Annotated synopsis of America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution
By Angelo M. Codevilla, professor emeritus of international relations at Boston University
From The American Spectator
By Dean Kalahar
Not very often is an analysis of America offered with the power and focus to change the path of our cultural understanding of who we are as a nation. A notable example would be Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville. America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution by Angelo M. Codevilla is another seminal piece of American cultural and political analysis. It explains how America has lost its roots and national identity. It is a must read for Americans faced with fundamental change in the nation.
Everyone is urged to read the full length treatise, but because the analysis is so detailed, this annotated synopsis will allow for easier understanding and application of Codevilla’s fundamental precepts. It is intended to be a blueprint to identify the cause and symptoms of our national illness, while offering a sobering cure to remedy a nation that realizes it is sick, but is in denial of the strong medicine it must swallow to once again regain its health.
A brief history of American political classes
Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America's upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and "bureaucrat" was a dirty word for all. So was "social engineering." Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday's upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed.
In America, the notion of human equality has always been a hard sell, because experience teaches us that we are so unequal in so many ways, and because making one's self superior is so tempting. But human equality made sense to our Founding generation because they believed that all men are made in the image and likeness of God, because they were yearning for equal treatment under British law, or because they had read John Locke.
Today, America’s two political classes, the “Ruling Class” and “County Class,” have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century's Northerners and Southerners -- nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, "prayed to the same God." By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God "who created and doth sustain us," our ruling class prays to itself as "saviors of the planet" and improvers of humanity.
This self-anointed ego-centric worldview spread when Franklin Roosevelt brought Woodrow Wilson’s “progressive” ruling class into his administration and began the process that turned them into true “rulers.” FDR described America's problems in technocratic terms. America's problems would be fixed by a "brain trust," picked by him naturally. His New Deal's solutions, the alphabet-soup "independent" agencies that have run America ever since, turned many Progressives into powerful bureaucrats and then into lobbyists.
Fast forward 100 years and our nation faces a frightening crossroad between what made us and who we have become.
How did America change from a place where people could expect to live without bowing to privileged classes to one in which, at best, they might have the chance to climb into them?
Our classes' clash is over "whose country" America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark's Gospel: "if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand."
As bureaucrats and teachers' unions disempowered neighborhood school boards, while the governments of towns, counties, and states were becoming conduits for federal mandates, as the ruling class reduced the number and importance of things that American communities could decide for themselves, America's thirst for self-governance has reawakened.
The fact that public employees are almost always paid more and have more generous benefits than the private sector people whose taxes support them has only sharpened the sense among many in the country class that they now work for public employees rather than the other way around.
The ruling class's manifold efforts to discredit and drive worship of God out of public life convinced many among the vast majority of Americans who believe and pray that today's regime is hostile to the most important things of all. Not even the Soviet Union arrested students for wearing crosses or praying, or reading the Bible on school property, as some U.S. localities have done in response to Supreme Court rulings. Every December, we are reminded that the ruling class deems the very word "Christmas" to be offensive. Let members of the country class object to anything the ruling class says or does, and likely as not their objection will be characterized as "religious," that is to say irrational, that is to say not to be considered on a par with the "science" of which the ruling class is the sole legitimate interpreter.
Democratic politicians are the ruling class's prime legitimate representatives because while Republican politicians are supported by only a fourth of their voters, while the rest vote for them reluctantly, most democrats/liberals are aspirants for a junior role in the ruling class. In short, the ruling class has a party, the Democrats. But some two-thirds of Americans, a few Democratic voters, most Republican voters, and all independents, lack a vehicle in electoral politics. Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority's demand for representation will be filled.
In 2010, Americans' conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.
The ruling class has been running a patronage ponzi scheme using the pretext of Darwinian compassion between the government and the people. The country class citizens are finally realizing they are being gamed, while the ruling class gamers are not about to give up their meal ticket. Friction between Americans has not been this tense since the civil war.
- The Ruling Class defined
- · Supposedly, modern society became so complex and productive, the technical skills to run it so rare, that it called forth a new class of highly educated officials and cooperators in an ever less private sector.
- · Today's ruling class 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.
- · They have 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 and speaking the "in" language -- serves as a badge of identity.
- · Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct.
- · America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats.
- · It rules uneasily in one breadth and arrogantly in the next over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.
- · The ruling class grew and set itself apart from the rest of us by its connection with ever bigger government.
- · The heads of the class do live in our big cities' priciest enclaves and suburbs, from Montgomery County, Maryland, to Palo Alto, California, to Boston's Beacon Hill as well as in opulent university towns from Princeton to Boulder. But they are no wealthier than many Texas oilmen or California farmers, or than neighbors with whom they do not associate. Regardless of where they live, their social-intellectual circle includes people in the lucrative "nonprofit" and "philanthropic" sectors and public policy.
- · Whether in government power directly or as officers in companies, their careers and fortunes depend on government.
- · They vote Democrat more consistently than those who live on any of America's Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Streets.
- · They are teachers, consultants, and government employees in the middle ranks who aspire to be elites in the ruling class yet identify morally with what they think are the grievances of what they consider are their lesser class of Americans.
- · Professional prominence or position will not secure a place in the class any more than mere money. In fact, it is possible to be an official of a major corporation or a member of the U.S. Supreme Court (Justice Clarence Thomas), or even president (Ronald Reagan), and not be taken seriously by the ruling class.
- · Like a fraternity, this class requires above all comity or social harmony, being in with the right people, giving the required signs that one is on the right side, and joining in despising the Outs.
- · Share the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, give lip service to its ideals and shibboleths (empty rhetoric used by the class,) and be willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members so as to profitably move among the establishment's parts.
- · Identity to the ruling class always trumps achievement.
- · Get into America's "top schools" not as a matter of passing exams but having an attractive social profile.
- · Attend the “best" colleges who require the least work and give out the highest grade point averages.
- · Recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in.
- · The most successful neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records.
- · The ruling class does not stunt itself through negative selection. Actually, the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority.
- · Attitude is key- with its first tenet being that "we" are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained.
- · They do not believe the founding generation's paradigm that "all men are created equal" And find it "a self-evident lie."
- · Believe the "scientific" notion, which Darwin only popularized, that man is the product of chance mutation and natural selection of the fittest.
- · Believe that “by nature,” superior men subdue inferior ones as they subdue lower beings or try to improve them as they please. Hence while it pleased the abolitionists to believe in freeing Negroes and improving them, it also hypocritically pleased them to believe that Southerners had to be punished and reconstructed by force.
- · Transformed from an educated class with religious fervor to one focused on social reform: they were sure that because man is a mere part of evolutionary nature, man could be improved, and that they, the most highly evolved of all, were the improvers.
- · Think themselves as “Progressives” who imagine themselves the world's examples and the worlds reformers dreaming big dreams of establishing order, justice, and peace at home and abroad while ignoring basic realities of human nature.
- · They are not shy about their desire for power.
- · They view World War I and the chaos at home and abroad that followed that discredited their worldview as not a failure of their vision. In fact, the ruling class found it fulfilling to attribute the failure of their schemes to the American people's backwardness, to something deeply wrong with America. The American people had failed them because democracy in its American form perpetuated the worst in humanity.
- · The ruling class progressives look down on the masses, look on themselves as the vanguard, and look abroad for examples to emulate.
- · Some ruling class “Progressives” have historically joined the "vanguard of the proletariat," the Communist Party. Many more were deeply sympathetic to Soviet Russia, as they were to Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. They promise energetically to transcend their peoples' ways and to build "the new man."
- · Blamed WWII on the majority of Americans, because they had refused to lead the League of Nations.
- · Believe in evolution theory without compromise. In 1925, the ruling class progressives and the American Civil Liberties Union sponsored a legal challenge to a Tennessee law that required teaching the biblical account of creation to drive home the point that Americans who believed in the Bible were willful ignoramuses.
- · The ruling class believes that the Christian and Orthodox Jewish family is rooted in and perpetuates the ignorance commonly called religion, divisive social prejudices, and repressive gender roles.
- · Our educated ruling class is generally bitter about America and show little sense of humor
- · Believing only they can be “scientific," the Progressive class sought to explain its differences and distaste for common Americans "scientific" terms. Their “studies” concluded that most who were not liberal Democrats were latent fascists. This way of thinking about non-Progressives filtered down to college curricula.
- · Common among the ruling class is a belief in the notion that the common people are animals whose words are, “like grunts, mere signs of pain, pleasure, and frustration,”
- · See the common folk as opponents to their utopia because clinging to "God and guns" as a sign of their inferiority.
- · The ruling class knows that Americans must learn to live more densely and close to work, that they must drive smaller cars and change their lives to use less energy, that their dietary habits must improve, that they must accept limits in how much medical care they get, that they must divert more of their money to support people, cultural enterprises, and plans for the planet that the ruling class deems worthier.
- · On occasion the ruling class slips up and confidently says "what everybody” –at least the ones that matter, i.e.us- know is true."
- · They believe they alone have grasped truths that the common herd cannot, truths that direct “us”, truths the grasping of which entitles “us” to discount what the ruled say and to presume what they mean.
- · The ruling class's agenda is power for itself. While it stakes its claim through intellectual-moral pretense, it holds power by one of the oldest and most prosaic of means: patronage and promises thereof.
- · It is a "machine," that is, based on providing tangible rewards to its members. They must feed the machine by transferring money or jobs or privileges, civic as well as economic, to the party's clients, directly or indirectly.
- · The ruling class's standard approach to any and all matters, its solution to any and all problems, is to increase the power of the government. Meaning of those who run it, meaning themselves, to profit those who pay with political support for privileged jobs, contracts, etc.
- · The ruling class provides rank-and-file activists/members with modest livelihoods as they enhance mightily the upper levels' wealth.
- · More power for the ruling class has been the ruling class's solution not just for economic downturns and social ills but also for hurricanes and tornadoes, global cooling and global warming.
- · The ruling class denies its opponents' legitimacy. Seldom does a Democratic official or member of the ruling class speak on public affairs without reiterating the litany of his class's claim to authority, contrasting it with opponents who are either uninformed, stupid, racist, shills for business, violent, fundamentalist, or all of the above. They do this in the hope that opponents, hearing no other characterizations of themselves and no authoritative voice discrediting the ruling class, will be dispirited.
What has happened to our nation as a result of the ruling class?
· Our ruling class is making itself the arbiter of wealth and poverty.
- · Ruling class power and money makes Americans ever more dependent on those who wield it.
- · By taxing and parceling out more than a third of what Americans produce, through regulations that reach deep into American life,
- · By tampering with civil equality endowing some in society with power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices -- even to buy in the first place -- modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Thus if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu. Eventually, pretending forcibly that valueless things have value dilutes the currency's value for all.
- · Laws and regulations nowadays are longer than ever because length is needed to specify how people will be treated unequally.
- For example, the health care bill of 2010 takes more than 2,700 pages to make sure not just that some states will be treated differently from others because their senators offered key political support, but more importantly to codify bargains between the government and various parts of the health care industry, state governments, and large employers about who would receive what benefits…Even more significantly, these and other products of Democratic and Republican administrations and Congresses empower countless boards and commissions arbitrarily to protect some persons and companies, while ruining others.
- · The members of our ruling class admit that they do not read the laws. They don't have to. Because modern laws are primarily grants of discretion, all anybody has to know about them is whom they empower.
- · By making economic rules dependent on discretion, our bipartisan ruling class teaches that prosperity is to be bought with the coin of political support.
- For example: in the 1990s and 2000s, as Democrats and Republicans forced banks to make loans for houses to people and at rates they would not otherwise have considered, builders and investors had every reason to make as much money as they could from the ensuing inflation of housing prices. When the bubble burst, only those connected with the ruling class at the bottom and at the top were bailed out. Similarly, by taxing the use of carbon fuels and subsidizing "alternative energy," our ruling class created arguably the world's biggest opportunity for making money out of things that few if any would buy absent its intervention. The ethanol industry and its ensuing diversions of wealth exist exclusively because of subsidies. The prospect of legislation that would put a price on carbon emissions and allot certain amounts to certain companies set off a feeding frenzy among large companies to show support for a "green agenda," because such allotments would be worth tens of billions of dollars. That is why companies hired some 2,500 lobbyists in 2009 to deepen their involvement in "climate change." At the very least, such involvement profits them by making them into privileged collectors of carbon taxes. Any "green jobs" thus created are by definition creatures of subsidies -- that is, of privilege… it surely increases the number of people dependent on the ruling class, and teaches Americans that satisfying that class is a surer way of making a living than producing goods and services that people want to buy.
