American Ruling Class: A Cancer That Will Devour Civilization, If Nothing Is Done


 All societies develop ruling classes. It is a very bad flaw of civilization: those oligarchies contradict the nature of humanity (liberty, equality, fraternity), and the nature of optimal intelligence (ideas from all over, competing for the best thinking; not just in the self-service of a tiny elite).

Why do ruling classes develop? Fundamentally, elitism is intrinsic to civilization. Civilization harnesses exponentiation: power grows proportionally to itself. For example, the more people, the more manpower, thus the more food production, the more irrigation workers, the bigger the defense budget, etc. Consequences of this exponentiation of human power can be dire: the Sumerian cities were destroyed in a flood of biblical proportions, caused by the ravages visited by human deforestation, agriculture and herding. Similar situations arose in Europe and Japan three millennia later (however, powerful medieval governments stopped these ecological devastations brutally before something).

But the same situation plays inside: political power exponentiates (not just financial interest from loans). That means the wealthiest and,or, the most powerful become increasingly, from one generation to the next, ever wealthier and powerful. This happens as classes, not just individuals. For example Harriman, the railroad baron, had two sons highly influential not just the US Democratic Party, but with Stalin and Hitler (one of them got decorated at the highest level by both; his wife became ambassador to Paris).   

Ruling by the few is intrinsic to civilization. Look at China with its, until recently, mostly independent 5,000 year old history.

The father of China’s big chief, Xi Jinping, was so important that the entire Red Army of Mao found refuge in the province this general held. Such auspicious beginnings at the very top of the Chinese elite, fed Mr. Xi and his all consuming, righteous hubris. A few years among the peasants under the Red Guards just fed his thirst for vengeance of whatever, whoever, did not fully appreciate his greatness. Let’s hope he has a good shrink. Doesn’t look like it, though…

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The preceding is modified from a published comment to NYT answering America Has a Ruling Class

[Matija Medved] The ruling elite of the USA imagines itself as by the people, from the people, for the people. In truth, growing for 150 years, it’s a new aristocracy, so far diluted by the growth of the empire it rules, by hiding that this is exactly what it is doing

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So what to do? Before having a strategy, we need those who can write down a strategy to be aware of the problem, and its seriousness. We are not living in more primitive times, when civilizations came and went. Destroying one brought another. And time had time. 

Notice that, after the collapse of the Tang empire, China tended to be invaded by foreigners a lot, and thoroughly: Uighurs, Jurchens, Mongols, Manchus… and even a tiny bit by France and Britain, and later powers in conflict with the Boxers; China tends to talk a lot about this late aspect, which was NOT significant; the real problem had been caused not just by those occupations lasting centuries, but the degeneracies which led to them. In any case, Chinese civilization slowed down enormously. In the West, it was worse: two enormous collapses, the Bronze Age Collapse (BAC), 32 centuries ago, and the Roman Collapse (RC, starting by 395 CE, death of Theodosius I, my chronology) showed that civilization is fully reversible. In both cases, literacy got killed (more so with BAC). The Roman Collapse was very complicated, because it was accompanied by the rise of the Frankish civilization, which was more advanced than the Greco-Roman one in the domains of ethnic and religious tolerance, diversity, equity (inheritance equally divided), slavery (outlawed), universal citizenship (everybody was a Frank, even Pagans, Jews, Syrians, Arians, not just Catholics).

The point though, is that all this happened over centuries, civilization had time. Nowadays, because of the unpredictable rule of an autocrat like Mr. Xi, the world could wake up tomorrow, at war. It does not take too many H bombs for a real bad day. Xi is not the US elite, of course, but just something that the US elite contributed to grow… same as Hitler, Mussolini, or Franco, or even Hirohito… Yes, Hirohito: why didn’t the US got his divinity’s oil supply off in 1937? When he invaded China, not just Korea and Manchuria?

