The Outsider

February 25th, 2011

It was Grocho Marx who said he’d "never belong to any club that would have him as a member." In that joke he was articulating the perceived superiority of being an outsider. The often romantic notion that to belong was a kind of bourgeoisie idea that went against the grain of individualism and self expression. Two idea that are inherent in the American strain of DNA. A strain which Tocqueville believed left open the potential for "crass individualism and middling values."

These idea have been reinforced throughout American history, but perhaps never more aggressively then in the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s; as we would try and break out from the conformity of the war and the great depression. Grace Elizabeth Hale, gets to the heart of the issue in her new work A Nation of Outsiders: How the White Middle Class Fell in Love with Rebellion in Postwar America. My conversation with Grace Elizabeth Hale: