Isabel Wilkerson in her brilliant and essential book, Caste, explains that America has a history of social stratification based on race. That those who see the world, most of the time ignorantly, with this racist lens, often confess a sense of losing power and that the world is being morphed into something against them. What’s going on here?
It’s a “us versus them” under-siege mentality. Hence why free speech is such a hot topic right now or why “cancel culture” is a thing. Many are left with the feeling that they don’t have the capacity to speak, that no one is listening, and that they are told to be silent. The things they have always believed in (ideals, institutions, systems) are now “verboten” to the point that they are feeling culturally dismissed. This a difficult pill to swallow. As people age and think that they should have more power, not less. That they should see the world with more clarity, not less. That they should have more choices, not fewer. Which causes this sense of losing hegemony.
To many who fall into this cultural trap, they see the ground shrinking beneath their feet. They feel lost and as a result, look for someone or something to blame. Hence the targets of minorities such as LGBTQIA+, immigrants, and race. But it also spills into policy and how tax money is spent on social programs.
Ultimately, this all leads to a constant sense of disorientation. This change is experienced much differently across social and economic lines. But as a whole, the false promise that aligns these groups is to resolve this disorientation–to make sense of the world and to restore it to how things used to be.
“At its core is a nostalgic promise that you won’t have to feel like your own country has changed in a way you don’t recognize it and it doesn’t recognize you.” – Ezra Klein
Shout out to Ezra Klein on this one. Something that I have been seeing in our culture for a while but could not find a word for it.