Thursday, March 17, 2016

The Ruling Class and its Discontents

A recent op-ed piece by William Rivers Pitt of Truthout celebrates, in no uncertain terms and with more than a touch of gallows humor, the decline and fall of the Bush dynasty as exemplified by the miserable failure of Jeb Bush, who has dropped out of the presidential race. His essay can be found here:

A word of caution is in order, however. At least one commentator has speculated that Jeb, who notoriously stated that his strategy was to somehow win the nomination despite losing the primaries, is being held in reserve by the Republican powers that be, ready to “parachute in” to the convention and save the day – i.e. snatch the nomination away from Trump and Cruz (pushing lesser mortals like Kasich aside like so many dust bunnies, of course). The idea, apparently, is to fit Jeb with a pair of tights, a cape, shiny boots, and flashy headgear, and style him as some kind of superhero whose sole mission is to save the Republican Party. (“It's a bird! It's a plane! It's Bushman!” Oh... wait...)

Well... lots of luck with that, is all I can say. But in this wackiest of all wacky election seasons, who knows? The Republican establishment is certainly acting desperate, and grasping at straws – resurrecting Romney from the political graveyard to do a hatchet job on Trump (which, of course, backfired very badly; they should have left Mitt in the toy store with the other Ken dolls) and cooperating with the Democrats to send rent-a-mobs to any and all Trump rallies.

Now, the immediate revelation from all of this, for those who hadn't already figured it out, is that there is, in fact, only one “establishment”, and it consists of the power structure of both of the major parties. Trump is, if nothing else, the ultimate anti-establishment candidate, since he doesn't care who he offends from anywhere along the spectrum. What counts above all is to preserve the integrity of the establishment and keep it in charge, little matter which party is nominally in power. This is the kind of insight that is normally avoided by maintaining the faux kabuki drama of the election season, in which the parties pretend – like professional wrestlers – to be in dire opposition, when they really are in one accord on nearly all points. But these are desperate times, and they clearly feel that it's worth letting the cat out of the bag – at least on this occasion, counting on the brain-dead electorate to go back to sleep and forget all about what they are now hearing and seeing, like the guys in “Men in Black”. It's a strategy that has worked time and time again, so why not give it another shot?

But there are other implications to all of this, and they should not be overlooked. One is that the power structure – the ruling class – operates in subtle and surprising ways at times; they are more agile than we give them credit for. One would think, for example, that an elite bunch like the Bushes would want to keep their name in lights and to win at all costs. They are, after all, part of the perennial power structure, and they want to keep it that way – or so one would think. And yet even those at the top of the heap have to make sacrifices once in a while; someone has to be picked, when the need arises, to “take one for the team”. Consider, for example, that the Rockefellers, who are indisputably at the very top of the hierarchy (at least in this country), nonetheless feel obligated to offer up some of their members on the sacrificial altar of politics -- with mixed results. Consider that the Kennedys had to offer up some of their sons to the gods of war, and that one of them didn't come back alive. This is all along the lines of maintaining some sort of credibility with the impulsive, delusion-prone American public, who – enamored as they are with “American royalty” -- are nonetheless still a bit resistant to the idea that we have rulers like unto the royalty and nobility of the Old World. The delusion of democracy must be maintained – or at least it has been so far, but it has started to seriously erode of late. And the ruling elite are not – as irritating as it must be at times – completely immune from the requirements and needs of “democracy”; lip service must be paid, even if from their lofty perches, to “the people”, lest “the people” start to murmur, and resist, and even – heaven forfend! -- rebel.

The age of revolution is, of course, over with and long gone... and ruling elites around the globe are no longer in the sort of danger that engulfed the hapless Romanovs, for example... or the Chinese dynasties... or the French aristocracy. We are now in the age of the technocrat... the pragmatist... the globalist (another talking point for Trump)... and are ruled by a centralized power whose main tentacles are not so much armies as banks, stock exchanges, and “defense” contractors. But it is precisely because the trappings and prerogatives of ancient royalty are a thing of the past that control by other means must be maintained – through instruments such as the media, the “entertainment” industry, “free trade”, and the dominance of a vast array of rackets from agribusiness to big pharma, big medicine, prisons, centralized food distribution, consumerism run amok... and all the modern equivalents of the “games and circuses” and “free bread” of old. Empires, in short, do what they have to do, and they do, in fact, have to adjust to the times.

