Or Raising Manhattan. Try Nob Hill. Pick a city, any city. In fact, pick a county seat. They all started with the wealthiest homes, then working their way down to the tracks, then to the other side of the tracks. Even mining camps had their Silk Stocking Streets, which is what they called it in my town, where all the company managers lived. I moved there when I was 6, until I left for college when I was 18.
And certain laws of class applied, as I described about my encounter with Mick Hensley, who was not from Silk Stocking Street but from way up in the hollow. I had the good fortune of having my nose broken by Mick, thus teaching me a lot about class as my mother saw it, and dignity as my dad saw it. He saved my life and is still in my prayers.
Victor Davis Hanson recently wrote at Townhall that “Without common sense in government, civilization cannot continue.” (Well worth your time to read it.)
So, from this and other personal observations I’d add an addendum to VD’s law that “without morality in culture, common sensical government cannot long continue.” And my favorite moral philosopher on this equation would be G K Chesterton, who observed the waning of morality among Britain’s aristocracy before World War I.
What we are witnessing today in America is a 3-generation nosedive in morality at the root of our culture, and while many from my generation will strike that jutted chin of authority and surmise, “It’s pop culture”, they seem to overlook 1) that it’s intentional, and 2) something has to be done about it. and 3) only our generation can draw a path that can be followed the next three generations, (90 years), for only we have the cultural memory to even know what has been lost, and that will be lost forever in another 10-15 years.
Expecting the younger generations to fix it won’t do, even if they see and understand the need, for they have no real taste for what has been lost. An arrogant lot, but as smart as whips, with all due respect, the Cleese Rule applies, “Those who are not good at what they do haven’t the skills to know they don’t know they aren’t good at it.”
America has to be redrawn, almost from Square One, requiring at least three generations to undo what Government has become, a class instead of an institution. This was how long it took an Andrew Jackson and Democratic Party to begin to unravel the basic common sense understandings and social contract of the constitutional design and then another 75 to print it into law. Fixing it can only be done by planning for the next 64 years. That gives VD Hanson and others who have actually watched this decline a span of no more than 15-20 years to impart that wisdom. (My days are closer to five, so I’m jumping the gun a bit.)
But those memories are key, for the same reason a wise old philosopher named Ben Franklin had his fingerprints all over both the Declaration and the Constitution; because “he knew a thing or two because he’d seen a thing or two”. No successful 21st Century plan for America can succeed without men and women who also possess that backward glance, having seen with their own eyes how it used to be in a variety of settings.
VD Hanson knows those people.
My purpose here is to simply make some comments on how this “new class” has grown and how destructive it has become.
Even in the Gilded Age, post-Civil War, the age of Rockefeller, Vanderbilt, Carnegie, and Morgan, our culture was aware of the strains this new wealth might place on America’s moral compass. It spawned all sorts of “new rich” at the top, not to mention several million immigrants at the bottom, mostly from Catholic eastern Europe, settling in the urban northeast corridor and midwestern steel centers.
It also spawned new worries about young unmarried working women with a new genre of fiction, the romance, only, unlike today, the themes were what defined a good man; his temperament for work and stability, providing a good home, far outweighing “looks” or a fast car. Fabio was not anyone’s ideal male in 1897. And it would be the 1970s before “heaving breasts” would even be part of the romance equation. American churches even pitched in with their own morality books, from pre-teens to young adults, and yes, they did shape how those kids looked at several aspects of growing up, especially alcohol and pre-marital sex.
This new wealth created introduced a new kind of privilege and status which didn’t come over on the Mayflower. Both religionists and anti-religionists worried about the power this new money could have in destroying the fabric of the Christian home, on the one hand, or the fabric of the natural (per Marx) antipathy the working man was supposed to have for his bosses, on the other, for there also arose the private small business class, who rose by their own boot straps rather than via the corporate ladder. Collectively, these were Hollywood’s chief money-makers; i.e, most popular. Even in the 30s, the “organization man” was booed on the screen, almost always the heavy. He was popularly hated for his greed and lust for power, and the way he treated everyone else not his equal, so were popular targets of the 1930s version of leftism which assumed national power in 1932 with the New Deal.
By 1932, Republicans had managed to earn their icon, which, in the people’s mind steered them away from the original Republican brand, the Doctrine of Liberty. By Ronald Reagan’s turn at bat the “Doctrine” had become culturally almost exclusively the cultural property of the American people. Plus a few ne’er do wells at “National Review”. Since the 70s-80s, Wall Street went another way, spawning a new type of “corporatist” world view among many (not all) of its members, which shares many social (management) control views of the Bolshevik Left, only of the capital side of the coin versus the socialist side.
