The Robespierres Of The Rich


Mike Lofgren has a penetrating must-read in the best conservative magazine in America right now. It really is about how conservatism somehow ceded to materialism and how materialism then became highly unequal, and how the successful managed to leverage their advantage into a revolt against the masses. Money quote:

"Since the first ziggurats rose in ancient Babylonia, the so-called forces of order, stability, and tradition have feared a revolt from below. Beginning with Edmund Burke and Joseph de Maistre after the French Revolution, a whole genre of political writings—some classical liberal, some conservative, some reactionary—has propounded this theme. The title of Ortega y Gasset’s most famous work, The Revolt of the Masses, tells us something about the mental atmosphere of this literature.

But in globalized postmodern America, what if this whole vision about where order, stability, and a tolerable framework for governance come from, and who threatens those values, is inverted? What if Christopher Lasch came closer to the truth in The Revolt of the Elites, wherein he wrote, “In our time, the chief threat seems to come from those at the top of the social hierarchy, not the masses”?

Lasch held that the elites—by which he meant not just the super-wealthy but also their managerial coat holders and professional apologists—were undermining the country’s promise as a constitutional republic with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility. Lasch wrote that in 1995. Now, almost two decades later, the super-rich have achieved escape velocity from the gravitational pull of the very society they rule over. They have seceded from America."

And conservatives, it seems to me, should care about all of America, rather than seceding from it. Social and economic inequality are dangerous threats to social stability and democratic legitimacy. That is a conservative belief – and one utterly alien to the fanatics who now run one of our two major parties. If conservatism is to recover, this version of the GOP must be defeated. It's the only language they understand: the language of power.

(Graph via Ezra)