Category Archive 'Community of Fashion'
06 Feb 2017

This Year’s Superbowl Propaganda Fest

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John Nolte is perfectly correct: “Liberals eventually ruin everything.” Last night’s Superbowl featured a series of political propaganda advertising spots.

Coke and Airbnb competed in the nausea-inducing sweepstakes with ads extolling the beauties of “diversity.”

84 Lumber, whose first ad, featuring a Mexican mother and daughter dismayed at confronting Trump’s Wall, was declined by Fox as “too controversial,” ran a minute-and-a-half spot titled “The Journey Begins,” showing the same mother and daughter starting out hopefully and passing through desert, river, and mountains in the direction of El Norte, presumably in search of the land of the generous welfare check.

Audi, as Jack Baruth explicated at length, served up a lesson on the natural superiority of the community of fashion, cloaked as a lecture on Feminism.

All in all, the amount of political virtue-signalling from big, ugly fat cat corporations was simply appalling. Yesterday was one of those days where you wondered if the citizens of Hitler’s Germany were as much bombarded with get-in-line, Gleichschaltung prop as we are.

Liberal “diversity” is such a crock. I’m old enough to remember 1950s America very well. People, like myself, living outside the big cities and the South, never ran into people of other races at all, but we still had plenty of diversity. Go watch one of those old war movies in which the soon-to-be-embattled platoon is shown to be made up of the farmboy from Kansas, the guy with the thick Brooklyn accent, the strong Polack, the ready-with-his-fists Irishman, and the intellectual Jew. My own small town had a population pretty much only made up of turn-of-the-last-century Roman Catholic immigrants, and we still had more than enough diversity to fuel all the mutual dislike anybody needs.

In the old days, newly arrived immigrants came to America, lived in enclaves of their own, and took the worst jobs. Today, some Hindu or Mussulman hops of the plane from Bombay and sends his offspring to Harvard or Yale. The first generation in the country does not line up to work with a pick and shovel in the coal mines, to lay track for the railroads, or to do the heavy lifting in the mill. That first generation can be found teaching the US Constitution (from a left-wing point of view) at Yale Law School (Akhil Amar) or telling Americans what to think about Foreign Policy on CNN (Fareed Zakaria).

No wonder so many people are experiencing a wave of Nativist revulsion. Suddenly, it’s the turn of every personage of color from every remote continent or clime to be welcomed heartily to America, and granted immediate entrée to the national establishment in a way that it was never the turn of Scots Irish who’ve been living here for centuries or the Germans or the Scandinavians or the Irish and Southern and Eastern Roman Catholics who arrived somewhat later. Those people are never counted as diverse, and simply get lectured to by their betters and advised to apology for their white privilege.

04 Feb 2017

Hermeneutics of an Audi Commercial

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Jack Baruth, at The Truth About Cars, explains the real message of Audi’s Superbowl commercial.

At first blush, the spot seems to be nothing but the usual corporate slacktivism, a feel-good fluff-vertorial making a “brave stand” in support of an issue that was decided long ago. I’m reminded of Joaquin Phoenix’s brilliant portrayal of Commodus in Gladiator, arriving in full armor as soon as he can do so without any risk. “Father, have I missed the battle?” Well, Audi, you’ve missed the war; if there’s a place in the United States where women are actually paid significantly less for doing the same job as men, it’s not evident from what I’m reading.

After watching the one-minute advertisement carefully, however, I understood feminism, or equal pay, is the last thing Audi wants you to take away from it. The message is far subtler, and more powerful, than the dull recitation of the pseudo-progressive catechism droning on in the background. This spot is visual — and as you’ll see below, you can’t understand it until you watch it and see what it’s really telling you. …

I think you’ve figured out what the real message of this Audi advertisement is, but just in case you’ve been napping I will spell it out for you: Money and breeding always beat poor white trash. Those other kids in the race, from the overweight boys to the hick who actually had an American flag helmet to the stripper-glitter girl? They never had a chance. They’re losers and they always will be, just like their loser parents. Audi is the choice of the winners in today’s economy, the smooth talkers who say all the right things in all the right meetings and are promoted up the chain because they are tall (yes, that makes a difference) and handsome without being overly masculine or threatening-looking.

At the end of this race, it’s left to the Morlocks to clean the place up and pack the derby cars into their trashy pickup trucks, while the beautiful people stride off into the California sun, the natural and carefree winners of life’s lottery. Audi is explicitly suggesting that choosing their product will identify you as one of the chosen few. I find it personally offensive. As an owner of one of the first 2009-model-year Audi S5s to set tire on American soil, yet also as an ugly, ill-favored child who endured a scrappy Midwestern upbringing, I find it much easier to identify with the angry-faced fat kids in their home-built specials or the boy with the Captain America helmet.

At the end, what does this ad do? It just reinforces our natural biases. Poor is bad, rich is good, and most importantly, rich people deserve their fortune because they are inherently better than the rest of us. You might not like that message, but it’s been selling cars for a very long time. If Audi wanted to try some authentic activism, they might consider showing us an African-American man or woman who overcame a tough upbringing to become an actual customer, or perhaps a differently-abled person who’s achieved enough to buy himself an S8 as a reward for his hard work. But that’s not terribly aspirational, is it? Who wants to be those people? And, by the same token, who wouldn’t want to be that handsome father lifting his beautiful daughter out of someone else’s winning race car?

30 Jan 2017

The “Niceness” of the Elite

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Acculturated:

Peter Augustine Lawler, a professor of government at Berry College, in the new edition of National Affairs. Lawler sees the Donald Trump-Hillary Clinton contest as in large part a tale of the brutish against the nice. Many a Clinton voter would enthusiastically agree. But while the dangers of brutish thinking are obvious, Lawler points out that there is also good reason for niceness to be rejected by Americans in large parts of the country.

Niceness isn’t really a virtue, Lawler says. It’s more of a cop-out, a moral shrug. “A nice person won’t fight for you,” he points out. “A nice person isn’t animated by love or honor or God. Niceness, if you think about it, is the most selfish of virtues, one, as Tocqueville noticed, rooted in a deep indifference to the well-being of others.” Trump’s lack of niceness, so horrifying to Clinton voters, registered to his acolytes as a willingness to fight for what’s good, particularly American jobs and American culture.

Niceness is paradoxically more selfish than undisguised selfishness to Lawler, because an openly selfish person at least signals to others what his intentions are. Niceness, however, means, “I let you do—and even affirm—whatever you do, because I don’t care what you do . . . Niceness, as Allan Bloom noticed, is the quality connected with flatness of soul.” Lawler goes on to remark that in an increasingly nice world, in which faking niceness becomes an important job skill, soldiers and police officers become part of the counterculture. Men, especially white men, especially working-class white men, are the ones who do the not-nice jobs in our country, are comfortable with brutishness, and see the global economy as a fierce struggle between “them” (the Chinese who are stealing our jobs, the Mexicans who are undercutting us on wages) and us.

The nice people, cocooned in wealthy coastal zip codes and doing service work that doesn’t require getting your hands dirty, don’t see any of this, but they’re happy to leave the struggling classes to their fates. For the upper echelons of society, this wasn’t always so; not long ago, in Britain for instance, the well-heeled felt a duty to lead, to provide cultural guidance. These were the aristocrats, and they ran the institutions—the church, the BBC—that were beacons for the aspirational. The bourgeoisie worked as one strongly to discourage socially destructive behavior such as raising children outside wedlock, drug or alcohol abuse, or idleness. Those who couldn’t speak proper English were encouraged to do so.

Today, in Britain as in America, the nice-ocracy simply shrugs as the struggling classes make terrible decisions. Who are we to impose our values on others, ask the nice-ocrats? Isn’t this or that regional patois just as good as standard English? If children in the poorer zip codes are getting a terrible education, the nice-ocrats don’t make a fuss. People are intelligent in their own ways, say the nice-ocrats. If testing doesn’t support this, we should cast doubt on the tests. Anyway, if the not-so-gifted people raise not-so-gifted children, there won’t be additional competition for those few spots on the best campuses. At Dartmouth, Yale and Princeton, there are more students from the top one-percent of the income scale than the bottom 60 percent. The nice-ocracy smiles and says, “Yes, but we voted for slightly higher taxes last time. Surely the poor unfortunates will see a bump in their welfare checks soon. Now excuse me, I have to take Emmett to his viola lesson and then his SAT tutor.”

27 Jan 2017

Woman Distraught That EU Has Not Invaded to Remove Trump From Power

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Nick Cole offers what is, I think, a fantasy mocking the Trump Derangement Syndrome of certain members of the coastal community of fashion.

Jan 24th, 2016. Silverlake, CA

A local woman, active in her vegan karate group, is surprised Europe hasn’t reciprocated for liberating the continent during WW2 with an Invasion of America, or at least Trump Tower, as of the week after the Inauguration. Hours of BBC programming have convinced her that full-scale foreign invasion is the “right-side-of-history move for the U.K.” at this critical moment in order to stop “Not-My-President Trump.”

In the months after former President Barack Obama and Pantsuit enthusiast Hillary Clinton spectacularly led the Democrat party to a stunning loss of both legislative houses and the Presidency, to a man several of her friends assured her was Hitler, she’d had high hopes of martial law in order to prevent the rise of this obvious totalitarian dictator from the past. Various celebrities also assured her through their social media channels that Donald Trump was Hitler, a known war criminal, and that he would be impeached within hours of daring to take the oath of office despite this never happening before. She took comfort in antidepressants, Whole Foods shopping trips on her overdraft, and RE-binging every season of Girls with the knoweledge Trump/Hitler would never be her president.

After extensively researching Hitler on Wikipedia one afternoon before a Yoga for Cats Empowerment Seminar, she was shocked to find out that the former reality TV Star was in fact responsible for the genocide of six million people, the destruction of Europe, and the further deaths of another 20 million combatants and civilians. She cited these shocking statistics online at a Make-Your-Own Kombucha Facebook page as reasons why Europe should invade America immediately to take back their Hitler. Saturday afternoon she took to the streets of Downtown LA with a homemade sign other protestors found inappropriate, reading: “Dear Europe- We’re up for Grabs!” to protest the inauguration of the business man/politician/ possible time-traveling genocidal maniac who was surely hours away from rounding up her gay friends for electro-shock therapy camps in the desert, according to MSNBC. A Rachel Maddow Reddit thread she admin’d reported suspicious “government-looking types” cruising West Hollywood and promising young men a “good time” if they “wanted to party.”

The EU has still, as of publication, not invaded America.

Hat tip to Karen L. Myers.

27 Jan 2017

The Courage of the Elite

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A friend from Yale, Frank Dobbs, went to the new show at the International Center of Photography, where he discovered on display a whole new definition of courage.

I went to the Director’s Preview of the new show at ICP, Perpetual Revolution, The Image and Social Change. There I learned something that changed my perception of the current time. I learned that holding such an exhibition now is both timely and “dangerous.” The fact that such an exhibition is dangerous was constantly repeated. (They might have mentioned that the brave rebels were displaying photographs only a few miles form the Gilded Tower of the Autocrat.)

So, I want to say to all my left leaning friends. If the Trumpian jackboots ever threaten you or your families, I will personally shelter you in my attic, no matter what the risk to my own personal safety.

No one would contemplate considering such a poor Christian as I for sainthood. But I do see an opportunity to be considered a Righteous Rightist. Perhaps even have a forest named for me in Venezuela or North Korea?

22 Jan 2017

Whose Was Biggest?

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Was Obama’s bigger? I guess that would prove that the community of fashion is the real national majority, and Russian hacking must be responsible for Republicans winning the presidency, both houses of Congress, 33 governorships, and control of 32 state legislatures. Really, the Left won!

16 Jan 2017

Hamilton: A Load of PC-Crap Aimed at the Holier-Than-Thous

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Nicholas Pell, at Reason, demolishes Hamilton, the PC Musical which the chattering classes love.

We have Lin-Manuel Miranda to blame for this cultural atrocity, a scion of a psychologist and an advisor to New York mayor Ed Koch, who attended the same elementary and high school as Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan. Sure, he got bullied by Immortal Technique in school, but how much street cred is that really worth? After this he attended Wesleyan University, a top-10-ranked school that costs $65,000 a year, according to Forbes, before making his mark writing jingles for noted prostitute-enthusiast Eliot Spitzer’s 2006 campaign. The original version of Hamilton debuted at a Vassar College workshop. All this is, of course, an attempt to firmly establish Miranda’s street cred, which is unassailable.

Some are irritated about the people who aren’t white playing white people, but I’m not. The whole production plays so fast and loose with the truth that it’s hard to pick any particular piece to criticize, there’s a reality correlation approximating that of the Weekly World News. At the top of the list, though, has to be casting Alexander Hamilton as some sort of proto-multicultural progressive. That’s either stupidity or mendacity, take your pick. Hamilton was, if anything, the most aristocratic of the Founding Fathers, the closest thing to a Colonial Tory. You know that electoral college you’ve been gnashing your teeth over for the last couple months? Guess whose idea that was?

Of course, shit music and feels-over-reals weren’t the whole problem with America in 2016—and they aren’t the biggest deal facing us in 2017, either. No, the worst thing about this present moment in time is the smugness with which zillionaires and their sycophants on the coasts piss all over anyone who does actual work for a living.

That’s not just one of the main reasons that Trump won the election. That attitude makes for garbage art.

Historically speaking, you’ve got high art and folk art, each with their own set of aesthetic guidelines and measuring sticks. What’s historically anomalous is commercial art—art that exists not due to the patronage of cultured elites or through the unrewarded efforts of the hoi polloi. It’s art that exists to make money.

Art that exists to make money isn’t a bad thing. A lot of the best music of the 20th century was commercial art. The Beatles are probably one of a handful of things anyone will remember about the 20th century in 500 years, a stunning example of commercial art as inspired genius. What’s irritating, though, is when well-connected millionaires make art for the sake of signaling their moral superiority over the masses on the basis of their correct beliefs. Hamilton has become a sort of avatar of the Lena Dunham Democratic Party against the rest of the world, perhaps best displayed by the cast lecturing Vice President Elect Mike Pence (the closest thing to a Wal-Mart greeter they’ll ever be in the same room as) about tolerance.

Tickets for Hamtilton start between $179 and $199, with high-end tickets going for $849. Once they hit the secondary market (A.K.A. scalpers) you’re looking at between $650 and $1500 on Stubhub. Is this because it’s the best musical on Broadway? Or is it because Hamilton is this season’s most fashionable way to signal liberal respectability and status among the One Percenters?

This isn’t speaking truth to power. This is power telling the rest of us what truth is. There’s nary a hint of self-awareness as those only vaguely aware of poverty and toil through a sociology textbook deign to lecture us little people about America’s ‘real values.’ That’s what’s wrong with America in the current year.

The election of Donald Trump and the leave vote in the United Kingdom aren’t just political decisions. They’re a cultural revolt against the pomposity of upper-crust liberals who don’t have to live with the consequences of their own values. Hamilton is where the modern day Marie Antoinettes tell unemployed forklift drivers to eat cake.

Off in the distance, the sans cullotes are sharpening the guillotine. The aloof nobles catching the latest performance of Hamilton have no idea they’re about to be cast—much against their will—in a bit part in Les Miserables.

14 Jan 2017

Why the Left, Particularly the Hollywood Left, is Losing It Over Trump

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notjaffo on Reddit explains.

