The Ruling Class

Scenes from the class struggle on the American right

Few essays attracted as much attention from right-wing readers this summer as "America's Ruling Class—and the Perils of Revolution," an extended argument that an incestuous social set "rules uneasily over the majority of Americans." Written by Angelo Codevilla of the Claremont Institute and first published in The American Spectator, this very long article has now been expanded into a very brief book, called The Ruling Class. If you're interested in the state of the American right, it's an instructive document—a book that strives mightily to marry conservative cultural complaints to the libertarian case against an intrusive central government.

The book argues that most of America can be split into two categories, a ruling class and a country class. The ruling class is everyone, "whether in government power directly or as officers in companies," whose "careers and fortunes depend on government." The second category consists of civil society: all those businesses, families, and community groups that don't subsist on subsidies and privileges. Codevilla believes the rulers' power is expanding at the expense of the country class, and he warns of a world where crony capitalism replaces free markets, unaccountable administrative agencies replace self-government, and the rule of professionals replaces popular participation. He hits the last point particularly hard, at times sounding more like a decentralist radical in the mold of Ivan Illich or Christopher Lasch than a conventional conservative Republican. Indeed, Codevilla says the GOP is part of the problem, arguing that the party "has zero claim to the Country Class' trust because it does not live to represent the Country Class." He has more enthusiasm for homeschoolers than for any political party.

So far, so good. But odd ideas periodically slip into the story. There are dubious digs at Darwinism, glib legal arguments, and sweeping statements that do more to flatter right-wing resentment than to describe the world as it is. ("Every December," the author announces at one point, we "are reminded that the Ruling Class deems the very word 'Christmas' to be offensive.") Codevilla acknowledges that the country class is "heterogeneous" and "speaks with many voices, which are often inharmonious," but his portrait of it feels more uniform than those words imply. He conveys his comradely solidarity for traditional parents whose rights have been restricted but not gay couples who want to adopt kids of their own, for the fellow who wants to use a high pressure shower head but not the fellow who wants to use a bong, for Middle Americans who prefer Branson to Hollywood but not Middle Americans who prefer the local underground music scene (not to mention the many Middle Americans who are quite happy with Hollywood and keep the stars well-fed). He doesn't attack those other people, mind you. He just leaves them out, as though the set of citizens who make up the country class is indistinguishable from the set of citizens whose lives reflect the author's cultural preferences.

That much is forgivable. Unfortunately, the book's portrait of the ruling class is overly narrow as well, with Codevilla contriving to exclude even a president from the ranks of the rulers. (The absent executive is Ronald Reagan, apparently on the grounds that he was mocked in the media and in a private comment attributed to his vice president. With such standards, you might as well subtract Bill Clinton from the ruling class too.) "Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust," Codevilla writes, with educational institutions imposing a "remarkably uniform...social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints." It's not clear how he reconciles this statement with his critique of crony capitalists. Does the average beneficiary of the bank bailout fit that description? How about the heavies at Halliburton, or at the company formerly known as Blackwater? Enron's execs were fluent in eco-speak, but did the managers there really think in terms of "sins" against "the environment"? Given their ability to build coal plants in the Third World while pushing for stricter regulations on their coal-based competitors at home, I'd say Enron was playing the greenwashing game on its own terms.

I don't usually seek wisdom from David Brooks columns, but Mr. National Greatness had a point when he wrote this:

Ever since I started covering politics, the Democratic ruling class has been driven by one fantasy: that voters will get so furious at people with M.B.A.'s that they will hand power to people with Ph.D.'s. The Republican ruling class has been driven by the fantasy that voters will get so furious at people with Ph.D.'s that they will hand power to people with M.B.A.'s.

Brooks is no foe of elite rule, and his aim was to discredit populism of any kind. But you don't have to agree with his larger intent to recognize that his sketch of the ruling classes, oversimplified as it is, still has more nuance than the model in this book. There isn't much room for those MBAs in Codevilla's caricature of the upper crust.

