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  • Brooding

    Posted by Lexington Green on August 4th, 2010 (All posts by )

    This is a conundrum I have been brooding about.

    Why does the Ruling Class, using Codevilla’s term, have such strong cultural confidence?

    And what can we do to undermine it?

    If I had to pick an ultimate target for activism and action by Conservatives, Libertarians, Tea Partiers, and common-sense Conservatives, it would be strengthening to diamond-hardness the cultural confidence of those who believe in the American way of life –free enterprise, limited government, personal freedom — and nuking out the foundations of the cultural confidence of our opponents. That is, long term, the most important thing. Many things in the short and medium term have to come first, but that is the long term goal.

    John Boyd said that war is waged on the material, intellectual and moral plane, and the moral plane is the the most important.

    Winning elections would be the material plane, winning arguments among people who read about and care about policy would be the intellectual plane, but getting people to be proud of the American way of life, and making its enemies embarrassed and ashamed to hold their views and to come to despise and mock their own signs and symbols of class solidarity, that would be bringing the conflict to a victorious conclusion on the moral plane.

    We want to do all three. And they are interactive and feed back on each other.

    But I go back to my initial question. Why does an elite that is actually not admirable in what it does, and not effective or productive, that has added little or nothing of value to the civilizational stock, that cannot possibly do the things it claims it can do, that services rent-seekers and the well-connected, that believes in an incoherent mishmash of politically correct platitudes, that is parasitic, have such an elevated view of itself?

    The old British aristocracy could at least truthfully say that they had physical courage and patriotism and cared for their shires and neighborhoods and served for free as justices of the peace. The old French aristocracy could at least truthfully say that had refinement and manners and a love for art and literature and sophistication and beautiful things. The old Yankee elite could truthfully say that it was enterprising and public spirited and willing to rough it and do hard work when necessary. This lot have little or nothing to be proud of, but they are arrogant as Hell.

    Why aren’t these people laughed out of the room? (This is a start.)

    Why are people who should know better so desperate to be accepted by this self-appointed ruling class?

    It seems to me this group is vulnerable to strategic, permanent defeat if the conversation and the spot-light can be relentlessly focused on their deficiencies and the ludicrous nature of much of their behavior and their beliefs.

    What concrete steps can be taken to do this? Your comments are solicited.

    UPDATE

    Instapundit linked, which is nice, and put up a link to his own earlier post on this same topic, which you should read.

    UPDATE II

    This has generated an exceptionally good set of comments. Fist bumps and back-slaps to all participants. Bravo.

    I will note that the Codevilla article made a point that struck me but that few people seem to be picking up on. This ruling class is not just made of people on the Left. it is also made up of people in business and finance who benefit from the regulatory apparatus and the rent-seeking that enriches them.

    On this note, see the excellent article by Luigi Zinagales, Capitalism After the Crisis:

    The finance sector’s increasing concentration and growing political muscle have undermined the traditional American understanding of the difference between free markets and big business. This means not only that the interests of finance now dominate the economic understanding of policymakers, but also — and perhaps more important — that the public’s perception of the economic system’s legitimacy is at risk.

    RTWT.

    These people have a veneer of SWPLish respectability and are sure to claim to be socially liberal in any social setting, and to have disdain for the vast unwashed herd of stoopid Americans clinging to God and guns. Nonetheless, this new oligarchy is not ultimately ideological in nature. The foundation of this oligarchy is access to government power and money, either directly and indirectly, and crushing out any parts of the society or the economy that exist on any other basis. It’s ideology is more of a class-marker or fraternity handshake, as well as a superficial justification for money- and power-grabs.

    The hardcore Lefty idealogues are not the major players, but are simply useful idiots, to use Lenin’s phrase. Some of them are even starting to realize that Obama’s program is about rent-seeking and incumbent protection, and handing out favors and power, and not really about putting in any kind of a coherent Lefty program at all. Last Fall you knew that Obamacare was going to pass because Pharma and Insurance stocks rallied. The lobbyists won, as usual, and we end up with the worst of all possible worlds.

    I confess it surprised me that even someone I always considered to be a complete dolt like Naomi Klein seems to be kinda sorta getting it. I thought Obama’s Kool-Aid caused permanent brain damage, but I guess to some Lefties it is only a temporary drug. If even Leftists of (reasonably) good will are coming to realize that Obama’s program is pure Cook County hackery on a galactic scale, and is not good for normal people, that is surely a positive sign.

    UPDATE IV: Very cool. This post got a favorable response from Mark Levin, on his show on August 5, 2010. He starts the discussion about this post at about 39:40. Thanks to Mark Levin.

     

    125 Responses to “Brooding”

    1. Jim Bennett Says:

      All noblesse and no oblige.

      I suspect the short answer is because they see themselves as the enlightened bringing the new world to the ignorant and superstitious. Is further explanation needed? All minor personal flaws are forgiven if they are on the side of the New Order.

    2. onparkstreet Says:

      This is a very good question. And I don’t know the answer. Popular and academic culture re-enforcing the self-confidence of class?

      I think it is partially aspirational. As a child growing up with immigrant parents, I was not especially political. I aspired to be “truly American,” however and to be what I thought was sophisticated. Being sophisticated meant having a certain kind of job, dressing a certain way, speaking a certain way, and thinking certain things. I looked at the images in society around me, the way they were perceived, and thought that to be a sophisticated person meant certain habits.

      (I notice that almost all the female physicians I know have sort of similar tastes – platinum wedding bands, little diamond stud earrings, a fair amount of fitted black clothes and groomed eyebrows, and sometimes wearing strings of pearls. And now you add voting for a certain party to all of that. You are educated, you are “classy,” you’ve made it, baby.

      Dunno. That might be all wrong.)

      - Madhu

      [Not all wrong. The fact that very important moral and political questions are determined for many people as simply lifestyle accessories, fashionable poses, driven largely be fear of not fitting in with the perceived successful people, is a big part of the problem. I would argue with friends about Obama, and their main response was an almost physical embarrassment that I would take a position that was so vulgar, so at odds with what was simply the done thing to do by every educated person. It was all about class and not about content. You are on the right track. Lex]

    3. Mrs. Davis Says:

      They have the best grades and recommendations from the best schools which have led them to election to the highest positions in the land. Clearly they are the most meretricious members of our meritocracy. The end will come as the higher ed bubble explodes and the New Scholastics are seen as having led us into error and ruin. They know it all, as did Cotton Mather.

      [Amusing, piquant, and I am sure intentional, misuse of the word meretricious -- Lex]

    4. zenpundit Says:

      “The old British aristocracy could at least truthfully say that they had physical courage and patriotism and cared for their shires and neighborhoods and served for free as justices of the peace. The old French aristocracy could at least truthfully say that had refinement and manners and a love for art and literature and sophistication and beautiful things. The old Yankee elite could truthfully say that it was enterprising and public spirited and willing to rough it and do hard work when necessary. This lot have little or nothing to be proud of, but they are arrogant as Hell”

      Winner paragraph.

    5. Anonymous Says:

      The Devil always has confidence…

      ["The best lack all conviction, while the worst / Are full of passionate intensity". This is a perennial problem. Lex]

    6. Whitby42 Says:

      The operative comment here points to the prospect of exposing the inadequacies of the Ruling Class through as many media channels as are available. At a personal and accomplishment level they truly are pathetic. Exposure of their incompetence could begin the erosion of their own confidence and perhaps they would either take their spoils and run (good for the polity) or actually listen to their constituents (the 53% who actually pay taxes to fund this gravy train – also good). It’s certainly worth a try…

    7. Roger L. Simon Says:

      Some excellent “brooding.”

      I would suggest, however, that they are not nearly as confident in their “cultural confidence” as it would seem. And the world is slowly turning against them. Want to speed things up on the cultural front. Create art with a different world view. Don’t cede this to them..

    8. Anonymous Says:

      The modern political class has been told from infancy how awesome it is. What we should be doing is to make sure America realizes that their awesomeness is highly overrated. We don’t have to undermine their confidence directly (at this point that pathology is probably incurable), but we do need to make sure the rest of the population isn’t impressed with all their poli-sci wankery.

      Mockery, open, brutal mockery, is surely the best method. The emperor is naked with the exception of over-sized shoes and foam-ball nose. We’ve just got to point it out. And maybe provide a small car to pack ‘em in to.

      When we hit them, our betters will use their worn-out standards: mock anger, feigned outrage, hysterical fear mongering, and cynical race baiting, while we overwhelm them with the full arsenal of mockery, ridicule, wit (both high and low), dirty limericks, and even that lowest form of humor, the pun. That the new ruling class makes our comedic attacks so easy is a bonus. That our mockery will make them thrash about even more will be hilarious.

      I don’t mean to dismiss the danger that this ruling culture poses. If left to their own devices their policies and attitudes will completely destroy this country. But with every bad policy pursued, every nonsensical idea espoused, every disastrous near-sighted regulation imposed, the media-political complex exposes itself.

      And what does it expose? That its members lust for power. That they are petty. That they are immature. That they are incompetent. Most of all, the actions of this new elite illustrate that it’s made up of deeply silly people.

      The ruling class sees itself as the enlightened head and mouth of the body politic, when, in reality, it acts more like a spastic colon at the end of a three-day whiskey and chili binge.

      The more we point this out, the faster the public at large will realize how unworthy these people are for the positions of power they’ve been given.

    9. Captian Mojo Says:

      And for the record, I am responsible for that spastic colon metaphor…

    10. david foster Says:

      It’s not always that easy to define who is and isn’t a member of Codevilla’s class. Take someone who has a couple of Ivy League degrees but has been successful in a variety of competitive businesses…and is now a Fortune 50 CEO. Is he a member of the “ruling class” because of his credentials & connections? Or is he a non-member because of his career in doing highly-productive work?

    11. Lexington Green Says:

      David, I want to get to the point where that guy will preemptively insist that he is not one of them.

    12. Lexington Green Says:

      Captain, you’re beautiful, baby. And you are so awesomely correct about mockery as the water that will melt the witch into a puddle of goo.

    13. Bill Wyatt Says:

      A few suggestions, in no particular order:

      1. Undermine utopia and defang the “isms.” Our elite lives in a dream world subsidized by our tax dollars and enforced by law. That world, based on an ideal of substantive equality guided by them, must be shattered. Not only can’t we afford the subsidies or the enforcers any longer, we can’t afford the illusions. We aren’t all equal, and we can’t be made equal. Instead, our ideal is equality before the law and the freedom of individual action that flows from it. We and our fellow citizens must regain the ability to say so, out loud and unembarassed.

      2. Use political power to limit political power. The current unrest will accomplish nothing without a few clear political goals. The most important should be restoring the private sphere by establishing firm and enforceable limits to the public/political one (along with making the latter more electorally responsive, and limiting its powers to tax and spend). Restoring the private sphere means restoring freedom of association. A little appreciated aspect of affirmative action and “diversity” is how it has established a legally enforceable quota of leftists in every important private institution (the legally-defined “diverse” being reliably and disproportionately leftist). This makes it difficult for strong politically countervailing private institutions to develop.

      3. Retake a significant foothold in both media and the academy. A long term project to be sure, but these institutions are key to affecting the transmission of cultural memes and attitudes. That The Washington Post Company was unwilling to sell Newsweek to a buyer it considered “too conservative” shows how much the current elite appreciates this fact.

      4. Success attracts followers. Compare Chris Christie or Ronald Reagan to the Republican congresses of 1994-2006. The policies of the past two years (under both the Bush and the Obama administrations) failed at everything other than preserving the status quo. As Christie has been demonstrating, talking plain sense to people and following through is both effective and leads to better outcomes. We have to build on this.

    14. Michael Kennedy Says:

      The education bubble will do some of it by rocking their confidence in the institutions they have committed their lives to.

      Living in California, I probably haven’t been exposed to the full force of their self obsession but I have run into them a few times. I think it is a New York phenomenon. Times are changing. Reagan had a casual confidence that couldn’t be shaken. If only he had had someone else as VP. Maybe Jack Kemp. Then, the forces of equilibration would have overcome the self satisfaction. George HW Bush actually was one of those Yankees who fought our wars from the front and not from the War Production Board. Still, he was not the one to carry on Reagan’s legacy. He never believed in it anyway.

    15. renminbi Says:

      Keep addressing issues in a serious way as this blog does. When they call you racist, laugh them off the field. Point out their hypocrisy (Gore, Edwards, BO etc. Their own propaganda organs are BORING.

    16. Joseph Fouche Says:

      They’ll run out of snappy one liners before we run out of bullets.

      [JF, thanks for the response. Good stuff as always. Lex]

    17. T. Greer Says:

      Why does the elite exclude such strong cultural confidence? Perhaps this is the wrong question. I would ask, “why doesn’t everyone else?”

      Asabiyah. It is a term the author of this post has heard before, but for those new to it, read this. It comes down to asabiyah. The elites have it – no one else does. The decline of American social capital is well documented. Less remarked upon is the differing rate of decline among various classes. While I have no empirical evidence to prove it (not that such could not be found, given a few days of research), I suspect that America’s oligarchy is quite a bit more cohesive than the rest of American society. They possess the same cultural mores, attend the same social functions, and dwell within close circles. The tale of the modern American man has been one of growing isolation and extreme individualism. This does not hold true for the elite.

      I am reminded of the following words of John Derbyshire’s:

      Perhaps we can glimpse there the trajectory of American history from the beginning of this nation to its end. First, for ninety years, we were a loose federation of states or regions, with an occasional awareness of being under a single Constitution. Then, for a hundred years, we were a modern-style nation, a true Union, under firm, though not overly intrusive, central control. Then, for a further few decades—less than six, if my 2022 target is accurate—we suffered a sort of paradoxical phase where we were encouraged to think of ourselves not as a nation, but as a collection of group identities, each wandering off in a different cultural direction, with its own heroes, history, churches, movies, TV programs, and music—the paradox being that central government control and expenditure was swelling mightily all the time.

      That hits things on the head, doesn’t? American society has fractured along a thousand lines and one splinter has emerged on top of the rest. Why shouldn’t they have cultural confidence? They rule the world – and that without trying. That without the support or help of the thousand squabbling identities below them. What else should we expect from the best and brightest of America’s first entitled generation?

    18. david foster Says:

      One point I think is very important: the problem is *not* that there are “elites”…every society must have elites. The problem is rather than multiple ladders to success are being consolidated into a single ladder, with access tightly controlled by credentials.

    19. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Take someone who has a couple of Ivy League degrees but has been successful in a variety of competitive businesses…and is now a Fortune 50 CEO. Is he a member of the “ruling class” because of his credentials & connections?

      I’m pretty sure T. J. Rodgers is not a member of the ruling class. Yet.

    20. Hal Says:

      “This lot have little or nothing to be proud of, but they are arrogant as Hell.”

      Spoiled children, no more, no less.

    21. david foster Says:

      Mrs Davis…I think T J has probably disqualified himself for the Inner Circle by making too many iconoclastic statements.

    22. Charlie Says:

      A big help is reading what Arnold Mitchell had to say about the emerging Societally Conscious (as he named it) group in his 1984 book The Nine American Lifestyles (buy from Amazon for a buck or less). He gives a psychographic portrait of them, strengths and weaknesses, and there are plenty of weaknesses including their mandarin work ethic, sense of moral/intellectual entitlement and their disdain for all things middle class.

      [Charlie: Thanks for the tip. I bought one. Lex]

    23. nofreelunch Says:

      Our problems stem from the 535 members of the House and Senate. Stay focused on them. You know what to do, starting in November.

    24. Sgt. Mom Says:

      I’m for the brutal mockery, myself – although I am trying in my own small way to revitalize popular culture with my novels: I don’t pound away on bedrock American values in an obvious way – but decency, honor, devotion to family, and responsibly building a business all are woven through the Adelsverein Trilogy.
      Every little bit helps.

    25. RKV Says:

      Teach your friends and family to shoot guns. I am serious. The values associated with martial pursuits are completely at odds with with notions of the self-appointed ruling class. It’s fun for it’s own sake and the idea that average joes aren’t dependent of the “class” and their employees for protection makes the corporatists/statists wet their panties. The founders placed their trust in the people, and insured that they stayed empowered with the 2nd Amendment. If you don’t know how to shoot, get trained. The NYT did a great job recruiting for the Appleseed project the other day btw. There are many other alternatives.

      It is my sincere hope that the knowledge that Codevilla’s country class is ready and willing to defend itself will prevent the need for more serious “out of doors political activity” as we work to restore the constitution over time.

    26. PeterM Says:

      Before developing strategies for dealing with the “Ruling Class,” it might be good for conservatives and libertarians to do some house cleaning first.

      In the 1960s and ’70s the liberal intellectual establishment sent a Trojan Horse into the conservative/libertarian world and out came the Straussians and neocons.

    27. ErikZ Says:

      Because the sheer amount of laws and regulations have overwhelmed the average citizen.

      So you turn to the people in charge.

      Greatly reduce the size and power of government and people will stop caring about “The ruling class”, because their power will be greatly diminished.

      At this point, I don’t believe it’s possible to reduce the size and power of the government without a revolution.

    28. Mark in Texas Says:

      What can you do personally to heap ridicule on the ruling class?

      Give a copy of “Stuff White People Like” to everybody you know. Give it to everybody for Christmas.

      Post this picture of Matt Yglesias in every discussion of Yglesias, JournoList, Harvard graduates or the ruling class.

    29. Dave Says:

      The left has, for a long time, argued that their policies are moral because they’re helping “the little guy” or “the children”. This moral argument gives them a lot of confidence that they are doing “the right thing”.

      It’s long past time for those who do not favor government solutions to point out that morality only has meaning when applied to the individual. Without a free choice, the individual cannot act morally and by denying this free choice, government is destroying the benefits of acting morally (e.g. inspiring others to act in the same way, impressing on the recipient of assistance the value of that assistance, etc).

      This is not a silver bullet argument, but it goes right to the foundation of the left’s argument for government solutions.

    30. david foster Says:

      I think the core of the problem is what has happened to the universities. Vast expansion in enrollment has sucked in many professors/instructors who have no true vocation for teaching and research, much as the dot-com boom led to people becoming CEOs of substantial companies who really shouldn’t have been running a lemonade stand. This has led to the politicization and trivialization of much teaching, at the same time that increasingly-extravagant claims were being made for the value of the credentials resulting from such teaching.

      These thoughts partly inspired by Grerp’s post about what she learned in college.

    31. Robert Burnham Says:

      There’s a phrase to use every time “unexpected” results come from one of their idiot schemes: “Book-smart, life-dumb.”

