My daughter actually suggested this line of thought; that the current ruling class (or those who think themselves to be so) in the United States are perilously akin to the French nobility – those who were termed the ancient regime, of pre-revolutionary France. The ruling class were gathered together deliberately at Versailles, where all was all as far as the nobles and ruling class were concerned for at least a hundred years.
There, amid the squalid splendors of Versailles, they were gathered together, under the eye of the King, to frivol their lives away, distracted by spectacles and the vicious grasp for and fall from power within a very small realm. Only instead of a vast palace, outbuildings, gardens and minor palaces, our ruling class disports in a slightly larger venue, that of Washington, DC and the surrounding suburbs.
But the airs and graces, the privilege and entitlements, the mind-set of a ruling and a ruled class is plain to see. There is ‘us, the noble and entitled to rule’ and ‘all those grubby, smelly, Walmart-shopping peasants’ out there, beyond the Beltway and the boardrooms, beneath the notice or consideration of the grandees … except when our presence is required, say when there is an election, a war, there are taxes to be paid, or whenever one of the highest ruling nobles need a suitable (and racially/sexually diverse) background crowd for a photo op.
The result is the same, though; an out-of-touch elite, amusing themselves by playing at governing, diverting themselves with award ceremonies, cavorting in front of any handy camera for whatever purpose, dressing up in the latest exaggerated fashions and trend-of-the-moment causes, and issuing the occasional royal decree. These decrees are deployed in the confident and hasty assumption that such will solve whatever has the peasantry restive and resentful; invariably when the royal decree makes the problem infinitely worse, it’s the fault of the peasantry for not properly appreciating the benefits and those good intentions of the ruling class so generously bestowed upon them. It’s not just the royal environmental decrees, which I wrote about last week, which make things worse – it’s the other decrees; the one which limited free-lance contractors in California comes to my mind almost at once, as well as the New York no-bail law, and the whole Obama Administration Title Nine fiasco, which enabled campus kangaroo courts to investigate and rule on sexual offenses among college students.
The nobles diverted themselves at Versailles, serenely out of touch but convinced that they weren’t, not a bit of it indeed! while outside the palace precincts, matters got worse and worse, and not only the laborers and peasantry became increasingly disaffected – but the middle class as well. Unlike the laborers and peasantry, who were almost always unhappy and with damned good reason, the middle class had the means, ability and confidence to make their unhappiness with incompetent misrule made known in such a manner that the nobles couldn’t brush them away.
And that was when things got … interesting. For a certain value of interesting. Discuss as you wish.