Monday, August 16, 2010
Ruling Class Crushes Economy, Puts Down Religion, Elevates Science
Continuing the digest of Angelo M. Codevilla’s important essay:
While the economic value of anything depends on sellers and buyers agreeing on that value as civil equals in the absence of force, modern government is about . . . tampering with civil equality. By endowing some in society with power to force others to sell cheaper than they would, and forcing others yet to buy at higher prices[,] modern government makes valuable some things that are not, and devalues others that are. Thus if you are not among the favored guests at the table where officials make detailed lists of who is to receive what at whose expense, you are on the menu.
picking economic winners and losers redirects the American people's energies to tasks that the political class deems more worthy than what Americans choose for themselves. . . ever-greater taxes and intrusive regulations are the main wrenches by which the American people can be improved (and, yes, by which the ruling class feeds and grows).
To the extent party leaders do not have to worry about voters, they can choose privileged interlocutors, representing those in society whom they find most amenable. In America ever more since the 1930s[,] government has designated certain individuals, companies, and organizations within each of society's sectors as (junior) partners in elaborating laws and administrative rules for those sectors. The government empowers the persons it has chosen over those not chosen, deems them the sector's true representatives, and rewards them. They become part of the ruling class. . . a doctor, a building contractor, a janitor, or a schoolteacher counts in today's America insofar as he is part of the hierarchy of a sector organization affiliated with the ruling class. Less and less do such persons count as voters.
legal words that say you are in the right avail you less in today's America than being on the right side of the persons who decide what they want those words to mean. As the discretionary powers of officeholders and of their informal entourages have grown, the importance of policy and of law itself is declining, citizenship is becoming vestigial, and the American people become ever more dependent.
The ruling class is keener to reform the American people's family and spiritual lives than their economic and civic ones. In no other areas is the ruling class's self-definition so definite, its contempt for opposition so patent, its Kulturkampf so open. It believes that the Christian family (and the Orthodox Jewish one too) is rooted in and perpetuates the ignorance commonly called religion, divisive social prejudices, and repressive gender roles, that it is the greatest barrier to human progress because it looks to its very particular interest -- often defined as mere coherence against outsiders who most often know better. Thus the family prevents its members from playing their proper roles in social reform. Worst of all, it reproduces itself.
Since marriage is the family's fertile seed, government at all levels, along with "mainstream" academics and media, have waged war on it. They legislate, regulate, and exhort in support not of "the family" -- meaning married parents raising children -- but rather of "families," meaning mostly households based on something other than marriage. . . rates of marriage in America have decreased as out-of-wedlock births have increased. The biggest demographic consequence has been that 20% of all households are women alone or with children, in which case they have about a 40% chance of living in poverty. Since unmarried mothers often are or expect to be clients of government services, it is not surprising that they are among the Democratic Party's most faithful voters.
dismissal of the American people's intellectual, spiritual, and moral substance is the very heart of what our ruling class is about. Its . . .claim to the right to decide for others is precisely that it . . .operates by standards beyond others' comprehension. While the unenlightened ones believe that man is created in the image and likeness of God and that we are subject to His and to His nature's laws, the enlightened ones know that we are products of evolution, driven by chance, the environment, and the will to primacy.
science is "science" only in the "right" hands. Consensus among the right people is the only standard of truth. Facts and logic matter only insofar as proper authority acknowledges them. That is why the ruling class is united and adamant about nothing so much as its right to pronounce definitive, "scientific" judgment on whatever it chooses. When the government declares, and its associated press echoes that "scientists say" this or that, ordinary people -- or for that matter scientists who "don't say," or are not part of the ruling class -- lose any right to see the information that went into what "scientists say."
By identifying science and reason with themselves, our rulers delegitimize opposition. Though they cannot prevent Americans from worshiping God, they can make it as socially disabling as smoking -- to be done furtively and with a bad social conscience. Though they cannot make Americans wish they were Europeans, they continue to press upon this nation of refugees from the rest of the world the notion that Americans ought to live by "world standards."