Thursday, April 18, 2013

No such thing as "the rootless", in my opinion

Or the "Deracines", to use the original term. I think that the dichotomy between country and city that sees the country as the repository of all values is false, and in fact ignores some of the hard facts about country living. I partially grew up in rural Michigan, and I can tell you that I was happy to get out of there, because of the stultifying idiocy of the people. I don't consider rural America to be more 'real' than urban America, and things like the Iowa Caucuses, nicknamed sometimes by me the Iowa Caucasian-us, are relics of a past world.

Maurice Barrés, who came up with the concept of the Deracines, also explicitly used it to promote anti-Semitism, by arguing that people who are Jewish are constant rootless individuals, who won't be at home in any community that they're part of, something false. Barrés also expanded his critique to middle class bourgeois folks, who he also conflated with people who are Jewish.

 That folks who live in bourgeois situations get a kind of threadbare perspective on the world, that's missing something, is sometimes true, but the antidote to that isn't to go back to rural life but to make the present life deeper, and, if desirable, to recover some of that depth within modernity itself instead of rejecting it in total.


Lorraine said...

What you think of the late (well, not very late) Paul Goodman's idea of having urban and rural kids go to each other's schools as a sort of exchange students?

John Madziarczyk said...

I'm biased. I would think that was good if it was one way...i.e. only participated in by the rural kids.