Sunday, June 7, 2015

The White Working Class: A More Nuanced View than Usual

The FT has a good story on the Etats-Unis section of Lyon, a mixed neighborhood of immigrant and white working class. Worth reading in full. The bottom line:
Nobody I met expressed support for the FN. In part, that’s because doing so is somewhat taboo in France: most FN voters are shy. But the Etats-Unis isn’t an FN hotbed. While some disaffected people here voted for Le Pen, more have simply abandoned politics. In last year’s municipal elections, the abstention rate in the Etats-Unis was 50-60 per cent, compared with 36.5 per cent nationally.
After Muller had lengthily castigated immigrants, he said something that surprised me: “My son is a half-caste.” It turned out the son’s mother was of Algerian origin. Later, Muller had married another Algerian woman but left her, he said, because her 80-a-day cigarette habit had worsened his health problems. “She used to light one cigarette with another,” he recalled.
But he was losing interest in racism, he said. He thought the word was losing meaning. What counted increasingly were money and tech, not skin colour. “My vision is that in 10 years my little son will come up and introduce me to a robot: ‘Hi, I’m going out with a robot, it’s better than a woman.’” By then the people of the Etats-Unis — poor whites and immigrants alike — may have a completely new set of problems.

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