This is a follow-up to my previous article on social hierarchy and the poor.
It has puzzled me for years as to why the American leadership class prefers telescopic philanthropy to the domestic variety. The typical excuse that you will hear in person is that the government already takes care of the domestic poor, so their social betters have no further obligations to them.
Another excuse is that the relative ‘need’ overseas is that much greater. In Ivy League admissions, it has been known for at least a generation that a stint overseas performing charity work is well-regarded as a sign that you are not a grubby striver only gunning for a seat to grease your career.
Caring deeply about impoverished foreigners is actively selected for at the highest levels. And it is repeatedly impressed upon the young ‘leaders of tomorrow’ how important it is for them to internalize this belief and to signal their faith early and often to their fellows. The nature of this social custom tends to be opaque to American populists lower down the class ladder.
This habit, exemplified by Bill Gates’ foundation, takes the education and care of the foreign poor as its prime mission. The domestic poor are perceived to be primarily a governmental concern.
Tomorrow’s neocameralism today
Davos man already lives in an anarcho-capitalist utopia. It is just expensive to get in. Once you are in, however, governments become increasingly irrelevant. The middle lives in the bureaucratic ‘third solution’ — they must settled for ‘magnet schools’ or ‘charter schools.’ The dregs live under Communism. The above-dregs live under Glastnost-type Communism.
Working in the American government is déclassé — nearly unthinkable to anyone with better prospects. The only people who think that government officials are respectable sorts are unqualified to be government officials. Consultancies and investment perform much of real government work. These institutions hand officials and civil service bureaucracies completed plans for projects to be implemented by favored contractors.
If you want to look for neocameralism in the real world, it is already here. To the extent that the American government does much of anything, its job is to manage the American masses and prevent them from becoming too unruly. It is not clear where the government ends and where the financial institutions that manage it begin. We do, in some sense, already have a private government: it’s just that the corporations with the most influence are willing to use socialism as a strategic tool to suit their ends.
They are still private — after all, the mass majority of the country opposed TARP and other TA** programs, but they were still passed — handily displaying their immunity to democracy in that area.
They do not realize their errors in thinking because they are rewarded financially for their intellectual errors — and the more flagrant their intellectual errors, the greater financial rewards that they gain (unless the wrong Treasury Secretary is in office when your firm needs to be bailed out).
The American leadership class has forgotten its obligations to its inferiors, which is why those inferiors are continually conspiring against it. They are rather blind to the danger that they are in, believing incorrectly that the state keeps them safe, and that by paying lip service to the ‘historically oppressed,’ they will be kept safe as they seek greater opportunities abroad in ’emerging markets.’
The superpower: not so super no more
As the international trade system enters chaos (the Americans just kicked Russia out of the G8), the EU begins to collapse, and national self-interest and security problems overwhelms the Anglo-American system of global trade, communication, and finance, we are entering a new stage of history that is catching most of the American leadership flat-footed. This is not something that the current or previous generation was trained or raised to expect, and few have the experience and education to adapt to a more local politics.
The Cathedral has trained entire cohorts of American leaders to believe that the world of the future is ‘global,’ and that they must learn to leverage ‘diversity’ (because they will be administrating international corporations that must make use of diverse teams of experts to succeed) and comparative advantage for a higher social mission that coincides with profit maximization as their legal and personal duty.
The Clintonian melding of Marxist dreaming and global fiat capitalism is the dog-vomit admixture of ideology that passes for elite thought in America. Its leaders are in barely-concealed panic.
And it’s becoming more obvious that there are probably more conspiracies than any one person can track to set various parties up in as plum positions as can be mustered when the former Pax Americana ceases to be neither Pax-ful nor American. What Taleb calls the ‘Soviet-Harvard delusion’ is proving to have been just that.
Will historians look at the recent Crimean affair as comparable to the Suez crisis? As the US policy establishment backs down from armed conflict, Putin achieves one objective after another at minimal expense at the cost of the State Department’s flailing improvisational programs for ‘freedom’ promotion that involve sending billions of dollars to Al Qaeda and various low-rent eastern European fascist LARPers.
Conditions are shifting faster than the majority of the American nonklematura are capable of reacting to. But many will react. And it is difficult to tell what the coalitions will look like and where exactly the splits will be.
The great plan of the American leadership class is coming unraveled at the center, and on the edges. The great temptation for many is to ride the waves of popular rage to destroy certain narrow elements of the existing elite class.
You can see this in the react-o-sphere with half-earnest, half-joke calls to ‘burn Harvard.’ Perhaps it is not so much of a joke, as the Weathermen and their fellow-travelers, who did bomb universities all over the country, have since gained hold of many important American spiritual institutions (namely the educational establishment).
Once the American foreign policy establishment completely loses the capability to project force internationally, we should expect different factions of elites to begin fighting for control over the remnants of the United States. Without a credible external enemy, infighting is the usual result.
The Right should resist the temptation to cannibalize the country by giving in to the easy populist pandering and quick fortunes to be earned through looting. Instead, the project must be one of social and economic construction. There will be a pressing need to re-sort the former United States into separate nations that are both stable and productive. If not all of them can be made stable and productive, then buffer states must be established around the geographic sections that are not.
When the globalist ideology fails in an undeniable and dramatic manner, there will be an immediate political need to transition formal power from the previous state to the new ones.
I strongly doubt that it will be terribly easy for the current generation of Davos Man to continue flitting about across borders as they have been. The return of nationalism and international distrust will force those of us who have most internalized the characteristic North-European ethos of universalism will need to recover our sense of civic obligation — or we will fall to civil war and barbarism.
The message that we must get across to the current elite is that there is a way to abdicate, to back down from their un-salvageable situation, that permits them to preserve some of their face and some part of their capital. The tendency of people out of power in democratic and democratizing states who would like to be in power is to attempt to use the masses as a weapon against their rivals. As the French revolution should teach any student of history, this strategy is too dangerous to be worth using.
Contemporary reminders of this folly can be seen in Egypt, the Ukraine, Syria, and Venezuela. Once unleashed, ‘the people’ are a deadly force that do not stop killing until killing is no longer possible.