America's Ruling Class
(The New American) --
Angelo M. Codevilla, a professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University, has written a sweeping essay, "America's Ruling Class — and the Perils of Revolution," that cries out for the widest possible readership. Codevilla’s essay covers immense territory without losing sight of fundamentals, ties together a breathtaking number of loose ends — and although leaving out at least one important part of the story, leaves us with a realistic sense of what we are up against if we are to save this country.
Have you ever wondered why, when they had the chance, the Republicans didn’t “do something” about abortion — or reverse discrimination, or the emergence of gay rights, or political correctness generally? After all, they controlled Congress from 1994 until 2006, and held the White House from 2000 to 2008. The flip side to the question: How does someone that even conservatives, if they are honest with themselves, have to admit is a man of at best marginal qualifications —George W. Bush— get anywhere near the White House? Or how do some people move effortlessly from the corporate or banking world (Dick Cheney from Halliburton or Timothy Geithner from the New York Fed), or from academia (Larry Summers and Elena Kagan from Harvard) into the upper echelons of government? Or, finally, how someone can ask Nancy Pelosi point blank where the U.S. Constitution authorizes the federal government to force members of the public to buy private health insurance or face severe penalties through the tax system, receive the cynical retort, “Are you serious?” and this does not make headlines?
Actually, marginal people have risen to the top everywhere — throughout government, in academia, in mainstream media, and elsewhere: even on the Supreme Court, as the Elena Kagan appointment testifies. The explanation seems peculiar to the way American culture has gone over the past century: political contacts, or connections, have come to matter more than ability. This begs the question: contacts with whom, and connections with what?
Codevilla’s answer to that question is, at first glance, familiar, but he has his own take on it. At some point during the past century, America became an oligarchy with a ruling class that identifies more with European values than American ones. This ruling class consists of a small minority of the population, under ten percent. Its members inhabit international high finance, are recipients of TARP bailouts, and control multinational corporations that enjoy cozy relationships with the federal government that thwart competition. This ruling class controls all three branches of the federal government, obviously including both major parties; it also controls mainstream media and ensures that mediocre columnists such as Paul Krugman and Maureen Dowd are given prominence in the New York Times while thousands of real writers out in the hinterlands don’t dare give up their day jobs.
Now, of course, one could argue that every large civilization has ended up with a ruling oligarchy, but American oligarchism has taken a unique turn. Codevilla observes: “Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the 'in' language — serves as a badge of identity.”
In other words, there is the ruling class, which despite any number of cosmetic differences of emphasis, speaks a remarkably uniform language — and then there are the rest of us, which Codevilla calls the country class — not “country” in the sense of rustic, or rube, or hick (as hostile elitist readers will doubtless interpret this questionable choice of a term), but in the sense of those who identify with this country (i.e., nation) and its founding principles. They believe implicitly that America is, or was, a unique place (not an “idea”), with a unique set of values that centered around belief in God as a source of transcendent morality, the importance of a strong family unit, the idea that communities ought to be autonomous instead of ruled by bureaucrats hundreds of miles away, and in meritocracy: the idea that people should rise to their station in life based on personal merit and achievement instead of through political networks. They don't trust concentrations of wealth and power that answer to no one.
The ruling class, and that small percentage of the general population (approximately a third of the public, often working in government jobs) who identifies with it, regards the country class as “retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained.” Those in the country class who trouble to think about the issue quickly realize they cannot trust the ruling class, whose members look out for their own and not for the good of the country. Members of the ruling class are sometimes, after all, blatantly dishonest in their quest for power and in the connectedness through which they protect one another and scratch one another’s backs, as Codevilla notes:
“If, for example, you are Laurence Tribe in 1984, Harvard Professor of Law, leftist pillar of the establishment, you can ‘write’ your magnum opus by using the products of your student assistant, Ron Klain. A decade later, after Klain admits to having written some parts of the book, and the other parts are found to be verbatim or paraphrases of a book published in 1974, you can claim (perhaps correctly) that your plagiarism was ‘inadvertent,’ and you can count on the Law School’s dean, Elena Kagan, to appoint a committee including former and future Harvard president Derek Bok that issues a secret report that ‘closes’ the incident. Incidentally, Kagan ends up a justice of the Supreme Court.”
For years now, the ruling class’s shills in the media have lied about the inflation rate, speaking of a “core inflation” that excludes rising food and fuel costs — where most actual inflation takes place. The purpose of the lie is to obtain a politically acceptable number. Since 1994 it has lied about the unemployment rate, through the expedient of excluding “discouraged workers” from its official numbers. The reason is the same: An unemployment rate of 9.5 percent won’t rouse the rabble, as a rate in the neighborhood of 20 percent might do.
What does the ruling class really believe? First and foremost, they believe in their own superiority and fitness to rule — to the point of willingness to impose their rulership on foreign peoples (think of our longstanding meddling in the internal affairs of Middle Eastern nations, which continues to win us enemies). They don’t believe in God, and would remove every vestige of Christianity from the public square if they thought they could get away with it. What they believe is the materialistic or naturalistic corruption of modern science, which invites, at best, an ethic of hedonistic utilitarianism (all of us ought to strive to maximize pleasure and minimize pain). Given this ethic, human life loses its sense of intrinsic value; your value is what is in your pocket or bank account, where you are stationed in society, and whether someone with more money and power than you can make more money from you.
The ruling class touts “equality” as a social value but doesn’t believe in it for a minute. After all, the ruling class see itself as superior to the country class in every respect...MORE...LINK
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