This starts as one of my rambles, but trust me, it eventually develops a point.
I’m reading a book right now in which the author attempts to make an obscure subject user-friendly. She’s so committed to her attempt at popularization that she opens every chapter with an extended movie reference, usually to big-hit or cult-classic films: Captain Kirk did X; Neo did Y; Harry Potter said ABC. Then she ties that in with her subject. It’s an intriguing approach, but almost too cute, too contrived, too insultingly dumbed down.
Yet at the same time that she’s attempting to talk with readers on what she must imagine is our own level, she keeps tossing in words like “syncretistic,” “heuristic,” and “transgressive,” seemingly unaware that nobody in the real world talks like that.
But she’s a professor at one of those hoity-toity universities and has to work hard to display the common touch. Perhaps she assumes (without thinking too hard about it, of course) that the rest of us exit showings of Star Trek: The Neverending Movie Series and conclude our evenings at McDonalds discussing semiotics and intersectionality.
Still, at least she’s giving communication to the common folk the good old college try.
Funny how our backgrounds or social positions have such influences on our perceptions — and funny how we’re so often unaware they do.
In my 20s I worked briefly on a project with the daughter of one of our clients. Camilla was a terrific person and we did a little socializing while the project was under way. But she was also from some refined branch of the upper crust. One October evening a group of us met for drinks. I ordered a bloody Mary. Another companion wore a white dress.
Poor Camilla was astonished. One simply didn’t wear white after Labor Day. One would never order a bloody Mary after 5:00 p.m. In her world, these were laws handed down from On High. Such things Were Simply Not Done. Good sport that she was, she didn’t look down on us for our “transgressiveness.” Far from it. She admired our free spirits and jaunty defiance of convention. She wished she could bring herself to be so bold.
When of course we had no idea that we were doing any thing unconventional. We just lived in a world that had never heard of her rules.
Back in those days, when having a “social conscience” was a big thing, I also knew a number of people who assumed that everybody, including me, should feel guilty over the plight of the poor or the bad conduct of the establishment. Not that we should be be concerned or angry or crusading for justice (as I might have been and often was) — but that we were responsible and should feel driven to make some extreme personal sacrifice or grand heroic gesture to atone for our sins.
Whuffor? I wanted to know. I didn’t do it.
It took a while to dawn on my young self that every person making that assumption had been raised upper-middle class or above. Those were the folks who felt the need to atone for poverty by living in cold-water flats and spending their days slaving away at street missions. Those were the folks who felt the need to atone for poor nutrition by giving their family confectionary inheritance to charity and advocating strict macrobiotic diets for all. Those were the folks who attempted to atone for war by bombing university research facilities.
Not us working-class types. We might feel guilty about having illicit sex or taking $5 out of the cash drawer at work. About drinking too much or forgetting Mom’s birthday. Many of us went to churches that tried to make us feel guilty for being human.
But guilt about war and poverty and political corruption? Nope. Nosirree. We didn’t do it. On the contrary, we understood to our bones that a lot of that was done to us.
We understand it even more now that the myth of the power of the everyday American has eroded.
Yet now more than ever, the genuinely privileged look down from their grassy hills and ivy-consumed towers and — completely misunderstanding the rest of us — demand we writhe in guilt over … well, you know. Whatever. Our Privilege. Which mostly we don’t have, at least not relative to them.
Now instead of giving away their inheritances and plunging personally into acts of penance, they cluelessly expect us poor slobs to: atone for prejudices and privileges we don’t have; believe newly invented “realities” that defy biology, history, and logic; buy electric vehicles we can’t afford (or give up private transport altogether); exhaust our household budgets on their beloved “green” power; sacrifice inexpensive conveniences for the sake of the climate or some other vague cause; plug our mouths lest we utter evil free speech; subject our children to their social, racial, and sexual re-education; surrender our weapons; and placidly adopt the kind of meatless diets our malnourished, undersized, tubercular, poverty-stricken ancestors desperately tried to escape.
