The United States of America is now a classic oligarchy.

The United States of America is now a classic oligarchy. By Angelo Codevilla.

In 2021, the laws, customs, and habits of the heart that had defined the American republic since the 18th century are things of the past. …

Together with corporate America, [government] smothers minds through the mass and social media with relentless, pervasive, identical, and ever-evolving directives. In that way, these oligarchs have proclaimed themselves the arbiters of truth, entitled and obliged to censor whoever disagrees with them as systemically racist, adepts of conspiracy theories.

Corporations, and the government itself, require employees to attend meetings personally to acknowledge their guilt. They solicit mutual accusations. While violent felons are released from prison, anyone may be fired or otherwise have his life wrecked for questioning government/corporate sentiment. Today’s rulers don’t try to convince. They demand obedience, and they punish.

Russians and East Germans under Communists Leonid Brezhnev and Erich Honecker in the 1970s lived under less ruling class pressure than do today’s Americans. And their rulers were smart enough not to insult them, their country, or their race.

In 2015, Americans could still believe they lived in a republic, in which life’s rules flow from the people through their representatives. In 2021, a class of rulers draws their right to rule from self-declared experts’ claims of infallibility that dwarf baroque kings’ pretensions.

In that self-referential sense, the United States of America is now a classic oligarchy.

Trump was the first major candidate to arise against the encroaching oligarchy:

In the 21st century, the American people’s trust in government plummeted as they — on the political Left as well as on the Right — realized that those in power care little for them.

As they watched corporate and non-profit officials trade places with public officials and politicians while getting much richer, they felt impoverished and disempowered. Since the ruling class embraced Republicans and Democrats, elections seemed irrelevant. The presidential elections of 2008 and 2012 underlined that whoever won, the same people would be in charge and that the parceling out of wealth and power among stakeholders would continue. …

By 2015, the right side of America’s challenge to the budding oligarchy was inevitable. Trump was not inevitable. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) had begun posing a thorough challenge to the “stakeholders” most Americans disrespected. Candidate Trump was the more gripping showman. His popularity came from his willingness to disrespect them, loudly. …

Trump’s candidacy drew the ferocious opposition it did primarily because the entire ruling class recognized that, unlike McCain in 2008 and Romney in 2012, he really was mobilizing millions of Americans against the arrangements by which the ruling class live, move, and have their being. Since Cruz’s candidacy represented the same threat, it almost certainly would have drawn no less intense self-righteous anger. Nasty narratives could have been made up about him out of whole cloth as easily as about Trump.

But Trump’s actual peculiarities made it possible for the oligarchy to give the impression that its campaign was about his person, his public flouting of conventional norms, rather than about the preservation of their own power and wealth. The principal consequence of the ruling class’ opposition to candidate Trump was to convince itself, and then its followers, that defeating him was so important that it legitimized, indeed dictated, setting aside all laws, and truth itself.

Clinton’s 2016 remark that Trump’s supporters were “a basket of deplorables,” — racists, sexists, homophobes, etc. — merely voiced what had long been the oligarchy’s consensus judgment of most Americans. For them, pushing these Americans as far away as possible from the levers of power, treating them as less than citizens, had already come to define justice and right.

Donald Trump — his bombastic, hyperbolic style, his tendency to play fast and loose with truth, even to lie as he insulted his targets — fit perfectly the oligarchy’s image of his supporters, and lent a color of legitimacy to the utterly illegitimate collusion between the oligarchy’s members in government and those in the Democratic Party running against Trump. Thus did the FBI and CIA, in league with the major media and the Democratic Party, spy on candidate Trump, concocting and spreading all manner of synthetic dirt about him.

Nevertheless, to universal surprise, he won, or rather the oligarchy lost, the 2016 election.

The oligarchy’s disparate members had already set aside laws, truth, etc. in opposition to Trump. The realization that the presidency’s awesome powers now rested in his hands fostered a full-court-press #Resistance. Trump’s peculiarities helped make it far more successful than anyone could have imagined. …

President Trump was way too nice to the oligarchy:

President Trump neither fired and referred for prosecution James Comey or the other intelligence officials who had run the surveillance of his campaign. He praised them, and let himself be persuaded to fire General Michael Flynn, his national security advisor, who stood in the way of the intelligence agencies’ plans against him. Nor did he declassify and make public all the documents associated with their illegalities.