    32. Johnnie Garner Says:

      The problems originated in philosophy.

      I know that the Progressive attitude is rooted in the writings of Kant, Hegel, Marx, and their followers. Functionally, Progressives end up emulating psychosis because they simply do not believe in facts as we know them. Most American do believe in facts. There is a lot of philosophic garbage Progressives use to explain away this disregard of facts. I have taken the trouble to debunk them on purely theoretical grounds, because it is there that base their “intellectual” confidence. These are their roots. I am trying to figure out how to best communicate all this, but have not yet made up my mind how.

      The one other key point about Progressives: If you look carefully through their writings, it is clear they do not see the individual as such possessing any dignity or value. For them, goodness or meaning only occurs as a goal of their political totalitarianism. Since there is no firm definition of good on an individual basis, individuals, in their minds, may be crushed for any political convenience. Truly, this disregard for human life we would recognize in a personal trait would mark that person as a pyschopath or sociopath. Is it any wonder that in the 20th century we encountered Hitler, Stalin, Mao, and a host of other murderers?

      We need new philsophy, both about knowing and about what is right. Most Americans know that there is something right about us and the meaning we can find in our own lives. Again, however, a technical development of ethics is needed. I think I have taken some good first steps, but again, I wonder how to communicate it.

      One the intellectual and moral foundations of Progressives are properly challenged with adequate philosophical alternatives, the Progressives will begin to melt.

      Johnnie Garner

    33. Foseti Says:

      What matters to the modern aristocrat is not results but “caring.”

      “Doing something” is a that one cares.

      Therefore, when they do stuff, they feel good about themselves.

      And the cycle repeats.

    34. Bruno Behrend Says:

      “the Devil always has confidence.”

      THAT’S one of the most important comments here. If true, we need to understand exactly what it takes to defeat that phenomena, and we often leave our most powerful weapon at home – our faith.

      Pardon me for going religious on you, but the Devil is powerless against a powerful, faith-based knowledge that we are right, and that we are on a “mission from God” to make this world a better place.

      The “confidence” of the ruling class stems from their having mostly succeeded in a) destroying faith, and b) getting those who still have it too afraid to wield it.

      Just FYI, even the most secular among freedom lovers have faith in the culture that supports us. This need not be 100% religious, but can work with a strong dose of knowing we are right.

      There is some passage in one of the books of the Bible that essentially says, “Don’t be afraid to proclaim your faith, don’t be afraid of what to say. Proclaim, and the Holy Spirit will tell you what to say.”

      Lastly…

      11 On hearing the Philistine’s words, Saul and all the Israelites were dismayed and terrified.

      12 Now David was the son of an Ephrathite named Jesse, who was from Bethlehem in Judah. Jesse had eight sons, and in Saul’s time he was old and well advanced in years.

      13 Jesse’s three oldest sons had followed Saul to the war: The firstborn was Eliab; the second, Abinadab; and the third, Shammah.

      14 David was the youngest. The three oldest followed Saul,…

      26 David asked the men standing near him, “What will be done for the man who kills this Philistine and removes this disgrace from Israel? Who is this uncircumcised Philistine that he should defy the armies of the living God?”…

      32 David said to Saul, “Let no one lose heart on account of this Philistine; your servant will go and fight him.”

      33 Saul replied, “You are not able to go out against this Philistine and fight him; you are only a boy, and he has been a fighting man from his youth.”

      34 But David said to Saul, “Your servant has been keeping his father’s sheep. When a lion or a bear came and carried off a sheep from the flock,

      35 I went after it, struck it and rescued the sheep from its mouth. When it turned on me, I seized it by its hair, struck it and killed it.

      36 Your servant has killed both the lion and the bear; this uncircumcised Philistine will be like one of them, because he has defied the armies of the living God.

      All we have to do is stand up. They can’t win.

    35. Lexington Green Says:

      Bruno, thanks.

      As the great Fr. Rocky Hoffman says: Faith is a force multiplier.

    36. Mark Buehner Says:

      The cult of Ivy League education.

    37. Weisshaupt Says:

      Liberals suffer from an inability to feel empathy or shame.
      Empathy for a liberal is “feeling for others” – literally. They substitute their feelings for the feelings of others. After all, if you don’t feel the way they do, you be.

      No matter how many times you show them that their actions on based on bullying and herd mentality, no matter how many times you prove them factually wrong and show their reasoning to be fallacious,no matter how many times you show them that they can’t even defend thier own positions, and are incapable of responding to the positions of others, they will always dismiss you.. because you aren’t “cool.” Fundamentally, these people never left highschool, and they still follow and worship this crowd as the “popular kids” – and you have as much chance of convincing them these popular kids are ignorant, arrogant jerks as your Mom and Dad did when you were in high school. The Liberal elite act as “mean girls”- The movie “Heathers” is instructive in this regard.

      They are fundametally protecting their ego and their alibi as described by Eric Hoffer in the “True Believer”- and there is nothing you can offer them that will be enticing compared to that – they would far rather be happy than right.

    38. rasqual Says:

      Ever notice how public schools have lots of classes dealing with federal government (we should really call it national government nowadays), but so few asserting the importance of literacy with one’s own state and local government.

      That’s an artifact of a national (there’s that word again) market for textbooks, in part, I’d suppose. Textbook makers don’t wish to descend from their economies of scale to micro-publish more substantially than their meager tip o’ the hat to state governments.

      The upshot is that generations, now, see important government as a distant and elevated thing, and its operators as elevated and untouchable Beings.

      Would that schools would again acquaint youth with just how accessible the most important government leaders are to them (down the street or in the next town, or a hundred miles away at the statehouse).

      Would that we could shrink the national government to a federal government that respected its enumerated powers — a government kids could yawn about instead of being cowed by.

      It’s a tragedy that the curriculum makes kids feel small against something so Wonderful and Powerful.

      The damage will take generations to undo. Until we have 50 experiments in democracy again, instead of just one, it’s going to suck.

    39. S Says:

      As ‘ordinary’ Americans are feeling as disenfranchised as ever, powerless to protect and defend themselves against a government that sees itself as omnipotent and all-knowing, attitudes toward the ‘ruling class’ will harden, are hardening. Every law passed without broad popular support, every bailout designed to reward failure, every dollar spent with the bill being sent to our childern and grandchildren, every proposition voted upon and overruled by the courts, every political newcomer or anti-establishment candidate ridiculed or smeared as racist, every ‘monument to tolerance’ insensitively erected, will erode the ‘moral plane’ upon which our ‘ruling class’ now rests.

      We have allowed ourselves to be treated as ignorant children but we are quickly growing into snarky, rebellious teenager who would love nothing better that to ‘stick it to the man’ in DC.

      Laugh at the ruling class, mock them, challenge them. See how quickly the bullies run from the playground.

    40. Tom Paine Says:

      Support Sarah Palin. She mocks them constantly, outmaneuvers them routinely, and doesn’t give a damn about their cutesy-poo verbal tricks. She is the ultimate self-made outsider.

      That terrifies them and they hate her for it. In fact, it can be a litmus test. I.e. If you hate Sarah Palin, YOU are a member (or dupe) of the Ruling Class.

    41. Christopher Chantrill Says:

      It begins with the advice of John Paul II: “Be not afraid.”

      The power and the confidence of the ruling class begins with its power to make us afraid, to call us names.

    42. DarkHelmet Says:

      One word: Iowahawk. Early and often.

    43. Cousin Dave Says:

      I claim that leftism is nothing more than the thought patterns and habits of Cluster B personality disorders (narcissism/borderline/histrionic) cast as political philosophy. Looking at it this way has helped me a lot in understanding why the Left does what it does. If you’ve never had the misfortune to have a close association with a Cluster B, know that their brains are apparently hard-wired to make them extremely talented at manipulating other people, and that the same hard-wiring makes it exceptionally easy for them to cast aside moral considerations. Cluster B’s are never troubled by their own behavior; no matter how bad it is, they can always come up with a rationalization. Thus the Left’s cultural confidence — moral considerations simply do not bother them.

      Cluster B’s are often expert at putting up and maintaining false fronts, especially in public, and particularly when in pursuit of something they want. They can be charming and flattering at first impression. You have to get to know a Cluster B to realize what’s behind the mask. But if you can ever get a glimpse of how a person treats others when they think they aren’t being observed, you find out who is who. Cluster B’s will inevitably treat the people they come in contact with badly, whenever they’re feeling angry (which is most of the time) and they think they can get away with it.

      Thus the breakdown of the public/private divide that the Left is currently encouraging is going to wind up working against them. They know that they cannot afford to have their private interactions exposed to the public, which is why it is so important to them to have a compliant, servile media. The right-wing alternative media is an enormous threat to them. So, one of the keys to destroying the Left culturally is to expose their true selves to the daylight. This need not involve hiding cameras in their bedrooms; it simply means that we must find ways to place them in situations where they think they can get away with letting the mask down, and then record it. The Joe the Plumber incident is a great example.

      Don’t waste time trying to figure out what the Left’s underlying principles are. Their brains don’t work that way; you really can’t debate them because they don’t think in terms of arguments and logic and evidence. There is no root philosophy behind Leftism. The only thing the Left “wants” from America is to possess it and control it, and if they can’t have it, then no one can. It’s very much like the thinking of an insanely jealous lover. Existential rage and jealousy are the Left’s only true motivations. Now, not all leftists are Cluster B’s themselves, but they are in a system that encourages them to think that way, and punishes them if they don’t. Work to expose the Left’s true thinking; unmask the actual Cluster B’s and let them self-destruct (you can’t fix them; Cluster B personality disorders are generally considered untreatable), and try to show the rest the error of their ways. Then, once the corruption is exposed for all to see, offer the undecideds a better alternative. The traditional values of America are a very good start.

