Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Mask Slippages Dept.

     The defining characteristic of an aristocracy, a.k.a. “the elite” or “the Establishment,” is the arrogation of one or more privileges that persons outside that group are legally forbidden to exercise. For example, for many decades the legal privilege of owning real estate was reserved to members of the English nobility. In medieval Europe, only a noble or a knight in service to a noble was permitted to own a sword. Aristocracies have often been favored by sumptuary laws. In societies with a legally defined aristocracy, a commoner who attempts to exercise a privilege reserved to the aristocracy will be punished for it. Sometimes the penalty has been execution.

     In societies without a recognized aristocracy, a group whose members seek to be thought of as “superior,” in whatever sense, will often behave like an aristocracy. The symptom is often verbal: “talking down” to the rest of us, or arguing for positions that would imply a privilege reserved to them.

     There’s no ideological dividing line that separates aristocrats, legally recognized or not, from us of the Great Unwashed.

     Just now, a number of “conservatives” – I remember when what they were striving to conserve was freedom — are arguing strenuously against a Constitutionally protected right:

     I’m not personally acquainted with any of these...persons. I know them only as three commentators deemed right-of-center. I have no idea whether any of them own a weapon of any sort. But I’m perfectly willing to call them aspiring aristocrats. And I’d bet you the mortgage money that they’d have no qualms about hiring armed bodyguards were they to feel threatened.

     (Hm. A quick Googling reveals that all three are NeverTrumpers. More than coincidence? Your Curmudgeon reports; you decide.)

     I wrote, back at Eternity Road, about the phenomenon of eminent conservative figures who find abridgements of Americans’ right to keep and bear arms perfectly acceptable. Such persons tend to share quite a few “cultural markers” with left-liberal enemies of Americans’ Second Amendment rights. They live along the coasts, usually in or near large cities. They’re well to do if not wealthy. They work in one of the communications trades, often as writers or opinion-mongers. And their social circles overlap heavily with their supposed ideological opponents.

     Such persons tend to be conservative in the original sense: i.e., the sense expressed by this lapel-button joke:

Someone who thinks nothing should be done
For the first time.

     Such “conservatives” are hardly of the classical-liberal / Constitutionalist / Americanist bent. They’re concerned with preserving the status quo, most particularly their piece of the status quo. Their sort largely goes unarmed. If there are firearms near to them, they’re in the possession of the hired security guards at the apartment tower doors or the villa’s wrought-iron gates. Their left-liberal friends and party guests are quite all right with those. They’re less a means of defense or security than a token of having been accepted into America’s aristocracy: the “opinion leaders,” the “people who matter.” They have nothing in common with the guns of the hoi polloi.

     When a Max Boot, a David Frum, or a Tom Nichols “comes out” as those persons did in the tweets reproduced above, they’re telling you a great deal more than they might realize. It’s valuable information – and it should be factored into everything else they say, on any topic in the national discourse.


Andy Texan said...

You can add Bushes & Bushies, Bill Kristol and the neocons to the list. Is it evil to wish these people gone from our conscientiousness?

Linda Fox said...

The End Times may be near. My husband (a lifelong Liberal - old-style) just said, after viewing the Tx church massacre news, that he was considering getting a gun.

He has always treated ownership of a gun like a vampire would treat use of a crucifix - UNTHINKABLE.

Amazing how people change.

And, that is why I cannot head for the bunker, and just withdraw from society. Or, stop blogging, which is much the same.

Because, people change over time. They have experiences, and learn from them (usually - some people are hopeless). When you ever think about giving it all up, remember my husband, and the people like him - good people, honorable people. They've just been stuck in a political/social/cultural loop. They wanted to 'stay true' to their principles.

The trouble is, those principles were those of the Woodstock Generation - totally useless and based on a naive understanding of the nature of man - and woman.

GreenEyedJinn said...

David Frum's claim, "Gun advocates insist: only prayer can mitigate human evil" is stupid straw man fallacy.

No, David, Americans insist that the right to self-defense is what mitigates evil.

MMinWA said...

Max Boot can kiss my ass. If he had his way, the bombs would have dropped long ago on us in the world wide conflict these neocons crave.

Dystopic said...

I've had a longstanding beef with Tom Nichols since he and I got into it about his obsession with expertise. He treats technocrats as the new aristocracy - government bureaucrats and politicians educated in Ivy League schools as the privileged. He makes his disdain for the rest of us abundantly clear.

I'm not as familiar with the other two, but damn...

A Reader said...

I think of David Frum as WaPo's pet Republican. Or maybe it's The Atlantic. I am not sure there is a difference anymore