America’s Ruling Class — And the Perils of Revolution
By Angelo M. Codevilla from the July 2010 – August 2010 issue of American Spectator
EXTRACT 1: They [the bi-opoly two parties] think, look, and act as a class.
EXTRACT 2: The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
EXTRACT 3 of 7: Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it burgeoned in size and pretense, but it also has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans’ conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.
EXTRACT 4 of 7: No, our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in. The most successful neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records. Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection. But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority. … Its attitude is key to understanding our bipartisan ruling class. Its first tenet is that “we” are the best and brightest while the rest of Americans are retrograde, racist, and dysfunctional unless properly constrained. How did this replace the Founding generation’s paradigm that “all men are created equal”?
EXTRACT 5 of 7: The ruling class’s appetite for deference, power, and perks grows. The country class disrespects its rulers, wants to curtail their power and reduce their perks. The ruling class wears on its sleeve the view that the rest of Americans are racist, greedy, and above all stupid. The country class is ever more convinced that our rulers are corrupt, malevolent, and inept. The rulers want the ruled to shut up and obey. The ruled want self-governance. The clash between the two is about which side’s vision of itself and of the other is right and which is wrong. Because each side — especially the ruling class — embodies its views on the issues, concessions by one side to another on any issue tend to discredit that side’s view of itself. One side or the other will prevail. The clash is as sure and momentous as its outcome is unpredictable.
EXTRACT 6 of 7: For the country class seriously to contend for self-governance, the political party that represents it will have to discredit not just such patent frauds as ethanol mandates, the pretense that taxes can control “climate change,” and the outrage of banning God from public life. More important, such a serious party would have to attack the ruling class’s fundamental claims to its superior intellect and morality in ways that dispirit the target and hearten one’s own.
EXTRACT 7 of 7: Only citizens’ understanding of and commitment to law can possibly reverse the patent disregard for the Constitution and statutes that has permeated American life.
Phi Beta Iota: Kudos to The American Spectator for a phenomenal feature article. Angelo Codevilla is a former CIA analyst of very high integrity whose book, Informing Statecraft–Intelligence for a New Century is favorably reviewed and still relevant. He has written one of the most thoughtful, detailed, and actionable denouncement of the two-party tyranny that we have noted to date. His bottom line is clear: the “ruling class” demands of its members one absolute: the sacrifice of their integrity so as to “fit in” to the pyramid of power and the abuse of the public purse. In our view, the “country class” as he calls it has the potential to take back the power but ONLY if they recognize that public intelligence in the public interest must be the foundation of every debate, every dialog, every deliberation. Truth without voice is irrelevant; voice without truth is noise.