By Justin E. H. Smith
Joe Bageant died Saturday. He was my father's very close friend over the past several years, and was an encouraging presence for me as well. This clip from the 2010 documentary, The Kingdom of Survival, shows him, I think, at his defiant best:
I was first introduced to Joe, through my father's mediation, right around the time I was giving up on overtly progressive-cause-based writing, and moving into the role of the apolitical curiosus in which I still find myself (and for which I hope to provide an adequate defense soon). I had taken to using the biggest words I could find, and affecting a know-it-all tone on whatever obscure topic captured my interest. But Joe's straight, lucid language provided for me a counter-model of articulacy: he says what he thinks so clearly in this clip, there can be no doubt as to what he represents and why he feels the need to speak and to write about it.