Saturday, February 18, 2017
An insightful Rust Belt progressive
My cousin recently introduced me to writing from Sarah Kendzior, a St. Louis-based journalist and political analyst. The day after the Presidential elections last November, she wrote a prescient piece on the implications of the rise of fascism in the US. This led me to check out some of her other writing, which includes an interview with her in which she offers a cogent criticism of what she calls the "prestige economy" of young people seeking credentials through expensive college degrees and unpaid internships. I also like Kendzior's hopeful take that the dilapadation and distress of the Rust Belt may be precisely the crucible from which arise new ideas for a better future. She argues that in happening, booming places like San Francisco or NYC, everyone is so caught up in the rat race and reaching for the same status quo credentials that they don't have much time or freedom to propose radical reimaginings of how our society is to work. Where as if you live in a depressed city that's been left behind by the gloss of the modern economy, you already have a critical awareness of the shortcomings of the current model, and the cheap cost of living mean that you can afford to fail in trying new things. I hope she's right. I don't know where Chicago would fit in this dichotomy. It's got features and neighborhoods that look more like the booming coasts with creative, high-earning, high-spending Millennial types. But it also has vast swathes of blight, and there are lots of people experimenting with new ways of living in these deprived surroundings.