The US oligarchy now rules by coercion, not consent

The US oligarchy now rules by coercion, not consent. By Michael Anton.

After a dubious election result where no investigations are allowed and no court has heard the evidence of cheating, Democrat hypocrisy has been epic. The situation is dire.

Prominent members of the Democratic Party such as former Labor Secretary Robert Reich have called for a “truth and reconciliation commission” like the kind that has followed the fall of shameful autocratic regimes. … The Berggruen Institute’s Nils Gilman — a man who, perhaps not incidentally, recently called for my death — is having none of that. “These people need to be extirpated from politics,” he recently tweeted.

In Gilman and company’s eyes, Trump’s voters have no moral, political, or intellectual standing and no legitimate interests — only obligations arising from their inborn moral culpability. There is no reason at all to address their concerns or listen to them. Indeed, it’s dangerous even to let them speak lest they lead others into error. Worst of all is to allow them to organize around what they perceive as their interests, which inevitably leads them to express and perpetuate racism and other sins.

So that’s what Trump supporters hear; what do they see?

  • Double standards and hypocrisy everywhere.
  • Mike Flynn’s life ruined over a non-crime while the man who ruined it, James Comey, laughs about his handiwork on an Upper East Side stage.
  • Four years of constant lies about Russian collusion and no reckoning, either for those who broke the law to get it going, or those who used their megaphone to keep it going.
  • Changes to the voting system designed to help one party and marginalize theirs.
  • A country flooded with immigration for more than half a century, padding the votes of the other party, driving down wages, and enriching oligarchs.
  • A trade regime seemingly designed to ship their jobs overseas, close their factories, and empty out their towns.
  • A media and intellectual class that no longer makes any pretense of fairness or objectivity but openly operates as the propaganda arm of the regime — to the extent it is not itself the regime.
  • And now, an increasing tendency to demonize all dissent as terrorism and lock out of the political system — permanently — at least 47% of the population.

What we now have, more and more, is a one-party oligarchy. …

Like all oligarchies, ours rules by coercion, not consent. It exerts its power primarily by constraining allowable, expressible opinion: it knows that the thing which cannot be said eventually becomes that which cannot be thought. And the chief thoughts it wishes to suppress are objections to its own misrule.

When and where it cannot “persuade” — that is, propagandize — it punishes, with the defiant fired from their jobs, made unemployable, cut off from the financial system, even, in some cases, shunned by friends and family. This is not “death,” exactly. But how much less cruel is it, really, to cut people off from human contact and the means of making a living? And how much real misery — and desperation — does it produce?

Against recalcitrant groups, organizations, even whole states, our ruling class uses its control of communications to wage demonization campaigns akin to two-minute hates, except lasting much longer. Witness, for example, corporate America’s united boycott of North Carolina over “transgender” bathrooms and the now-routine practice of Blue states issuing travel and other bans on their agencies or employees doing any business with Red states that don’t entirely toe the latest Blue line. …

Christopher Caldwell recently observed in the New Republic that

[i]n the 1860s, three major Western countries — Germany, Italy, and the United States — each fought similar wars of national unification, in which the more dynamic part of the country subjugated the more bucolic (or backward) part. In our time, Democrats are the party of relatively greater technological and demographic dynamism, Republicans the party of relatively less.

Subjugation, certainly, is the aim — with the events of January 6 to be used to justify whatever means are necessary. I wonder, though, whether the effort can turn out as successfully as the examples Caldwell cites. Does the Blue coalition really have the chops — that is, not merely the will but also the wherewithal — to cow and dominate at least 75 million independent-minded, self-sufficient, and (in many cases) ornery Americans?

The ruling class has backed Middle America into a corner. Keeping them there will require a level of cleverness and competence that, to say the least, our would-be masters have yet to demonstrate they possess. If they can manage, it will likely be because of new tools — above all Big Tech — no prior ruling class even dreamed of. Since we’re in uncharted waters here, the possibility cannot be ruled out. But even if technology does turn out to enable present arrangements to trundle on for a while, how long might that be? Five years? Ten? Twenty?

At any rate, there are reasons to believe that a resurgence of American spiritedness is possible — foremost among them the second-highest vote total in history, for a presidential candidate whom the entire socio-intellectual-media complex ordered the people to reject with prejudice. But there are also reasons — e.g., the opioid crisis — to fear widespread resignation and apathy. The longer present conditions can be made to continue, the more reasonable it is to assume that the latter will spread.

Should half of America surrender to defeatism and its consolations — booze, drugs, porn, junk food, video games, streaming services, and sportsball — we shall test Blue America’s very high opinion of itself. For at that point we will find out whether the coasts are capable not merely of surviving without the heartland, but of rising to even greater heights without all that dead weight.

Read it all.

The upper class have rather tired of democracy, and are now increasingly open about bossing the rest of us around.