Friday, March 5, 2021

Class Warfare

That's the reality of America, as Glenn Harlan Reynolds describes it today:

America’s elites are waging class war on workers and small bizAmerica’s elites are waging class war on workers and small biz

The question, of course, is: What's behind this class war?

Reynolds starts with the economic rationale--and there's little doubt that this is a very real and conscious motive at the level of corporations and their enablers:

In America, class warfare is often disguised as culture war, and culture war is often cloaked by talk of race. But underneath it all, the class warfare is still there. Whether accidentally or intentionally, America’s upper classes seem to wind up harming the working class and small businesses, always in the name of some high-minded cause.

On immigration, for example, the go-to move is to call people who object to open borders racists and nativists. But what’s behind it? As Biden economic adviser Jared Bernstein commented: “A tight job market pressures employers to boost wage offers . . . One equally surefire way to short-circuit this useful dynamic is to turn on the immigrant spigot every time some group’s wages go up.” Immigration as a way of keeping working-class wages down.

Strangely, Reynolds fails to mention the role of outsourcing in this. The outsourcing of American manufacturing and jobs is all about boosting profits by suppressing the biggest portion of the cost of goods sold--wages and related expenses. The gradual forcing of the working class onto the government dole in various forms (guaranteed income?) is supposed to make up for that and insure a docile populace. But it won't substitute for the meaningful life that all normal humans seek. It will fail.

Reynolds then goes on to discuss the cultural rationale, which is the religious rationale. The point is that the woke adherents of Prog religious enthusiasm need to keep the racist and unwoke underclass in their places--which is under the woke class. The example he offers is one that has been getting a fair amount of publicity on conservative sites lately. At Smith College an African student made blatantly false accusations of racism against white janitorial and cafeteria staff. Despite the blatant falsity, these working class stiffs were forced out after being smeared and, after being totally cleared, were basically smeared again by the college as belonging to, well, the wrong class. Reynolds observes:

Privilege is the ability to get an employee of many years punished simply by making a complaint, even a false one. 

Who is this woke upperclass that so ruthlessly seeks to suppress the unwoke? It's the "gentry", as defined by ideology:

And yet class war rages, even if people don’t want to talk about it. It’s not the Soviet-style class war, with “capitalists” on one side and “workers and peasants” on the other, but rather the educated “gentry class” (as demographer Joel Kotkin calls it) making life tough for the working class.

The gentry class is in firm control of most of the institutions in America, from big corporations, to media organizations, to, most especially, colleges and universities. The Democrats are the gentry class’ party, as the GOP increasingly becomes a diverse coalition of working-class and small-business people. And the gentry class is letting the working class have it.

Barack Obama boasted about driving coal mines into bankruptcy; Joe Biden tells miners they need to learn how to code. There’s talk of forgiving student-loan debt, which would effectively transfer wealth from high-school educated truck drivers to social workers with graduate degrees. Biden’s open-borders immigration policy will once again open the “immigrant spigot” to push working-class wages down. Piling ruin upon ruin.

The "learn to code" refrain reminds me of an article at The Federalist today: Don’t Get Scammed By So-Called STEM Education. The author warns gullible parents about the reality of many of these programs, which parents think will prepare their children for well paying, fulfilling jobs in the tech sector. As if--even assuming the worth of such programs--American kids would somehow be able to compete for those jobs against cheaper foreign labor imports. The reality of many of these programs, of course is different. I liked this passage about coding:

It sounds amazing, at first. “My child will be able to code a robot? Wow! That will prepare him for an amazing career.” What no one is telling that parent or student is that less than 2 percent of all jobs in STEM involve coding or robotics. What good is knowing how to code if 98 percent of STEM jobs don’t use it? If you only speak Icelandic, it’s unlikely there is going to be a massive market for your skillset in Cambodia.

Of course preparation for a job that's more than just a temporary gig is complicated beyond most parents' comprehension--although they have a very real sense of the insecurity of the modern economy for all below the top levels and the support staff for the top levels. But Reynold's point is that the ruling class isn't helping and isn't even interested in helping. In fact, he suggests in conclusion, the intentions of the ruling class--the people, for example, who want you and your family vaxxed in perpetuity--may actually be malign:

And just as at Smith, they don’t care who’s hurt, so long as they can strike a pose. Is all this accidental? Or is it the product of hostility toward what Hillary Clinton called the “deplorables?” On the receiving end, does it really matter?

Archbishop Viganò's latest letter, which is concerned with the analogous political situation in Italy, expresses this malign intent within the Italian context--but the essential similarity is clear:

In the name of tolerance, we Italians were asked to grant legitimacy to evil, reassuring ourselves that in any case the good would not be hindered: today the State guarantees and protects evil and even outlaws the good. ...