    44. el baboso Says:

      They are culturally confident because they are winning. Vietnam, the long march through the institutions, smearing Goldwater, kicking ROTC off the elite campuses, electing Clinton, the defeat of Contract with America, the destruction of common law, the undermining of local institutions and concentration of power at the center, Roe vs Wade, the growth of entitlements and subsidies (all with strings attached) until they touch every single aspect of our lives,… need I go on?

      There have been setbacks. But even Reagan couldn’t touch the Department of Education and both he and Bush the Younger paid for all of their successes with legislative concessions granting even more entitlements. To restate all this in the language of strategy, they have been on the strategic offensive since at least 1964 and have only occasionally been forced on the tactical defensive during that time.

      They will lose their confidence when they start losing a string of battles. Ridicule is what factory workers in the Soviet Union engaged in when they thought the seksoti weren’t listening. The Soviet nomenklatura gave up when the people, the Eastern European satellites, and the the Baltic republics stopped being afraid and stopped obeying them.

    45. Austin Says:

      Simply tell them, “Shame on you!” when you see them in public – whether it is the supermarket, an airplane, or on the train. And shame their associates – “What kind of person are you to associate with that kind of trash?” and write to people and corporations that send them money with the same comments.

      I am reminded of Dan Rostenkowski being hounded down the sidewalk. We need more of the same.

    46. Janet Says:

      Many (most) of the elite ideas start with an untrue premise. It is about time that THEY be asked some questions in a public forum.
      *What is the “correct” global temperature..who made that decision?
      *If America’s health care system is so bad, how did single mother Miss X and her 3 children that are standing on stage with you get along until now? Did she deliver her children herself? Apparently she got SOME medical care. How?
      *President Obama, what was the name of your girlfriend at Columbia that you mentioned in your book Dreams From My Father? “There was a woman in New York that I loved,” he tells his half-sister years after the fact. “She was white. She had dark hair, and specks of green in her eyes.” Who is this?
      *If mankind is just another animal…& survival of the fittest is the mantra…then who cares if some animals go extinct so we become stronger? Why protect unborn waterfowl & eagles, but not humans?
      *(a recent small example) MS Couric, if Sarah Palin’s children have “funny” names, what names do you find acceptable?
      I could go on. The point is to let THEM answer some questions for a change.

    47. S Says:

      Well said Cousin Dave.

      That said, the gulf is widening between ‘ordinary’ Americans and the ‘ruling class’. We need only to recognize the amorality inherent in their decision-making and their actions (Ground Zero mosque) and trust the queasy feeling in our gut that tells us ‘this is wrong’. Most people, when face with a “cluster B” personality aka ‘malignant narcissist’ will respond with revulsion and seek to flee.

    48. Ryan Says:

      One reason few people belittle these people is that, they have twisted the moral landscape so that it is hard to take the moral high ground without long winded essays.
      However there is one weakness they usually glance over.

      Equality under the Law.
      Most all Americans can agree that the law should apply to all people equally.

      In almost all cases when an elite proposes something, it usually favors one person over another. We simply have to point this out.
      - Income tax: “If you pay for something, you own it. So why should rich people own the government?”
      - Socialized Medicine: “If this is so good for me why have you exempted yourself?”

    49. Anonymous Says:

      “Retake a significant foothold in both media and the academy. A long term project to be sure, but these institutions are key to affecting the transmission of cultural memes and attitudes. That The Washington Post Company was unwilling to sell Newsweek to a buyer it considered “too conservative” shows how much the current elite appreciates this fact.”

      This. Andrew Breitbart has recognized this with starting “Big” Govt., Journalism, Education. Also, Kelsey Grammer is supposed to start The Right Network, to bring back some sense of culture.

      As for mockery, I’m all for it.

    50. PersonFromPorlock Says:

      I’m not sure how deflating of political-class pretensions it would be, but I’d dearly love to see some state tell the President not to visit because the honor’s not worth the cost or the inconvenience to the ‘little’ people. Maybe there’s a possibility in there for a successful initiative to forbid spending state money on visits by the Great and the Good?

    51. Jack Says:

      we should give them the Nazi salute, because that’s what they are at heart: fascist authoritarians.

    52. jag Says:

      How can the political class be marginalized?

      Their power is directly related to their longevity in office. The longer they have stature, the more “economic rents” they can pass out, which in turn lead to more votes and more campaign contributions. The longer in office, the longer they have to lard up bureaucracies with their friends and family. This extends their power as these people act as conduits of information and protection in a variety of forms. Threats as well as corrupt opportunities are identified before they can get any public visibility. Time in power is the key.

      The goal then should be to go back to term limits. No one would argue that limiting the presidency has been a bad policy. If one can so easily limit the highest office in the land, why isn’t it just as important or feasible to limit secondary offices?

      Eight years for congress. Twelve for the senate. Long enough to be effective. Not long enough to lard. Allow people to run for higher or other offices when they are limited and society won’t “lose out” on particularly effective leaders. After 12 years in federal office, require a “pause” of some time. Three years. Talent won’t go to waste and it won’t be lost, permanently.

      Were Republicans smart they’d pound this theme. The populace is ripe for it. Over time, Republicans would benefit, of course as Democrats rely heavily on doling out favors to constituents, earmarks, which can only be well accomplished when time has been accumulated making favors, ignoring sins and other log rolling efforts with fellow political “pals”.

      Of course this won’t happen as the Republican party has been morphing into a “moderate” version of the Democratic party; same power, spending and incumbency goals, just not the willingness to do totally outrageous policy like universal healthcare. They love the power of incumbency just as much as Democrats. Some way has to be found to get around both parties arrogance.

    53. J. D. Lindskog Says:

      In terms of ‘value added’ for the evolutionary health of species Homo Sapiens, one wonders what the propensity for Self Delusion contributes to our survival.
      -Perhaps a testing algorithm for social organizational structures?
      -A winnowing process eliminating outliers on the personality spectrum?

      The inability to assess the limits of behavior nearly always ends in tears and often in blood.

    54. Tonestaple Says:

      It is a cliche that conservatives think liberals are mistaken and that liberals think conservatives are evil. The only thing I can think of that you can generally get liberals to agree is evil is slavery. One possibility is to lead them very carefully, step by step, inch by inch, to the realization that their policies inevitably make slaves of someone. Any claim to a “right” that depends on the actions of another person attempts to make that other acting person the slave of the one claiming that right.

      Example: the claim of a right to medical care. I have gray eyes. Suppose I live in a small society with only one doctor and no other options for care. This particular doctor does not like people with gray eyes and he will not serve them. If I have a right to medical care, do I use force to make him give me care? If so, first I have made him my slave, and second, I don’t think I’m going to get very good care.

      If you can get a liberal to sit still long enough to listen to a couple of examples, you might be able to get him to start thinking past his first notion and on to effects past that.

    55. Anonymous Says:

      The reason the Ruling Class is so confident is that they own the Federal Courts.

      Since Roe Vs Wade the Federal constitution has meant what any five SCOTUS judges thinks it does, without any reference to past precident including their own the previous week.

      Even a Federal Marriage Amendment will mean nothing to the Ruling class any more than the 10th Amendment does.

      It doesn’t matter what any Constitutional amendment says, with one exception, because Rling Class judges will twist it to say what they want it to say.

      The exception is this amendment:

      “All federal judicial offices shall be elective on such terms and condiitons as Congress may allow. The President may fill vacancies by appointment.”

      The only restraint Ruling Class judges will recognize is removal from office by outraged voters.

      To have a Federal Government rather than a “Ruling class,” we need to end the independence of the Federal Judiciary.

    56. Bob Hawkins Says:

      > # Mark Buehner Says:
      > August 5th, 2010 at 8:57 am

      > The cult of Ivy League education.

      Bingo. They think they have the greatest achievement possible. They got accepted to an elite school.

      Their childhood and adolescence was devoted to getting the grades and “experiences” required. When they helped someone, it was to fill in a box. Whether the helpee was any better off was irrelevant, the box got filled in therefore the help was a success.

      When that’s all they’ve known, how surprised can you be if they look at people in need as opportunities to fill in more boxes, or that they don’t seem to care if their solutions work in nominal terms? Or they even get angry at victims who don’t play their roles, like an actor at a prop suitcase that won’t accidentally fall open when it’s supposed to?

    57. Michael Kennedy Says:

      A couple of observations

      Cluster B = knaves.

      Mockery is the most powerful force when dealing with the self important.

      Here is a good example.

      The gun thing terrifies them and that was a good suggestion.

      Anotgher observation:

      Time is on our side as their institutions are failing and the people (The Country Party) is seeing this more every year. I do see signs of an attempt to use the institutions of government to protect themselves. The Department of Justice is a good example. We may have to fight a form of fascism to get through this.

    58. Anonymous Says:

      Here are a few things I can contribute:

      1. We must attack their notion that everything they do is ipso facto progress and improvement. They call themselves “progressive” which to them connotes that any change the seek must inherently be progress or improvement. I believe this stems from a confluence of (1) their absolute adoption of Darwin’s theory of evolution, (2) the benevolent and egalitarian spirit that can be derived from Marx (whose idea of societal evolution fits nicely with their love of Darwin to societal change), and (3) their nostalgic extension of their own morality in the civil rights struggles.

