the other hand, if you life is empty, frustrated, and headed nowhere …

    As Marlon Brando says ‘In on the waterfront’, ‘I coulda been a contender.’

  • 63. Flatulissimo  |  January 25th, 2011 at 2:41 pm

    @ Whoopdy Doo – you say: “The Tea Partiers (not baggers, that’s just one more instance of your elitism) are NOT AGAINST THE POOR. They’re simply against having the things they’ve earned for themselves taken and given to those who haven’t worked for it. What’s unfair about that?”

    I have not heard anybody associated with the Tea Party target CEOs or Wall Street bankster bonuses, or any of the massive theft by anybody who is above their station. All the bile is reserved for those below them, a fact which seems to support what Ames is saying here.

    The amount of money involved in welfare fraud is infinitesimal compared to the corporate and Wall Street $$$ being stolen from taxpayers, but when baggers (ha ha) whine about “having the things they’ve earned for themselves taken and given to those who haven’t worked for it” they are ONLY concerned with inner-city blacks on welfare, the illusory “welfare queens” that only existed in Reagan’s Alzheimer’s-rotted brain. Even if the entire welfare budget was ALL fraud, it wouldn’t amount to squat compared to what Wall Street has stolen, but somehow that never merits a mention by baggers. They also always manage to conveniently ignore the fact that the vast majority of welfare recipients are white. Funny how that works.

  • 64. maus  |  January 25th, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    “Your side had two years of in power with complete control of government”

    If you think the people in charge are “leftists”, you’re further to the right of General Ripper.

  • 65. Mike C.  |  January 25th, 2011 at 6:35 pm

    Whoopdy Do

    Your side’s had decades.

    The Tea Partiers/Baggers are Koch stooges.

    Since when are the Democrats “our side?”

    Your “free market” is as useless a utopian delusion as any hippie’s. You act like its selfishness somehow makes it more realistic. But it’s just not how a lot of people are. Dreaming of uniformity in any ideal is a waste of time.

  • 66. dr zoidberg  |  January 25th, 2011 at 6:46 pm

    Whoopdy Do

    I will take this point by point:

    1. The things they “earned” were not created in a vacuum by “them”, and they are the direct beneficiaries of most of the entitlement programs they rail against.

    The Tea parties only arose after the advent of HASP. This would lead reasonable people to conclude, (ignoring the entire issue of the astroturf thing), that they didn’t care so much if people who didn’t “deserve their money” got it. People could reasonably conclude then that they didn’t like it only when POOR people, stood to benefit from government assistance, not people who just didn’t want to work, (largely a straw man), or even the unemployed, just POOR people. If the rich steal 10+ times as much as they get that’s fine because they rawk right?

    2. Again, they may have been unhappy at the bailout, but their protest of that alone was largely silent. They did not rise up until it looked like public money might have stood to help poor people. I might add that a Caveat Emptor attitude was a contributing factor in the recession. As for State ownership, it can be beneficial but has yet to occur in a real fashion. What we have/had is conservatorship.

    3. What the hell do “good and right” in the moral sense, have to do with what’s funny? Rape is wrong, but rape jokes can be hilarious.
    The photo is funny, because the subject of the article are a bunch of spiteful, mendacious yahoos, who really believe that they are Randian superman, the “producers” of American society, if you will. In reality they are mostly a bunch of sad, paranoid old baby boomers, most of whom are grossly misinformed about geopolitical events/history/political science, or in some cases basic math, many of whom are on some kind of government assistance.

    i know it’s been done to death on this sight, but it bears repeating: Democrats are not necessarily leftists, Barack Obama is a centrist, and we have listened to the other side it’s just the we DO-NOT-AGREE!!!

    It’s not that we don’t understand your position, it’s that we don’t think you are correct or even serious which is why even you guys don’t seem to take it seriously. Many leftists support cuts to the MilInCom, mining, and agribusiness sectors. Most of the reps from districts with a high presence of those things hold onto the pork that keeps it thriving there like their cocks, irrespective of parties.

    And do you vote out the bastards for massively expanding the size of the state? Go libertarian en masse? vote constitution? No you listen to fairy tales about Democrats or what passes for the Left to help you escape personal responsibility.

