Category Archive 'The Elite'
22 Dec 2020

“The Peasants Are Suffering From the Shutdown.”

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11 Dec 2020

A House Divided

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Zman feels the winds of change rising, as the national division between rural and urban, elite establishment and worthiness widen and deepen.

For generations, the source of conflict in the American political system is that it represents a small slice of the American people. The Yankee elite that rose up in the aftermath of the Civil War, later joined by Jews in the 20th century, represents not only a narrow cultural slice of American society, but a narrow economic slice as well. Since the end of the Cold War this has become acute. In 30 years, there have been three major reformist movements attempting to broaden the ruling coalition.

It seems like a lifetime ago, but Ross Perot was in many respects the prototype for Donald Trump’s 2016 run. Perot ran as an outsider, on the back of his folksy observations about the federal government. Despite being very rich, he was clearly a man of the lower classes. His picaresque presentation was very appealing to a large portion of the population open to populist appeals. If not for his enigmatic personality, he probably would have won the White House in 1992.

Of course, what opened the door for Perot’s 1992 run was the Buchanan challenge to George H. W. Bush in the Republican primary. When asked why he was running against Bush he said, “If the country wants to go in a liberal direction, it doesn’t bother me as long as I’ve made the best case I can. What I can’t stand are the backroom deals. They’re all in on it, the insider game, the establishment game—this is what we’re running against.” That should sound familiar.

Both of those efforts to broaden the establishment coalition to include the majority of white Americans failed, but they set up the 2016 Trump run. …

What we have seen thus far in the 30 years since the end of the Cold War is two of the three ways people can attempt to broaden the ruling coalition. Both are reform efforts that start outside with the desire to end up inside. Perot wanted to bring in new people, who would represent the broader public. Buchanan and Trump both wanted to reform the system by reforming one of the parties. Buchanan wanted a genuine right-wing party, while Trump wanted a populist party.

The third way, of course, is the purely outsider movement. This is when the unrepresented create an alternative outside the ruling coalition. They either peacefully compel the ruling elite to acknowledge their interests or they replace the ruling elite, and the system they rule, with a new elite and a new system. This is exactly what happened with the American Revolution. A new elite replaced the old elite and created a system that worked for them to replace the old system.

This is what makes the current moment so dangerous. Within one generation three efforts to broaden the ruling coalition have failed, while the condition of the unrepresented has declined. Just as important, the number of people feeling threatened by the status quo has increased. In the 1990’s, reformers were speaking for the white working class. Today, it is the broader middle-class that is becoming increasingly radicalized by the intransigence of the ruling class.

RTWT

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Rush Limbaugh, too, is beginning to despair of there being any possibility of national coexistence, let alone unity.

I thought you were asking me something else when you said, “Can we win?” I thought you meant, “Can we win the culture, can we dominate the culture.” I actually think — and I’ve referenced this, I’ve alluded to this a couple of times because I’ve seen others allude to this — I actually think that we’re trending toward secession. I see more and more people asking what in the world do we have in common with the people who live in, say, New York? What is there that makes us believe that there is enough of us there to even have a chance at winning New York? Especially if you’re talking about votes.

I see a lot of bloggers — I can’t think of names right now — a lot of bloggers have written extensively about how distant and separated and how much more separated our culture is becoming politically and that it can’t go on this way. There cannot be a peaceful coexistence of two completely different theories of life, theories of government, theories of how we manage our affairs. We can’t be in this dire a conflict without something giving somewhere along the way.

And I know that there’s a sizable and growing sentiment for people who believe that that is where we’re headed, whether we want to or not — whether we want to go there or not. I myself haven’t made up my mind. I still haven’t given up the idea that we are the majority and that all we have to do is find a way to unite and win, and our problem is the fact that there are just so many RINOs, so many Republicans in the Washington establishment who will do anything to maintain their membership in the establishment because of the perks and the opportunities that are presented for their kids and so forth.

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.

26 Oct 2020

“None of That Damned Nonsense About Merit”

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David Swenson.

Back in the 1830s, Lord Melbourne declared he liked the Order of the Garter best of all his titles because there was “none of that damned nonsense about merit” connected to it.

The elite community of fashion’s current enthusiasm for what is referred to as “Diversity, Equity, Inclusion” has a basic similarity to Lord Melbourne’s perspective, except his merit-free inclusion in the Garter Order was based on a supposed inherited excellence, while the Identity Groups singled out for special treatment under DEI base their claims to special privilege upon ressentiment.

