In response to “Trump and the Trumpists” (Vol. 3, No. 1).

To the editors:

 “Something is happening, but you don’t know what it is, do you, Mr. Jones.
Bob Dylan

Across many democracies, intemperate right-wing politicians are rallying a widespread dissatisfaction with the current socio-economic order. They have tapped and stoked discontent into an unruly, gloomy politics labeled by many as populist on account of its deep hostility toward elites. Central to these politics of discontent is the reassertion of nationalism. The British vote to withdraw from the E.U., the strong showing of Marine Le Pen in the recent French presidential election, and especially the unexpected victory of Donald Trump, are just the most conspicuous manifestations of the new political reality. How have we come to this? What underlies it? Wolfgang Streeck offers an analysis.

The strength of Streeck’s “Trump and the Trumpists” is its broad focus on the recent history of the international political economy and the breakdown of neoliberal capitalism. His argument is that over the past few decades the center left bought Margaret Thatcher’s declaration that “there is no alternative” (TINA) to market capitalism. In the effort to promote growth through economic and social modernization, center-left governments embraced internationalism and, in the process, became the handmaiden of neoliberal finance capital.

The starkly uneven consequences of globalized creative destruction have ravaged national working classes. In response, they have revolted politically—but to the right, not to the left. Streeck revives Marx’s classic Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Bonaparte, likening the American working class’ support of Trump to the support of the smallholding peasantry for Louis Bonaparte in mid-nineteenth century France. Both Trump and Louis gained political power through the support of a disorganized, declining class. Trump is both the outcome and the end of the American version of neoliberalism, Streeck declares. Although he rues the right-wing orientation of Trump supporters, Streeck’s sympathy toward the suffering working class validates both its pain and much of its political diagnosis.

Of course, Streeck would like working-class politics to follow his own proclivities. Guided by his deep misgivings with E.U. internationalism, Streeck wants to return operative politics to the level of the nation-state in order to bring markets under political control. Such a return would regulate capital to serve the needs of the national economy and restore the social rights of collective protection based on citizenship, as in the good old days of social democracy.1

The problem with the broad focus is that it tends to miss the nuance and complexity of the concrete. I argue three points in this letter:

  1. Much has been made of the significance of the working class, particularly the White working class, in the 2016 US election. I am dubious both about the category and the inference about its special electoral impact.
  2. Focus on the White working class implies that the election was inordinately about class. While class is important, it is too narrow an analytic category. I contend that the election was more about culture and what I define as status anxiety.
  3. Finally, the recent discourse, which includes Streeck’s contribution, that tries to empathize with and win back the working class seems to me a misguided strategy, because it rests on what I would describe as a politics of pity.

The White Working Class

Streeck buys the conventional wisdom of the working class as the base of Trump’s support. American commentators share this assumption but are properly more specific. Many explanations for Trump’s unexpected victory point to several key Midwestern counties where high unemployment rates may have propelled White working class voters to flip from supporting Obama in 2012 to supporting Trump in 2016. Nationwide, exit polls showed that Trump won among Whites without a college degree by 67 percent.2 Absence of a college degree is often used as a proxy for working-class.

Two interconnected questions arise: is the White working class a useful category, and, if so, is it true that people in this demographic category gave Trump his margin of victory?  

As George Packer wrote in a New Yorker article published just prior to the election, the term White working class mixes race and class—and thus privilege and disadvantage—in a volatile compound.3 In this way, the category represents intersectionality of a different kind than usually punctuates contemporary sociological observation. White people are said to possess the historically-rooted and cumulative advantages of domination in a conflict-riven, multi-racial society. We have come to call this set of advantages White privilege. The working-class part resonates differently; it registers disadvantage or decline.

In a traditional Marxian framework, working-class designates people who sell their labor power, and work under direct supervision for a wage. Class indicates a person’s relationship to the means of production. But what counts as working-class is not clear in our complicated socio-economic world.4 Given that class has historically been discounted in the U.S., the appearance of the White working-class category in public discourse is somewhat surprising. It may be because the term has been mobilized to connote downwardly mobile, poor, even pathological people—linked discursively with the ills that used to be associated with the so-called Black urban underclass.5 A Weberian framework that combines income, occupation, educational level, and status better captures the diminished life-chances of high-school-educated, often blue-collar, and perhaps especially small-town and rural residents, whose economic fortunes have declined as their communities have experienced the decades-long shuttering of manufacturing plants and other sources of employment.

