The Conditioner Class: What’s Really Behind Comey and Clinton

 

4312391652_ec4bf50b68_mWe are all now familiar with FBI Director James Comey’s decision not to indict Hillary Clinton for her email scandal. In his announcement, not only did Comey contradict a number of Clinton’s claims, he laid out the case of gross negligence and extreme carelessness that would have landed any us in prison.

But not Clinton. Comey fabricated what Charles Krauthammer called a “completely, irrelevant new standard which is ‘malicious intent,’” as a way of absolving her from indictment. You can be grossly negligent and even lie about it, but if you didn’t really mean it, it’s cool. So what’s really behind all of this?

First, we need to understand that the modern age is comprised of two main classes of people, what C.S. Lewis called the “conditioner” and the “conditioned” classes. What he meant by that is that, because the modern age operates according to complex technological and scientific processes, it requires a class of experts and engineers who have the specialized competency and expertise to govern this technocracy. And so, within such a modern matrix, the wider population is conditioned to believe that their health and happiness is dependent upon this ruling class of experts and engineers.

Second, we also have to understand that technology-based societies tend to reject traditional moral conceptions of life. This is because technology is organized and governed by modern scientific processes which are considered value neutral and thus devoid of moral frames of reference.

What this means is that traditional conceptions of law and order are increasingly replaced with modern conceptions. So, while traditional societies viewed human law as something reflective of transcendent divine law, modern societies actually invent law, they make it up in accordance with the needs of social conditions as the elite class of conditioners understands and interprets them.

In modern societies, there are two fundamentally different relationships to the law. While the conditioned are always under the law, in that we don’t invent but are called only to comply, the conditioners are always above the law, since they are in a position to invent law in such a way that complies with their own social management and engineering.

You see, in a society where laws are made up by a class of elites, it’s not a coincidence that those elites tend to benefit from those laws and their variant interpretations.

But wait a minute: Why aren’t people up in arms about this? Arbitrary laws? Where are the mass protests over the injustice of such a thing? Because we’re the conditioned class. We’ve been conditioned to believe that experts like Clinton and Comey maintain the social conditions necessary for our health and happiness. So this is just a small toll that we pay for all of these wonderful benefits of living in a modern society.

In fact, if you really think about it — now that law is just arbitrarily made up, deriving its legitimacy not from God or divine justice but from the state — then there is no basis for a citizen to contest the justice of a law or its application beyond the decrees of the state.

So what then would we be protesting?

And of course, this goes the other way; all the efforts of politicians and media commentators to exonerate Clinton by lawyering, inventing legal distinctions, and making up exceptions in her favor, are all meaningless. There is no ultimate standard of justice behind these laws and their application; the issue is only power, whether the circumstances benefit or hurt their trusted conditioner.

The good news is that there is a mass gulf growing between the conditioners and the conditioned. As we have seen in the recent GOP and — to a certain extent –Democratic primaries, there is a profound distrust brewing among citizens for the so-called “establishment(s).” And if global events are any indicator, this distrust will eventually reach critical mass, resulting, as it has so often throughout history, in a tectonic social and political shift.

Until then, however, the modern elite will continue to have their fun engineering society for their own benefit, and at our expense.

Picture credit: © 2010 U.S. Embassy London, Flickr | CC-BY-ND | via Wylio
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  1. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    Thank you. A very insightful analysis of how modernity departed from humanity. It also helps explain why people on the left believe the Constitution is “outdated.” They think technology changes human nature. It does not. It only changes power relationships.

    • #1
  2. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    CSL:  “because the modern age operates according to complex technological and scientific processes, it requires a class of experts and engineers who have the specialized competency and expertise to govern this technocracy. And so within such a modern matrix, the wider population is conditioned to believe that their health and happiness is dependent upon this ruling class of experts and engineers.”

    What has really happened, IMO, is that the *genuine* expertise of scientists, engineers, etc has been claimed as a mantle by people whose expertise really deserves no such level of credibility.

