Condensed symbols and archetypes are powerful. They can be like wrestling monsters, dragons or other mythic beasts. But they can be sources of great energy if we have the courage.
At 3:00 PM EDT, I, @_kruptos, found myself at the center of Twitter storm. It began with a few of us joking around in a group chat about a TikTok video which began showing up in people’s feeds showing a young mother cooking for her children. Her home was in a trailer park. The original video from Pearl Heart @tradwife3000 was accompanied with the text “Finally a real trad wife.” One of the members of our chat already had a well-circulating commentary on this video. I joked that I should, like celebrity chef Emeril would say, “Take it up a notch!” So, I did just that:
The original video without Pearl Heart’s commentary went out onto my Twitter timeline and immediately I knew something was up. Within an hour it had received over 100,000 views. It was a strange Tweet. It didn’t generate a lot of likes. Not that many people re-Tweeted it. What they did was Quote Tweet and offer their comments. Many of those Tweets garnered several hundred thousand views themselves. Soon the video and my Tweet were all over the right-wing Twitter space. I was getting sub-Tweeted. You see, it turns out that this so-called “real trad wife” had aborted her fifth child and maintains an Only Fans page. Because the video, and this line, “finally a real trad wife,” were everywhere, people began to conflate my Tweet with other Tweets, and it quickly became a hot mess. As I noted in the group chat where this all began, it was like driving a spike into the id of the dissident right.
For those who are not aware, the id is the personality component made up of unconscious psychic energy that works to satisfy basic urges, needs, and desires. It is unconscious, the place where all our most potent and primitive desires can be found. Life. Death. Love. Fear. Want. Lust. It is primal. It is all our desires at their most basic, without moderation or restraint. Trailer Park Mom evoked disgust, and more. It seems that “trailer park trash” are one of the few groups everyone feels free to dump on and can do so without reprisal. She was quickly pulled down off the pedestal she briefly occupied. Soon a humble trad wife of modest means, mother of four, doing the best she could for her babies, was a disgusting whore who pumped vile slop into innocent children. All manners of suggestions were made. I have all the receipts. We need to cleanse the earth of people like her. We need to revile people like this. This has nothing to do with the “trad” life. We need a new class of nobles who can crush people like this. Only once we have rid our great nation of these deficient losers can it again be great. She is not our “base.” We have nothing in common with people like this. Most didn’t bother to read what I wrote, nor did they take the time to understand what was said if they did read it.
The reaction was visceral. An explosion of subconscious energy. Trailer Park Mom, though, is what is known as a “condensed symbol.” Within this brief video and the seemingly simple, delightful scene it portrays, combined with the more unpleasant aspects of her back story and her lowly social status, is a whole complex of energies. Once confronted with the full force of its power, people recoiled and began to defend themselves. This is not America! This is not our politics! We don’t support this! She is not our people, not our base! But why the strong reaction?
I have a personal theory. It is not fair and it may not be nice to say, but every social hierarchy needs a group which can safely be criticized and reviled by everyone. “Trailer trash” is one such group. But beyond this, people’s disdain of them has grown as life has grown more precarious in today’s economic environment. So-called “good kids” who have done all the “right things” like going to university and getting a degree find themselves saddled with student debt, working entry level jobs as baristas. They go home to housing situations that sometimes are not much better than those in the trailer park. For many, the distance between them and the residents of the trailer park is too close for comfort. Way, way too close for comfort. Even though the economic situation seems to indicate that many in America are, for all intents and purposes, college diploma and all, precariously close to being trailer park boys and girls themselves. So, to make sure everyone knows that you are not “them,” you are now obligated to heap an extra measure of revulsion upon them for good measure. My goodness, you have a degree in 16th-century English literature. What are they thinking? You are not one of “them.”
But that was not the essential point I was trying to make. I had not, like Iván Illich, found my Gerásim, “a clean, fresh peasant lad, grown stout on town food and always cheerful and bright…a clean Hessian apron, the sleeves of his print shirt tucked up over his strong bare young arms.” Iván, the dedicated professional striver, looks to the simple peasant lad as embodying all the qualities which he is not. This was the energy which seemed to be conveyed in the tag line, “finally a real trad wife.” Trust me, I do not romanticize this life or the situation. It is hard. Its tough to feed four kids working minimum wage jobs or when living on welfare. The trailer park is hardly what anyone would call a “traditional” way of life. Traditional living involves the life of the farm, the small independent shop or business, lived in a small town centered around church and community. We all have the nostalgic Norman Rockwell pictures in our heads. The trailer park is very much not that.
So what is the trailer park? What does it represent? For the most part it seems to encapsulate a form of living which is a mere one or two steps above living on the streets. Hopelessness and resignation seem to be the mood. The trailer park is not aspirational in the way that a nostalgic view of the simple peasant life might seem to a striver professional. No one thinks to give up their corporate law job to go live in the trailer park. One is “stuck” in the trailer park. You are there because that is your best option. That is your life.
For those who denigrate the “trailer trash,” they wind up there because of their poor life choices. Our egalitarian society tells us that we all have the same shot at success if we do the right things and make the right choices. Work hard, stay focused, go to school, get a job, then get married and then have kids and you will avoid the trailer park. Being in the trailer park in an egalitarian society is a sign of your moral failings. If you are here, it must be your fault. Because of this, there can be no morality there. There can be no virtue. So, when Trailer Park Mom began to take on the noble peasant qualities of a Gerásim, it was time to go to work, to discover that she is exactly what we think her to be. Sure enough, her flaws and sins were soon revealed, and we could wrap ourselves back up safely in the warm blanket of the myths of egalitarianism. Abortion! Only Fans. See: trailer park trash. We knew it.
Perhaps that is her story. Perhaps she does “deserve” this life. But what if this is not the whole story? Not just her, but for countless others who find themselves “stuck” in the trailer park? On the dissident right, we talk all the time about the negative effects of immigration, especially illegal immigration. We talk about “Made in America” and the evils of large corporations abandoning our communities to send factories overseas. We hear about the necessity of importing labor because “Americans won’t do those jobs.” We wouldn’t expect trailer park trash to do that work anyways because they are, well, trash. They certainly won’t do it for third-world wages.
But here is the thing: who do you think would be the people most likely to work minimum wage factory jobs? Who do you think would be those most likely to be affected by the offshoring of production to Asia? Who do you think would be most affected by their wages being undercut by immigrant labor? Which segment of the population do you think would struggle the most to have the financial means to form families and live stable lives, even if modest? When you hear about the growing population of people whose lives are being ruined by the opioid crisis, who do you think they are? When we harp on these issues as foundational for a vital America, which group do you think people were talking about? When the left and the regime disparage working-class whites, who do you think they are talking about? In terms of feels, we like to think that they are all noble peasants like Gerásim. In truth, they are those who are stuck in the trailer park. If we hold up a mirror to ourselves, many on the right are mocking the same people those in the regime like to ridicule.
In this sense, dissident right politics is built on abstractions. We like the precarious working-class poor in theory. But in reality, we have nothing but contempt for them. But they are, in many ways, the canary in the coal mine. When their numbers are suffering and growing, it is an early warning sign of a society which is becoming every more precarious, ever more poor, for a quickly increasing number of people.
If you want to fight for “Made in America” and “America First,” if it is your goal to bring jobs back to America; if your goal is to protect American jobs from immigrant labor, then these are the folks you are fighting for. If you are looking to deal with the opioid crisis, then these are the people you are looking to help. These are your “base.” They may not be the bulk of your voting coalition. But they have certainly become a major centerpiece of your campaign. So, you had better get comfortable with them. Listen to them. Hear them out. Even if they cannot understand why they are there, you need to do this, and you need to be sympathetic about it as well. You need to be comfortable sitting at the table of Trailer Park Mom, with one of her babies on her knee, listening to her take on her problems.
