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October 21, 2019

Mark Hemingway: Is the Anti-Trump "Resistance" Just the Attempt of the Ruling Class/Establishment/Managerial Class to Give Legitimacy to Their Worldview of Socially-Favored Fictions?

Interesting ideas.

Also, it starts off with a nice little story about a young Mark Hemingway discovering the world is often corrupt and filled with self-dealers. (He learned this at a baseball card shop.)

For some time, I have been trying to articulate a specific idea about how various elites and institutions cover for the political class and how the Trump-era "resistence" was the antithesis of this. Then a very smart friend of mine, thinking along nearly identical lines, blurted this out over email:
I think the world generally, and the world of the powerful in particular, is far less lucid and more incoherent than most assume. The main difference between Trump and his predecessors is that the professional class / deep state / neoliberal order / whatever-you-want-to-call-it is fluent in a language that imposes a kind of regulative fiction on that chaos. Their fluency gives them gives them a patina of legitimacy and not a little power over the less fluent, which comforts some normies but also drives conspiratorial thinking. Trump and a lot of the people around him lack this fluency and have no interest in cultivating it.

I think the term "regulative fiction" is misleading. Those fluent in Nietzsche's writings might get it, but I don't think it's a good word for a general audience, as it suggests this has to do with government regulation.

It doesn't. It is meant to mean that the Ruling Caste has created a simplified story --- a mythology, we could say, a mythos -- which simplifies the unruly chaos of the real world into a more easily-grasped (and very untrue) vision of the world and teaches certain morals and virtues (claimed morals and virtues, anyway) based upon that mythology.

This mythos just coincidentally also happens to justify why they are the only ones Fit to Rule. All aspects of the mythos are designed to, or by happy accident, identify problems (or fictionalized, simplified versions of problems) which the Ruling Caste is uniquely able to solve, due to (here are sub-myths that support the overarching Ur-Myth) of their education, their good taste and judgment their (they never say this but it's obvious that they think it) breeding, etc.



For what it's worth, the phrase "regulative fiction" is borrowed from Nietzsche, or at least his translator.

I think this desperate need to maintain the regulative fiction in Washington is the whole ballgame for understanding what is going on with the Trump administration. For a very long time before Trump, the "regulative fiction" was getting very, very discordant with reality.

Again, feel free to substitute "mythology" or "mythos" or even "Creation myth" or "self-justifying, egocentric personal mythology" for "regulative fiction."

Certainly, the WMD issue and poorly planned wars in the Bush administration soured even conservative voters. And then the Obama administration happened and things got a million times worse, because while the media are as invested in maintaining the regulative fiction generally, they are very interested in it as a partisan and specifically ideological matter.

...

I think voters in no small part voted for Trump because they were sick of being told rosy stories about how the government operates.

He notes that the current project of the beltway priests maintaining belief in their increasingly-bizarre mythos is to paint Trump as a clown who shouldn't be supported, so that their religion has no loud, popular apostate challenging it.

Except they can't do that without asking voters to choose between Trump's behavior and Washington’s preferred narrative of how things are supposed to work, and Beltway types still haven’t grasped that voters decided long before Trump arrived on the political scene that most of what passes for standard operating procedure in D.C. is just as farcical.

Hemingway goes into that, noting, for example, that the public does not credit Pierre Delecto and the rest of the High Priests of the Pro-Government Mythology who are always screaming about Trump violating "norms," because they've known for a long, long time that those claiming to be custodians of our precious "norms" are violating those norms all the time, and often more egregiously than Trump does.

Read the whole thing. It's interesting. I have a point I'd like to make that jogs along with Hemingway's, but it's not quite the same (I don't think), and I'll save that for later.

It just so happens that Victor Davis Hanson also writes about the "norms" the Norms-Defenders claim are so precious to them -- alleged norms which they're viciously abusing every single day.

But, of course, those norms must be sacrificed -- along with actual conservative governance -- to save these supposed norms.

We had to burn the norms to save them, it turns out.

The so-called deep state detests him. An anonymous op-ed writer in the September 5, 2018 New York Times bragged about the bureaucracy's successful efforts to ignore Trump’s legal mandates--a sort of more methodical version of the comical Rosenstein-McCabe attempt to stage a palace coup and remove Trump, or the Democrats efforts to invoke the 25th Amendment and declare Trump crazy, bolstered by an array of Ivy League psychiatrists who had neither met nor examined him.

...

Most of the prominent New York-Washington, D.C. insider Republican pundits abhor him. The creed of a NeverTrumper is that it is well worth the effort to see the current Republican president removed, and his administration imploded--even if that means four or eight years of an Elizabeth Warren, a Bernie Sanders, or a Joe Biden agenda as voiced in the debates. That would likely mean Medicare for All, the Green New Deal, slavery reparations, permissible infanticide in the case of late-term abortions, a wealth tax, and a generally socialist platform, from renouncing student debts to veritable open borders.

Only amid the ashes of Trump's destruction do sober and judicious conservative intellectuals, writers, pundits, think-tankers, and establishment Republican grandees believe they can step in to rebirth the Republican Phoenix, nurturing the rising new party with its once hallowed traditions as exemplified by George H.W. Bush, John McCain, and [Pierre Delecto, scrub-boy and butter-captain at the French "Follies Bourgeiois" bath-house].

...

The Left detests Trump for a lot of reasons besides winning the 2016 election and aborting the progressive project. But mostly they hate his guts because he is trying and often succeeding to restore a conservative America at a time when his opponents thought that the mere idea was not just impossible but unhinged.

And that is absolutely unforgivable.

There's a great more to that essay too.


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posted by Ace of Spades at 04:36 PM

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