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Our Suicidal Elites

The French nobility, observed Tocqueville in The Ancien Regime and The Revolution, supported many of the writers whose essays and observations ended up threatening “their own rights and even their existence.” Today we see much the same farce repeated, as the world’s richest people line up behind causes that, in the end, could relieve them of their fortunes, if not their heads. In this sense, they could end up serving, in Lenin’s words, as “useful idiots” in their own destruction.

Although they themselves have benefited enormously from the rise of free markets, liberal protection of property rights, and the meritocratic ideal, many among our most well-heeled men and women, even in the United States, have developed a tendency to embrace policies and cultural norms that undermine their own status. This is made worse by their own imperious behavior, graphically revealed in the mortifying college admissions scandal in the United States, where the Hollywood and business elites cheated, bribed, and falsified records to get their own kids into elite colleges.

At the same time, these same people continue to boost their own share of the world’s wealth, as a recent OECD report reveals, largely at the expense of the middle and working class. The embrace of  inexorable “globalization”—essentially shifting productive work to developing countries—may appeal to the progressive rich even as it, in the words of geographer Christophe Guilluy, “revived the citadels of Medieval France.”

Sometimes the elite policy agenda is justified as part of a “green” agenda that impoverishes the lower and middle classes by expelling basic industries, thereby boosting housing and energy prices. This in turn has set the stage for the kind of peasant rebellions—from Brexit and Trump to the rise of illiberal regimes in eastern Europe as well as the re-emergence of socialism—that threaten their hegemony.

The Gentrification of the Left

In the twentieth century, most business leaders were predictably conservative. Big money aligned with their class allies in the “party of property.” Conservatives in Britain and Canada, Liberals in Australia, Republicans in America, and Gaullists in France all supported—albeit with significant differences—a basic property rights-oriented regime backed by law. Yet, over the last 20 years, the upper classes have adopted environmental and social agendas that are fundamentally at odds with competitive capitalism and the survival of a vibrant middle class.

Today, many traditional left-wing parties are largely financed by the wealthy and supported by the elite classes in Canada and Australia. Large sections of traditionally conservative parties like Angela Merkel’s Christian Democrats, meanwhile, have evolved to embrace the internationalist and green agenda. Only in Britain, ever the eccentric laggard, has old-style class warfare been revived by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party.

In the United States, a clear majority of wealthy donors now support the Democratic Party rather than the traditional corporate party, the Republicans. The vast majority of the ultra-rich foundations—including those funded by the offspring of the Rockefellers and the Fords, whose fortunes were made in fossil fuels—now all tilt to the left, particularly on the environment and cultural issues.

Over the past half century, as was the case in pre-revolutionary France, the elite’s worldview has become increasingly detached from traditional morality. But, while the ruling classes of the industrial era continued to pay lip service to the primacy of the family, many in today’s upper classes have embraced an agenda that has little use for traditional values on anything from sex roles to cultural norms. Increasingly, this is no longer a question of mere tolerance, but an aggressive challenge to the tradition familial culture that once laid the foundation for successful societies.

These pervasive progressive memes are now being adopted by vast corporations. In search of the progressive dollar and appeasement of the Left’s noisy social justice tendency, Gillette has produced ads that attack “toxic masculinity”; similarly culturally PC approaches have been adopted by firms such as Audi, Procter and Gamble, Apple, and Pepsi, with varying degrees of success. Today, employees at Google, Microsoft, and Accenture in Britain are expected to subscribe to the progressive orthodoxy on race and gender; and if they fail to do so, employees fear finding themselves without a job.

When in power, the Left does its best to impose its preferred perspective on the population. Legislatures in seven states, including New York, have passed bills expanding abortion availability into the third trimester. In Colorado, Governor Jared Polis, a tech mogul, is considering legislation to mandate sex education, including information about “healthy” transsexual relationships and bans discussion of gender norms.

The emphasis on cultural issues bestows progressive credibility on ultra-wealthy politicians like Polis or Jay Pritzker, the new Governor of Illinois, or former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg. However, it also widens the gap between the upper classes and those that British author David Goodhart calls “the somewheres”—the old middle and working classes who steadfastly identify with the old values of family, locality, nation state, and even religion. In the United States, allowing biological males to use women’s restrooms is rejected by two-thirds or more of the population. It is likely that even fewer agree that raising children according to their biological sex reflects prejudice or bigotry, as some progressives insist.

Finally, there is the explosive issue of immigration, which has helped produce developments like Brexit, the shift to right-wing populism in Europe and, of course, the presidency of Donald Trump. In the tech world, in particular, there is strong support for a “borderless world,” which some see as a way to import cheap skilled labor as well as an endless supply of nannies, gardeners, hotel staff, and cleaners, all of whom are required to maintain the lifestyles of the upper crust.

The Green Religion  

If our secular elites have a religion, it revolves around the environment. Elements of the old plutocracy remain, such as those old-line energy firms and manufacturers resistant to the orthodox green approach. But the leaders of virtually all the top tech companies—Apple, Google, Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook—work assiduously to identify themselves with what are seen as environmental values. The coffers of environmental groups, including the Sierra Club, receive huge donations, often as high as $100 million, from wealthy moguls like Ted Turner, Michael Bloomberg, and Richard Branson.

As in the Middle Ages, environmental activism has adopted an apocalyptic tone; when President Obama was elected, NASA’s James Hansen, one of the icons of the climate change movement, opined that the new Chief Executive had just “four years to save the earth.” In 2008, ABC claimed that Manhattan would be “underwater” by 2015, and such claims are routinely accepted in media, academic, and political circles without much skepticism. Like the Medieval church, the acolytes of this movement have little patience for rational debate; those—including one of the founders of Greenpeace and former members of the UN International Panel on Climate Change—who have raised objections to the current direction of climate advocacy find themselves demonized and marginalized.

Climate change is a problem in need of solutions, but the approaches favored by the super-wealthy expose their hypocrisy and may yet lead to unforeseen assaults on their own wealth. Like Medieval aristocrats, our oligarchs have created special dispensations for their own behavior while insisting everyone else follow the green injunctions. Because they want to encourage everyone else to cut back, they fight the climate fight in style but not in substance; as the Guardian recently noted, they travel to Davos in an estimated 1500 GHG-spewing private jets.

Nevertheless, there are grave political risks here, which the well-placed do not appear to have noticed. Wherever conventional green policies have been imposed—in Britain, Canada, Australia, or the United States—the result has been skyrocketing house and energy prices. In California, arguably the global center for climate alarmism, green policies have helped raise energy and housing prices to unaffordable levels, creating the highest poverty rates in the country. This has occurred even though per capita emissions reductions were less than those of 39 other states. California has also exported greenhouse gas emissions, most famously by manufacturing in coal-heavy china, thereby reducing its own carbon footprint, but not that of the world.

In America and elsewhere, these double-standards threaten to stir up a rebellion from the classes that depend on cheap, reliable energy and cannot afford expensive urban homes. Even  higher income countries might be reluctant to further burden their already beleaguered middle and working classes just because the “clean rich” demand it, as Emmanuel Macron has discovered in France, with the rise of the “yellow vest” movement. Functioning democracies naturally have a hard time purposely reducing the quality of life of those who vote.

Off with Their Heads?

Ceaseless green agitation among the new generation has the potential to bring about even more lethal results. As the movement’s ideology of imminent apocalypse grows, a fundamentalism has developed, in some ways reminiscent of the grassroots religious movements that threatened Medieval Catholicism. After all, if we are on the verge of a global apocalypse, how can anyone justify the luxurious lifestyle embraced by so many of the world’s most public green advocates, from Prince Charles and Richard Branson to Leonardo di Caprio and Al Gore?

Over time, elites may discover that their green political pets have become untameable. Like the Communist Party in China during the 1960s, the wealthy purveyors of green hysteria seem to be creating a cult that could end up threatening their own interests. In Europe and the United States, legions of child activists, some as young as 14, are pushing for radical solutions to climate issues that could have catastrophic economic consequences. European groups such as YouthStrike4Climate and Extinction Rebellion are being encouraged by zealots like the Guardian’s George Monbiot to wage a resistance campaign against anything seen as harmful to the environment

In America, the Green New Deal proposed by Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez would spell the end of many industries, such as aerospace and fossil fuel energy, with the government picking up the cost of employing displaced workers, and even those who cannot be bothered to work. Unlike gentrified progressives, Cortez and her allies are not detained by distinctions between “good” billionaires and “bad” ones—they don’t believe billionaires should exist at all. In this respect, they reflect the notion endorsed by Barry Commoner, one of the founding fathers of modern environmentalism, that “capitalism is the earth’s number one enemy.”

The mixing of environmentalism and socialism may yet become a mortal threat to the current oligarchy. In the American plutocrat-funded Democratic Party, there is more support for socialism than for capitalism. There’s even a growing socialist movement among tech employees in Silicon Valley, much of it skeptical of democratic or constitutional norms such as the electoral college or the separation of powers. Some, like the New Yorker’s Benjamin Wallace-Wells, suggest that constitutional democracy as we know it—the very thing that brought modern elites into existence—may soon be impractical to meet the challenge.

As the 2020 campaign has got underway, most of the Democratic Party’s presidential candidates have embraced policies that call for an ever-expanded welfare state. To be sure, the oligarchs may feel that these policies will be paid for largely by the beleaguered middle class. But, over time, fiscal logic suggests that the ultra-rich will discover that they too are expected to pay their “fair share.” Backing the party of the “people” means something different when that party lurches towards socialism; Amazon’s Jeff Bezos might consider his pet newspaper, the Washington Post, to be a beacon of the “resistance,” but that did not stop his putative allies from driving his expansion plans in New York City into the proverbial gutter.