    You can almost always trust to the expertise of airplane designers, pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers to get you to you destination safely. You cannot trust the expertise of economists and MBAs to predict the safety of a mortgage-loan pool with anything like the same degree of certainty….and when it comes to predicting the true effects of legislation driving massive social changes, the opinion of an ‘expert’ is probably no better than that of a random guy down at Joe’s Bar.

    • #2
  3. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    “Second, we also have to understand that technology-based societies tend to reject traditional moral conceptions of life. This is because technology is organized and governed by modern scientific processes which are considered value neutral and thus devoid of moral frames of reference.”

    Questionable argument.  It is true that there is nothing inherent about, say, an airplane that defines whether it should be used for good or for evil; this is equally true of a sailing ship or a horse.

    • #3
  4. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    David Foster:“Second, we also have to understand that technology-based societies tend to reject traditional moral conceptions of life. This is because technology is organized and governed by modern scientific processes which are considered value neutral and thus devoid of moral frames of reference.”

    Questionable argument. It is true that there is nothing inherent about, say, an airplane that defines whether it should be used for good or for evil; this is equally true of a sailing ship or a horse.

    My reaction, too. That Notre Dame Cathedral was built without silicon-chipped electronic gadgets doesn’t mean it was built without technology. Indeed, it took an impressive amount of technology. Medieval times were hardly devoid of technological innovation in the practical arts like building, mining, and so on.

    Similarly, even when all acknowledged that human law ought to reflect the divine, there were still legal experts, still elites in a position to benefit from the laws they made.

    Technology, elites, and expertise are hardly new things.

    • #4
  5. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley
    @DrSteveTurley

    Thanks David; a number of scholars have observed that globalized modern societies tend to view the world through a fact/value dichotomy. Facts, scientifically understood, are considered objective while values are reinterpreted as person-relative.  Just think of our SATs; they could give a rip what you thought about civic virtue.

    • #5
  6. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley
    @DrSteveTurley

    Midget, again, premodern societies operated with a very different orientation towards the world than modern societies. The dynamics constitutive of technocracies just explain why such a modern orientation is plausible.

    • #6
  7. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    Dr. Steve Turley:In modern societies, there are two fundamentally different relationships to the law. While the conditioned are always under the law, in that we don’t invent but are called only to comply, the conditioners are always above the law, since they are in a position to invent law in such a way that complies with their own social management and engineering.

    Is this really a result of modernity? From the dawn of civilization, those in power have always attempted — and often succeeded — in applying a different standard to themselves than to others.

    If anything, the modern era — particularly within the Anglosphere, though elsewhere to a degree — has been typified by political mechanisms that retard that norm and hold elites to common standards.

    What we may well be seeing here is the re-assertion of aristocracy and oligarchy.

    • #7
  8. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Dr. Steve Turley:Midget, again, premodern societies operated with a very different orientation towards the world than modern societies.

    I can agree with this. Just not sure technology itself, or the mere presence of expertise or elites, can be made to bear as much blame as you seem to be assigning it.

    • #8
  9. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    The problem with this logic is that the only demonstrable expertise that Hillary Clinton has it her ability to lie with a straight face. She has never demonstrated any other expertise in terms of governing, though, admittedly, being able to lie seems to be a major prerequisite for any Democrat running for office or attempting to stay in office.

    Her position among the Conditioners seems to be purely a matter of having been married to an actual Conditioner, much as Michelle Obama has gained the same position cum privileges. Thus, I surmise that it isn’t so much being a Conditioner as holding some degree of celebrity which implies the immunity to the rules.

    • #9
  10. Probable Cause Inactive
    Probable Cause
    @ProbableCause

    Re: Krauthammer’s theory, he is basically arguing that referees don’t want to blow the whistle in the final minutes of a championship game.