On the other hand, the essence of liberalism – ... – lies precisely in progressively disarming the majority of the good, and at the same time in supporting and reinforcing the minority of the corrupt, under the pretext of an alleged and absurd equality of rights. And yet it should not be terribly difficult to understand that the very idea of equality is absurd, because it presupposes a flattening of all differences, a homologation of all diversity, which in fact ends with cancelling out that which vice-versa ought to make the social body – and thus logically the ecclesial body as well – efficient in all its members, diverse but harmoniously connected.

Yes, the Progressive Movement always has been a bait and switch ploy. The problem is, with Progs now in control of education for going on two generations at least, most Americans reflexively think in basically Prog terms--the bastard offspring of Classical Liberalism.

Viganò then makes an interesting comment, which I see often reflected in the comments here of those who support a "third party":

In this way democracy reveals its weakness, since it lays down as a postulate a belief in the innate goodness of the multitude, which instead is inclined to evil and sin and which needs to be guided by an authority that has transcendent values as its model.

What I see reflected in so many of these comments is this touching but misguided belief in the innate goodness of common people--along the lines of Bill Buckley's jest that he'd prefer to be ruled by people picked at random out of a phone book (remember phone books?). What follows from this faith in common people is typically American: We will solve the systemic corruption of our society and its government by "reform", by restructuring the rules--term limits, and so forth. As if tinkering with the mechanics of "the system" will somehow overcome the inclination of men to game whatever system is current. What I've been arguing, however, is that moral and philosophical conversion is the only way to at least mitigate the harm caused by human imperfection. Third parties, with their pipe dream of a virtuous new political movement immune to the innate foibles of human beings, will only serve as yet another vehicle for gaming the system, a rearranging of the deck chairs on the Titanic of liberal democracy. A third party may be necessary at some point, but one built on unrealistic assumptions will inevitably fail.

Viganò concludes on a somewhat optimistic note. There is, in fact, a way to get past the cultural--and thus societal and governing--impasse:

If we are able to understand that what is happening in Italy is part of a single script under a single direction, then we will succeed in grasping the coherence between facts that are apparently heterogeneous, and above all we will understand that the motivations that are adopted in order to legitimize measures in violation of the natural freedoms of individuals are nothing other than pretexts, as false as they are rationally incongruent. And since everything is based on a colossal lie, it will be enough for only one of the deceptions to collapse to make the entire globalist Tower of Babel collapse, its hierarchs, its priests, its courtiers, its servants.

However, the necessary condition for overcoming this organized Evil of the New World Order is our own reeducation in the philosophy of the real world of the God created order of human nature. Tolerance cannot extend to Anthony Kennedy's so called right of all to define for themselves "the sweet mystery of life". That way lies social collapse and chaos. 


  1. I just finished reading Lausch "Revolt of the Elites" and before Codevilla's "Country Class vs. Ruling Class". This the the best summation in my opinion. Now I call them Economic Populists vs. the Global Corporatists. All are riffs of the same theme. Those who are supposed to lead us don't believe in us. A sad state of affairs.

    Now we work to replace them. Some are leaving of their own accord. Where are you going Mitch? Taiwan? Do not despair because politics are not static. Changes are coming and there will be a rude awakening. I am optimistic it will come out well.


    1. Yes, that's one of Codevilla's better pieces--and prescient.

      "The notion of human equality was always a hard sell, because experience teaches us that we are so unequal in so many ways, and because making one’s self superior is so tempting that Lincoln called it “the old serpent, you work I’ll eat.” But human equality made sense to our Founding generation because they believed that all men are made in the image and likeness of God ..."

      Without Christian faith 'equality' is bound to be misunderstood and will become a dissolvent factor in the body politic.

    2. Mark, do you read Leo Strauss, are you familiar with his work? I would be interested to know how you regard him.
      Mark A

    3. I've never read any single work of his, although I've read second hand critiques. For the sake of brevity I'd say I'm in broad sympathy with his positions as outlined at Wikipedia.

    4. @Spartacus

      That's a great article (Codevilla), and, as Mark commented, quite prescient. Thanks for sharing.

      In the rare times when I engage with my San Francisco-based snowflake 'adult' son in a political discussion, one of his favorite debate strategies is to disparage my political philosophy by invoking "Trump" and "Hannity" and "FoxNews" to summarize what he thinks I think.

      It is refreshing to read what Codevilla was saying in 2010. Wherein he makes no reference to Trump or, for example, Hannity, but simply calls it as he sees it.
      I have tried to explain to my son (and others) that in my view Trump is merely the messenger (imperfect vessel that he is) but that the profound problems and divisions in America pre-existed (and post-exist) Trump and that they are real and valid (and not simply the tweetings of a narcissistic former reality show host).

      I have had no success with this explanation.

    5. For those interested in what Codevilla has had to say more recently, this link might be of interest:

  2. What I've been arguing, however, is that moral and philosophical conversion is the only way to at least mitigate the harm caused by human imperfection.

    You argue correctly, but I'm not holding my breath.

    You ALSO knock Reynolds' thesis on its butt. Reynolds does not understand the sequence of which he speaks. First comes CULT (religion), which builds a CULTURE; from that culture flows POLITICS along with a lot of other things, principally intellectual success (or failure.)