At the same time, the elite classes must deal with a potential revolution from the Right, driven by what Christophe Guilluy describes as “the great escape” of the working class from the economic system embraced by the gentrified Left. But whether the next revolution comes from the Right or the Left, our elites, like their eighteenth century counterparts, could belatedly awaken to find themselves faced with an existential threat. If this is indeed what comes to pass, it will largely be due to the folly of their own lack of respect for the values and the system responsible for creating their wealth in the first place.

 

Joel Kotkin is a Presidential Fellow in Urban Futures at Chapman University and Executive Director for the Center for Opportunity Urbanism. His next book, On the Return of Feudalism, will be out early next year from St. Martin’s.

167 Comments

  1. Our overarching problem is the lack of a realistic understanding of socio-political reality, owing to the social sciences, in overreaction to Nazi social Darwinism, having trapped themselves in a pre-Darwinian dark age.

    Our understanding of socio-political reality is on a par with medieval understanding of astronomy, physics, geology, chemistry, medicine, and all the other natural sciences.

    Of course, no social scientist is going to admit this, even to themselves, but this is the reality of our situation, which, as a consequence, is dire.

    https://twitter.com/rogerahicks/status/1122416081237434368

    • Dan Warren says

      I think yhe author is confused as to who the ‘Elites’ are.

      The Clintons are wortb a few hundred million $$$$, for instance, yet, they NEVER worked any appreciable time outside of ‘government service’.

      They never created a business that produced a product or servicd that peope were freely willing to spend their own mpney on. Rather, the Clintons gathered their massive wealth by selling the American People’s interest for HUGE $$$$ to foreign interests, as well as domestic. This is the obvious reason Hilary communicated over her own private server with emails, because she needed to hide the negotiations in selling her ability to control government actions, such as the sale of American urznium to Russia, which netted the Cli tons around 150 million $$$$

      Haryy Reid is one of the wealthiest men in Nevada, yet has never worked outside of govt. Jobs.

      Now, it comes to light that Joe Biden and John Kerry worksd deals for their sons to earn many, many millions by selling KSY American tech compnies to the Chinese….military technology.

      Big Tech billionaires may be elites, but, at least they earned the money, rather than stealing it from the American People by selling their onterests out to foreign govts, some of them enemies.

      This is ecactly why Hilary destroyed 33,000 emaols which were under court supeone, and smashed numerous communication devices….to hide the evidence of the Clintons corruption.

      It looks like Biden is right up there with the Clintons in Pay to Play thievery.

      • Terrence Oedipus says

        Yep! We are drowning, and this guy describes the water for us. He’s not wrong, only nothing new.

        MY GOD what terrible writing–stylistically disjointed, turgid, rife with errors. It flows like a bucket of screws. If one removed all forms of the verb “to be,” this article would shrink to three paragraphs.

        • Al R says

          Please provide links to writing that’s “new” and meets your literary standards.

    • Ryan McDaniel says

      We are in a soft civil war. But this IS NOT about “right or left”. This is a class war and they will use every distraction possible.

      • Ian MacKenzie says

        Nothing will change until it becomes a hard war.

  2. cacambo says

    I used to think that SJWs were just confused sophomores at Ivy League universities; now I can tell my friends that they are actually pulling the strings in the Fortune 500. Thanks Quillette!

  3. Chip says

    Ironically, Kotkin uses a Marxist framework to imagine a mythical class divide that is defined by wealth.

    There is no such divide in America today. For every billionaire Democrat, there is a billionaire Republican. The current Republican Senate gifted the plutocrat class with a trillion dollar tax cut.

    The divide in America is cultural, not economic. Kotkin admits as much by focusing his ire on the cultural and social components of the “Left” and concocts a bizarre theory whereby the wealthy are unaware of where their financial interest lies.

    • Newell Hamilton says

      Very well put. I struggled to put my finger on the distortion inherent in the piece and couldn’t quite do it. Thank you!

    • Shawn T says

      I read it more as activist wealth. Your concept of a “gifted…trillion dollar tax cut” is valid when looking raw dollars, but not percentages. $900 is a small number compared to $10,0000,000, but 35% is significantly larger than 10%. The irritation for some is they want “their share” of the $10 million. This is the root of the problem. Half of our population pays no tax, yet many of them are convinced they are entitled to more from those who do. That entitlement is expressed in the form of government confiscation and control. This is the point where the activist wealthy (as you correctly point out, on both sides) jump in. The progressive side is just more activist in environmentalist/socialist ways – demanding more and more from government. They truly believe they will be richer for it running tech for the green new world. The conservative activists, for profiteering reasons of their own, want less intrusion from government. Profit motivates them all, but I personally prefer a lot less central government. The problem with more and more central power is that power is increasingly influenced by the half of the population with no skin in the game. At some point, the numbers will allow complete concentration of power in our government and that is where the author ends up with his French connection. It will take everything from the wealthy, the rich, the almost rich and everyone not pulling a check from Uncle Sam. The environmental death-cult they are now building around a 12 year doomsday will be leading the charge – culture as a result of economics.

      • Pierre Pendre says

        “They truly believe they will be richer for it running tech for the green new world.”

        What they forget is that the green new world will not need or be able to afford much tech the way AOC and her GND see it. It will barely need 80s era computers and won’t have the electricity to run them on anyway.

        It’s not true that half the population (anywhere in the West) does not pay tax. They don’t pay income tax but they do pay indirect taxes which in Europe (VAT, fuel, tobacco and alcohol duties) are onerous.The Yellow Vests’ revolt in France was prompted in part by the government’s attempt to make them pay more of the taxes for which they are liable.

      • Joe Napoli says

        Without the wealth generating class you have no wealth redistribution ie, any Socialist nation. Socialists know this and that is their goal, to control everybody until things get so bad they have to flee the country with the personal wealth they have accumulated with everything left behind in shambles. Look at AOC, a complete moron with a large following. How do you think it ends when she and her like morons truly controlled anything. Thank God I will no be around to see it.

    • Peter from Oz says

      In fact for every Democrat billionaire there are ten Republican ones. The elite is vastly right wing. Kotkin’s article falls down on this poit. He starts by saying that some billionaires are left-wing and from then on spins that into all the elites being left wing. It simply isnt so.
      Brexit and Trump were upper middle class victories not peasant vitories. If the Telegraoph and the Spectator are both strong supporters of Brexit, then you know that the real toofs do too.

      • Jayden Lewis says

        Indoctrinated slaves on the democrat plantation have trouble absorbing facts that contradict what their masters have told them.

      • Jim Matlock says

        Somewhere there’s got to be statistics on the ratio of left-wing vs. right-wing ultra-rich benefactors of political causes. My guess is that Kotkin is pretty close to the truth here. Even the Koch Brothers are more libertarian than conservative in their giving, supporting as they do gay rights and liberal immigration policies. And they don’t give nearly as much as, say George Soros or Tom Steyer. And when one looks at which side gets the bulk of the support handed out by the likes of the Ford or Rockefeller Foundations, the vast majority it their money goes to the left side of the argument, and has been going that way for generations.

        • Linda Leighter says

          Back in the 80’s Bill Gates was a REPUBLICAN

      • Jay Salhi says

        “In fact for every Democrat billionaire there are ten Republican ones. The elite is vastly right wing.”

        ???? At least among the billionaires who have a public profile, they tilt heavily to the left. And the elite is not limited to billionaires. Silicon Valley, the media, the entertainment industry, academia all heavily left. Corporate America has moved left too.

        • Orson Olson says

          Yes billionaires went Left by a 20 to 1 ratio in 2016.

      • Anmieok says

        I don’t care how rich people are. I care whether they are using their billions to buy government policies. This is the danger of today’s elites. They are becoming a shadow government which is designed to increase their own wealth and power. Very dangerous. The FANG industries , plus Microsoft, need to be de-fanged.

      • Toni Pereira says

        Middle class victories,you say?You are definitely Nobel prize material….

      • jim croft says

        the first sentence is false…..

      • Nick says

        No, not quite….”right-wing” neoliberals are just economic liberals (“free market” ideologues) that put social liberalism in the back seat…..

      • rwf1 says

        Look at the political donations to both parties for the last 50 years and you will have no doubt that the Democrats now have more big money contributors.
        Except the 2 Obama cycles Republicans raise way more from small donors than Democrats.
        Counter intuitive, but true..

    • Manges, Jr. Martin C. says

      How do you explain that Jews provide over half the funding for the Democrat party?

      • Kencathedrus says

        @Manges: Maybe Democrat values align with those of Jewish people.

    • lydia says

      The mistake is using a republican/democrat dichotomy. That is basically a ruse that has kept the peasants in line. The divide is an elite ruling class (and their useful idiot lemmings) VS the average nobody American. I think more and more people are starting to see through it.

      It’s also globalists (many so-called Republican billionaires are globalists) vs those who believe in a sovereign Nation with borders and LEGAL immigration.

    • EK says

      Since the first settler arrived at Jamestown in 1607, the US has always had two obvious and widely recognized social and economic classes; the gentlemen of trade and the professions who work with their minds and the rest of the citizenry who work with their hands. But until recently they both shared the same culture and their relationship was consciously symbiotic. That has changed.

      Presently, the Ds and Rs are only two factions of the governing oligarchy. They don’t represent different classes, they represent different factions of the same class of gentlemen of trade and the professions. But the relationship between the gentlemen and the working class became parasitic after 1972 and is now cultural as well.

      In the US, about 25% of the electorate identify as Republicans and about 30% as Democrats. The plurality, about 40%, are unaligned or independent and they have been unrepresented since at least 1990. Trump shook the foundations of the duopoly but it appears the duopoly has been successful in preventing him from effectively representing the unaligned electorate.