  • 67. az  |  January 25th, 2011 at 7:01 pm

    Hmm, I always thought Teabaggers believed that OBAMA’S PLAN = WHITE SLAVERY. I stand corrected, they are upstanding and reasonable individuals who don’t have a “Fuck you. Got mine.” mentality toward government handouts.

  • 68. Derp  |  January 25th, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    DERP DERP DERP! We Americans ain’t spiteful and mean, we’re God’s chosen people on a shining hill! You ain’t nothin but a no good Commie faggot, derp derp.

    America- if you don’t love it, get the fuck out!

    Go back to the USSR and apply more lipstick to Putin’s asshole, derp derp derp!

  • 69. Jon  |  January 25th, 2011 at 11:42 pm

    Any time I hear someone defend the teapartiers on the grounds that “they just want smaller government, more personal responsibility, etc.,” it fills me with melancholy, because it is just remarkable that in an age when so much information is available people can still fall for such a simple scam. The problem with the teapartiers is unrelated to their purported aims. The issue is that their purported aims are not their actual aims (imagine that!). The policies of President Bush and President Obama have been virtually indistinguishable, yet the former was given a free pass by the Right on everything he did. But that’s just a coincidence, right? I’m probably just not properly attuned to Obama’s nefarious communist plot. If only I could be bright, perceptive, and non-gullible like the teapartiers!

  • 70. pMX?  |  January 26th, 2011 at 1:51 am

    The last part was genius.

  • 71. ThierryEnnui  |  January 26th, 2011 at 5:07 am

    I really don’t wonder if it’s human nature. Or at least Christian-capitalist nature.

    Over here in the UK, the recent 2010 election was run on the issues of The Bankers and Immigration. That is, The Rich Who Took All Your Money, and The Jobs You Can’t Or Won’t Do.

    Somehow, the Conservative Party (mainstream right wing traditionalists) got in through some closed-doors deals with the “Liberal” party (mainstream centrists who never get a sniff of real power, but will drop their principles like a scholarship student’s knickers at the sniff of a suited prick with a peerage).

    So, in a nutshell, the solution to “The Banks Taking All Our Money” and “Most British Jobs Being Relocated To The Indian Sub-Continent By Corporate Financiers”; was to vote in the party majority-composed of landed-gentry types who are historically balls-deep in i) Banks and ii) Corporate Finance.

    Well done, UK morons: fight the power!

  • 72. S  |  January 26th, 2011 at 7:32 am

    @#15, az – Interesting idea, Stalin, etc. Are you PSL?

  • 73. boson  |  January 26th, 2011 at 7:49 am

    Mark, you’re just so damned right, that it hurts.

  • 74. S  |  January 26th, 2011 at 9:43 am

    What boson said!

  • 75. boson  |  January 26th, 2011 at 11:35 am

    btw, I haven’t had any sex for more than 3 months, so I’m pretty upset myself. I’ve never voted Republican though…but who knows, 2 more months without pussy and I might 😀

  • 76. az  |  January 26th, 2011 at 1:37 pm

    S: No, PSL sucks. I was just taking Mark’s premise and running with it.

    Actually, scratch that, all the commies suck. They care more about jerking off over academic Marxism and going to anti-war marches than learning about how industry operates today, what the actual purpose of imperialism is in the current economy, how to set up telecommunications and direct resources, what a planned economy is and how it works, etc. Plus they align themselves with progressivism which in this country is an imperialist ideology anyway. Ugh.

  • 77. Homer Erotic  |  January 26th, 2011 at 4:36 pm

    The link embedded in my screen-handle speaks volumes. If a liberal candidate and their supporters ever behaved in such a fashion, the So-Called Liberal Media would make sure the video footage showing it were *indelibly* *seared* into the national consciousness. I’m sick and motherfucking tired of this “both sides do it” crap. Both sides *don’t* do it! They just don’t.

  • 78. subbeast  |  January 26th, 2011 at 6:42 pm

    Great article. Awesome insight as an outsider looking in to American politics. I pray for more analysis such as this being made available for all to read.

    The photo of the presumably atheist protester is great.

