Category Archive 'The Elite'
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

07 Nov 2019

The Sheer Genius of the Blue State Urban Elite on Display

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26 Sep 2019

The Real Law is Whatever the Elite Wants

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Baroness Hale reads the British Supreme Court ruling.

Richard Ekins observes that the British people voted, and the British elite have found way after way to set that vote aside. The law in Britain, just like America, is whatever the elite community of fashion wants.

You’re surprised? Really? What are you surprised by? The specifics — that 11 non-elected, mostly public-school-educated judges, and doubtlessly Remainers I’d guess, should put the final nail into the lid of Brexit? Yeah, sure — that knocked me for six. Never saw that coming. Or was it the generality that surprised you — we’re not getting Brexit after all? If it’s the latter, I don’t think there’s much hope for you.

What seemed to me fairly plain on 24 June 2016 — that they, meaning our liberal establishment, would never let it happen — became an absolute certainty by the turn of this year. By January it was either no Brexit or Brexit in name only. And yet Leavers still clung on, like a spider will cling to the side of a bath as the hot water rises beneath it. ‘No deal is the default option! It’s the law!’ came the cry. I’m sorry, but have you not been watching? There is only one law. The law is there must be no Brexit. That is the whole of the law.

Even as late as last week, in his kind review of my book The Great Betrayal: The True Story of Brexit, Harry Mount suggested I was jumping the gun, making a rash gamble, because surely, surely, we were going to leave. Quentin Letts, a Leaver, reckoned much the same. Again – have you not been watching, gents? Listen, when the newly elected leader of the Liberal Democrats, Jo Swinson, is able to tell the country that no matter how many times the people vote for Brexit, she would stop it, and be praised for her decisiveness and commitment to democracy instead of being pilloried, then I think we are in a different ballpark. The rules have changed — and there is only one law.

And so those 11 judges join the pantheon of left-wing heroes alongside John Bercow, Philip Hammond, that intellectually stunted hypocrite John Major and, of course, Tony Blair — all people who, in normal times, the deranged left would like to see swinging from lampposts. But the liberal left has found itself part of the establishment, in its affluence, in its loathing of Brexit, in its epic contempt for the people — and so has used every possible means whatsoever to thwart the wishes of the electorate. It took big money, big business and unelected institutions, the BBC hammering away with its relentless propaganda in the background, the civil service working copiously behind the scenes — everything co-opted to prevent us leaving.

This is not a conspiracy theory. It is not fake news. It is precisely what has happened. A liberal elite which cannot bear to be gainsaid has used every instrument available to it — lawyers (82 per cent pro-Remain), the BBC (probably 90 per cent pro-Remain) and, of course, parliament (75 per cent pro-Remain on 23 June 2016). And the ironies abound: it is the Leavers who were anti-democratic in wishing to bypass parliament, a verdict with which the justices happily concurred. A twisting of the truth until it was turned completely on its head.

RTWT

24 Sep 2019

British Supreme Court Rules Parliament Suspension Illegal

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“The British Supreme Court (a dubious constitutional innovation if ever there was one) appears to have killed Brexit stone-cold dead. Between the Court and the Fixed-Parliament Act, the Remainers seem to have had all the cards when it counted: the lawyers and political class have trumped the referendum.

Hard to see what happens next. Prime Minister Johnson is a Tory Prime Minister in theory only. Unable to deliver Brexit, which his Party only allegedly wanted, he seems destined for an early disappearance. But what does that mean for the Conservative Party? Most of their voters wanted Brexit. but their donors didn’t. The donors have won for now, but this Parliament has to allow an election sometime. Not sure I’d want to be a Tory officeholder then.

The whole sorry episode shows that when the voters want one thing, and the elites another, the elites win, eventually.”

–Hale Cullom.

10 Aug 2019

Gun Control and the New Class

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Beginning in the 1970s, some of the writers and editors who became known as neoconservatives observed changes in the American elite. The tradition of liberal internationalism, which held individual liberty as the preeminent value and believed in equality of opportunity, as well as a safety net, was under assault. A rising generation of activists charged liberal internationalism with hypocrisy: not only abroad, where intervention in Vietnam had run aground, but also at home, where formal equality under the law had not produced substantive results. Something was wrong with America, the students said. Only a fundamental transformation of our nation would set things aright.