    • Gary Hemminger says

      I agree with Kotkin. I live in Silicon Valley (and have my whole life). Went to Berkeley and Stanford and was a democrat my whole life. The democrats have simply gone coockoo. The elites are out of control behind gated castles while calling for no borders so they can hire all of the gardeners they need.

    • Orson Olson says

      I guess “Chip” missed the fact that the billionaire class supported Democrats Hillary against the insurgent TR mo by 20 to 1 ratio.

      • James Lee says

        Hillary Clinton was the quintessential Davos candidate…. although the Davos set would have been perfectly happy with Jeb Bush or Mitt Romney.

    • Peter B says

      There are not an equal number of billionaire Democrats and Republicans. This is demonstrably not true, there are 3-4 times more Republican-contributing billionaires than Democrat-contributing billionaires. And most of the Democrat-contributing billionaires are total liars about what they want from the party.

      The divide is definitely economic. Economics is at the heart of all divides.

        • Peter B says

          I do yes. Using your own link, please scroll back to any year prior to 2018.

          The movement of billionaires towards Democratic Party is extremely recent and probably short-lived.

          The fact that a billionaire donated to the Democratic Party also does not make them a part of the Progressive Wing of the Democratic Party. As I said, all of those recently converted billionaire donors to the Democrats are basically libertarians who find Trump detestable. Michael Bloomberg, Mark Zuckerberg, Jeff Bezos, Bill Gates, Tom Steyer, George Soro etc. are all libertarians. They are all economic conservatives who are liberal on social issues (a.k.a. libertarians).

          And even with a once in a lifetime situation like Donald Trump it was still basically a 50/50 split in 2018.

          • None of those you listed are libertarian. Mark Zuckerberg has asked the government to regulate him. Bloomberg is an authoritarian who loves the drug wars and hates guns (and doesn’t seem overly fond of the 1A either). The same can be said for Bezos and Steyers. In fact every one the opposite of libertarians.

        • Peter B says

          Not to mention individual contributions do not begin to capture the amount of dark money corporate America funnels through 501 (c) 4 organizations, the conservative media machine/think tanks (since their plants on the Supreme Court delivered Citizens United to them on a platter) and other sources to support people like Donald Trump.

          Mostly it is the same billionaires making the decisions to do that.

    • S. Barnett says

      Indeed – the Marxist tilt is betrayed in the 3rd paragraph, “…these same people continue to boost their own share of the world’s wealth, as a recent OECD report reveals, largely at the expense of the middle and working class.” This implies that wealth is fixed, and one person’s gain must be another’s loss.

  4. E. Olson says

    Lefties just don’t understand human nature or economics, which is why they always fail when put in charge. Redistribution programs already account for 2/3 of the US Federal budget, and the Democrats are falling all over themselves to expand the gravy train with free medical, free college, and universal basic income. Then they want everyone to drive electric cars, and power their homes and businesses with “emission-free” renewables, but virtually nobody buys these “green” products unless they are very heavily subsidized by government. In other words, the Left wants to spend a lot more of other people’s money than they already do, but where is the money to come from?

    Virtually every policy of the Left reduces profits and income from which tax revenues are derived.
    Businesses are mandated to use expensive renewable energy, pay sky high minimum wages, provide their employees “free medical” insurance, and comply with a huge array of regulations dealing with health, safety, emissions, “equity and fairness” that kill profits and hence reduce taxes paid. The Left’s desire to shut down/discourage the fossil fuel industry will also reduce the huge amount of taxes and royalties paid by the energy industry, not to mention reducing the amount of income taxes paid by their many well paid employees. The Left also advocates soaking the rich with high taxes, but rich Lefties such as Bill Gates and Warren Buffet do everything they can to minimize their taxes and have created huge trusts to avoid giving Uncle Sam any estate tax revenue when they are dead. Europe forces the lower and middle classes to pay huge taxes, but the French government is finding out that heavy taxation on the middle/lower class has exceeded the bearable limit and are facing huge protests and expulsion from office even as deficits increase further. Leftist policies that favor open borders displace tax paying citizens with “off-the-books” illegals who don’t pay taxes, but often get welfare/humanitarian benefits from free schools to food stamps.

    Virtually every Western country is suffering from from huge government budget deficits, and Leftist discouragement and disparagement of traditional family values is also collapsing the fertility rates so that fewer young people are increasingly being asked to support generous Leftist enacted welfare to the growing number of elderly and illegals. Economic growth and increased fertility (especially among the cognitive elite) are the only way to solve these problems, which will require gutting the welfare state, maintaining borders, deregulating industry, and encouraging cheap energy, which are exactly the opposite of Leftist policy prescriptions everywhere.

    • Kevin Herman says

      I’ve said it plenty of times before the things that make the USA and the west great are the things progressives hate.

      • E. Olson says

        Kevin – I agree, but why don’t they move somewhere more compatible with their values? There are so many choices for the Leftist minded who like big, expensive, obtrusive government involvement in everything, and small carbon footprints for everyone. Just to name a few, Syria, N. Korea, Venezuela, Cuba would eagerly welcome West hating Leftists, or if they want a small project they could move to Russia and China to help bring back real Socialism.

        • Lydia says

          EOlson, because it is their “religion” to shame and control other people. It gives their life meaning. They are the postmodern version of the sin sniffing Puritans

    • Gordon S. says

      Oh, if only the leftists weren’t around and the good right wing capitalists could run the world properly. We’d be living in polluted cities, drinking dirty water, working for 5$ an hour, dying of cancers from chemical spills, working 12 hours a day, driving cars that had not safety features. But we’d be happy because we would know that at least there were no pesky controls to open and free markets and that people who had money to invest wouldn’t be hindered by small things like ethics and morals.

      • Jay Salhi says

        Capitalist countries are the only ones that have the luxury of even being able to care about the environment.

      • E. Olson says

        Gordon – Thank you for pointing out the error of my comment. We should all be so fortunate as to live in socialist environmental paradises such as the former USSR and Eastern Block – those 2 stroke Trabants that flooded across from E. Germany to W. Germany when the wall came down really shamed the west with their clean exhaust, luxurious accommodations, and fabulous safety features compared to contemporary BMWs and Mercedes. And of course modern day Venezuela, Cuba, N. Korea, and Nigeria are well noted for not only the luxurious lifestyles they afford all their citizens, but also their stellar natural beauty of their untouched by evil capitalist nature. No wonder all those people are continually trying to cross from the Florida Keys to Cuba, or from South Korea to North Korea.

        • Lydia says

          Olson, I was just thinking the exact same thing and wondering if Gordon gets out much? Perhaps sometime in one of those countries would cure him of his ignorance?

          • The fact is, is that people want clean air and water, capitalist give the customer what they want. Case in point, if you look at air pollution and water pollution, both were dropping dramatically before the clean air and clean water act. Look at the reduction in GHG emissions in the USA (sharp declines despite us leaving the Paris Accord, greater drops than most of the signatories). This was brought about because natural gas is cheaper than coal so electric companies went with the cheaper and far cleaner option. Same with increases in gas milage in mid-size automobiles. It wasn’t CAFE standards, which most trucks and SUV are exempt from, but increasing gas mileage and customers demanding it. We grow far more food, with far less imports, for cheaper and on far less land, and the Green revolution that gave us this growth in agriculture was primarily driven by the private industries. I am an agriculture professor working directly with farmers and ranchers, and they quite often are ahead of the public university in exploring new ways to produce with less inputs (which saves then money and is good for the environment). I was talking to a farmer-rancher today and he is thinking of taking productive crop land out of rotation and returning it to grass land to graze because wheat prices are so low (not that cattle prices are great but pasture requires less input then crop land). Making a profit is his primary concern but it benefits the environment. You look at the environmental records of socialist and Communist countries vs capitalist countries, who had cleaner air and water?

        • Philip J. Crowley says

          An excellent retort, E. Olsen.

      • dollops says

        Capitalism has never been about delivering degraded living conditions – just the opposite, in fact. The sulphur-spewing industries of my youth enriched our society as no precautionary regulations would allow today. Was it coincidence that we “boomers” have lived better and longer lives than pre-industrial people did? Only after the wealth was created by capitalism was it possible to clean up the “broken eggs” that resulted in that wealth. Humans are always at the threshold of new ages of accomplishment, propelled by capitalism and held back by interfering government.

      • Orson Olson says

        Let me call out “Gordon S “on his histrionic lie: air ab water quality in the 1960scwas getting better, show. Well before Nixon face us the EPA. But In an environmental scientist; what would I know?

    • Joan says

      E. Olson, your post is a better analysis than the article by Joel Kotkin. Labor in Britain is not re-enervating class war: it has thrown in with the globalist against the working class in its support of vast immigration and the totalitarian EU. Eastern Europe has not become illiberal: it is merely looking out for its constituency: the citizens. Kotkin shows no insight into why 23 of 28 governments in Europe have shifted right. You lay out a far better grasp of the forces at work in the pushback that is occurring against the elites.
      Quillette should ask you to submit for publication.

      • E. Olson says

        Thank you for the kind comments Joan, and you are correct that Europe is shifting to the Right, although the European Right often seems pretty Leftist from the US perspective.

  5. Jean Levant says

    Very good article, Joel. Thanks.
    I quote this : “Over the past half century, as was the case in pre-revolutionary France, the elite’s worldview has become increasingly detached from traditional morality. But, while the ruling classes of the industrial era continued to pay lip service to the primacy of the family, many in today’s upper classes have embraced an agenda that has little use for traditional values on anything from sex roles to cultural norms. Increasingly, this is no longer a question of mere tolerance, but an aggressive challenge to the tradition familial culture that once laid the foundation for successful societies” whic is a great sum-up of the current situation.