Why is Hollywood (in particular) freaking out so badly over Trump?

First, because he’s a Republican who might actually do the things he said he wanted to do. But second, because this is the first cultural victory the right has scored since Reagan stumbled into one in the ’80s.

The left is used to losing political battles. They scream and cry over these but they don’t truly panic, because they know that as long as they maintain their hammerlock on the culture, Republicans can’t really change anything.

Blue Team Progressivism is a church, offering you moral superiority and a path to spiritual enlightenment. As a church it’s got a lot going for it. It runs religious programming on television, all day every day. Every modern primetime program is like a left-wing Andy Griffith show, reinforcing lessons of inclusion, tolerance, feminism, and anti-racism.

Watching a 90-pound Sci-Fi heroine beat up a room full of giant evil men is as satisfying to the left as John Wayne westerns were for the right.

The Blue Church controls the HR department, so even if you don’t go to church, you have to act like a loyal churchgoer in every way that matters while you’re on the clock. And off the clock, on any kind of public social media platform.

Jon Stewart and John Oliver are basically TV preachers. Watching them gives the same sense of quiet superiority your grandma gets from watching The 700 Club. The messages are constantly reinforced, providing that lovely dopamine hit, like an angel’s voice whispering, “You’re right, you’re better, you’re winning.”

Hollywood award shows are like church talent shows – the skits and jokes aren’t really funny, but it’s fun to look at the pretty girls, and you’re all on the same team.

Red Conservativism is a business, selling a set of political products. They don’t make you feel good, they don’t appeal to your morality or your spiritual sense of self, but sometimes you really NEED one of their core products like security, jobs, or national defense. Their appeals to “freedom” and “family values” ring hollow these days, but when people are flying planes into buildings, you need a strong member of Conservatism, Inc. in the big chair.

And when it came down to the things that really mattered – welfare, Medicare, Social Security, and foreign policy, you knew Red Team couldn’t really do anything Blue Team didn’t approve of, or the Blue faithful would kick them out of office next time.

But Donald Trump didn’t sign that contract. And Donald Trump didn’t win by selling the same old conservative products. Donald Trump started his own religion, and he won a religious victory.

The Blue Church is panicking because they’ve just witnessed the birth of a new Red Religion. Not the tired old Christian cliches they defeated back in the ’60s, but a new faith based on cultural identity and outright rejection of the Blue Faith.

For the first time in decades, voters explicitly rejected the Blue Church, defying hours of daily cultural programming, years of indoctrination from the schools, and dozens of explicit warnings from HR.

We’ve been trained since childhood to obey the pretty people on TV, but for the first time in decades, that didn’t work.

Donald Trump won because flyover America wants their culture back, and Blue Team has not been rejected like that before.

The younger ones have grown up in an environment where Blue Faith assumptions cannot even be questioned, except anonymously by the bad kids on Twitter.

But now the bad kids are getting bolder, posting funny memes that make you laugh even though John Oliver would not approve, like passing crude dirty pictures under the table in Sunday School.

Meryl Streep is panicking because for the first time voters have rejected HER, and everything her faith has taught her to believe.

There is a new faith rising on the right, not an explicit religious faith like old-school Christianity, but a wicked kind of counterculture movement. We laughed at the hippies in 1968, but by 1978 they were teaching in classrooms and sitting behind school administrator desks.

Where will the hippies of 2016 be sitting after eight years of Trump? How many of the shitposting Twitter bad boys will start up alternative media outlets, until one of them becomes the new Saturday Night Live?

Sam Hyde tried it on Adult Swim, but that was just the early prototype, like Mad Magazine was for the left. There will be many others after him, and they won’t be stopped by network filters. They’ll come “out of nowhere” on the web, from the secret places that the inquisitors at Google can’t shut down.

And that’s what Meryl Streep is really scared of. She’s not truly aware of it, just like fluttering housewives couldn’t really understand the counterculture threat in 1968. But they feel that something is changing in their safe little world, and they know they have to fight it, because this threat isn’t just passing pointless budget resolutions and selling pointless platitudes about family values – these guys mean business, and they’re fighting on her turf.

Hat tip to Thomas Lifson.

04 Oct 2016

What Prompted the Peasant Revolt in Presidential Politics?

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scaliaquote

Why did low-information, not-particularly-ideological Republican voters go loco this year, reject all the qualified and genuinely principled candidates in favor of a Reality TV clown and populist demagogue?

They were fed up and simply wanted to express their animosity toward, and contempt for, the holier-than-thou, we-know-better community of fashion elite that controls the national establishment and which, under Obama, has end run the democratic process and simply imposed its will on the larger majority it contemptuously ignores again and again.

Matthew Continetti explains that the nomination of Trump is the steam explosion that occurs when all the democratic pressure release valves on the engine of government have been sealed shut by its careless operators.

This is a moment of dissociation—of unbundling, fracture, disaggregation, dispersal. But the disconnectedness is not merely social. It is also political—a separation of the citizenry from the governments founded in their name. They are meant to have representation, to be heard, to exercise control. What they have found instead is that ostensibly democratic governments sometimes treat their populations not as citizens but as irritants.