When you describe your political foes as though they're a single stock type and in effect do the same thing to your allies, you run the risk of reducing a broad-based cause to identity politics, with cultural solidarity supplanting serious challenges to the nature and distribution of power. George W. Bush (MBA, Harvard Business School) sent all the right signals to Codevilla's target audience to tell them he was one of them, and more than one liberal figure inadvertently assisted the president with complaints about his "cowboy" ways. In the meantime the man's administration was, in Codevilla's words, different from Obama's "in degree, not kind." Lesson: People with Bush's background—or Dick Cheney's, or John McCain's—can be members of the ruling elite too.

When you confuse culture war with class war (are we allowed to call this "class war"?), it's easier to mistake a symbolic battle for a meaningful revolt of the oppressed. It's the mirror image of those folks on the left who'd rather scold someone for being politically incorrect than advance the interests of the underclass. Already we've seen Spectator editor-in-theory R. Emmett Tyrrell dragging Codevilla's thesis into the most inane culture-war controversy of the year: the outrage over Park51, a proposed Muslim community center near the site of the old World Trade Center.

Now, you could certainly use Codevilla's arguments to illuminate this debate. His book decries the reign of administrative bureaucracies, objects to the abuse of eminent domain, and worries that religious expression is being suppressed. With Park51, the leading Republican gubernatorial candidate has called for the Public Service Commission to keep a prayer space from being built—and his rival for the nomination only disagrees to the extent that he'd use eminent domain to stop the project instead. The two of them are a Codevillan nightmare come to life.

But that isn't Tyrrell's concern. "The Country Class," he wrote in an August editorial, "has come down against the mosque," while "the Ruling Class wants to place a mosque at the site of September 11." So much for defending the voluntary sector; on with the ginned-up outrage of the month. That's where the culture war will get you.

Managing Editor Jesse Walker is the author of Rebels on the Air: An Alternative History of Radio in America (NYU Press).

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  • Fluffy||

    This was a good movie. I liked O'Toole's performance.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Definitely the best use of "Dem Bones" that I've ever seen in a movie.

  • ||

    Which movie.

  • Jesse Walker||

    The Ruling Class.

  • ||

    Is that the one with O'Toole's character thinking he's Jesus or something like that?

  • Jesse Walker||

    Yeah.

  • ||

    O'Toole is one of the greats. I seem to recall that he's never won an Oscar, either. Insane.

  • deet||

    Well he did get nominated for Lawrence of Arabia; but, I agree that he was snubbed for his gripping performances in Supergirl, King Ralph, Caligula, and High Spirits.

    Nobody upstages Steve Guttenberg and lives to tell the tale...

  • ||

    Becket, Lord Jim, The Lion in Winter, to name a few where he was great.

  • ||

    It was just on TCM the other night. Never heard of it -- it was quite a pleasant surprise!

  • Tony||

    Anything to distract from the vast gaping chasm between the richest 1% and everyone else.

    No no, the divisions in our society that matter are whether you work for government or not. Except Ronald Reagan. Sheesh.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    You do know that your eeeeeeeeeeeeevil top 1% also pays 40% of the income tax revenue, right?

    With your progressives, it's never about how much you get, but how much left they have to take. You're consumed only with your own envy, and insist on getting a piece of that pie via force.

    Sick fuck.

  • Tony||

    I should hope they pay a large share of the tax pie considering they have most of the wealth.

    That wealth has concentrated at the top didn't happen by accident, and it didn't happen because the rich started working a hundred times harder.

  • ||

    Why not kill off the rich--for their sins and since they didn't earn their wealth--and seize all of their wealth for redistribution to the more deserving? If killing is too much, there's always prison.

  • ||

    All those rich people are having babies and polluting too! And I'll bet they watch the Discovery Channel and buy products from its advertisers!

  • ||

    It seems like the next obvious step. If the wealthier citizens are so evil and unproductive, why not get rid of them? Exile is another alternative to mass slaughter.

  • Jimmy Lee||

    WTF??? STUPIDITY!!

  • Tony||

    Guillotines have been hauled out for less. You guys always forget the perfectly rational (if cynical) justification for "spreading the wealth around." Payment for the service of not having the unwashed masses storm your mcmansion and slit your throat.

    Thanks to a really impressive propaganda machine we're a long way from the appropriate levels of anger at the moneyed elite in this country, though. The most vocally aggrieved in this country are the ones who think government and poor people cause all their problems.

  • Heroic Mulatto||

    Holy fucking shit!

