La Trahison des Clercs was the title of a book by Julien Benda, written in 1927 in a specifically French cultural context. However, since the book does deal broadly with the pursuit of power by the intelligentsia of his day, it seems appropriate for our own day as well.
Earlier today an anonymous commenter drew attention to a tweet by Helen Andrews:
"Meanwhile @TheAtlantic, having failed to unseat the democratically elected president with Russiagate, impeachment, etc., is now preparing the ground for something harder."
N.B. [Franklin] Foer [other of the re article at The Atlantic] was The Atlantic propagandist who laundered the Clinton campaign / Perkins Coie / FusionGPS lie about Trump computer servers secretly communicating with the Kremlin via Alfa Bank in Moscow. The Atlantic is also the rag that just published Mattis's anti-Trump op-ed.
It's hard to believe the Atlantic is suggesting an actual coup, but I'm not sure how else to interpret this.
It's true that Foer, at the beginning of his article, makes a perfunctory disclaimer--"Trump’s time in office will end with an election and not an ouster"--the whole tone of the article bears out Andrews' instincts.
Franklin Foer, of course, is your classic "intelligent" (pronounced with a hard "g")--a card carrying member of the intelligentsia, as our anonymous commenter points out. As Tucker Carlson puts it so nicely, Foer is one of
The most privileged [who] are using the most desperate to seize power from the rest of us.
That of course is the key to the betrayal of the nation by the intelligentsia. They are driven by a lust for power and hatred for those they perceive as possessing the power that they believe belongs to them by right. That's you and me. Really! We collectively, through our "privilege"--the privilege of the ballot--have transferred the power that rightly belongs to the intelligentsia and their secular Messiahs to Trump. Who is "literally Hitler." And so they hate us and fantasize about us getting our comeuppance.
The article Andrews is referring to, and which must have set off a frisson of excitement in elite circles in New York and DC, is this:
The best way to grasp the magnitude of what we’re seeing is to look for precedents abroad.
To give you a taste of Foer's almost complete divorce from actual reality, here's the beginning of his long screed. Note the bizarre presuppositions, counterfactuals, and the numerous attributions to Trump of the reality of what the Left is clearly been doing for decades:
Over the course of his presidency, Donald Trump has indulged his authoritarian instincts—and now he’s meeting the common fate of autocrats whose people turn against them. What the United States is witnessing is less like the chaos of 1968, which further divided a nation, and more like the nonviolent movements that earned broad societal support in places such as Serbia, Ukraine, and Tunisia, and swept away the dictatorial likes of Milošević, Yanukovych, and Ben Ali.
And although Trump’s time in office will end with an election and not an ouster, it is only possible to grasp the magnitude of what we’re seeing and to map what comes next by looking to these antecedents from abroad.
As in the case of many such revolutions, two battles are being waged in America. One is a long struggle against a brutal and repressive ideology. The other is a narrower fight over the fate of a particular leader. The president rose to power by inflaming racial tensions. He now finds his own fate enmeshed in the struggle against police brutality and racism.
The most important theorist of nonviolent revolutions is the late political scientist Gene Sharp. ... Sharp distilled what he learned into a 93-page handbook, From Dictatorship to Democracy, a how-to guide for toppling autocracy.
So, it's a revolution, and it's seeking to topple the American order--a brutal and repressive autocracy, as Foer would have it.
Sharp’s foundational insight is embedded in an aphorism: “Obedience is at the heart of political power.” A dictator doesn’t maintain power on his own; he relies on individuals and institutions to carry out his orders. A successful democratic revolution prods these enablers to stop obeying. It makes them ashamed of their complicity and fearful of the social and economic costs of continued collaboration.
As if ... conservatives were the ones attempting to censor dissent from Establishment Wisdom?
Sharp posited that revolutionaries should focus first on the regime’s softest underbelly: the media, the business elites, and the police. The allegiance of individuals in the outer circle of power is thin and rooted in fear. By standing strong in the face of armed suppression, protesters can supply examples of courage that inspire functionaries to stop carrying out orders, or as Sharp put it, to “withhold cooperation.” Each instance of resistance provides the model for further resistance. As the isolation of the dictators grows—as the inner circles of power join the outer circle in withholding cooperation—the regime crumbles.
