We’ve known for at least a decade or so that the so-called “ruling class” here in the US (and possibly in formerly great Britain and Western Europe as well) look down snobbishly on the middle and working class, the regular joes, the residents of flyover country. Those who roost in the higher levels in academia, the media, in the entertainment and intellectual world, in the national bureaucracy, those who are part of the upper caste – have made their contempt for the ordinary citizen pretty darned obvious by their words and actions, to the point where it’s no secret to most of us who have been paying attention. That this contempt is returned is not immediately obvious; after all, the media (with a few honorable exceptions) has little interest in the opinions of the ruled class, or in reporting them with any degree of understanding or sympathy. Still, we in the ruled class have made our displeasure known in small ways – eschewing shopping at Target, watching NFL games, dropping ESPN, and skipping over award shows like the Oscars – which likely the ruling class feels as mere irritating pin-pricks. (They are TWANLOC, in Subotai Bahadur’s elegant phrase.) And if they are being seriously inconvenienced by recalcitrance on the part of the ruled class – we won’t know for certain, for a good while. Possibly in the history books, if we in the ruled class get a chance to write them.
A comment on another blog, a couple of days ago where the ghastly new fires in Northern California were being discussed – suggested a new thought to me, regarding the rulers and the ruled. The Ruling Class, as the commenter posited, was all about the environment, preserving the forests and the wilderness, and those darling wild creatures … but when all that effort put into maintaining a pristine wildlife environment turns around and kills people actually living on the edge of those areas … well, just too bad. A shocking thought, at first – but after a moment, I had to agree. Not only do the ruling class despise us … but they don’t much care if we live or die. Preferably die, as long as we don’t make too much fuss about it.
Oh, they make a big show of concern – if some legislation or virtuous cause saves only one life, if it saves a child, if it … one lovely ambition, one good intention – then whatever it is will be good and true and worthy, and they who promulgate it are of course good and true and worthy, because their intentions are pure. the securely-in-power ruling class are dressing themselves in the shining garments of righteousness, decorated with festoons of smug. It’s a pose, an opportunity to preen to each other. They actually care nothing for the ruled, except perhaps at election times, and the votes can always be manufactured, no need to involve the electorate. I surmise that to the ruling class that those of us in the ruled category are interchangeable characters with blurred features and a couple of easily-mocked tag-lines, as disposable as used Kleenex. Our lives and concerns are less than of no interest, really – next to the theatrical show of properly-progressive and approved causes. Too many of us remain stiff-necked and independent, too unwilling to bow to the dictates of the ruling class, vote for the ruling class candidates or measures, or to indulge their feelings … We have disappointed the Ruling Class, and so we are disposable.
Worse than indifference, though – sour malignant intent is what the commenter suggested. Various instruments of death are being scattered willy-nilly among us, just because. Send hundreds, thousands of illegal immigrants to live among us? Flout the laws regarding identity theft, drunk driving, possession of illegal firearms … come over the border afflicted with exotic diseases that no one in this country has seen in decades? No problem, for the ruling class. Doesn’t affect anyone we know; only those proles in the low-rent neighborhoods, and they don’t matter. Environmentalists blocking efforts by forestry management experts, and property owners to thin out new growth, cut and remove dead wood? When the forests go up in a town-killing inferno and houses with their elderly owners and pets are trapped in them – well, that’s just a meaningless statistic. Relocate manufacturing jobs over the national borders or overseas? Gut formerly self-sufficient communities? Well, those stupid proles should have learned to code, and move their insignificant lives to some other place, and who in the Ruling Class really cares about epidemic opioid abuse? Concern about Islamic militants, or deeply mentally-disturbed young men with access to firearms? Well, that’s Islamophobia in the first case, and a violation of civil rights in the second, until it’s time for the obligatory gun-control pose, never mind the silent pool of blood spreading around the bodies of the unlucky Ruled.
For all the nice words and posing – the Ruling Class would just as well not have to bother with the icky and disobedient ruled class at all. Discuss, as you wish and if your blood pressure can stand it.