    Why are you not
    A:) Locked in a mental institution based on the fact that you are a textbook example of a psychopath?
    or
    B:)A successful 3rd-world, Central Americal-style Caudillo?

  • A is Awesome||

    That is not a rational justification AT ALL for "spreading the wealth". That explicitly means that the poor are the problem in that instance if they want to kill you. Force is not a moral way to make a gain.

  • Tony||

    I'm just trying to offer a justification that doesn't have to do anything with morality, ethics, justice, or fairness--since those things evidently don't move you guys very much. How about plain old revolution prevention? The rich have the most to lose...

  • A is Awesome||

    Again with insults. Morality and ethics matter very highly, libertarian principles just aren't based on altruism or utlitarianism, instead subsituting in more rational and individualistic codes.

  • Tony||

    A is Awesome,

    Yeah I know you have a moral code. A pretty strict one. I just don't think you apply it very meaningfully. In practice if not in theory it's pretty much freedom, even anarchy, for the rich, with everyone else getting the drippings from that and fewer chances for them to fight against abuses.

  • A is Awesome||

    It's not just for the rich though. It is for everyone. The rich, as you put, is better defined as the 'successful'. The freedom is the freedom to be successful.

    I will admit that there are rich businessmen who take advantage of their customers and employees, but I garuntee that they are not capitalists.

  • KPres||

    "In practice if not in theory it's pretty much freedom, even anarchy, for the rich, with everyone else getting the drippings from that and fewer chances for them to fight against abuses."

    The degree to which that's true notwithstanding, it happens as a result of governments, being the social embodiment of violence, using it's power to intervene in market outcomes.

  • Paul||

    What justifies the "wealth" being someone's property. Who gets to say, "That tree over there - it's mine!" Someone somewhere had to, by force, take what was naturally for all man - or asserted property by some government. I can certainly see the utility in having established property beyond ownership of oneself, but when it comes down to it - property is completely arbitrary. Why not tax wealth instead of income if you think taxes should be "fair"? How is it not a government entitlement to be allowed to bite off more wealth than you can chew? If you took that money, didn't let the government spend it how it wanted, but gave it right back to the people - how is this any more force than over-concentrated wealth itself? Is it not the force of nature that forces the hand of one without to work or steal? The threat of poverty is a strong reason to work, but is it freedom? Would these workers build wealth from their employers if they did not fear the force of poverty? Some might - and this is ideal. Others would quit their jobs as though the employer's "earned" property was in fact ill-gotten by force. The Democrats do not believe in wealth redistribution, they believe in the "elite" telling people what to do. Republicans tend to be fine with all this so long as they can minimize the share taken from the wealthy. Do we actually have wealth redistribution or simply the government telling people what to do with their money? Certainly, people should be free to accumulate their own wealth, but is it any more just for the wealthy to steal from the poor than it is for the poor to "steal" from the wealthy in a lawful manner? What right does the government or a company have in telling a person to unwillingly do their bidding? The poor might want what was stolen from them back. Theft is property, and it's very useful. If you do not wish to use force to make a gain, disown all of your material possessions and partake only of what others share freely with you.

  • A is Awesome||

    So first, LOL.

    Second, you use 'force' too broadly in ethical terms. Physically, yes, you use Force to gain property. However, poverty is not force, it is one's unwillingness to make a living. Being repressed, of course, can also cause poverty, but no one in a free-market society represses another.

    Yes, originally property was fairly arbitrary (ex: claiming land), but you do not account for intellectual property. In that case, what you yourself make is yours, it is your property.

  • Paul||

    I think a free-market society pragmatically would need a limited degree of wealth redistribution to minimize repression (repress the wealthy over repressing the less wealthy). Perhaps I'm foolish to think that people will still want more stuff when they don't have to worry about living on the street or sucking down the government's do-as-I-say tit. Certainly, it would get abused, but it would cost more to throw these people in prison. We're already spending more money in government than would be needed to support wealth distribution on telling people what to do. You could think of it as enterprise funding for the lower class.

    I disagree strongly with you on the matter of intellectual property, unless you were raised in an isolation chamber. I think Joost Smiers laid out the problems pretty well in his essay, "Imagine there is no copyright and no cultural conglomerates too."