  • 79. Homer Erotic  |  January 27th, 2011 at 4:59 am

    @az: I had to Google what “PSL” means: “Party for Socialism and Liberation”. According to Wikipedia, they are an offshoot of the neo-Stalinist Workers World Party (the parent organization of ANSWER or Act Now to End War and Racism, the crucial organizer of many of the early protests of the invasion of Iraq). No reason has been given by either party for the splitting off of the PSL from the WWP and they both have an identical party-line. *That’s* what *truly* sucks about hardline commies, IMHO.

  • 80. Homer Erotic  |  January 27th, 2011 at 5:33 am

    @Flatulissimo: Or faced with a physical confrontation with a “spitist” redneck, the progressive pussy could do what this guy on did.

    {Apologies for the double-post. This was just too fucking byoo-tee-full not to share in light of the subject matter!}

  • 81. Whoopdy Do  |  January 27th, 2011 at 8:23 am

    Mike C:

    Since when are the republicans “my side?” I didn’t say a single thing in support of republicans. They’re as bad as the Democrats.

    And what decades? The Tea Party’s only been in existence since 2008.

    Quit equating Tea Partiers with Republicans. They ran as repubs because that’s the only way to get a foot in the door of this corrupt system, and your side — yes, your side — dismissed them out of hand. Remember “Astroturf?”

    And if the Kochs had anything to do with starting the party, it has certainly bigger than them now.

    If your side had spent any time actually listening to the Tea Partiers, a lot fewer of them would be out of office right now.

  • 82. Whoopdy Do  |  January 27th, 2011 at 8:25 am


    The “right” may have been for Bush, but the Tea Partiers are not.

    Stop thinking they’re republicans, they’re not. They have to run as one party or the other to gain entry, and yours wasn’t having them.

  • 83. Whoopdy Do  |  January 27th, 2011 at 8:38 am

    Flatulissimo & dr dr zoidberg:

    As I said, you spend too much time listening to your own side’s propaganda rather than anyone with an opposing view. You’re not addressing what I said, you’re addressing your own misconceptions. LISTEN fer chrissake.

    By “people who didn’t work for it” I mean (and the Tea Partiers mean) the Wall Street bankers and others who benefitted from the bailouts. If you listened to anybody other than Olbermann & Maddow, you’d know that. The Tea Partiers know — better than you, apparently — that NONE of the bailout money went to the poor. I’ll say it again — read this slowly — the Tea Partiers ARE NOT AGAINST THE POOR.

    It is absolutely beyond me how anyone thinks that taking money from productive citizenry is anything but counterproductive. It’s almost beside the point where the money goes. By your reasoning, if a mugger robs you on the street, it’s OK as long as he puts the money to good use — good use as defined by him, naturally.

    If you were paying attention at all, you would see that we just did “vote out the bastards for massively expanding the size of the state”, we are going libertarian en masse, and we are voting the constitution. We didn’t get everybody this time around, but we’ll finish the job next time.

    And I like raunchy jokes as much as the next guy, but the photo is of a REAL PERSON. Didn’t your mother ever tell you not to make fun of the less fortunate?

    Oh, I forgot, you’re leftists. That makes it OK for you.

  • 84. JTFaraday  |  January 27th, 2011 at 11:21 am

    I agree that they’re spiteful, but I think that 14 and 21, together, pretty much have it.

    And, while that is spiteful, it’s perfectly rational and self interested within its narrow frame of reference.

  • 85. Flyin' Cut Sleeves  |  January 27th, 2011 at 4:16 pm

    Interesting comments.

    Funny, I didn’t see Whoopdy Do mention Wall Street in that first post anywhere, while “people who didn’t work for it” is common tea party code for “welfare queen.”

    All you libertards, please show me a country that has done successfully implemented anything remotely similar to the sort of free-market uptopia that you imagine.

    It simply hasn’t happened anywhere in the world, apparently because no other country in the world is full of people as unrepentantly deluded and idiotic as American libertarians.

    Seriously, I’d take a real conservative over a libertarian any day. At least they aren’t retarded.

  • 86. az  |  January 27th, 2011 at 5:01 pm

    @Homer Erotic:

    There is really nothing bad about them splitting as their resources and membership aren’t really impacted. Their membership turnover rate is like 90% because they don’t do anything.