- · Beyond patronage, picking economic winners and losers redirects the American people's energies to tasks that the political class deems more worthy than what Americans choose for themselves.
- · Ever-greater taxes and intrusive regulations are the main wrenches by which the American people can be improved, and yes, by which the ruling class feeds and grows
- · The ruling class's perpetual agenda has been to diminish the role of the citizenry's elected representatives, enhancing that of party leaders as well as of groups willing to partner in the government's plans, and to craft a "living" Constitution in which restrictions on government give way to "positive rights" -- meaning charters of government power.
- For example: the Supreme Court's 1962 decision in Baker v. Carr which, by setting the single standard "one man, one vote" for congressional districts, ended up legalizing the practice of "gerrymandering," concentrating the opposition party's voters into as few districts as possible while placing one's own voters into as many as possible likely to yield victories. That is why today's Congress consists more and more of persons who represent their respective party. Once districts are gerrymandered "safe" for one party or another, the voters therein are countless because party leaders can count more on elected legislators to toe the party line. To the extent party leaders do not have to worry about voters, they can choose privileged interlocutors, representing those in society whom they find most amenable.
- · In America, ever more since the 1930s, the ruling class in government has designated certain individuals, companies, and organizations within each of society's sectors as (junior) partners in elaborating laws and administrative rules for those sectors. The government empowers the persons it has chosen over those not chosen, deems them the sector's true representatives, and rewards them. They become part of the ruling class.
- · Bureaucrats make, enforce, and adjudicate nearly all the rules. Today's legal-administrative texts are incomprehensibly detailed and freighted with provisions crafted exquisitely to affect equal individuals unequally. Equal treatment under law is an antiquated idea.
- · Disregard for the text of laws -- for the dictionary meaning of words and the intentions of those who wrote them -- in favor of the decider's discretion has permeated our ruling class from the Supreme Court to the lowest local agency. Ever since Oliver Wendell Holmes argued in 1920 (Missouri v. Holland) that presidents, Congresses, and judges could not be bound by the U.S. Constitution regarding matters that the people who wrote and ratified it could not have foreseen, it has become conventional wisdom among our ruling class that they may transcend the Constitution while pretending allegiance to it.
- For example: by 2010 some in the ruling class felt confident enough to dispense with the charade. Asked what in the Constitution allows Congress and the president to force every American to purchase health insurance, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi replied: "Are you serious? Are you serious?"
- · Lower court judges and bureaucrats take liberties with laws, regulations, and contracts. That is why legal words that say you are in the right avail you less in today's America than being on the right side of the persons who decide what they want those words to mean.
- · As the discretionary powers of officeholders and of their informal entourages have grown, the importance of policy and of law itself is declining, citizenship is becoming vestigial, and the American people become ever more dependent.
- · The ruling class is keener to reform the American people's family and spiritual lives than their economic and civic ones.
- · They legislate, regulate, and exhort in support not of "the family,” meaning married parents raising children, but rather of "families," meaning mostly households based on something other than marriage. The institution of no-fault divorce diminished the distinction between cohabitation and marriage, except that husbands are held financially responsible for the children they father, while out-of-wedlock fathers are not. The tax code penalizes marriage and forces those married couples who raise their own children to subsidize "child care" for those who do not.
- For example: rates of marriage in America have decreased as out-of-wedlock births have increased. The biggest demographic consequence has been that about one in five of all households are women alone or with children, in which case they have about a four in 10 chance of living in poverty.
- · Top Republicans and Democrats have also led society away from the very notion of marital fidelity by precept as well as by parading their affairs; and consensus at the top declared that insistence on fidelity is "contrary to societal norms."
- · While our ruling class teaches that relationships among men, women, and children are contingent, it also insists that the relationship between each of them and the state is fundamental; advocating a direct relationship between the government and children, effectively abolishing the presumption of parental authority.
- · The ruling class's assumption is that what it mandates for children is correct ipso facto, while what parents do is potentially abusive.
