Count De Monet – “Sir, the peasants are revolting!”
King Louis – “You said it. They stink on ice.”
Played for laughs in a movie by a producer/performer whom many of us doubt would ever get a green light today. But the great and good in the media and in the intellectual class – really do affect the pose that the peasants stink on ice, and say so, at every opportunity and in every possible venue. They despise the residents in Flyoverlandia – those who had the temerity to be conservative, conventionally religious, independent of thought, fiscally-careful, or even (gasp!) voting for Trump – or against Her Inevitableness, the Dowager Empress of Chappaqua. Victor Davis Hansen collected up a litany of poisonous disparagement in this recent essay; a collection that is all the more depressing as an assemblage, nasty as each one of them were considered in isolation as they occurred and bubbled up to the top of the outrage cycle.
How did all this come about? (David F. ventured on this topic earlier this month.) I mean, there has always been a certain degree of social snobbery on the part of those who viewed themselves as being of the upper class, the managerial sort, the better-educated, and those who honestly felt they were the winners in the Darwinian struggle. The intellectual and artistic set always did regard themselves as a cut above the common herd. Over in Jolly Olde England, the gentry and nobility enforced their own supreme position with a fine sense of social brutality against ambitious interlopers.
In literature and reportage from last century on back, there will be any number of fictional characters and real people who had less-than-charitable opinions of those below them on the social scale – but such extreme utterances often seemed to be vaguely disapproved of, even if the milder versions were pretty much taken for granted. One does not come away from reading Dickens, Twain, Austen, or mainstream social commentators to the right of raving Marxists with the impression that the ruling and managerial class – such as it was – despised their countrymen and women with a white-hot burning passion; wished them all dead, exiled, or in reeducation camps. They might be contemptuous of the beggarly poor, seeing them as potential criminals – but at least they gave lip-service-respect to the working and middle-class; the backbone of the country, to turn the Victorian phrase. It might have struck us in this century as being unbearably patronizing, but at best – they seemed to appreciate the working and middle-class of their countrymen and women. Still snobbish, condescending, patronizing – but not actively, nastily, freely hostile.
How on earth did this come to pass? I speculate (along with others) that it was because we didn’t do as they ordered. We didn’t vote for the Dowager Empress, we cast doubt on the viability of Obamacare – and going back any number of decades, we declined to live in stack-a-prole city apartment blocks and patronize public transportation, decamping for the suburbs and POVs (privately-owned automobiles), declining the wise and kindly rule of those who deemed themselves our betters.
And there we are. Your thoughts – and what are we to do about a ruling elite which viciously despises the half the country and hasn’t the least shred of reluctance about voicing it?