Tuesday, November 27, 2018

The New American Revolution

I have not seen too many commentaries about Angelo Codevilla’s new essay about the new American Revolution. Thus, it will be worth some trouble to present it to you… at some length.

Codevilla is not talking about the Trump Revolution. He is talking about an insurrection, against Trump, but also against traditional American values, by a ruling class comprised of bureaucrats, judges, media figures, intellectuals and academics. It is not politics by another name. It more closely resembles a Revolution, an effort to defy the will of the people in order to cement the hold that the ruling class holds on power.

Plato called them a guardian class of philosopher kings, people who were so enlightened, who saw ideas so clearly, that they knew what was best for everyone. Codevilla calls them a ruling class, but clearly the origin lies in Plato.

He describes them thusly:

… there exists a remarkably uniform, bipartisan, Progressive ruling class; that it includes, most of the bureaucracies of federal and state governments, the judiciary, the educational establishment, the media, as well as major corporate officials; that it had separated itself socially, morally, and politically from the rest of society, whose commanding heights it monopolized; above all that it has contempt for the rest of America, and that ordinary Americans have no means of persuading this class of anything, because they don’t count.

Increasingly, the ruling class and those they presume to rule live in completely different worlds:

In our time, the most widespread of differences between rulers and ruled is also the deepest: The ruled go to church and synagogue. The rulers are militantly irreligious and contemptuous of those who are not. Progressives since Herbert Croly’s and Woodrow Wilson’s generation have nursed a superiority complex. They distrust elections because they think that power should be in expert hands—their own. They believe that the U.S Constitution gave too much freedom to ordinary Americans and not enough power to themselves, and that America’s history is one of wrongs. The books they read pretend to argue scientifically that the rest of Americans are racist, sexist, maybe fascists, but above all stupid. For them, Americans are harmful to themselves and to the world, and have no right to self-rule. That is why our revolution started from a point more advanced in its logic than many others.

The ruling class disdains any election that does not grant them power. Thus, upon losing hundreds of elections between 2010 and 2016, it set out to make it impossible for the victorious Republicans, especially in Washington, to govern. In the name of a sacrosanct democracy, leaders of the Resistance have worked long and hard to counteract the results of democratic elections:

The Democratic Party and the millions it represents having refused to accept 2016’s results; having used their positions of power in government and society to prevent the winners from exercising the powers earned by election; declaring in vehement words and violent deeds the illegitimacy, morbidity, even criminality, of persons and ideas contrary to themselves; bet that this “resistance” would so energize their constituencies, and so depress their opponents’, that subsequent elections would prove 2016 to have been an anomaly and further confirm their primacy in America. The 2018 Congressional elections are that strategy’s first major test.

They are not interested in debate and deliberation. They are more interested in imposing their views on the public, by censoring any speech that would dare contradict their grand theories and by going to war against dissidents. Thus, they are conducting a revolution, attempting to overthrow the national order:

By thus criminalizing differences over public policy, by using political power to hurt their opponents, they gave the revolutionary spiral its first turn.

American progressives, as they call themselves, have little to do with classical progressives. They are radicals and revolutionaries. After all, Saul Alinsky’s chapbook, so beloved by community organizer Obama, was called: Rules for Radicals.

Today’s radicals feel superior to everyone else. Their self-respect is entwined with a delusional belief that they can affirm their superiority by shutting down anyone who would question it:

The logic that drives each turn of our revolutionary spiral is Progressive Americans’ inherently insatiable desire to exercise their superiority over those they deem inferior.

And, of course, by humiliating anyone who would question their  view. Note well that they can only affirm their value at someone’s expense. Theirs is a zero-sum-game, one that does not allow mutual respect or even mutual face saving gestures. It’s win or lose… and this sets us, as Codevilla says, on a revolutionary spiral. He believes that it will eventually reach an equilibrium, but I am more skeptical. You might exhaust yourself in the midst of ruins, but you cannot negotiate or compromise when you are occupying extreme positions:

That is the Progressives’ affirmation of superior worth, to be pursued by exercising dominance: superior identity affirmed via the inferior’s humiliation. It is an inherently endless pursuit.