      However, there also exists the second law of thermodynamics. So, we must repeatedly challenge their claim that they are progressive. We must repeatedly ask them how they know that the change they are advocating is progress, and isn’t dissipation, decay, and degeneration? How do they know they are operating by the laws of evolution, and not the second law of thermodynamics?

      2. We must point out continually that the western leftist secular world view is a small blip in the world’s history that even now is being swallowed in the more normal social-tectonic shifts of the major religions. The world believes in God and a god-given morality by a huge majority. The western left is out of step.

      Further, the left’s Marxist and anti-colonialist world view in which evil was embodied in the Bourgeoisie, was shattered on 9/11. This world view presupposed that anyone that would attack the evil imperial, Zionist-supporting America must be motivated by their righteous proletariat revolutionary struggle. What a surprise when it turned out to be oil rich, educated, religionists – and ones, too, that were adamantly opposed to the left’s “progressive” social causes like homosexuality and radical feminism. The unworkability and unreality of the left’s world view was laid bare as the evil people clearly saw on 9/11 was totally unaccounted for.

      The left has thereafter been forked. Should they support the attack on the imperialists even though the attackers oppose woman’s rights (as the left defines them) and homosexuals? Or should they oppose the Islamic attackers and, in so doing, find themselves aligned with the American right and supporting the imperialists? It appears to me that they have attempted to do the former, but to try to cram the Islamic attackers into the roll of the struggling proletariat, and to minimize or ignore the fact that the American left would be the first to be beheaded by a victorious Islamic conqueror. (To his credit, the Trotskyite Christopher Hitchens has repeatedly pointed out the idiocy of this approach.)

      The point is that the western left is, in fact, a tiny, tiny secular minority in a wholly religious world. We must point out that John Lennon’s song imagine is rejected by 4/5ths of the world’s population. We must point out that the left has no working world view from which to make sense of any of the current major struggles. (I would point an interested reader to Aleksandr Solzhenitsy’s 1968 Harvard graduation address. He presciently foretold the coming on-line of the third world, and how the West’s reliance on legal frameworks would be inadequate to efficiently or effectively handle it.)

      3.Make them show the spreadsheet; do not let them get away with just talking about the buckets and reallocations and freezes and savings. There isn’t any more money, it is as simple as that. Don’t let them do the math with talking points. Make them put up the slide with the spreadsheet of figures. Let’s see the actual numbers, top down and bottom up.

      4. We must no longer be stunned or deterred by being called a racist. We know we are not racist. We daily sit in peace and good will with people of all races at baseball games, at shopping malls, at work, at our children’s sports matches. We simply must not be deterred from saying what needs to be said simply because someone will falsely accuse us. We know what we are and what we aren’t. This is where courage comes in.

      5. Ignore the major network news shows. They are fighting to stay relevant, and it doesn’t matter what they say anyway. We can effectively bypass them. For the first time since TV, the major broadcasting networks now own FEWER cameras than everyone else. Take your camera everywhere and be ready to use it. The networks need your video. The web needs your video. Get shots of elitists being themselves – elite and off-putting and hypocrites.

      Just a few thoughts, in very rough form

    59. Jason Broander Says:

      The haughty self-assurance is due to their believing they are the best due to the trappings of the “meritocracy” that many people truly believe exists nowadays. However, their only achievement has been getting into a good college by being conformists, and keeping that advantage by remaining conformists. However, the members of the ruling class don’t analyze whether or not what they’ve been conforming to is actually worthy of emulation or not, or if it’s even the opposite and should be avoided and shunned (name your favorites of the leftist, statist, amoral ideologies that have been floating around ever since Machiavelli, and later Hegel, polluted Western Civilization). This is obviously due to a lack of self-awareness and perspective on the part of most of the ruling class and for the rest due to a self-interested avoidance of these problems and contradictions as they milk everyone else for all they’re worth.

      We need some speakers to point out that these people are actually fools. Someone has to shout out that the emperor really has no clothes.

    60. Grace Says:

      As far as laughing these guys out of the room, we’ve had some boots on the ground for years. My liberal and centrist friends (and some conservative friends) really, REALLY don’t like Rush Limbaugh, but if you want to talk about mocking liberalism AS liberalism, he’s been doing it for decades and taking all the heat for it. He has been the left’s personal Tokyo Rose and they just despise him for it.

      I know there are conservatives who detest him almost as much as the left does, saying that he is too irreverent and that he’s inexact to a fault. But from where I stand, I see a guy who DID something when everyone else was just waffling. And for that, I think he’s been a bit of a godsend.

    61. JVDeLong Says:

      One should also encourage the internal contradictions of the Ruling Class.

      For example, Thomas Perez, head of the DOJ Civil Rights Division, has announced clearly his intention to go after websites under the ADA. This should be highly entertaining because the tech world has always been a favored child of the left and of the regulatory state, and is not used to being attacked as being immoral if it pays any attention to cost-benefit calculations.

      For a longer consideration of the issues of conflicts among the special interests of the left, see The Coming of the Fourth American Republic. (My original title was “Fall of the Third Republic,” but I decided to get optimistic.) This piece has gotten 50K hits, so there is interest.

    62. Bill Dalasio Says:

      Why does the Ruling Class, using Codevilla’s term, have such strong cultural confidence?

      Who says they do? Remember arrogance and presumption of superiority are, as often as not, the hallmarks of insecurity rather than confidence in one’s station. This would explain, for example, why so much of the ruling class culture is devoted to expressing its own sense of superiority. And, bluntly, it explains the open hostility to any alternative subculture to their own.

    63. david foster Says:

      “Remember arrogance and presumption of superiority are, as often as not, the hallmarks of insecurity rather than confidence in one’s station”…this is particularly true, I posit, for those individuals who have an advanced degree in some squishy-soft subject but whose career and status lives are a disappointment to them….if they’re lucky, they are poorly-paid adjunct professors without much realistic hope of promotion; if they’re not so lucky, they’re working at Barnes & Noble.

      Psychologically, people like this *really need* to believe in the superiority due their credentials…much like impoverished aristocrats holding on to the belief that their “blood” really means something. I suspect a very significant % of the free-floating anger in our society comes from people of this ilk.

    64. NahnCee Says:

      Before I quit speaking to her, a progressive ex-friend with a PhD in community service or sociology or something like that actually came out and told me at dinner one night that “we” are the educated ones, and “they” should just step out of the way and let us (liberals) run things because we have the intelligence and background / education to do so.

      Of course, she’s never ever held a full-time job and is totally incapable of doing so. She’s been terminated from both her positions on think tank groups to help the poor people, and from teaching at even community colleges. And the people of color whom she has mentored over the years are now invariably either in jail or deported, so that hasn’t turned out too well, either.

      But to her way of thinking, BECAUSE she has a PhD she is imminently more qualified to make policy decisions on things like ObamaCare, not to mention implementing them because of her sympathy towards non-whites and her determination to favor them in those decisions.

      To me, it would appear that (1) she isn’t capable enough to get a job in the Real World so she needs all the people who are currently working to get out of the way and give her the job, and (2) it’s nice for her to be able to play plantation massa and bestow financial and other goodies on folks she sees as being inferior and needing her (government) help.

      I was and am a little stunned that she lacked the self-awareness to see what she was saying when she made that comment, but to her it was a black and white issue: everyone with PhD’s should be running things and everyone else should just shut up and do what they’re told and continue to pay enough taxes to pay for it all. And oh, BTW, the military and national defense don’t factor in *at all* in her world view, and if she does take note of soldiers she will plunk for the “baby killer” meme.

    65. Caroline Says:

      The left own our media, most specifically, the film and TV business. This assures a constant stream of derisive mockery directed at the Country Class. Because these businesses are self-perpetuating (they hire exclusively from within their own Ruling Class), the propaganda machine continues to operate seamlessly. Movies and TV shows inform clothing choices, establish musical and fashion trends, and create vocabularies to expand the thought diseases of the left. They are a force multiplier, especially for the young, who are loathe to appear behind the cultural trend. Established religious and community cultural mores and norms used to act as a bulwark to the influence of media. Now, the Internet and opposition media companies (WSJ, Fox News, Walden Media) are starting to create a little Country Class pushback. We must support them with our dollars and patronage at every opportunity, and eschew attendance to Ruling Class entertainment and news.

    66. David R. Graham Says:

      Q: “Why does the Ruling Class, using Codevilla’s term, have such strong cultural confidence?”

      A: Drugs. Free association of the sexes. Step-parents.

    67. charles austin Says:

      Seems like I’ve heard this before. Oh, yes…

      Alinsky Rule #5: Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon. It is almost impossible to counteract ridicule. Also it infuriates the opposition, which then reacts to your advantage.

    68. ajacksonian Says:

      Mr. Codevilla’s description of the Country Class has a high degree of correspondence with another class previously described by Walter Russell Mead.

      Of course no one dare say that name…

    69. Steve Says:

      The Ruling Class control the media and entertainment industry. They’re not likely to start mocking themselves.

      The internet and Youtube-style activism has some potential, but currently reaches only a fraction of the people.

      A bigger and equally interesting problem is the inertia of the opposition to the Ruling Class. The RC does have one semi-admirable attribute – they work hard at the consolidation of their own power. I don’t see many working people equally hard to dislodge them.

