Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Ruling Class and Country Class

Now that the present ruling class is about 100 years old, we can look around and see what it has done.  We can put up a notice, as Sir Christopher Wren's son did on his father's grave: "Si monumentum requiris, circumspice."  If you seek his monument, look around.

It is interesting, to me, to think about what the ruling class has conceded to its subjects, the "country class" of Angelo Codevilla, and what it has not.  It is pretty obvious to me that all the social issues, from the just-decided gay marriage to abortion and the "sexual revolution" are issues on which the ruling class has imposed its will.  The ruling class wants to be able to do what it wants, and it has the cultural and political power to impose its will.

But then the whole welfare state is also the ruling class's idea.  The working class may have had an idea of free education and higher wages with unions.  But it certainly didn't come up with the idea of nationalizing its fraternal associations and benefit clubs into the administrative welfare state.  That was the idea of the educated ruling class.  And who benefits?  The ruling class, because it gets lots of jobs and sinecures out of the administrative welfare state, from professorships to directorships to counselorships.

Now, in the case of social issues and the administrative welfare state it is clear that the ruling class has created an over-under coalition with the underclass.  But what about the middle-class entitlements: pensions, Medicare, and education?  Again, the ruling class gets what it wants, but this time in a coalition with the middle class and against the underclass, which must grub for the $1 trillion a year in crumbs for welfare, compared to the $3 trillion in pension/healthcare/education colossus that is subsidizing the middle class.

Angelo Codevilla wrote back in 2010 that if you agree with the ruling class, you have a party to vote for: the Democrats.  But if you disagree with the ruling class, you are out of luck, because the Republican Party is a kind of junior ruling class.
[T]he 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, this will change.
Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled. Whereas in 1968 Governor George Wallace’s taunt “there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference” between the Republican and Democratic parties resonated with only 13.5 percent of the American people, in 1992 Ross Perot became a serious contender for the presidency (at one point he was favored by 39 percent of Americans vs. 31 percent for G.H.W. Bush and 25 percent for Clinton) simply by speaking ill of the ruling class. 
But how?  How will the majority's demand for representation be filled?  The simple answer is that it won't happen until the ruling class starts to run out of money and start losing wars.   The French Revolution didn't occur until the French monarchy was broke after losing a couple wars against the Brits.  The Reagan Revolution didn't come along until the ruling class had lost the war in Vietnam.

There is this.  A good ruling class knows that it must train its young up, get tough on them and make them deserve their inheritance.  The prime example of this was the Spartan regime in ancient Greece.  But our ruling class is terminally self-indulgent.  Perhaps it has no option; perhaps it has to buy the support of each rising generation of the ruling class.

The ruling class can go soft in a hurry.  It didn't take long for the murderous Bolsheviks to go soft on terror, then go soft on their empire, and then just hand over the reins of power to the KGB.

All we know is that our ruling class will one day lose power.  And that the way of its losing will take everyone by surprise.

Of course, the cure may be worse than the disease.

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