Streeck conveys a sense of this when he argues, astutely, that the Trump electoral machine mobilized its working-class supporters as a status group, concerned as much with honor as with economic distress. But there is a level of the concrete and the substantive missing from Streeck’s status group analysis. Economic decline has weakened the social institutions that previously moored social life in these communities. But economic decline does not tell us enough. It fuels and is fueled by a deep cultural disquiet. Their previous social advantages eroded, the so-called White working class is now mobilized to support political candidates who give voice to their resentment at losing economic power and cultural dominance. They see themselves squeezed from below by undeserving takers, conjured as being less White, notably including immigrants, and from above by liberal, credentialed elites who tell them what to think and create government programs that redistribute their hard-earned wages. They see their traditional values as under attack by secular humanism, the homosexual agenda, and political correctness.6

Given these complexities of political identity, is the category of White working class really accurate or useful, especially with regard to the 2016 election? Let us follow the polling data. Recall the data that showed overwhelming Trump support among White voters without college degrees. Even without the race variable, those without a college degree backed Trump fifty-two percent to forty-four percent. But income data complicate this picture. Voters whose yearly incomes were less than US$50,000 went pretty strongly for Clinton, fifty-two percent to forty-one percent, while better-off voters pulled the lever for Trump. Evangelicals across all income brackets and occupations voted overwhelmingly for Trump, including an astonishing eighty-one percent of White evangelicals.7

And while large numbers of disenfranchised Whites did vote for Trump, pinning Trump’s victory on a surge of voting on the part of Whites without college degrees is not supported by the evidence. Indeed, more recent polling data from the U.S. Census Bureau show that there was no such surge, and that the more important variable in the states that broke for Trump was the significant drop in Black and Hispanic turnout.8

Yet there seems to be a powerful commitment to the White working-class category and its identification as the margin of Trump’s victory, if not the base of his support. Indeed, it has become the reigning conventional wisdom about the election. Why? I am not sure, but I suggest that focusing on the iconic image of the White working class—stolid, blue-collar manufacturing working men who are now out of work or underemployed—fetishizes the pain of that group and reaches back to a 1950s nostalgia. Numerically, many more secretaries and retail workers have been made redundant than coal miners and manufacturing workers in recent years. Nobody is wringing their hands over them, aside from, perhaps, New York Times columnist Paul Krugman.9 By any criteria, low-level service workers are certainly members of the working class. If we go by income data, they did not, as a rule, vote for Trump. In short, the Trump voters identified as White working class do not clearly constitute a class in the occupational sense, nor do they constitute a class if we use income as a key measure.

Most of Trump’s support came from Republicans writ large, many of whom now exhibit the profile of the Tea Party and the sort of very conservative, anti-establishment voters who first came to notice for their support for Barry Goldwater in the 1964 presidential election. That is to say, older, White, relatively well-off, Protestant, especially evangelical, and often small-business owners—a cultural formation characterized, at the risk of over-simplification, by anti-establishment, anti-elite, and quasi-authoritarian attitudes.

Speaking of the quasi-authoritarian attitude, let us take special note of evangelical Christian support of Trump. Many commentators, including evangelical intellectuals, remarked on the disjuncture between evangelicals’ religiously-inspired values and Trump’s irreligion, his un-Christian demagoguery, his crass manner and vulgar behavior. For decades, evangelicals have stressed the importance of private virtue. There was even some pre-election talk that younger evangelicals would desert the Republican Party this election, or at least not show up to the polls. In the end, evangelicals supported Trump at a greater percentage than they did McCain in 2008 (seventy-four percent) or Romney in 2012 (seventy-eight percent).10

Was this hypocrisy? Certainly. “Everyone is a sinner,” many pastors exclaimed, exculpating Trump’s history and behavior.11 But what the charge of hypocrisy misses is the confluence of styles (culture again) between Trump and evangelicals,12 and that American evangelicals are not just a religious denomination, they essentially now are a political party. Evangelical Protestants have seen themselves for some time as a persecuted minority in a hostile culture, a sensibility that fits quite nicely with Trump’s claim that a cabal of elites tyrannizes hard-working Americans. Protestantism’s original genetic code was characterized by an ethos of individualism and anti-authoritarianism. Evangelicalism in particular retains elements of this posture, and evangelicals tend to deprecate churches and organizations they deem elitist. Trump likewise disparages authority and elite persons and organizations. Especially the ones that have kept their distance from him. The evangelical enterprise is a do-it-yourself church; Trump built an image of himself as a do-it-yourself guy. Trump’s authoritarian machismo mirrors the manner of powerful evangelical pastors. And Trump’s inaugural “American carnage” speech was very much like evangelical premillennial Armageddon talk: the country is going to hell in a hand basket.13

