There is a journalism of collapse within the mainstream media. It is not the warnings of the survivalists waiting for the EOTWAWKI (End of the World as We know It), but the simple observations of the slowly waning prospects of the common American. Thomas Frank has some interesting observations, in his review of The Unwinding: The Inner History of the New America, about the net results of all this writing.
Thomas Franks, Public Books, 21 November 2013 (hat tip: MR)
This is a powerful and important work, but even so, I can’t help but think that it has arrived very late in the day. Ask yourself: how many books have been published describing the destruction of the postwar middle-class economic order and the advent of the shiny, plutocratized new one? Well, since I myself started writing about the subject in the mid-1990s—and thus earned a place on every book publicist’s mailing list—there have been at least a thousand, not counting the various management texts and libertarian sermons in which the advent of that new economy is not awful but magnificent! Glorious! An ideal toward which humanity must strive with our every muscle!
[He goes on to list many examples].
Two things need to be said about this tsunami of sad. First, that the vast size of it, when compared to the effect that it has had—close to nothing—should perhaps call into question the utility of journalism and argument and maybe even prose itself. The gradual Appalachification of much of the United States has been a well-known phenomenon for 20 years now; it is not difficult to understand why and how it happened; and yet the ship of state sails serenely on in the same political direction as though nothing had changed.
I had not really thought about the extent of the not quite apocalyptic literature.
I doubt Mr. Frank is a prepper or survivalist, He is a writer for Harper's Magazine. But it is interesting to see such main stream denunciation of the status quo going forward.What is very telling is his paragraph in response to the optimism for trend reversals to take place at some point down the road. Let me be blunt here: this is hollow stuff. To believe that everything will reverse itself spontaneously and yield a “new cohesion” because of some imaginary cycle of history is pure superstition. It’s a kind of middlebrow dialectic, in which the sad is eternally balanced by the happy and everything always works out in the end. Worse, it’s a species of reassurance little better than a motivational poster. Hang in there, baby—Friday’s coming!