The Liberal Aristocracy

LiberalEliteThumbby Timothy Lane
I have long seen modern liberal elites as forming an aristocracy with a number of medieval characteristics. For example, the anti-consumerism that forms the heart of modern enviro-zealotry can be compared to medieval sumptuary laws, which enabled the aristocracy to differentiate themselves from even the richest merchants. As far back as the Yonkers scattered-site housing case (which I read about in National Review about 30 years ago), I saw wealthy liberals imposing unpleasant conditions on those who lacked their wealth and influence – but escaping those unpleasantries themselves in their privileged circumstances. (For example, when the judge in the Yonkers case was challenged to put some scattered-site housing in his elite gated community, he pointed out that the lack of adequate public transportation made that inappropriate.) We can see this in education policy, in the criminal justice system, and in a variety of economic restrictions.

But it can be taken further, and Joel Kotkin has done so in an October 5 article in The Daily Beast on California’s new feudalism. He takes Victor Davis Hanson’s observations about the California bifurcation into wealthy coastal districts and an increasingly poor interior, and provides a great bit more detail. For example, income inequality in liberal California (where Republicans have had no significant influence for some time, and none at all now) is at the banana republic level. A large portion of the world’s billionaires live there, mostly around Silicon Valley (but no doubt some in Hollywood), yet the state also has a 23.5% poor population (compared to 15% in perennially last-place Mississippi) and fully a third of the nation’s food stamp recipients.

A state once famous for its education now ranks at the bottom (again displacing places like Mississippi), even in fields like science. The state includes a remarkable 11 cities with devastatingly high unemployment (in one case approaching Detroit levels). In short, if many people in California have very good lives, most do not (at least as far as economic statistics indicate, anyway).

Kotkin points out that the Silicon Valley and Hollywood elites are unusual in that they support far-left economic (and especially environmental) policies. Just as the medieval aristocrats saw value only in land, so the modern liberal aristocrats see value only in the information business. Production of goods (including food, fuel, and airplanes, all of which used to be major industries in California) interests them not at all, nor do they care what happens to those producers. Yet even their own fields are highly concentrated in their benefits. The Silicon Valley billionaires mostly rely on cheap labor (often foreign) for what physical goods they do produce.

Kotkin divides the population into 4 general groups. The Oligarchy is the super-rich of Silicon Valley and Hollywood, mostly leftist in politics. The Clerisy is a combination of government workers, educators (or at least those who pretend to educate), and the entertainment and information media. Their purpose (which in fact was always the basic goal of Fabian socialism, as Philip Crane pointed out decades ago in The Democrat’s Dilemma) is to control information, so that only their viewpoint will be allowed to appear in any mass setting. The New Serfs are the welfare-dependent poor, who accept what they can get from the Oligarchs and others – but in return, everything they “think, do, and say” (as they sang in the song, In the Year 2525) – and even more important, vote – is determined by the Clerisy. Finally, there is the Yeomanry – those who work to make the state work, but no longer receive the sort of awards they used to.

Needless to say, the Democrats have a very powerful position. The New Serfs and Clerisy provide the numbers (and to some extent control information to the Yeomanry, partially neutralizing their influence), while the Oligarchs supply them with the money to maintain control. Can the Yeomanry liberate themselves and find enough New Serfs who would prefer a better life to overthrow the neo-feudal elite? So far, the prognosis is poor. And meanwhile, much the same thing is happening in other areas dominated by liberalism, such as New York, although maybe not yet to the same degree (except in Detroit). I have long been pessimistic about the future of America, though as long as there is any hope at all I don’t intend to give up. • (1333 views)

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10 Responses to The Liberal Aristocracy

  1. Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

    Terrific article, Timothy. You have captured the essence of it. It jibes with what Rush Limbaugh says about the Democrats trying to create a dependent class. They have.

  2. MarkW says:

    Liberalism only collapses when it runs out of other people’s money.
    So long as the Yeomen continue to work to support others, liberalism will continue.
    When they decide that laboring for others benefit, is no longer in their best interest, liberalism collapses.
    How much power liberals have amassed before this point is reached determines how bloody the collapse will be.
    If the Yeomen are permitted to leave freely, liberalism will die with a wimper. But if the liberals have gained the power to persecute or even kill anyone who tries to leave, then the death will be slow and bloody.
    This is one of the reasons why I’m leaning towards the just let it collapse school of thought in regards to govt.
    Instead of working to keep things limping along, trying to minimize the damage govt does to people and the country, just go ahead and shove the beast over the cliff.

  3. LibertyMark says:

    I appreciated you better classifications. I had read elsewhere there will end up being three classes: the Rich, the Middle Class public sector workers, and the illegals. Your put a finer differentiation on the problem.

    Being a native Californian, I am very concerned (panicked?) about where this state is headed. Unfortunately, I believe the death spiral is far, far from over. There is just too much wealth left to plunder. (This may be good for me, as I need a couple more years to escape. God forbid the Ruling Class enacts an exit tax.)

    However, I do not believe the Yeomanry can liberate this state. Given recent legislation, we have the perfect storm to disenfranchise producers/makers and empower those other classes you enumerated.

