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An emaciated working-class America is being torn apart at the seams. The deterioration was hidden for years under the guise of the poverty epidemic: a disease that scourged the urban centers of the nation’s great cities, indiscriminate in its ravaging of people across racial and ethnic backgrounds. But when the separation of classes became an issue to be exploited for the gain of the elites, the dividing lines became clear. The elite class is an institution to be protected. Any proletariat threats are absorbed into their fold and weaponized. The ire of discontent is redirected towards a better-suited antagonist: middle and working-class Americans of whom systemic this-or-that is finally revealed to be the true villain.
Tom Wolfe wrote in his 1970 essay, Radical Chic: That Party at Lenny’s, “Radical Chic, after all, is only radical in Style; in its heart it is part of Society and its traditions.” Where before the elite supported radical political movements and ideas because they were fashionable, even if those movements advocated for their very abolition, now they support those similar radical movements because they fear the backlash from those movements’ opponents. The Black Lives Matter guerilla-force isn’t welcomed with open arms into universities and corporate headquarters because they themselves are feared (although that initially played an important role), but because the elite class needs them to intimidate the politically weak.
What we see now: the racial animus, the cancel culture, the glorification of a broken moral order, is not the consequence of white guilt revealed by America’s racial reckoning, but elite fear. It is fear of us, the average American, and becoming us. It is the visceral terror of being subjected to the cancellation that threatens the powerless and insulates the powerful. They have an autonomy in the current social hierarchy that they deny the rest. They know it, they depend on it, and they determine their agency from it.
When did Americans decide it was better for their well-being to trade their voices for the ignoble promises of expanding state power? When did we trade what we knew as our inherent human value for that doled out by a cabal masquerading as the promise keepers of tolerance? I think frequently of if there was a definitive point when America cleaved itself from the great experiment of individual liberty, unshackling itself from the world’s long history of indentured servitude to earthly masters, kingdoms and royalty, serfdom and servitude to the yoke of man’s selfish, insatiable hunger for power over his fellow man. And it is even a hard question to ask because America defied this history and successfully resolved to prove, that yes, “all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the pursuit of Happiness.” But to admit that we freely bequeathed that which was given to us as the most precious gift of liberty to retake the chains that still enslaved so many across the globe looking to America as a clear beacon of freedom is difficult to fathom. But if there is one point that opened a cascading descent into a baseless morass in which the ideals of equality were stolen and replaced with equity, where character was no longer held to judgment of a person’s actions or principles but rather the tone of one’s skin; where we are blessed or cursed based on the lie that truth is a mirage, conjured up by the ruling class of any given day – it would be the Utopia promised by President Lyndon Johnson’s Great Society.
It was a promise that not only went unfulfilled, but led to the decay and mistrust of our institutions, and the unmooring of truth from the American Dream. The years following the policies of the Johnson Administration concealed the rot that would eventually disintegrate the pillars of a nation self-assured in its goodness. The tax cuts implemented by President Kennedy, the innovative fortitude of the Space Race that inspired the country, and a nation not yet at the height of war-weary, socially divided chaos were enough to absorb the brunt of a radically expanded government.
But eventually, the truth must come out. And as the patina of the optimism of post-WWII wore off, the chasm between an America trying to hold on to the notion of a flawed but great nation and one that condemned its very existence as the root of evil widened. And it has continued, in fits and starts to this point. A time when the elite have found a way to insulate themselves from the fray by turning Americans against each other. They try to divide us by race, by ethnicity, by sex, by an artificial dogma of privilege assigned in such a way that the author of division, Ibram X. Kendi can only define through a dramatic representation of circular reasoning: “A collection of racist policies that lead to racial inequity that are substantiated by racist ideas.” Is that your head spinning, or just your eyes rolling?
America just experienced a great bodily disturbance and it heaved the heavy breath of a man gasping for reason and truth under the heavy jackboot of oppression and delusion. We are seeing parents taking back their children’s education from government school indoctrination. We are seeing black communities slowly rise above the petulance of progressive policies that results in rising homicide rates rather than graduation rates. We are seeing minorities voting against their “interests” and for their freedom in places like the border city of McAllen, Texas, which is approximately 85% Hispanic. The city elected its first Republican mayor in 24 years.
So what does the elite class do in the midst of this Awakening? Codify silence. Erase absolute truth. Shout down opposition and declare nonconformists the enemy. But they do it out of fear. This post-reason society is so terrified of being judged by faceless mobs, the same ones we are subject to in our lives, communities, and work, they are becoming terrified of their own previously held beliefs and thoughts – yet they are so very certain of others’ guilt, they are willing to betray the only rights standing between freedom and oppression. They cling to hate – not as a problem to be identified and solved – but as a scarlet letter with which to brand dissidents. The speech codes and virtue signaling are not for the benefit of America. They restrict the views and arguments of the minority, not protect them. It is important to remember that Martin Luther King, Jr. wrote his iconic Letter from Birmingham Jail inside that jail because he was imprisoned for violating speech codes. Free speech protections were crucial for minority groups in their fight for civil rights. Though the speech prohibitions take different forms today – Amazon taking books of its website, college campuses declaring “Safe Space” areas for specific types of speech, attacking scientific theories that go against leftist political narratives – they are no less important.
Elites chide us for our basic standards of happiness: a desire for an autonomy unhindered by the draconian rules based on fear-mongering like climate apocalypse. They label us as backward for trying to maintain our traditional value system centered on a stable family and traditional religion. They chide this as regressive and unsophisticated, openly advocating for tearing down the doctrines that lead to an unqualified truth. Meanwhile, they participate in their Radical Chic ideology: projecting their fear of powerlessness onto a nation struggling to find a path out of the disorderly state they helped create.
When culture is settled in lines defined by one group in order to set it apart above all others, those definitions become ineradicable walls to freedom. When thinking and telling the truth becomes useless, the battle is lost. The late Richard John Neuhaus described it well, “In the absence of truth, power is the only game in town.”Published in