Duly Noted: The Skipped Revolution

George Handlery about the week that was. The Left is not against the unshared good life of some but against the good life as such. Frustrated elites and their disdain for the middle class. The masses refuse their redeemers. Who does not trust the common man? When words fail: the propaganda of deeds. If you are overheard in life, you can exit with a big bang.

1. Critics of the West and of the way of life that the industrial age has made possible abound. Outstanding examples are the Socialists and the Greens, the former’s hobby gardening and composting section. Such groupings are not against the good life attained by what they insist can be a minority only. Nor is their real priority to redistribute from the top to the “starving masses”. Neither is the core of the platform to accomplish the pursuit of their version of justice. That would be taking from the “rich” and giving to the “poor” -allocating a bit for themselves to finance the efforts of those that administer the scheme. What this element is really committed to combat is not supposed injustice, which is inherent in any inequality, but the “good life” as such. (Anyhow, life is a pollutant.)

2. Intellectuals tend to prefer to talk in terms of the extreme poverty of the “paupers” or the filthy richness of a few. Commiseration and damning outrage are attached concepts. The 19th century imagery inherited from Marx implies that, the life style, preferences, influence and problems of the disdained middle classes are overlooked. Now we need to consider that most of us are, in terms of expectations, income and world-view “middle class”. This is so even if our jobs might not fit all the traditional categories of membership, as these had been defined eons ago. Judged by his manual work, a carpenter is working class, or if you wish, lower class. However, if you consider his purchasing power, investments, the car he can drive, and perhaps even his formal education and that such a person might be an entrepreneur, the carpenter becomes “middle class”. Marx, the often unadmitted favorite of those who claim the right to lead us, predicted that the paupers, he called them “proletarians”, will become the dominant class of society. In fact, it was the middle class that has the largest share of society -regardless of how we segment it. The hostility felt by the intellectuals for this “new class” is caused by two factors. For one, the middle class has ceased to be revolutionary. Unless of course, when revolution is advocated out of boredom by over-indulged offsprings. Their religion-like driving conviction of these likes to subordinate the facts on the ground in favor of a preferred theory of heaven. Not accidentally, it is a heaven in which they are to be the archangels.

Furthermore, the middle class, which is becoming in advanced economic orders identical with society, does more than just invalidate a theory. The one is meant that assumes that an ever-growing number of people will be poor while poverty in the individual case will become greater. Getting richer, the new class refuses to make the revolution expected of it. Additionally, these new masses live without paying much attention to the views, values and recommendations of leftist ayatollahs. In reacting, it is typical that the latter declare components of mass culture to represent the symbols of decadence. Illustrative is the condemnation of “Coke” and “Macs” as expressions of the culture-deprived yahooness of rednecks. No wonder, since the crowd likes them more than quiche and Veuve Cliqot.

3. Observing the nexus of the people and its intellectuals, it would seem that the mass does not feel that the problems it perceives are those that the professional intellectual leaders care to articulate. Consequently, the majority is reluctant to ask for being rescued by anyone, and that means especially the folks that so humbly feel qualified to save the people from itself. This reluctance to feel in need of help and the refusal of the unsolicited succor by those who assume themselves to be ethically superior, expresses a fundamental conflict between the “common man” and his would-be redeemers. Its core is that, the heaven designed and hoped for by the left-leaning intellectuals is unattractive enough to leave the mass of the population cold.

4. Increasingly, the standard-setting class of earlier times feels not so much opposed -which would be a form of recognition- but simply ignored. General-welfare-fed mass culture, pertaining to life-style, politics or pure culture, bypasses the once norm-determining elites whose fractions are used to contest among themselves in the political arena power unchallenged by outsiders. The evolving situation creates concern and resentment against the majority. Long ago, the Enlightenment celebrated the common sense of the average person. Popular democracy, the assumption that the people is capable to govern itself, depended upon this assumption. Bill Buckley’s famous quip that he would prefer to be governed by hundred randomly selected persons from the Boston phone book rather than by Harvard’s faculty, harks back to the same premise.