Those who refuse to accept the radical’s superiority are denounced as deplorables and showered with withering contempt:

But the Progressives deplore the “deplorables” not to improve them, but to feel good about themselves. Hating people for what they are and because it feels good to hate them, is hate in its unalloyed form.

As an example, Codevilla explains what happened when our largest banks failed in 2008. The public  was opposed to the bailouts, by a significant margin. The ruling class, both left and right, did it anyway. And, no one was punished for the calamities that the banks and federal agencies had visited on the nation:

But then, as three-fourths of Americans opposed bailing out big banks with nearly a trillion dollars, the Republican and Democratic presidential candidates joined; most Republican legislators joined all Democrats; The Wall Street Journal joined The New York Times, and National Review joined The Nation; in telling Americans that doing this was essential, and that their disapproval counted for nothing. And then, just as high-handedly, all these bipartisan rulers dropped that bailout scheme, and adopted another—just as unaccountably. They showed “government by the people, for the people” to be a fable.

As for the will of the people, it has often been overturned by judges. While the ruling class inveighs against Trump’s authoritarian practices, most of his more controversial orders have been stayed by federal judges. Will the real authoritarians please stand up?

Codevilla explains:

The Supreme Court struck down a referendum by liberal California defining marriage as the union of one man and one woman. The federal Defense of Marriage Act, which had become law by near-unanimity, was overturned bureaucratically and judicially. The Religious Freedom Restoration Act, on the books just as firmly, was undone by executive, judicial, bureaucratic, corporate, and mediatic subordination of religious freedom to anti-discrimination. By the 2016 election, America’s Progressive rulers were demonizing and punishing persons who define male and female by their birth and personal plumbing. 1984’s Big Brother had not been so imperious

And then there is the Resistance, a disloyal opposition and domestic insurgency masquerading as defending democracy:

The ruling class’s “resistance” to the 2016 election’s outcome was the second turn. Its vehemence, unanimity, coordination, endurance,and non-consideration of fallback options—the rapidity with which our revolution’s logic has unfolded—have surprised and dismayed even those of us who realized that America had abandoned its republican past.

The “resistance” subsequent to the election surprises, in part, because only as it has unfolded have we learned of its scope prior to the election. All too simply: the U.S government’s upper echelons merged politically with the campaign of the Democratic Party’s establishment wing, and with the media. They aimed to secure the establishment candidates’ victory and then to nullify the lost election’s results by resisting the winners’ exercise of legitimate powers, treating them as if they were illegitimate. The measure of the resistance’s proximate success or failure would come in the 2018 elections….

Since the beginning of the Trump administration, some federal district court judge somewhere has either stayed or outright declared every action of his and his subordinates unconstitutional, dictated remedies, and passed that off as the rule of law. Thus do such judges exercise the powers of the president and Congress. At a minimum, fighting such obstruction through the appellate courts (panel and then en banc) and then to the Supreme Court takes months or years.

Among the clearest manifestations of the ruling class’s will to prevent the Trump administration from governing was the full frontal assault on Supreme Court Justice Brett Kavanaugh. It showed, Codevilla notes, that the ruling class had abandoned even the pretense of restraint. It would do anything, good or bad, right or wrong, to get its way. It was almost like a child throwing a tantrum:

The anti-Kavanaugh campaign’s power and significance lies precisely in the ruling class’s perpetration of an in-your-face hoax. Making someone pretend that your patent lie is true may be the most humiliating of assertions of power. The ruling class, knowing the Republicans, dared them publicly to dismantle the fraud: to show the accuser is an emotionally troubled person, a Democratic Party activist who has worked for Corcept Therapeutics, manufacturer of an abortion drug, who engaged in slander and possibly perjury. In some measure, it looks like Democrats won the bet.  The Republicans absorbed tirades and mobs, while protesting generically about “politics,” even as Democratic activists were intimidating them physically at airports, in elevators, chasing them out of restaurants, and disrupting their private lives.

