Sun Rises for First Time in History

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Elite columnist Michael Barone has one of those awkward anti-elites columns you read from time to time, which puts forth the proofless proposition that those E-word people, really, for the first time in history, are insufficiently patriotic. Sample:

"America's business, professional, intellectual, and academic elites," writes Samuel Huntington in his 2004 book Who Are We? have "attitudes and behavior [that] contrast with the overwhelming patriotism and nationalistic identification with their country of the American public…. They abandon commitment to their nation and their fellow citizens and argue the moral superiority of identifying with humanity at large." He believes that this gap between transnational elites and the patriotic public is growing. Huntington knows whereof he speaks: He's been at Harvard for more than half a century.

New elites. This gap is something new in our history. Franklin Roosevelt spoke fluent French and German and worked to create the United Nations, but no one doubted that his allegiance was to America above all.

Well, no one except for, um, the most powerful newspaper publisher in American history. Here's an excerpt from an Oct. 1, 1936 editorial by William Randolph Hearst:

Mr. Roosevelt declares that he is not a Communist, but the Communists say he is one. The Communists ought to know. Every cow knows its own calf…. The Communists may be misguided in many ways, but they are at least sincere…. They hail Mr. Roosevelt as a comrade. Stalin hails him, and asks the Communists to support him.

Quote courtesy of David Nasaw's fine biography, The Chief.

The day that elites aren't denounced on a daily basis—by fellow elites whose politics differ—as shifty, disloyal internationalists, is the day history truly will have been made. "Cosmopolitan" wasn't always just a bad drink. (Barone link via InstaPundit.)

NEXT: Arthur Seldon, RIP

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  1. Of course not, Matt. “Cosmopolitan” is also a bad magazine.

  2. It’s a sad, sad day when “cosmopolitan” is a dirty word at Reason. I mean, how do you guys meet girls in a bar?

  3. Seriously, though, I’d point out to Barone that his theory, if correct (and I’m not so sure it is), is only because the 18th and 19th century leaders owned the whole damn place. From the Founders onward, voting and property rights were restricted, and we had the remnants of the deferential society of “hat and whip” right up to the 1920’s in some places. In other words, if they were “patriotic” it’s because they controlled their country with an iron grip.

  4. Reason’s 50 Sex Tricks to Drive Him Wild in Bed.

    Number 50: Tell him he’s “elite.”

  5. Most Americans feel a shiver when they hear “The Star-Spangled Banner” played and reflect on the triumphs and tragedies that those serving under that flag have won and suffered over more than 200 years.

    I usually think about whether the land the flag flies over is still free. …and if I’m feelig like it isn’t, I wonder whether we’re brave enough to make it free again.

    …I wonder if Barone thinks I take the words too literally.

    Similarly, one of the comforting aspects of attending religious services is the knowledge that you are doing what others have done before you and others will do after: Even nonbelievers often feel a twinge of awe when they attend Christian or Jewish weddings or funerals and witness liturgies with centuries-old roots.

    Reading this bit, you’d think us little people sit in our little pews every week just to get some kind of contact high from the past. …or maybe as some kind of cultural anthropology experiment.

    Hey Barone! …Up there in your ivory tower lookin’ down at us loyal little Americans! …you might jot down somewhere that a lot of people truly and genuinely believe in prayer, the second coming, etc.

  6. More collectivist/nationalist drivel. Do these people honestly believe they are saying something new or interesting?

  7. “Similarly, one of the comforting aspects of attending religious services is the knowledge that you are doing what others have done before you and others will do after:”

    Jebus. And I thought Ellsworth Toohey’s character was a grotesque exageration.

  8. Even nonbelievers often feel a twinge of awe when they attend Christian or Jewish weddings or funerals and witness liturgies with centuries-old roots.

    Bullshit. Last time I went to a Catholic wedding the only thing I thought was “How the hell do Catholics have time to make such large families? By the time the goddamned ceremony’s over, the woman’s halfway through menopause!”

    (That’s why if I ever get married I am NOT inviting any of my friends–because all weddings are boring to everyone except the bride.)

  9. Catholic weddings are long. …but they serve alcohol at the reception–and I love wedding receptions!

    The single female contingent is…focused.

