?Who Are We

We shall see what Indiana brings, but so far all have been convinced Cruz is going down in serious flames. Even were he to win, one has to wonder just how one is going to unhorse Trump.

The more important question is who the heck are we. Toquiville was amazed by Americans and found them to be different from the rest of the world. Perhaps one can distill the singular characteristic as equality – real equality. Before the law and in society.

Today that doesn’t seem the case. ?What has happened to us. This premise is tackled by Charles Murray in his book, Coming Apart. He contends that the upper-middle-class has walled itself off and become cocooned and self propogating. His data consists of looking at the living zip codes of graduates of the elite schools and how that has changed from 1960-80 to 2000. What he finds is that MOST of the grads of the elite colleges (Harvard, Princeton, Yale) live in limited locales. Furthermore they have become more concentrated in these regions. AND the zips have increased into clusters in a few locations – namely DC, NYC, and SF. There are others but no where the concentrations in these three areas – especially DC.

One of the observations is that there is little contact of these zips with regular people. The surrounding zips may not be quite as “exclusive” vis a vis ruling elite but are filled with high scorers on ACT’s and college grads.

?How is all this important. Well, the single biggest reason is that once upon a time America was intermixed in terms of social “status”. So except for the very rich most places had a mixture of different people living there. Now we have the movers and shakers living all by themselves, untouched by any of those they “CLAIM” to be concerned for. It’s hard to be concerned for someone you know nothing about.

This wasn’t very true in the 60’s, but the attitude was. It is the essence of the Left that they are “fixing” peoples’ lives about whom they know nothing. Note also that today most of the ruling elite are very much internationalists. Listen to the comments of the likes of Obama, Kerry, Clinton, Boehner, McConnell – they all believe in the international approach. We no longer live in a world where we can afford to isolate ourselves, or so the story goes. Thus the endless wars, the intervention in the business of other nations “so it won’t come here” or “because it’s the right thing to do”.

Perhaps we are all looking for an America that no longer exists.


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18 Responses to ?Who Are We

  1. MLHMLH says:

    What are we? We’re hosed!

  2. DevereauxDevereaux says:

    So Cruz has suspended his run. That now leaves Trump alone as the republican candidate.

    Now watch all the noise about “closing ranks” behind him. It will be interesting to watch to slugs slug it out until November.

    You were wrong, Titus. It isn’t Cruz. America HAS lost its collective mind.

  3. Avatartitus says:

    America is not crazy & is not going away. It’s a crazy season, is all. Sen. Cruz never made wins with the Trump electorate. Indiana was supposed to show, like Wisconsin, that he can win if he’s given time to organize. It’s proved instead that he cannot persuade people he knows what world they’re living in.

    I’m sorry to say this–I had hopes for him & I hope he’ll still help organize part of the reform effort in the party. (His friend Sen. Lee is the brain behind most of the reform legislation, it seems…)

    I think conservatism needs a shaking & I’m ok with it coming in a catastrophic electoral season. I know people have started paying attention to my opinions who last year called me a communist or what have you because I talked about social class in America. Maybe there is reason to hope…

    Conservatives have long complained about what’s come of the country. Whoever takes conservatism seriously & America seriously needs to come around to understand what this really means. It takes a great change of attitude, even more than a change of mood. What it means is, this is an age of heroes. Conservatism will act on that or disappear from politics & remain a kind of minor faith.

    You folks know how much I like endlessly complicated commentaries. It seems to me, now is not that time for that. Remember my word, this is an age of heroes.

    • MLHMLH says:

      I’m guessing that you are excluding Washington, DC in your definition of America, yes?

    • Avatartitus says:

      I wonder about that place. Is it better if the crazy is concentrated or dispersed? All in all, I agree with Federalist #10–you want faction dispersed in every which way & a great republic offers enough temptations to people to keep them out of politics; & puts practical limits on politicians who might ally in one great conspiracy.

      But I think you can see how even the cynical, realist view of Madison is turning into pious wishes. In reality, America is not big enough to disperse Washington-level oligarchy–or so it seems. That’s one rather crazy thing about our times–partly, technology has removed the limits on oligarchy & tyranny taken for granted in the past; partly, it’s something else–it has also removed the limits on private life taken for granted in the past–people used to have to associate, but they can leave alone now…

  4. DevereauxDevereaux says:

    Charles Murray is pointing out JUST the kind of class you mention. Indeed, if one actually looks at things, it is fairly obvious. I for one have long been against allowing “gated communities”. I do not believe in a free society a segment gets to gate themselves in and not allow “regular” people to pass through. One might make the silly comment it’s none of their business, but that’s not true. It’s very much their land too. They should have the right to see beautiful homes, perhaps aspire to that some day.

    The hoi paloi do not want to mix with the proles. And interestingly, although I technically fit into the HP segment, but education, profession, and income, I have somehow gotten a bad gene and don’t find such people any fun to be with. I don’t hold their political views, nor enjoy their kind of company, with very few exceptions. I am, indeed, a troglodyte. Semper Fi forever!

