Category Archive 'The Elite'
16 Apr 2024

Involuntary Cultural Change

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Ludwig von Langenmantel, Girolamo Savonarola Preaching Against Prodigality, 1879. St Bonaventure University.

Robin Hanson observes the magnitude of cultural change during the lifetimes of older people like myself and wonders aloud if the converso elites made sound decisions.

[W]hile as communities we are reluctant to change key institutions, and as individuals we are wary of letting other individuals change our values, as communities we perhaps surprisingly do not at all lock down our deep values. We instead freely, even with abandon, copy behaviors, beliefs, and values of all sorts from our prestigious associates. This allows cultural evolution, The Secret of Our Success relative to other animals.

For example, in my life I have seen a big increase in expected parental attention to kids, a switch from cornerstone to capstone marriage norms, lengthening of expected career preparation durations, great declines in religion, patriotism and militarism, far more acceptance of homo- and trans-sexuality, far stronger norms against sexist or racist language, and a merging of national cultures into a global culture, especially among elites.

These changes are quite shocking if you think about them. A system we rely on far more than our systems of units, voting, or times is changing very fast, and no one seems to be in charge, either of picking these changes ahead of time, or of evaluating them after the fact. In my essay Beware Cultural Drift I consider some stories trying to frame these as something better than maladaptive culture drift, but was not persuaded. The space of possible cultures should mostly be harsh and dysfunctional, where we started was functional due to strong selection centuries ago, yet our cultures really are wandering fast off into that vast space without a plan, map, or light.

Such changes are even more shocking to those of us old enough to remember when our culture told us to have different values than it tells us now. Neither set of values came with detailed justifications, and the arguments we are given now for recent value changes are ones we were aware of long ago, and rejected then. So do we just pretend to go along while secretly keeping our old values, abandon both the old and new values, or give the new values the benefit of the doubt, and assume our elites had good reasons for them, even if we can’t see them?

No real cause for wonder, I’d say. What we have here is one more of the periodic outbreaks of religious mass hysteria resembling the Byzantine Iconoclasm, Savonarola’s Bonfire of the Vanities, and the Puritan version of the English Reformation’s demolition of ecclesiastical art and ban on music and the celebration of Christmas.

Our misfortune, though, consists of the irresistible rise of not one, but two demented species of radical faith-based fanaticism.

On the one hand, we have a hypertrophied Egalitarianism that declines stopping at an obdurate, utterly inflexible denial of reality that insists on regarding that which is not equal as equal and then proceeds hysterically to the inversion of values by which the inferior is transformed into the privileged class owed a limitless debt of apology, homage, and reparation.

And, on the other hand, we have a spectacular recrudescence of the dualist Manichean heresy with Nature and the Environment envisioned as the Good and Humanity, especially all forms of human economic and productive activity as Evil. Nature is envisioned as perfect and self-regulating and unchanging. At this exact moment, every species is essential (Sorry, Darwin!) and any observable change, whether the increase or diminution of some critter’s range or population size is a disaster!, a tragedy! Any extreme or unusual weather; any long-term change in shorelines; ocean currents, or climate is all your fault and mine. Every human activity is violative somehow of that sublime natural order. Really, the best thing we could do is to go extinct ourselves.

Our elites subscribe overwhelmingly simultaneously to both of these crackpot ersatz religious cults and they are ruthlessly intolerant.

Practically, What have you to recommend? I answer at once, Nothing. The whole current of thought and feeling, the whole stream of human affairs, is setting with irresistible force in that direction. The old ways of living… are breaking down all over Europe, and are floating this way and that like haycocks in a flood. Nor do I see why any wise man should expend much thought or trouble on trying to save their wrecks. The waters are out and no human force can turn them back, but I do not see why as we go with the stream we need sing Hallelujah to the river god.”

— James FitzJames Stephen (1829-1894), Liberty, Equality, Fraternity, 1874.

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).


15 Aug 2022

The Community of Fashion’s Nightmare

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Former CIA Analyst Martin Gurri explains what the American Establishment, what Mencius Moldbug calls “The Cathedral,” is really afraid of.

There is a tremendous asymmetry in the alignment of ideological forces in this country. Politically, we are fractured: war-bands of every denomination prowl restlessly through a zone of perpetual conflict. Electorally, we are divided. Voting is binary: in practice, this means that the war-bands get artificially squeezed into one of two mega-tribes. On Election Day, we must choose one or the other—and, because of the dynamic among war-bands, any one of which can defect at any moment, majorities rest on a razor’s edge.