  10. What’s your favorite type of elite who pays the bills by lecturing you about Real America?

    1) The Manhattan Elite?
    2) The Beltway Elite?
    3) The Tenured Elite? (Ivy League Grad Division)

    Probably forgot a few.

  11. Oh, sure, Tom. Receptions are great, it’s the wedding itself that’s boring.

  12. That’s why if I ever get married I am NOT inviting any of my friends–because all weddings are boring to everyone except the bride.

    Your wedding is what you make of it. Our wedding opened with the reverend blowing fire and closed with all in attendence singing along to Asshole by Dennis Leary. It rocked.

  13. My wedding was ten min. long, had German tourists watching in the wings, and everyone but the best man was hungover.

  14. Sorry…should note that Asshole closed the reception, not the wedding. The wedding itself closed with the firebreathing and thus still rocked.

  15. You gotta love Vegas! The “Reception” at the House of Blues Bar afterwards for the ceremonial Irish carbombs.

  16. I’m surprised that no one has mentioned the accusations against Thomas Jefferson and the (original) Republicans for supposedly being tools of the French Jacobins.

  17. “America’s business, professional, intellectual, and academic elites…”

    So let me get this straight.

    You can only be patriotic if you’re an ignorant and unsuccesful…or a right-wing politician.

    If you’re a doctor, lawyer, engineer or teacher, forget it…you’re a reletavist, Muslim-loving euro-commie…unless you give up that career to become a right0wing politician.

    You can only be patriotic if you blindly submit to an authority deeply rooted in cherishing the past.

    You can only be patriotic if you’re stirred with emotion upon hearing any Judeo-Christian litany or the U.S. National anthem.

    mmm-kay. Got it.

    Glad I stopped caring about whether anyone thinks I’m patriotic or not. People for whom my patriotism matters are no fun to talk to anyway.

  18. They abandon commitment to their nation and their fellow citizens and argue the moral superiority of identifying with humanity at large

    Just the way all the great religious figures in history have instructed us to.

    The REAL question is: Why are all these so-called “patriots” forsaking The Lord’s good teachings — to love and forgive our fellow man — in favor of cheering on their favorite godless governments as they slaughter one group of “fellow man” after another?

  19. Recently seen bumber sticker…

    “The Righteous People In Jesus’ Day Were Wrong Then Too.”

  20. I spent most of my Catholic wedding angry. Angry that I had to wear a tux, angry that I had to dance, angry that we had to do the stupid feeding each other cake, angry that the photographer was telling me what to do, and just generally angry over the whole stupid dog and pony show.

    A wedding is one elaborately orchestrated and way over-expensive day. A marriage is everything afterward.

  21. My poor catholic sister has three daughters… I have this terrible premonition I’ll be many thousands of miles away when their happy days arrive. (Like the Royal Navy captain who declined a colonial governor’s invitation with the excuse that he would have a headache that day…)

  22. A wedding is one elaborately orchestrated and way over-expensive day.

    The ritual is for the families. It helps the bride’s mom accept the groom into her family, and it helps the groom’s mom accept the bride into the groom’s.

    I suspect Bachelor’s parties have the same kind of effect on football/poker buddies. I’ve done a small survey, and the guys who’ve had bachelor’s parties seem to do better with the poker buddies/wife rivalry. …or so it seems to me.

  23. Tom Crick,
    You’re sayin’ the elites need painful initiation rituals?

  24. You can only be patriotic if you blindly submit to an authority deeply rooted in cherishing the past.

    You can only be patriotic if you’re stirred with emotion upon hearing any Judeo-Christian litany or the U.S. National anthem.

    i would say, mr madpad, that patriotism/nationalism is, in the long view, little more than the surrogate religion of those who have lost their christianity and need some lesser purpose to alleviate the emptiness and sense of triviality that becomes so prominent in people without one. it’s not an accident that the rise of virulent nation-states emerged from the reformation and the collapse of respublica christiana. the leadership class of the 16th c, responding to the popular fracturing of faiths and disillusionment with the churches following the wars of religion, actively cultivated in the plebs allegiance to the monarch and the state from elizabethan times and before — offering a surrogate earthly god, in effect.

    seen as such, i find it hard to see patriotism as anything more than the worship of a golden calf — a new god, without morals and conceived of the mundane aspiration to total power. the mindless dedication to the power-mad state and its management class as a substitute for a loving god — somthing more sinful and futile i have difficulty picturing, given the particularly brutal and destructive acts of evil that have been the legacy of nationalism in western civilization.

    of course, even nationalism is, since 1914, fracturing as the amoral abuses of power that riddle the management of nation-states dwarf even those of the counterreformation, leading to movements like libertarianism — essentially, the allegiance to the self alone — perhaps the only thing more morally bankrupt than nationalism, as it happens, and typical of dying societies.