David Swenson has a long record of achieving superior returns by his management of Yale’s endowment. Apparently, he now has decided either that other goals are more important or that anyone can achieve the same.

The Wall Street Journal reports:

America’s most prominent endowment chief has a message for the firms that manage the school’s money: Hire more women and minorities, or possibly lose the university’s backing.

David Swensen is the veteran investment chief of Yale University’s $31.2 billion endowment. Earlier this month, he told the dozens of firms that manage Yale’s money they would be measured on their progress increasing the diversity of their investment staffs. Mr. Swensen said the Yale Investments Office would be working to improve its own team’s composition, too.

RTWT

It is hilarious the way people like this talk about Meritocracy, but their idea of Meritocracy has a heavy thumb on the scale in several class cases.

The old-time Jewish quota (which I strongly suspect still exists) is denounced, but the Asian quota is defended vigorously in court. Certain groups absolutely must be awarded super-proportional representation, at any cost, on the basis of historical disadvantage. But, other outsider groups, Appalachians and working class ethnic Catholics, for instance, also conspicuously historically little represented in Ivy League admissions and in elite financial circles are completely overlooked, simply due to their failure to agitate and complain. The hypocrisy and irrationality is astonishing.

23 Oct 2020

Civilization’s Fish is Rotting From the Head

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Liz Jolly, Chief Librarian of the British Library since 2018.

David Warren is perfectly justified in ranting about all this.

Did you know? That, “Racism is the creation of white people”?

Of course you did, if you are young, woke, and poorly educated, like the white woman who is now the British Library’s Chief Librarian. (“Liz Jolly.”) Her statement, in a video to staff last summer, promoting her Decolonizing Working Group, though perfectly acceptable to Guardian subscribers, was mocked by several African and Asiatic scholars who have depended upon that library’s resources over the years. Noting that history is more complicated than Ms Jolly was ever told, they criticized her as “pig ignorant,” &c.

But her explicitly racist “anti-racist” programme proceeds, with aggressive “anti-racist” exhibitions, new “anti-racist” signage, and so forth. The demand to de-acquisition authors who do not reinforce the current ideological stereotypes has not yet gathered to full force, but has started.

The capture of essentially all major cultural institutions by unhinged political fanatics with daddy issues, is among the signs of our times. Those who resist are driven out of employment; those who accede have a lock on the splendidly-paid positions, for which beleaguered taxpayers are billed. The consequences to Western Civ are not trifling.

Perhaps I am unfair to single out just the one career arts bureaucrat, when there are thousands to choose from. I may even be prejudiced, not only against white people, but against those of the scheduled races who have cooperated in trashing the institutional heritage of the Big Wen.

For London was my Athens, back in the day, and I take these things personally. My British Museum Library ticket was among my most cherished possessions, and the old Reading Room among my favourite haunts. I am now so old that I can remember when such places were ruled, and staffed, by respectably boring establishment types with Oxbridge degrees.

Yet this is the very class that has suborned itself to the Revolution. It still works on old boy and girl networks, and has become dramatically more smug. But now it dismantles what its ancestors built. The fish-rot starts at the head of British society, as it has in Canada, and throughout America and Europe.

HT: Vanderleun.

09 Jul 2020

Government By Fraud

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Jheronimus Bosch, The Conjuror, 1502, Musée Municipal, Saint-Germain-en-Laye, France.

Angelo Codevila proposes adding a new form to Aristotle’s forms of government.

Over the past fifty years the rules of public and even of private life in America have well-nigh reversed, along with the meaning of common words, e.g. marriage, merit, and equality. Social inequality, even more than economic, has increased as personal safety and freedom have plummeted. People are subject to arbitrary power as never before. No one voted for these changes. Often, as with the negation of the Defense of Marriage Act and of the referendum-approved California constitutional provision to the same effect, these reversals expressly negated law. Just as often, as in the case of our mounting restrictions on freedom of speech, they have happened quite outside any law. Altogether, they have transformed a constitutional republic into an oligarchy at war with itself as well as with the rest of society. The U.S. Constitution and the way of life lived under it are historical relics.