    • #10
  11. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    David Foster:

    What has really happened, IMO, is that the *genuine* expertise of scientists, engineers, etc has been claimed as a mantle by people whose expertise really deserves no such level of credibility.

    You can almost always trust to the expertise of airplane designers, pilots, mechanics, and air traffic controllers to get you to you destination safely. You cannot trust the expertise of economists and MBAs to predict the safety of a mortgage-loan pool with anything like the same degree of certainty….and when it comes to predicting the true effects of legislation driving massive social changes, the opinion of an ‘expert’ is probably no better than that of a random guy down at Joe’s Bar.

    I think this is a critical insight. Social “scientists” presume to understand “laws” which govern individual action and societies. The fact is that the sum of their opinions remains opinion and do not become fact by virtue of their zealous and repetitive assertion. Failure to distinguish opinions of social engineers of the day from objective and testable scientific fact is the greatest intellectual error of our times. Our trajectory – powered by progressive received wisdom passing for fact – is accelerating downward at an alarming rate. It may well prove to be our undoing.

    • #11
  12. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    David Foster:“Second, we also have to understand that technology-based societies tend to reject traditional moral conceptions of life. This is because technology is organized and governed by modern scientific processes which are considered value neutral and thus devoid of moral frames of reference.”

    Questionable argument. It is true that there is nothing inherent about, say, an airplane that defines whether it should be used for good or for evil; this is equally true of a sailing ship or a horse.

    One of my favorite types of experts is the “ethics” expert.  If you want to do something really rotten, you can hire an ethics expert to provide some words to justify it for you.

    • #12
  13. Ralphie Inactive
    Ralphie
    @Ralphie

    I was reading about the Romanian revolution, and that the downfall of Cousescu seemed rather sudden. The author said it as a case of signaling, and it happened during his last speech. He went politically bankrupt like people do economically, slow and then all of a sudden fast.  I think Trump is a symbol of signaling that a significant portion of the population is fed up with the blatant corruption.

    • #13
  14. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley
    @DrSteveTurley

    I think that’s right, Ralphie. Like the socialist republics of Eastern Europe, I don’t see our own secularized experiment as having much more of a future.

    • #14
  15. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley
    @DrSteveTurley

    Tom wrote:

    “Is this really a result of modernity? From the dawn of civilization, those in power have always attempted — and often succeeded — in applying a different standard to themselves than to others.”

    Sure, Tom; the key difference that I see is that pre-modern societies tended to make a distinction akin to the lex/ius distinction. In other words, law was not invented, it was discovered through unchanging standards of divine justice (ius). Those in authority to craft law did so as fellow subjects to divine justice. The modern age is conversely characterized by the advent of positivist law, which, amputated from any transcendent referent, recognizes no such distinction between lex and ius. Hence, justice is whatever the state claims it to be.

    • #15
  16. Theodoric of Freiberg Member
    Theodoric of Freiberg
    @TheodoricofFreiberg

    Hillary is a technology expert? Hardly.

    • #16
  17. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley
    @DrSteveTurley

    Theodoric, of course she isn’t; that doesn’t discount the mass perception that she is a competent social engineer.

    • #17
  18. Tom Meyer, Ed. Contributor
    Tom Meyer, Ed.
    @tommeyer

    I suppose I should ask for a definition of “modernity” before continuing.

    • #18
  19. Nick Stuart Inactive
    Nick Stuart
    @NickStuart

    Comey looked over the cliff at the bleached bones of the people who’d crossed the Clintons and decided he didn’t want to join them.

    • #19
  20. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Tom Meyer, Ed.:

    Dr. Steve Turley:In modern societies, there are two fundamentally different relationships to the law. While the conditioned are always under the law, in that we don’t invent but are called only to comply, the conditioners are always above the law, since they are in a position to invent law in such a way that complies with their own social management and engineering.

    Is this really a result of modernity? From the dawn of civilization, those in power have always attempted — and often succeeded — in applying a different standard to themselves than to others.

