Yes, Victor Davis Hanson is neo-conny, but he manages to hit the nail on the head with this description of what’s going on in America right now. I tuned out of the health care debate a few weeks ago. I don’t care about that con game any more. It’s worth analyzing the broader climate all of this is taking place in though:
…we are not talking about hoi polloi versus hoi oligoi, or the commune on the barricades fighting the estate owners. No, not this time around.
Instead, the present attempt to remake America is the effort of the liberal well-to-do — highly educated at mostly private universities, nursed on three decades of postmodern education, either with inherited wealth or earning top salaries, lifestyles of privilege indistinguishable from those they decry as selfish, and immune from the dictates they impose on others.
They are all battling on behalf of “them,” the poorer half of America, currently in need of some sort of housing, education, food, or legal subsidy, whom the above mentioned elite, in the way they live, send their children to school, socialize, and vacation so studiously avoid. (The New York Times owners are likely to follow the cut-throat business practices of Wall Street, live in the most refined areas of New York, and assume privileges indistinguishable from other CEOs; the difference is that they so visibly care about those they never see or seek out).
Note well the term “poor.” These are not Dickensian or Joads poor, but largely Americans who by the standards of the 1940s would be considered lucky. Partly because of globalized Chinese consumer goods, and partly redistributive practices of a half-century, our current “underclass” has access to clothes, electronics, entertainment, apartments, cell phones, transportation, etc., undreamed of by the middle class of the recent past. I live in one of the poorest areas of one of the poorest counties in a bankrupt state; and those I see poor are not like those I saw 40 years ago in the same locale.
No, the revolution is not one of the abject poor and starving storming the Bastille, but of the angry and self-righteous well-off— angry as hell that the less well-off are living lives quite differently from the very well-off. (A trodden down poor person today flies standby from San Francisco to LAX; a very rich person gets into his $50 million Gulfstream — but note modernism’s paradox: the poor person’s United Airlines pilots are as good, he gets there as safely and in some comfort, and not much later as well.)
Some of the revolutionaries are guided by genuine noblesse oblige. Others act out of guilt and can justify their own consumption if they “care” for a distant poorer other. Still more explain their own privilege through using government to redistribute income. A few are driven by genuine hatred — stemming from the fact that the highly educated academic or artist makes far less than the doctor, lawyer, CEO, or — heaven forbid — tire store owner, family orthodontist, or owner of a half dozen Little Caesar pizza franchises.
How can that be that the PhD who reads Old English, or the painter who emulates Pollock, or the writer who is the next Fitzgerald, or the AP teacher is given so much less by society than the crass, smug captain of industry, who reads less, has no real taste, and hardly understands his own existential dilemma? Should not salary and capital be predicated on good intentions, high education, rhetoric and argumentation, and a bit of necessary sarcasm?
Where do these ideologies derive? Again, I wish I could say that they are grassroots driven, by the muscular classes who are victimized by business and, in their cry-from-the-heart protests, demand a fairer cutting of the pie. But so often the utopianism is from above, and predicated on abstract education, relative affluence, and little exposure to business or indeed much beyond the metrosexual world in general.
So fascinating these modern revolutionaries. A Buffet does not choose to pay the high income tax rate on his earnings, though he surely could in lieu of lecturing how taxes are too low. A Gates Sr. does not plan for his offspring to pay into the strapped treasury needed inheritance taxes, though he remonstrates that they must be raised on everyone else. A Geithner does not comply with the tax code, though he assumes it should be raised on others. A Gore lectures on honesty and truth and science on his way to a $100 million con that turns him from an affluent ex-politician into a global grandee.
I’m sorry — I don’t take seriously much of anything from this wannabe revolutionary bunch.
I picked out the good stuff from the article. A lot of the filler was just typical neocon history re-write, but his analysis of the phony ivy league liberal who fancies himself some sort of modern revolutionary is spot on. It’s how Obama can be best buddies and take money from every Wall St. fat cat in existence and still somehow come off as a Main St. populist. The Obama revolution was a classic collectivist campaign. That is to say, it was a campaign run by power elite who want to control, designed specifically to attract those who want to be controlled. With bitter ivy league and media technocrats acting as gatekeepers. It’s all so phony. It makes me sick.