  • 87. Jack Boot  |  January 28th, 2011 at 8:25 am

    Two points:

    1) The Tea-Baggers are not libertarians. When it comes to such matters as abortion, stem-cell research, the teaching of evolution, non-procreative sex, recreational drug use and assisted suicide, they’re passionate interventionists.
    They follow the Protestant work-to-deathic: It’s OK to make (or steal) piles of loot; as long as you don’t enjoy it!

    2) Please, no malarkey about how the Tea-Baggers will set aside social conservatism in order to focus on the economy.

    Being religious fundamentalists one and all, the Baggers reject cause-and-effect in favour of magical thinking; that would include scapegoating and propitiatory sacrifice.
    Example: “Our problems’re caused by awl them sinners – pre-verts, whores, dope fiends, Darwinists & stem-cell Frankensteins!
    If we crack down real hard on ’em, Gawd’ll surely forgive us our debts!!”

    You know that’s what they’ll end up doing…

  • 88. Dark Markets  |  January 29th, 2011 at 4:13 pm

    terrific article, Mark, but at least one correction: It wasn’t “the American LEFT” that made all those mistakes in the 2005 Kerry campaign… Kerry was just ANOTHER bought off Neo-Con toady & appartchik, like Clinton, Obama and ______ (name ANY big name “Democrat”!) he WASN’T ABOUT TO GO UP AGAINST the “Israel uber alles” war lobby.
    There were 10,000 arguments that Kerry could have made that BUSH and CHENEY were INCOMPETENT: the were ASLEEP AT SWITCH on 9-11 (actually, the knew the hijackers were coming, but that’s another story); they LET Bin Laden ESCAPE Tora Bora, they “LOST” $9 BILLION in CASH in first weeks of US occupation, there was the TORTURE photos, the Al Qaaqa looted AMMO DUMP, there was the looting and gang-takeover of Baghdad… Kerry THREW THE FIGHT, he didn’t EVEN TRY to make ANY of those arguments, because he, like Clinton & Obama, AND Pelosi,
    answered to the israel war lobby
    Hell, even Al Gore (who at least had good intentions) stupidly selected uber war-lobby “Manchurian candidate” & Democratic majority backstabber Joe Lie-berman to be his VP running mate… neither 2000 nor 2004 were “the Left’s” fault, in both cases it was institutionalized stupidy, corruption, and/or cowardice in the “Democrat” Party in DC….

  • 89. Dark Markets  |  January 29th, 2011 at 4:49 pm

    (comment 2) Actually, it is EASY to see the historical roots of “Americans – WE THE SPITEFUL.”
    Just go back and look at the serious, smug, and contented crowds gathered around a lynching victim in those old B&W photos (many of which were made into postcards, here’s a terrific site on the subject) –
    That self-righteously “moral” patina, or thin veneer, has covered a veritable demon of vicious, violent energy from before America was even established.
    Those who say “America was CONCEIVED IN FREEDOM and LIBERTY” don’t know what the hell they are talking about: most of the “Founding Fathers” were SLAVE OWNERS (even northerners like NY Gov. Clinton!), the only reason Thomas Jefferson had the time to read those ancient classics, and Enlightenment tomes, and “modern” thinkers like John Locke, was because slaves were doing the hard work on his plantation. (Same for Madison, Washington, Monroe, etc.) Now we all know that slavery COULD NOT have existed without CRUEL slave traders & ruthless slave markets, so, again, it was just a VENEER of “compassionate” slave owners like Jefferson, they still supported a vicious system, so you can see the soul of the lynch mob (and today’s easily mean-spirited right-wing resentment) have very deep roots.
    Hell, we don’t EVEN need the element of RACE to see this deep seated tendency to viciousness and violence: just look at the War of the Roses, or any of the other English civil wars, these people were THE SAME race, cousin vs cousin (that is, the sons of brothers),
    Betcha didn’t know THE BLOODIEST DAY in English history was NOT in the “modern” (WWI & later) era, it was the Battle of Towton… 1461,
    where Edward’s victorious Yorkist drove and massacred Henry VI’s losing Lancastrians, cutting down a huge portion of the 28,000 killed that day AFTER the battle proper was over – nearly 1% of England’s total population was massacred in that one “civil war” battle!
    And little on the abject cruelty of English wars in Scotland, Ireland, and Wales makes our modern history books, in fact, the movie “Braveheart” SANITIZES Edward I’s cruelty, the treatment dished out to William Wallace was THE NORM handed out to ENTIRE TOWNS in Scotland that came under control of Edward’s rampaging armies, that is, Edward considered ALL Scots rebels AS TRAITORS, and SLOW DEATH by TORTURE was handed out to men and women in the captured villages – often with Edward dining at the grisly scene(s).
    (Amazing, isn’t it: as much as Hollywood likes selling gore & violence, when it comes to medieval viciousness, Hollywood is actually squeamish!)