Culturally, however, we are monolithic. From the scientific establishment through the corporate boardroom all the way to Hollywood, elite keepers of our culture speak with a single, shrill voice—and the script always follows the dogmas of one particular war-band—the cult of identity—and the politics of one specific partisan flavor, that of progressive Democrats.

The imbalance between a divided nation and a monolithic culture warps our shared perception of reality. A potentially scandalous story about the son of the Democratic presidential candidate, though entirely true, can be smothered to death by Facebook, Twitter, and Google. On the other side, if you are a former Republican president, you can expect to get locked out of social media permanently, even though 74 million Americans voted for you.

These decisions don’t reflect a consensus of public opinion. None of us was polled on the proper informational treatment for Hunter Biden or Donald Trump. This was control at a far more elemental level—and only here, in the murky depths of truth and post-truth, can we discern the motive for this year’s meltdown over disinformation and its avatar, Musk. The elites, confronting what they believe to be a political tempest of biblical proportions, are terrified of losing their monopoly over culture as well.

Whether this will actually happen is beyond the reach of analysis: culture evolves in mysterious ways. But it may be useful to speculate on the matter. In this spirit, let me propose three strong countercurrents, already visible across the American landscape—that might, in time, threaten the cultural supremacy of the elites.

The first is the intrusion of the political into the cultural. Since conservatives and Republicans are politically strong but culturally nonexistent, they will flex their political muscle to try to right the imbalance. Virginia and Florida have banned the teaching of certain progressive doctrines in public schools. When Disney, Florida’s largest employer, vocally condemned these laws, the company was punished with the removal of local privileges. Should Republicans win Congress and the White House, I would expect American politics to experience a cultural Armageddon. The output of culture can’t be legislated on demand: otherwise, the Soviet Union would have been a golden age of creativity. But raw political power can make the cost of cultural monopoly—and of idle posturing, Disney-style—unpleasantly high.

A second threat to elite culture is the defection of the victim class. The cult of identity generates an insatiable demand for victim groups, which, by necessity, must become ever smaller and more marginal not only to the mainstream but also to traditional minorities. Even as the elites solidified their grip on culture, the focus of their performative outrage was drifting from civil rights and pocketbook issues to more esoteric questions of sexuality and climate justice. The new causes simply don’t resonate with Hispanics or blacks, whose socioeconomic interests lie in other directions. According to recent polls, significant numbers of both groups are threatening to abandon the Democratic Party.

Progressivism is essentially a protection racket. If the elites ever lose the undisputed right to shout “Racism!” at the producers of culture, the latter will begin to fracture like the rest of the country and to look to the marketplace, rather than ideology, for inspiration.

The last countercurrent may be the most potent of all: the internal churning and dispersal of populations spurred by the pandemic and the availability of remote work. The number of Americans moving from their home regions, a recent survey found, is at the highest level on record. Though conservative writers are quick to observe that this is predominantly a flight from Democratic-controlled states to Republican strongholds in the Sunbelt, the political implications strike me as unclear. Many of the newcomers, I’m guessing, will be Democrats.

Far more significant will be the impact on the culture. Migration is a powerful solvent. Millions of people are leaving home in pursuit of change. They wish to be reborn, reinvented, liberated from the dead hand of the past; pick your metaphor for personal transformation. Such sweeping tides of humanity have always exemplified the central tenet of the American creed: that we are not captives to fate. Each wave of immigrants will begin a strange new story. To tell it, the culture, too, must be reborn and reinvented—and the mold of progressive dogmatism will be shattered in the process.

An unexpected blow against the progressive hold on culture came on May 2, when an anonymous leaker within the Supreme Court made public Justice Samuel Alito’s draft decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and devolve the regulation of abortion to Congress and the states. By the time the formal ruling came down on June 24, traumatized elites seemed ready to repudiate the one branch of the federal government that they did not control. The Supreme Court had “burned whatever legitimacy they may still have had,” Senator Elizabeth Warren proclaimed. “They just took the last of it and set a torch to it.” Abortion on demand—an early victory over traditional culture—has become sacramental to the left, with Roe v. Wade as holy writ. If Republican governors can align with Republican-appointed justices to demolish this once-settled arrangement, then every facet of the culture will be up for grabs. Justice Alito’s opinion “is not just about a woman’s right to choose. It is about much more than that,” cautioned Hillary Clinton, after the draft leaked. “Once you allow this kind of extreme power to take hold, you have no idea who they will come for next.”