Under the guise of protest and dissent, activists threatened and intimidated and bullied people. Republicans responded with cogent argumentation.

Republicans won, but Codevilla suggests that they were also defeated.

Kavanaugh’s confirmation was better than defeat. But it was not a perfect victory for the White House or for the Republicans. The “resistance” succeeded in showing: if we can do this to this man on this basis, we can wreck anybody, as may be convenient to us. It showed Americans what today’s Progressive movement means for those it dislikes: “If they can do this to him, they could do it to me.” The campaign has been part and parcel of the resistance’s ever growing violence against the rest of America. This has changed America. Like lost virginity, it cannot be undone.

What matters a lot is that our ruling class does not deal and will never again deal with their opponents as fellow citizens. Theirs was a quintessentially revolutionary act, after which there is no stepping back.

It was not as much about Kavanaugh as about the ability to destroy human beings, to destroy their lives, to destroy their families. It was about laying down a threat. They were fighting a revolution, launching an insurrection, dispensing with even the pretense of respecting American traditions and laws:

By dropping all pretense of ruling for the common good; by presuming that they embody the law (Laws-R-Us); by instituting various kinds of boycotts (Institutions-R-Us); by using the strongest, most motivating language toward opponents; by inciting all manner of violence; by death-gripping their privileges; by using their positions’ powers in government and social institutions at or beyond their extreme edge; the people who occupy the government’s and society’s institutions continue to remove whatever deference the institutions (by the authority of which they rule) had inspired.

By its influence in schools and universities, the ruling class has threatened and intimidated people into self-censoring their language according to the rules of political correctness. Moreover, tech oligarchs at places like Twitter and Facebook and Google have worked to shut down anyone who would dissent against the ruling class. They have undermined the freedom of expression by branding their opponents as practitioners of hate speech:

In short, the “resistance” has begun to radicalize middle America. It redoubled millions of Americans’ sense of siege, their fear of unbridled rule by unaccountable powers, of being accused of “hate speech,” of normal life made impossible by Progressive socio-political demands. It confirmed the sense that Donald Trump and such as he, whatever their faults, are all that stands between themselves and having an alien way of life imposed upon them.

Will Trump be strong enough to fight this insidious internal enemy. Codevilla is not optimistic. He is suggesting that Trump is not a sufficiently adept to win out against such forces:

Trump’s rousing speeches feed the body politic as empty calories feed the human body. Bluster followed by surrender has political legs both short and shaky. Trump’s tone has lifted his constituencies’ expectations. But tone does not give substance to public opinion, poses but a flimsy barrier to the ruling class’s concerted power, and does not begin to satisfy constituencies threatened by the ruling class machine that came of age in the anti-Kavanaugh campaign.

Codevilla ends on a decidedly pessimistic note. He may be exaggerating slightly, but his argument is cogent and supported. Surely, he sees things clearly. One would be hard put to disagree:

Unattainable, and gone forever, is the whole American Republic that had existed for some 200 years after 1776. The people and the habits of heart and mind that had made it possible are no longer a majority. Progressives made America a different nation by rejecting those habits and those traditions. As of today, they would use all their powers to prevent others from living in the manner of the Republic. But, perhaps, after their offensive resistance’s failure, they might be reconciled to govern themselves as they wish in states where they command a majority, while not interfering with other Americans governing themselves in their way in the states where they are a majority.


sestamibi said...

Codevilla is right. The war is lost, and the elections of the likes of Menendez, Sinema, and Ellison prove it. Theirs is the majority opinion, but it intends to be the ONLY opinion permissible.

Where he is wrong, though, is that in the end the deplorables will not go down without a fight. Expect much bloodshed over the next ten years.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

"[Progressives] might be reconciled to govern themselves as they wish in states where they command a majority, while not interfering with other Americans governing themselves in their way in the states where they are a majority."

I think not. The goal is to govern the planet.

Globalism: the operation or planning of economic and foreign policy on a global basis. (Oxford Dictionaries)

As SF Congressman Swalwell (D) warned, they have the nukes. And Spartacus is on their side.