Our ruling class transformed America’s regime by instituting a succession of scams, each of which transferred power and wealth to themselves. These scams’ blending into one another compel us to recognize them, individually and jointly, as the kind of governance that Augustine called “magnum latrocinium,” thievery writ large. Thievery of power even more than of money—colloquially, scamocracy. …

What do all [the] preoccupations that have dominated American life the last half century have in common? All—the long-running race and poverty scam, the education scam, the environmentalist scam, the sex scam, the security scam, and now the pandemic scam—have been ginned up by the same people, America’s bipartisan ruling class. All have been based on propositions touted as scientific truth by the most highly credentialed persons in America—experts certified by the U.S government, enshrined by academia as science’s spokesmen, and fawned upon by the media working in concert to forbid any disagreement on the matter whatsoever. Yet virtually all their propositions have turned out to be false, and indeed have produced effects opposite to those claimed.

Not incidentally, somehow, all these scams ended up putting more power and money into the very same hands—their hands—while diminishing the rest of Americans’ freedoms and prospects. Accident, comrade? No. Taking valuable things under false pretenses for the falsifiers’ benefit is the very definition of fraud, of scam. The scams that have flowed from society’s commanding heights are products of our ruling class’s ever-growing internal solidarity, of confidence in its own superiority and entitlement to rule. They are the other side of its intellectual/moral isolation, and of its co-option of ever-less competent members—hence of its corruption.

RTWT

HT: Karen L. Myers.

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

15 May 2020

Peggy Noonan on the Class Aspect of Lockdown

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Peggy Noonan, this week, is remembering her working class roots again.

I’m afraid, however, when push comes to shove, Peggy is always going to side with the Community of Fashion over ordinary America.

There is a class divide between those who are hard-line on lockdowns and those who are pushing back. We see the professionals on one side—those James Burnham called the managerial elite, and Michael Lind, in “The New Class War,” calls “the overclass”—and regular people on the other. The overclass are highly educated and exert outsize influence as managers and leaders of important institutions—hospitals, companies, statehouses. The normal people aren’t connected through professional or social lines to power structures, and they have regular jobs—service worker, small-business owner.

Since the pandemic began, the overclass has been in charge—scientists, doctors, political figures, consultants—calling the shots for the average people. But personally they have less skin in the game. The National Institutes of Health scientist won’t lose his livelihood over what’s happened. Neither will the midday anchor.

I’ve called this divide the protected versus the unprotected. There is an aspect of it that is not much discussed but bears on current arguments. How you have experienced life has a lot to do with how you experience the pandemic and its strictures. I think it’s fair to say citizens of red states have been pushing back harder than those of blue states.

It’s not that those in red states don’t think there’s a pandemic. They’ve heard all about it! They realize it will continue, they know they may get sick themselves. But they also figure this way: Hundreds of thousands could die and the American economy taken down, which would mean millions of other casualties, economic ones. Or, hundreds of thousands could die and the American economy is damaged but still stands, in which case there will be fewer economic casualties—fewer bankruptcies and foreclosures, fewer unemployed and ruined.

They’ll take the latter. It’s a loss either way but one loss is worse than the other. They know the politicians and scientists can’t really weigh all this on a scale with any precision because life is a messy thing that doesn’t want to be quantified.

Here’s a generalization based on a lifetime of experience and observation. The working-class people who are pushing back have had harder lives than those now determining their fate. They haven’t had familial or economic ease. No one sent them to Yale. They often come from considerable family dysfunction. This has left them tougher or harder, you choose the word.

They’re more fatalistic about life because life has taught them to be fatalistic. And they look at these scientists and reporters making their warnings about how tough it’s going to be if we lift shutdowns and they don’t think, “Oh what informed, caring observers.” They think, “You have no idea what tough is. You don’t know what painful is.” And if you don’t know, why should you have so much say?

The overclass says, “Wait three months before we’re safe.” They reply, “There’s no such thing as safe.”

Something else is true about those pushing back. They live life closer to the ground …

RTWT

02 Apr 2020

Our Super Smart Elite on the Job

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Kurt Schlichter finds the pandemic bringing out the best in the media spokespersons of the elite coastal community of fashion.

Another hitherto unknown skill that the media believes it possesses is logistics. “Why hasn’t Trump commanded a million ventilators to appear?!” the reporters demand. It’s pretty easy to see where they might have gotten the idea that the moment one articulates a desire to possess something that it magically appears. Capitalism has pretty much made that a reality. If you want something, you can go to a store and get it 24/7, or you can go on Amazon and it’ll be at your Manhattan apartment in 48 hours. Since they have never built anything or transported anything or distributed anything, only benefited from the labor of the unhip people who do those things, it’s only natural that the delayed adolescents who make up our media class imagine that material goods can be simply wished into being. After all, for all practical purposes during normal times, because of the efforts of Americans they look down upon, material goods pretty much can be simply wished into being. But prosperity takes work, not that the media would know.

