Wednesday, July 20, 2016

The Fault is Not In Our Elites, But in the World They Made

For some reason, I can't get excited enough about the Republican National Convention to watch it. Perhaps it's because I am going to observe my 70th birthday at the end of the month.

Or maybe it's because much bigger things are afoot than Donald Trump or Hillary Clinton.

I wrote some disparaging words about the failures of the "administrative faction of the ruling class" at American Thinker this week, including blaming it for World War I and its failed aftermath.

Looking at the big picture, I guess you could say that World War I tore apart the 19th century world and World War II put the world together again. Except for the Soviet Union.

That's because in the US and UK, the ruling class came together on World War II and forged their peoples, broken by 20 years of misery, back into a nation again. Talk to a person in their 80s, the generation that was young in the 1940s, and they are all pretty good with going along to get along with big government. Hey, big government had its finest hour in World War II.

The ruling class was so pleased with itself that it went to sleep and figured it would rule forever. But obviously with the Crash of 2008, political correctness, the rise of radical Islam, and Brexit and Trump, something has changed. The post-World War II world is coming to an end, and we don't know what will come next.

Here's a piece about the failures of the GOP elite by Jeffrey H. Anderson. He lists four failures: failure to listen to the citizenry, getting suckered into the Democrats' model for nominating presidential candidates (primaries instead of smoke-filled rooms), failing to make a big picture case, failing to back the viable challenger (i.e., Walker, Cruz). All in all, he writes, "the problems in our politics lie more with the elites than with the citizenry."

All true, but all ground level, tactical stuff.

And really meaningless, because the GOP elite doesn't have real power. They don't get to make the world; they just live in it. Their failure is really the failure to take down the political and cultural worldconstructed by the Democrats. Yet how are the GOPers to do that, since politics is downstream from culture?

Let us try and construct a big picture to explain our situation.

Back in the 19th century the Left, in what we will call a genuine concern for the plight of the workers, built a political movement by splitting off the working class from an identity with the nation. This project failed in World War I when the working class identified with their nations and fought in the trenches against each other. Anyway, it had turned out, capitalism wasn't "immiserating" the working class, it was enriching it.

Still, you had to hand it to the Left. Their project worked pretty well. It is only now, a century after World War I, that the working class, in Brexit and Trump, has become disenchanted with the leadership of the Left.

The point is that people respond to divisive politics, and are easily persuaded that "they" are out to exploit "us." And everyone is in favor of government putting its thumb on the scales of justice if it benefits "us." So it took a while for the workers to realize that the Left didn't care about people like them.

But the Left had another card up its sleeve. It went from class politics to identity politics. Now instead of splitting the working class off from the nation it would split off all kinds of groups, from women to racial minorities to sexual minorities. Looking at the result, it is clear that divide and conquer is not that hard to do. You can get women to believe that they have been kept down by the patriarchy, blacks to believe that they have been kept down by the police, gays that they have been kept down by Christian bigots, and so on.

Conservatives have reacted by fingering the tactics of this cultural Marxism, the community organizer tactics of chaps like Saul Alinsky and the activism culture that all good little girls learn in government schools. And we are outraged.

But from a big picture view we must understand that all politics is division: that is the politician's stock in trade. It is just that lefties are so much better at it. And they have set the rules so that their divisive tactics are all about communities coming together while their opponents' divisive tactics are bigotry and racism.

In addition the Left has grown the government from 7 percent of GDP to 35 percent of GDP as it has rewarded its supporters with government loot. But the more loot is handed out the less that capitalism can innovate and create new wealth. And the more that the losers get angry.

That gets us to Stein's Law. If something cannot go on forever, it will stop.

Obviously, today's division cannot go on forever. So how can we stop all this division? The answer is right in front of us. The only time humans come together is during an existential emergency, like a flood or a war.

The only way we are going to be able to heal all the divisions provoked by the Left since World War II is by having us a great big war.

And it is pretty obvious what that war is going to be all about. Muslims.

Of course it's going to be pretty hard on Muslims who are, after all, just people. But the fact is that today's radical Islam is implacably opposed to everything that made the West great. Islam is opposed to the separation of church and state; it is tribal rather than national; it is opposed to social and economic innovation, the foundation of the Great Enrichment; it is social and religiously intolerant. It denies women a public life.

Suppose you were a populist leader looking for a way to unify a nation or a culture under your leadership. What would you do? You would look for an enemy that you could use to unify your people. Hey, liberals do it all the time, only their enemies are the racists, sexists, homophobes right here at home.

Don't like it? Neither do I. But the fact is that you cannot unify people around the concept of rainbows and unicorns. You can only unify them to face and to fight an existential threat to their lives and the lives of their loved ones.

So maybe that's why I can't get too excited about the political conventions. I think that much bigger things are afoot, but we are only in the early stages of this sea change in our politics and our culture, and the great events of the political season are meaningless skirmishes as great movements arise to deal with our existential crisis, and mobilize us, willy nilly, for war.

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