Neoconservatives called this incipient elite the “new class.” It consists, Irving Kristol wrote in 1975, “of scientists, lawyers, city planners, social workers, educators, criminologists, sociologists, public health doctors, etc.—a substantial number of whom find their careers in the expanding public sector rather than the private.” To that list one might add journalists, professors, post-docs, adjuncts, foundation officers, and a great number of programmers, managers, human resource officers, and CEOs. The neoconservatives never defined the “new class” precisely—something their critics pointed out. The category was meant to be a catchall, a handy description of the well-schooled professionals who began their long march through America’s academic, media, entertainment, government, and corporate institutions in the aftermath of 1968.

“Mass higher education has converted this movement into something like a mass movement proper,” Kristol said, “capable of driving a president from office (1968) and nominating its own candidate (1972).” The year before Kristol wrote those words, the new class had sent another president packing. The new class grew in size and influence. It was not a select few working behind the scenes. It was not a conspiracy. Its motives were genuine—but also genuinely different from the liberal internationalism of FDR, Truman, Kennedy, LBJ, and Humphrey. “Members of the new class,” Kristol wrote, “do not ‘control’ the media, they are the media—just as they are our educational system, our public health and welfare system, and much else.”

When neoconservatives began analyzing the new class, around 10 percent of American adults had earned a bachelor’s degree or higher. About a quarter of all jobs were in manufacturing. Today, the percentage of college graduates has doubled while manufacturing employment has plunged. The new class of college-educated professionals and managers has expanded, and its aspirations, values, and ideals are ever more present in our culture and politics.

Kristol was careful to say that the new class was not monolithic: “It contains men and women who are not necessarily ‘pro-business,’ and who may not be much interested in business at all, but who are interested in individual liberty and limited government, who are worried about the collectivist tendencies in the society.” But in recent years the portion of the new class that subscribes to the old liberal internationalism has receded into the background.

What was once an intra-new-class fight over the size and scope of government has become a struggle to define the American nation between the new class on one hand and Donald Trump, his national populists, and a few new-class fellow travelers on the other. The new class has incredible resources at its disposal, from the expansive and appealing ideology of “diversity, equity, and inclusion” to communications, tech, state and local governments, bureaucracies, and the courts. Trump has a Twitter account, half of a cable network, Mitch McConnell, the Supreme Court, and 63 million voters.

One reason the battle is so pitched is that, as the new class multiplied in numbers and strength, the divide between it and the rest of the country grew into the Mariana Trench. The culture of the new class, which originates in Charles Murray’s “super-zips” and extends into the suburbs, has little in common with, speaks even a different language than, residents of exurban and rural America whose votes go to Trump.

It is on the issue of guns that this incomprehension is most pronounced. The cable news anchors expressing frustration and disbelief that the latest shooting may not result in tighter regulation of firearms are sincere. They live safe and satisfying lives without guns; why can’t the rest of the country do the same? Yet the spokesmen for “doing something” do not appreciate the equal sincerity of gun owners, whose weapons are not just possessions but also, on some level, part of their identity.

Guns are especially frustrating to the new class because they are the rare case where the courts, which normally are its ally, have not achieved its objectives. The Heller decision (2008) irks Democrats to no end because the Supreme Court said that Second Amendment guarantees rule out some forms of regulation. Gun owners have been adept at using the language of rights—usually the preferred means of the new class—to attain ends the new class abhors. That has forced advocates of gun control back into the democratic arena, where the new class has so often been repudiated.

No amount of evidence showing the inefficacy of gun control, or the virtues of alternative policies, will convince the new class to drop its crusade for regulation. That is not just because guns are safety hazards. It is because guns remind the new class that it has not succeeded in imposing the values of one part of the country, and one segment of the population, on the rest.

HT: Instapundit.

07 Aug 2019

The Real Problem With America’s Elite

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Natalia Dashan brilliantly explains why the Radical Left is winning at elite schools like Yale and everywhere else in the National Establishment.

Western elites are not comfortable with their place in society and the responsibilities that come with it, and realize that there are deep structural problems with the old systems of coordination. But lacking the capacity for an orderly restructuring, or even a diagnosis of problems and needs, we dive deeper into a chaotic ideological mode of coordination that sweeps away the old structures.