  • 90. empire in decline  |  January 30th, 2011 at 8:33 pm

    This hasn’t been going on for 30 years, this has been going on for over 200. As the years go on it becomes clear that having enough information and power isn’t going to make the people any better than they are. It’s like saying if religion was eliminated everyone would start acting rational.

    The people are who they are. The difference between the left and the right is that the right either doesn’t care or embraces how rotten people are while the left is supposed to be upset and willing to sacrifice in order to fight the sentiments of the people even if it means incurring their hatred and ostracism.

    The part about Jon Stewart was exactly right. It’s fucking ridiculous how correct this article is sometimes hitting all the right notes but this really needs to be addressed.

    Am I the only one who notices that comedians are considered the best social and political commentators in this country? Bill Hicks, George Carlin, Stephen Colbert, Jon Stewart and Bill Maher are or were allowed to say the truth or at least address controversial subjects more than any political figure. Do you know why?

    Because the people want to hear the truth without it meaning anything. I guess when Jon Stewart threw his little moderate rally he didn’t realize that he’s the living embodiment of the people’s desire for nothing to have any significant political meaning which is why they rely on irrelevant entertainers to say something that needs to be said. Sure, say the truth here and there, but make goddamn sure it doesn’t mean anything.

    To reinforce my point about comedians, just type “George Carlin doesn’t vote” or “Bill Hicks gays in the military” in youtube and just think of anyone who has any effect on policy able to say what they say about the people or the military in this country. The right have their hateful pieces of shit front and center in the media and elected as politicians but the cynical left, who can obviously retaliate beautifully as they do in those two clips, have been completely annihilated from the political discourse.

    What’s actually needed are sacrificial political figures who are willing to tell the truth without caring about money, friends or attaining a position of power. Somebody who will be discarded by the people who insist that they’re the most beautiful and intelligent and infallible race ever to grace this filthy disgusting planet. The left really underestimates how the media and government can act as an honest, accurate mirror reflections of the peoples will. Look at how Media Matters parses every word of every right-wing media pundit and politican in a desperate attempt to absolve the poor people of responsibility when those pundits and politicians wouldn’t exist in the public eye without those supposed “victims” of right-wing propaganda.

    I mostly focus on international affairs so I also want to say that while this is a good domestic analysis, it’s also true on the international stage except then it extends from pathetic white males to humanity in general. It would appear that Mark Ames realizes the universality of this problem by his Serbian example but the general rule is that the powerful and the potentially powerful are the problem. Once people enter the middle and upper class, or can potentially get there, all morality, intelligence and responsibility towards their fellow human beings disintegrates.

    The problems those on the left have to realize really encompass billions of people. Keep in mind, there weren’t even a billion people when all those lefty ideas about having faith in the people were beginning to bloom in the late 18th century. 99% of humanity were peasants living in pure filth and shit with no real rights and they didn’t know that giving the people a chance would eventually mean billions of people wouldn’t care about billions of other people.

    The left haven’t even identified this as a problem much less even begun planting seeds that could potentially bear fruit for future generations. It’s a fucking wasteland. At least some people are getting that maybe the precious people are turning out to be the enemy and need to be argued against.

  • 91. peckerwood  |  January 31st, 2011 at 3:42 pm

    @ dark markets, read a book or two, it’ll do a body good.