- For example: school nurses could not administer an aspirin to a child without the parents' consent, the people who run America's schools nowadays administer pregnancy tests and ship girls off to abortion clinics without the parents' knowledge. Parents are not allowed to object to what their children are taught. But the government may and often does object to how parents raise children. It only takes an anonymous accusation of abuse for parents to be taken away in handcuffs until they prove their innocence.
- · At the very heart of what our ruling class is about, and explicit in our ruling class's actions, is the dismissal of the American people's intellectual, spiritual, and moral substance. Its principal article of faith, its claim to the right to decide for others, is precisely that it knows things and operates by standards beyond others' comprehension.
- · The ruling class is united and adamant about nothing so much as its right to pronounce definitive, "scientific" judgment on whatever it chooses. When the government declares, and its associated press echoes that "scientists say" this or that, ordinary people -- or for that matter scientists who "don't say," or are not part of the ruling class -- lose any right to see the information that went into what "scientists say."
- · Though they cannot prevent Americans from worshiping God, they can make it as socially disabling as smoking. Though they cannot make Americans wish they were Europeans, they continue to press upon this nation of refugees from the rest of the world the notion that Americans ought to live by "world standards."
- · America's self anointed “best and brightest” believe themselves qualified and duty bound to direct the lives not only of Americans but of foreigners as well that America cannot be free until the whole world is free and hence that America must push and prod mankind to freedom. Indeed, they conflate the two purposes in the face of the American people's insistence to draw a bright line between war against our enemies and peace with non-enemies in whose affairs we do not interfere.
- · Because our ruling class deems unsophisticated the American people's perennial preference for decisive military action or none, its default solution to international threats has been to commit blood and treasure to long-term, twilight efforts to reform the world's Vietnams, Somalias, Iraqs, and Afghanistans, believing that changing hearts and minds is the prerequisite of peace and that it knows how to change them. The apparently endless series of wars in which our ruling class has embroiled America, wars that have achieved nothing worthwhile at great cost in lives and treasure, has contributed to defining it, and to discrediting it -- but not in its own eyes.
- · Rather, even as our ruling class has lectured, cajoled, and sometimes intruded violently to reform foreign countries in its own image, it has apologized to them for America not having matched that image -- their private image.
- · In sum, our ruling class does not like the rest of America. Most of all does it dislike that so many Americans think America is substantially different from the rest of the world and like it that way. For our ruling class, however, America is a work in progress, just like the rest the world, and they are the engineers.
The Country Class defined
- · America's country class is heterogeneous.
- · It has no privileged podiums, and speaks with many voices, often inharmonious.
- · It shares above all the desire to be rid of rulers it regards inept and haughty.
- · It defines itself practically in terms of reflexive reaction against the rulers' defining ideas and proclivities -- e.g., ever higher taxes and expanding government, subsidizing political favorites, social engineering, approval of abortion, etc.
- · Many want to restore a way of life largely superseded by the ruling class.
- · The country class is the other side of the ruling class's coin: its most distinguishing characteristics are marriage, children, and religious practice.
- · While the country class, like the ruling class, includes the professionally accomplished and the mediocre, geniuses and dolts, it is different because of its non-orientation to government and its members' yearning to rule themselves rather than be ruled by others.
- · Even when members of the country class happen to be government officials or officers of major corporations, their concerns are essentially private; in their view, government owes to its people equal treatment rather than action to correct what anyone perceives as imbalance or grievance.
- · They tend to oppose special treatment, whether for corporations or for social categories. Rather than gaming government regulations, they try to stay as far from them as possible.
- · They believe in private property rights are directly tied to defining morality and thus are a large part of natural law.
- · America's pro-family movement is a reaction to the ruling class's challenges: emptying marriage of legal sanction, promoting abortion, and progressively excluding parents from their children's education.
- · Negative orientation to privilege distinguishes the country class corporate officer who tries to keep his company from joining the Business Council of large corporations who have close ties with government from the fellow in the next office. The first wants the company to grow by producing. The second wants it to grow by moving to the government trough.
- · It sets apart the schoolteacher who resents the union to which he is forced to belong for putting the union's interests above those of parents who want to choose their children's schools.
- · In general, the country class includes all those in stations high and low who are aghast at how relatively little honest work yields, by comparison with what just a little connection with the right bureaucracy can get you. It includes those who take the side of outsiders against insiders, of small institutions against large ones, of local government against the state or federal.