    "Would it be going too far to describe copyright as a form of censorship? Well, not really. First of all, let’s bear in mind that every artistic work builds to no mean extent on what others have created in the distant or less distant past. Artists draw from a well-nigh endless public domain. So isn’t it rather strange that should we grant an ownership title for the entire work due to the addition, no matter how much we might admire it? The ensuing right has far-reaching consequences. After all, no one except the owner is allowed to use or change the work at his or her own discretion. A not inconsiderable proportion of the material with which we, as people, can communicate with one another is therefore under lock and key. Most of the time, there’s no problem with drawing inspiration from an existing work. The problems start when something in the new work – even if it is only something small – is, or could be, reminiscent of the previous work."

    http://www.culturelink.org/new.....yright.pdf

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Give up. Force is a fabulous way to make a gain. The ruling class uses it all the time! What is morality but another way for the ruling class to cripple the rest of us into refusing to defend ourselves and take back the wealth we have produced.

  • lol que||

    So if a rich guy decides to spread his wealth to some professional soldiers to protect him and his mansion (poseurs, suburbanites and the neveau riche occupy mcmansions) rather than be extorted by the "unwashed masses" that's cool for you?

    Oh shit, I just figured out how to merge the interest of the anti-human environmentalist and radical egalitarian socialist.

    "Spread the wealth. $1.25 of hot lead for everyone!"

  • Liberal Genius||

    "You guys always forget the perfectly rational (if cynical) justification for 'spreading the wealth around.' Payment for the service of not having the unwashed masses storm your mcmansion and slit your throat."

    This is the best explanation of liberal doctrine I've ever read. Bravo, Tony.

    So remember kids: if other people have more stuff than you, it's OK to steal some of it as long as you're part of a mob.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    And now Tony is cheerleading for an uprising of the poor against the rich. But he doesn't engage in wealth-envy, so it's okay.

  • ||

    What do you think the Obamacare death panels are going to be about? Just slip in the wording that forfeits your estate TO the state, and we are ready to live - or die - in Tony's utopia...

  • Hate Potion Number Nine||

    Why not indeed? Let's get rid of anyone who consumes but doesn't produce.

  • ||

    What do you think the Obamacare death panels are going to be about? Just slip in the wording that forfeits your estate TO the state, and we are ready to live - or die - in Tony's utopia...

  • Jason||

    That wealth has concentrated at the top didn't happen by accident, and it didn't happen because the rich started working a hundred times harder.

    Then why not oppose the government privileges given to the rich?

  • ||

    Tony, if liberals like you hadn't been promoting welfare, public housing, teacher's unions, Ebonics, the immigration of tens of millions of poor Third Worlders, and a hundred other things that help trap the poor in poverty, there'd be a lot less income disparity in the country.

  • Tony||

    Ebonics huh? You've got to be kidding me.

    On what premise do you base your conclusion? If we'd stop giving all those lazy fucks handouts they'd learn to go be entrepreneurs on their own?

  • ||

    Yes, because speaking proper English gives you better job prospects. Do you disagree?

    And if you tell everyone they're oppressed because of racism and whatever and that only government handouts can save them, people tend to rely on government handouts and wait for racism (or "racism") to go away. And if you give money to women who have kids with no husbands, you get lots of women who stay poor, and lots of kids without fathers who stay poor. It's not really very complicated.

  • Tony||

    But government handouts to employers who increasingly employ Asian children instead of American adults has nothing to do with the increasing gap... it's just a sort of mass hypnosis by liberals.

  • KPres||

    No, it's an example of how the invisible hand moves wealth from the rich to the poor, through the vehicle of the capitalist class. Before globalization, those American adults had those jobs at the expense of Chinese subsistence farmers.

    But you'd rather have those Chinese children go back to slaving away on their farms for less than they make in the factories, barely enough to feed themselves, right Tony? How very "progressive" of you.

  • Hate Potion Number Nine||

    It seems that yours is a zero-sum game after all. Where is this "expand the pie" business now?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Liberals believe in a FINITE amount of pie, and it must be evenly divided at the molecular level in order for everyone to get Their Fair Share.

    Of course, it can't be done, but that's how they view it.