Ares Olympus said...

It's a good fantasy of the offensive minority but we can consider the biggest resistance isn't in the democrats, but the president's own white house full of leaks, and republicans in the FBI investigating Russia interference and collusion, and the republicans like Flake who have now retired rather than stay in office under Trump, and republicans like David Stockman who sees the massive tax cuts as overstimulation the economy for short term gains and exploding deficits.

And republicans like Max Boot accept climate change is a real risk that needs attention, not denial.

But of course we always have explanations for all that, the same reason the Tea Party arose, the same reason Trump learned to love the phrase "Drain the swamp" despite thinking it was hocky until people cheered. So of course the "swamp" isn't just Democrats, but all career politicians, and tea partiers can believe Trump helping the republicans cut taxes and regulations and "starving the beast" with exploding debt is how the swamp is drained, since our nation will soon enough end its experiment, and we'll all be free in the gun enforced future of our choosing.

Sam L. said...

The word "progressive" always reminds me of cancer, which I certainly equate with Progressives. They are certainly a cancer on the body politic. I'm guessing we the people will have to cut out that cancer one of these days.

Anonymous said...

There is a fundamental flaw in the conclusion. Essentially, that being that secession of some sort will/can occur--It can't. There is no such thing as the North, South, East, West, Coastal, Inland, etc. The Marxists (what is being called radical progressives here) occupy most larger cities because of their role in the service economy and their use of welfare service centers. So, in every "city" in every state (Montana anyone?) we have those seeking "socialism" to equalize the "haves" and "have nots." That percentage of Bernie Bros has now reached critical mass in the electoral process.

No, dear friends, this will eventually go hot and everyone should realize it now because the "makers" will eventually give up tolerance for the "takers." Those takers and makers in the usurping cities will begin urban warfare, much like that unfolding daily in Chicago or Memphis or Jacksonville. However, that violence will spread outside the racially demarcated neighborhoods to reach politicians, activist judges, and the very people that fulfill the "elitist" roles now. Watch Antifa in the coming year to see how this ball starts rolling.

It will be the cruelest, most prolonged, and unrecognizable of American civil wars--it will hardly be civil. A notable difference (confusing to many academics) will be the insurgent action. Imagine Vietnam or Bosnia on steroids, with the difference being that the number of weapons and skilled operators (insurgents) outnumber the LEOs by a factor of about 300 to 1. And, contrary to the solution proposed by the benchmark Marxist Eric Swalwell, there is no effective way to bomb the cities. Things just plain get scary day in and day out. As an example, I present to you Christopher Dorner, who paralyzed the entire state of California during his one-man rougue mission to hell. Now, insert the appropriate multiplier in that equation somewhere, across all states.

Like so many discussions of our current Balkanization, the author hasn't given much of this any thought. Maybe it is the academic in them that just keeps saying..."Naw." Or, maybe the author, like many others, simply don't understand what that magical "base" is that they keep referring to. My recommendation is for everyone sitting an an urban environment to get out of town more often, look back at that city skyline as you leave, and then ask yourself how vulnerable those cities actually are if things don't go the way you think it will.

Dr. Irredeemable Dreg said...

Anon, you are of course correct about the witlessness of the Swalwell comment, but note that the absolute worst person to be in charge of a war is Commander Witless. Ask the Libyans. And the US military officer corps has been converged, like the DC Circuit, with relatives and dependents of Cdr Witless.

Sam L. said...

OK, the government has nukes. Can they be used? As a for-instance, say a farm is nuked. NO produce will then go into cities. Farmers and ranchers will keep their produce and livestock. Long-distance truckers would seem unlikely to willingly take any of it into cities, even if the farmers/ranchers would want to send it in. I don't see enlisted service members as willing to go out and confiscate weapons. I don't see pilots as willing accomplices shooting up or bombing farms and houses. I could be wrong, but I don't expect there are many military officers with Harvard and Yale degrees, who MIGHT be willing to do as ordered.

Shaun F said...

In the West Indies - "Organized Crime" targets judges and prosecutors - with a certain degree of success.