The sole election that has had any bearing on the fate of Obamacare, for example, was the one that put Barack Obama in the White House. The special election of Scott Brown to the Senate did not stop Democratic majorities from passing the law over public disapproval. Nor did the 2010, 2012, or 2014 elections prevent or slow down the various agencies of the federal government from reorganizing the health care sector according to the latest technocratic fashions.

The last big immigration law was passed under President Clinton in an attempt to reduce illegal entry. Since then the bureaucracy has been on autopilot, admitting huge numbers to the United States and unable (and sometimes unwilling) to cope with the surge in illegal immigration at the turn of the century. In 2006, 2007, and 2013, public opinion stopped major liberalizations of immigration law. Then the president used executive power to protect certain types of illegal immigrant from deportation anyway.

Coal miners have no voice in deliberations over their futures. Only the courts stand in the way of the Clean Power Plan that will end the coal industry and devastate the Appalachian economy. Congress is unable to help. The president went over the heads of the Senate by calling his carbon deal with China an “agreement” and not a treaty.

There has been no accountability for an IRS that abused its powers to target conservative nonprofits, for Hillary Clinton who disregarded national security in the operation of her private email server, for the FBI that treated Clinton with kid gloves while not following up on individuals who became terrorists. The most recent disclosures in the attack on the Pulse nightclub in Orlando, Fla., show the terrorist Omar Mateen was clearly motivated by devotion to radical Islam and to ISIS. We are only finding this out now because of a lawsuit filed by a news organization. What is the FBI afraid of?

Progressives disregard constitutional objections as outmoded artifacts of a benighted era. Who cares how Obamacare was passed or implemented, the uninsured rate is down. Why should Obama submit a treaty to the Senate when he knows it won’t be ratified; the fate of the planet is at stake. The absence of comprehensive immigration reform isn’t evidence that progressives failed to marshal a constitutional majority for passage. It’s reason for the president to test the limit of his powers. Nor does government failure result from overextension and ineptitude. It is caused by a lack of resources.

Is it really surprising that our democracy has become more tenuous as the distance between citizen and government has increased? A large portion of the electorate, it would seem, is no longer willing to tolerate a bipartisan establishment that seems more concerned with the so-called “globalist” issues of trade, migration, climate, defense of a rickety world order, and transgender rights than with the experiences of joblessness, addiction, crime, worry for one’s children, and not-so-distant memories of a better, stronger, more respected America.

These concerns are often written off as racism, or resentment, or status anxiety—as reaction, backlash, atavism, obstacles to universal progress. The same was said of McCarthy in the 1950s, the New Right in the 1970s, the Tea Party eight years ago. But in every case, including this one, the populist upsurge signified a genuine and not entirely irrational objection of a part of the electorate to its dissociation from the life of the polity.

[F]rom ..“Donald Trump and the American Crisis” by John Marini:

    Those most likely to be receptive of Trump are those who believe America is in the midst of a great crisis in terms of its economy, its chaotic civil society, its political corruption, and the inability to defend any kind of tradition—or way of life derived from that tradition—because of the transformation of its culture by the intellectual elites. This sweeping cultural transformation occurred almost completely outside the political process of mobilizing public opinion and political majorities. The American people themselves did not participate or consent to the wholesale undermining of their way of life, which government and the bureaucracy helped to facilitate by undermining those institutions of civil society that were dependent upon a public defense of the old morality.

Marini refers to institutions such as the family, church, and school, institutions charged with forming the character of a citizen, of instructing him in codes of morality and service, in the traditions and history of his country, in the case of the church directing him spiritually and providing him a definitive account of the cause and purpose of life. These are precisely the institutions that have been brought under the sway of bureaucracies and courts heavily insulated from elections, from public opinion, from majority rule. And as the public has lost authority over decision-making in the private sphere, as the culture has become more alien, more bewildering, more hostile to “the old morality,” as President Clinton keeps saying rather fatuously that the fates of Kenya and Kentucky are linked, is it any wonder voters have sought out a vehicle for their disgust and opposition?

17 Sep 2016

Our Idiotic Elite Class

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Alexandre-Gabriel Decamps, The Experts, 1837, National Museum Warsaw.
Nassim Nicholas Taleb inveighs against the pseudo-intelligentsia whose excesses in America have resulted in the Trumpkin Jacquerrie.

What we have been seeing worldwide, from India to the UK to the US, is the rebellion against the inner circle of no-skin-in-the-game policymaking “clerks” and journalists-insiders, that class of paternalistic semi-intellectual experts with some Ivy league, Oxford-Cambridge, or similar label-driven education who are telling the rest of us 1) what to do, 2) what to eat, 3) how to speak, 4) how to think… and 5) who to vote for. …

The Intellectual Yet Idiot is a production of modernity hence has been accelerating since the mid twentieth century, to reach its local supremum today, along with the broad category of people without skin-in-the-game who have been invading many walks of life. Why? Simply, in many countries, the government’s role is ten times what it was a century ago (expressed in percentage of GDP). The IYI seems ubiquitous in our lives but is still a small minority and rarely seen outside specialized outlets, social media, and universities — most people have proper jobs and there are not many opening for the IYI.

Beware the semi-erudite who thinks he is an erudite.

