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