March 7, 2016

HOW THE WEST ENDS? At Ricochet, Claire Berlinski links to an article at Slate by Anne Applebaum titled “This Is How the West Ends — Donald Trump, Marine Le Pen, and the breakdown of European stability,” in which Applebaum writes, “Western unity, nuclear deterrence, and standing armies gave us more than half a century of political stability. Shared economic space helped bring prosperity and freedom to Europe and North America alike. But these are things that we all take for granted, until they are gone.”

To which Berlinski responds, “But none of these arguments work, do they. No matter what, all people hear is blah, blah, blah, patronizing coastal Ivy-educated elites — what have the Romans ever given us in return? Yeah, yeah, yeah, besides half a century of political stability, prosperity and freedom…”

Late last month Stephen Bainbridge quoted from pieces explaining Trump’s supporters by Ben Domenech at Commentary and by Peggy Noonan, along with a quote from the late Christopher Lasch’s 1995 book, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, in a post titled “Donald Trump is the beta test of a cure for The Revolt of the Elites.” Domenech wrote:

The post-Cold War left-right politics of the nation have been breaking down in slow motion for two decades. They are now being replaced by a different type of inside-outside politics.

The Trump phenomenon is neither a disease nor a symptom – he is instead the beta-test of a cure that the American people are trying out. It won’t work. But this is where our politics are going: working and middle class Americans are reasserting themselves against a political and cultural establishment that has become completely discredited over time and due to their own actions.

And on both coasts, it’s a bipartisan political and cultural establishment that absolutely loathes what it’s dubbed “flyover country.” As Glenn has written, “When you have a ruling class that doesn’t believe in — or even much like — the fundamental values of the nations it rules, things tend to work out poorly.” And to return to Berlinki’s query above, wondering why “none of these arguments work,” why would everyday American support or respect notions its elites have so clearly discarded?

A classic Monty Python sketch featured magician turned would-be architect “The Amazing Mystico” and his lovely assistant Janet, who underbid real architects to cheaply and instantaneously put up skyscrapers for low-income tenants that promised to be “as strong, solid and as safe as any other building method in this country — provided of course, people believe in them,” followed by a scene in which a tenant starts having doubts and his flat begins to collapse around him.

It’s a hilarious concept. But when it comes to civilization, this is exactly backwards — its columns and building blocks won’t stay upright for very long once its elites stop believing in them.