Are we on the cusp, then, of an anti-elite cultural revolution? I still wouldn’t bet on it. For obscure reasons of psychology, creative minds incline to radical politics. A kulturkampf directed from Tallahassee, Florida, or even Washington, D.C., won’t budge that reality much. The group portrait of American culture will continue to tilt left indefinitely.

But that’s not the question at hand. What terrifies elites is the loss of their cultural monopoly in the face of a foretold political disaster. They fear diversity of any kind, with good cause: to the extent that the public enjoys a variety of choices in cultural products, elite control will be proportionately diluted.


07 Jun 2022

America’s Been Sovietized

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Victor Davis Hanson marvels at just how Sovietized America and its elite commissariat class have become, and his diagnosis of what’s happened is perfectly right.

One day historians will look back at the period beginning with the COVID lockdowns of spring 2020 through the midterm elections of 2022 to understand how America for over two years lost its collective mind and turned into something unrecognizable and antithetical to its founding principles.

“Sovietization” is perhaps the best diagnosis of the pathology. It refers to the subordination of policy, expression, popular culture, and even thought to ideological mandates. Ultimately such regimentation destroys a state since dogma wars with and defeats meritocracy, creativity, and freedom.

Experts become sycophantic. They mortgage their experience and talent to ideology—to the point where society itself regresses.

The law is no longer blind and disinterested, but adjudicates indictment, prosecution, verdict, and punishment on the ideology of the accused. Eric Holder is held in contempt of Congress and smiles; Peter Navarro is held in contempt of Congress and is hauled off in cuffs and leg-irons. James Clapper and John Brennan lied under oath to Congress—and were rewarded with television contracts; Roger Stone did the same and a SWAT team showed up at his home. Andrew McCabe made false statements to federal investigators and was exempt. A set-up George Papadopoulos went to prison for a similar charge. So goes the new American commissariat.

Examine California and ask a series of simple questions.

Why does the state that formerly served as a model to the nation regarding transportation now suffer inferior freeways while its multibillion-dollar high-speed rail project remains an utter boondoggle and failure?

Why was its safe and critically needed last-remaining nuclear power plant scheduled for shutdown (and only recently reversed) as the state faced summer brownouts?

Why did its forests go up in smoke predictably each summer, as its timber industry and the century-old science of forest management all but disappeared from the state?

Why do the state’s criminals so often evade indictment, and if convicted are often not incarcerated—or are quickly paroled?

Why are its schools’ test scores dismal, its gasoline the nation’s highest-priced, and the streets of its major cities fetid and dangerous—in a fashion not true 50 years ago or elsewhere today?

In a word, the one-party state is Sovietized. Public policy is no longer empirical but subservient to green, diversity, equity, and inclusion dogmas—and detached from the reality of daily middle-class existence. Decline is ensured once ideology governs problem-solving rather than time-tested and successful policymaking.

Entire professions have now nearly been lost to radical progressive ideology. …

Do we remember those stellar economists who swore at a time of Biden’s vast government borrowing, increases in the monetary supply, incentivizing labor non-participation, and supply chain interruptions that there was no threat of inflation? Were they adherents of ideological “modern monetary theory”? Did they ignore their own training and experience in fealty to progressive creeds?


04 Dec 2021

Public Health Measures and Ideology

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How to Isolate the Virus.

In this outside-his-paywall-excerpt,Eugyppius argues that Coronavirus Containment has evolved into another ideological obsession of what Curtis Yarvin likes to call The Cathedral.

Many are fond of comparing Corona containment to fascism or communism, while others detect, behind the scenes, the agenda of the vapid globalists at the World Economic Forum or the United Nations. The broad phenomenon of Corona containment, it seems, can never be about the virus itself – it’s either a recurrent historical evil, or a Trojan horse for the fever dreams of Klaus Schwab. While I’d never dispute anyone’s polemical use of historical analogies, and I understand how hard it is to believe we have endured all of these absurdities because of a virus, I think it’s worth taking Corona containment seriously, as a developing ideology in its own right.