When you live with this mindset, what you end up with is not an establishment where a woke upper class rallies and advocates for the rights of minorities, the poor, and underprivileged groups. What you have is a blind and self-righteous upper class that becomes structurally unable to take coordinated responsibility. You get stuck in an ideological mode of coordination, where no one can speak the truth to correct collective mistakes and overreaches without losing position.

This ideology is promulgated and advertised by universities, but it doesn’t start or stop at universities. All the fundraisers. All the corporate events. The Oscars. Let’s take down the Man. They say this in front of their PowerPoints. They clink champagne glasses. Let’s take down the Man! But there is no real spirit of revolution in these words. It is all in the language they understand—polite and clean, because it isn’t really real. It is a performative spectacle about their own morale and guilt.

If you were the ruler while everything was burning around you, and you didn’t know what to do, what would you do? You would deny that you are in charge. And you would recuperate the growing discontented masses into your own power base, so that things stay comfortable for you.

Yale students, if they weren’t powerful when they came in (and most of them were), they gain power by being bestowed a Yale degree. What would you do with this power? You don’t want to abuse it; you’re not outright evil. No, you want something different. You want to be absolved of your power. You are ashamed of your power. Why should you have it, and not somebody else—maybe somebody more deserving? You never really signed up for this. You would rather be somebody normal. But not, “normal,” normal. More like normal with options and vacations and money “normal.” Normal but still powerful. Or you want to be something even better than normal. You want to be the underdog. There is always a certain strange sense of pleasure in being an underdog. Expectations are lower. Whenever you accomplish anything at all—it is an accomplishment. You would rather have a narrative story of “coming up from the bottom.” Someone who not only does not have the responsibility of power, but someone who has a right to feel resentful of those who do. And better yet—someone who can use this resentment as a tool for self-interest.

How do Yale students give up their power? They do this in one of two ways. One way is termed selling out. This usually means taking a high-paying job at an institution that is at worst blatantly unethical, and at best not intentionally idealistic. A consulting job, a meaningless tech job, or a position at an investment bank. This is generally seen as the selfish route.

But there is more to selling out that nobody talks about. These jobs are the dream jobs of the middle class. They’re not supposed to be jobs for the sons and daughters of millionaires and billionaires—these kids don’t actually need the money. They want independence from their parents and proof that they can make it on their own—and prestigious work experience—but they have wealth acquired through generations that they can always fall back on. These people are generally as harmless as the middle class—which is to say completely harmless. They keep to themselves. They quietly grow their bank accounts and their 401ks. And just like the real middle class, they don’t want to risk their next promotion through being too outspoken. They have virtually no political power. This mindset is best encapsulated by: “I’ll go with the program. Please leave me alone to be comfortable and quietly make money.”

They effectively become middle class, because there is no longer any socially esteemed notion of upper class. They have a base of power, of f-you money, that they could use to become something greater than just another office worker or businessperson. But there is no script for that, no institutional or ideological support. What would it even mean to be an esteemed, blue-blooded aristocrat in 2019? So they take the easy and safe way.

How else do Yale students give up their responsibility?

They go in the other direction. These are the people who call themselves idealists and say they want to save the world. They feel the weight of responsibility from their social status—but they don’t know how to process and integrate this responsibility into their lives properly. Traditionally, structurally well-organized elite institutions would absorb and direct this benevolent impulse to useful purpose. But our traditional institutions have decayed and lost their credibility, so these idealists start looking for alternatives, and start signalling dissociation from those now-disreputable class markers.

But the capacity to really think through what an alternative should look like, and create one, is so rare as to be effectively nonexistent. Instead, idealists are forced to take the easy way of just going along with dominant ideological narratives of what it means to do good. They feel guilty about their wealth and privileges, and feel that they won’t be doing their part unless they do something very altruistic, and the idealistic ideologies reinforce these feelings. So they go overboard, and rush headlong into whatever they are supposed to do. They purport to speak for and be allied with underprivileged groups. They get their professors fired for minor infractions. They frantically tear down whatever vestiges of the old institutions and hierarchies that they can, and conspicuously feel guilty about the rest.

These are the people who buy clothes from Salvation Army and decline your Sunday brunch invitation because it’s too expensive, sometimes with the implication that they are saving their money to donate to more effective causes, if they aren’t pretending not to have it. They are the people who might attack or cut off their friends for ideological reasons. They discharge their personal responsibility by sacrificing everything outside of their distant mission, including friendships and social fabric.

