Category Archive 'The Community of Fashion'

28 Aug 2022

Our Revolutionary Elite

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Leighton Woodhouse, on his Social Studies Substack, identifies the PMC as the new Revolutionary Vanguard, dedicating to overthrowing the existing order of everything in order to seize power.

Coming Apart, a book I recently read by Charles Murray…, exhaustively documents the consolidation of what he calls “the new upper class,” by which he means not just the business owners but the managers, professionals, intellectuals and cultural creatives that we all recognize as Blue State America. He shows how, between 1960 and 2010, members of this class have clustered themselves into geographical bubbles in which they rarely have to interact with anyone outside of their general income and education level. That class segregation has carried over from neighborhoods into educational institutions, work sites, marriages, cultural pastimes, and, of course, political parties. Today, if you’re born into the professional elite (as I was in another era), it’s exceedingly easy to live your entire life, cradle to grave, without ever having an interaction more substantive than a commercial transaction with a member of the working class. And as Murray shows, while the new upper class has remained as prosperous and happy as its counterpart was six decades ago, on almost every important metric of social stability and personal happiness, the new lower class has plummeted, to the point at which working class “communities,” both urban and rural, have barely any social bonds left, but stunning levels of crime, violence, addiction, divorce, broken homes and unemployment.

There couldn’t be a clearer picture of a new “ruling class” than the one that Murray paints through his meticulous analyses of quantitative data. And that new ruling class doesn’t just exist objectively as, in Marx’s terminology, “a class in itself.” Today, it is very plainly a self-conscious “class for itself.”

As I explained in an earlier post, the reason why intellectuals tend to ally themselves in solidarity with the downtrodden and against the economically powerful is not because of some intrinsic enlightenment and abundance of empathy, but rather because by attacking the moral legitimacy of economic capital, they elevate the value of the cultural capital in which they possess an advantage. This was Bourdieu’s explanation for the default leftward political bias that prevails among the intelligentsia and the professional classes in general.

But even this pretense has seemed to largely vanish. Aside from a few radical chic gestures toward defunding the police and allying with trans “lives,” the professional managerial class has, over the last few years, stood in consistent and open opposition to the interests of the working class: the zealous support for Covid lockdowns and the indifference to the economic pain they caused, the insistence on vaccine mandates on threat of unemployment and the angry, authoritarian retaliation against anyone who dared to oppose them, the reflexive censorship of anyone who defied the authority of the expert class. Even when the PMC has acted in a spirit of ostensible generosity, it has been largely self-serving.

Aside from the occasional jab at culturally disfavored billionaires like Elon Musk or Jeff Bezos, the PMC and its political organ, the Democratic Party, has more or less abandoned even its performative opposition to the power of multinational corporations and finance capital. Nowadays, you’re more likely to find Republicans attacking huge corporations and Democrats defending them. The intra-elite struggle between the holders of economic capital and the holders of cultural capital seems to have become a thing of the past; the PMC, now indistinguishable from the capitalists, is finally behaving as a proper ruling class, acting politically in its own naked interests and either sneering at the ignorant proletarians or extending them a paternalistic hand. They may or may not outright own the means of production (a question for another post), but their control over the production process is so complete that it doesn’t really matter that much that its legal ownership is technically in the hands of various financial institutions, themselves controlled by the PMC. Albeit premature, this was exactly Burnham’s prediction.

In this context, the madness of woke discourse begins to make a little more sense. The foundational values that social justice activists have routinely maligned in recent years as outdated, reactionary or “white supremacist” are precisely those that were championed by the emergent capitalist class in the early modern period. Individualism, meritocracy, equality before the law, the Protestant work ethic — all have come under fire as pillars of oppression, in the same way that the cult of personal fealty and the entire moral code of feudalism was challenged by the rising bourgeoisie. Perhaps the rhetoric of the woke generation, then, is less about liberating the oppressed than it is about setting the table for a new ruling class and the new relations of production that that class will usher in. I don’t yet have a theory on how the specific tenets of wokeness favor managerial rule, but I suspect it has something to do with what Foucault calls “governmentality” (again, a subject for a future post).

RTWT

06 Nov 2020

The State of the Republic

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Thomas Cole, The Course of Empire: The Consummation, 1836, The New York Historical Society.

Pedro Gonzalez pessimistically describes the inexorable advance of the credentialed class of sophisters, calculators, and economists whose interests inevitably coincide with the cause of collectivist statism.

Before the storm of steel that was World War I, Robert Nisbet wrote that the federal government, for most Americans, was a stranger—something they mainly encountered only on visits to the post office. This may be hard for us to fathom now, we who have been born and raised long after the chains of industrial and technological conglomeration crushed the social, cultural, and political independence middle America knew just a few generations ago.

Different thinkers gave different names to this revolution of mass and scale in virtually all areas of organized human activity. James Burnham heralded its rise, as a system that would replace capitalism not with socialism but “managerialism.”

Burnham defined managerialism as the centralization of society in which the distinction between the state and the economy is eliminated, the separation of ownership and control is effected, and, most importantly, power—real power—rests in the hands of “managers.”