    • Avatartitus says:

      Mr. Devereaux, I agree with your sentiments. I also think such people are not all that humane, to speak bluntly…

      America is not a nation like France is. Let me give you the example of foreign genius in the last age when such existed: In France before 1789, Englishmen could become ministers of the king & run the country–but nobody was in any doubt, they were not Frenchmen. In America, nobody could run the country, but someone like Hamilton could put his genius to work for America, but only if he Americanized first.

      So Americans need to see each other & overcome periods of mutual hatred or contempt, because they do not believe they are fated to be Americans like Frenchmen believe they are in France. There is no ‘we’re stuck together, for better or worse’–Americans are far more movable & that requires different sentiments.

      One thing specific to Americans is an easy-going friendliness which precedes psychologically & politically the American habit of moving around the country looking to make a living. Most Americans do not take that attitude so far as to leave the country, though. The borders exist in their minds, if not necessarily at the border… If Americans begin to believe they can no longer move around quite that way–that there is a rich America where the poor are not welcome & a poor America which everyone not poor avoids–the middle-class character of the country is itself jeopardized.

      If you allow it, I will correct your Greek, however. Hoi polloi means literally The many. (Hoi is the masculine article in the nominative plural; the word for many is preserved in English in words like poly-phonic or poly-technique or poly-styrene…) Hoi polloi are the vulgar (that’s the Latin for people) or the common (that’s the preference in older English) or the people. This is similar to what our Marxist friends mean by the proletariat, except that they conceive of it as a class in far stronger terms…

      I think you were referring to the hoi oligoi–literally, the few? Or perhaps I misunderstood!

      For my part, of course, I think that the exalted–the people who believe they are superior to others–have only one political justification for that opinion of themselves, that is, if they do mix with the people & dedicate themselves to an extent to helping out the people. If the opinion that justifies wealth is not based on helping out those who are not wealthy, there’s great political trouble brewing-

  5. DevereauxDevereaux says:

    You are mostly correct, Titus. Except that while Hoi Poloi are the vulgar, it happens that I think of the new “secluded” class as the vulgar. They have no knowledge of history, of theology, of faith, of morality and morals, of help for your neighbor. They are only self-centered and self-aware. The rest of the countryside is of no concern.

    So you are absolutely correct in your definitions; it is I who abuse the words as a cynic.

  6. DevereauxDevereaux says:

    One of the most important aspects of freedom and limited government is that it teaches one the limits of one’s ability – to live, to cope, to prosper. Only when the government is removed and one is then free to live or die does on recognize the cost and the effort to live. And how much it takes others to help. So conversely how much others should help each other.

    One of those litttle known facts is that the federal government was on the verge of bankrupcy in the 1910’s or so. J. P. Morgan lent no, gave them $30 million in silver bullion to keep them afloat. Think of who might actually do something like that today. No one I can think of.

  7. Avatartitus says:

    Mr. Devereaux, we’re agreed about this. America has created an upper class that it keeps rewarding while asking of it no real responsibility–one way Americans have of talk about responsible people is calling them classy. These upper classes, concentrated in a few cities that are not even real cities, are remarkably, continuously, unendingly rewarded for their way of life. There is a problem there.

    I’m not saying the oligarchs in technology or elsewhere should be punished or have their freedom stripped from them. It’s the land of the free. But it should also be the home of the brave. It’s up to conservatives to do the long, hard work of rewarding classy people. Only if this long, hard work is done will conservatives have something to show to the nation as a whole & attract national attention away from the latest gadgets, spectacles & outrages, or fantasies.

    J.P. Morgan solved singlehandedly, in one afternoon, from his study, the panic of ’07, I think. That was an aristocrat of the kind America produced & allowed to thrive from her own resources. (As opposed to importing a Lafayette or what have you…)

    But in that time, the political philosophy of the Founders was still persuasive. No one who called himself educated dared spit on or ignore Lincoln. Now, people who are not capable of understanding his greatness–his terrible greatness, according to neo-Confederates–denigrate him.

    So who are the living examplars, what the memories of past greatness, & which the famous stories that could allow Americans today to recognize & respect classy, aristocratic men produced in the American way?–This is the problem that led John Ford, America’s only epic poet in his century, to face the teaching of Progress with a poetic teaching about America’s past greatness. He was a New Deal liberal, but he thought America really was great, not just a great experiment. He reminded people that American greatness in the past may have been greater than whatever new things were happening.

    That’s necessary, or else emerging oligarchs will believe, because of America, that they are the future & that ignorance of the past is necessary to them. Surely, foolish billionaires like the facebook guy have been taught by America that learning any history or American politics is unnecessary & counter-productive. There is no one who has done it who tells it to America & America rewards him for it…

    • MLHMLH says:

      Just want to let you know that I am reading.