    70. Steve Says:

      “see many working people equally hard” > “many people working equally hard”

    71. M. Report Says:

      In mixed company, make a reasonable
      suggestion which they will attack,
      and which you have prepared to defend:

      Federalism, with subsidiarity.

      Bill Cosby for President.

      Nuclear power, now.

      Chastity.

    72. M. Simon Says:

      John Boyd said that war is waged on the material, intellectual and moral plane, and the moral plane is the the most important.

      Napoleon beat him to it on the moral plane stuff.

    73. M. Simon Says:

      [...It was all about class and not about content. You are on the right track. Lex]

      You are definitely on to something. I will be discussing (arguing) a point with a member of “the class” on the net and my arguments will be treated as of no account. As soon as I mention I’m a UChicago alum they turn on the respect (not that agreement is any closer).

      Evidently class is a license to stop thinking. It is always so when a regime falls out of power. It is always: “Let them eat cake.” Usually followed by “Let THEM eat cold steel.” Perhaps we can avoid spilling a lot of blood. Maybe we can avoid spilling any.

    74. PenGun Says:

      Interesting that the next post above is about tribalism. You espouse uber tribalism here.

      America has nothing to be proud of these days. There was a time but you blew it away and took the money and ran.

      Now look at you.

    75. Lazarus Long Says:

      My minor contribution is that, in every post or comment I make, no matter what the forum, I always refer to “progressives” or “liberals” as what they really are, reactionary leftists.

      Always.

    76. Michael Kennedy Says:

      America has nothing to be proud of these days.

      Spoken like a would-be member of the governing class.

      Thanks for making our point.

    77. jeff Says:

      I’m not trying to be offensive but wonder how much of this is brought about by the increased political/social influence of women?…who are on the average more status-oriented and conformist even than men are and who are usually VERY concerned with whatever is considered classy and “not vulgar” in their group or the group they aspire to be accepted by. Hence will be impressed by an Ivy League credential for example regardless of its true value.

    78. David Foster Says:

      There’s a story about a member of the English aristocracy (probably a very *minor* member) who traveled to the old American West and met a cowboy.

      English guy: “Where is your master, my man”

      Cowboy: “Son-of-a-bitch hasn’t been born yet”

      I think the idea of masterless men is actually fairly disturbing to some people.

    79. M. Simon Says:

      Beware: I’m a Straussian neocons. I think George F. Kennan had a point. I prefer American hegemony to any other.

      Look at what a mess the Brits made of their empire once they lost their nerve. Let us not repeat the error (or the wars).

    80. Anonymous Says:

      We must all do what Breitbart does. Record their activities and display them often. We should not be afraid to go to jail to do this.

    81. Lexington Green Says:

      “… how much of this is brought about by the increased political/social influence of women?”

      Dare to think the unthinkable.

      See John R. Lott, Did Women’s Suffrage Change the Size and
      Scope of Government?

      On the other hand, the Tea Party movement seems to be disproportionately female.

      My guess: When government activism leads to, or appears to lead to, increased personal security and middle class status and stability (Social Security, Medicare) women generally like it. When government activism threatens, or appears to threaten, personal security, and middle class status and stability, they oppose it.

      But whatever the reasons may be, there is no doubt whatsoever that men and women have different voting behavior.

    82. Anonymous Says:

      from what I what can see, the contributors here, not to mention the author(s), are pretty good philosophers and fairly deep thinkers. I’m neither, maybe just because I’m lazy. But from what I can see, right-leaning people have eschewed the careers of education, journalism, and art for better-paying jobs. Why? Because we could. We have the work ethic and the mond-set and the ambition that the left-leaners (most of them anyway) do not.

      But in the process, we ceded the most influential areas of society to folks who think that we owe them something.

      It’s time to take those areas back.

    83. Dave Says:

      Success breeds confidence. People of great success are quite confident in their own abilities and worth. They can’t and won’t be held responsible by the losers in the game, although they will certainly salve their own consciences by providing alms for the downtrodden, particularly alms taken from the near-do-well middle class. This is a common pattern in primate and many other animal societies. The leaders maintain the allegiance of the mob by smacking down those in the middle, preventing the middle ranking from taking advantage of those on the bottom. Yet, at the same time, a careful balance must be maintained so that those in the middle cooperate in the hunt (something the weaker are not able to do). A ruler or ruling class that leads the tribe or pack ineffectually can destroy it if not superseded by a superior leader or class with a superior strategy. I think the US, and the West in general, could go either way. I might add one worrisome note: there are some economists (including the late Earl Thompson) who think changing technology has outmoded the middle class so that we may be efficiently moving toward a society with a ruling class and a large proletarian class, with not much in between. (I hope not.)

    84. Lexington Green Says:

      Dave, please provide a cite for that assessment by Earl Thompson. I’d like to see that.

    85. Dave Says:

      Lexington Green, Earl just passed away, and an obituary with citations appears on Marginal Revolution.com and is also mentioned at Cafe Hayek. One of links had someone discussing this with citations to his books and papers. You can find his biblio. at UCLA.com. If I get an exact cite, I will let you know.

    86. PenGun Says:

      Michael Kennedy

      I live in a 5th wheel deep in the woods. You probably don’t know anyone as poor as me.

      I am a member of very little. I don’t like humans much.

      In the sense that the mystery guy in Hitchhikers Guide who lives with his cats in the house in the rain soaked forest rules … I do. But really that’s it.

      I like to watch.

    87. Foobarista Says:

      Part of the confidence comes from accepting a “context-sensitive” notion of truth. Once this idea is widely accepted, a “might makes right” ethic is bound to develop, so they’re right by the simple virtue of being “in charge”.

      It’s a modern version of the mandate of heaven: if they weren’t right, they wouldn’t be rich/powerful/etc.

    88. Anonymous Says:

      Sorry, I mean Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn’s 1978 Harvard address.

    89. Seerak Says:

      I suspect the short answer is because they see themselves as the enlightened bringing the new world to the ignorant and superstitious.

      The deeper version of this short answer is that they are in charge of setting the terms why which such things as “enlightenment”, “ignorance” and “superstition” mean.

    90. Seerak Says:

      jeebus, what a crappy sentence, sorry for that.

      Better version:

      The deeper version of this short answer is that they are in charge of setting the terms of thought, i.e. the definitions, for such things as “enlightenment”, “ignorance” and “superstition”.

    91. Tina Says:

      This is such a powerful question, and some great posts about the “ruling” facade and how to counter it.

      But a few have hit on something here that is just as essential… it’s not about them as much as it is about us. Cousin Dave, Anonymous (both of them), Christopher Chantrill, onparkstreet, Tom Paine, T. Greer…. and Bruno Behrend nails it:

      “All we have to do is stand up. They can’t win.”

      All we have to do is stand up. All Sarah Palin does is stand up. All Andrew Breitbart does is stand up. All Jan Brewer does is stand up. All Arizona’s legislature did was stand up. All the Tea Party is, is people standing up.

      The Cardboard Facade has no power of its own, only what is projected on it by people who are looking around waiting for someone else to stand up.

      It’s ok, I promise. Once you stand up other people will gratefully exhale and leap to their feet too. Trust me. You’ll live. And if you don’t, well wouldn’t you rather be a hero than a sheep? And next time it will be easier.

      All Davy Crockett did was stand up: “You can go to h***, and I will go to Texas”.

      Peggy who? Oliver who? Rachel who? Donald who? Levi who? Katie who? Who cares?

      As Will Cuppy put it in ‘The Rise and Fall of Practically Everybody’ “He [Khufu] had discovered the fact that if you tell somebody to do something, nine times out of ten he will do it.”

      Khufu who? Stop doing it and stand up.

      :-)

    92. Dave Says:

      Lexington Green, Try this http://www.econ.ucla.edu/thompson/Predicting%20bubbles.pdf

    93. n Says:

      mark levin mentioned this tonight

    94. Donna V. Says:

      From the introduction to P.J. O’Rourke’s “Give War a Chance”:

      “People who care a lot are naturally superior to we who don’t care any more than we have to. By virtue of this superiority the caring have a moral right to lead the nation. It’s a kind of natural aristocracy, and the wonderful thing about this aristocracy is that you don’t have to be brave, smart, strong, or even lucky to join it you just have to be liberal….Today’s liberals love politics as much as they love disappearing rain forests, homelessness and hate crimes, because politics is one more way to achieve power without merit or rank.”

      Incidentally, O’Rourke was out there pouring scorn on the left well before Limbaugh hit the big time. And before there was O’Rourke, there was the fierce (and very funny) Florence King. King called herself a feminist, but was very hard on liberal feminine mushheadedness and sentimentality (i.e., women’s propensity to fall for the boneheaded “it’s for the children” line.)

    95. Joseph Hertzlinger Says:

      One reason for the confidence of the Ruling Class is that there are a handful of issues where they actually have some evidence (best example: evolution vs. creationism).

      Everything they’re right about entitles them to be wrong about three other things.

    96. Anonymous Says:

      “Why does an elite that is actually not admirable in what it does, and not effective or productive…”

      I see part of your problem.

      You are overstating your case.

      Nobody is evil or destructive all the time. The “Ruling Class” of today does a lot of Good Things. Bear in mind that the same could be said of some of the worst regimes in history.