    If anything, the modern era — particularly within the Anglosphere, though elsewhere to a degree — has been typified by political mechanisms that retard that norm and hold elites to common standards.

    What we may well be seeing here is the re-assertion of aristocracy and oligarchy.

    Dr. Turley & Tom,

    First, this is a very good point and underlying much of the bland indifference we see. The anti-democratic nature of EU Global Governance is certainly something that has crept up on us and now must be addressed.

    Tom’s point is a good one as far as it goes. What I would say is that The Enlightenment which gave us our founding principles directly was in opposition to the Feudalism that had gone before. Much of modern Socialist thought is a regression to that Feudal state of mind. Dr. Turley’s analysis is very relevant to this. The conditioners and the conditioned, take the role of the Ruling and the Subject class.

    Freedom requires individual volition and responsibility. That which undermines this sets the pattern for systematic problems. Mrs. Clinton must be held responsible for her actions or our whole system is in peril.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #20
  21. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Theodoric of Freiberg:Hillary is a technology expert? Hardly.

    She is an expert on e-mail technology, especially the part about keeping her e-mail trail sufficiently covered and confused in order not to be brought to justice. Nobody in the United States has more experience with it than she has. But for conservatives, it’s as though her e-mail experience began in 2008. And this despite the fact that it was conservative publications that reported on all her e-mail escapades during the 1990s.

    • #21
  22. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    It’s disappointing to see all the conservatives who’ve taken the bait that says she was “careless” with her e-mail.

    • #22
  23. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley
    @DrSteveTurley

    This is great, Jim. The key distinction for me is natural/divine law vs. positivist law. Even the Enlightenment boys (for whom I have little affinity) assumed generally that human law is not invented but rather reflects transcendent justice as it is revealed in nature and human reason. Modern positivists conversely argue that all legal norms are mere human fabrications; they don’t reflect a transcendent obligation inherent in the created natural order but are rather the invention of populations. Such a view, which is dominant among contemporary jurists, by its nature creates a discrepant orientation towards the law, between those who invent it (above) and those who must comply (below).

    • #23
  24. Midget Faded Rattlesnake Contributor
    Midget Faded Rattlesnake
    @Midge

    Dr. Steve Turley: The key distinction for me is natural/divine law vs. positivist law.

    Fine. But you keep on repeating

    Dr. Steve Turley: the key difference that I see is that pre-modern societies tended to make a distinction akin to the lex/ius distinction.

    while apparently avoiding the fact that your original essay explicitly blames the loss of this distinction on how

    Dr. Steve Turley:  technology-based societies tend to reject traditional moral conceptions of life. This is because technology is organized and governed by modern scientific processes which are considered value neutral and thus devoid of moral frames of reference.

    You must know it’s perfectly possible to be technologically expert, very well versed in “modern scientific processes”, and yet be a devout Christian or Jew. Therefore, it cannot be technology itself, or even good technical understanding of technology, that causes people to throw all moral frameworks to the wind or reject traditional moral conceptions of life.

    I despise what Hayek called “scientism” as much as anyone. I question, though, explanations that seem to blame scientism on science itself, rather than on some other change of heart which neither requires much scientific understanding (many votaries of scientism don’t actually understand the science that well) nor is inevitably produced by scientific understanding (else there could not be pious great men of science, or even pious garden-variety scientists and engineers, and yet there are).

    It seems to me the loss of the lex/ius distinction must rest on something other than “because science”.

    • #24
  25. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    In CS Lewis’s novel That Hideous Strength, the protagonist (a rather weasely young sociologist named Mark) is talking with an acclaimed chemist, Hingest, who has just expressed a very negative opinion about an organization devoted to the promotion of ‘scientific methods’ in government:

    “You mean, I suppose, that the element of social planning doesn’t appeal to you? I can quite understand that it doesn’t fit in with your work as it does with sciences like Sociology, but–“

    and gets this response:

    “There are no sciences like Sociology. And if I found chemistry beginning to fit in with a secret police run by a middle-aged virago who doesn’t wear corsets and a scheme for taking away his farm and his shop and his children from every Englishman, I’d let chemistry go to the devil and take up gardening again…I happen to believe that you can’t study men, you can only get to know them, which is quite a different thing.”

