Monday, January 30, 2012

American Tyrants

When Elizabeth Warren went on MSNBC to deny that she was a member of the 1 percent despite her nearly 15 million dollar net worth, the denial had a cultural element to it. Despite being a millionaire, Warren did not see herself as "wealthy".

The current debate over the 1 percent and the 99 percent is notable mainly for the shifting boundaries that are not based on economics, but on identity. For all its 'Power to the People' antics American liberalism is not a movement of struggling people, there is a reason why the word limousine so often comes before liberal. Its roots lie in an upper class New England strata that relentlessly fought against Southern Baptists and working class Catholic immigrants. Those roots define modern day liberals much more so than the Jacksonian populism that they occasionally try to imitate. 

The American liberal is not a populist, he is still a New England preacher, but without a religion to preach. He has a great faith in the virtues of an ordered moral society, even if that ordered moral society would have been completely incomprehensible and unacceptable to his forebears. It is a society based on the virtues of tolerance and the rule of the enlightened.

The inflow of the European left has brought in a strain of power to the people populism, but that has not made the American liberal take seriously the notion that the people whose rights he defends are his intellectual or social equals, no more than the 19th century New York Republicans patting African-Americans on the head while stomping on the Irish viewed either group as equals.

American liberalism has traveled a slightly altered road to get to the same place. But its place is still at the top and everyone else's place is still at the bottom. Its persistent denial of this basic truth leads to the perennial absurdity of millionaires like Elizabeth Warren playing class warrior when the only class they represent is the class of people who work for the government.

The oligarchy which is busy bleeding the country dry does not represent any group of working people anywhere in the country. Not Protestant or Catholic, black or white, or of any other creed or identity. Like every ideology incarnated in a system, it represents its own interests. The Democratic Party is the government party. It exists to create jobs in government, to dispense government subsidies and to expand the power and scope of its organization. It is not fundamentally any different than Putin's United Russia or Israel's Kadima or similar political creatures around the world.

The strange intermarriage of New England moralists, New York merchants and European radicals eventually led to a system of pushing immigrants into government service, mandating tolerance and running every aspect of human life through Washington D.C. It took a while to get there, but the system is a decade or two away from being complete. When it is complete then all our lives will be run in every possible way by the Elizabeth Warrens who will smile condescendingly at us, nudge us in the direction we are supposed to go, and when we don't go there, then the fines and the tasers come out.

No matter how far back you go, the roots of American liberalism lie in a fear of the people, a distrust of the great unwashed. American liberals have championed voting rights, so long as they were confident that those voting were their inferiors and could be herded into voting the right way. They have always distrusted the instincts of the public, no matter how much pious ink they spilled fighting on their behalf.

That view of man's sinful nature still informs their deepest thinkers, and the sins are still the same, the failure of fellowship, the refusal to consider the welfare of others and march in lockstep to create that ideal society. The New Jerusalem of universal brotherhood. Those ideas have been dressed up in modern clothing, transmitted as denunciations of racism and bigotry, immigration advocacy and hate crime laws, but underneath is the same notion that a society of good will to all can be forced through rigorous regimentation by the truly enlightened.

The populism of the American liberal is a cynical dumbshow where representatives of the oppressed gather in conclaves to demand more oppression by their liberal oppressors. This spectacle is at the heart of a political oligarchy, which like every oligarchy is built on government subsidies and special access to power for the privileged. And like all oligarchies it must disguise its nature by playing the protector of the people. Unlike them it must also disguise its true nature from itself.

The convergence of the ideal society and the government society was inevitable from the start. It took a while to overcome the technological and cultural barriers to running an entire country from a central point. Those barriers have never been truly overcome, but the technocratic mirage makes it seem as if they have been. And the ongoing faith in a perfectible society run by the saints makes it seem as if it must be.

The American liberal would still like to play at being humble, a 99 percenter fighting against the chimera of a 1 percent oligarchy. But the entire 99 percent theme is that the 1 percent isn't paying enough taxes. And whom do those taxes go to but to the administration and employment of the professional class warrior millionaires.

It is the very Everest of hypocrisy for the members of the oligarchy to be bemoaning all the extra tax money that could be used to pay their six figure salaries, while passing off their naked greed as a crusade on behalf of the oppressed.