A flourishing society becomes flourishing from the bottom up. They will not generally pick themselves up. The elites, the top strata of society, always does well. The measure of a healthy, flourishing society is not the measure of how well its elites are doing, but rather, how society is doing from top to bottom. When the bottom of your society can be said to be doing well, when they flourish, you can then say you have a flourishing society. People like Yuval Noah Harari and the World Economic Forum have a very different view. He has stated quite openly that he is looking to replace most of the planet’s people with machines and AI. If you denigrate the inhabitants of the trailer parks, you are adopting the attitudes of the regime.
But what about nobility and hierarchy? Are we not striving for a new virtue in our society? We should be turning away from these degenerate losers, these trailer park whores, towards higher path. Who do you think is in most need of nobility? What do you think is the purpose of nobility? It is always an exchange of privilege for responsibility. The common man relies on the nobleman for protection. He needs the nobleman to be a moral example. Part of the problem is that our so-called elites today are so terrible. They trumpet free sexuality. They trumpet sex without consequences. They celebrate abortions. They sing the praises of the sexually adventurous woman. They denigrate marriage and babies. Why do you think a Trailer Park Mom might think having multiple sexual partners is acceptable? Why do you think she feels abortion is a justifiable option? Why do you think she sees Only Fans as a way to make money? Because all these things are celebrated in the media as being “up-scale” and part of elite culture. She watches Sex in the City. She sees famous women shout out their abortions. She sees the interviews on Entertainment Tonight with famous and wealthy Only Fans celebrities and she thinks maybe, just maybe, she could have a shot at that herself. She has been taught systematically that this is the life she should want, no matter how destructive, by our so-called elites. She is acting out her version of what she sees as a high-status lifestyle.
There is a real, substantive political program here, ripe for the taking. But you must make people believe that you are actually serious about fighting for them. Good secure jobs that you can trust with wages that allow you to build a family. Policies that work to strengthen and rebuild our communities. Abortion. Sexual politics and sexual morality. Reigning in the corrosive power of social media. Being an elite that people can look up to. Everything that would build up her life and make it better are conservative, right-wing bread and butter issues, if we are willing to actually fight for them.
For the church-going types, Trailer Park Mom is a modern version of the story of the “Woman at the Well” in John 4. As Jesus himself said, the healthy do not need a physician. It is the sick who most need God’s help. It is they who need the help of his ambassadors, his representatives. If Christians are of the mind that what we need is a new kind of chivalric Christian knighthood, a new nobility, the biblical idea of “kingship” is very much centered on the life of Trailer Park Mom. Listen to the words of Psalm 72, a prayer asking God to bless the work of the king:
1 Endow the king with your justice, O God,
the royal son with your righteousness.
2 May he judge your people in righteousness,
your afflicted ones with justice.
3 May the mountains bring prosperity to the people,
the hills the fruit of righteousness.
4 May he defend the afflicted among the people
and save the children of the needy;
may he crush the oppressor.
12 For he will deliver the needy who cry out,
the afflicted who have no one to help.
13 He will take pity on the weak and the needy
and save the needy from death.
14 He will rescue them from oppression and violence,
for precious is their blood in his sight.
The biblical idea of “the king” is someone who takes up the cause of the “trailer park trash” and makes their concerns his concerns. This is what it means to be “noble.” It is not about palaces and fancy parties. Those are the elites we have today: “Lifestyles of the Rich of Famous.”
There is a reason people reacted so strongly to Trailer Park Mom. She truly is a “distilled symbol.” She evokes an archetype that at once fills us with fear and loathing, while at the same time she places upon us great moral burden, one which we would rather avoid. The problem with closing the border and repatriating manufacturing is that while it will do her a great deal of good, it will lower our standard of living by making everything a little more expensive. If we must be a moral example for her, it means less “fun” for us. It means limiting our life options for the good of society. But at the same time, there is a powerful energy here waiting to be tapped and unleashed. It is this way with all archetypes. And while a healthy, flourishing society requires a truly noble elite, it must be built, not from the top down, but up from the bottom. When the trailer park is a thriving place, it means the society above it is also doing well.