Tuesday, July 8, 2014

The Double Game of the Ruling Class

On the one hand our educated rulers insist that there is no difference between the races.  On the other hand they insist on treating the races differently with "affirmative action" and "diversity."

But now, with the modern analysis of the human genome, we know that humans really do display genetic differences that are "recent, copious, and regional."  Those words come from Nicholas Wade's controversial Troublesome Inheritance. Meanwhile, as Michael Barone reminds us:
The American Anthropological Association states that race "is a recent human invention" and "is about culture, not biology." The American Sociological Association calls race "a social construct" and decries "the danger of contributing to the popular conception of race as biological."
On the one hand our educated rulers insist that they must rule over us because we can't be trusted not to fall for nationalist and racist demagogues.  On the other hand they invented "identity politics" so they could appeal for votes on the basis of sex, race, and language.

Then our educated rulers fell head over heels in love with Barack Obama, a man that clearly governs as a racist demagogue.

On the one hand our educated rulers insist that Americans follow the law.  On the other hand President Obama rules with his phone and his pen.  We know why this is so; it is because it is impossible to write laws with the complexity to grasp a comprehensive task like, e.g., health care or immigration.  It is mere common sense to know that all human activity relies, in the end, upon the flexibility and good will of the humans involved.  But the whole point of a legal system is to draw simple lines in the sand.  It is also common sense that when many lines are drawn in the sand for many laws the result will be indecipherable.

What does it all mean?

In my view we should look at this by recognizing that our educated ruling class is, first of all, like any other ruling class.  It wants to rule.  It wants to use government to implement its vision of a good society.  Generally speaking, in the modern era, that means government as an aesthetic project, producing a society that is pleasing to the eye of the educated ruling class.

Let us call this ruling class the People of the Creative Self; they believe in the German cult of creativity that began not later than the Romantic movement at the turn of the 19th century.  They believe, of course, that they have a heavenly mandate to create a new society on earth by creative political innovation.

The ruling class has a problem because its creative vision clashes with another group, the modern middle class that I call the People of the Responsible Self.  The People of the Responsible Self believe in responsible individualism.  They believe they should be free, as responsible individuals, to live lives substantially free from detailed government regulation, and they believe that they should be free to worship God (or Gaia or Mammon) in their own way.

The People of the Responsible Self create a problem for the educated ruling class, because they disagree about the nature of the good society.  Nobody can tell what will result from a society of responsible individuals working and playing individually without conforming to an overall national plan. In consequence the ruling class has been forced to appeal over the heads of the responsible individualists to the lower orders to get the support it needs for its aesthetic project.  But there is a problem. The lower orders are not responsible individualists or educated creatives.  They are tribal.  If you want to win their votes you must make tribal appeals; you must act like a tribal leader and frankly offer them free stuff in return for their support, and you must couch your appeal in terms of an embattled tribe struggling to exist in a world of enemies: bosses, patriarchs, KKKs, bigots, etc.

There is, of course, a fundamental contradiction here.  How can the educated ruling class create a perfect world of aesthetic harmony and liberation and emancipation when it obtains its political support by frank appeal to race and gender and the shameless offer of loot?

It can't, and that's why we see the whole progressive project of the educated ruling class collapsing all around us.  What our educated ruling class needs to learn, in the words of Chief Justice Roberts, is this: "The way to stop discrimination on the basis of race is to stop discriminating on the basis of race."  The way for a ruling class to achieve a society that soars above racism and sexism is to lead without resorting to appeals based on race and gender.

Hypocrisy, they say, is the homage that vice pays to virtue.  We are all hypocrites, and all end up undone by our hypocrisy.  Especially ruling classes.

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