  • Marian Kechlibar||

    Technically, they believe in *constant* amount of pie.

    The pie is obviously finite, as it is a subset of the observable universe, which is finite.

    But the free-market concept is that the pie can expand.

  • ||

    Tony, you stupid economically-illterate unwanted shitstain, the richest one percent have 20% of the wealth and pay 40% of the income taxes. Still not progressive enough for you, you green-gilled little turd?

  • A is Awesome||

    As much as I agree with your discription of Tony, name-calling is still not cool.

  • ||

    I dunno... I thought that was pretty cool.

  • KPres||

    "Control of the wealth" is irrelevant. You want capital in the hands of those who've proven they know how to allocate it properly. You want people like Warren Buffet to have it, not some trailer-trash who got pregnant at 17, or even a decent middle-class software engineer.

    The lifestyles of lower classes will benefit more from proper resource allocation than from the "temporary control" ("temporary" in scare quotes because without the profit motive creating price signals, the masses will eventually destroy it, "control" in scare quotes because control means one vote in 300 million).

    And let's not forget, 25% of the wealth is currently in the hands of Barack Obama. Liberals never count that.

    But, more importantly, there's a categorical difference between capital and consumption.

    Consumption, not capital, describes people's quality of life. Owning stock doesn't improve your quality of live one wit, it's just a piece of paper saying you own this. The amount you consume is what reflects quality of your lifestyle, and consumption inequality in America is rather mild, with the top 10% owning around 30% of the consumer goods (less than their tax burden, I might add).

  • KPres||

    "Control of the wealth" is irrelevant. You want capital in the hands of those who've proven they know how to allocate it properly. You want people like Warren Buffet to have it, not some trailer-trash who got pregnant at 17, or even a decent middle-class software engineer.

    The lifestyles of lower classes will benefit more from proper resource allocation than from the "temporary control" ("temporary" in scare quotes because without the profit motive creating price signals, the masses will eventually destroy it, "control" in scare quotes because control means one vote in 300 million).

    And let's not forget, 25% of the wealth is currently in the hands of Barack Obama. Liberals never count that.

    But, more importantly, there's a categorical difference between capital and consumption.

    Consumption, not capital, describes people's quality of life. Owning stock doesn't improve your quality of live one wit, it's just a piece of paper saying you own this. The amount you consume is what reflects quality of your lifestyle, and consumption inequality in America is rather mild, with the top 10% owning around 30% (I believe) of the consumer goods (less than their tax burden, I might add).

  • ||

    It was established a long time ago that Tony is a dumb bastard...let's move on!

  • cynical||

    "Anything to distract from the vast gaping chasm between the richest 1% and everyone else."

    Aren't they mostly part of or served by the ruling class?

  • Mr. FIFY||

    Tony claims he doesn't engage in wealth envy, and yet here is bitching about teh evuuuul richest 1 percent.

    Fucking liar.

  • ¢||

    ("Every December," the author announces at one point, we "are reminded that the Ruling Class deems the very word 'Christmas' to be offensive.")

    "Offensive" is a lame descriptor, because no one is really offended by anything, but not calling Christmas things "Christmas _________" is definitely a low-wattage signal of being on board with The Man, by choice or duress. You know this.

    And 70% whataboutery in a review of a book you don't even properly describe is maybe a bit much. Just say "I kinda skimmed it. It's teabaggy." Your first sentence alone is a sufficient ignorance-justifying citation for its critical non-readers. "Even Reason, hardly a liberal blah blah..."

    You got that job. Stop begging for it.

  • Jesse Walker||

    No need to skim it. You can read the whole thing thoroughly in half an hour.

    And there's no shortage of ruling class people who use the word "Christmas" freely, including the president of the United States. You know this.

  • jacob||

    SNAP! +1

  • ||

    Nice article, and the whole Brook's column you link is worth a read. The opening line about politics as "the organization of hatreds" is a gem.

  • ||

    Anything to distract from the vast gaping chasm between the richest 1% and everyone else.

    Let's hear it for the politics of envy, folks!

  • Fony||

    No one should be in the top 1% as long as I'm not.

  • Tony||

    Look I don't offer up stupid canned psychological diagnoses whenever someone brays about liberal elites and their fancy east coast educations.

