Monday, November 08, 2004

Challenge to Thomas Frank

Tom Frank (ex-Baffler) had an interesting editorial in last Friday's New York Times about why the Republicans won. Put aside Frank's idealistic notion that a party (the Democrats) controlled by large corporations and billionaires could ever pursue the "economic populism" he speaks about. His essay has value because he at least brings up "the subject of social class" in this nation.

But how misguided! Frank talks about populism, liberal elites, the "professional class"; about how the Democrats went wrong, but forgets that he's a member of the same band of elite intellectuals the public is so not in love with.

Mr. Frank, maybe the answer is not to have trained "experts" always speaking for us (in snooty papers like the NY Times), but to have We the People for once begin to speak for ourselves. This is what the Underground Literary Alliance is about. We disdain all outmoded unworkable categories of Right and Left. We're bringing true democracy to public discourse-- to the media. Up with the independent populist press! Down with intellectual elites and hierarchies wherever they're found!

That's our message, Mr. Frank. That's our rebellion-- our path to genuine populism. Free the culture and the rest will follow. We invite you to join our cause.


Jeff Potter said...

Wred Fright's "Monday Report" at the ULA homepage,, speaks to why the US hasn't had any luck fishing for literary Nobels lately. It's a fine, fiesty report!

It relates to the political situation in that the Democrats supposedly represent the cultural elite and even cultural values in general: but they don't seem able to reach out and relate to either the US public or to the Nobel committee. They're out of touch and have to start truly dealing with the public or become ever-more irrelevant. The Republicans seem to be winning at present simply by using the business model: humans are customers, and NASCAR and Harley can deliver where Democrats can't. Well, neither approach is relevant or sustainable. The puppet-strings method of both culture-elite and business-elite have to be thrown off, rejected and reinvented.

Say, could undergrounders apply for the Nobel? Wred mentions relevant, populist, popular writers who've been important to America/the World for decades (Bukowski, Miller, Kerouac and others) but who are still neglected on American campuses. (I wonder who influenced more Austrians: Buk or Jelinek? I recall he won over Europe before being read much in the US.) Did those writers ever apply for Nobels or have their work submitted? (Can you do it for another writer? Posthumously?) Maybe leapfrogging the US academy is in order. Can one do that to get to the Nobel application level? Humorous, I know, but the good work should at least be put forward, if anyone can afford the postage.

Anonymous said...

dear king wenclas

When it comes to choosing cults, sure there are many who would take yours over Mcsweenys.. but this is like saying there are those who prefered Kerry over Bush. And when you take on somone with real smarts, say Frank or Lapham you only expose your failings. Stick to sticking it to Dave - at least you can look "cool"