They both enjoy wealth and worship the perquisites of the power it brings.
But class and wealth are not entirely bonded, since by the 1920s, and the wisdom and foresight of the Prohibitionists, America produced rum-runners with greater wealth than many of the noble houses of Europe. The aristocracy-oriented Europeans have always looked down on the kinds of wealth Americans can make on their own, and of course, the kind of economic and political system that will permit it. Worse, even seems to encourages it.
So today, modern corporatists find themselves hating the same people the Bolsheviks do, the small business class, only for somewhat different reasons. But class and privilege lay at the root, and I’m not here to split hairs. Today Bolsheviks are very young, having not yet owned their first mansion, while corporatists, leaning more fascist, own several. And three generations in, virtually none of their children have had their mouths washed out with soap, spanked, or ever been to a Sunday school. Indeed, they’ve likely seen more therapists than preachers, and taken uppers and downers by prescription at 15 that their mother or father likely bought illegally and used when they were in college. Looking at Van Jones, at 52 today, an avowed “Communist” in the Obama years, when he was 40, is now just a run of the mill millionaire living the high-life inside the new Government class, consisting of members of the managerial levels of government who have almost generational stakes there, members of faculties, likewise, and managers-operators of many of the nation’s leading NGO’s (non-governmental organizations, 501 (c) 3 and (c) 4.
I’d never been sure as to why they disliked small business so much, except it is likely “class based”, since Donald Trump, lest we forget, is the world’s richest “private small businessman.” He actually built things.
From this class today, 50 years in, we are seeing behavior by children in their 20s that mirrors behavior of their parents, and possibly even their grandparents. I.e., “getting away with it” having been handed down mother-to-daughter. The characteristics are traceable, albeit, as with Portland and other cities, also flagrantly showcased, their conduct immune to punishment, which requires some social coordination.
Even Leopold and Loeb tried not to get caught. Today they don’t seem to bother.
Commonalities?- Drugs, alcohol and promiscuity, over-lapped by an indifference unseen since the Bourbons of France about people not of their class and an evaporation of any standard of moral behavior. Tribal in nature.
But instead of seeing all this descend to a crash-and-burn point of no return, they’ve instead come to a crossroads, where our society can choose to self-immolate (laws of nature apply here) by taking that left turn, or save ourselves by taking the right turn. Students of history know that the likelihood of making that rescuing right-hand turn are virtually nil, since no nation has ever done it. But then again, no nation has ever existed that gave total power to the citizens to cure themselves, so that “remains to be saw”, per Festus Haggen.
- Leopold and Loeb, two wealthy students at the University of Chicago,1924 kidnapped and murdered 14-year-old Bobby Franks in Chicago…just to prove they were smart enough to get away with it. Both very intelligent, the older Leopold was the deeper-thinker, and a follower of Nietzsche’s concept of superman, while Loeb was a party boy, and probably more easily triggered, since he was killed by another inmate in 1936. Leopold lived to be paroled in 1958. Each accused the other of having killed Franks. Leopold later wrote that Loeb had said he had to finger him since “Mompsie feels less terrible than she might, thinking you did it”. There is no history of the behavior of the boys before the murder, but Leopold refused to cover those years in his book. (Perhaps by 1958 he knew shame.) There is no Chicago record of either coming under the scrutiny of law enforcement, but we also know the ease with which prominent families can keep their public records clean, from killing/torturing pets to petty larcenies, the most common types of childhood crimes.
- Fast forward to the “Law and Order” television crime series, 1990-2020, which gives good insight of many crimes taken from real events in Manhattan. You’ve seen many episodes, mostly through the eyes of a classical-liberal prosecutor,Jack McCoy . Commonalities of rich kid crimes were revealed as parents, mostly fathers in that period, covered up their kids’ misdeeds by moving them from private school to private school, leaving no trail. Drugs were often involved, for use or resale, (One son thought the was being grownup by not having to always rely on dad for spending money), drug swap clubs, where kids in their school would swipe drugs from home and bring them to a party, and swap and get high. (Google has helped with ID’ing these drugs in recent years.)