    I have just a little of reservation on this : “Climate change is a problem in need of solutions”. I would rephrase it as : climate change is a solution in need of problems.

    Today, we have the most irrational elite that ever ruled in any time. And the most presumptuous with its own certitude to be the enlightened one. It’s its main cracks. We have to dig in again and again, as you did.

    • Stephanie says

      I agree, Jean. I like Maxime Bernier’s new People’s Party of Canada position on the climate change issue: do absolutely nothing.

      • Jean Levant says

        Not a bad choice in this regard, Stephanie. As we say in my neck of the woods : “The most uneasy thing to do is often to do nothing”.

    • Lydia says

      “we have the most irrational elite that ever ruled in any time”

      That deserves to be repeated. I know this is hyperbole but I often think of the Khmer rouge. That’s what it can be like when the irrational are in control. And silicon valley billionaires are basically stinking Rich thought police.

    • Charlie says

      Basically the wealthy has become degenerate. Ibn Khaldun, one of the greatest sociologists and historians, noted the difference between the beduin and those who live protected by walls and garrisons. Those who lived protected lost their uprightness and manliness. Recent research comparing the skeletons of women who lived in the countryside and those who lived in towns ) from the Middle Ages York I think ) found the rural dwellers had thicker skeletons. Once a ruling class is no longer trained for warfare or lives an arduous life style, it will become effete, degenerate and frivolous.

      Coubertin’s ideas for the Olympics came from examining the robustness of the British public school system of the 19th century ‘s insistence on Corinthian ideals compared to the idleness of the French upper classes. Up to the early 1960s and especially pre WW2 , the British public school system of cold baths, boxing, rugby, rowing, cricket, cross country runs, squash, living in buildings with little heating produced hardy individuals. Prior to the 1830s, the main sport of British gentlemen, were bare knuckle boxing, swimming in cold water, cricket and hunting. The poets Shelley, Byron and R Graves all boxed at school. Hunting being good training for cavalry officers. If one examines the biographies of those officers who officers who were known for their toughness in WW2 , their childhoods are full of tough sports; boxing usually being the common denominator- D Bader, P Leigh Fermour, P Blair Mayne Mayne, Corran Purdon.

      Until the 1840s, in Britain, thegentry would visit the local inns in the evening for a drink and be more than capable and willing to have a fight to defend his honour. A Bryant and G M Trevelyan , both great social historians have pointed out that up to the 1840s, the mixing of all classes, created bonds of respect. However, as society became urban and money was made from commerce not land or industry, the rich stopped mingling with those not from their class. In 1800, the son of the squire would have boxed with the blacksmith’s son and played cricket with the whole village, squire and parson taking part as well. Those wishing to go to sea would have become midshipmen at the age of 12-14 years . Many regiments were recruited from an area , so any cowardice by the sons of the gentry would have dishonoured the family. The gentry would have preferred to have a dead son who died bravely, than a live coward. By 1900, the son of the banker/stockbroker/wealthy lawyer lived in a large house and had no contact the children of the poor. The Forsyte Saga By Galsworthy describes the lifestyle of the upper middle class mercantile family. We now have a wealthy effete class whose only interaction with those poorer than then them are those who protect and serve them.

      When a man can stand and fight he can mix freely and on equal terms with others of all types. A wealthy man who is effete and cannot fight will usually feel inferior and appear nervous in the presence of physically tough men from poorer backgrounds. In the TV documentary This is Your Life , Douglas Bader, the WW2 fighter ace was great friends with Alan Minter and Henry Cooper, professional boxers.

      Ibn Khaldun was writing in 1400s, by which time the arabs had become effete and degenerate and were being ruled by the Turks, Tatars and other Muslims. Prior to the rule by Turks and Tatars , Ibn Khaldun had noted that by the arabs had lost power to the Persian Muslims.

      A major aspect of debate on cultural issues is the poor grasp of history. Gibbon, A Toynbee, C Northcote Parkinson, Ibn Khaldun, John Glubb plus others have all studied the rise and fall of civilisations from the beginning of history. All state that once a ruling class lose their vitality, courage and initiative stasis develops followed by frivolity, decadence and decline leading to conquest by the more dynamic. The conquest of Greece, Rome, Arabic Civilisation, Northern India by Muslim Tatars and China by Mongols are well known examples of wealthy and cultured civilisations being conquered by the more dynamic. Why should the poorer elements of society fight and die to protect the wealthy, if they are not prepared to fight to protect themselves?

      The similarities between western civilisation and Rome post AD 300 are rather alarming.

  6. Closed Range says

    The comparison with the French aristocracy is a salient one, and is well founded. Watching world leaders fawn over Greta Thunberg leads me deeply saddened at how smart people delude and debase themselves.

  7. Jackson Howard says

    What I see is a former meritocratic elite that has spent so long being subsidized by low taxes, free money and bailouts that they are turning into a de facto aristocracy.

    What is going on is simple : an alliance of the uber-rich with the left. Advocacy and donation to progressive causes against not touching their privileges. This is indulgence buying in a nutshell.

    Open border and refugee welcome policies are great to depress wages. Funilly enough, the traditional immigration protection was a left thing in the past, while nature conservation was more of a conservative agenda. It’s all mixed up, the people are all dug in a nice identity trench war while the flyover aristocracy is enjoying brioche.

    This is all blowing up nicely with Trump, Brexit, five star and the yellow vests.

    • James Lee says

      @Jackson,

      Yup- immigration restrictionism had long been a leftwing/progressive issue, until about 5 minutes ago. Peter Beinart of the Atlantic has a nice summary, as does American Affairs

      https://americanaffairsjournal.org/2018/11/the-left-case-against-open-borders/

      Labor leaders and heroes of the left, like Cesar Chavez, were strongly opposed to illegal and mass legal immigration, for the simple reason that significant immigration undercuts domestic workers of the same skill class. The robber barons were notoriously in favor of mass immigration, and they repeatedly used immigrant groups to break strikes in their quest to keep wages down.

      Evolutionary anthropologist Peter Turchin’s book Age of Discord is excellent on this issue.

      The current elite mania for open borders fits right in with the robber barons, with the exception being that the barons didn’t perceive their stance as being so spiritually and morally superior. In fact, they got on board with immigration restriction in the 1920s following a wave of political violence and assassination, often coming from eastern european socialists and italian anarchists.

      Ironically, American elites’ support for mass immigration of predominantly low skilled workers from Central America directly undercuts the wages and benefits of low skilled black and Hispanic American citizens.

      Just remember, if you speak a word in favor of immigration restrictionism, you are a racist bigot.

      • GrumpyBear says

        Old-school industrialists had another reason to get on board with immigration restriction – they were supporting immigration of people who, once voting, would be against them. It’s the opposite for today’s woke-elite – for them it’s a win/win of low-cost labor and political power.

    • Stephanie says

      Jackson, indulgence-buying for some, I’m sure, but this situation also reminds me of the many sons of the merchant class in Russia that supported socialist revolution. There are many in the upper class whose lives have been relatively easy, whose parents’ affluence and high IQ meant they could breeze in and out of elite universities and into well-paying jobs in Silicon Valley.

      Disconnected from the values that lead to success, or imagining themselves so superior that others couldn’t possibly survive in a meritocratic society, do they toy with fashionable ideologies? It would be nice for someone to explore the psychology of these people.

      • Thomas Zabiega says

        Stephanie, Communism as defined by Marx requires a smart elite leading the stupid masses to get to the dictatorship of the proletariat led by those elites. That is why they hand pick their elitist candidates like Clinton or Biden while the “stupid” proletariat chose Trump instead.

  8. Jim Gorman says

    “In America and elsewhere, these double-standards threaten to stir up a rebellion from the classes that depend on cheap, reliable energy and cannot afford expensive urban homes.”

    It is more than just cheap energy. Where do these folks think resins and plastics come from? Crude oil is refined with the most volatile products taken off first, gasoline, diesel oil, jet fuel, etc. These products pay for the searching, drilling, extraction, and delivery. If their burning is banned, they will become products that must be reinserted back into the ground without providing any revenue whatsoever. Do you know what plastics and resins (for fiberglass cars and boats) will cost? The rich won’t even be able to buy them because the cost to produce them will simply be prohibitive. You want dri-fit clothes or yoga pants, forget it, lol.

    What will we end up with? King Cotton, King Wool, King Hemp, King Steel, King Aluminum.

    Sounds like the Hunger Games is in our forecast!

    • E. Olson says

      Jim – then they will just need to buy yoga pants made from organic cotton and recycled wool (because we also won’t be able to have sheep because they also fart).

      • Jim Gorman says

        But those don’t stretch and show your bum off (along with other things).

        • E. Olson says

          I am not sure they will want to show off their bums when there are also no plastic bum implants.

  9. Etiamsi omnes says

    Excellent essay, and a nice change from others, lately on Quillette, that had a nearly crypto-evangelistic ring to them.

  10. Ryszard Legutko, Polish member of E.U. parliament, pretty well highlights the political though processes behind these problems — which can arise in liberal democracies everywhere, not just the USA. Quillette readers who find articles like this of interest, would be well served to read his recent book “The Demon in Democracy – Totalitarian Temptations in Free Societies. “

    • James Lee says

      @Mark

      In my opinion, The Demon in Democracy and Why Liberalism Failed by Patrick Deneen are two of the most important books in recent years.

  11. Stuart Cadenhead says

    “In 2008, ABC claimed that Manhattan would be “underwater” by 2015,”

    I followed the link. I cannot find the claim.

  12. codadmin says

    If violent revolution did happen, the balkanised masses would turn on each other before they turned on the ‘elites’.

    The global ‘elites’ have never been so secure in all of history.