    How large does the wealth gap have to get before arguing for mitigating it stops being merely the product of envy? We're at 1928 levels now (hey, what does now and 1928 have in common, economy-wise?)

  • Jason||

    hey, what does now and 1928 have in common, economy-wise?

    A president who likes to meddle in the economy?

  • ||

    As long as that wealth gap is created by the free market, and not crony capitalism etc, I'm ok with it.

    I just want a shot, if I dont' make it that's cool.

  • ||

    HERESY TO THE LIBERAL LEFT!!!

  • A is Awesome||

    In a free market, rational human beings don't have much of 'wealth gap'.

  • Tony||

    That's a good first step. Of course I believe a laissez-faire market does result in a large wealth gap naturally, but at least you aren't defending the status quo (crony capitalism). So how much time do you spend railing against the crony capitalism that has created the wealth gap vs. the poor people allegedly getting a free ride?

  • RyanXXX||

    Whoa! Did you just admit that what we have right now isn't a "free market," and therefore the free market can't be blamed?! Good on ya, Tony.

  • Tony||

    RyanXXX of course we don't have a laissez-faire system, and we never will. But the lurches toward one during the last half-century have been destructive enough.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    So, we should lurch in the opposite direction. Great idea.

  • KPres||

    "Of course I believe a laissez-faire market does result in a large wealth gap naturally"

    False.

    In a closed system, competition drives profit margins toward zero (which is the income of the wealthy). Even Marx recognized this. What's preventing that from happening on a large scale today is emerging markets (Lenin's "imperialism"), but once the labor market is homogenized worldwide, you'll see the income gap drop. Of course, that won't happen if the protectionists have their way.

  • Dello||

    "How large does the wealth gap have to get before arguing for mitigating it stops being merely the product of envy?"

    Who cares!? Since deficits don't matter, then nobody is truly poorer than anyone else, they just haven't been given enough money yet.

  • Tony||

    Who said deficits don't matter? I mean, besides Dick Cheney.

  • KPres||

    Paul Krugman.

  • Tony||

    He says they aren't the most important concern right now, during a weak economy. That fixating on paying down deficits instead of promoting job growth is counterproductive.

    Dick Cheney on the other hand felt it was acceptable, during a good economy, to cut taxes and explode the deficit while fighting two wars.

  • ||

    Yeah, in 8 years to almost what Obama did in 1.5... what an irresponsible fuck... or you gonna blame that on Bush to?

  • Tony||

    What exactly are you blathering about? Did you understand the point at all?

  • ||

    Tony, I would never characterize you as being so encumbered as to have a point to your free-market hatred...

  • ||

    Douche...

  • Mr. FIFY||

    But he ISN'T a wealth-envier! He has more than one home, AND a private beach!

    He just doesn't feel guilty about having all that largesse while the poor have to make do with a low-rent subsidized apartment and the public swimming pool.

  • ||

    Er...you are the one who most resembles a feminine-hygiene product...an angry, uncivil product with poor impulse control. Your beliefs may well be more accurate a model of reality than Tony's, but you write like an asshole, and I wish you would get the fuck off the page.

  • ||

    (@monty.crisco)

  • Mike the Grouch||

    Look I don't offer up stupid canned psychological diagnoses whenever someone brays about liberal elites and their fancy east coast educations.

    In fact, this might be the best way to combat this whole "politics of envy" thing. Except that it falls exactly into the same false dichotomy trap as the rest of all this, thinking that it's right vs. left, ruling vs. country, etc.

    It's obvious that anyone who talks about a ruling/government class but excludes Ronald Reagan is an idiot. Under Ronald Reagan the war on drugs and government attack on porn were both heavily increased or renewed. It was hardly a golden age for libertarian ideals. In fact, it was a time where government corruption spread like wildfire. In a democracy the single biggest enemy of freedom is not external force, but corruption. Nothing subverts a decent society like a fraud against the very citizens who think they're obeying a justly instituted government.

  • Tony||

    Let's not leave out the guns and cocaine trafficking.

  • KPres||

    "We're at 1928 levels now (hey, what does now and 1928 have in common, economy-wise?)"

    Here's what it has in common:

    The Federal Reserve created an inflation boom, which the wealthy capitalized on.