- · The country class is convinced that big business, big government, and big finance are linked as never before and that ordinary people are more unequal than ever.
- · Members of the country class who want to rise in their profession through sheer competence try at once to avoid the ruling class's rituals while guarding against infringing its prejudices.
- · They tend to think that exams should play a major role in getting or advancing in jobs, whose records of performance, including academic ones, should be matters of public record, and that professional disputes should be settled by open argument.
- · They believe competence trumps political connections or correctness.
- · Nothing has set the country class apart, defined it, made it conscious of itself, given it whatever coherence it has and sparked an inner energy than the condescension emanating from the ruling class and their insistent worldview that people other than themselves are intellectually and hence otherwise humanly inferior.
- · Persons who were brought up to believe themselves as worthy as anyone, who manage their own lives to their own satisfaction, naturally resent politicians of both parties who say that the issues of modern life are too complex for any but themselves.
- · Most are insulted by the ruling class's dismissal of opposition as mere "anger and frustration," which is code for meaning stupidity, while others just scoff at the claim that the ruling class's bureaucratic language demonstrates superior intelligence.
- · A few ask the fundamental question: Since when and by what right does intelligence trump human equality? Moreover, if the politicians are so smart, why have they made life worse?
- · The country class actually believes in exceptionalism, that America's ways are superior to the rest of the world's, and regards most of mankind as less free, less prosperous, and less virtuous.
- · Thus while it delights in croissants and thinks Toyota's factory methods are worth imitating, it dislikes the idea of adhering to "world standards."
- · This class also takes part in the U.S. armed forces body and soul: nearly all the enlisted, non-commissioned officers and officers under flag rank belong to this class in every measurable way.
- · Few vote for the Democratic Party. You do not doubt that you are amidst the country class rather than with the ruling class when the American flag passes by or "God Bless America" is sung after seven innings of baseball.
- · Unlike the ruling class, the country class does not share a single intellectual orthodoxy, set of tastes, or ideal lifestyle. Its different sectors draw their notions of human equality from different sources: Christians and Jews believe it is God's law. Libertarians assert it from Hobbesian and Darwinist bases. Many consider equality the foundation of Americanism. Others just hate snobs.
What is the country class agenda?
- · Each of the country class's diverse parts has its own agenda, which flows from the peculiar ways in which the ruling class impacts its concerns.
- · Independent businesspeople are naturally more sensitive to the growth of privileged relations between government and their competitors.
- · Persons who would like to lead their community rue the advantages that Democratic and Republican party establishments are accruing.
- · Parents of young children and young women anxious about marriage worry that cultural directives from on high are dispelling their dreams.
- · The faithful to God sense persecution.
- · All resent higher taxes and loss of freedom.
- · More and more realize that their own agenda's advancement requires concerting resistance to the ruling class across the board.
- · Not being at the table when government makes the rules about how you must run your business, knowing that you will be required to pay more, work harder, and show deference for the privilege of making less money.
- · In our time the interpenetration of government and business -- the network of subsidies, preferences, and regulations -- is so thick and deep, the people "at the table" receive and recycle into politics so much money, that independent businesspeople cannot hope to undo any given regulation or grant of privilege.
- · Just as no manufacturer can hope to reduce the subsidies that raise his fuel costs, no set of doctors can shield themselves from the increased costs and bureaucracy resulting from government mandates.
- · Independent business's agenda has been to resist the expansion of government in general and of course to reduce taxes. Pursuit of this agenda with arguments about economic efficiency and job creation -- and through support of the Republican Party -- usually results in enough relief to discourage more vigorous remonstrance.
- · Have come to a time when just “dealing with it,” and being good, patient, forgiving people who try to follow the golden rule is no longer an option.
Review of Differences between the ruling class and the country class
- · While the unenlightened ones believe that man is created in the image and likeness of God and that we are subject to His and to His nature's laws, the enlightened ones know that we are products of evolution, driven by chance, the environment, and the will to primacy.
- · While the un-enlightened are stuck with the antiquated notion that ordinary human minds can reach objective judgments about good and evil, better and worse through reason, the enlightened ones know that all such judgments are subjective and that ordinary people can no more be trusted with reason than they can with guns.
