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January 23, 2013

Another Marxist Analysis of the New Aristocracy

As I've noted, I'm so taken with class-analysis as a method of understanding why people think the way they do I'm almost a communist myself -- a strange sort of communist, I guess, but there you go.

The Marxists had a special hatred of the petite bourgeosie, which I think was the lower middle and middle-middle class-- not the upper middle class, the doctors and wealthy businessmen and such.

And they hated this group, the petite bourgeiosie, for being strong defenders of the capitalist system, and a very tough sell for communism.

The reason, the Marxists speculated, the petite bourgeiosie was so anti-revolutionary was that they were only newcomers to the middle class, and were anxious members of that class, meaning that they could, possibly, lose their status of "Middle Class" at any moment due to some bad luck -- a firing, a scandal, the death of the breadwinner of the family.

And thus being "bitter clingers" (as it were) in that class, they were especially proud to have the status of the class, and were especially skeptical of any system that would take that status from them. That is, being a bit anxious about their class differentiation from the lower classes, they were especially hostile to any agenda which would result in their being mixed with and undifferentiated from the lower classes.

I don't think I have to buy into all of that to recognize that there is some truth in that -- people who are least secure in their position in a group will tend to be the most aggressive about defending the outer contours separating that group from others. And people who are only recently enjoying the privileges of a thing will be the most reluctant to see those privileges go away -- people who have enjoyed them for a long time become jaded and stop appreciating their good fortune. (Thus, many, many wealthy layabout aristocrats become enamored with communism.)

Reporters wish to be part of the New Aristocracy, but their incomes aren't high enough to put them comfortably in that group (some reporters make a lot, but most make so-so money) and certainly their education and accomplishments aren't enough to put them in the same class as undeniable members of the New Aristocracy, like, say Steven Spielberg.

Thus they (and other bitter clingers to the lowest rungs of this would-be New Aristocracy) are the most aggressive about enforcing the Barriers to Entry into the group -- they consider themselves part of the New Aristocracy, but only barely, and because they are only barely part of the New Aristocracy, they fight especially hard to keep the riff-raff out, and are the most obnoxious about flashing the Tribal Signifiers that identify them as part of the New Aristocracy.

Actually there is one group that is even more aggressive about such things-- people who really aren't in the New Aristocracy at all, having neither the income, the fame, nor accomplishments to actually be in that group, but who aspire to be part of it.

This is where you find most of your liberals, actually. They're aping the attitudes and beliefs of the group they aspire to be part of as a way of gaining a sort of backdoor entry into it-- maybe a wannabe-writer who's never actually written anything isn't really part of the New Aristocracy, but he sure wants to be, and thus he winds up imitating the New Aristocracy in every way he can. Making lots of money and becoming famous is hard to do, but saying things like "Rand Paul has no qualifications to speak on foreign policy" is a much easier way to show that he belongs in that company.

I think about this a lot because of all the anger on the left-- they don't seem to be just talking about politics. So what are they talking about? Why is it so emotionally charged with them all the time?

If it's emotional, it must be personal, and if it's personal, one next wonders what makes it so personal. And what makes it personal is that liberalism is not, for many, about politics, but about identifying themselves -- and their egos -- with Better People whose august company they aspire to join.

And when you contradict their liberal beliefs, then, you're not just having a dispute about politics; you're contradicting the very thing that gives them self-worth, their tenuous connection, somehow, to celebrities and famous professors. They're not celebrities and famous professors themselves, of course, but by aping the attitudes and mores of such persons, they are identifying themselves as being essentially the same as such persons, and they derive a great deal of comfort for their egos from that connection.

So when you denigrate liberalism, you're knocking the very thing that Elevates them into the Upper Classes. (In their minds, subconsciously.)

And thus: It is indeed personal.


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posted by Ace at 01:45 PM

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