    1. “Open” primaries, defeating the two-party system.
    2. 17 year olds can vote in primaries.
    3. Non-citizens can serve on juries.
    4. Illegals can petition the Bar for a law license to practice law.
    5. Illegals can get driver’s licenses (and therefore vote).

    And the Coup de grâce, the Trust Act of just this week which precludes law enforcement from turning over arrestees to the Feds unless they are “extreme” law breakers. In other words, come here illegally, keep your nose clean, and you are Golden in the Golden State.

    11,000,000 illegals in a population of 40,000,000 is an overwhelming force. There is no way Liberty can survive. It is a tsunami of welfare colonists.

    Liberals – plundering the worth of your citizenship, one amnesty at a time…

    • Timothy Lane says:

      That wasn’t my division (though I’ve made similar ones in the past), it was Joel Kotkin’s. I tend to refer to the Unholy Trinity of rich radicals, activists, and the synoptic media. (I’m a bit more sympathetic to the serfs, since their fate isn’t always entirely their choice. I noticed this in the Patty Heart ransom giveaway of food: Some poor people accepted it regretfully because they felt they needed it, but others really liked the idea. I would have loved seeing a severe outbreak of food poisoning among the latter.)

    • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

      I think the bottom is going to drop right out of California. While the libtards tell us what a multicultural paradise they are creating, the truth is otherwise.

      It’s also come to my knowledge that there is a great deal of flight from South Africa. Apparently the place is now so corrupt and unsafe, people of all races are leaving.

      It’s hard for many of us (at least for me) to suppose that the ship can be righted. And pray hard for Texas. A lot of these Californians are moving there. And although there are plenty of these expatriates who suppose that they are conservative, it’s doubtful that most of them are any more conservative than Romney. I really don’t know how Texas can hold onto itself for long.

      The problem is, EVERYONE now has a stake in entitlements. Someone can swear up and down that they are “conservative,” but when the state is financing a substantial part of your life (now including your health care), it is just human nature to normalize this behavior. It is just normal to not deny others a place at the same trough.

      • LibertyMark says:

        Then we are well and truly doomed. Not if but when.

        • Brad Nelson Brad Nelson says:

          Pretty much. But doom comes in many flavors. Doom may well consist of 15%-20% real unemployment as the norm. People will get used to lowered expectations and a lower standard of living.

          The idea of freedom (barely understood and hung onto now by most) will be simply too inconvenient of a concept. What table scraps one can get will more and more come from some type of government employment. And government employees soon take on the mindset of their masters.

          And even in private business, the Master’s hand is felt. In many cases, you are at the total whim of bureaucrats regarding whether you make money or not.

          Violence will increase amongst the Democrat-made underclasses. Of course, it will not be reported just as it isn’t being reported now. We will increasingly live in an Orwelllian country in which those in the media and government say that everything is swell and most people no longer care one way or another, long having forgotten or given up on the prospects of living without these leeches and anal carbuncles.

          Education will continue to churn out useful idiots. America will no longer be great because America will no longer be good. But who will bother invading us? Our nukes will keep us safe from major attacks. But who knows? Enemies can sense weakness.

          California within just a few decades will all but seceded from the Union for all practical purposes. It is already now almost a foreign country. The great state that first fired the imagination of gold seekers now is a net drain on our nation.

          There are very few Americans left who even understand America. How can you preserve something that you don’t understand? I don’t see right now what is holding the Union together other than habit and coercion. The Federal government has become like an invading foreign nation. Both parties have so bastardized the Constitution that the rule of law is being replaced by the rule of men.

          We are doomed. Only when enough people understand that Obama and his ilk are misguided and destructive is there any hope for true restoration of our country. But most of these ass-wipes from the 60’s and later haven’t a clue about things. Even many of the well-meaning ones are still products of a dumbed-down culture that deals in Leftist soundbytes as a substitute for thinking.

          I haven’t much hope. The battle goes on, but people are too attached to their Utopian dreams and conceits. As Dennis Prager says (and I just love this saying), there are a lot of people who are “nice” but they are not good.

          • Timothy Lane says:

            One thing that has made the Spite House’s campaign to make the partial shutdown as painful as possible for those they affect to care about is that the tentacles of Leviathan are so heavily entangled in our lives. So people who own properties that happen to be on land owned by the federal government are being kicked off their land for the duration — something no previous president has done, because no previous president has been the spiteful, resentful, malicious ogre that the current occupant is. But it’s the entanglements that make it possible for Barry Screwtape Obama to do so much harm.

      • Kung Fu Zu says:

        I am worried that too many of these “economic conservatives and cultural moderates” are moving to Texas. Too often they will bring this infection with them.

        • LibertyMark says:

          I for one am heading for AZ, which has a better (or worse, if you hate the 2nd Amendment) Brady score than Texas.

          Is our demise a foregone conclusion? I don’t know, but it feels like it, no matter which state you live in.

          As Mr. Lane stated, “I have long been pessimistic about the future of America, though as long as there is any hope at all I don’t intend to give up.” This was one of the lessons in Ayn Rand’s magnum opus. The makers never give up; their very constitution makes that impossible. Trust me, the looters and takers have banked on it.

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