It’s an understandable impulse. After all, given the state of legacy institutions, what else are you going to do with the energy of idealism? But ultimately, by going along with the narratives of an ideology that can efficiently capture these impulses, but has no structural ability to deliver on its promises, just diverts more energy from what a normal benevolent elite should be doing.

These people might sometimes say that they are “tired of fighting”—but this is not the full truth. Fighting is fun. It is always very fun to be a warrior—to have something you believe in that guides you. To be part of a tribe, working for the good of mankind. To be revered and respected for being on the bleeding edge of the paradigm.

Especially when you’re winning.

A must-read.

24 Jul 2019

Weirdest Story of the Year

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Bruce Hay.

How smart are the elite intelligentsia really? Should ordinary Americans be more deferential and start bowing to the consensus of the elite on Global Warming, on Social Justice, and on Donald Trump?

Before you make up your mind read the introductory comments by Rod Dreher below and follow the link to the original New York Magazine story.

Sit down, my people, and read the craziest true story you will read this year or maybe even this decade.

It is written by a journalist named Kera Bolonik, who has made an extremely complicated story comprehensible, in the sense that she recalls a logical progression of events. Nothing else about it makes sense. It’s a story about a liberal Harvard Law professor who is a world-historical boob — and about how two grifters (a transwoman and his best friend) stole his house and used Title IX to further ruin his life.

In 2015, a mysterious young woman named Maria-Pia Shuman flirted with Prof. Bruce Hay in a Cambridge hardware store. Hay, who makes Pajama Boy come off like Vin Diesel. is married, but he and his wife, Jennifer Zacks, live together with their children as roommates, no longer lovers. What would a little fling with the sexy young woman hurt? …

Read it all. Trust me. I’m not going to go further here, because to tell even just a piece of it without telling the whole story would not do it justice. You have to read to see what these insane grifters did to this moron and his innocent wife and kids. It really does read like Fatal Attraction meets a transgender Bonfire of the Vanities. Golden quote: “I just really hate the patriarchy, that’s it.”

26 Apr 2019

Today’s False Elites

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Why do the people in charge of all our elite institutions constantly surrender to the demoniacs of the radical left? Why do people at the top believe in nothing but success?

Brett Stevens argues that we have an educational system that selects for precisely those characteristics.

In democracies… we tell [the people] that they are equal and then set up a meritocracy which by narrowing the task at hand from success in reality (build a fire, run a farm, write a novel, raise a child) to what… selects for the obedient.

Responsive to the fear and ambition on which a democracy runs, the obedient are determined to do whatever is necessary to accomplish a task. They will ablate and erase their own personal opinions, needs, and morals in order to achieve what is assigned to them.

Your successful democratic citizen uses themselves as a means to this success. They use their time, their personal appeal, and even their bodies in order to become chosen by the system. This makes them both obedient and amoral.

Such a person will memorize reams of useless data, repeat it on command, and pretend it is real in order to get ahead; they will shame others who do not bleat the same things. They will attend jobs and school for however long is required to get that gold ring.

Even more, such a person learns to scorn their task. They are taught in school that nothing really matters in reality, since all that matters is having the right answer according to the system.

To such a person, that Communism fails — for example — has no importance. If preaching Communism is what the system rewards, this person will do it, just as they will endorse consumerism, diversity, atheism, or any other dogma.

They do not care if it is accurate or not. In their minds, it is simply what you do to be successful, and that is more important than it being true, because all they care about is being in the upper quarter of the people in the system.

For those who have spent time in American prisons, this order will seem familiar. Whoever does what makes him powerful has a good life, and it does not matter what it is, only that it is the right thing at the right moment.

These types of people comprise our current elites. They are experts in nothing but getting good grades, saying the right thing in public, and making money by telling people that what they want to hear is true (and supported by the product).

RTWT

19 Mar 2019

Meritocracy and its Deficiencies

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Yuval Levin, in NR, explains why the old WASP elite was really more meritorious than the modern Meritocracy.

For much of American history .. [t]he apex of American political, cultural, and economic power was largely the preserve of a fairly narrow white, Anglo-Saxon, Protestant near-aristocracy, centered in the Northeast and exercising power across generations. This was never an absolute barrier to others’ rising, of course, but it was a major obstacle.

