- Jun 3, 2022
Interesting. More accurate description for the Democrats. They are a heterogenous coalition that suppresses their differences, sometimes effectively, sometimes not.I think that "rural/urban" is a political rather than cultural divide. Steve Bannon liked to say that "politics is downstream of culture", and while this was presented as something radical and a bit scary, it's actually the common sense of the twenty-first century, he just said it out loud. (This is because we have collectively abandoned the idea that politics, the state, is an avenue for effecting change; if change is possible, we must imagine that it takes place somewhere outside of politics.) We therefore tend to look at the prevailing political divides and seek to infer some underlying cultural divide, that if a country is neatly divided into red and blue political teams, this would speak to some underlying cultural structure. Instead, I would contend, both teams are political formations, coalitions of economically and culturally heterogenous constituencies, who suppress their sense of difference in order to make a coalition viable.
I am unsure that it is as true of the Republicans. Differences of class are present in the Republican Party. Gentry, working class, what have you. Differences in preferences on issues of social policy are less present as far as I can tell.
I still see economics as the primary driver of culture, and I would say culture is presently driving politics more than the other way round. In urban areas, diversity requires a certain set of norms for optimal efficiency/minimization of workplace conflict. Capitalists implemented those norms, easily within their power due to the leverage of ownership over labor. Urban areas quickly adapted to that. Rural areas, not subject to the same diverse conditions, did not face the same demands, and did not adapt.
Here in the rural USA, I never see a group reach a consensus on what “cancel culture” is. I do however see rural people absolutely hate it, and I don’t think it’s political; what they hate is that system of norms making its way into their community and devaluing traditions they’ve held onto for hundreds of years. The culture in urban areas has shifted towards a more progressive environment, and it faces resistance as it spreads.
(that’s not to pass judgement on the merit of rural traditions, some of which are arguably pretty ugly)