      There is, furthermore, recent history, as opposed to the present moment. The Ruling Class, particularly the Left component, credits itself with defeating and abolishing institutional racism, and in my opinion correctly. Some of the veterans of that campaign feel that this should give them lifetime status as Heroes; vide the current effort to defend Charlie Rangel.

      There have been other areas where the Ruling Class did well over the last 30 years, or at least presided over success. It should be noted that a large proportion of high-tech wizards identify with Codevilla’s Ruling Class (Santa Clara county voted 70% for Obama). They support free trade (in general; left opposition to free trade is mostly tied closely to labor unions), and free trade has been a success.

      A lot of them are smart. They may be fools, but they’re smart. The modern trend to meritocracy has provided the power elite with a strong rationalization for their position. Note that the present Supreme Court consists of six Catholics, three Jews, three women, a black, a Hispanic, and two Italian-Americans – all of them graduates of Ivy League law schools (5 Harvard, 3 Yale, 1 Columbia).

      They’ve been in charge, more or less, for some time, and things have mostly gone well. In my opinion, more in spite of them than because of them, but they don’t see it that way.

      And since practically all of the media and academy are vassals of the Ruling Class, their view is continually confirmed for them. Of course, they’re confident.

    97. Mr G Says:

      Having seen the local scum politicians of Brooklyn, NY I must say that the projection of confidence is a necessary component of a corrupt one party system. Since the politics are known, the backroom dealings decide who the candidates are and being a bagman moves you up the ladder, ideas don’t matter but the ability to immediately portray yourself as having a social gulf from the voters does. Its not an aristocratic elitism that is portrayed but its the ability to make it seem self evident you are incredibly important to the community and hoping there isn’t someone confident and secure enough in the room to call you on it. It sounds really iffy to base your entire success on always being the “man” but machine politicians know who they can intimidate and who they can’t. That arrogance gives way in a hurry when they inadvertently run into someone socially and economically secure enough to provide a push back.

      Think of our illustrious President. He can seem to ride high in a room consciously stacked in his favor but a police officer and plumber seriously knocked him off his game.

      The way to knock these people down is choice. Choice in where you send your children to school (ie. vouchers), real choice in candidates and also real choice in leisure. The scum bagman politician knows that if he can crowd your kid into a public school, if there is no political opposition on the local level and that if people are isolated at home watching TV and keeping their little mouths shut he can create the social gulf that allows him to thrive and to have his little political tricks work. Crime is also a factor.

      When crime goes down and people start to improve their lives (work later, socialize later and travel more freely) because they are not afraid after dark, citizens are more likely to voice their disaffection and expect more results from government. One of the first thing a scumbag politician does is cut back on crime fighting resources. A little fear makes people smaller than the state. To a politician crime fighting is a form of pure service to the public and the public merely gets arrogant and ungrateful. That also holds true for terrorism on the national level.

      I would say that the arrogance is not in spite of the poor performance in government. Its a very practiced attitude that is brought to bear by the corrupt.

    98. Mike Mc. Says:

      Thw Intellectual Case:

      1. Democrats are wrong about what people are, and about what a human life is. Therefore, their politics will always be wrong and lead to bad things for people. The evidence for this is absolutely everywhere there is any action at all that Democrats implement, favor, suggest, or enact, etc. Take any area, any thing – when Democrats touch it, it worsens or leads to more suffering, or some other bad effect. Example: Education – people are less well-educated after a 40 years of Dem policies. Example2: War on Poverty – creates a more or less permanent ghetto.

      I think all of this is intentional. That is, Dems want people to be less eduacted and dependent. In fact, I am cewrtain that is the case.

      The Moral Case:

      1. The above is basically the lead in to the moral case. Since the Dem is wrong about people and life; the Dem is wrong about what is ‘right’. Morality is about right and wrong. Therefore….

      In short, Dem are the main cause of more poverty, ignorance, misery and suffering; they cause more dependency; they cause less human flourishing; they impose more rule and less freedom. The Dem wants to destroy human liberty.

      2. The other side of the Moral Case has to be the virtues of the people who are right about what people are and what life is. These are Republicans/Conservcatives in general. At least, these peoe have the right principles, and so cannot go too far wrong. The Dems are wrong in principle and cannot but got wrong in practice.

      The Dems are the guys in the Black Hats. We should be very open and loud in saying to ALL Democrtas – You’re on the team that wears the black hats; we’re with the good guys.

      We should also tell them that it’s a civil war, and we are going to fight them all the way. They are cowards at heart and will run when things get tough.

    99. Anonymous Says:

      Great post, hard question.

      Two Chesterton’s quotes:

      A man who won’t believe in God will believe in anything.
      or
      When a Man stops believing in God he doesn’t then believe in nothing, he believes anything.

      Absent God, where does man go except to the ultimate earthly edifice of human power; government? To the leftist, government is god, and like all deities requires obedience.

      The foundation of our Republic is based on Jefferson’s words “we are endowed by our Creator…” Say what you like about the Founders and God, but their attribution and perpetuation of the role God played as the source of our Liberty, in forming our national government, and as a Necessary Benefactor to our collective success flies in the face of the Darwinian-Marxist elites who look not to God, but man to as a source of sustenance and strength. The Founders believed it was the birth-right of men (with souls) to be free. The “elites” don’t believe in a soul, they don’t believe in God, so men become commodities and annoying obstructions to “utopia” where the government solves all problems, rights all wrongs; makes the world “fair” for all mankind. American “self-reliance” is an anathema to the leftist who believes everyone should think and speak alike. The dogma of Darwinian-Marxist elites (leftist democrats) is what dogma always is; demanding, close-minded, and punitive to anyone who disagrees with the dogma. I’m reminded of a Tolstoy quote: “I know that most men, including those at ease with problems of the greatest complexity, can seldom accept even the simplest and most obvious truth if it be such as would oblige them to admit the falsity of conclusions which they have delighted in explaining to colleagues, which they have proudly taught to others, and which they have woven, thread by thread, into the fabric of their lives.”

      What’s the solution? I don’t know. Education, faith (where faith is more than lip-service), and laughing at the utter ridiculousness of most leftist ideas. I laugh at these people because there is no peaceful alternative. Most of the rank-and-file folks simply bought into a dogma without a background, and without questioning the veracity of leftist propositions. Obama has done more to discredit the leftist agenda than anyone in a generation—a lot of folks have woken up and discovered the change he promised isn’t what they want for themselves or their families. We build on the momentum of November and keep the dialogue alive. That is a good first step.

    100. J. Scott Says:

      The last post was mine; I cleaned my cookies and forgot the info wasn’t automatically included…

    101. Anonymous Says:

      “….It’s not always that easy to define who is and isn’t a member of Codevilla’s class. Take someone who has a couple of Ivy League degrees but has been successful in a variety of competitive businesses…and is now a Fortune 50 CEO. Is he a member of the “ruling class” because of his credentials & connections? Or is he a non-member because of his career in doing highly-productive work?….”

      I would say anyone who is willing to make his way in the free market, exposed to the fickleness of customers, with no cover from regulations he has captured or legislators he is in bed with (literally or otherwise), is NOT a member of the ruling class. The more he colludes with the entrenched bureaucracy to enhance or protect himself, the more a member he becomes.

    102. Yehudit Says:

      “….I think the idea of masterless men is actually fairly disturbing to some people….”

      “There are men in all ages who mean to govern well, but they mean to govern. They promise to be good masters, but they mean to be masters.”
      –Daniel Webster

    103. Elliot Says:

      1. Laugh at them.
      2. Laugh at them.
      3. Laugh at them
      4. Point and laugh.
      5. Point and laugh.
      6. Point and laugh.
      7. Repeat steps 1-6 above.

    104. Mike Mc. Says:

      Laughter is not the way.

      Fighting is the way.

      If you want to lose, laugh at them.

      If you want to win, fight them.

      The laughter shows fear and dishonesty.

      They don’t need smiles; but something more direct, analogous to a flurry of punches that does not stop.

    105. Yehudit Says:

      “….1. We must attack their notion that everything they do is ipso facto progress and improvement…..”

      They are NOT progressive! Everything they do is recycled from the 1930s, if not earlier. Big centralized government: how reactionary can you get? Point out how outdated and uncool all their ideas are. Ask them for one new idea! Whatever they come up with, point out how old and unoriginal it is.

      Big Brother Knows Best? People have been satirizing this notion for decades, from Charlie Chaplin to Monty Python. There are reservoirs of comedy gold to be freshened up and re-deployed.

    106. Donna V. Says:

      Laughter is not the way.

      Fighting is the way.

      I can walk and chew gum at the same time. I intend to both laugh at them and fight them.

      Ridicule does work. But by itself it is not enough.

    107. Donna V. Says:

      Everything they do is recycled from the 1930s, if not earlier. Big centralized government: how reactionary can you get? Point out how outdated and uncool all their ideas are.

      That’s the ticket! Especially among younger people who were barely taught history. The “progressives” are basically trying to pretend ideas as out-dated as spats and raccoon coats are hip and up-to-the-minute. Of course, the Constitution and Declaration of Independence weren’t written yesterday either. The difference: the ideas of the Founding Fathers actually work. They work like billy hell, if they’re allowed to – and that’s something else we need to point out. Americans are a pragmatic people, although we’ve allowed our inmate pragmatism to become muddied by PC and loads of silly litigation. Promoting a return to basic common sense would be a start.