Rhodes scholar Racheal Maddow mocked our Navy over the idea it could sail a floating hospital up to New York, leveraging her nautical knowledge to insist it was weeks away. It took all those water army people a week. Oh, and the ground army simultaneously built a full hospital in a few days. And, amazingly, almost none of the folks doing it attended Haaaaaarvard. But hey, our media elite has contributed – it’s accomplished…uh…um…shut up, racists!

RTWT

28 Feb 2020

Progressivism is the Religion of the New Clerisy Class

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Joel Kotkin, as usual, is explaining that the real constituency of Progressive Statism is the new clerisy whose class interest is intimately connected to the growth in power and reach of the Administrative State.

The term clerisy was coined by Samuel Coleridge in the 1830s to define a class of people whose job it was to instruct and direct the masses. Traditional clerics remained part of this class, but they were joined by others—university professors, scientists, public intellectuals, and the heads of charitable foundations. Since the industrial revolution, the clerisy has expanded and become ever-more secular, essentially replacing the religious clergy as what the great German sociologist Max Weber called society’s “new legitimizers.”

Although certainly not unanimous in their views, the clerisy generally favors ever-increasing central control and regulation. French economist Thomas Piketty calls them “the Brahmin Left,” pointing out that their goal is not necessarily growth, nor greater affluence for hoi polloi, but a society shaped by their own progressive beliefs. In this respect, they are, despite a generally secular ideology, reprising the role played in feudal society by the Catholic Church, or what the French referred to as the First Estate.

Today’s clerisy are concentrated in professions whose numbers have grown in recent decades, including teaching, consulting, law, the medical field, and the civil service. In contrast, the size of the traditional middle class—small business owners, workers in basic industries, and construction—have seen their share of the job market decline and shrink.2 Some professions that were once more closely tied to the private economy, such as doctors, have become subsumed by bureaucratic structures and—in the United States, at least—shifted from a dependable conservative lobby to an increasingly progressive one.

These shifts are, if anything, more pronounced in Europe. In France, over 1.4 million lower skilled jobs have disappeared in the past quarter-century while technical jobs, often in the public sector, have sharply increased. Those working for state industries, universities, and in other clerisy-oriented positions, enjoy far better benefits, notably pensions, than those working in the purely private sector. To be sure, members of the clerisy have to suffer Europe’s high taxes on the middle class, but they also benefit far more than others from the state’s largesse.

At its apex, the clerisy today is made up largely of the well-educated offspring of the affluent. This class has become increasingly hereditary, in part due to the phenomena of well-educated people marrying each other—between 1960 and 2005, the share of men with university degrees who married women with university degrees nearly doubled, from 25 – 48 percent. “After one generation,” the American sociologist Daniel Bell predicted nearly half a century ago, “a meritocracy simply becomes an enclaved class.

RTWT

All this is why so many of our Ivy League classmates and assimilated college-educated friends have become the enemies of Freedom and the political adversaries of ordinary Americans.

10 Feb 2020

The Deep State Starring in “Caddyshack on the Potomac”

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Victor Davis Hanson, brilliantly as usual, discusses the Deep State, Hubris, Nemesis, and Donald Trump.

[T]hey never say to themselves, “I’m not elected.” The constitution says an elected president sets foreign policy. Period. So there’s this sense that they, as credential experts, have a value system, and the value system is they have an inordinate respect for an Ivy League degree or a particular alphabetic combination after their name: a J.D., a Ph.D., an MBA, or a particular resume. I worked at the NSC, then I transferred over to the NSA, and then, I went into the State Department. And we saw that in really vivid examples during the Adam Schiff impeachment inquiries, where a series of State Department people, before they could even talk, [they] said, “I’m the third generation to serve in my family. This is my resume. This is where I went to school. This is where I was posted.” And in the case of Adam Schiff, we saw these law professors, who had gone in and out of government, and they had these academic billets.

And to condense all that, it could be distilled by saying the deep state makes arguments by authority: “I’m an authority, and I have credentials, and therefore, ipse dixit, what I say matters.” And they don’t want to be cross-examined, they don’t want to have their argument in the arena of ideas and cross-examination. They think it deserves authority, and they have contempt—and I mean that literally—contempt for elected officials. [They think:] “These are buffoons in private enterprise. They are the CEO in some company; they’re some local Rotary Club member. They get elected to Congress, and then we have to school them on the international order or the rules-based order.” They have a certain lingo, a proper, sober, and judicious comportment.

