our ruling class is not that smart
When the modern era began the political agenda was for the rising educated class to capture power from the old regime, which was, shall we say, a feudal order that had devolved into absolute monarchy.
In other words, the rising class was taking power away from the old order because it felt that “people like us” should be in charge.
Thus, liberalism is, per ChatGPT, “a political and philosophical ideology that emphasizes individual rights, personal freedoms, and limited government intervention in people’s lives.”
But then along came Marx who brilliantly recast Enlightenment liberalism into the over / under political formula that we know and love. It is best described in the notion of Allyship, where “we”are the Allies of the Oppressed Peoples fighting against the White Oppressors. The Allies are of course the educated class, or socialists or communists, or whatever, that need political power in order to take the fight to the oppressors. Needless to say, ChatGPT has a more benevolent view of Allyship.
Do you see the difference? Liberalism, pace ChatGPT, is not a political ideology because there is no enemy. But the Allies are all about politics, because their ideology is all about the enemy.
Notice that the Allyship ideology puts the ordinary middle class in a bit of a bind, because the ordinary white middle class (not to mention white-adjacent folks, and you know who you are) is the enemy of the ruling-class Allies.
At some point, you might expect, the ordinary white middle class might get a bit restless. Let’s look for examples of restlessness.
Well, there was the election of Richard Nixon as president in 1968 by a white middle class that was reacting against the antiwar college kids.
Then there was the election of Ronald Reagan as president in 1980 by “Reagan Democrats” that were, e.g., lower-middle-class assistant managers at Safeway and fed up with the “stagflation” of the Carter years.
Then there was the election of Donald Trump as president in 2016 by the ordinary white middle class that responded to Trump’s populist nationalist appeal to Make America Great Again.
Looking back, I realize that US politics had not really crystallized into the Educated and the Lower Classes against the Middle Class until the Trump election.
But notice how the ruling Educated Class responded to the three presidents.
The ruling class gussied up a semi-fake accusation of a coverup over the Watergate burglary, impeached Nixon in the House. The Senate Republicans went down Pennsylvania Avenue and told Nixon to resign rather than be tried in the Senate.
The ruling class gussied up a semi-fake accusation of Iran-Contra against President Reagan. But they failed to remove him from office.
The ruling class gussied up a fake accusation of Russia Collusion against President Trump and managed to defeat him when he ran for reelection in 2020 in an election that you are not allowed to critique. Today, the ruling class is gussying up a whole raft of fake and semi-fake accusations against President Trump as he runs for election in 2024.
Our ruling class really does not like the ordinary middle class.
I propose to understand America in 2023 by branding the Allyship Narrative as a Big Lie.
It is not true that the educated class are Noble Allies. The educated class is the ruling class and it runs the show: they got The Power.
It is not true that women and minorities and “traditionally marginalized communities” are Oppressed Peoples. If anything, the governments of the United States and the corporate world are all over the so-called Oppressed Peoples showering them with privileges and benefits. Thomas Sowell calls them “Mascots.”
It is not true that the ordinary white middle class and the white working class are White Oppressors. In what way does the white middle class use government to give itself privileges and benefits, apart from the entitlements like Social Security and Medicare that were implemented decades ago, and anyway were brilliant ideas of the educated class?
Let’s look at one small thing, the divergence between productivity and wages in the last half century.
Now, if you read my lefty pal David Graeber in Debt: the First 5,000 Years, he says it’s all the fault of Reagan and Thatcher and neo-liberalism.
Or if you read Lawrence Mishel at the Economic Policy Institute he says that “Growing inequalities, reflecting growing employer power, have generated a productivity–pay gap since 1979”. That’s where the graph came from.
I wonder. Whatabout the 1965 immigration act that restarted mass immigration after a 40 year break; you think that might put a damper on wages? Or the entry of women into the workforce and “careers” in response to the feminist movement.
Or maybe the growth of Japan and South Korea and China that are competing with American workers with folks just off the farm, as in Factory Girls: From Village to City in a Changing China by Leslie T. Chang.
Or maybe the inflation that followed the end of the Gold Exchange Standard in 1971 and the Zero Interest Rate Policy after the Crash of 2008. Not to mention the explosion of government debt.
Or maybe the power of the current ruling class is to blame, in everything from the size of government, at 35 percent of GDP, the power of the regulatory state, the power of educated-class activists, and the general use of government power to hand out benefits to ruling-class supporters that does nothing to help ordinary people that don’t have access to political power.
But really, the why and wherefores don’t matter much. What matters is that the ordinary middle class is getting restless, and, I would say, more and more restless as the years go by and the ruling class does nothing to address its grievances.
Indeed, one way to understand life in America in 2023 is that the educated ruling class is getting more and more desperate to hang onto power and keep the peasants down on the farm, and is descending to more and more abuses of its power to maintain its rule and keep the besieging peasants from breaching the walls of the castle.
And really, other than beat up Trump and anyone that raises their voice, as in Jason Aldean and his “Try That in a Small Town,” my judgement is that our ruling class really does not know what to do about the threat from the ordinary middle class and populist nationalism. And that goes for the educated class across the western world.