Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Trump, the Revolted Public's "Objet Trouvé"

What is not to like when people start noticing your book as a key to understanding the times of our Trump. That’s what they have done with Martin Gurri and The Revolt of the Public. OK, so I haven’t read the book, not yet, but the argument seems to be that the people are revolting because they have been promised stuff that hasn’t happened. On Gurri’s blog, he writes:
The American public, like the public everywhere, is engaged in a long migration away from the structures of representative democracy to more sectarian arrangements. In Henri Rosanvallon’s term, the democratic nation has devolved into a “society of distrust.” The reasons, Rosanvallon argues, are deep and structural, but we also have available a simple functional explanation: the perception, not always unjustified, that democratic government has failed to deliver on its promises.
Right now we are merely at the stage where the electorate is eager to punish its rulers.

Now let’s have some more of the same.
The public, I mean to say, cares a lot about outcomes and not so much about the legitimacy of the ballot box or the authority of elected officials. And if the outcomes demanded are a tangle of contradictions that divide the public, the sense of being betrayed and abandoned by “protected classes” is shared across large majorities of mutually hostile persuasions. The landscape in a society of distrust tilts steeply toward repudiation: everyone, at all times, wants to stand against.
To which I would say, no kidding Sherlock! You mean that democratic politics, which is all about politicians making ridiculous promises and conducting civil war by other means and setting neighbor against neighbor to win elections, ends up in a society of distrust in which people fall back into their pre-industrial sects and tribes?

The public “cares a lot about outcomes” as in free stuff? And the public doesn’t much care about where it comes from? Could there be a problem with that?

This shows that my catchphrases about politics is violence and government is force tell you all you need to know. If politicians promise the voters loot and plunder from the exactions of the tax gatherer on the One Percent, then people are going to very quickly revert to the good old hunter-gatherer culture of the dawn raid on the neighboring village for loot and rape and plunder. In that sort of culture you don’t care about the niceties of inter-village Rules for the Conduct of Dawn Raids. What counts is the vision of all the food in the neighboring village and all the nubile young women they have over there wandering around with nothing to do.

Once you start the mission creep beyond the simple notion of government keeping us safe you are setting yourself up for disappointment and the society of distrust.

There is even a problem in the very first promise that government makes: to keep us safe. Nobody can make that promise. There is no such thing as “safe.” There is only life and its uncertainties and its ups and downs. There will be tough times and we will have to deal with them and it will be dishonest to blame the whole thing on the usual suspects and the convenient scapegoat. It will be no use complaining that “I paid my share” and demanding my entitlement. Because if the land is devastated by war, or famine, or earthquake, or just government mistakes, then everyone has to pitch in and dig out of the hole.

That’s why I think that the modern idea of pensions and entitlements midwifed by the government is not just a bad idea and cruel and unjust besides, but the fount of folly: worse that a crime, it’s a blunder. It works fine, as long as nothing goes wrong. But it always goes wrong because nobody should make predictions, especially about the future. Something always goes wrong, and then there is nothing to do but to try to dig out of it.

The great avoidable follies of the last two hundred years during the Great Enrichment from $1-3 per day to $100 per day have been people refusing to submit to reverses when things go wrong for them and demanding that other people pay instead. And the worst of it is that time and time again the evolved and the educated have encouraged the people in their folly. There were the artisans that were put out of business by machine industry. There were the industrial workers outraged by the remorseless workings of the international price system. There were the Germans, in the most advanced country in the world, reduced to rage by their loss in World War I. Now we have the world’s Muslims, humiliated and enraged by the five-hundred-year hegemony of the West.

Then, of course, we have the people encouraged to rage by liberals right here in the good old USA: blacks and students in the Sixties, women in the Seventies, gays in the Eighties. Now liberals are trying to do a number on Hispanics and provoke them to rage as well. What could go wrong?

Our problem, of course, is that our ruling class, led by what Gurri calls the “protected classes,” is like every ruling class. It knows how to do the daily observances of its ruling class dominance ritual, like the citizens of the Hunger Games Capitol. But it has no idea what the rituals mean. It was the long-dead ancestors of the ruling class that actually wielded swords and plotted revolution and sent the old regime packing. As in any late dynasty, our current rulers really don’t know what they are doing. Hey Barack!

Barack Obama was educated in the community organizer tactics of Saul Alinsky. And young Hillary Clinton also studied the master. The trouble is that it is one thing for a leader of the oppressed to harass and humiliate the ruling class, as Alinsky proposed. It is another thing when the community organizer is a member of the ruling class -- the President of the United State even -- and his rank and file are funded in part by a regime supporter like George Soros.

If you don’t understand the difference then you are a feckless ruling-class scion that is cruising for a bruising. And The Revolt of the Public will continue to coalesce.

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