The claim to power of this WASP elite, like that of most modern aristocracies, was a mix of heritage and rearing. They possessed their privileges by virtue of their birth, but they were raised and educated in ways intended to prepare them for responsibility and authority. And they were—at least in principle though in many cases also in practice—expected to subject themselves to a code of behavior, a commitment to public service, a degree of personal reticence, a regard for the rules of fair play, and a sense of responsibility that was rooted in the implicit recognition that their power was an inherited privilege, not an earned achievement. …

This new aristocracy is in some important respects less reticent about its own legitimacy than the old. Because each of its members must work to prove his merit—to pass the key tests, and clear the key hurdles—today’s elite is more likely to believe it has earned its power, and possesses it by right more than privilege. Because our elite as a whole has inclined to this view, it tends to impose fewer restraints on its own uses of power, and generally doesn’t subscribe to the kind of code of conduct that sometimes characterized past aristocracies. Even when today’s elites devote themselves to public service, as many do, they tend not to see it as fulfilling an obligation to give back for an unearned privilege but as further demonstrating their own high-mindedness and merit.

A meritocracy naturally assumes its authority is merited. But rather than prove its worth by its service to the larger society, the idea of merit at the core of our meritocracy is radically individualistic and dismally technocratic. The sort of elite that results implicitly substitutes a cold and sterile notion of intellect for a warm and spirited understanding of character as its measure of worth, and our society (including some elites themselves) increasingly cannot escape the intuition that this is an unjustifiable substitution. But rather than impose tests of character on itself, our elite inclines to respond to these concerns with increasingly intense displays of its ideal of social justice. It doubles down on the logic of meritocracy, adopts the language of privilege in its critiques of the larger society, and pushes for even more inclusive criteria of admission to elite institutions—all in an effort to make its claims to legitimate authority more persuasive.”

RTWT

I was at Yale during two different eras.

In the short-haired, jacketed-and-tied all-male Yale of 1966, we hung our overcoats and left books and other personal property in the coatroom without a thought. No one would steal. There were silver water pitchers and sugar bowls engraved with the respective residential college arms in the dining halls.

In the long-haired, informal, coeducated and triumphantly meritocratic Yale of 1971, everyone left their coats and books on chairs in the Common Room within sight of the Dining Hall. If you left them unobserved, someone might walk off with them. The silver water pitchers and sugar bowls were all gone, stolen by the meritorious. I myself saw, on separate occasions, groups of undergraduates walking out of both the Skull & Bones tomb and the Berkeley College Common Room, carrying away expensive oriental rugs. The common rooms gradually emptied down to the very large leather couches, which were too big to fit in undergraduate rooms. Students had appropriated for personal use the common room lamps, chairs, and side tables.

And, personally, I don’t think the Meritocracy of that time has changed a lot over the years.

06 Feb 2019

Angry Bourbons at the SOTU Address

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Watching the State of the Union, Kevin D. Williamson saw America’s dispossessed Ruling Class, conscious of its ownership of the Permanent Mandate of Heaven, looking on, and seething in frustration, as an interloper, representing all the people and classes of society they detest, stood there in the place they know properly belongs to them.

President Donald Trump represents a genuine crisis in the American political order, but it is not the crisis we hear about from rage-addled Democratic hyper-partisans and their media cheerleaders. The fundamental cause of our current convulsion — studiously ignored by almost all concerned — is this: In the United States, the ruling class does not rule. At least, it does not rule right now.

Consider the context.

The ladies and gentlemen of Goldman Sachs liked Mrs. Clinton a great deal in 2016, and their generous donations to her presidential campaign outnumbered their donations to Donald Trump’s campaign by an incredible 70-to-1 margin. Mrs. Clinton was in fact the largest single recipient of Goldman Sachs–affiliated donations that year, whereas Trump’s presidential campaign was way down the list behind not only Mrs. Clinton’s campaign but also the legislative campaigns of such Democrat powers as Steny Hoyer of Maryland, Tim Kaine of Virginia, and newcomer Kyrsten Sinema of Arizona. The results were similar for many other financial firms: 19-to-1 at JPMorgan, 7-to-1 at Wells Fargo, 27-to-1 at Citigroup, 10-to-1 at Bank of New York, etc. Across the commercial banking industry nationwide, Mrs. Clinton out-raised Trump by a nearly 7-to-1 margin. She beat him 17-to-1 among venture capitalists, 8-to-1 among hedge funds, and 7-to-1 among private-equity firms.

