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Belmont Club

The Return of Class Struggle

December 29th, 2012 - 12:59 pm

Lord Mandelson, a pro-EU British politician, warned the European project could unravel if the poverty caused by the economic crisis spreads throughout the zone. “Now this goes to the heart of the EU’s political legitimacy because whether you are from an austerity member state or a bailout country, you are likely to be dissatisfied for a long time to come with the economic state of Europe and the price you are paying for Europe’s indebtedness and its relative failure to generate the wealth it needs to pay for its high standard of living.”

What unites the disparate classes and nationalities of the continent is money. The deal was ‘sign on to the EU and win a prize’.  But the prizes have been running short lately. That means the class struggle is back. And this time the divide can no longer be portrayed as exclusively running between the capitalists and the workers. Super-sized bureaucracies have created a new division: between the the guys who spend the budget and the great unwashed whose taxes pay the budget.

The new divide is contaminating everything even in America. After the massacre of school children in Connecticut was being used to illustrate the dangers of the Second Amendment, a curious thing happened. It began to morph, unbidden, into a class struggle issue.

It may have started when Piers Morgan mocked a guest on his talk show as “an unbelievably stupid man” for disagreeing with him on the subject of gun control.  However, his British accent worked its subliminally upper-class magic in American minds. Through this filter, Morgan didn’t come across as just another dude disagreeing on the subject of the Second Amendment on CNN but the high and mighty Lord Banastre Tarleton riding roughshod over some homesteaders in the New World. The thing about the Voice of Command is that you have to know when to use it. Morgan didn’t.

It led to a petition for his deportation which evoked a hilarious counterpetition from Britain saying that after spending so much effort getting rid of him they didn’t want him back.  Then David Gregory pulled his now infamous high capacity magazine stunt on national TV. He brandished a 30-round capacity magazine on his show to illustrate how illegal it was — after the DC cops told his producers he couldn’t do it. When asked how the cops could tolerate a direct challenge the sheepish answer was: it’s David Gregory and besides, he wasn’t actually going to shoot anybody.  He succeeded in reminding everyone, as Mark Steyn put it that “laws are for little people — and not for David Gregory”.

But Steyn makes a more subtle point. In an increasingly bureaucratic country so many laws are inevitably enacted that it’s impossible to live out a day without being in technical violation of something. Eventually society needs some way to grant tacit immunity otherwise it couldn’t function. Without special treatment Gregory wouldn’t be able to make it across the street without violating some obscure ordinance.

To Howard Kurtz & Co., it’s “obvious” that Gregory didn’t intend to commit a crime. But, in a land choked with laws, “obviousness” is one of the first casualties — and “obviously” innocent citizens have their “obviously” well-intentioned actions criminalized every minute of the day. Not far away from David Gregory, across the Virginia border, eleven-year-old Skylar Capo made the mistake of rescuing a woodpecker from the jaws of a cat and nursing him back to health for a couple of days. For her pains, a federal Fish & Wildlife gauleiter accompanied by state troopers descended on her house, charged her with illegal transportation of a protected species, issued her a $535 fine, and made her cry. Why is it so “obvious” that David Gregory deserves to be treated more leniently than a sixth grader? Because he’s got a TV show and she hasn’t?

I wouldn’t be too hard on Gregory. He wants to be able to breathe without picking up a rulebook. Why shouldn’t he live unfettered if he can? All he really did was show a metal box with a spring in it on TV.  Without his special juice he probably couldn’t clean the soles on his shoes. Exemptions are the necessary flip side of the politically correct state.  They are the price we pay for enacting showcase but unworkable rules.

Close Guantanamo and open a secret prison in Benghazi. Make Obamacare mandatory and issue a waiver.  Forbid assassinations but run a drone program killing hundreds.  Otherwise you might have another 9/11. Someone once remarked “I’m against torture but I hope that if some agent discovers they have a nuke hidden under New York City he’ll do the right thing.” Sure. Couldn’t have New York City going up in smoke could we?

A split level world is the necessary consequence of a split level society — we were on the subject of class warfare, weren’t we? Without exemptions nothing would work because without class distinctions a class society would never work.

But sometimes the disconnect shows up the official pious narrative. When Chicago’s John Kass was invited on TV to denounce gun violence on CNN after 500 persons were murdered in Obama’s hometown before the year was even out, he went off the script.  When given an opening to denounce guns he said there had always been guns in Chicago. From way back in the 19th and 20th centuries.

Murder this year was up for one simple reason: the mayors of Chicago had stolen all the money and nobody knew what they did with it. Now there were a 1,000 fewer cops on the street, Kass said. What did you expect? Anyways, he said, who cares? Maybe one day Barack Obama would find the time to attend the funeral of one of the hundreds of black kids who routinely died in those parts, like he did in Connecticut, he suggested. Meanwhile, it was just another day in pair-o-dice. Kass can portray the “don’t mean nothing’” stare with perfection.

That blank stare is the mask behind which hides what Edwin Markham once called the “Man with the Hoe”. The toiling beast, the uncommunicative taxpayer, the guy who returns each day from work to a smaller and smaller world. One day his cherished Big Gulp softdrink is gone. The next day the transfats. The next day his gun.  Littler and littler it gets — the paycheck too.

These are the people that Lord Mandelson is worried about. The giant bureaucratic state can only maintain its legitimacy if it can convince the man in the little room that despite of the obvious facts one day he will be just like the sublime beings on TV. The ones who can brandish a high capacity magazine on TV or hire bodyguards for their retinue of beautiful people. When that promise dims then the “gulfs between him and the seraphim” may become an issue. But not for the seraphim. Never for the seraphim. They’ll just float away.


The Three Conjectures at Amazon Kindle for $1.99
Storming the Castle at Amazon Kindle for $3.99
No Way In at Amazon Kindle $8.95, print $9.99

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