- · Because ordinary people will pervert reason with ideology, religion, or interest. Science is "science" only in the "right" hands. Consensus among the right people is the only standard of truth. Facts and logic matter only insofar as proper authority acknowledges them.
- For example: by identifying science and reason with themselves, our rulers delegitimize opposition. Each day, the ruling class produces new "studies" that show that one or another of Americans' habits is in need of reform, and that those Americans most resistant to reform are pitiably, perhaps criminally, wrong. Thus the ruling class goes about disaggregating and dispiriting the ruled.
- · As the ruling class's appetite for deference, power, and perks grows, the country class disrespects its rulers, wants to curtail their power and reduce their perks.
- · The ruling class wears on its sleeve the view that the rest of Americans are racist, greedy, and above all stupid. The country class is ever more convinced that our rulers are corrupt, malevolent, and inept.
- · The rulers want the ruled to shut up and obey. The ruled want self-governance.
- · The ruling class believes human nature is good and man can be perfected, if only they are allowed to try. They do not know and cannot answer the question “who am I” on a personal level, and most certainly can’t fathom something greater than themselves, be it God, or natural laws of man including life, liberty and property, so they must continue to tell themselves that they are whole and special while ironically claiming to believe in “science” while ignoring basic concepts of biology and universal law.
- · The country class is not being represented, the two classes are at odds, there is a vacuum of power, and something has to give or the nation is going to experience an explosion.
What the country class should avoid
Suppose that the Country Party (whatever its name might be) were to capture Congress, the presidency, and most statehouses? It would be tempted to write its wish list of reforms into law regardless of the Constitution and enact them by partisan majorities supported by interest groups that gain from them, while continuing to vilify the other side.
If the country class carries out its own "revolution from above" to reverse the ruling class's previous "revolution from above," it would have made that ruinous practice standard in America. Moreover, a revolution designed at party headquarters would be antithetical to the country class's diversity as well as to the American Founders' legacy.
It is fundamental that the people take back power through leadership of their choosing under the auspices of the Constitution.
The country class plan of action
Restoring localities' traditional powers over schools, including standards, curriculum, and prayer, would take repudiating two generations of Supreme Court rulings. So would the restoration of traditional "police" powers over behavior in public places. Bringing public employee unions to heel is only incidentally a matter of cutting pay and benefits. As self-governance is crimped primarily by the powers of government personified in its employees, restoring it involves primarily deciding that any number of functions now performed and the professional specialists who perform them, e.g., social workers, are superfluous or worse, unnecessary. Explaining to one's self and neighbors why such functions and personnel do more harm than good and must be ended and eliminated, while the ruling class brings its powers to bear to discredit you, is a very revolutionary thing to do. It will take guts, personal growth, education and principle to restore America.
- · Stopping the ruling class's intrusions requires discrediting its entire conception of man, of right and wrong, as well as of the role of courts in popular government. That revolutionary task would involve far more than legislation.
- · Passing national legislation is easier than getting people to take up the responsibilities of citizens, fathers, and entrepreneurs. The culture and all of its institutions needs to be realigned with founding principles.
- · Resistance to secularism's intellectual and moral core, along with aggressive, intolerant secularism which is the moral and intellectual basis of the ruling class's claim to rule. Whether to the immorality of economic subsidies and privileges, or to the violation of the principle of equal treatment under equal law, or to its seizure of children's education.
- · In this clash, the ruling class holds most of the cards: because it has established itself as the fount of authority, its primacy is based on habits of deference. Breaking them, establishing other founts of authority, other ways of doing things, will involve far more than electoral politics.
- · A focus on all institutions of society as a place for rebuilding America: government, yes, but also through the economy, family, education system, and houses of worship.
- · Sweeping away a half century's accretions of bad habits -- taking care to preserve the good among them is hard enough. Establishing, even reestablishing, a set of better institutions and habits is much harder, especially as the country class wholly lacks organization. By contrast, the ruling class holds strong defensive positions and is well represented by the Democratic Party. Reform needs leadership, organization and offensive behaviors.
- · Certainly the country class lacks its own political vehicle and perhaps the coherence to establish one. In the short term at least, the country class has no alternative but to channel its political efforts through the Republican Party, which is eager for its support. But the Republican Party does not live to represent the country class. For it to do so, it would have to become principles-based, as it has not been since the mid-1860s.