    Hingest’s assertion goes too far, IMO…it is indeed possible to ‘study men’ to a certain extent–there are indeed valuable insights that can be drawn from the social sciences–but the studying gets you only so far:  you have to get to know men, too.

    As many business advocates of ‘big data’ who don’t see the need to get out and interact with actual customers and employees will learn, to their sorrow.

    • #25
  26. James Gawron Inactive
    James Gawron
    @JamesGawron

    Dr. Steve Turley: Modern positivists conversely argue that all legal norms are mere human fabrications; they don’t reflect a transcendent obligation inherent in the created natural order but are rather the invention of populations.

    Dr. Turley,

    Bingo. As the positivists come into the forefront of modern philosophy at the turn of the century things start to go seriously awry. Already there was plenty of crude materialism around supplied by Marx and Darwin. The positivists undermined all belief in the foundation of secular morality too. Good & Evil and Free Choice became just emotion-filled words without any meaning in their parlance. Russell was a Kantian until he decided he knew better and could dispense with the Meta-Ethics. Nietzsche said Gd was dead but that wasn’t the news. He had no interest in “Old Kant” and was ready to transvalue all values. He dispensed with morality but never got around to replacing it with anything.

    I’m an Old Kantian.

    Regards,

    Jim

    • #26
  27. civil westman Inactive
    civil westman
    @user_646399

    I was going to post the following as simply a memorable quote, but it seems somehow a propos: “Bureaucrats are the accursed of God. They record everything and understand nothing.They invent a spurious mathematic by which every human factor is reduced to zero…” – Morris West, in “Lazarus,” Vatican Trilogy Book 3.

    West is a new discovery for me, via a recent showing of “Shoes of the Fisherman” on TCM. He explores many aspects of the Vatican, but especially the conflicts between faith and authority. A recurrent theme is what he clearly believes is the essential nature of caritas (as meant by Aquinas) in human interactions. He makes a good case for it in well-written books with complex characters.

    • #27
  28. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley
    @DrSteveTurley

    Midget,

    I think there’s a hang-up on what I mean by ‘technology-based societies’; I use the phrase against the backdrop of the previous paragraph on ‘the modern age’, which Lewis argues tends (notice NOT determines) to impose a fact/value dichotomy on the human imagination: facts, as scientifically verified, are objective to all while values are person-relative. Such an imagination is shaped largely through technological practices supposedly indicative of this fact/value dichotomy. Of course science and technology are wonderfully consistent with classical theological belief and practice, but only when they are societal servants, not masters. The latter is what I mean by ‘technology-based societies’.

    • #28
  29. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator
    @TheReticulator

    Dr. Steve Turley:Midget,

    I think there’s a hang-up on what I mean by ‘technology-based societies’; I use the phrase against the backdrop of the previous paragraph on ‘the modern age’, which Lewis argues tends (notice NOT determines) to impose a fact/value dichotomy on the human imagination: facts, as scientifically verified, are objective to all while values are person-relative. Such an imagination is shaped largely through technological practices supposedly indicative of this fact/value dichotomy. Of course science and technology are wonderfully consistent with classical theological belief and practice, but only when they are societal servants, not masters. The latter is what I mean by ‘technology-based societies’.

    An example of a society in which technology is the servant is the Amish.  They are adopting new technology all the time, and not without internal disagreements about which technologies to adopt, or which they shouldn’t have, but they do so after evaluating how each new adoption will affect personal spiritual life as well as community and family relations.

    • #29
  30. Dr. Steve Turley Inactive
    Dr. Steve Turley
    @DrSteveTurley

    Reticulator, great example!

    • #30
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