So you can imagine that Donald Trump—to take a metaphor, Rodney Dangerfield out of Caddyshack—comes in as this, what they would say, stereotype buffoon and starts screaming and yelling. And he looks different. He talks different. And he has no respect for these people at all. Maybe that’s a little extreme that he doesn’t, but he surely doesn’t. And that frightens them. And then they coalesce. And I’m being literal now. Remember the anonymous Sept. 5, 2018, op-ed writer who said, “I’m here actively trying to oppose Donald Trump.” He actually said that he wanted him to leave office. Then, Admiral [William] McRaven said, “the sooner, the better.” This is a four-star admiral, retired. [He] says a year before the election … Trump should leave: “the sooner, the better.” That’s a pretty frightening idea. And when you have Mark Zaid, the lawyer for the whistleblower and also the lawyer for some of the other people involved in this—I think it’s a conspiracy—saying that one coup leads to another. … People are talking about a coup, then we have to take them at their own word. …

I think that people feel that for a variety of reasons—cultural, social, political—that Trump is not deserving of the respect that most presidents receive, and therefore any means necessary to get rid of him are justified. And for some, it’s the idea that he’s had neither political or military prior experience. For others, it’s his outlandish appearance, his Queens accent, as I said, his Rodney Dangerfield presence. And for others—I think this is really underestimated—he is systematically undoing the progressive agenda of Barack Obama, which remember, was supposed to be not just an eight-year regnum, but 16 years with Hillary Clinton. That would’ve reformed the court. It would have shut down fossil fuel exploration, pipelines, more regulations—well, pretty much what Elizabeth Warren and Bernie Sanders are talking about right now. That was going to happen. And so for a lot of people, they think, “Wow, if Donald Trump is elected in 2020”—and he will be, according to the fears of Representatives Al Green or [Alexandria] Ocasio-Cortez or Nancy Pelosi; remember, they keep saying this impeachment is about the 2020 [election]—“we’ve got to ensure the integrity.” That’s what Nadler said today.

But if Trump is elected, that would mean eventually in five more years, [we’d have a] 7–2 Supreme Court, 75 percent of the federal judiciary [would be] conservative and traditional and constructionist. … We are the world’s largest oil and gas producer and exporter, but we probably would be even bigger. And when you look at a lot of issues, such as abortion, or identity politics, or the securing of the border, or the nature of the economy or foreign policy, they think America as we know it will be—to use a phrase from Barack Obama—“fundamentally transformed.” So that’s the subtext of it. Stop this man right now before he destroys the whole progressive project—and with it, the reputation of the media. Because the media saw this happening and they said, “You know what?”—as Jim Rutenberg in the New York Times or Christiane Amanpour have said—“… you really don’t need to be disinterested.”

Trump is beyond the pale, so it’s OK to editorialize in your news coverage. And so the Shorenstein Center has reported that 90 percent of all news coverage [of Trump] is negative. So they’ve thrown their hat in the ring and said, we’re going to be part of the Democratic progressive agenda to destroy this president. But if they fail, then their reputation goes down with the progressive project. And that’s happening now. CNN is at all-time low ratings, at least the last four years. And the network news is losing audiences, and most of the major newspapers are, as well. So there’s a lot of high stakes here. And if Donald Trump survives and were to be reelected, I don’t know what would happen on the left. It would make the 2016 reaction look tame in comparison.

RTWT

HT: The News Junkie.

13 Nov 2019

A Must-Read Interview

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In a must-read interview with Tablet Magazine, David Samuels discusses with Angelo Codevilla the decline of post-Republican Imperial America, the corruption of the elite, meritocracy and its current absence, the populist revolt, the rise of the surveillance state, Jonathan Pollard, and the deep state’s efforts to discredit and remove Donald Trump.

David Samuels:

No one runs America. That’s the terror and the beauty of American life in a nutshell, the answer to the secret of how 300 million people from many different places can live together between two oceans, sharing a future-oriented outlook that methodically obliterates any ties to the past. All prior lived experience is transformed into science fiction, or else into self-serving evidence of the present-day moral, intellectual, and technological superiority of the brave imagineers who are fortunate enough to live here, in the Now, while all who came before them are cursed. No one can or does control such fantasy-driven machinery, which seems incapable of operating in any other way than it does, i.e., in a space with no beginning and no end, but tending always toward perfection. Learning to accept imperfection and failure may be an emotionally healthy way for adults to negotiate the terrors and absurdities of human existence, but it is not the highway to the perfectibility of man or woman-kind. …

Which is not to say that America isn’t governed by an elite class, just like China, or Japan, or France is—only that the ability of that class to actually rule anything is even more constrained by the native culture. The idea that an advanced technologically driven capitalist or socialist society of several hundred million people can be run by something other than an elite is silly or scary—the most obvious present-day alternative being a society run by ever-advancing forms of AI, which will no doubt have only the best interests of their flesh-and-blood creators at heart.