A Status Anxiety Election

While it is true that 2016 was a very close election and could have gone to Hillary Clinton, in many respects the rise of Trumpism now appears to be overdetermined. The financial crisis of 2008 put an exclamation point on forty or so years of declining wages and growing economic inequality, for which immigrants from Mexico were an easy scapegoat. Immigrant scapegoating joined a long-standing condemnation of affirmative action and other reform policies as reverse discrimination against White people. The increase of social equality over the same period contributed to “status anxiety” on the part of many Whites and conservative Christians over their declining cultural hegemony. The historian Richard Hofstadter introduced the concept of status anxiety as a way to understand the rage and conspiracy-thinking that accompanied McCarthyism and the followers of Barry Goldwater.14 White, especially religious, Protestants saw their cultural dominance diminish in the post-World War II dispensation. They refused to accept a more pluralistic America and railed against it.

Since the late 1970s, the Republican Party successfully captured and stoked these anxieties, managing to tie the discontent of conservative evangelicals, small business owners, and, I use the term strategically here, the White working class to policies largely unconnected to their immediate concerns, to wit, the deregulation of industry, tax cuts for the wealthy, and the demonization of government in general.

In the 2016 campaign, it was as if the Republican base woke up to Thomas Frank’s What’s the Matter with Kansas? thesis, and discovered that the Republican political elite had sold them out.15 But this awakening did not mean a turn to Democrats or to the left. With its own slippage from the New Deal’s commitment to a regulated, mixed economy and to labor unions, and a turn instead toward deregulation, uninhibited free trade, and orientation toward white-collar professionals, the Democratic Party, too, was perceived as selling out working people. In this respect, Streeck’s observation that center-left governments accepted the TINA doctrine is correct. But complicating this hugely in the case of the United States was the national Democratic Party’s historical support for the Civil Rights movement and the subsequent women’s and minority rights movements that civil rights set in motion. This put class and racial matters in great tension. This is absent from Streeck’s analysis.

The culture wars that began in the 1980s showed us then, and Trump constituencies show us now, that most conservative constituencies are not against government or government spending per se. But, again, race and class are in grave tension. For decades, a central political question for many White people was whether government benefits go to the deserving or the undeserving, with themselves constituting the former and racial minorities the latter. In this respect, White status anxiety and Hillary Clinton’s “basket of deplorables” clearly intersect. In the past, among other things, unionism and a growing economy were able to lessen status anxiety; the decline of unions and a weak economy (or at least a very mottled one) are of course now part of the problem. Clinton’s “deplorables” speech may have been bad campaign politics, but it was not an incorrect analysis.16 And some percentage of Trump supporters could not, in fact, abide the idea of a female president. The misogyny toward Clinton during the campaign was palpable, and it was not due simply, as Streeck avers, to the perception of her as a corrupt elitist politician.

Identity politics abets the deplorability dynamic, for it creates a retribalization process along racial/ethnic/sexual identification lines. If Black people and gays/lesbians and Latinos and other previously marginalized groups identify and act politically in group ways, asserting a politics of difference and grievance, what are politically unsophisticated White people supposed to do? They create, or recreate, their own White identity group. And because identity politics feeds on and fuels a sense of victimhood, victimhood becomes the basic currency of politics. White people are now suffering, ergo, they are victims. Victims of whom? The elites. This is not new in American politics. A version was articulated in McCarthy’s day and was re-jiggered in the late 1960s by neoconservatives such as Irving Kristol, who argued that President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society had fostered a New Class of highly credentialed public-sector professionals. This elite effectively amassed power by pushing for more government programs and greater benefits for minorities. The victims of the New Class’s will to power was the little guy, the so-called forgotten man.17