    Not to be defending Edward I (who wasn’t English, and never thought of himself as English; everybody worth anything back then were French speaking, on both sides of the lines; and this might trouble you, but Wm Wallace’s grandpa was from Shropshire, one of those warriors invited North by the Scottish rulers) many of the biggest fans of Mel Gibson’s quasi-fascist Braveheart are the American mouth breathers. NeoConfederates love that Movie, they and their Archie Bunkerish Irish Catholic counterparts, and distant cousins (dna evidence backs this claim up) both try to outdo each other in claims of Celtic victimhood. The older I get the more I see how all mouth breathers from various parts of the UK, Ireland, US, and Australia resemble each other more than they differ, “Celtic”, “Anglo-Saxon”, Catholic or Pentecostal identities notwithstanding. These identities are just latter applications, applied to an angry, festering, fog-ridden population who were probably already peeved off about something when Stonehenge was being built. These days they see themselves as the victims of a vast conspiracy of effeminate (btw, if Edward et al were effeminate how did they kick so much Gaelic ass?), cosmopolitan types.

  • 92. Gerald Fnord  |  February 16th, 2011 at 8:02 am

    This is oddly Randist: there are parasites who don’t really produce and in their spite and misery drag down the ones who do.

    This alone makes me mistrust it, for the same reasons I can’t trust Randism, Calvinism, Stalinism, and any other partition of the world that assumes that people are as they are and they’re immutable.

    Maybe a lot of them are, but not all…think of those Pennsylvania hicks who proclaimed in 2008, “We’re voting for the nigger.”

    I think there’s a false dichotomy here: either be deluded and think the American people are better than they, or live up to the manipulative caricature the speakers on the Right make of the Left (and live daily themselves) by using our the worse angels of our spiteful populace’s natures.

    They are as they are both because of their natures and because they react to what’s around them. What about getting people to change their minds by actually making life better for them first that doesn’t require winning them over?

    It might take a long time, not least because so many of the powerful (the eviller rich, the preachers, your boss) profit from the misery of those below them, if only because they enjoy watching it—economic Calvinism meets the economic Abominable Fallacy. But every incremental change for the better can make them more amenable to reason and less to spite.

    There’s an echo in the piece of the great conservative (in the best sense) insight that people tend to exercise more care with that which they own over other people’s or no-one’s property.

    This might seem entirely inadequate to a lot of you, but I warn you: using spite as a lever will only further condition them to be used by spite, and I think we’re just not as good as the Opposition at it, and bad things will inevitably happen regardless, in which case they’ll want a change of government regardless and put the same spite-wielders in power. Better to strengthen their resistance to it…I think we’re already less prone to being manipulated by it than back in Andrew Jackson’s day, Mark Hanna’s, or even Strom Thurmond’s earlier days.

  • 93. tiny junco  |  February 16th, 2011 at 9:25 am

    i agree with the bulk of your ‘spite’ thesis, having lived in USA for almost 50 years (family going back 4+ generations).

    however, your picture of someone with Down’s syndrome undermines your argument – it makes YOU look mean, stupid, and spiteful for no good reason.

    i have family members with Downs and have been friends with a number of people with Downs and their families over the years. while people with Downs can be as nasty as anyone else, on the whole i’ve found them to be much more sympathetic than the average US citizen, which makes your choice of picture even more perplexing. i don’t think it’s helping your argument. steph

  • 94. Karl Stirner  |  February 16th, 2011 at 10:05 am

    Mr peckerwood:

    I think they’re frustrated by not feeling comfortable yelling ‘Joooooooo!’ at the tops of their born fightin’ lungs…yet.

  • 95. todd  |  June 10th, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    Great reference to Mass Psychology of Fascism
    and Sexual Revolution by Reich also explains how the iip , idiots in power control others because they cannot control themselves, a projection in Fraudian terms, who doesn’t remember all the rejections by the opposite sex and the animal fury it causes, anything but face the daily grind with another bummer weekend of sexual torture, so maybe peak oil, famine, depression, China war, revolution will end it all, hippie communism will be all that is left standing, yoga anyway can help you survive casino capitalist hell till the
    system collapses from dead weight, PLP , RCP
    other revolutionary parties have existed for forty years, with no main stream press coverage, curious, ++”extremism” becomes the norm when reality catches up, Che, Mao, the great ones jumped in, surround the enemy from the four directions, surprise, five to six guerrilla fighters at each direction, one direction starts the ambush, then retreats the others block reinforcements, prepare by starting general strikes, hit the police stations, right wing stations, rich enclaves, army weapons store rooms, armored cars, study, move on capitals,liberate prisons, supply them, get stars to donate , refrain from taking on the army, convert it, occupy the capital buildings, bomb Langley and the Pentagon, enlist veterans , complete victory free health care and education, a thirty hour week, two month vacation, guaranteed job and income, military reduced ninetey percent, tax on the rich increased one thousand percent, voila prophecies fulfilled, dream of the Earth fulfilled, Kali yuga ends,Mozart reincarnates as Kalki,tenth and last reincarnation of GOd, the other dimensions open and free travel to other worlds and the spiritual sky ensues, in the parallel dimensions we have multiorgasmic health every second , and embrace the Tao, it was all OK in the first place