    • James Lee says

      @codadmin

      Are you suggesting that this elite plan to massively import predominantly low skilled workers from the 3rd world to the West, a plan which will almost surely create friction and lower overall trust and social capital (Robert Putnams research), not to mention spark future financial crises (not enough taxpayers, too many tax users) — that this plan might be somehow related to power and control over Western populations, using the age old technique of Divide and Conquer?

      Sure, many of our political officials, activists err I mean “journalists”, technocrats, and bureaucrats are simply useful idiots who parrot the basics of the new Intersectional dogma, but how dare you suggest that people with hundreds of billions of dollars actually have plans and agendas, and that these plans and agendas might be diametrically opposed to the interests of their fellow citizens?

      Next, you will be telling me that they sometimes even plan together without telling the public?!?!

      This is such crazy tinfoil hat conspiracy talk, I bid you good day, sir 😉

      • James Lee says

        Sorry codadmin for my histrionics…

        I get frustrated with many of our pundits and thinkers who may be well meaning but are so afraid of the label “conspiracy theorist” that they throw common sense out the window.

        Key Western elites and many of the NGOs, think tanks, and politicians they bankroll have been supporting policies of mass immigration of mostly unskilled and uneducated workers from the 3rd world, despite widespread public opposition and obvious facts such as:

        1) The advanced economies of the West don’t have enough jobs for their own low skilled citizens, as the globalist elites shipped most of those jobs overseas. The left used to protest this….

        2) Automation promises to kill the bulk of such jobs still remaining.

        3) Without any unifying structures such as religion, civic traditions, or even just national pride, people from radically different cultural backgrounds are unlikely to assimilate. What would they even assimilate to? On top of that, modern Western society tends to encourage non-assimilation, and the elites (and their narrative creators in the corporate media) spit on nationalism as little more than veiled racism.

        And 4) with a shortage of decent paying jobs for low skilled work, it is obvious that millions of uneducated, unskilled immigrants will end up using far more resources in terms of welfare, health care, housing subsidies etc than they can ever hope to fund with their own tax payments, through no fault of their own.

        So, either billionaire Western elites are shockingly stupid, or they believe that this agenda furthers their personal interests. Given the long standing desire of such Cosmopolitan elites to weaken nationalism and promote trans-national/global institutions, I find the second possibility to be more persuasive. Remember, these are people with houses all over the planet who fly exclusively on private jets as they fund environmental programs to reduce carbon emissions. They are not beholden to any nation.

        • Peter from Oz says

          The irony is that the immigrants will eventually be there in such great numbers that the left will see all its shibboleths cast down by the immigrants. Houelbeque’s Submission isn’t that fanciful.
          And when shariah law is enforced the left will be shocked that they let it happen.

        • Jean Levant says

          “Without any unifying structures such as religion, civic traditions, or even just national pride, people from radically different cultural backgrounds are unlikely to assimilate. What would they even assimilate to?”

          A very good point, James, which I want to highlight. Indeed, it’s one of the elite’s irrational stances that I reported above. Overall, I observe, at least in my country (but I presume on reading other posters that it’s not a lot better elsewhere), that the cultural issue is not only downplayed but quietly dismissed by our elites althought it’s in my view the most important issue at stake. I don’t see members of the establishment as machiavellian (it’s the rarest kind!) so I’m left with the idea they are blind or they are kidding themselves which in both cases is not a mark of great enlightenment (higher IQ is irrelevant when you’re deaf and blind).

        • Lydia says

          James Lee, Excellent comment. Let me add our educational indoctrination system. I am in a position to see what some colleges are doing toward diversity and enrollment. I know quite a few AOC’s.

    • Lydia says

      Code, that is exactly what they want. Who benefits from mass chaos? Who is easier to control? It’s not independent thinking stable middle-class Americans. I got a big kick out of daily callers series on walls. They visited the homes of Elites who are for open borders. They all have massive walls with lots of security.

      It’s all about control of others. For their followers, it seems to be about virtue signaling and moral superiority. Not rational thinking.

  13. Joe says

    This is one of the more bizarre pieces of drivel I’ve read. Of course the wealthy are throwing money behind the Democrats, they’ve ensured that the so-called left is unwilling to do anything to inconvenience them. They get their way no matter who wins elections. The Democrat’s latest celebrity, Mr. Biden, has always been a champion of credit card companies at the expense of consumers.

    The rest of us are allowed to fight over social issues, Wall Street makes the same amount of money no matter who’s allowed to get married or not. The elites have focused their energy on capturing the nation’s economic policies.

    • TarsTarkas says

      Uh, uber-rich Bezos was thwarted by Brain-dead Cortez, or didn’ tyou notice? She and her allies have also gone after other left-billionaires as well. And criticism of her is racist, so the regular Democrats are stuck.

      The reason why the Democrats, NeverTrumpers, and their supporters have gone so crazy over Trump because by trying to bring industry back to the USA, curtailing immigration, and other things that benefit middle-class threatens the political-importer-financial interests running the Democrats, the RINOs, the COC, and Wall Street. They’ve been making money on paper at the expense of the rest of the country, and naturally look down on anything that threatens that cash spigot.

  14. Lightning Rose says

    Very enjoyable article. Fun food for thought.

    First: Few regular people closely follow the “climate” issue. In multiple polls, it ranks at the very bottom of people’s stated concerns. Like “transgenderism,” it gets barrels of media ink, yet impacts very few real people’s lives. Even now the major papers (WSJ!) and news boards are starting to put ironic quotes around “climate change.” The vast majority of us understand that humans don’t control the weather (Do we really think driving a Prius will prevent hurricanes? What kind of weather do we want instead of the weather we have? Cooler? Snow in Florida? They’ve never said).

    Those of us over 40 have seen both warmer and cooler cycles come and go and are harder to convince these mild trends are anything but natural. It’s obvious to us that this is a UN-led, government-subsidized boondoggle benefiting rich folks (subsidized by the others) who get tax breaks for their solar panels and Teslas. Troughers like Al Gore have the most to gain. Anyone with enough math to balance their checkbook can see that renewables can’t work in the absence of some breakthrough technology (think fusion) that’s not anywhere close to market now.
    Hypocrite actors, washed-up singers from the 60’s, grifter politicians and brainwashed children are just the Greek chorus at a silly opera no one’s attending.

    There is NO empirical evidence of ANY environmental “apocalypse” imminent. Quite the contrary.

    Second: It is impossible to go backward, to eliminate the use of every product of fossil fuels that has enabled our modern industrialized and information-based society, including easy affordable travel to all points of the earth, an infinite and affordable choice of foods produced and brought in from absoluely everywhere being the norm, and the very screen-based communications we are enjoying here. I challenge these jackwagons to go live with the Amish for a full month–I seriously doubt they’d make it. Just no cell phones or TV and they’d be barmy in less than a day! What they propose is a NON-STARTER everywhere, and even they realize it. Otherwise why did the Democrats themselves cravenly vote “Present?” This stuff just makes them look STUPID.

    Third: Nice to know I’m a member of a “Peasant Rebellion.” Thanks. Going to refuel my tiki torch now and go sharpen my pitchfork . . . 😉 I’ll get to the tumbrel on the weekend.

    Last Point: The best weapon we have against these clowns is RIDICULE and LOTS of it.

    • K. Dershem says

      LR, it seems like the best weapon you have is CAPITALIZATION and LOTS of it.

  15. All these comments deriding the incoming Terror, when it was the Terror, and the bloody and violent American Revolution, that led to the system they currently advocate: liberal capitalism. They are indistinguishable from the monarchists who hated the Jacobins.

    And should we really apologize for the Terror?

  16. Jonathan Ellman says

    Leftism is certainly a religion or cult. It is driven by the existential need for spiritual security. Environmentalism is its foremost issue because being responsible for the future of life no the planet raises their status to sacred; they are the defenders of all life, of the planet and its entire future.

    You will never win an argument on the details of climate change for reasons stated in the article linked to by Kotkin:

    “One of the best aspects of the movement is “weather is climate until it isn’t”. The acolytes of Climate Change will point out the window in a heat wave and say, “See? We’re right!”

    If a skeptic points out the window during a blizzard, the same acolytes will simply cry “Weather isn’t climate!” It’s a game they can never lose, one in which they are never wrong and always right.” https://medium.com/@hwater84/climate-change-and-the-ten-warning-signs-for-cults-56c181db82c1

    The only way to engage with leftists and environmentalists in particular, is as you would a religious fanatic. At present, maintaining democratic values and free speech is the only defence against them. If we lose this, we are dead. Finally, the EU will be the greatest danger to democracy and free speech over the coming years. Watch this space, in particular its creeping censorship of the Internet. There is the battle ground.

    • Orion Buttigieg says

      Your comment is spot on, particularly the first paragraph that correlates [illusory] our leading elite to ‘planet saviors’ via environmentalism dogma.

  17. Jackson Howard says

    There is NO empirical evidence of ANY environmental “apocalypse” imminent. Quite the contrary.

    You are right. About the imminent.

    Anyone looking at the science papers can see that the crazy alarmist headlines are non sense.
    The end is not going to “end” in 12 years or whatever. What the science is saying is that if we don’t get our act together fast, and slash carbon emission quickly enough thing will get bad to really bad in 2100+ for most places, and earlier for some more sensitive places (aka in the 2060+). There might be slight winners, but most will be losers.

    Funnily enough no one is speaking about what happens after 2100, because the response to the greenhouse gas pulse it will not magically stop at that date. CO2 has a very long lifetime afterall.

    The problem with AGW is that it’s a serious problem that has been used as a left policy carrier. This was a recipe for disaster in terms of identity politics trigger. Facts tend to evaporate once the media gets in the loop. The conservative response to AGW science is pure stupidity. Instead of tacking the science seriously and tackle the left on the nonsense policies while proposing our own, we went down the UN conspiracy Nut road by denying the existance of the issue.