With Trump this has fueled a version of populism, with all of populism’s historically double-edged hatred of elites and cosmopolitanism, and the predictable nationalism and racism that often follow. Trump was able to articulate a version of White populist nationalism. Media of course played a part here. Trump had been a strong presence in television, having performed in the popular reality TV show, The Apprentice, for more than a decade. His charismatic embodiment of celebrity culture was finessed into a palpable political resource. The deregulation of communications beginning in the 1970s and subsequent proliferation of media choices led to the current situation where you can choose your idiosyncratic channel or website, with its own idiosyncratic viewpoint. Fox News and right-wing radio originally simply engaged in a classic strategy of political market differentiation, but it had an unforeseen epistemological consequence. Now, Daniel Patrick Moynihan’s old quip that “you’re entitled to your own opinions. You are not entitled to your own facts” no longer applies: you are now entitled to your own facts. This may be one of the most dangerous aspects to the election; we no longer seem to live in the same conceptual universe, which makes politics—the messy clash of views and interests fashioned into often unsatisfying pragmatic policies—effectively impossible.

The Politics of Pity

This leaves us with a political dilemma. How should Democrats, liberals, the left react, not so much to Trump and his policies—we see thus far that political resistance has been the norm—but toward Trump supporters? There has been a certain amount of breast-beating about how liberals have long ignored the pain and concerns of the White working class. Countless op-eds and punditry since the election counsel empathy and propose strategies to address the problems of main street, hoping to bring wayward, disillusioned voters back to moderation, to rationality, to the Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders’s effort in this direction has been to embrace the working class and downplay the identity-based constituencies of the Democratic Party. I imagine Streeck would approve.

But these efforts of empathy toward, and recoup of, the White working class are beset by their own contradictions and political dangers. Like the widely-praised Strangers in Their Own Land, the recent ethnography of right-wing White working class Louisianans by the sociologist Arlie Hochschild,18 Streeck’s empathy toward Trump supporters effectively serves to absolve them politically. The empathic approach fails to hold to account people who use government services but rail against them, who wax nostalgic for a bygone era characterized by racial and gender privilege, who proudly repeat offensive falsehoods. Such empathy authorizes emotion as the basis of politics. To be sure, we should try to understand how Trump voters see the world. But empathy easily passes over into pity.

Hannah Arendt illuminated this phenomenon with typically idiosyncratic insight in On Revolution.19 In a chapter in which she explains why the French Revolution failed, Arendt strikes a distinction between pity and solidarity. Pity is a sentiment that partakes of emotional compassion with those who suffer. But pity, in Arendt’s view, is an abstract compassion, one that rests on the distance between the fortunate pitier and the unfortunate pitied. Pity embodies feeling—rooted ostensibly in love—for a multitude. For Arendt, pity is a dangerous sentiment, because love is an emotion that can only be experienced in the concrete, between individual persons. In the end, pity glorifies suffering and extols cruelty as the means for restoring humanity. This, in Arendt’s view, was Robespierre’s failing. Robespierre’s pity for the abject French masses justified his terror, resulting in the destruction of liberty and hence assuring the failure of the Revolution.

Pity’s opposite is solidarity. Unlike pity, solidarity partakes of reason. Though it may be aroused by suffering, solidarity is not guided by it, and remains “committed to ideas… rather than of any ‘love’ of men.”20 An ethos of solidarity is guided by ideas and reasons about issues, not by sentiment. Solidarity thus embodies politics, specifically, a politics of justice.

Because Streeck does not see the deep tension in American political history between class and race, he allows his empathy/pity to support an unmoored concept of class. Notwithstanding his use of Marx’s Eighteenth Brumaire, Streeck may harbor a hidden Marxist nostalgia for the working class as revolutionary agent. To be sure, the American working class historically has been a central contributor to progressive politics. But, for complicated reasons, its contributions have supported a racialized version of social democracy.21 There is no reason to believe that, guided by a politics of pity, any recoup of the White working class would not set back the social gains of minorities and women. In the difficult moment of the Trump era, this is not a model we should emulate.

Robert Horwitz

Wolfgang Streeck replies:

Guided by his deep misgivings with E.U. internationalism, Streeck wants to return operative politics to the level of the nation-state in order to bring markets under political control. Such a return would regulate capital to serve the needs of the national economy and restore the social rights of collective protection based on citizenship, as in the good old days of social democracy.