The IYI pathologizes others for doing things he doesn’t understand without ever realizing it is his understanding that may be limited. He thinks people should act according to their best interests and he knows their interests, particularly if they are “red necks” or English non-crisp-vowel class who voted for Brexit. When Plebeians do something that makes sense to them, but not to him, the IYI uses the term “uneducated”. What we generally call participation in the political process, he calls by two distinct designations: “democracy” when it fits the IYI, and “populism” when the plebeians dare voting in a way that contradicts his preferences.

Read the whole thing.

26 Aug 2016

The Community of Fashion and the Democrat Party

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Obama & admirers on Martha’s Vinyard

From Thomas Frank’s Listen, Liberal: Or, What Ever Happened to the Party of the People? (March 15, 2016):

I am thinking here of the summertime residents on Martha’s Vinyard –the sorts of people to whom the politicians listen with patience and understanding. No one treats this group as though they have “nowhere else to go”; on the contrary, for them, the political process works wonderfully. It is responsive to their concerns, its representatives are respectful, and the party as a whole treats them with a gratifying deference.

For them, the Democrats deliver in all the conventional ways: generous subsidies for the right kinds of businesses, a favorable regulatory climate, and legal protection for their innovations. Hillary Clinton’s State Department basically declared access to certain Silicon Valley servers to be a human right.

Then there are the psychic deliverables –the flattery, for starters. To members of the liberal class, the Democratic Party offers constant reminders that the technocratic order whose upper ranks they inhabit is rational and fair –that whether they work in software or derivative securities they are a deserving elite; creative, tolerant, enlightened. Though it is less tangible, the moral absolution in which Democrats deal is just as important. It seems to put their favorite constituents on the right side of every question, the right side of progress itself. It allows them to understand the war of our two parties as a kind of cosmic struggle between good and evil— a struggle in which they are on the side of light and justice, of course…. And what is rightest and most inspiring about it is the Democrats’ prime directive: to defeat the Republicans, that unthinkable brutish Other. There are no complexities to make this mission morally difficult; to the liberal class, it is simple. The Democratic Party is all that stands between the Oval Office and whomever the radicalized GOP ultimately chooses to nominate for the presidency. Compared to that sacred duty, all other issues fade into insignificance…. The Democrats posture as the ‘party of the people’ even as they dedicate themselves ever more resolutely to serving and glorifying the professional class. Worse: they combine self-righteousness and class privilege in a way that Americans find stomach-turning. And every two years, they simply assume that being non-Republican is sufficient to rally the voters of the nation to their standard….”

Hat tip to Althouse.

15 Jul 2016

The Alleged Meritocracy

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YaleDemonstrators
This is the Meritocracy?

Helen Andrews casts a jaundiced look at The New Ruling Class in Hedgehog Review.

Meritocracy began by destroying an aristocracy; it has ended in creating a new one. …

Not since the Society of the Cincinnati has a ruling elite so vehemently disclaimed any resemblance to an aristocracy. The structure of the economy abets the elite in its delusion, since even the very rich are now more likely to earn their money from employment than from capital, and thus find it easier to think of themselves basically as working stiffs. As cultural consumers they are careful to look down their noses at nothing except country music. All manner of low-class fare—rap, telenovelas, Waffle House—is embraced by what Shamus Rahman Khan calls the “omnivorous pluralism” of our elite. “It is as if the new elite are saying, ‘Look! We are not some exclusive club. If anything, we are the most democratized of all groups.’”

Khan’s Privilege: The Making of an Adolescent Elite at St. Paul’s School is a fascinating document, because he seems to have been genuinely surprised by what he found when he returned to his old boarding school to teach for a year. Khan, the grandson of Irish and Pakistani peasants, worked his way to a Columbia University professorship in sociology via St. Paul’s and Haverford College. So he thought he knew meritocrats—but today’s breed gave him a bit of a fright. For one thing, they proved to be excellent haters. Consider how they talk about a legacy student whose background can be inferred from the pseudonym Khan gives him, “Chase Abbott”:

    After seeing me chatting with Chase, a boy I was close with, Peter, expressed what many others would time and again: “that guy would never be here if it weren’t for his family.… I don’t get why the school still does that. He doesn’t bring anything to this place.” Peter seemed annoyed with me for even talking with Chase. Knowing that I was at St. Paul’s to make sense of the school, Peter made sure to point out to me that Chase didn’t really belong there.… Faculty, too, openly lamented the presence of students like Chase.

“Openly lamented”! Poor Chase. This hatred is out of all proportion to the power still held by the Chases of the school, which is almost nil. Khan discovers that the few legacy WASPs live together in a sequestered dorm, just like the “minority dorm” of his own schooldays, and even the alumni “point to students like Chase as examples of what is wrong about St. Paul’s.” No, the hatred of students like Chase feels more like the resentment born of having noticed an unwelcome resemblance. It is somehow unsurprising to learn that Peter’s parents met at Harvard.