Among people associated with Harvard, Mrs. Clinton’s donations outperformed Trump’s by an an even more incredible 200 to 1. In fact, no Republican even cracked the top 15 at Harvard, and Marco Rubio, at No. 17, didn’t even crack the six-digit mark — and the first of his five digits is a 1. At Princeton, it was Clinton 209-to-1. It was 128-to-1 at Yale.

Mrs. Clinton enjoyed a 100-to-1 margin of support among people associated with Facebook; 76-to-1 among Google employees; 135-to-1 at Apple. Mrs. Clinton beat Trump by only a 4-to-1 margin at Exxon Mobil and 3-to-1 at Walmart.

Presumably, the votes of these donors were distributed in roughly the same way, along with their general sympathies and allegiances.

But money is not the only currency in politics.

Mrs. Clinton also enjoyed the endorsements of the former chairman and CEO of General Motors, the executive chairman of Delta, the former president of Boeing, the chairman and CEO of Salesforce, the founder and chairman of Costco, the CEO of Airbnb, the CEO of Netflix, the founder of DISH, the CEO emeritus of Qualcomm, the former CEO of Avon, the CEO of Tumblr, the former chairman and CEO of Time Warner, the chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts, the owner of the Chicago Cubs, and many others. Intel CEO Brian Krzanich had planned to hold a Trump fund-raiser in his home and was bullied by his peers into canceling the event.

Among the nation’s 100 largest newspapers in 2016, only two — the Las Vegas Review-Journal and the Florida Times-Union — endorsed Donald Trump. Most endorsed Mrs. Clinton, and those included the New York Times, the Los Angeles Times, and the Washington Post. USA Today, which does not typically endorse candidates, did not endorse Mrs. Clinton but ran a “not-Trump” anti-endorsement, and other newspapers did so, too — more of them, in fact, than endorsed Trump.

Mrs. Clinton won the majority of the vote in almost every state capital — 47 of them. Trump won Carson City, Bismarck, and Pierre, the micro-capitals, respectively, in Nevada, North Dakota, and South Dakota, with fewer residents combined among them than Chattanooga, Tenn. Mrs. Clinton won an average of 76 percent of the vote in the ten largest U.S. cities. Trump won a majority in none of them, nor was he close to a majority in any of them.

All Donald Trump won was a majority of the voters in a substantial majority of the states — 30 states plus the second congressional district in Maine.

To Democrats, this is an obvious injustice and an outrage. Theirs is the politics of manifest destiny, with their endless Hegelian insistence that capital-H History is on their side. And not only History but Harvard and Goldman Sachs and Facebook, too. Their sense of entitlement to political power is just a smidgen short of Divine Right, but not much. The obstacle to fulfilling their entitlement is the structure and the constitutional order of the United States, which is neither a direct democracy such as Switzerland’s nor a unitary state such as China’s but a union of states. Hence the aspects of the American system that most reflect this arrangement — the Electoral College, the Senate, and the Bill of Rights — are regarded by the Left as illegitimate, a way to rig the system against History and The People. …

There are many possible ways for the ruling class to respond to that political reality. One is to burrow into the cheap moralism characteristic of our times and insist that those who looked at the choices in 2016 and came to a different conclusion than did the executives of JPMorgan and Citigroup must be driven by some occult malevolence; this is Paul Krugman’s argument, that “good people can’t be good Republicans.” That is a sentiment unworthy of even so trifling and vicious a creature of the New York Times editorial page as Professor Krugman, who once was a highly regarded economist. Equally unworthy is the related sentiment: “Our candidate got 2 percent more of the vote than their guy did in 2016, so it’s only technicalities keeping us out of power. Once we have rectified that, we will simply dominate the other side with our superior numbers.” Never mind that those are only slightly superior numbers and that this advantage is not as fixed as the stars but like all things in the affairs of men subject to change. Is the domination of one group of citizens with their own way of life and their own values by another group of citizens with a different way of life and different values the best outcome? Is that what liberty is for?

As the polling consistently demonstrates, this division is not about policy. It is about hatred.