Tolerance, if it is tolerance of evil, can be a cancer. It was found recently that nicotine affects directly immune system anti-cancer mechanisms. If Xi is a cancer, the US elite is nicotine. More generally this is happening because of mono-thinking in plutocratic, elite universities… Cancelling the existence of the errors of the past cannot be done. That’s cancelling the book we have to learn from. What needs to be cancelled is elite thinking claiming that birthright elite doesn’t exist.

The mephitic influence of the American elite extends worldwide, by implicitly flaunting itself as something that needs to be emulated. Nothing wrong with elitism, as long as it is genuine elitism of thought. But intellectual fascism, the rule of just a few ideas, from a few people and their instrumentalized institutions, is its exact opposite.

Patrice Ayme

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Here are extracts from the NYT that the preceding reflections complemented: 

America Has a Ruling Class

Why do members of the political elite insist that they’re not? By Samuel Goldman

Mr. Goldman is a political scientist and literary editor of Modern Age: A Conservative Review. March 30, 2021

America’s most powerful people have a problem. They can’t admit that they’re powerful.

Take Andrew Cuomo. On a recent call with reporters, the embattled Mr. Cuomo insisted that he was “not part of the political club.” The assertion was confounding because Mr. Cuomo is in his third term as governor of New York — a position his father also held for three terms. Mr. Cuomo has also served as state attorney general and as secretary of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Or think of Avril Haines, the director of national intelligence. After her appointment was announced, Ms. Haines declared, “I have never shied away from speaking truth to power.” That is a curious way of describing a meteoric career that includes stints at exclusive universities, a prestigious judicial clerkship and important jobs in foreign policy and intelligence before her appointment to a cabinet-level office overseeing a budget of more than $60 billion.

This sort of false advertising isn’t limited to Democrats. Senator Josh Hawley of Missouri, for instance, has embraced an image as a populist crusader against a distant “political class.” He does not emphasize his father’s career as a banker, his studies at Stanford and Yale Law School, or his work as clerk to prominent judges, including Chief Justice John Roberts. The merits of Mr. Hawley’s positions are open to debate. But his membership in the same elite that he rails against is not….

Both strategic and generational factors help explain Al Gore, who claimed to represent “the people versus the powerful” in his 2000 campaign against George W. Bush. Compared with a Yale graduate, son of a former president and grandson of a senator, perhaps Mr. Gore — a Harvard graduate, incumbent vice president and son of a senator — did count as one of the common people. But Richard Nixon, an object of boomer hatred, inveighed against the status quo as bitterly as any hippie. Refusal to accept responsibility is not just a boomer quirk. Its roots lie deep in American culture.

…we should stop confusing consumer preferences with power. Popular culture relies on the outdated clichés of starched linens and vaguely British accents to indicate privilege. This anachronism encourages public figures to signal their outsider status with aesthetic posturing. On the left, that often means the vaguely bohemian manner cultivated by Ms. Haines, who once operated a bookstore that hosted readings of erotic literature. On the right, it tends to involve exaggerated machismo and embrace of working-class signifiers.

… We should judge public figures by the arguments they make and the results they deliver, not whether they eat caviar, kale or capocollo.

… we need to learn from historical figures… We honor and study consequential historical figures because they were flawed human beings who made incredibly hard decisions. Canceling their stories and monuments prevents us from understanding why they succeeded — and failed.

Finally, we need to be honest: America has a de facto ruling class. Since World War II, membership in that class has opened to those with meritocratic credentials. But that should not conceal the truth that it remains heavily influenced by birth. Even if their ancestors were not in The Social Register, Mr. Cuomo, Ms. Haines and Mr. Hawley were born to families whose advantages helped propel their careers. Admitting the fact of noblesse might help encourage the ideal of oblige.Ultimately, the change must come from the powerful themselves. Just once, I’d like to hear a mayor, governor or president say: “Yes, I’m in charge — and I’ve been trying to get here for my entire life. I want you to judge me by how I’ve used that position, not by who I am.”

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