    Speak about flushing the conservative environmental track record down the drain.

    Only problem is, physics cannot be wished away. We will look like fools, and perfect scapegoats at some point. The Davos jetset must be laughing while they use climate advocacy to coat themselves green.

    • V 2.0 says

      Thank you. This is about the best and most sensible comment on here. Fortunately, this problem may solve itself, presumably via a largish extinction of it’s cause. I assume something (even if one celled) will be left and evolution will give it another go.

    • MMS says

      @ Jackson – Excellent Comment. Reality is Reality which knows no political ideology.

      (Having said this, I am not part of the “we” you refer to or anyone elses “we”. I don’t think Quillette was ever intended to represent a “we”

    • Stephanie says

      Jackson, of course climate predictions are not based on simple physics, but on the interplay of innumerable complex feedbacks. There is no reason to think we have those figured out yet, and much reason to think we’re way off. Climate predictions haven’t been successful at even the modest goal of predicting global temperature a few years ahead, they are certainly not capable of predicting the consequences of that warming years ahead.

      The left’s response is a kneejerk “do something,” the right’s response is to first and foremost not jeopardize anything over an improbable outcome, and second to continue to study the phenomenon until it can be demonstrated predictions are accurate. The latter is the more reasonable approach, so best keep on carrying on.

      The Earth has been through a lot and so has life, let’s have enough humility to not assume our cows and cars are going to mess it all up.

    • Jay Salhi says

      An incurable disease is incurable until someone invents a cure. With current technology there is no cure for AGW any time soon. Until new technology comes along, there’s little anyone can do about it. More natural gas, more nuclear, more hydro. Partial solutions, not a cure. And the climate activist crowd hates all of the foregoing. There’s very good reason for concluding that concern about climate change is not actually what motivates the alarmists.

      • E. Olson says

        Good comment Jay. As global warmists live comfortable middle/upper class coastal settings flying around to climate conferences to broadcast coming climate disasters if we don’t “get serious”, yet they almost always say NO to:

        nuclear (too dangerous/expensive)
        hydro (upsets the fishies)
        off-shore wind (clutters their views)
        natural gas (still emits greenhouse gases)
        clean coal (not proven)
        bio-fuels (plows up rainforests, raises food prices).
        fracking (pollutes water, causes earthquakes, and increases supply of fossil fuels)

        The warmists also tend to say NO to individual projects using:

        solar farms (upsets the flora and fauna of solar farm area)
        wind farms (kills birds, requires grid expansion through wilderness areas)

        So basically there are not only no solutions to AGW from an economic or energy physics point of view, but there are no “clean” sources of power that environmentalists won’t seek to block or slow down because of some environmental or personal concerns. If there are no solutions then there is no point in worrying about the problem.

        • Rev. Wazoo! says

          @E Olson
          Though overstated a bit you are essentially right. Their negating of effective solutions makes one feel they don’t really feei an urgent crisis despite myriad protestations. I personally feel fossil fuels are to valuable to burn willy-nilly like burning the furniture or mahagony to cook dinner. Maybe I’m wrong but it frustrates me that whenever I suggest measures to address this ‘crisis’ they’re dismissed.

          I live near France where 50% of electricity is nuclear, fueling our local electric steel mill. I’m personally dubious about nuclear power due to radioactive waste but willing to consider it as a carbon free energy source if we are really in a crisis. Apparently not.

          My preferred fall-back is massive hydro; 50 more Hoover Dam size projects on the Danube and Rhine. But noooooo… That’s when I realise these people don’t believe their own assertions.

        • Roger N Blomquist says

          “BANANA”: build absolutely nothing anywhere near anything.

        • Jay Salhi says

          @ E. Olson

          I disagree about bio-fuels. The greens did originally promote them and this was a bad idea (like just about every faux solution they have ever promoted). The costs outweigh the benefits. Of late, biomass has replaced bio-fuel on the hierarchy of green stupidity. In the 80s these people told us that cutting down trees was the worst thing one could do to the environment. Today, through the magic of green math, burning wood is now carbon neutral and part of the green plan to save the world.

          • DrZ says

            We must level the tropical jungles to plant palm oil trees. If we are going to save the world we must first destroy it by leveling jungles, killing birds and sinking the economies of nations. It’s the only way.

    • Charlie says

      Climate has changed always will. In the Jurassic/Cretaceous, carbon dioxide was 6 to 7 times what it is today. Over the last 600 million years the Earth has tended to have a warm, humid and high carbon dioxide atmosphere, hence massive growth in Carboniferous and Jurassic Cretaceous Periods. The Ice Ages over he last 2.5 millions have been exceptional and which ended about 11600 years ago.. Since the end of the last Ice Age there have been periods warmer than today , 8000 yrs ago, Minoan-3500 yrs ago , Roman 2200 yrs ago and Medieval 1000 yrs ago. England from about 1690 to 1740, the temperature rose at about 3.4 degrees C per century and this was in the Little Ice Age if 1650-1850. The hottest decade in the 20th century was the 1930s, hence the Dust Bowl. We have had satellite temperature data since1978 and all computer models have run very warm, none have predicted stationary temperature of 19998 onwards. The urban heat island effect has caused many thermometers to run warm.

      We cannot mathematically define clouds, which as Freeman Dyson has said we cannot accurately model climate.

      The Sahara has gone from savanna to desert back to savanna and then to desert over the last 18,000 yrs.. The drying out of the Sahara led to human migration to Nile and rise of Egyptian civilisation, similar happened to create Sumer civilisation

  18. Frank Knarf says

    Ah, for the days when women knew their place, coal smoke scented the evening air, gays were closeted, abortion was illegal and machine guns legal. Careful, dude, you’ll use up all your straw and have none left for the coming election cycle.

    • Peter from Oz says

      Frank
      It seems you have cornered the market on straw here, old son. The old canard that somehow conservative values were all about keeping people down is just silly. COnservatism is about using tradition to allow individuals to flourish, without too much government interference.
      Other than the criminilisation of buggery, none of the above had any political inout at all. They were all social taboos or mores. Such things can change without invalidating traditions and customs that conservatives hold dear.
      What modern conservatives decry is the fact that with identity politics the goalposts of what constitutes ”equality” are continually being moved. We also object to the fact that the political and social debate is being dominated by minority concerns and other issues that all press for government to become more powerful.

      • Exactly, conservatives measure equality oby opportunity and progressives measure equality by outcomes. More women then men are attending university, graduating with bachelor’s, masters and doctorates then males, yet because there are fewer women in a few fields (so called STEM but the tend to not look at life and biological sciences which women dominate) the system must be rigged against women.
        A town is majority African American, but the fact that the majority of traffic stops are African American is evidence of racism, even if it is a smaller percentage then the population of aforesaid town.

  19. Peter Whitaker says

    Climate denial is a trap and will be sprung regardless of whether AGW really exists. The right-wing position should be that geoengineering obviates the need for climate austerity. We can say we prefer active measures over passive autogenocide.

  20. lloydr56 says

    I agree with Chip that for the most part, capitalists can take care of their interests just fine. Global corporations want open borders, whether their managers identify as left or right. Everyone likes the “gloss” of being great humanitarians. The deeper point, though, is that progressives are exploring a domain where it is allowed, or even expected or encouraged, to insist on policy proposals that are evidence free. Some time ago entrepreneurs became heroes for discovering something about nature–something that can make human life more comfortable. It took hard work and discipline to learn the ways in which nature can be “conquered,” and it was no surprise that the blue collar work at the working end of the shovel was hard, grimy, and dangerous. Now there is a sense that intellectuals should be praised for being creative, and for showing how creative human beings can be, quite regardless of nature or evidence. I would argue that climate science is praised for being creative, for showing how free we can be if we try, more than for rigorously following evidence. In this context, arguing that capitalism is a good way, objectively speaking, both to create wealth (as Marx said) and to distribute it (which Marx doubted), may make very little difference.

  21. Donnerhauser says

    Good article. If memory serves there was a similar one a while back about corporations backing Wokeness to get profits, not realising that eventually the Awokened would come for them. It seems the same thing is happening here.

    On immigration – the working class opposes it due to fear of economic competition and socio-cultural values. It should be noted that the upper class oppose immigration when it hurts them too – if there is increased competition for upper class jobs, as well as the upper class’ desire to maintain the class boundaries as a form of anti-immigration (not letting proles into the realm of the elite because they “don’t fit” for example).

    I am reminded of how corporations in Germany tried to ingratiate themselves to Hitler, only to find they were eventually destroyed along with him. It would appear that capital is doing the same – appeasing the Woke in the name of the almighty dollar, with nary a thought of what happens when the legions of the Great Awokening decide to turn to issues of class and economic status. As Lenin said, the last capitalist will sell you the rope.

    • @Donnerhauser, good observation about immigration. Notice how the elites are so opposed to Trump’s proposed merit based immigration system which would prioritize high skilled workers, engineers, doctors and scientist. Silicon valley would much rather abuse the HB1 visas to bring in high skilled tech workers temporarily and underpay them, rather then have them be prioritized for immigration.

  22. Tim H says

    Just a bit of a side note here. I see you have a book coming out on new feudalism. So maybe that’s where your head is. And with that your article seems like introductory notes, like it’s one big “here’s the state of things now”, and your book is what’s next.
    Regardless, I noticed your use of medieval throughout the article. I’d just like to offer a couple cheers for that actual time period. Historians continue to push back on the myth that it was the dark ages. Many of of the technical, scientific and even social developments that came to fuller fruition later were germinating during this period. And in terms of some kind of autocratic structure implied in the Chirch of the period, I think this a serious mistake. There were many overlapping/competing jurisdictions each offering its own sources of order for society. This patchwork organic structure tended to offer some protections to the folks of the time.
    Moreover, if you study the medieval theological debates of the time, they were quite raucous. So I know we like that period to serve as a convenient awful age but we’re finding its more complicated than we all once thought. And don’t get me wrong, I’m glad I live now. But that period had its moments – witness the cathedrals of Europe as a final point.