Of course, Peter is not at St. Paul’s because his parents went to Harvard; as he makes clear to Khan, he is there because of his hard work and academic achievement. Here we have the meritocratic delusion most in need of smashing: the notion that the people who make up our elite are especially smart. They are not—and I do not mean that in the feel-good democratic sense that we are all smart in our own ways, the homely-wise farmer no less than the scholar. I mean that the majority of meritocrats are, on their own chosen scale of intelligence, pretty dumb. Grade inflation first hit the Ivies in the late 1960s for a reason. Yale professor David Gelernter has noticed it in his students: “My students today are…so ignorant that it’s hard to accept how ignorant they are.… [I]t’s very hard to grasp that the person you’re talking to, who is bright, articulate, advisable, interested, and doesn’t know who Beethoven is. Had no view looking back at the history of the twentieth century—just sees a fog. A blank.” Camille Paglia once assigned the spiritual “Go Down, Moses” to an English seminar, only to discover to her horror that “of a class of twenty-five students, only two seemed to recognize the name ‘Moses’.… They did not know who he was.”

Hat tip to The Barrister.

13 Mar 2016

“I Can Tolerate Anything, Except the Outgroup”

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trump-rally-cancelled
Anti-Trump demonstrators confront Trump supporters in Chicago.

Scott Alexander reflects on American tribalism and the paradoxes of contemporary liberal tolerance.

The Emperor summons before him Bodhidharma and asks: “Master, I have been tolerant of innumerable gays, lesbians, bisexuals, asexuals, blacks, Hispanics, Asians, transgender people, and Jews. How many Tolerance Points have I earned for my meritorious deeds?”

Bodhidharma answers: “None at all”.

The Emperor, somewhat put out, demands to know why not.

Bodhidharma asks: “Well, what do you think of gay people?”

The Emperor answers: “What do you think I am, some kind of homophobic bigot? Of course I have nothing against gay people!”

And Bodhidharma answers: “Thus do you gain no merit by tolerating them!”…

Freud spoke of the narcissism of small differences, saying that “it is precisely communities with adjoining territories, and related to each other in other ways as well, who are engaged in constant feuds and ridiculing each other”. Nazis and German Jews. Northern Irish Protestants and Northern Irish Catholics. Hutus and Tutsis. South African whites and South African blacks. Israeli Jews and Israeli Arabs. Anyone in the former Yugoslavia and anyone else in the former Yugoslavia.

So what makes an outgroup? Proximity plus small differences. If you want to know who someone in former Yugoslavia hates, don’t look at the Indonesians or the Zulus or the Tibetans or anyone else distant and exotic. Find the Yugoslavian ethnicity that lives closely intermingled with them and is most conspicuously similar to them, and chances are you’ll find the one who they have eight hundred years of seething hatred toward. …

The people who are actually into this sort of thing sketch out a bunch of speculative tribes and subtribes, but to make it easier, let me stick with two and a half.

The Red Tribe is most classically typified by conservative political beliefs, strong evangelical religious beliefs, creationism, opposing gay marriage, owning guns, eating steak, drinking Coca-Cola, driving SUVs, watching lots of TV, enjoying American football, getting conspicuously upset about terrorists and commies, marrying early, divorcing early, shouting “USA IS NUMBER ONE!!!”, and listening to country music.

The Blue Tribe is most classically typified by liberal political beliefs, vague agnosticism, supporting gay rights, thinking guns are barbaric, eating arugula, drinking fancy bottled water, driving Priuses, reading lots of books, being highly educated, mocking American football, feeling vaguely like they should like soccer but never really being able to get into it, getting conspicuously upset about sexists and bigots, marrying later, constantly pointing out how much more civilized European countries are than America, and listening to “everything except country”.

(There is a partly-formed attempt to spin off a Grey Tribe typified by libertarian political beliefs, Dawkins-style atheism, vague annoyance that the question of gay rights even comes up, eating paleo, drinking Soylent, calling in rides on Uber, reading lots of blogs, calling American football “sportsball”, getting conspicuously upset about the War on Drugs and the NSA, and listening to filk – but for our current purposes this is a distraction and they can safely be considered part of the Blue Tribe most of the time)

I think these “tribes” will turn out to be even stronger categories than politics. Harvard might skew 80-20 in terms of Democrats vs. Republicans, 90-10 in terms of liberals vs. conservatives, but maybe 99-1 in terms of Blues vs. Reds. …

The worst reaction I’ve ever gotten to a blog post was when I wrote about the death of Osama bin Laden. I’ve written all sorts of stuff about race and gender and politics and whatever, but that was the worst.

I didn’t come out and say I was happy he was dead. But some people interpreted it that way, and there followed a bunch of comments and emails and Facebook messages about how could I possibly be happy about the death of another human being, even if he was a bad person? Everyone, even Osama, is a human being, and we should never rejoice in the death of a fellow man. One commenter came out and said:

    I’m surprised at your reaction. As far as people I casually stalk on the internet (ie, LJ and Facebook), you are the first out of the “intelligent, reasoned and thoughtful” group to be uncomplicatedly happy about this development and not to be, say, disgusted at the reactions of the other 90% or so.

This commenter was right. Of the “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people I knew, the overwhelming emotion was conspicuous disgust that other people could be happy about his death. I hastily backtracked and said I wasn’t happy per se, just surprised and relieved that all of this was finally behind us.

And I genuinely believed that day that I had found some unexpected good in people – that everyone I knew was so humane and compassionate that they were unable to rejoice even in the death of someone who hated them and everything they stood for.