There is nothing of working class advocacy in a government party looking to shovel more tax revenues into the insatiable gaping maw of its bureaucratic machinery. The idea that those monies will be used to help the downtrodden is a delusion that a brief glimpse at how much money went to connected companies and to the expansion of the government bureaucracy should easily cure. This isn't any 99 percent at work here. It's the 9 percent against the 63 percent.

Warren thinks of herself as not wealthy because despite her millions, she is engaged in the pious practice of public service. However big her financial resources may be, they are part of the collective whole of the oligarchy and in a different category altogether from the wealth that is earned or inherited.

To the American liberal, riches are not a matter of economics, but of identity. Wealth is a moral entity, not an economic one. What distinguishes pious millionaires like Warren from the heathens who make their money the old fashioned way is that the former achieve it through the moral pursuit of the public good, which is all the more pious for taking them to a Harvard professorship or a job in government, while the latter achieve it through economic transactions in the private sector. The former is a form of public service, the latter is public exploitation.

But a closer look at the bones and carcass of this system turns those definitions on their head. It is the Warrens who are the exploiters, consuming the wealth of a nation and spawning more committees, regulations and regulatory committees to keep on feeding off the wealth. What they give to us in exchange for what they take is not a service, it is oppression masquerading as feudal protectionism.

The American liberal is eager to protect us from powerful interests, but who will protect us from his protection, and who will turn off that protection and the money it costs us to pay for it, and worse still the freedoms that are consumed in order that we may be properly protected from ourselves.

No tyrant looks in a mirror and sees an oppressor. Tyrants are always protectors of the people. And our own American Tyrants are equally certain that they are the protectors of a people who would otherwise run off cliffs, throw lawn darts at each other, tear the tags off mattresses, make racist jokes, open pill bottles too easily, have inappropriate opinions and reinforce the oppressive heteronormative patriarchy which they have thoughtfully replaced with a vast echoing bureaucratic state in which everyone is free to be different in the same way.

The American liberal does not like the people very much. Most disguise it a bit better than Elizabeth Warren but that discomfort is always there. And the discomfort comes with a distrust. They don't like us and they don't trust the sort of shenanigans we might get up to when they aren't looking. Instead they are always looking, always nudging, always telling us what to think and how to live and otherwise protecting us from ourselves.

The tyrannical impulses were always there in American liberalism and like water on lilies, power brought them forth. Now we live under a system which strangles us to protect us from ever getting rid of it. The men and women strangling us smile awkwardly and tell us that it is for our own good. This tyranny for our own good requires that they toss aside our laws and replace them with their own. It requires that they spend us into bankruptcy, with much of the proceeds going to them, but in the name of a higher cause. And it demands that we praise them and if we won't do that, then it demands that we shut up and stop broadcasting our dissatisfaction. There is no place in their ideal national community for people like us.


American Genie said...

And, unfortunately many "people like us" are all too willing to sit back and wait for someone else to do something about it.

Edward Cline said...

“People like us.” In the warped epistemology of the likes of Elisabeth Warren, Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, Harry Reid et al., we are the shackled and chained cave-dwellers and they are the Platonic interpreters of the shadows and sounds observed by the prisoners, filtered by crevices and holes in the cave walls. The interpreters are the elect, the privileged, and the source of all our true knowledge. They are liberals, and will not be turned from their quest for an ideal society – one in which they are the be-all and end-all of everything.

Warren and Obama and Pelosi at times deign to descend into the caves to make sure the prisoners have remained dumbed-down and ignorant. They are dressed in sumptuous robes, look well-fed, and are attended by an entourage of committees and sycophants. They assure us that they, too, are one of “us” and are working hard to give us a glimpse of reality, or what they wish to be reality. When one of us asks to be freed from the shackles and chains, so he could see for himself what the truth was, the interpreters’ brows furl in indignation and accuse the fellow of ingratitude. “We didn’t have to come down to this stinking pit to see you,” sniffs Warren. “Your shackles and chains need tightening.”

One prisoner, indecently garbed in tattered, rotting rags, asks, “Where’d you get those threads?”

“Never mind that. I’ve earned these robes. I’m in public service, ungrateful wretch. In truth, I am as poor as you.” The interpreter turns to a guard dressed in the TSA uniform. “Cut this person’s bread and water ration in half. We can’t have these creatures questioning authority.”

Michael Devolin said...

Well written, Daniel, as usual.
Michael Devolin said...