    108. Anglo-Saxon Says:

      Eric Hoffer’s book,published in 1951 and still wonderfully relevant “The True Believer: Thoughts on the Nature of Mass Movements” offers a complete analysis of this phenomenon. He looks at the psychology of the misfits, the ambitious, the selfish, the bored, the among others and traces the trajectory of these movements and ways to defeat them. He assesses the role of hatred as a unifying agent and how all mass movements, at bottom, are similar. Very instructive.

    109. Mrs. Davis Says:

      Fox needs to add a competitor to the Daily Show to it’s line up. Dump Greta Van Sustren and get someone who can really mock these folks. It’s a target rich environment.

    110. tehag Says:

      Our current aristocracy is superior to all those that you mentioned.

      It has attended, primarily, the elite schools of the world: the ivy league, oxford, etc. Its education and thus its knowledge is superior to all prior ruling classes, and certainly superior to the ordinary citizen (by which they mean their ignorant, disempowered chattel).

      It privileges homosexuality over heterosexuality, and by its historical researches and contemporary arts scene, proves that homosexuals are more creative, innovate, and brilliant than all past ruling classes which suppressed homosexuality.

      By its education in studies programs, marxism, and deconstructionism it has ‘seen through’ all past ideologies which falsely justified a corrupt ruling class. It own progressive ideology, by comparison, is more moral, more humane, multicultural (embracing all that was good in the past), multiracial, and, confroms precisely to the nature of the world.

      It is more moral than all past ruling classes, because it is concerned primarily with saving the planet instead of furthering its own interests.

      It has primarily studied law and international relations. Law is the emperor of the academy, since Law regulates the discoveries of science, restrains by use of the precautionary principle, among other ideas, the follies of engineers and builders, governs the ignorant, oppresses the most evil—the capitalist, and justifies the rule of the education elite.

      In summary the new class is better educated, more creative, alone holds the truth, follows the one, true morality and empowers itself to rule all others. It deserves to rule. Rebellion can only fall away from its perfection.

      How could such

    111. David Foster Says:

      Shrinkwrapped suggests some appropriate music.

    112. Donna V. Says:

      Here’s a related question: why do writers, artists, musicians and actors, people with notoriously messy private lives, generally support Big Government? You’d think their natural stance would be libertarian. I suspect that it has something to do with showing contempt for the middle classes, rather than true concern for the poor. Again, funny when you consider just who buys all those books….and what happened to artists and poets stuck behind the Iron Curtain.

    113. Inge Says:

      After explaining that it is ok to be proud of America among many other subjects, I find more important to eliminate voter fraud. Only then can things go back to normal; so far the greatest hoax had been the 2008 election!

    114. thomass Says:

      In part we have problems because they refuse to define themselves honestly.

      There are no more widespread defenses of Stalin; just an occasional one of Castro, Chavez, or China.

      There are no widespread defenses of collectivism, just the occasional (such as from that guy who got the Medicare recess appointment).

      There are more, but the point is, the left refuses to talk about their ideology. Instead they talk about “social issues” (i.e., abortion, gays, and other non mainstream groups) and try to lash their problems with acceptance to ‘conservatism’ (a term they picked for us BTW). They talk about being smart while conservatives are idiots… et cetera…

      So much so that many reliable leftists don’t even get their own side and what their side is trying to do. But they hate ‘the right wing’.. because the ‘right wing’ are stupid haters….

      So, IMO, the effect on us is that it hard to make anti collectivist and central planning arguments when the other side won’t even admit what they’re doing. It’s also hard to sharpen our arguments when we don’t have anyone honest enough to debate…

    115. thomass Says:

      Dave Says:

      “This is not a silver bullet argument, but it goes right to the foundation of the left’s argument for government solutions”

      I think we should just start pointing out that no matter what the position, the left always wants to claim the high moral ground… even if positions reverse (up hill in the snow, both ways :)

      Support a war? Warmonger tool of the military industrial complex, probably personally a profiteer, with the blood of everyone who dies in said conflict regardless of the circumstances (i.e., if our enemy murders civilians to create big death casualty numbers for the left to throw in the faces of the other side, so be it / it’s the other side’s fault!).

      Don’t support a war? Selfish, isolationist, probably racist cretin (doesn’t want to sacrifice whites to die for X non white group), probable war profiteer who wanted the problem to worsen to make more money, who has the blood on their hand for all the casualties in the conflict due to their failure to take action to nib the conflict in the bud (although, of course, even if we were involved it would have gotten this big anyway)…

      Anyway, it’s like ruining the US healthcare system in the name of the 13 million uninsured. They’re oh so moral even though this will hurt more people than the old system did…

    116. Bud Says:

      Our so-called leaders are there because we elected them and have been too lazy to grade their performance. Too many of us have been “at the mall” instead of keeping up with our government and demanding that laws be inforced.

      If we could find the guts to insist that our governement live within its means and to allow our system to work ie allow companies that can’t make it to go broke, if we could leave businesses alone and allow them to find their own level, if we would insist on term limits in government service the country would do better.

      We have been flying by the seat of our pants for some time now under the leadership of a generally corrupt congress.

    117. srp Says:

      I’m sorry not to have had the opportunity to read this whole thread, but I checked and no one mentioned the following brilliant article by Luigi Zingales. It beautifully explains the peril and promise of the current moment, especially the danger of allowing the leaders of the business class to form an unbreakable alliance with the nomenklatura:

      http://faculty.chicagobooth.edu/luigi.zingales/research/papers/capitalism_after_the_crisis.pdf

      In addition, Zingales has some good editorials urging the Republicans to take a “pro-market populist” approach that is consistent with his analysis above

    118. Lexington Green Says:

      SRP, I know that article well. Yes, excellent, and yes it does fit in here.

    119. David R. Graham Says:

      @Tina, Thanks, nicely put, well done.

      This, however, is not quite the reason for your confidence and counsel, both of which are justified and necessary:

      “The Cardboard Facade has no power of its own, only what is projected on it by people who are looking around waiting for someone else to stand up.”

      That’s not untrue, it’s not quite true. Perhaps try this:

      The Cardboard Facade has no power of its own. It’s very existence depends on its opposing being/reality/power. If it cannot oppose reality, it cannot exist. It is bereft of independence existence, including independent power. Its existence depends absolutely on the reality it opposes. Their own laziness and delusion drive many to believe The Cardboard Facade (non-being, Greek me on) has power in its own right, that it is power and powerful. But it is not, it does not, it has no power or reality apart from opposing power and reality, which are one and the same.

      Using classical terms: non-being (“The Cardboard Facade”) depends on being. It is a conditioned experience and existence. Being is Power. It is an unconditioned experience and existence. The “power of non-being” is conditional — on the Power of Being.

    120. FeFe Says:

      Because there is safety in a crowd. Standing for individual liberty also means your comfortable to stand alone – not watching The Lives of Others (now celebrities pushing product).

    121. Ex-pat in Oz Says:

      Hmmm. I don’t think it is about fighting any more. Or confidence. I think it is more like Galt saying “Get the hell out of the way!”. It is akin to discussing how to demonstrate the truth that the sun will rise in the east and set in the west. Like Sean Connery in “The Untouchables”—- “Everyone knows where the illegal booze is… the question is, what are you willing to do?” The arguement is over– statism is failure (even smiley liberal fascism). Everyone with a brain knows the jig is up. If we, as an American people, decide to commit historical suicide, so be it.

      Stop trying to pretend, I say. Let it happen. Dare to think the unthinkable. Kill the sacred cows… Let’s take the pain NOW and hope there are enough solid foundation stones left after the disaster to rebuild a proper republic.

      My bet– if we do, we’ll soon see a re-awakening of liberty that will propel our country light years ahead of where we are now, in many ways.

      Let’s call the bluff. Bring it on….

    122. Percy Dovetonsils Says:

      One immediate and relatively painless thing that we can do is to immediately cease contributions to our collegiate alma maters, which, with very few exceptions, are the primary breeding grounds for the nonsense we are currently living through. I quit giving money to the UofC some time ago, and my decision to never give to Northwestern has been validated numerous times after reading various articles about the postmodern nonsense going on there.

      (Besides, why in blazes should I be giving my money to organizations with multi-billion endowments?)

      You should also take a long look at the other charities you help fund. For one, I never knew about the Catholic Campaign for Human Development’s efforts in funneling money to ACORN, the Gamaliel Foundation, and other scoundrels. Charities that seem like simple “help the poor” types may very well be pursuing goals that keep people mired in poverty and helplessness.

    123. M. Simon Says:

      The Ruling Class, particularly the Left component, credits itself with defeating and abolishing institutional racism, and in my opinion correctly.

      Only after instituting it. See Wilson, Woodrow, President KKK.

    124. Andrew Lale Says:

      Fantastic discussion. Equivalent to about ten years worth of most other blog comment threads.
      I would just like to add my own tuppence. The advantage of a hierarchical society like the one we used to have in Britain, is that although there are defined social classes, there is also defined glue which ties each class to the others. It seems to me that America has poorly defined social classes, which have no defined glue to hold them together. The values of God, Country and Kin which used to bind most Americans to each other have largely stopped doing so.
      So what will America have in the future? Who can assemble from these disparate elements a nation again?

    125. Andrew Lale Says:

      Oh, and in response to Anonymous (great moniker BTW), real self esteem comes from real accomplishment. The gruesome ‘self-esteem’ industry is snakeoil of the most insidious kind. Why are the Greatest Generation so incredibly dignified and impressive? Great accomplishments.