    • MMS says

      @Tim – Appreciate the point/ education (things are never as black and white as people suggest / are motivated by their own ends to promote)

    • Jackson Howard says

      Keep in mind that social mobility and mobility in general was a privilege reserved to the nobility, artisans and church. Feudalism is the trading liberty for security endpoint : servitude for most.

      Not exactly inspiring. Though it was a structure very much necessary to make such a lot ERoEI society work and. (Either that or slavery, like the romans used.) Another thing to keep in mind is that law enforcement at the time was insanely harsh for most. The feudal contract tied with brutal law enforcement kept stability at a low cost (aka low number of enforcers, minimalist courts).

      The “dark ages” is best used to describe the Early middle ages and the fallout from the Roman Empire disintegration. The High and Late middle age was already a much better place with a rather complex society supporting mercantile hubs and early economic specialization.

      Feudalism in a corporate form has already been experienced in the US : company towns. This is a very interesting subject to read on. One can wonder of such arrangements where not a better deal that permatemp work and the situations faced by the working poor of our time.

  23. Here is one overlooked benefit of immigration. The US is the only industrial power that is not headed for a demographic implosion. Meanwhile China, Russia, Japan, and Europe will have their economies hobbled by a graying population.

    • Kencathedrus says

      @interguru: I don’t buy that at all. And even if it was true, I would rather immigrants prop up their own elders. I can’t envision hordes of young Muslims or Africans looking after aging Europeans. In actual fact old people are very good for the economy as they have usually amassed small fortunes that they get to spend when they retire.

      • Jay Salhi says

        As Douglas Murray has pointed out, immigrants get old too.

    • Shamrock says

      Interguru
      Why is it bad if populations shrink? If AI is reducing the need for workers, then a shrinking population is a happy coincidence.

      People can still be wealthier if the economy shrinks by 10% if the population shrinks by 20%.

      • E. Olson says

        Shamrock – the problem with shrinking populations is almost entirely related to redistribution Ponzi schemes (aka pay as you go) that most governments have set up to pay for old age pensions (e.g. social security) and medical care (e.g. Medicare). When you start having more people getting benefits than paying into the system the systems will collapse. Western Leftists think that mass immigration will save these systems, but that can only happen if the immigrants have the skills and work ethic to become productive tax paying citizens, which is not what is happening with the most common sources of immigrants. Instead too many of the immigrants are welfare takers who are speeding the collapse of the welfare state.

        • Jay Salhi says

          “Instead too many of the immigrants are welfare takers who are speeding the collapse of the welfare state.”

          It would be very easy to target immigrants that would not end as welfare takers but that would require tactics such as profiling (e.g., more Chinese, fewer Somalis) that would be politically unacceptable. Indeed, if you look at immigrants to the UK from the Indian subcontinent, you can make accurate predictions based on religious affiliation (Sikhs and Hindus outperform white Brits in educational achievement and employment, members of another faith end up on the dole or in prison in alarmingly high numbers). But we dare not say this out loud.

          • Charlie says

            Depends upon which white Brits . The public and grammar schools have academic achievement.

        • DrZ says

          Mr. Olson you make a good case for individual retirement accounts which detach demographics from an ill designed social security scheme.

    • Lydia says

      interguru, that’s what Sweden thought. you have to do some digging because of their censoring but it’s not working out very well.

    • Rev. Wazoo! says

      What makes you say so? They are taking care of their old just as they used to take care of their young and often in the same buildings – witness Japan. If they choose to be ” only” as rich in 2025 as they are today but care for their elderly dependents instead of young ones, what’s wrong with that? Was it bad before?

  24. JRStern says

    Joel, some great points. And I’ve been reading your stuff – y’know, forever. But what I do not see here is that, just maybe, things are different now. Does not tell us where it will end up, or where it should end up, but globalism, technology, and who knows what else may be responsible for breaking the old patterns. Should we not welcome our new robot masters?

  25. MindYourBusiness says

    Good article. After reading through it, G. K. Chesterton came to mind –

    Prince, I can hear the trumpet of Germinal,
    The tumbrels toiling up the terrible way;
    Even today your royal head may fall -
    I think I will not hang myself today.

  26. David V says

    Douglas Murray’s “The Strange Death of Europe”, Melanie Phillips’ “The World Turned Upside Down” and “Londonistan”, and Ed West’s “The Diversity Illusion” are all good reads on this topic. All three authors seem to believe that all this has the same starting point, namely the reaction against Nazi atrocities in World War II which created doubts about our worth as a civilisation, followed by the struggles for decolonisation, Civil Rights and against Apartheid that provided the perfect platform to attack Western nations as being guilty of “original sin”. Nazism having been treated as a unique evil has enabled the evils of Communism and Islamism to largely go unchecked.

    Hence the irony that the radical Left, black power and Islamist currents are now responsible for the most virulent anti-Semitism. While Israel’s leader Netanyahu is smeared as being an icon for the “Alt-Right”.

    • Lydia says

      Must be why Germany elected Frau Merkel– raised and educated in East Germany.

    • The only ethno~cultural group to rise up and crush the major devouring evils spawned by members of said group is the West; i.e. Judeo~Christian \ Greco~Roman when Nazism reared its ugly head and the West rallied to smash it utterly, stood down Marxism\Communism without having to utterly annihilate the practitioners of such evil systems, etc. This is due to the grace of our Judeo~Christian roots and heritage which we are letting wane to our great detriment. When have the Eastern and South Asian cultures or Islam adherents even addressed, much less attempted to fix, theirs? They are, always have been, and always will be slave-owning cultures. Freedom of any kind is utterly foreign to them and actually an abomination to them culturally if you have any familiarity with them. The Lord Jesus Christ straightly told us in His Word these troubles would come, but believers know the end and can face the trials of our times while looking to His return.

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  29. cynthia m curran says

    The problem with Konkin is manufacturing will never employed 17 million people again. Instead of just complaining about the left wing elite why not encouraged places like Detroit to do something besides manufacturing. This is why Las Vegas which is a tourist city does better in terms of poverty than Detroit. Las Vegas doesn’t have the highest paying jobs but people work more than one job and don’t complain as much as Detroit. As for rich people on the right, the Mercer Family has more income than the Koch brothers do. Rebecca Mercer like her dad wants to go back prior to the income tax and changed taxation back to tariffs. The Mercer Family supports Joel Konkin since he favors manufacturing instead of developing other industries in depressed Detroit, so they don’t have to pay high income taxes. Rebecca Mercer was the one that came up with rich conservatives using the working class whites to their advantage.

    • False.

      The semiconductor industry in the U.S. has been shrinking for 20 years having shed about a quarter of it’s workforce.

      The leading, highest of technology manufacturing has been driven offshore by 1. Corruption and 2. Ignorance thanks mainly to media propaganda.

      While Obama claims not to have had a magic wand he did have those 40 percent corporate tax rates he had no intention of doing anything about while the rest of the world is at 20.

      This year for the first time Tiawan is scheduled to begin production of semiconductor technology more advanced than what is being produced in the United States.

      It goes on and on. Last week I read an article explaining how solar panels and wind turbines produce less energy than it takes to put them in service. Hence they are energy sinks, not sources.

    • ga gamba says

      The problem with Konkin is manufacturing will never employed 17 million people again.

      You so sure? Take a look at this study comparing the manufacturing output of several major economies. The US is 12% and China 27%, which is no surprise, yet how do you explain Japan’s 19%, Germany’s 23%, and South Korea’s 29%? Autoworkers at Korea’s Hyundai are the world’s highest paid. The country’s wealthiest city is Ulsan, the Hyundai company town of auto manufacturing and shipbuilding – its Detroit. German and Japanese industrial workers are also well paid. Even very high-wage Switzerland, a country that doesn’t ordinarily spring to mind as a manufacturing power, finds 18% of national output comes from manufacturing. How do you explain Germany, Japan, Korea, and Switzerland retaining so much industry? Shouldn’t it have fled elsewhere?

      Further, nineteen per cent of German workers are employed in manufacturing, which is more than South Korea’s 16.9 per cent, Japan’s 16.9 per cent, and China’s 16.9 per cent. About 10.5 per cent of the American workforce is employed in manufacturing. How do you explain this 81% difference between Germany and the US?

      I think the fault of your analysis, Cynthia, is that you think manufacturing competitiveness is determined solely by the cost of labour, both wage and non-wage. It isn’t.

    • Lydia says

      Beware of what’s called “manufacturing”. It’s not what people think. Tool and Die makers use computers, for example. A lot of manufacturers need skilled people and partner with technical colleges on training, curriculum and equipment.

  30. Anonymous says

    “…Today, employees at Google, Microsoft, and Accenture in Britain are expected to subscribe to the progressive orthodoxy on race and gender; and if they fail to do so, employees fear finding themselves without a job….”

    Especially not surprising that people working at Accenture are not revolting against “white people are the bad guys” propaganda – since they are almost all Indian.

    Not trying to imply that Indians hate white people – they don’t – but they probably just ignore the propaganda since it doesn’t affect them – they don’t care.

    • Kencathedrus says

      @Anonymous: to the rest of the world Western self-hatred is a bizarre phenomenon. It’s a form of psychic self-flagellation. Reminds me of those fanatics in the Middle-Ages who believed that whipping themselves would prevent the Bubonic Plague.