  • 96. Alex  |  June 23rd, 2011 at 2:13 am

    You are completely missing the point.

    1. You assume that rational decisions necessarily put economic interests above all others. Not so.

    2. It’s not about malice and spite, it’s about choice. It’s Kansas Bill wanting to be sure that if he wants to suck on bacon and cigarettes twelve hours a day and die at 32 he can do that. And along the way no one is going to tell him he can’t.

    I am politically neutral and I don’t necessarily agree with what I just described. But you really, reallh failed to grasp this.

  • 97. Steve Radlauer  |  September 13th, 2011 at 12:59 pm

    Here — — is a similar way of looking at it, I believe.

  • 98. Homer Erotic  |  June 11th, 2012 at 8:10 am

    Likely not many people will read this very belated comment, but I can tell you that Scott Walker’s victory in The Hysteric Wisconsin Recall Erection 1) massively vindicates every contention in this article (so much so that I e-mailed a link to it to a bunch of people to whom I normally wouldn’t show something such as this) and 2) that the left will never, ever “get it” in a million, billion years. But hey, America is a country in which nothing ever really changes unless it gets worse, so it’s all good, right? 😀

  • 99. epictetus  |  January 23rd, 2013 at 6:54 pm

    “Spite voting is mostly a white male phenomenon.” And what of African Americans overwhelming support for Obama?

  • 100. pwlsax  |  November 7th, 2014 at 4:54 pm

    I am sharing this essay with everyone I can in the wake of this Nov. 4.

    The comforting Democratic denial Ames noted in 2004 and 2011 has reaped a red tide in 2014 as the President’s party stood by with a tattered old playbook clenched in one hand and the thumb of the other resolutely emplaced up its collective ringpiece.

    Particularly spot-on, in my estimation, is commenter #9 (vegetable)’s callout of one of this nation’s most venerable groups of grudge-holding hate-mongering ass-whuppers, the Scots-Irish. Their 101 proof brand of lily-white sadism has been fundamental to American institutions like the military, religion, and those flavors of politics that embrace the first two. No longer an ethnic tinge, it is long since dispersed into the air we breathe, and it is high time it was reckoned with.

  • 101. Dick Butkis  |  November 9th, 2016 at 7:10 am

    It keeps getting worse.

  • 102. Matt  |  November 11th, 2016 at 8:56 am

    Boy, sure fucking called that one.

  • 103. Roricon Kuro  |  November 14th, 2016 at 10:49 am

    Now that the American people, white people that is, elected Donald Trump, I definitely have been feeling like this article encourages me.

    The spite would probably be suffocating if I actually lived in the United States. Still, like most of the world, I can only take solace in the fact that group of people will wallow in their own shit for the coming years, especially in the places where support for him was highest.

  • 104. Bill  |  November 28th, 2016 at 12:15 pm

    Interesting article, and yes there is x-amount of spite in the voter that votes against his own self interests, but the component that the author does not recognize is the fact that in much of rural America, it is an ingrained BELIEF SYSTEM that dictates behavior. This is what the right intrinsically understands, and plays to. Trying to educate someone, or to even get him to recognize that his spite is misdirected is futile when it goes directly against the group / individuals beliefs.

  • 105. lonnie93041  |  October 29th, 2017 at 10:05 am

    Wonderful article. Gave it to my high school grad wife to read and she said and I quote “Well DUH I could have told you all that!”

    Thanks for putting us liberals on the spot.

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