Funny old world that. It took the nomination of Sarah Palin to the R-VP slot to bring it to our attention – with a considerable jolt, let it be added – that we have a native aristocratic class in this here U S of A. Over and above the one that we thought we always had before, but every bit as snobbish and loaded down with entitlements and sense of superiority as any member of the pre-revolutionary French nobility. The ancient regime is what they were called in the history books, only our current and most visible lot are every bit as capricious, arrogant and demanding- and as viciously insulting as any French nobleman in powdered wig, satin coat and four-inch red heels, about some hardworking plain sturdy bourgeoisie in a plain cloth coat who has the nerve to think that because they work at a trade that dirties their hands that they also have the right to grasp the reins of political power. Especially in matters to do with taxes and all that.
Ah, well – the French ancient regime found out that the resolution to that conundrum soon enough – the conundrum that postulated that free citizens who contribute to the upkeep of necessary institutions might have a right and a duty to have some kind of say about the manner of that upkeep, and the duties of those institutions as defined. The resolution of that little dispute was messy … and in any case put the French generally in the hands of a regime even more destructive of personal choice, peace, freedom etc. than the exquisitely dressed swells of before.
You see, we always had our own aristocracy, from the earliest days of the republic; an aristocracy of talent mostly, of money sometimes, and very occasionally of family – but never for long. Over the long haul, this republic of ours was a ruthless meritocracy. Money might be there, family might be there, ability and ambition by the bucket-load, but absent any institutional aristocracy to cement it all into place, our native aristocracy was an ever-shifting affair, more a matter of local ‘old families’ who owned a bigger farm, had a bigger house or a larger industry than all of their neighbors. (I wrote about them last year, here )
But lately I can’t help but wonder if the new aristocrats are something more malignant in their regard towards those they wish to rule over, more purely poisonously, nakedly self-serving of their own interests, regardless of the harm being done to the nation as a whole.
Our career-serving political class, the education establishment, the traditional news media, the people responsible for (in a good and in a bad way) for our movies and television entertainment – it seems of late that too many of them are singing with the same voice and the same song. Different words, perhaps, and out of some obscure motivation, but all to the same end, and now and again I detect some whisper of the same motivating contempt for the American public. Contempt for our tastes or lack of same, of our habits in shopping, amusing ourselves, our persistent attachment to religious beliefs, to habits of self-sufficiency, and our stubborn disinclination to do or believe as our self-nominated betters dictate – it’s all on very ugly display. The media gang-up on Joe the Plumber, for having the impertinence to ask a tough question of the favored candidate was just the most recent and most open, and the most unsettling display.
Really, what do these new aristos expect of the masses, the proletariat, the common citizenry? More and more I have the feeling that we are seen as a kind of herd animal, to be periodically sheared like sheep, relieved of whatever fleece or funds that the new aristos feel they could make better use of, to do as we are told, to not really consider our property, our children, or our earnings as our own. If the aristos decide that they require such things to be given up – well, then, fall in line the loyal peasantry. And don’t forget to smile.
We are being put back in our place, after a two-hundred plus year experiment of being responsible and independent citizens – not so much by actual physical repression, but by words – words and deeds wielded by the new aristos, to wreck our institutions from the inside, and water down those basic freedoms as established in the constitution, to shred free speech and condemn us to silence for fear of a mob – a mob directed by an unholy confabulation of the aristos. Not too late to go storm the Bastille though – on Voting Day. Don’t give up. Ever.