    Reynolds does not understand that the CULT of materialism results in the CULTURE of "class." That materialism is also the nexus between Marxism and our "elites". They worship at the wrong altar.

    Thus the necessity for your conversion--or another Great Awakening.

    But will that lead to a better form of government? Not unless those who construct that form are 'moral men,' as John Adams specified.

  3. Dear Mr Wauck - as ever, thank you for your efforts, here and elsewhere. Along with your thoughts in the final paragraph, is not a valuable additional bulwark and goal to also seek to regain the original gift of the Founders in the form of a much more limited and light-weight government? Best Regards - B

    1. You're welcome. While I understand the appeal of a more light-weight government, as a practical matter I'm not sure how that could be made to work. Of course, we may be thinking of different aspects. If by that term you mean reining in the unconstitutional aspects of the regulatory - administrative executive agencies and requiring Congress to return to legislating, I'd be very much in favor of that. I'm not holding my breath. Even with all Trump's regulatory pruning, the actual apparatus of the admin state remained fully entrenched.

  4. I am a fan of Reynolds' blog. I actually thought his piece, for it's brevity, did the job it was supposed to do. By printing it in the NY Post, perhaps it will inform those who don't read the Atlantic, NYT, WSJ, Spectator, NR and a whole host of other 'intellectual' publications. Reynolds is a proud libertarian and also a supporter of "....the appeal of a light-weight government,..." That said, the rest of what has been presented and is now being discussed on this topic is almost to hard to fathom. The solutions are few and incredible difficult and in one case, to scary to contemplate. When do we reach our 'let them eat cake' moment? I read an article today that said Medicare Part A will be insolvent by 2026. Our 'elites' will have to actually get together to fix this. Left and right will be forced to look out for the greater good and not just their side. Will that be the trigger that forces us to confront the realities associated with a corrupt government? Will this expose "...the single script under the single direction..." and force us to change for the good of the country, or will radical change be further forced upon us?

  5. Apologies if you covered it at the time, but even if you did, this Glenn Greenwald piece "The New Domestic War on Terror is Coming" can hardly be brought up too often. It just sums things up so well and fits so nicely with your Class Warfare post today (which, as others have said, is typically excellent).

    One (long!) snippet from the piece gives a good taste, but the whole thing really needs to be read:

    "Continuing to process Washington debates of this sort primarily through the prism of 'Democrat v. Republican' or even 'left v. right' is a sure ticket to the destruction of core rights. There are times when powers of repression and censorship are aimed more at the left and times when they are aimed more at the right, but it is neither inherently a left-wing nor a right-wing tactic. It is a ruling class tactic, and it will be deployed against anyone perceived to be a dissident to ruling class interests and orthodoxies no matter where on the ideological spectrum they reside.


    "It is vital to ask what it means for speech to constitute 'incitement to violence' to the point that it can be banned or criminalized. The expression of any political viewpoint, especially one passionately expressed, has the potential to 'incite' someone else to get so riled up that they engage in violence.


    "If you claim that George W. Bush stole the 2000 and/or 2004 elections — as many Democrats, including members of Congress, did — you may inspire civic unrest or violence against Bush and his supporters. The same is true if you claim the 2016 or 2020 elections were fraudulent or illegitimate. If you rage against the racist brutality of the police, people may go burn down buildings in protest — or murder randomly selected police officers whom they have become convinced are agents of a racist genocidal state.

    "The Bernie Sanders campaign volunteer and hard-core Democratic partisan, James Hodgkinson, who went to a softball field in June, 2017 to murder Republican Congress members — and almost succeeded in fatally shooting Rep. Steve Scalise (R-LA) — had spent months listening to radical Sanders supporters and participating in Facebook groups with names like “Terminate the Republican Party” and 'Trump is a Traitor.'

    "Hodgkinson had heard over and over that Republicans were not merely misguided but were 'traitors' and grave threats to the Republic. As CNN reported, “his favorite television shows were listed as ‘Real Time with Bill Maher;’ ‘The Rachel Maddow Show;’ ‘Democracy Now!’ and other left-leaning programs.” All of the political rhetoric to which he was exposed — from the pro-Sanders Facebook groups, MSNBC and left-leaning shows — undoubtedly played a major role in triggering his violent assault and decision to murder pro-Trump Republican Congress members.

    "Despite the potential of all of those views to motivate others to commit violence in their name — potential that has sometimes been realized — none of the people expressing those views, no matter how passionately, can be validly characterized as “inciting violence” either legally or ethically. That is because all of that speech is protected, legitimate speech. None of it advocates violence. None of it urges others to commit violence in its name. The fact that it may 'inspire' or 'motivate' some mentally unwell person or a genuine fanatic to commit violence does not make the person espousing those views and engaging in that non-violent speech guilty of 'inciting violence' in any meaningful sense."

    And on it goes...