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The Essential Ellen Willis$
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Ellen Willis and Nona Willis Aronowitz

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780816681204

Published to Minnesota Scholarship Online: August 2015

DOI: 10.5749/minnesota/9780816681204.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM MINNESOTA SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.minnesota.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright University of Minnesota Press, 2022. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in MNSO for personal use.date: 27 June 2022

Escape from Freedom

Escape from Freedom

What’s the Matter with Tom Frank (and the Lefties Who Love Him)?

(p.450) Escape from Freedom
The Essential Ellen Willis

Nona Willis Aronowitz

University of Minnesota Press

This chapter offers a reading of Thomas Frank’s book What’s the Matter with Kansas? in relation to the mainstream left’s desperate wish that the culture wars would disappear. What’s the Matter with Kansas? paints a depressing and infuriating picture of what globalization, which is to say transnational corporate suburbanism, has done to Kansas and—by extension—to America. It attacks with ferocity and eloquence the stereotyping of authentic heartlanders vs. latte liberals from which lightweights like David Brooks have fashioned careers. But the book also makes a compelling and unassailable observation: that a large chunk of the working class has displaced its anger at class oppression from the corporations and allied politicians who actually rule us to the cosmopolitan, secular “cultural elite,” whose offenses range from rejection of conservative sexual morality to epicurean habits of consumption. So long as these class wires remain crossed, changing the direction of American politics is not possible.

Keywords:   left, Thomas Frank, What’s the Matter with Kansas, culture wars, globalization, Kansas, working class, corporations, cultural elite, politics

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