  • BakedPenguin||

    Yes, they should make a law against people getting so rich. That couldn't possibly have any negative unintended consequences.

  • Cliché Bandit||

    Tony thinks that if you cut a dipole magnet in half you get a monopole.

    Silly rabbit, Trix are for Kids.

  • ChrisO||

    Boundary-drawing exercises like Codevilla's are always difficult, at best. Any thesis that begins "there are two kinds of people..." misses out on too many things to be particularly useful.

    One of the most frustrating things about the Team Red/Team Blue grudge match is that neither side seems to place much value on the individual. More than anything, I believe this is why libertarian ideas have had such a rough go of it in recent decades.

  • Mo||

    I like the cut of your jib ChrisO. I say we form Team Individual to sort those other teams out.

  • ChrisO||

    Fear the Unherdable Cats!

  • matt||

    Difficult and ambiguous, but not useless. Guys like Codevilla can be understood to have said "everyone fits perfectly into these two groups," but it's actually more like "here's a pattern of distinction that helps politics make a little more sense."

    And Codevilla is right that there's a pattern; the Ivies are becoming more homogeneously statist and having graduated from one is becoming a necessity for those who want to ascend to the highest levels. That has implications, and not good ones.

  • Slap the Enlightened!||

    Meh. It must be Cosmotarian Obfuscation Through Hair-Splitting Week.

    As I pointed out on Wilkinson's blog, if you really want to find out where the boundaries are drawn, wait until they start shooting at each other. Union vs. Confederacy was a pretty well defined boundary, other distinctions not withstanding. Whether or not a particular faction of Confederates was pro-gay marriage is rather superfluous, in the larger context.

    I submit that when the Ruling Class and the Country Class start shooting at each other, whatever ad hoc alliances are formed defining who is "in" the group and who is "out" of the group will carry a lot more weight carry a lot more weight than the "nuanced" descriptions preferred by Brooks and Walker.

  • Jesse Walker||

    Take it up with Codevilla. Or better, with Tyrrell. They're the culture warriors, not me.

  • Mr. FIFY||

    No, ChrisO... *encourage* the Team Red/Team Blue grudge match until it becomes a bloodbath.

    Imagine, at least 500 Congressmen, dead by their own hands at the throats of their enemies. On C-SPAN. Live.

    THAT, is campaign finance reform.

  • SIV||

    Deschooling Society didn't strike me as "abstract". Illich's approach to education, as I recall, was to discard the whole tub without worry as to which was baby and what was bathwater.Seemed like a very simple and sensible solution.

  • David Theroux||

    Jesse, I would suggest that post-modern culture does not provide any meaningful insight regarding the nature of government power. In fact, such views may well be partly responsible for the rise of statism.

    Instead, I would recommend the following, very insightful assessment of Angelo Cordevilla's superb essay:

    "A Splendid Essay on the Two Great Classes in Contemporary America," by Robert Higgs
    http://www.independent.org/blog/index.php?p=7134

  • Jesse Walker||

    David, I'm not sure what you mean in this context by "post-modern culture." Care to elaborate?

    I should add that some of the things that are bad about the book -- the weird attacks on Darwinism, for example -- were not present in the original essay that Bob praises in that post.

  • ||

    Shouldn't 'Darwinism' be attacked? I've always equated it with those Creationists too rabid to really understand--it's the 'faith' version of understanding the theory of evolution--they 'believe' rather than understand--and a good many who can be classed as 'Darwinist' use the theory of Evolution as part of their fervid faith in atheism--though that theory does not speak to the creation of the universe or the existence/non-existence of a god.

  • Tony||

    Few people are indoctrinated into "Darwinism" and believe it on faith. That's silly. My atheism came about partly as a result of my expanding understanding of biology. I don't know anyone who was raised or became an atheist and then behaves as a dogmatist about it--appreciating the role of evidence is pretty essential to being an atheist.

  • ||

    For every action, there is an actor--something that makes the action happen, an initiator.

    Atheists believe that the universe did not have an actor. That it simply happened.

    Something caused the big bang to bang. That is 'god', the creator of this universe. One can argue the nature of that thing, but it is irrational to suggest that that thing did not occur while living within the structure that thing created.