Then a few years later, Margaret Thatcher died. And on my Facebook wall – made of these same “intelligent, reasoned, and thoughtful” people – the most common response was to quote some portion of the song “Ding Dong, The Witch Is Dead”. Another popular response was to link the videos of British people spontaneously throwing parties in the street, with comments like “I wish I was there so I could join in”. From this exact same group of people, not a single expression of disgust or a “c’mon, guys, we’re all human beings here.”

I gently pointed this out at the time, and mostly got a bunch of “yeah, so what?”, combined with links to an article claiming that “the demand for respectful silence in the wake of a public figure’s death is not just misguided but dangerous”.

And that was when something clicked for me. …

[M]y hypothesis, stated plainly, is that if you’re part of the Blue Tribe, then your outgroup isn’t al-Qaeda, or Muslims, or blacks, or gays, or transpeople, or Jews, or atheists – it’s the Red Tribe. …

One of the best-known examples of racism is the “Guess Who’s Coming To Dinner” scenario where parents are scandalized about their child marrying someone of a different race. Pew has done some good work on this and found that only 23% of conservatives and 1% (!) of liberals admit they would be upset in this situation. But Pew also asked how parents would feel about their child marrying someone of a different political party. Now 30% of conservatives and 23% of liberals would get upset. Average them out, and you go from 12% upsetness rate for race to 27% upsetness rate for party – more than double. Yeah, people do lie to pollsters, but a picture is starting to come together here.

(Harvard, by the way, is a tossup. There are more black students – 11.5% – than conservative students – 10% – but there are more conservative faculty than black faculty.)…

There was a big brouhaha a couple of years ago when, as it first became apparent Obama had a good shot at the Presidency, Michelle Obama said that “for the first time in my adult life, I am proud of my country.”

Republicans pounced on the comment, asking why she hadn’t felt proud before, and she backtracked saying of course she was proud all the time and she loves America with the burning fury of a million suns and she was just saying that the Obama campaign was particularly inspiring.

As unconvincing denials go, this one was pretty far up there. But no one really held it against her. Probably most Obama voters felt vaguely the same way. I was an Obama voter, and I have proud memories of spending my Fourth of Julys as a kid debunking people’s heartfelt emotions of patriotism. Aaron Sorkin:

    [What makes America the greatest country in the world?] It’s not the greatest country in the world! We’re seventh in literacy, 27th in math, 22nd in science, 49th in life expectancy, 178th in infant mortality, third in median household income, No. 4 in labor force, and No. 4 in exports. So when you ask what makes us the greatest country in the world, I don’t know what the f*** you’re talking about.

(Another good retort is “We’re number one? Sure – number one in incarceration rates, drone strikes, and making new parents go back to work!”)

All of this is true, of course. But it’s weird that it’s such a classic interest of members of the Blue Tribe, and members of the Red Tribe never seem to bring it up.

(“We’re number one? Sure – number one in levels of sexual degeneracy! Well, I guess probably number two, after the Netherlands, but they’re really small and shouldn’t count.”)

My hunch – both the Red Tribe and the Blue Tribe, for whatever reason, identify “America” with the Red Tribe. Ask people for typically “American” things, and you end up with a very Red list of characteristics – guns, religion, barbecues, American football, NASCAR, cowboys, SUVs, unrestrained capitalism.

That means the Red Tribe feels intensely patriotic about “their” country, and the Blue Tribe feels like they’re living in fortified enclaves deep in hostile territory.

Read the whole thing.

Hat tip to Claire Berlinski.

07 Jan 2016

The Elite Holier Than Thous

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Temperance_Movement

R.R. Reno, at First Things, explains why Donald Trump goes up in the polls every time he opens his mouth and says something the establishment elite finds absolutely unacceptable.

When I was a boy, the popular humorist Corey Ford wrote a monthly column for Field & Stream about the questionable activities of a rural New Hampshire sportsman’s club called “The Lower Forty.”

Good old boys Judge Parker, Doc Hall, Cousin Sid, and the undertaker Angus McNab hung out at Uncle Perk’s General Store sipping Old Stumpblower and telling yarns in the intervals between expeditions against deer, trout, and what they referred to up there as “paatridge.” The inveterate adversaries of the members of The Lower Forty were the scheming, miserly, and hypocritical Deacon Godfrey and his reformist allies in the Sisters of Samantha Sewing Circle. I often feel that I have lived to see Deacon Godfreys everywhere in high office and the entire population, male and female, of the urban community of fashion carrying “Sisters of Samantha” membership cards.

The upper twenty percent in America have insulated themselves from the economic and cultural consequences of the last fifty years. Meanwhile, those in the bottom half must live in disintegrating communities and endure the consequences of declining social capital. They sense, intuitively, that our leadership class has a narrow, materialistic view of life and a ruthless, managerial approach to “diversity” that undermines social solidarity, which is why they resonate with patriotic rhetoric that actually envisions all of us together, committed to a common good. Meanwhile, they see that their “betters” have rigged the game, so much so that even the slightest dissent from political correctness brings fierce, disciplining denunciations.

As I’ve written elsewhere (and often) we are living in a remarkable era. Our ruling class has re-invented itself as a technocracy that justifies its power by claiming moral superiority—and which dismisses challengers from below as morally deficient. We haven’t seen this kind of moral attack on working people since the salad years of the Temperance movement, another era when the well-off thought little of entering the public square… to denounce the moral depravity of the working man.

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