Containment is indeed overtly authoritarian, and perhaps that’s the only point that analogies to communism or fascism are trying to make. Nevertheless, these policies are not rooted in the hard authoritarianism of a Stalin or a Mussolini. Excepting the special case of China – special because it is where all of this came from – there is a markedly reduced enthusiasm for Corona restrictions beyond those places that proclaim themselves bastions of freedom and democracy. Most of the hardest-line Corona regimes are members in good standing of the liberal West, and they prefer the softer, distributed authoritarianism pioneered by liberal democracies.

The truth is that no other political system could have produced Corona containment, as we’ve experienced it. First-world democracies are anything but systems for channelling the will of the people. Instead, with the rise of mass media and mass society, they have become elaborate consensus-farming operations. Unique in history, they are governing systems that use mass media to call into being the phenomenon of public opinion, which is then shaped by a combination of propaganda and political participation into a tool of governance and consensus in its own right. The majority is thus first acclimated to the agenda of the state, and then deployed to enforce governmental directives and to repress dissidents, the non-compliant and, increasingly, even the disinterested. Corona containment is an obvious product of a system like this, depending as it does on widely distributed consensus policies that are enforced less by the police than by enthusiastic majorities deputised by journalists.

So, there is an authoritarianism here, but if we’re being pedantic, it’s of a different nature than the kind we tend to encounter in history books. It’s highly significant, and a sign of desperation, that Austria is contemplating brief prison terms for those who refuse vaccination. Austria would much prefer the soft authoritarianism it has used until now, and that most of our countries still prefer: ‘Nudge’ behavioural engineering, disingenuous media messaging, regulatory harassment, and directed public opprobrium. Taken together, these things are more insidious than blunter tactics like imprisonment; they take aim at your will and your soul, not merely your body.

What is the purpose of all this enforcement, then? While nothing any of our countries do is ever at any point about just one thing, for me the most parsimonious theory is still that the underlying, originating policies really are, at their core, about suppressing a virus. This doesn’t mean that the odious people running this circus are sincere, or that they have your best interests in mind. It’s very much the opposite.

29 Sep 2021

Is It Any Wonder That Ordinary People Are Losing Confidence in the Expertise of the Credentialed Elites?

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A typical exhibition of contemporary art at the Kunsten Museum of Modern Art, Aalborg, Denmark.

“‘Charles,’ said Cordelia, ‘Modern Art is all bosh, isn’t it?’

“‘Great bosh.’

–Evelyn Waugh, Brideshead Revisited, 1945.

Representatives of the international credentialed elite are in the natural order of things in charge of our cultural institutions. They are responsible for the custodianship and ongoing cultivation of the artistic heritage of our civilization.

John Ruskin observed: “Great nations write their autobiographies in three manuscripts, the book of their deeds, the book of their words and the book of their art. Not one of these books can be understood unless we read the two others, but of the three the only trustworthy one is the last.”

What does the above exhibition say about Denmark and Western Civilization in the current period?

This sort of thing, which we see everywhere all the time, is very much like a real world dramatization of the old fairy tale of The Emperor’s New Clothes. All the experts happily participate in the outrageous fraud simply because not one of them is courageous enough to defy the general consensus and speak the truth.

Consequently, it is impossible not to applaud the enterprising effrontery of “artist” Jens Haaning and the discomfiture of the Kunsten Museum.

A Danish museum lent an artist $84,000 for his work. He kept the cash and named the art ‘Take the Money and Run.’

When the staff at Kunsten Museum of Modern Art in ​​northern Denmark opened boxes last week from artist Jens Haaning, they expected to see pieces featuring the half-million kroner they lent him for the works of art, the director told a Danish radio show host.

Instead, the museum — which had commissioned Haaning to re-create two of his older pieces that were made with cash — found two empty frames.

The new name for the artwork: “Take the Money and Run.”

Now, the museum in ​​Aalborg, Denmark, is accusing him of breaking their legal agreement and demanding the artist return the 534,000 kroner, the equivalent of over $84,000.

“The work is that I have taken their money,” Haaning said in an interview with Danish radio show “P1 Morgen.”

The 56-year-old resident of Copenhagen gained popularity in the 1990s. He is known for using art as commentary on money, power and marginalized groups, according to the Faurschou Foundation, a Copenhagen-based art museum.

Haaning’s pieces were meant to be part of a new exhibition at the Kunsten Museum about the labor market entitled “Work It Out.” Running from through Jan. 16, the exhibit features new and existing works from about 20 artists and occupies the majority of the museum.