    • Avatartitus says:

      Thanks, M!

      I’ve also been thinking about another aspect of the problem aristocracy poses for America. So I think the best book ever written about America is Tocqueville’s book.

      But Tocqueville was not a product of America. America does not create young men who are wealthy enough to spend their youth thinking about America, much less does it produce young men who in their pride think they have something to say that the majority opinion, in whatever circumstances they learn about it, will not like to hear.

      Tocqueville is remarkably ignored in America & has been since his own age. Partly, it’s a problem of the times. American higher education became a national concern in the Age of Progress, which had little use for Tocqueville. Since WWII, there has been great interest–all sorts of new translations, studies, & the name comes up a lot on the right these days.

      The people who tried to fight against the ideology of Progress might have used Tocqueville, as might people now. But there is in conservatism a populist impulse that rejects the formalities Tocqueville tried to defend; & there is then, too, an anti-democratic animus that rejects his basic message: Democracy has to be made livable, not contemned. So it’s difficult to persuade even the people who most need the help to accept it…

      • MLHMLH says:

        Confession: I haven’t read Tocqueville. But I have read part of the introduction of my abridged by Richard D Heffner copy and (some) of your musings on it/him. I think Americans think it is treatise on how great, and different, American democracy is, then they start reading it and find it’s a critique. Then the enamoring, and reading, stops.

  8. Avatartitus says:

    Yeah, Tocqueville–like the Federalist–insists on holding America & democracy up to the standard of good government. That’s not all that flattering. He also holds up America as an example–not a model, but the real thing–for the rest of the world. Equality done right.

    I’m surprised conservatives have not done more to learn the lessons & teach them to people with a gift for story-telling. It’s practical; it’s wise; & it would be writing your own ticket, your own money-printer…

  9. Avatartitus says:

    It’s an incredibly long book & it’s written in a very strange way at key moments; reading it is not learning what it has to say; it requires unusual study. Most people who would benefit by it are not dedicated to political philosophy! So there should be stories that bridge the gap!

  10. DevereauxDevereaux says:

    All you say about Tocqueville is correct – especially that he may be the most insightful observer of America in hundreds of years. But like M, I have not read his works directly. Instead i have gathered what knowledge of him I have via comments, quotes, and theoretical presentations. Yet even in such tangential exposure he is powerful.

    The difficulty here seems to be that history has been trashed. Few if any recognize the libertarian stream in the midst of the formation of this nation. The Founders sincerely wanted liberty – to do as they wished. And their wishes were constrainted by virtue, without which you cannot have a truly free society.

    Because the nasty little truth here is that either you will restrain yourself – or someone else will. There really aren’t any other options.

  11. Avatartitus says:

    1.The Founders seem to have believed that more education would make Americans both more attached to America & more successful at living free lives. Hence the schemes for the national university & the provision for education in the Northwest Ordinance &c.

    But it’s not obvious that this should be so & American education has always had trouble living up to this enlightenment enthusiasm.

    Maybe there is a new weakness on both sides when it comes to education–both the part about scientific, technological, engineering improvements & inventions & the part about an educated love of the country, including its principles. Lots of new technology is still being developed & people figure out how to all sorts of clever stuff that they then share with others on youtube. But I’m not sure how many people are confident about the future of the country–or how many really believe that scientific-economic improvements are going to be good for most Americans & America as a country…

    2. Then there is the other matter you mention, a taste for freedom–for doing what one likes. This maybe had to change because the country democratized. Once America failed to rebel against the New Deal, an important threshold was crossed. Possibly, it is not permanent or irreversible, at least at the social level–the great conservative hope is persuading Americans that their voluntary associations are both more dignified & more practical than endless bureaucratization. But there is reason to doubt this will work: Many conservatives, maybe most of them, have the natural urge to privilege their private life to such an extent that they will not change how they think about the social basis of American politics. I think the likelier outcome is even more partisanship & the threat that conservatism becomes a minority opinion–like after the New Deal…

  12. NandaNanda says:

    TT, is the key here “education” (a ‘drawing out’ of the curiosity of the learner in an active, dialogic way) vs. “indoctrination” (a repetitious pouring into/drumming into the tabula rasa of an individual in such a way as to create a clone.)? Educating oneself takes work; activity. Being indoctrinated takes passive, uncritical consumption and incorporation of ideas.

    Being a citizen of a Republic – even a heavily administrative one – should still take involvement. Even a decision to abstain from voting or writing in one’s (non-competing) candidate of choice as non-affiliated gives one a sense of the America the Founders envisioned – and AdeT chronicled with a benign incredulity. I’ll take being part of an involved micro-minority on these terms any day.

    (Btw, don’t forget that the New Deal was the coming-into-bloom of Woodrow Wilson’s eugenicist, expertise-driven Progressivism that’s reaching full-blown status under BHO. And will reach stranglehold under either HRC or DJT.)

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