They, on the other hand, are immune. They may buy a Tesla or a Prius for status or virtue signaling. Ditto putting solar panels on their energy-consuming abodes. But the real sacrifice, for their desired change, is on our heads, shoulders, and backs.
Every class and culture misunderstands every other to some degree. Every class and culture carries traits and assumptions unique to themselves and may be shocked, dismayed, fascinated, thrilled, or intrigued to discover how differently some other group approaches life. That’s stating the obvious.
But the misunderstandings and prejudices don’t become a problem until one bunch decides it’s entitled to rule another.
For a while, it may work — for the ruling class, though not so well for the peasants. And here in the U.S. (and much of the rest of the western world), so far so good for them. The rising ruling class owns: academia, the news media, Silicon Valley (and with it vast and influential swaths of the the Internet), the movie industry, California, New York, Seattle, Portland, etc. etc. etc. They view themselves as right-thinking (but not, you know, right-thinking) opinion makers, natural-born leaders, trend-setters, architects of the future, and as revolutionaries disrupting the old order and creating in its place a brave new world.
But you can’t be both a revolutionary and the owner of establishment culture, can you? Try to be both and you end up an oxymoron. Or a just-plain moron, which may partially explain why the ruling left lately seems to be flopping around like a landed fish — thrashing about in panic, driven to political and intellectual frenzy by unstable emotions, often over issues that have zero relevance to We the Unwashed.
“What,” we wonder, “does all this hullabaloo have to do with our lives? With how we raise our kids? With whether we can survive our retirement — or even have a retirement? With whether we can put groceries on the table or afford a new-to-us car when our old clunker breaks down?”
As Sarah Hoyt notes with her usual directness and brilliance,
What history looks like, once aristocrats, or self proclaimed aristocrats get so out of touch is “Aristo, aristo, a la lanterne” and ça ira. I recommend to the usual leftists reading this blog for things to offend them that they study the French revolution and realize once and for all that they are not the revolutionaries. They are the stodgy, entrenched aristocrats who have all the power. They got there via selecting for the kind of cant that at this point no sane person can believe. And so they’ve achieved in 4 generations what would take a monarchy centuries of inbreeding to achieve: either total lack of ability to think, or total refusal to.
Hoyt says the real revolution is already underway. This may account for the shrill desperation of the people who currently appear to control so much. They have nothing real left to placate the peasants. In politics, even the most dumbass blue-collar drone knows that universal basic income, “free” college, “free” health care for all, and their ilk are desperate fantasies.
Sure, millions may line up to v*te for candidates or state initiatives that promise such fairytale largess. Because after all, why not? Maybe I’ll get my share before everything falls apart, I can hear some thinking. The rich are getting theirs, so why not me?
But the undercurrent is strictly about dividing the spoils and keeping those potentially dangerous peasants from becoming more “revolting” then the Twitter accounts of the elite already tell us we are.
And of course, even the peasants who don’t support the mad fantasy of free stuff for all (the peasants whose energies are directed more toward being angry over the contempt they feel pouring down on them from above) can be overruled … for a time.
Hoyt again, speaking of those who rule:
And then there is the fact they have an iron grip on vote manufacture, which means disinfecting our government might take … well… a revolution.
They’ve already lost where it counts. They’ve already lost the real culture and the “way things will be done in the future.”
What they still have, though, is the ability to make the next fifteen to 20 years very unpleasant, and, possibly, to ensure that what comes next is much, much harsher and more punitive than it would otherwise be.
On that note, I send you overto John Wilder, who lays out four ways the next American war on itself might turn out, from “total victory” (for “the Right,” which you and I might not consider victory at all), to “Operation Gulag,” a Soviet style hell.
You may not agree with his specific projections, and in his most dire scenario he runs 180 degrees counter to Hoyt’s view of the historic trend. But Wilder serves up good food for thought. And he has a way of being a hoot even when he’s talking serious business.
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