Here’s a very good article on the ways in which fancy people like to pretend they are working class.
Speaking about coal miners, I had a bunch of them in my family. We’d go stay with them in the summer. I knew even as a small child that I was very different from them. My sensibilities, the way I spoke, everything about me was different. There was a lot of violence. My miner uncle would get drunk and beat his wife regularly. When we were around, he’d be on his best behavior and get drunk sullenly and silently alone because he knew we were fancy.
Romanticizing working class life and posing as working class is deeply stupid. There’s nothing superior about manual labor. There’s no virtue to it because workers aren’t “good savages.”
Russell Kirk speaks about the enormous – and profoundly negative – impact that Rousseau’s theories about “the natural state” has had on liberalism, and he’s right. In last week’s episode of Top Chef, a bunch of rich foodies invited Native American shamans to a meal. The shaman started to do an incantation about how “the food you have eaten now knows you and you have come in touch with our ancestral wisdom.” The rich foodies stood there, frozen in abject respect for the “ancestral wisdom.” For them, the shaman is “a good savage” who hasn’t been spoiled by civilization.
I wrote before about how I had to fight to preserve the word “civilization” in a course title. This is straight out of Rousseau. Civilization = bad, savages = good. We don’t call them savages any more, but the approach is the same.