Do I recommend reading David Brooks’ column today about America’s “working-class honor code” while imagining the well-moisturized Brooks himself wandering through Appalachia in a peach-colored V-neck sweater, lecturing the surly locals at the feed store about social science? Yes. I recommend it highly. To illustrate the deep value of David Brooks’ personal insights into the working class, I will highlight just two paragraphs, bolding the most insightful parts.
This honor code has been decimated lately. Conservatives argue that it has been decimated by cosmopolitan cultural elites who look down on rural rubes. There’s some truth to this, as the reactions of smug elites to the Brexit vote demonstrate.
And then immediately after:
Most of all, it has been undermined by rampant consumerism, by celebrity culture, by reality-TV fantasies that tell people success comes in a quick flash of publicity, not through steady work. The sociologist Daniel Bell once argued that capitalism would undermine itself because it encouraged hedonistic short-term values for consumers while requiring self-disciplined long-term values in its workers. At least in one segment of society, Bell was absolutely correct.
David Brooks’ findings:
- Despicable, insular elites look down their noses at the working class.
- The working class has no self-discipline or “long-term values,” because of all that reality TV garbage they watch!
David Brooks holds one of the most coveted jobs in journalism.