Yet it is possible to accept all of this, and to posit that the reason that the American ruling class seems so indisputably impotent and unmoored in the present is that there is no such thing as America anymore. In place of the America that is described in history books, where Henry Clay forged his compromises, and Walt Whitman wrote poetry, and Herman Melville contemplated the whale, and Ida Tarbell did her muckraking, and Thomas Alva Edison invented movies and the light bulb, and so forth, has arisen something new and vast and yet distinctly un-American that for lack of a better term is often called the American Empire, which in turn calls to mind the division of Roman history (and the Roman character) into two parts: the Republican, and the Imperial.

While containing the ghosts of the American past, the American Empire is clearly a very different kind of entity than the American Republic was—starting with the fact that the vast majority of its inhabitants aren’t Americans. Ancient American ideas about individual rights and liberties, the pursuit of happiness, and so forth, may still be inspiring to mainland American citizens or not, but they are foreign to the peoples that Americans conquered. To those people, America is an empire, or the shadow of an empire, under which seemingly endless wars are fought, a symbol of their own continuing powerlessness and cultural failure. Meanwhile, at home, the American ruling elites prattle on endlessly about their deeply held ideals of whatever that must be applied to Hondurans today, and Kurds tomorrow, in fits of frantic-seeming generosity in between courses of farm-to-table fare. Once the class bond has been firmly established, everyone can relax and exchange notes about their kids, who are off being credentialed at the same “meritocratic” but now hugely more expensive private schools that their parents attended, whose social purpose is no longer to teach basic math or a common history but to indoctrinate teenagers in the cultish mumbo-jumbo that serves as a kind of in-group glue that binds ruling class initiates (she/he/they/ze) together and usefully distinguishes them from townies during summer vacations by the seashore.

The understanding of America as an empire is as foreign to most Americans as is the idea that the specific country that they live in is run by a class of people who may number themselves among the elect but weren’t in fact elected by anyone. Under whatever professional job titles, the people who populate the institutions that exercise direct power over nearly all aspects of American life from birth to death are bureaucrats—university bureaucrats, corporate bureaucrats, local, state and federal bureaucrats, law enforcement bureaucrats, health bureaucrats, knowledge bureaucrats, spy agency bureaucrats. At each layer of specific institutional authority, bureaucrats coordinate their understandings and practices with bureaucrats in parallel institutions through lawyers, in language that is designed to be impenetrable, or nearly so, by outsiders. Their authority is pervasive, undemocratic, and increasingly not susceptible in practice to legal checks and balances. All those people together comprise a class.

Another thing that residents of the broad North American expanse between Canada and Mexico have noticed is that the programs and remedies that this class has promoted, both at home and abroad, have greatly enriched and empowered a small number of people, namely themselves—while the broader American population continues to decline in wealth, health, and education. Meanwhile, the American Empire that the ruling elite administers is collapsing. The popularity of such observations on both the left and the right is what accounts for the rise of Donald Trump, on one hand, and of Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren on the other hand, among an electorate that has not been historically distinguished by its embrace of radicalism. …

David Samuels: Where does the ethos of a class come from?

Angelo Codevilla: Here I speak with the prejudices of an academician. Because the ethos of the academy changed, evolved. And what drove the change was the growing contempt of professors for our civilization. And you Jews ought not to feel that you are any less the enemy of these people than we Christians.

I should say the defining feature of the ruling class is a certain attitude. And that attitude developed in the academy, and that attitude became uniform throughout the country because of the uniform academy. The uniformity of the academy transformed itself into the uniformity of the ruling class.

Because that was the institution that credentialed the otherwise uncultured American masses?

It credentialed the mind and the habits. The habits of the heart. It credentialed the habits of the heart. The habits of conversation. The habits of work. The habits of logic. The habits period.

Can you imagine a bright kid coming in contact with that kind of intellectual fraud? The smartest ones will say, “hey, I don’t want to be part of this.” He’ll do something else. He won’t be taken in. Which means that this class will continue to degrade itself.

RTWT

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