The museum asked Haaning to re-create his works from 2007 and 2010, which were visual representations of the average annual income for Austrians and Danes, respectively, by displaying the sum in bills affixed to a canvas.

The museum paid him 25,000 kroner — about $3,900 — Haaning told “P1 Morgen,” in addition to fronting the money that would be displayed in the two pieces. But when he realized it would cost him 25,000 kroner alone to fund the project, he decided to change his plans.

“Why do I not make a work that is about my own work situation?” he said.

He said he believes the new artworks are an apt representation of the museum’s exhibit and encourages others to reexamine their work conditions.

Lasse Andersson, the museum director, agrees that Haaning’s work is appropriate for collection but stipulated that his decision to take the money for himself violates their legal agreement.

“I want to give Jens absolutely the right that a work has been created in its own right, which actually comments on the exhibition we have,” Andersson told “P1 Morgen.” “But that is not the agreement we had.”

But Haaning is standing strong, noting that his decision is what makes the empty frames works of art.

“It’s not theft,” Haaning said. “It is a breach of contract, and breach of contract is part of the work.”


Would you lend this loser money?

“Jens Haaning (b. 1965) has from the outset of his artistic career been politically engaged. Back in the 1990s he was one of those who turned the focus on outsiders in Danish society. Many of his works take their starting point in marginalized groups, and through these he investigates intolerance and the condition of being alien or different. Haaning works with the meanings inherent in our language and the way we commu­nicate visually, and he often makes use of a simple but precise device to deal with complex situations. His works range from the visibly political as in ‘Weapon pro­duction’ (1995) to the more minimalistic, site-specific exchanging of light bulbs between a street in Kassel and one in Hanoi, ‘Kassel-Hanoi (Light bulb exchange)’ (2002). ‘Danmark, Denmark’ (2005) consists of the text “Denmark” written in large black capitals on the wall of the gallery. The first time the work was exhibited in Denmark in 2005, it aroused a sensation because the Danish political debate at the time was coloured by strong resistance to giving residence permits to immigrants and refugees in Denmark. Haaning’s work gets to grips with this debate, turning the focus, black on white, on concepts like nationalism and the fear of the foreign.”

01 Aug 2021


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Kurt Schichter has a terrific rant.

Let’s try a thought experiment. Let’s imagine our ruling class was not as utterly corrupt, dishonest, incompetent and downright stupid as it manifestly is. I know that’s hard, but go with me.

This weird new virus appears and starts spreading. Instead of leveraging it to take down Trump, the Democrats appear with the Republican president and GOP leadership to announce they are working together to solve the problem. Imagine that instead of shaming people, first about wearing masks, then about not wearing masks, then about not wearing two masks, then no masks, then masks again, they went with transparency.

“We are not sure how much, if at all, masks work. We’re running test trials to see and we’ll tell you what we find as soon as we have the data. In the meantime, let’s all wear them just in case.” And then, when they ran the studies, they would tell us the answer.

Have you seen any studies about masks? We get a lot of that fascist gnome and others telling us to wear masks (after initially telling us they were useless – remember that memory-holed narrative?) but where’s the actual science?

See, you have to believe the science, and believe them when they tell you what it is yet won’t show you. Obey!

But trust is earned, and these people act like it is their right to have our trust, that we owe them to take it on faith that whatever these people say is the Gospel. Except they are wrong all the time, and instead of owning up to it, they treat you like some sort of idiot for noticing. When you don’t trust people who are perpetually wrong, that’s not denying science. That is science – you are making observations, and drawing reasonable conclusions. In this case, the observation is that our establishment sucks, and that it can’t be trusted.

How far would a little humility gone? Very far. Imagine, and this will be hard, these masterminds getting up and saying, “America, we were wrong about something. We thought it was right, but we tested it and we found we were not right. Here is the data, and now that we have better information, we are changing our recommendation.”

What would we say? “Oh, okay. They were doing the best they can and being straight with us. People make mistakes. We need to learn from them. After all, it’s been a century since the last pandemic so we have a lot of lessons to re-learn. Let’s move forward.”

But no. No, there’s no humility. They make a mistake and they don’t stand up and admit it. Instead, they just change the narrative and act as if the narrative du jour was always the narrative. Oceania has always been at war with Eastasia. But we’re not blind or stupid for noticing.

They tell us the vaccine is going to make us immune from COVID. Then it turns out you can still get it, just not as bad. Yet when people notice this 180-degree spin, the smart set shrieks like Donald Sutherland at the end of Invasion of the Body Snatchers.