Well, by and large, yes. I admit I do not feel obliged to think that only new days can be good days, or that new days are always better than old days. As I see it, a little more social democracy would not hurt. No apologies. To put it more in the abstract, I find a lot of sense in Dani Rodrik’s trilemma of deep economic integration, democratic politics, and the nation-state. You can have only two of them at the same time. Since there are no democratic politics outside of and without the nation-state, I would opt for a little less economic integration and thus a little more social, meaning egalitarian, democracy.

I am grateful to Horwitz for reminding me of the importance of race in American politics. It is strong testimony to the stickiness of historical legacies.22 I do remember one specific turning point, 1968, when the tensions of the 1960s erupted into labor militancy everywhere else in the capitalist world. In the U.S. they came out as burning inner cities. American unions remained on the sidelines, supporting the Vietnam War. In subsequent years the black movement became mired in civil rights legislation and litigation and the unions continued to decline, while in Europe they became more powerful than ever, for a decade-long grace period. Deregulation proceeded swiftly in the United States and could do so as unions were fatally weakened; neoliberalism and de-industrialization under Volcker and Reagan followed, and then spread from the leading capitalist country to the rest of the world. What would have been if those who recognized racism as a specifically American variety of capitalist classism had prevailed? As Marx wrote famously in Volume I, “Labor cannot emancipate itself in the white skin where in the black it is branded.”

According to Horwitz, paraphrasing my essay,

with its own slippage from the New Deal’s commitment to a regulated, mixed economy and to labor unions, and a turn instead toward deregulation, uninhibited free trade, and orientation toward white-collar professionals, the Democratic Party, too, was perceived as selling out working people.

The question is why that party, under its New Democrat-New Labour Clinton leadership, was unable to mop up the discontent of the mostly White working class. Why did it have to leave it to be mopped up by a Trump? Perhaps because the Clintons found that class culturally disgusting? Maybe. But more important, as far as I am concerned, is that they had no answer to their problems, being too deeply implicated in financialization, globalization, de-industrialization, the general big money corruption of American electoral politics. So they left the victims of unmitigated structural change and of the most brutal restoration of profitability in capitalist history to their own devices, scolding them for their bad manners. “Streeck’s empathy,” Horwitz remarks, “toward Trump supporters effectively serves to absolve them politically.” Should I ask for them to be punished for their misbehavior by exclusion from democratic citizenship? Absolution is a theological concept; it should have no place here, just as pity should not, as Horwitz rightly points out. Neither tells us what to do with the sinners/sufferers other than living with them, listening to them, trying to understand them, and offering them a civilized definition of their grievances—one that can be accommodated within progressive politics. Any other suggestion?

I admit to having had some sympathy with some of the points that Trump claimed for his agenda, but not with the man. I lived long enough in NYC to find him ridiculous beyond redemption. What I liked about what he pretended were his ambitions was the rehabilitation of the broken ex-industrial heartland—what had Obama done there?—an end to the farcical efforts of Obama-Clinton to replay the Cold War, now with Russia instead of the Soviet Union, an end to nation-building rather than at home in Afghanistan, Iraq, Syria, Libya, wherever, and an end to all this “indispensable nation” stuff, with its destructive so-called “responsibility to protect” missions all over the world that others have to pay for, often enough with their lives. Of course we now suspect he never meant it, or never meant anything to begin with. Or perhaps the military and the intelligence community, which he had kept insulting during his campaign, showed him their instruments early on.

Robert Horwitz is professor in the department of communication at the University of California San Diego.

Wolfgang Streeck is Director Emeritus and Professor at the Max Planck Institute for the Study of Societies in Cologne.