Again, these Left revolutionaries have had virtually total control of the media, the business elites, the police in the major cities as well as--crucially--the educational establishment from K through Professional schools. They've had that control for decades now.
This is essentially what transpired in Ukraine in 2014. ...
It is astonishing how events in the U.S., despite all the obvious imperfections of the analogy, have traced the early phases of this history.
It would be easy to write this off as Leftist fantasy, except that such fantasies of seizing power--of entitlement to power and its unfettered exercise--are so widespread and have such a grip over the Left's imagination. It's dangerous--not only for them but especially for normal people.
But the comparison to Ukraine is striking--is it almost a Freudian slip on Foer's part? Everyone knows that "what transpired in Ukraine in 2014" was anything but a revolution of the oppressed against an autocratic ruler. In fact, it was a coup staged against a democratically elected ruler by brutally fascistic elements that were financed by a foreign power--the United States' Deep State under the Obama regime.
For some insight into this mindset, let's turn to an article from yesterday's WSJ:
Scholar Gary Saul Morson sees disturbing parallels between Russia before the Revolution and contemporary America.
Note that word "intelligentsia," and the historical context. Morson--a professor of Russian literature at Northwestern University--is quite deliberately drawing a parallel between the pre-revolutionary Russian intelligentsia and our own intelligentsia--our self appointed elites. Which raises the further question: is America in a pre-revolutionary period? Obviously our elites hope so. Morson draws particular attention to the parallel attitudes toward the use of terror and violence to attain, retain, and excercise power--which is what Progressivism is all about:
... This week saw mayhem all over America, and in Los Angeles, New York and elsewhere the rioters targeted wealthy streets and neighborhoods.
But perhaps the most striking difference [between past riots and the present] is the rationalization, and sometimes full-throated defense, of violence from left-wing elites: the glorification of havoc, the vilification of cops and their middle-class admirers, highfalutin defenses of vandalism. The sense of revolution and class warfare was everywhere this week: the cognoscenti and underclass arrayed against the petty bourgeois shop owners; the elite and those they claim to represent against everybody else.
Gary Saul Morson says ... “To me it’s astonishingly like late 19th-, early 20th-century Russia, when basically the entire educated class felt you simply had to be against the regime or some sort of revolutionary.”
... we have arrived at a situation in which well-intentioned liberal people often can’t bring themselves to say that lawless violence is wrong.
In late czarist Russia, some political parties and other groups—the Social Democrats, the anarchists, the Marxists—explicitly endorsed terrorism. “The liberal party—the Constitutional Democrats, they called themselves—did not condone terrorism,” Mr. Morson says. “But they refused to condemn it. And indeed they called for the release from prison of all terrorists, who were pledged to continue terrorism right away. . . . A famous line from one of the liberal leaders put it this way: ‘Condemn terrorism? That would be the moral death of the party.’ ”
Why do people at the top want to destroy the system that enabled them to get there? “No,” Mr. Morson says, “you have it wrong. When you’re such a person, you don’t feel you’re at the top. The people at the top are wealthy businesspeople, and you’re an intellectual. You think that people of ideas should be at the top.”
The word “intelligentsia,” he notes, comes from Russian. In the classic period, from about 1860 to the First Russian Revolution in 1905, “the word did not mean everybody who was educated. It meant educated people who identified with one or another of the radical movements. ‘Intelligents’ believed in atheism, revolution and either socialism or anarchism.
“The idea was that since they knew the theory, they were morally superior and they should be in charge, and that there was something fundamentally wrong with the world when ‘practical’ people were. So what you take from your education would be the ideology that would justify this kind of activity—justify it because the wrong people have the power, and you should have it. You don’t feel like you’re the establishment.”
