Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild
February 7, 2020

Book Review: Strangers In Their Own Land

-Simon White
Strangers In Their Own Land by Arlie Hochschild is a must-read for anyone interested in going beyond conventional political analysis and exploring the “deep story” worldviews that shape thinking on both the left and right of the political spectrum. Hochschild describes “deep stories” as emotional images that shapes the essence of a person’s worldview, and this book was her attempt to understand the deep story that forms the ideology of the right wing. Hochschild is a UC Berkeley sociologist who spent five years in Louisiana in an attempt to break through the “empathy walls” that divide the political spectrum in the US. She worked to overcome her own biases as a member of the left-leaning political spectrum by forming human connections with conservatives in Louisiana, many of whom were Tea Party activists.

The first section of the book is frustrating as the promised breakthrough of the empathy wall fails to materialize. Hochschild only shows the side of the right that is already seen by members of the left. For instance, Hochshild describes what she calles the ‘Great Paradox’ where residents of Louisiana complain about pollution but defend the oil companies who caused it.

But finally, in a cathartic moment, Hochschild breaks through the empathy wall and lays out the deep story of the right. She describes the right’s deep story with an image of standing in a line. At the end of the line is the American Dream, but it often feels like the line is at a standstill under the hot sun, and in fact, sometimes it feels like the line is moving backwards. What’s more, people are being allowed to cut in front of you in line. At times, even animals, such as birds endangered by oil spills, are allowed to cut in front of you by the government (the line monitors), who push environmental regulations that you fear threaten jobs in the oil industry. While you might care about the environment, how can an animal be worth more than a job that allows you to feed your family, even if it is by working for an oil company? And so, Hochschild unravels the ‘Great Paradox’.

Likewise, Hochschild also describes the deep story of the left. Instead of a line, the setting is a public square filled with common goods for the public. But then, people in the square begin to see private individuals tearing apart the public square and using those stolen materials to build private buildings that the public is not allowed in.

The genius of these deep stories is that they are relatable and easy to understand. No one likes waiting in line and no one likes when people cut in front of you, and no one likes seeing one’s community torn down and its goods stolen and used by thieves.

Hochshild’s work is an attempt at empathetic analysis and argues the importance of understanding the ‘other’. She shows that all working and middle-class Americans are struggling in similar ways and that finding common ground and understanding how the other views the world is essential to uniting regular, working people.

A must-read.

Cancel CultureConference 2023RaciscmFree speech and the left conference 2023
Race, Identity politics, and the Traditional Left with Norman Finkelstein and Sabrina Salvati

Race, Identity politics, and the Traditional Left with Norman Finkelstein and Sabrina Salvati


Race, Identity politics, and the Traditional Left with Norman Finkelstein and Sabrina Salvati

Panelists: Sabrina Salvati, Norman Finkelstein

Moderator: Jyotishman Mudiar

Description: Recently on her podcast, Sabrina reacted to comments Norman made, which in her view minimized the relative differences in the lives and experiences of blacks and whites in the United States today. In that podcast, Sabrina expressed strong disagreement and mentioned an interest in talking directly with Norman about these issues. Today we bring them together as part of Plebity’s Conference.

Norman Finkelstein is a longtime author and scholar. His academic career has spanned many decades since his PhD from Princeton University in 1987. He has written numerous books, among them The Holocaust Industry, which generated significant controversy. Norman has written and spoken extensively on the Israel-Palestine conflict.

Norman is a lifelong scholar and activist of the left. His latest book, I Will Burn That Bridge When I Get to It, is a critique of current day identity politics and can be purchased here:'ll-burn-that-bridge-when-i-get-to-it

Sabrina Salvati is the host of Sabby Sab's podcast and the co-host of Revolutionary Blackout Network. She is an activist and former educator. Sabrina writes on her substack and provides leftist commentary and interviews on her youtube channel

Jyotishman Mudiar is a co-founder of the YouTube podcast India & Global Left (IGL).

AcademiaFeaturedFree speechTransgender IdeologyMark White
The woke left is to left as ersatz coffee is to coffee

The woke left is to left as ersatz coffee is to coffee


1948 Nescafe advertisement

One of the hallmarks of today’s woke left is to conflate speech with violence. Fearful of the ‘harm’ that might be experienced from hearing certain words, the woke left has become widely confused about the issue of free speech in general and between speech and literal, physical violence.

In New Zealand this week, Posie Parker was assaulted as she tried to speak–a mob surrounded her and forced her off the stage and ultimately out of the country. The group that prevented her from speaking has taken to social media to declare a great victory.

Free speechHate SpeechDon Franks
New Dawn – destabilising social cohesion?

New Dawn – destabilising social cohesion?

REDLINE article

New Dawn Magazine - New Zealand

Stuff reports today: “Nationwide bookstore Whitcoulls is selling a magazine peddling a number of anti-vax conspiracies and insinuating the Christchurch mosque terror attack was a “false flag” operation.

The Lambton Quay store in Wellington had copies of two issues of New Dawn magazine for sale this week. It was also spotted in another Wellington store, Johnsonville, and at New Lynn in West Auckland.”