There is a response discernible to being ignored and their recommendations defied by the elites whose followers are deserting them. Its core is that democracy is good as long as it results in decisions that have the approval of the chosen. Already in the Sixties the idea was propagated in the universities, that majority rule cannot only be dictatorial (with that possibility any common garden-variety democrat can agree) but that it is inherently oppressive. The warnings against the dangers of policies dictated by an unguided majority have already invaded editorials and the fatwas of learned pundits. The suggestions that direct democracy should be resorted to on seminal issues (EU membership and some aspects of immigration policy are examples) is dismissed by the devotees of guided democracy. By asking certain delicate questions, the wrong answer would be forthcoming.

Ergo, along with “populism” -populism is when the leaders cannot convince the led and these ask taboo questions and give inappropriate answers- the direct popular vote, too, needs to be fought. In the interest of real democracy, of course. A telling symptomatic illustration might be that majorities are held back from celebrating their Christmas in the commercial and folkloric way they are used to go about it. The analogy would be to suppress muezzins because Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Shintoists, animists and atheists might be offended by the chant.

5. A new component expressing the alienation of the elites emerges. That goes beyond the claimed right to supervise democracy through their shamans who determine what can be decided and by whom.. This further sphere of the mandate to lead involves the assumed right to engage in a “propaganda of deeds”. If the unripe, unwise and uncouth mob does not heed verbal admonitions, it is to be driven back on the right path by actions. The extreme case of this we find in Islamic terrorism -call it politely behavior altering violence.  It is analogous to the shepherd using his whip when cries and the barking of dogs fail. You might feel that the wretched suicide bombers and the troglodytes who send them do not quite fit the thesis of elite frustration. It does because, out there is a little known fact regarding these people. Suicide bombers and those who pull their strings are not the underprivileged whose life has no meaning because they have no prospects. This crowd is recruited from the not-poor, not-uneducated and not-underprivileged. Who the members really are is described by their aspiration to be heard and by their actual inability to exert influence. Frustration fueled by arrogance makes them confident that they have a right to shape the world. This world is a “bad” one which is proven by its refusal to take them seriously. The resulting strategy is a response to being unable to convince the yawning contemporary to fall in line and to follow. If need be, to overcome inattention, murder appears to be a suitable means. In doing so the conceit of the otherwise misunderstood allows them to nominate the faceless crowd for martyrdom and to take candidates that failed to volunteer, right into the lap of Allah. Those who are unable to call the tune and whose words are lost without an echo in the desert while alive, then opt to exit with a last big bang.


RE: Duly Noted: The Skipped Revolution

1.  Yet socialists tend to support heavy and labor-intensive industries, and trade union activism is the primary reason why the United States lags far behind Japan in robotics.  Given that radical environmentalists are opposed to industry, the work it creates and even human life, it is surprising to watch socialists take up the anthropogenic global warming cause so eagerly.  Of course, it goes without saying that all mainstream political parties are concerned more with votes than commitment to any principles, and must adopt the latest fad.


2.  Duly noted.  For the record, I prefer Veuve Cliquot and Paul Roger to Dom.


3.  Duly noted.


Poverty and wealth are both quantitative and qualitative.  As regards the latter, poverty can be a state of one's mind, when one refuses to clean their home, use personal hygiene, etc.  Moreover, the wealthy are no more corrupt than the poor.  Both have commandeered public funds to enrich themselves, and whether those ill-gotten gains are used to procure a Bugatti or a beer, it makes no difference.  Indeed, it is all too easy for the wealthy to sanctimoniously preach the benefits of free markets, when their inheritances were derived from birth and coercion, and for the poor to put forward socialism as justice, when they stand to gain without any effort.  Historical materialists forget that net worth, high or low, is not indicative of personal virtue.  Not all rags-to-riches industrialists are alike, nor are they comparable to Europe's dwindling aristocracy.