6.10.10

AN ILL-DEFINED FAULT LINE. Angelo Codevilla wrote an essay, "America's Ruling Class -- And the Perils of Revolution" for the American Spectator. Rush Limbaugh quoted enthusiastically from the essay on his radio show, and subsequently wrote the introduction to a book-length (once it's padded with The Declaration of Independence and The Constitution) version, The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It. If, in fact, we are at a breaking point in our politics, or in a Fourth Turning, it's useful to know where the fractures are. Mr Codevilla is attempting to identify that fracture, suggesting that there's a Ruling Class, notionally the old Eastern Liberal Establishment plus the Country Club Republicans, and a Country Class, not so easily defined but combining some parts of homeschoolers, intact families, and economic libertarians, loosely the Tea Party coalition. Book Review No. 22 recommends readers read the American Spectator essay: it's not yet behind the pay wall, it makes many of the same arguments, and it's shorter.

People who attempt taxonomies necessarily must make some arbitrary choices. Creating broad categories, as a division of the body politic into a ruling class and a country class, takes on the flavor of Jeff Foxworthy's "You Might Be a Redneck" stuff. You might be a member of the Ruling Class if ... you have a degree from an Ivy League or Big Ten university. It's true that the Ivies and the Big Ten provide a lot of technocrats, CEOs, Deputy Assistant Secretaries, and Diversity Boondogglers. On the other hand, you might turn up a lot of graduates who agree with the Tea Party for reasons that are subtle. A manifesto that includes the following is unlikely to encourage more such crossovers.
America's pro-family movement is a reaction to the Ruling Class' challenges: emptying marriage of legal sanction, promoting abortion, and progressively excluding parents from their children's education.
Does that last include school boards that mandate the untestable special creation hypothesis as holding equal intellectual standing to the testable evolution hypothesis?
Close friendships, and above all, marriages, become rarer between persons who think well of divorce, abortion, and governmental authority over children and those who do not.
Self-selection, assortative mating, seeking soul mates?
The home-school movement, for which the internet became the great facilitator, involves not only each family educating its own children, but also extensive and growing social, intellectual, and spiritual contact among like-minded persons.
That's not conducive to understanding the intellectual basis of the Eastern Liberal Establishment or the Country Club Republicans. (Such bases exist, they have weaknesses, but it takes persuasive argumentation to offer anything other than Not of the Establishment as a way of turfing that Establishment out.)

In the stack of books to be reviewed are several dealing with the financial markets melting down, the fault lines in politics, and visions of the world to come. Works that attempt to make sense of the Establishment's sudden loss of credibility tend to be less convincing, in part because they attempt, as Mr Codevilla has, to construct too broad a category of In opposed to Wanting In.

(Cross-posted to 50 Book Challenge.)

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