  31. John Egan says

    Joel – You don’t do yourself any favors by misspelling Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s name and by using her last name incorrectly. If intentional – it is petty. If unintentional – it suggests you have given little more than a passing glace to her positions. Your criticisms are valid, but for them to be effective you ought to address those you criticize correctly. Otherwise, it appears that you are simply one of many tribal groups hollering on the internet.

    • RAM says

      Aha! Someone mocked Her Highness! This was unnecessary and maybe cruel because she had already made herself and her positions ridiculous.

      • John Egan says

        I believe Kotkin’s mistake was unintentional. Yours, however – – –

    • Jay Salhi says

      AOC’s positions are so ridiculous that they do not even warrant a passing glance.

  32. RAM says

    Power- and money-seeking people demanding submission to their arbitrary rule are an age-old problem. Those highlighted here offer themselves and their State as a substitute for God, much as the Pharaohs did. Their vaunted educational and corporate paths somehow took them to profound ignorance + hubris, so the policies they try to ram through are senseless and dangerous.

    An apt comment by William F. Buckley:
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2nf_bu-kBr4

  33. It is a red-black coalition between the lower class and the ultra-rich. The lower class makes the ultra-rich lives comfortable, and they are paid miserably, but they still survive on benefits and other social programs like affordable housing etc. Those benefits are paid by middle/working class that is placed between the rock and the hard place. In order to prevent the democratic rebellion of the numerous middle class, the elites promote PC, empowering political activists (people with issues) to haunt (and hunt) everyone who dares not to loud their agenda. This serves two purposes:

    To suppress any competition from below
    To ensure future profits from impoverishing the middle and working class.

    Remark: Canada and Australia are resource based economies ruled by oligopoly. They do not need middle class, hence the pressure is to push most of it down to lower class through engineered housing crisis, lousy education, and lack of good, well paying jobs.

  34. Patrick Maines says

    Terrific piece, and not the first one, by Joel Kotkin

  35. Loran Tritter says

    Another boring fantasy. The author explains to an aristocratic elite the error of their ways. All this just in time for them to change before a Jacobean mob emerges to cut off their heads. Never let your writers read about Hobbits or watch Game of Thrones.

  36. R Henry says

    Western culture is rife with contradictory and unsustainable beliefs, policies, and habits.

    Our governments spend money they don’t possess. Financial institutions continue to lend to those governments.

    Our culture rejects objective reality–“No, that penis does not make that person a Man!!!”

    Our culture has become so obsessed with with self-promotion that people are falling into the Grand Canyon in the hope they will create the “perfect” selfie.

    Institutions, public and private, and imploding due to corruption, confusion about Mission, and monolithic political perspective.

    Leftist domination of politics favors “progressive” tyranny over freedom.

    Clearly, the 500 year Western Post-Reformation cultural epoch is coming to a close–our trajectory is simply unsustainable. Our great great grandchildren will exist within an entirely different cultural paradigm. This is a transitional period.

  37. Henry Miller says

    “When in power, the Left does its best to impose its preferred perspective on the population.”

    Absolutely true. But why do you immediately follow that with “Legislatures in seven states, including New York, have passed bills expanding abortion availability into the third trimester?” Nothing about abortion is the proper province of government. Abortion is entirely a personal thing, entirely up to the discretion and conscience of the woman involved and anyone she trusts enough to ask about it.

    With it’s self-righteous, dictatorial, stance on abortion, isn’t the Right doing exactly what you, rightly, accuse the Left of doing, trying to “impose [your] preferred perspective on the population?”

    This kind of hypocrisy is what drove me out of the Republican Party twenty-plus years ago. You can’t condemn the Left’s attacks on individual freedom while simultaneously attacking individual freedom.

    • RAM says

      If some population segment wants to kill babies or viable fetuses, the government should take all needed steps to prevent this.

      • Loran Tritter says

        Why is baby killing bad? In many parts of the world it is considered perfectly OK.

  38. Anonymous says

    Oh, it’s very well and good for the wealthy PC elites to create and disseminate open borders propaganda – and promote the increasing Third-Worldification of the USA.

    But they will sing a different tune when the USA becomes just another South American country – and the elites will be holed up behind the massive private walls that they decry for the national border – stuck inside their walled compounds, protected by private militias.

    • Womba Son of Witless says

      That sums up the Left’s game plan rather well.
      “All the Animals are equal, but some are more equal than others” — Orwell

    • Jackson Howard says

      They’ll just buy a passport in a welcoming country. A few M$ can buy a passport no problemo. Flyover aristocracy all the way.

  39. Archie1954 says

    This article has mixed so many of today’s main concerns into one huge pot, that it is almost impossible to react to. In some situations the article is spot on, yet in others totally off base. First and foremost, whether hypocritical or not, environmentalism must become the new paradigm, above all others. That is a given, if you are even the least bit realistic. I can’t see why capitalism can’t embrace this new paradigm and run with it. There is a lot of money to be made in new energy sources. Those companies currently in the petroleum industry can continue to produce hard products such as plastics but reduce their energy products. Financing is always needed for new industry and current corporations are awash in cash. There is no need for current business to falter, just switch gears. Secondly, so called socialism is not actually that, it is simply a socially beneficial form of capitalism and is practiced by all of the Scandinavian countries and most first world nations. It is nothing new.

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  41. Max Dublin says

    This article reminded me of a biblical episode in the Joseph narrative. Pharoah had the dream of the seven lean cows eating the seven fat cows. Joseph is called up from the dungeon to interpret it and says there will be seven fat years followed by seven lean years of famine. Pharoah asks Joseph’s advice and Joseph says that during the seven fat years Pharoah should gather (tax, confiscate) half of all the farmers’ crops and store the grain in some central warehouses to be distributed during the seven lean years. This is done and when the famine years come the farmers come begging for grain, the grain that had been confiscated from them. It is not redistributed to them for free but sold back to them first for money and when that runs out then for their land and when that runs out for themselves, in other words they are enslaved. Exempted from this, of course, are the elite, the Pharonic court, the priestly class and Joseph and his clan who are said to live during this time in Goshen, raising livestock (who knows what they were being fed), and prospering. Of course we know how this all ends, in time there comes a Pharoah who did not know Joseph and this one enslaves Joseph’s descendants too who by this time have grown numerous…

    • Sean OConnor says

      Careful with the potted Biblical histories. You’re introducing quite a few distortions to the story:
      1) Genesis has the tax rate at 20%, not 50%.
      2) Joseph’s family were in Canaan, completely outside of Egyptian jurisdiction. Goshen is where Moses lived.
      3) There is no mention of tax exemptions, although one does assume that at least Pharaoh is exempt, given that state treasuries and monarchial treasuries were one and the same. No mention of the priestly class, the court, or Joseph, let alone his clan who he last saw from the bottom of a slave pit….
      4) Nor is there any mention of Pharaoh reposessing land.
      5) It specifically mentions that only in Egypt they had food; that’s why Jospehs brothers travel to Egypt.

      I’m all in favour of big government being seen as a road to serfdom, but the story of Joseph is not a good example.

  42. Peter B says

    Which “progressive rich” are you referring to, exactly?

    There are no/very few “progressive rich” in the sense that you mean. There are no billionaires in this country who are sincere progressives. There are many progressives in the professional class who are well off, but certainly not on the same scale as the ownership class they assail.

    Almost all of the billionaires in this country are libertarians who do not really support the progressive agenda, at least beyond the extent necessary to sabotage it.

  43. Peter B says

    Also, did you actually read The Old Regime? Because your central premise is a mis-characterization of de Tocqueville’s observation.

    It is true that de Tocqueville observed that the regime of Louis XVI was the most benign and sympathetic of the French regimes to the causes of the recently-freed serfs.

    But that is because the French monarchy had sensed revolution in the air for decades, going back through the reign of Louis XIV, and they were attempting to make reforms to forestall an inevitability. Those efforts at reform were not what caused the revolution to happen they were just correlated with the collapse.

    What caused the French Revolution was the perception among the French people that the aristocracy wished to restore the former’s status as serfs by exempting the latter from taxation and by removing power from local governments and centralizing it in Paris with the bureaucracy answerable only to the monarchy….

    And look at us repeating the same mistake, then blaming the reformers for the same consequences.

  44. chrisbarclay6296 says

    The ideas of free(-ish) markets, meritocracy and social mobility are aberrations in history. The norm has been for controlled markets and trade, ossified classes and sons following their fathers into the sameline of business. The global ruling elite are simply reverting to that norm, albeit with global trade dominated by large multinationals and the elite itself including women and members of all or most racial groups.

    To achieve this the ruling class must control all large left-wing political parties and even more importantly control the political and university agendas. Membership of the ruling class will be determined by adherence to this agenda. So we have Democrats in the US supporting the seizure of Venezuelan oil reserves.

    Ecological regulations offer the prospect of huge shifts in government and private spending. The green agenda must be controlled. Hence the promotion of Greta Thurnberg. In fact the failure of right-wing governments to cut government expenditure can also be explained by the fact that right-wing parties reward their sponsors by contracting out to them for government services, thereby maintaining government expenditure.

    Immigration is crucial to destroying the cohesiveness of the working class. Never again can the ruling class be threatened by the largely white union movement supporting the miners as in the UK in 1984-5.

    There is nothing strange or hard to understand.

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  46. Or perhaps some of the super wealthy elite understand that the best way to fend off a socialist revolution is to share a bit of the spoils with the peasants in the form of a decent wage, basic health care and affordable higher education.

    • Space Viking says

      But david4445, that’s not what they’re doing. Instead they’re “sharing the spoils” with a clutch of various certified victim identity groups.

  47. Daniel says

    “where the Hollywood and business elites cheated, bribed, and falsified records to get their own kids into elite colleges.”

    That should more correctly read, “…into elite colleges and USC.”

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