As American communities crumble under the weight of corporate capitalism, leaders attempt to convince their fellow citizens that the magical quality of “vibrancy” dwelling in arts districts—not universal health care, financial regulation or public works projects—will get their towns back on their feet.
With characteristic wit and irreverence, Harper’s Magazine columnist Thomas Frank attacks this smoke-and-mirrors game in the latest issue of The Baffler.
It is time to acknowledge the truth: that our leaders have nothing to say, really, about any of this. They have nothing to suggest, really, to Cairo, Illinois, or St. Joseph, Missouri. They have no comment to make, really, about the depopulation of the countryside or the deindustrialization of the Midwest. They have nothing to offer, really, but the same suggestions as before, gussied up with a new set of clichés. They have no idea what to do for places or people that aren’t already successful or that have no prospects of ever becoming cool.