- · Few Republican voters, never mind the larger country class, have confidence that the party is on their side. Because, in the long run, the country class will not support a party as conflicted as today's Republicans.
- · Republican politicians who really want to represent it will either reform the party in an unmistakable manner, or start a new one as Whigs like Abraham Lincoln started the Republican Party in the 1850s.
- · The name of the party that will represent America's country class is far less important than what, precisely, it represents and how it goes about representing it because, for the foreseeable future, American politics will consist of confrontation between what we might call the Country Party and the ruling class.
- · Challenging the Democratic Party having transformed itself into a unit with near-European discipline would seem to require empowering a rival party at least as disciplined. Any country party would have to be wise and skillful indeed not to become the Democrats' mirror image. Yet to defend the country class, to break down the ruling class's presumptions, it has no choice but to imitate the Democrats, at least in some ways and for a while.
- · For the country class seriously to contend for self-governance, the political party that represents it will have to discredit not just such patent frauds as ethanol mandates, the pretense that taxes can control "climate change," and the outrage of banning God from public life. More important, such a serious party would have to attack the ruling class's fundamental claims to its superior intellect and morality in ways that dispirit the target and hearten one's own.
- · Achieving the country class's inherently revolutionary objectives in a manner consistent with the Constitution and with its own diversity would require the Country Party to use legislation primarily as a tool to remove obstacles, to instruct, to reintroduce into American life ways and habits that had been cast aside.
- · Simultaneously reduce the taxes that most Americans resent requires eliminating the network of subsidies to millions of other Americans that these taxes finance, and eliminating the jobs of government employees who administer them because subsidies are morally wrong and economically counterproductive, and because the country cannot afford the practice in general.
- · The electorate is likely to cut off millions of government clients, high and low, only if its choice is between no economic privilege for anyone and ratifying government's role as the arbiter of all our fortunes.
- · The same goes for government grants to and contracts with so-called nonprofit institutions or non-governmental organizations. The case must be made against all arrangements by which the government favors some groups of citizens is easier to make than that against any such arrangement.
- · If self-governance means anything, it means that those who exercise government power must depend on elections. The shorter the electoral leash, the likelier an official to have his chain yanked by voters, the more truly republican the government is.
- · To subject the modern administrative state's agencies to electoral control requires ordinary citizens to take an interest in any number of technical matters. Law can require environmental regulators or insurance commissioners, or judges or auditors to be elected. But only citizens' discernment and vigilance could make these officials good. Only citizens' understanding of and commitment to law can possibly reverse the patent disregard for the Constitution and statutes that have permeated American life.
- · Do not, as Lincoln warned, begin trifling with the Constitution for the most heartfelt of motives because it destroys Constitutional protections for all. But do not ignore the founder’s strict constitutional provisions allowing for change.
- · The Democrats having set the rules of modern politics, opponents who want electoral success are obliged to follow them. In other words, the usually passive and gentle country class needs to get politically ruthless with a piercing intellectual focus that cuts the heart out of the ruling classes’ argument. In short, it’s time to take the gloves off to save the republic. Better to fight in the political arena then in the streets.
The inevitable clash of the classes
Though the country class had long argued along with Edmund Burke against making revolutionary changes, it faces the uncomfortable question common to all who have had revolutionary changes imposed on them: are we now to accept what was done to us just because it was done?
The clash between the two is about which side's vision of itself and of the other is right and which is wrong. Because each side, especially the ruling class, embodies its views on the issues, concessions by one side to another on any issue tend to discredit that side's view of itself. As such, the ruling class will not allow for wiggle room, while the country class must stop, once and for all, giving up ground and playing nice. One side or the other will prevail. The clash is as sure and momentous as its outcome is unpredictable. No side will back-down without a fight. The question is: will the fight take place through political and institutional channels or social revolution?
The ruling class's greatest difficulty, aside from being outnumbered, will be to argue, against the grain of reality, that the revolution it continues to press upon America is sustainable. In other words, the political “Ponzi” scheme can continue forever. For its part, the country class's greatest difficulty will be to enable a revolution to take place without imposing it. America has been imposed on enough. It is time for all country class patriots to take a stand and fight.