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

26 Nov 2018

The WASP Elite and Its Unfortunate Replacement

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In the American Conservative, Robert W. Merry has a thoughtful essay contrasting the original American WASP elite with its contemporary successors.

Today we look back on that old elite, if we look back on it at all, as a relic of the distant past. But this development—the old elite’s slow loss of self-confidence after World War II and then its obliteration as a cultural force—represents a profound transformation in America’s social history. What emerged was a new country with a new elite.

In place of the old-school folkways and legends and values of the Anglo-Saxons, we have what is known as a meritocratic system dominated by a class of strivers who have managed to scope out the new system and rise to the top. …

[A]s far back as 1995, social commentator Christopher Lasch, in a book entitled The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy (published posthumously), excoriated what he called America’s “new aristocracy of brains.” He wrote: “There has always been a privileged class, even in America, but it has never been so dangerously isolated from its surroundings.” He foresaw an emerging chasm between the country’s new upper class and its great mass of citizens. “The new elites,” he wrote, “are in revolt against ‘Middle America,’ as they imagine it: a nation technologically backward, politically reactionary, repressive in its sexual morality, middlebrow in its tastes, smug and complacent, dull and dowdy.”…

America’s Anglo-Saxon elite both reflected and perpetuated Anglo-Saxon sensibilities on the Continent for some 300 years. And it did so as its proportion of the country’s population declined steadily throughout that period. Given that, [Benjamin] Schwarz [in “The Diversity Myth,” published in The Atlantic in 1995] suggests that the American elite’s ability to “dominate American cultural and political life for three centuries—…in fact define what it meant to be an American—is a remarkable achievement.” It was an achievement of cultural identity and pride.

It couldn’t last forever. The question was—and remains—why. Alsop speculated that a significant factor was the decline of Great Britain as a global power, which undermined a significant element of the elite’s sense of identity. He surmised that the “erosion of authority” that transformed American society in a host of ways in the 1960s (and later the 1970s) may have been a factor as well. But probably the largest contributor was demographics. America was becoming less and less an Anglo-Saxon country, and less and less did it look to its old elite for guidance and governance. New impulses, attitudes, and agendas—precisely what Theodore Roosevelt had warned against—were making their way into the American consciousness with more diverse waves of immigration, and these had a profound effect upon the nation. …

[In terms] of what’s going on in America today. Christopher Lasch got closer to the heart of it in The Revolt of the Elites. To Lasch the problem doesn’t reside simply in the distribution of wealth or income, although these are not insignificant. It goes much deeper, far into the civic consciousness of the elite and the nation at large. The destructive nature of the new elite, by his reckoning, touches on profound questions of who we are, where we are going as a nation and society, and how we reconcile our present with our past and our future.

Like Stewart, Lasch sees major civic problems festering in America under the new elite. He views many of them, though not all, as economic in nature. And he believes that the new elites, in pursuing their positions of economic and social privilege, have ignored the fate of those below. “Elites, who define the issues, have lost touch with the people,” he writes.

But he goes further, painting a picture of an elite that harbors little sentiment of noblesse oblige toward the common people; that has little regard for democratic ideals; that favors globalism over patriotism; that accepts assaults on free speech in the academy; that sneeringly assaults the national heritage and the foundations of Western thought; that promotes a politics of diversity and a preoccupation with “self-esteem” (tied to identity politics) to the detriment of civic harmony; that fosters civic rancor through its open borders advocacy; and that employs powerful weapon-words such as “racist,” “sexist,” and “xenophobic” to stifle debate on matters it wants handled out of established halls of discourse.

In short, Lasch portrays an elite that has cut itself off from its own nation and civilization. He invokes Jose Ortega y Gasset’s famous book from the 1930s, The Revolt of the Masses, written in the era of the Bolshevik Revolution and the rise of European fascism. Ortega saw the Western crisis of that time as a product of the “political domination of the masses…the spoiled child of human history.” Now the spoiled child, says Lasch, is the new elite.

“Today,” he writes, “it is the elites, however—those who control the international flow of money and information, preside over philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus set the terms of public debate—that have lost faith in the values, or what remains of them, of the West.” Indeed, he adds that for many of these people the very term “Western civilization” now “calls to mind an organized system of domination designed to enforce conformity to bourgeois values and to keep the victims of patriarchal oppression—women, children, homosexuals, people of color—in a permanent state of subjection.”

RTWT

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