Ed Driscoll

CLASS AND THE LEFT

Fascinating article titled “A Liberal Trademark“, by Frederick Turner in Tech Central Station:

Over the years all the real arguments for the left-liberal position, involving evidence and rational deliberation, have been exploded one by one. Thus rational discussion itself has become a sign of bad taste, of a pugnacious Appalachian kind of insensitivity, with a hint of a possible tendency to tobacco chewing, gun racks, talk radio, pickup trucks, wife-beaters and incest. There is left but one simple rule for the new upper crust: by all means prefer victims to oppressors, but always prefer oppressors to true liberators.

The class rationale for this odd paradox is complex. Karl Marx was right when he identified the phenomenon of a class having policies even when none of its members would necessarily recognize them – and the people I am talking about here are eminently nice, even good people, who would be horrified by the class motives they serve. But here it is: their class privileges are preserved by means of the continued existence and allegiance of a peon caste who will vote for the upper crust’s leaders at home, and confuse and frustrate the great class enemy, the U.S. military, abroad. (If you want to “shock and awe” one of these folks, just mention that your son is in the Army. The look of horror is instantaneous, though it vanishes quickly.)

True liberators, as we can now see, would deprive the world of victims, and thus dry up the supply of peons that constitute the new class’s constituency. This is why, even though the new class disliked Saddam Hussein, they hate Bush infinitely more. Just as Palestinian refugee camps justify the failures and secure the tenure of Arab despots, so the poor and downtrodden of the world justify the ascendancy of the new upper crust. At home, school vouchers are opposed in the teeth of the urban poor that want them, because decent education might help put an end to the urban poor who vote for upper crust leaders. The same goes for the inclusion of privatization in the Social Security portfolio, and any form of tax relief that might result in turning the majority of Americans into owners, and into people too proud to consider themselves victims. And without victims, where would Lady Bountiful be then?

If one has had the privileges – or aspires to them – of a “liberal” education in the post-1960s academy, the privileges of “set” and caste, one subconsciously doubts whether one’s own talents would sustain one if one were cast out. One’s unexamined intellectual premises have an unsound feel to them, so that one doesn’t want to “go there.” It’s not what you know, but who you know, so the greatest terror is to be shunned by the in-group. And this is where the fear comes from.

In this light it seems rather amazing that, as I and others have begun to notice, so many people are coming out of the closet and daring to ask why the emperor is wearing no clothes. Has the courageous spirit of our young men and women warriors started to revitalize the intellectual kidney of the home country? What is going on here?

Read the whole thing. And for more takes on this issue, see David Brooks’ Bobos in Paradise: The New Upper Class and How They Got There, and several of the essays in Tom Wolfe’s recent Hooking Up.