- Then, enter Mother, harkening back to the Anti-War riots at Chicago’s 1968 Democrat Convention and the Berkeley campus takeover, 1964, which incidentally, was a Free Speech movement, the opposite of their children today. Nancy Pelosi, a debutante from Baltimore, was in politics in this period and a leader in the ’76 Democrat Convention when the Party publicly declared themselves “of the Left”, She and Hillary Clinton best qualify as objects of Ayn Rand’s “Children of the Damned, a Prophecy Fulfilled” which Rand wrote in 1971 and I profiled. Likewise, but baked from a different cookie sheet, Hillary Rodham, daughter of a textile company owner, actually attended public school before going onto Wellesley with probably a different psychopathy, having first embraced Barry Goldwater living under her father’s roof, then meet Saul Alinsky at college and became swooned. One was privileged, the other always seeking it. One drinks more, the other throws more lamps and makes mule-skinners blush when she curses whichever mule-team has been assigned to escort her.
- Then there is Code Pink, many of those same nameless rich school kids 30 years later, trying to shut down the 2004 Republican convention by getting media passes. Although participating in several national events, almost no one knows their names, or has cross-checked them with prior crimes. They come and go as they please, and I doubt if any of them ever did more than pay a fine.
- More contemporary, there would the Brett Kavanaugh Supreme Court hearings in September, 2018, where he would be accused by a wealthy beer-guzzling party-tramp of attempted rape when she was 15, back in 1982. My oldest was still in middle school then so I hadn’t paid much attention to the pop culture of the 80s, so I went back to check out the popular films and music of the 80s. That’s where I ran into the “Valley Girl” film-genre, (hence the title) for they lived in almost unsupervised conditions, free to party, drink, and boink, (just as long as they kept their grades up, I suppose) for they would go onto the finest schools. (Bought and paid-for scholarships have just been uncovered…after how many years?.., giving us great insights into the moral bearings of their wealthy parents) An eastern version of the Valley-girl, but a common sort for her class, Blaisey-Ford went on to where she sits now, on the Stanford faculty, a PhD in Psychology” The most serious commonality, beyond her secret oath- sisterhood duty to be sworn then lie about a man she seems to recall tried to rape her 26 years earlier, all because his legal views is not in accordance with her class, is that, within that class, her social class trek has been made to appear ordinary. Just part of a herd. A gigantic herd.
- Finally, clique-ism and bullying, enter David Hogg and Emma Gonzalez, for the shooting at that affluent school district in Florida was highlighted by a murder spree carried out a kid named Cruz who the school in-group had decided didn’t belong, headed by a perky little bi-sexual loudmouth, archetype of just about every profanity-laced 30 second bitch-fest we’ve come hate on Twitter, and a little squirrel-monkey who in my generation hid behind mother’s or teacher’s, skirt, only now enjoys every protection, so is free to tattle out a student all because if someone bloodies his nose, all Hell will descend on his head from every level of power in his city.
- Commonalities applicable to all: The ease with which this class can lie or brazenly break the law (never even bothering to sneak…see Portland, et al) and expect no punishment. Whereas the masses still see sin as a moral violation against God, the elite classes only consider lying against their own class as the sin, and a sin only against their class.
These are no longer lone-wolf types of misbehavior. They are a type, a manufactured broad-based type; part parents, and part institution.
Louis Brandeis, a Supreme Court justice that spanned Wilson to FDR, once said that it’s a wealthy person’s duty, once he reaches the place his future is financially secure, to go into “public service”, meaning government and education. A noble thought at the time, I don’t think Brandeis intended to see “public service” into a regenerating class. Buut it seems that’s what has occurred. Add NGO-ery, as Cindy McCain has pulled off, and you have the perfect tri-fecta of a government management class.
In this instance, I believe the presumption of innocence until proven guilty in 1) government, above the level of GS-10, 2) college teaching above the position of associate professor, and 3) any management position in a 501(c)3 or (c)4 NGO is wrongheaded, because they will all likely be held by children of privilege, and therefore should be presumed guilty, at least by the “governing” public.
And until we can be shed of them, in this three-generation plan I suggested above, the public should treat them with the disrespect their class deserves.
(About that school picture, it’s my first grade class photo, 1951, and the little kid on the far left to Teacher is a retired Kentucky Hall of Fame jurist. We talk monthly. The little squirt next to him is the younger brother of Mick Hensley, who broke my nose. See if you can distinguish the classes. Only one boy (me) and two girls were children of Management. The rest were coal miners.)