  25. You’re sayin’ the elites need painful initiation rituals?

    I don’t know about elites, but I think it does a mom good. …it seems to be good for poker buddies too–although that process doesn’t seem so painful.

  26. …it’s not an accident that the rise of virulent nation-states emerged from the reformation and the collapse of respublica christiana.

    Perhaps I’m off here, but don’t we generally think of virulent nation-states as emerging in the early 19th Century?

    …the leadership class of the 16th c, responding to the popular fracturing of faiths and disillusionment with the churches following the wars of religion, actively cultivated in the plebs allegiance to the monarch and the state from elizabethan times and before — offering a surrogate earthly god, in effect.

    And yet, weren’t those who most actively resisted national churches the very protestants you seem to abhor? Indeed, how much of a role did protestants play in the formation of our idea of separation of church and state?

  27. don’t we generally think of virulent nation-states as emerging in the early 19th Century?

    certainly nationalism reached the horrible apex of its hubris 1789-1945, mr crick — but nationalism has much deeper roots. the primitivist impulse to reestablish a roman imperial state in the rennaisance was one of the driving forces of the establishment of italian civic politics, which soon became the model for monarchic politics throughout europe thanks to italian cultural preeminence.

    to take england as an example, the successful establishment of monarchism necessitated a switch in allegiance from local authorities (the nobles and priests) and their collegial system to the national enlightened despot (the monarch). the encouragement of a national awareness was part of henry viii’s schism with the catholic church in the early 16th c — the idea of an church that was distinctly english is one of the first symptoms of nationalism in major events. the concept of an england subsequently came to full fruition under his successor elizabeth, especially vivid in the wars with spain — see spenser’s “faerie queene”.

    this new impulse, rising to replace the sense of western society as a brotherhood of christendom with a europe fractured along national fault lines and brimming over with opportunities for internecene warfare, metastasized over two subsequent centuries of intermittently declining christian influence and came to full awful bloom in the french revolution.

    weren’t those who most actively resisted national churches the very protestants you seem to abhor?

    you’d have to ask the anglicans about that — religious tolerance in england, again for example, was a consequence of the endless “wars of religion” (which were, of course, not much about christian religion and very much about establishing a new earthly parochial order in the final analysis). but it was exactly durable enough to send hundreds of protestant sects running to the american frontier in search of relief. the church of england was, in the end, the only church that one could belong to and expect to be represented in the halls of power.

    english puritan democrats tried to put a wall between religious passion and the force of arms because of the horror of their violent experience — a wall that finally fell when nationalism became a source of great popular passion.

    but that doesn’t mean the church of england was not also an expression of a newfound pride in unified nationhood — and a grounds for identifying “the other”.

  28. the horrible apex of its hubris 1789-1945

    and, of course, i should say that i don’t know that the peak is past — the spectre of popular militant nationalism is alive and well in the united states today, which apparently hasn’t suffered yet enough to abandon the false hope of a superior moral state. perhaps we need still to suffer yet more suicidal destruction in the name of an administrative bureaucracy.

  29. Guess I got lucky…

    My wedding was in a restored vaudeville hall, and the reception included an entire routine (silent movie with pipe organ accompanyment(sp), torch singer, magician, and a bicycle-piano). To this day, everyone who was there says it was the funnest wedding they’d ever attended.

  30. damn, gaius…that’s some awful thick verbage to slog through.

    Still, I don’t think America is quite at the post-Weimar republic stage. The conservatives are having a tough time lately as it becomes more and more obvious the weaknesses and limitations of their world view. Not that the liberals are doing any better as their emperor is clothes-less, as well.

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