Consider, for example, that there are no longer any “idle rich”; they are nowhere to be found. The richest people on earth nonetheless have to work for a living, after a fashion. Society has been restructured to the point where a hundred years ago you had the working poor and the idle rich, and we now have the working rich and the idle poor. And yet, ultimately, the same people are in charge now who were in charge then, and the vast majority of them are – gasp! -- white men. We can fantasize all we want about “diversity”, and “access to power” by “minorities” of all stripes... and, certainly, the Regime knows how, and when, to throw a few bones out now and then... but the basic hard facts remain the same. Any boy born in a log cabin, figuratively speaking, can rise up in the system to where he is invited to weekend retreats at Sea Island, Davos, Mackinac Island, Bilderberg, the Bohemian Grove... wherever... but despite their feeling of having been anointed, they are, ultimately, tools, poodles, and window dressing... and, most importantly of all, dispensable. (And scapegoats, when the need arises – as witness George W. Bush.) Surely you don't think that once Hillary Clinton, for example, has outlived her usefulness she won't be dropped, along with her reprobate husband, into the Regime's dumpster; it has happened before, and it will happen again. In fact, this could be said to be the case for nearly all politicians and, frankly, all “world leaders”.  More often than not they are tools, lackeys, and sock puppets -- and the puppet masters are the faceless few at the very top – and they are, and remain, faceless for a reason.

But (with all due respect to the conspiracy community, of which I am a member anyway) there is no such thing as perfect control, and the world remains full of surprises. Did any of them anticipate, for example, the rise of militant Islam? Sure, no doubt they are using this phenomenon to their maximum benefit... but their jobs would have been easier if the scales had not fallen from the eyes of the Islamic world (albeit decades after the end of formal, classical colonialism). Did they anticipate the rise of the Internet and “social media” as, not only a tool for thought control of the masses, but as a means by which the masses (some of them, at least) would start to ask questions and connect the dots? Thus, another irritant that has to be dealt with – and we see in the news every day evidence of their exertions to do so.

So yes, “uneasy lies the head that wears a crown” -- or whatever the modern-day equivalent of a crown is (and do not doubt that some of the actual remaining “crowned heads” of Europe are very much participants in this struggle). Plus, we have the natural paranoia that inevitably haunts the very few when they are confronted, in whatever form, by the very many. The mob... the masses... the rabble... are greater in number than they have ever been in recorded human history, their demands are becoming harder to meet (because they keep upping the ante), and they are showing signs of restlessness. You can award some of them membership in the middle class, which is a guaranteed neutralizer... but that still leaves quite a few – a majority, in fact. You can even allow them to, occasionally, have a voice – from the social media right up to the ossified and dysfunctional United Nations – but, again, you're not really solving anything, only postponing the consequences.

And yet, power remains – as it has down through human history – the ultimate narcotic. Better than sex, better than money (although these are, let's admit, universally fringe benefits). To sacrifice people by the million, and even entire nations, for the sake of power, is nothing new – and to hold onto it once it's gained is nothing new. What changes and evolves is the means... the mechanisms... the tools... the iconography... the narrative. Every culture has its myths, legends, and fairy tales – that's a given; that's human nature. It's what people believe – what they are led to believe – that determines outcomes, and those outcomes become solidified into what we call “history”. Once in a while people become more sophisticated, slightly better informed, and more skeptical – and so the means, mechanisms, and tools have to evolve as well, and morph into a new mythology. We tend to forget that not only do power and control go together, they are the same thing. How can you have one without the other? And yet we go around worshiping men (and women) of power, but chafing at the control they exert on us. One consolation, at least – perhaps the only one – is that even the power elite... the ones at the end of every string and binding chain... have to pay their dues as well. The fate of Jeb Bush – a very small person in this grand scheme – provides an example of this, and it may serve as small comfort. 

But he may be down and out, but he's not “out out”, despite Pitt's optimism, so to speak.  Just be prepared for, somewhere down the line, the moment when you hear someone say “they're baaaaaack”.