  1. Wolfgang Streeck, Buying Time: The Delayed Crisis of Democratic Capitalism, trans. Patrick Camiller (London: Verso, 2017). 
  2. Alec Tyson and Shiva Maniam, “Behind Trump’s Victory: Divisions by Race, Gender, Education,” Pew Research Center, November 9, 2016. 
  3. George Packer, “Hillary Clinton and the Populist Revolt,” The New Yorker, October 31, 2016. 
  4. This is not the place to engage in a detailed re-thinking of the concept of class. But note how tortured the concept has become in our current economy. On the one hand, for example, the Occupy movement’s “We are the 99 percent” slogan essentially makes everyone part of the working class but millionaires; on another hand, the current “gig” economy’s reliance on contract work is taken by some to mean that a large number of workers are self-employed, and are not part of the working class. Such perspectives are incorrect and misleading. To be sure, these are caricatures of analysis as I present them here, but they underscore how complicated and in need of clear definition is the concept of class. Notwithstanding his core thesis on the increasing polarization of classes into bourgeoisie and proletariat, Marx always made room (albeit desultorily) for those who did not fit, the so-called “dritte personen,” the middle class of independent producers (the hangovers from an earlier mode of production) and managers and professionals. Abram Harris, “Pure Capitalism and the Disappearance of the Middle Class,” 47 Journal of Political Economy 3 (1939): 328–56. 
  5. See Charles Murray, Coming Apart: The State of White America, 1960-2010 (New York: Crown Forum, 2012). 
  6. See my America’s Right: Anti-establishment Conservatism from Goldwater to the Tea Party (Cambridge, MA: Polity, 2013). 
  7. Alec Tyson and Shiva Maniam, “Behind Trump’s Victory: Divisions by Race, Gender, Education,” Pew Research Center, November 9, 2016. 
  8. Turnout among Black voters dropped significantly, from 66.6 percent in 2012 to 59.6 percent in 2016. Hispanic turnout also dropped, albeit not nearly as much, from 48 to 47.6 percent. Turnout among White voters without college degrees increased less than one percent between 2012 and 2016. See Thom File, “Voting in America: A Look at the 2016 Presidential Election,” United States Census Bureau, May 10, 2017. 
  9. Paul Krugman, “Why Don’t All Jobs Matter?” New York Times (April 17, 2017). 
  10. Gregory Smith and Jessica Martinez, “How the Faithful Voted: A Preliminary 2016 Analysis,” Pew Research Center, November 9, 2016. 
  11. See Katelyn Beaty, “Christians Who Shield O’Reilly,” The New York Times, May 2, 2017. 
  12. See Garry Wills, “Where Evangelicals Came From,” The New York Review of Books, April 20, 2017. 
  13. The White House, “The Inaugural Address,” January 20, 2017. 
  14. Richard Hofstadter, Anti-Intellectualism in American Life (New York: Knopf, 1963); The Paranoid Style in American Politics and Other Essays (New York: Knopf, 1965). 
  15. Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas? How Conservatives Won the Heart of America (New York: Metropolitan, 2004). 
  16. Clinton stated that half of Trump’s supporters could be put in the basket of deplorables – “the racist, sexist, homophobic, xenophobic, Islamophobic—you name it.” The other half “feel that the government has let them down,” and are “desperate for change.” (For a transcript, see: Katie Reilly, “Read Hillary Clinton’s ‘Basket of Deplorables’ Remarks About Donald Trump Supporters,” Time, September 10, 2016.) Trump’s supporters were clearly more variegated than the two camps into which Clinton placed them, and the percentages she presented were campaign overstatement. A distinction must be struck between the deplorable racists and misogynists, and those precariously perched with status anxieties that were stoked by Trump’s nationalist rhetoric but whose core identity was not “deplorable.” Still, Trump’s campaign clearly did appeal to racists and misogynists. 
  17. Irving Kristol, Two Cheers for Capitalism (New York: Basic Books, 1978). The trope of the forgotten man was first formulated in an 1883 lecture by the notorious Social Darwinist William Graham Sumner, The Forgotten Man and Other Essays, ed. Albert Galloway Keller (New Haven, CN: Yale University Press, 1918). The forgotten man was the taxpaying “simple, honest laborer,” who is “victim of the reformer, social speculator and philanthropist.” 
  18. Arlie Hochschild, Strangers in Their Own Land: Anger and Mourning on the American Right (New York: New Press, 2016). 
  19. Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (New York: Viking, 1963). 
  20. Hannah Arendt, On Revolution (New York: Viking, 1963), 79. 
  21. Recall that in the New Deal, the United States’ strongest period of social democracy, the promotion of social rights of collective protection came at the explicit expense of non-Whites. Ira Katznelson, When Affirmative Action Was White: An Untold History of Racial Inequality in Twentieth-Century America (New York: Norton, 2005). 
  22. One mystery here, among many others, is how the slave-owning plantation aristocrats of the late eighteenth century could produce such captivating literature on liberty, human rights, equality, and democracy. Was it that the racism of a ruling class ruling was enough to forget about who was doing the work?