Is American society, shaped by Protestant Christianity and dominated by a kind of dovish, humanitarian left-liberalism, ever likely to fall into the barbarity of the Russian Revolution? Aren’t we too—I fumble for a word as I formulate the question—soft for that sort of totalizing violence?
“I don’t know,” Mr. Morson answers after a long pause. “I don’t know if that means people won’t go as far as they did in Russia, or if it just means there will be less resistance to it.”
The danger begins, he thinks, when complex social and political problems can’t be debated any longer. “You get into a revolutionary situation because people can’t hear,” he says. “Can there be a dialogue on important questions, or is there only one thing to say about every question? Are people afraid to say, ‘Well, yes, but it’s not quite as simple as that’? . . . When you can’t do that, you’re heading to a one-party state or a dictatorship of some sort. If one party is always wrong and another always right, why not just have the right one?”
“Does history have a direction? And is later necessarily better? The greatest thinkers—Tolstoy, Alexander Herzen—answered no, later is not always better. They believed that sort of thinking was an importation of religious providentialism into history—the determinism of Hegel and Marx. The difficulty of this form of thinking is that it paralyzes you from acting. Between the wars, it was common for people to say: ‘Yes, you may like liberal democracy, but that’s of the past. We fascists are of the future.’ Or ‘We communists are of the future.’ People would resign themselves to the inevitable and conclude, ‘Well I can’t fight the future, I can’t resist the fascists or the communists.’ ”
Interestingly, Tucker Carlson in his most recent monologue--Cultural Revolution has come to America – brainwashing underway--also draws an explicit parallel between our times and Russian history. In Tucker's case, however, the parallel he draws is to the post-revolutionary Bolshevik consolidation of power.
One of the explicit characteristics of "class enemies" that the Bolsheviks set out to eradicate was the entire ethos of the traditional family--they rightly saw in family loyalty the enemy of the totalitarian state. We see that attitude in our own Left, beginning with Hillary's "It Takes A Village". Not coincidentally, we see that same idea expressed--I believe with conscious reference to Hillary's book--in the Black Lives Matter movement. This morning commenter Bebe cited to the BLM Wikipedia page, where we find a determined animosity against the family and against normality itself:
Inclusivity of the movement
Black Lives Matter incorporates those traditionally on the margins of black freedom movements. The organization's website, for instance, states that Black Lives Matter is "a unique contribution that goes beyond extrajudicial killings of Black people by police and vigilantes" and, embracing intersectionality, that "Black Lives Matter affirms the lives of Black queer and trans folks, disabled folks, black-undocumented folks, folks with records, women, and all Black lives along the gender spectrum." All three founders of the Black Lives Matter movement are women, and Garza and Cullors identify as queer. Additionally, Elle Hearns, one of the founding organizers of the global network, is a transgender woman. The founders believe that their backgrounds have paved the way for Black Lives Matter to be an intersectional movement. Several hashtags such as #BlackWomenMatter, #BlackGirlsMatter, #BlackQueerLivesMatter, and #BlackTransLivesMatter have surfaced on the BLM website and throughout social media networks. Marcia Chatelain, associate professor of history at Georgetown University, has praised BLM for allowing "young, queer women [to] play a central role" in the movement.
Here are a few excerpts from Tucker's essay, to whet your appetite for more:
Every cult has the same goal: the utter submission of its members. Cult members surrender everything. They give up their physical freedom – where they can go, who they can see, how they can dress. But more than that, they give up control of their minds.
Cult leaders determine what their followers are allowed to believe, even in their most private thoughts. In order to do this, cults separate people from all they have known before. They force members to renounce their former lives, their countries and their customs.
They allow no loyalty except to the cult. The first thing they attack – always – is the family. Families are always the main impediment to brainwashing and extremism. If you’re going to control individuals – if you’re going to transform free people into compliant robots – the first thing you must do is separate them from the ones who love them most.
In 1932, Soviet authorities began promoting the story of a 13-year-old peasant boy called Pavlik Morozov. Morozov, they claimed, had taken the supremely virtuous step of denouncing his own father to the secret police for committing counter-revolutionary acts.
There's lots more.