Four years later, he left office with those documents still under seal. He criticized officials over whom he had absolute power, notably CIA’s Gina Haspel who likely committed a crime spying on his candidacy, but left them in office. Days after his own inauguration, he suffered the CIA’s removal of clearances from one of his appointees because he was a critic of the Agency. Any president worthy of his office would have fired the entire chain of officials who had made that decision. Instead, he appointed to these agencies people loyal to them and hostile to himself.

He acted similarly with other agencies. His first secretary of state, secretary of defense, and national security advisor mocked him publicly. At their behest, in August 2017, he gave a nationally televised speech in which he effectively thanked them for showing him that he had been wrong in opposing ongoing war in the Middle East. He railed against Wall Street but left untouched the tax code’s “carried interest” provision that is the source of much unearned wealth. He railed against the legal loophole that lets Google, Facebook, and Twitter censor content without retribution, but did nothing to close it. Already by the end of January 2017, it was clear that no one in Washington needed to fear Trump. By the time he left office, Washington was laughing at him.

Nor did Trump protect his supporters. For example, he shared their resentment of being ordered to attend workplace sessions about their “racism.” But not until his last months in office did he ban the practice within the federal government. Never did he ban contracts with companies that require such sessions. …

The progressive tiger and the hate unleashed by the oligarchy will now make it hard for the oligarchy to rule:

Disdain for the “deplorables” united and energized parts of American society that, apart from their profitable material connections to government, have nothing in common and often have diverging interests.

That hate, that determination to feel superior to the “deplorables” by treading upon them, is the “intersectionality,” the glue that binds, say, Wall Street coupon-clippers, folks in the media, officials of public service unions, gender studies professors, all manner of administrators, radical feminists, race and ethnic activists, and so on.

#TheResistance grew by awakening these groups to the powers and privileges to which they imagine their superior worth entitles them, to their hate for anyone who does not submit preemptively.

Ruling-class judges sustained every bureaucratic act of opposition to the Trump Administration. … By 2018, the ruling class had effectively placed the “deplorables” outside the protection of the laws. By 2020, they could be fired for a trifle, set upon in the streets, prosecuted on suspicion of bad attitudes, and even for defending themselves. …

The Democratic Party had promised a return to some kind of “normalcy.” Instead, its victory enabled the oligarchy’s several parts to redefine the people who do not show them due deference as “white supremacists,” “insurrectionists,” and Nazis — in short, as some kind of criminals — to exclude them from common platforms of communication, from the banking system, and perhaps even from air travel; and to set law enforcement to surveil them in order to find bases for prosecuting them.

Neither Congress nor any state’s legislature legislated any of this. Rather, the several parts of America’s economic, cultural, and political establishment are waging this war, uncoordinated but well-nigh unanimously. …

Joseph Biden, Kamala Harris, and the people they appoint to positions of official responsibility are apparatchiks, habituated to currying favor and pulling rank. They have neither the inclination nor the capacity to persuade the oligarchy’s several parts to agree to a common good or at least to a modus vivendi among themselves, never mind with conservative America. This guarantees that they will ride tigers that they won’t even try to dismount. …

Those who oppose the oligarchy must now build their own country within a country, because the oligarchy stole their country:

Intending to relegate conservative America to society’s servile sidelines, the oligarchy’s members drew a clear, sharp line between themselves and that America. By telling conservative Americans “these institutions and corporations, are ours, not yours,” they freed conservative America of moral obligations toward them and themselves. By abandoning conservative America, they oblige conservative America to abandon them and seek its own way. …

Increasingly, conservative Americans live as if under occupation by a hostile power. Whoever would lead them should emulate Charles de Gaulle’s 1941 basic rule for la résistance: refrain from individual or spontaneous acts or expressions that produce only martyrs. …

Thus, an aspirant to the presidency in 2024, … as he pursues legislative and judicial measures to abolish the compulsory racial and gender sensitivity training sessions to which public and private employees are subjected, he might organize employees in a given sector unanimously to stay away from them in protest. They can’t all be fired or held back. …

Electoral politics, however, is the easy part. Major corporations, private and semi-private institutions such as schools, publishing houses, and media, are the oligarchy’s deepest foundations. These having become hostile, conservative Americans have no choice but to populate their own. This is far from impossible. …

As conservative America sorts itself out from oligarchy’s social bases, it may be able to restore something like what had existed under the republic. Effectively, two regimes would have to learn to coexist within our present boundaries. But that may be the best, freest, arrangement possible now for the United States.

Read it all. A long article from a deep thinker, who has a good track record of being right.

hat-tip Charles