(From an interview of British historian Paul Johnson by Brian M. Carney in the March 5, 2011 Wall Street Journal): In the popular imagination, Socrates may be the first deep thinker in Western civilization, but in Mr. Johnson’s view he was also an anti-intellectual. Which is what makes him one of the good guys. “One of the categories of people I don’t like much are intellectuals,” Mr. Johnson says. “People say, ‘Oh, you’re an intellectual,’ and I say, ‘No!’ What is an intellectual? An intellectual is somebody who thinks ideas are more important than people.” (Emphasis added).

Anonymous said...

It is only because we have become so small that our politicians seem to big. We deserve them, we should just shut up and take it or become again what we were in 1775 and tower over them again.

Massachusetts nobody

Keliata said...

Very interesting that Warren self-describes herself as part of the 99-percent. LOL. That's kind of like a rich white woman singing Old Man River.

Geoffrey Britain said...

"The American liberal is not a populist, he is still a New England preacher, but without a religion to preach."

Quite agree as to populism but liberals most certainly have a 'religion' to preach, some of its tenets are: enviromentalism, transnationalism, post-modernism, "the rule of the enlightened", the tenet that "a society of good will to all can be forced through rigorous regimentation by the truly enlightened" [my emphasis].

Their religion preaches in favor of "a vast echoing bureaucratic state in which everyone is free to be different in the same way".

And indeed, this is nothing new;

“Men by their constitutions are naturally divided into two parties:
1. Those who fear and distrust the people, and wish to draw all powers from them into the hands of the higher classes.
2. Those who identify themselves with the people, have confidence in them, cherish and consider them as the most honest and safe, although not the most wise depository of the public interests.
In every country these two parties exist, and in every one where they are free to think, speak, and write, they will declare themselves.” –Thomas Jefferson to Henry Lee, 1824.

"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised for the good of its victims may be the most oppressive." C.S. Lewis

"Political tags – such as royalist, communist, democrat, populist, fascist, liberal, conservative, and so forth – are never basic criteria.

The human race divides politically into those who want people to be controlled and those who have no such desire." - Robert A. Heinlein

Keliata said...

That's quite interesting Marcel. Very interesting. I have a theory about why the US is permitting so many Muslims to enter the US and obtain citizenship.

This is a stretch and maybe on the conspiracy theory side but...suppose many of these new Muslim immigrants ran for political office (not president of course), were elected, and were in the majority along with their born here liberal allies? How many American politicians in the Senate and Congress would quorum bust when it comes to Israel?

I wonder if that could happen in the Knesset with the Arab MKs and their Israeli supporters.

OT but I've been thinking about quorums and US politics the past couple of days.

Bilejones said...

The Puritans did not come to America in search of religious freedom, they came to America to have a place where they could establish a religious totalitarianism. That remains, after hundreds of years, the mind set of the New England types. That they lost the religiosity along the way is a detail.

careyrowland said...

Practically speaking then, in terms of our 2012 decisions, is Mr. Romney one of these tyrants, or is he a true alternative?

Geoffrey Britain said...

IMHO, Romney's no tyrant, he is however a RINO who has bought into "the narrative"

See: Can Republicans Govern?
Not unless they change The Narrative.

Romney will merely slow down liberal solutions, he won't eliminate them, though in all fairness, as long as a slim majority of the electorate support those solutions, no one can eliminate them.

fsy said...

Can someone (preferably SK) explain the pictures?

David Servin said...


This is the first I've read your blog. Wow! This was very insightful and helps add clarity to how the left got the way they are!

I believe they have a religion to preach. That is evolution and atheism. That includes moral relativism. They teach our kids that they don't need to listen to their parents and they don't need to consider the wisdom of the founding fathers. No, the schools have taught them to be critical thinkers! They can analyze issues on their own and come up with their own beliefs and answers. In reality, those answers are as far away from conservative Chritian values of their parents and forefathers as you can possibly get.

It's not their OWN answers they come up with - its the answers that the public school system has indoctrinated them to have - like you said, "everyone is free to be different in the same way." If you come through the education system ok, it's not because of your education, its in spite of it.

We have lost a generation - actually 2 generations!


Joseph Dooley said...

"The men and women strangling us smile awkwardly and tell us that it is for our own good."

Why did I think of Nurse Ratched when I read this? =)

Anonymous said...

you are correct, sultan. again

-- spanky

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