    It could be a natural process--which would mean that 'god' is a natural, rather than supernatural thing. So?

    We argue the nature of the thing, not whether the thing exists.

    Many who profess to believe in the theory of evolution do so merely to use that belief as a club against creationists and the religious--they do not understand it, and have only the most rudimentary idea of how it works. AND, as I stated above, they use it as a bolster for their atheism, which it is, most emphatically, not. The theory of evolution does not even attempt to address the nature of creation, or whether or not a god or gods had anything to do with it.

  • ||

    "For every action, there is an actor--something that makes the action happen, an initiator."

    "Something caused the big bang to bang. That is 'god', the creator of this universe. "

    What caused 'god' to exist then?

  • ||

    God is the first cause in Creationism.
    They haven't decided on a first cause in evolution.

  • Marian Kechlibar||

    If a rock falls from a mountain, all the "actors" are unconscious natural forces: wind, rain, gravity.

    So..?

  • Phoenix Insurgent||

    For those interested in exploring those left out of Codevilla's argument -- the "country" folk who are busy making their own lives in their own autonomous ways -- I recommend Chris Carlsson's "Nowtopia". Despite the ongoing and never-ceasing attack by the state and capital on our lives, many of us continue to attempt to define our own lives and relationships outside or in defiance of the strictures of hierarchical society.

  • ||

    " ... argument that an incestuous social set "rules uneasily over the majority of Americans." "
    ...
    couldn;t it be argued more broadly and with the same perspective that "incestuous social/political sets have always ruled uneasily over the vast majority of humanity since time immemorial?"
    ...
    america tried to be different, and was, for a while.
    ...
    [as well, cf., gulliver's travels and the lilliputs who tied him down with thousands of strings/webbing/rules until he was deemed harmless enough to become a favorite of the court and then convicted when he wasn;t incestuous enough.]

  • RyanXXX||

    Threadjack:

    The Afghan ruling class, as in Karzai's family, is calling for the U.S.A. to bail out the Bank of Kabul, which is evidently teetering on collapse.

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/.....02266.html

  • Red Blooded American||

    How many elitist balls does Jesse Walker have to lick before he gets to be their permanent bath-house boy?

  • 8========D||

    Take me out of your mouth and put me back in your ass. You might be able to think more clearly.

  • ||

    "he warns of a world where crony capitalism replaces free markets, unaccountable administrative agencies replace self-government, and the rule of professionals replaces popular participation."

    When was this published? I thought that's what we had now.

  • Barack Obama||

    Hush, child.

  • ||

    If government regulation and control continues at its current pace, there real will be only two classes--those who work for the government and those that are incarcerated.

  • Capt. Obvious||

    If the Ruling Class can distract people with Muslims and Gay Rights and abortion (and anything else the ruling class doesn't actually care about)then the people pay far far less attention to the way they are being ruled.
    Why are there huge campaigns about homosexual marriage, but never an angry protest march about a failing educational system? Why are there abortion clinic bombings, but never a terrorist group fighting 40 years of stagnant wages?

    The ruling class give people outlets to vent on while continuing to solidify their hold on the "country class". And We The People, buy into it every day.

  • Real Chad||

    This^

  • ||

    Shhhh! You'll let the cat out of the bag.

  • mad libertarian guy||

    Foiled by fucking handle jockeying. Again.

  • ||

    "There are dubious digs at Darwinism, glib legal arguments, and sweeping statements that do more to flatter right-wing resentment than to describe the world as it is. ("Every December," the author announces at one point, we "are reminded that the Ruling Class deems the very word 'Christmas' to be offensive.")"

    Or maybe people can set their dogmatic humanism on the back burner for a few minutes to give Angelo Codevilla's main argument the weight it deserves. Ha! Who am I kidding?

  • ||

    It's reasonable and wise to consider all of a person's statements when trying to ascertain the validity of one of their statements.

  • π||

    The Read Out Loud dot Com people must have thought Jesse is a female.

    ...is he?

  • ||

    You may petulantly fork Codevilla's rice and beans around the the plate well into the evening, until it is a sloppy brown mess. But previous servings of WFB's first 200 names in the Boston phonebook, and more recently, Rasmussen's 'political class' poll results tasted just fine. There will be no dessert.
    RHJ King

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