If it seems there is little room for republicanism or constitutionalism in this scheme, that’s because there isn’t. “America still has a written constitution, but it is nearly impossible, theoretically or politically, to comprehend the distinction between the government and the Constitution,” John Marini writes. “The theoretical foundations of social compact theory have been so undermined as to make constitutionalism obsolete as a political theory.”

Demystified, the “managers” of our post-constitutional cruise through the truculent waters at the end of history are business executives, technicians, bureaucrats, journalists, administrators; the whole host of technically trained experts who constitute the credentialed class which produces nothing and owns little but without whom mass society would not function.

“Agricultural and industrial societies always had their unhappy intellectuals—lawyers, clerks, teachers, radical journalists—men whose profits lay in ideas rather than things, and who were thus in the vanguard of upheavals and demands for reform,” Kevin P. Phillips wrote in Mediacracy. “But the intelligentsia was always a small subclass, influential at times when it could channel public unrest, otherwise subordinate.” Now the managers throttle their enemies with the levers of power and, to a large extent, manage unrest while overseeing the managed deconstruction of the civilization they did not build but inherited.

RTWT

They are winning because they have accomplished the Gramscian Long March and control the institutions that define the Culture.

03 Jul 2020

Whose Revolution Is It Really?

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Sohrab Ahmari (Persian Muslim converted to Catholic Conservative and Culture Wars Hawk), in the Spectator, argues that the nation-wide BLM outbreak of hysteria is not so much a Revolution, as it is a reactionary putsch.

America is not in the middle of a revolution — it is a reactionary putsch. About four years ago, the sort of people who had acquired position and influence as a result of globalisation were turfed out of power for the first time in decades. They watched in horror as voters across the world chose Brexit, Donald Trump and other populist and conservative–nationalist options.

This deposition explains the storm of unrest battering American cities from coast to coast and making waves in Europe as well. The storm’s ferocity — the looting, the mobs, the mass lawlessness, the zealous iconoclasm, the deranged slogans like #DefundPolice — terrifies ordinary Americans. Many conservatives, especially, believe they are facing a revolution targeting the very foundations of American order.

But when national institutions bow (or kneel) to the street fighters’ demands, it should tell us that something else is going on. We aren’t dealing with a Maoist or Marxist revolt, even if some protagonists spout hard-leftish rhetoric. Rather, what’s playing out is a counter-revolution of the neoliberal class — academe, media, large corporations, ‘experts’, Big Tech — against the nationalist revolution launched in 2016. The supposed insurgents and the elites are marching in the streets together, taking the knee together.

They do not seek a radically new arrangement, but a return to the pre-Trump, pre-Brexit status quo ante which was working out very well for them. It was, of course, working out less well for the working class of all races, who bore the brunt of their preferred policy mix: open borders, free trade without limits, an aggressive cultural liberalism that corroded tradition and community, technocratic ‘global governance’ that neutered democracy and politics as such. …

Does anyone seriously believe the American establishment — Walmart, Facebook, Amazon, Netflix, the trustees of Ivy League universities, the major sports leagues, even Brooks Brothers, for God’s sake — would sign on to a movement that genuinely threatened its material interests?

RTWT

19 Jan 2019

Our Bourbon Elites

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Michael Barone finds the Transatlantic elite response to its political defeats in 2016 is identical to the response of the Bourbons to the Revolution in France. They are determined to learn nothing and forget nothing.

It was no coincidence that Donald Trump scheduled a trip to Britain, purportedly to inspect one of his golf courses in Scotland, on June 23, 2016. That was the day of the Brexit referendum, in which 52 percent of the electorate — 17.4 million voters — voted for their nation to leave the European Union.

Candidate Trump’s earlier endorsement of Brexit was criticized by elevated opinion as an unfriendly interference in another nation’s internal affairs. Few if any of the scoffers had similarly criticized former President Barack Obama for urging Britons to vote “remain,” even threatening that if they voted “leave” they would go “to the back of the queue” in seeking a free trade deal with the United States.

Thirteen months before Trump’s trip and the British vote, few thought there was any possibility of a Trump candidacy or a Brexit referendum. The shock of Brexit in June and Trump’s victory in November has not been fully absorbed by British or American financial, media, and political elites in all the time since.
30 Democrats in Puerto Rico with 109 lobbyists for weekend despite shutdown

As the gifted British political analyst Douglas Murray writes in National Review, “Instead of accepting the votes and trying to learn from them, elites have expended almost all their available energies trying to pretend that voters in 2016 were bad or duped. The past two years could have been spent trying to learn something or build something. Instead, the best minds of Left and Right have spent their time making claims of ‘racism,’ ‘Russia,’ and ‘Cambridge Analytica.’”

The unlearning continues. Here, the government (actually, less than one-quarter of the federal government) is “shut down” over Democrats’ resistance to Trump’s demand for funding the border wall — er, barrier — which he negligently failed for two years to obtain from the Republican-majority Congress.

Most Democratic politicians — and, polls show, many Democratic voters — favored border barriers before Trump’s victory. Now, they insist walls are “immoral” and ineffective.

RTWT


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