Just imagine if they had been honest and forthright. But that was not in the cards. The ruling caste’s conceit is that we are idiots, unable and unworthy to make simple decisions for ourselves. We must be guided, nudged, or intimidated, if necessary, into making the right choice. And we do not deserve explanations, because the last thing our elite wants is accountability.

Instead, they want unlimited power. Look at their arbitrary emergency rules and regulations. You could go to a strip club but not a church. Huh? And the courts, again, let us down initially by not enforcing the Constitution. It was an emergency, after all, and as we all know, in an emergency you need to rule by decree, say our betters. So, we got to watch idiots walking around in the sunshine with mouth thongs on while cops busted mommies for letting little Billy play on the slide. At no time did most of the establishment reconsider or change. No, it doubled down on failure. Yet we’re supposed to trust it?


07 Feb 2021

A Liberal’s Response to Rural Kindness

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The snow was too deep for Cadet our basset hound.

Our first winter in our Virginia home atop the Blue Ridge, the heavens opened and it snowed two feet. I had inherited an old John Deere riding mower from the previous owners that could have a plow blade mounted on front, but that little garden tractor could not remotely handle that magnitude of snow.

My wife and I were already no longer young, and our driveway was long. We were wondering how long we’d be trapped when we heard noises outside. A neighbor, from a long way down the road, owned a Bobcat, and he was digging out everybody along Raven Rocks Road.

That kind of thing is both extraordinary and yet typical of life in rural America. Our neighbor had the right tool for the job and he knew perfectly well that almost nobody else was similarly equipped. He knew, too, that we were a long way from town, and the chances of anybody obtaining professional assistance were slim. So he just went down the whole road and dug everybody out.

I ran out and offered money, and he naturally refused. A few days later, I went to his house and dropped off a pretty good bottle of Bourbon.

One of the really nice things about living in the country, in red state, fly-over America is that people are neighborly. They believe in helping out other people who need a hand, and they regard it as their own responsibility to do that, not somebody else’s or the government’s.

So, try reading this piece on a similar experience had by Virginia Heffernan (Wikipedia profile) for the LA Times:

Oh, heck no. The Trumpites next door to our pandemic getaway, who seem as devoted to the ex-president as you can get without being Q fans, just plowed our driveway without being asked and did a great job.

How am I going to resist demands for unity in the face of this act of aggressive niceness?

Of course, on some level, I realize I owe them thanks — and, man, it really looks like the guy back-dragged the driveway like a pro — but how much thanks?

These neighbors are staunch partisans of blue lives, and there aren’t a lot of anything other than white lives in neighborhood.

This is also kind of weird. Back in the city, people don’t sweep other people’s walkways for nothing. …

What do we do about the Trumpites around us? Like Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.), who spoke eloquently this week about her terrifying experience during the insurrection at the Capitol on Jan. 6, Americans are expected to forgive and forget before we’ve even stitched up our wounds. Or gotten our vaccines against the pandemic that former President Trump utterly failed to mitigate.

My neighbors supported a man who showed near-murderous contempt for the majority of Americans. They kept him in business with their support.

But the plowing.

On Jan. 6, after the insurrection, Sen. Ben Sasse (R-Neb.) issued an aw-shucks plea for all Americans to love their neighbors. The United States, he said, “isn’t Hatfields and McCoys, this blood feud forever.” And, he added, “You can’t hate someone who shovels your driveway.”

At the time, I seethed; the Capitol had just been desecrated. But maybe my neighbor heard Sasse and was determined to make a bid for reconciliation.

So here’s my response to my plowed driveway, for now. Politely, but not profusely, I’ll acknowledge the Sassian move. With a wave and a thanks, a minimal start on building back trust. I’m not ready to knock on the door with a covered dish yet.

I also can’t give my neighbors absolution; it’s not mine to give. Free driveway work, as nice as it is, is just not the same currency as justice and truth. To pretend it is would be to lie, and they probably aren’t looking for absolution anyway.

But I can offer a standing invitation to make amends. Not with a snowplow but by recognizing the truth about the Trump administration and, more important, by working for justice for all those whom the administration harmed. Only when we work shoulder to shoulder to repair the damage of the last four years will we even begin to dig out of this storm.

That neighbor ought to go right out and plow this arrogant liberal cow back in.

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.



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.


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.


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.


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.

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