Sunday, May 19, 2024

DEFEATING THE DEEP STATE: The Country Class vs. the Ruling Class

Editor’s Note: the following is a written summary of a presentation given by Barry Hugghins and RVIVR publisher Scott McKay at the Louisiana Republican Party’s Victory 2022 symposium on June 25, 2022.

The Country Class vs. the Ruling Class

In 2010, conservative thinker and polemicist Angelo Codevilla penned a famous article at The American Spectator which perfectly summed up the changes to modern American society which resulted in two distinct classes of our citizens – the Ruling Class and the Country Class – conflict between which has become inevitable, and what is now being called the “Deep State” is a tool used by the Ruling Class to dominate the rest of us.

Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all. So was “social engineering.” Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday’s upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.

Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America’s ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.

The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”

America is more riven with faction and division than at any time since 1861. If we are to have any hope of stitching the country back together, taking apart the Deep State so that it can’t be further weaponized against regular Americans is of foremost importance.

The Deep State Enriches the Ruling Class via Institutionalized Corruption

Most Americans believe our institutions – political, cultural and economic – are deeply corrupted. They’re correct.

Perhaps most obvious among the examples of how our government has been turned against us is the glaringly selective and unequal application of the law which has become commonplace.

How has that manifested itself? An unexhaustive list:

  • The Trump-Russia collusion hoax, used to spy on a major party’s presidential nominee and later a duly-elected president;
  • The bizarre contrast between the treatment given the George Floyd rioters (coddled) and the January 6 protesters (jailed without trial or bail);
  • The utter disinterest of law enforcement in much of anything surrounding the Clinton Foundation or Hillary Clinton’s emails;
  • The Jeffrey Epstein fiasco and the secrecy of the Ghislaine Maxwell trial;
  • The SEC’s sudden interest in Elon Musk after the latter publicly broke with the ruling class over the First Amendment;
  • The pro-abortion Left’s free reign to commit violence surrounding the Dobbs decision while the FBI descends on public-school parents who question their children being indoctrinated into Critical Race Theory and transgenderism and other tenets of the woke religion.
  • The Obama administration’s targeting of Tea Party and other conservative groups
  • Woke corporate America’s active measures to frustrate and cancel free speech and commerce by non-ruling class actors, an example of which surfaced during Victory 2022 when on the morning of this presentation the online ticket exchange Eventbrite suddenly canceled all tickets to the event and refunded their purchasers – creating such chaos that the LAGOP had no choice but to admit everyone at the door and ask for donations equal to the price of tickets. The reason for the debacle was not given; it was thought Eventbrite issued the cancellation because Dinesh D’Souza’s documentary 2000 Mules was to be shown at Victory 2022.

There are countless others. Americans note the presence of two distinct legal systems, and it’s a key reason for the tension gripping the nation.

One other manifestation of unequal treatment of the law has been the abandonment of antitrust laws since the Clinton administration. In the wake of that change our economy is becoming more centralized and laws and regulations have increasingly favored a small group of incumbent players within each economic sector at the expense of small and mid-sized businesses.

We’ve largely returned to the days of the robber barons before their massive enterprises were broken apart by the administrations of the Teddy Roosevelt era. But the robber barons of old were generally self-made men whose cultural orientation was middle class and who saw themselves as obligated to serve their communities as philanthropists. The current holders of corporate and economic power are more generally of the ruling class and use profits for political causes rather than charity.

Mark Zuckerberg’s $400 million spent to “fortify” the 2020 election is one example of this. The massive sums in corporate largesse paid to the grifters and terrorists of the Black Lives Matter movement as it was fueling the George Floyd riots is another.

As pernicious as the corruption of the legal system has been the mounting foreign influence in government agencies. In early 2021, Lee Smith penned an important article in Tablet Magazine called The Thirty Tyrants, which decried the elevation of what Smith called the China Class…

In Chapter 5 of The Prince, Niccolo Machiavelli describes three options for how a conquering power might best treat those it has defeated in war. The first is to ruin them; the second is to rule directly; the third is to create “therein a state of the few which might keep it friendly to you.”

The example Machiavelli gives of the last is the friendly government Sparta established in Athens upon defeating it after 27 years of war in 404 BCE. For the upper caste of an Athenian elite already contemptuous of democracy, the city’s defeat in the Peloponnesian War confirmed that Sparta’s system was preferable. It was a high-spirited military aristocracy ruling over a permanent servant class, the helots, who were periodically slaughtered to condition them to accept their subhuman status. Athenian democracy by contrast gave too much power to the low-born. The pro-Sparta oligarchy used their patrons’ victory to undo the rights of citizens, and settle scores with their domestic rivals, exiling and executing them and confiscating their wealth.

The Athenian government disloyal to Athens’ laws and contemptuous of its traditions was known as the Thirty Tyrants, and understanding its role and function helps explain what is happening in America today.

For my last column I spoke with The New York Times’ Thomas Friedman about an article he wrote more than a decade ago, during the first year of Barack Obama’s presidency. His important piece documents the exact moment when the American elite decided that democracy wasn’t working for them. Blaming the Republican Party for preventing them from running roughshod over the American public, they migrated to the Democratic Party in the hopes of strengthening the relationships that were making them rich.

A trade consultant told Friedman: “The need to compete in a globalized world has forced the meritocracy, the multinational corporate manager, the Eastern financier and the technology entrepreneur to reconsider what the Republican Party has to offer. In principle, they have left the party, leaving behind not a pragmatic coalition but a group of ideological naysayers.”

In the more than 10 years since Friedman’s column was published, the disenchanted elite that the Times columnist identified has further impoverished American workers while enriching themselves. The one-word motto they came to live by was globalism—that is, the freedom to structure commercial relationships and social enterprises without reference to the well-being of the particular society in which they happened to make their livings and raise their children.

Undergirding the globalist enterprise was China’s accession to the World Trade Organization in 2001. For decades, American policymakers and the corporate class said they saw China as a rival, but the elite that Friedman described saw enlightened Chinese autocracy as a friend and even as a model—which was not surprising, given that the Chinese Communist Party became their source of power, wealth, and prestige. Why did they trade with an authoritarian regime and send millions of American manufacturing jobs off to China thereby impoverish working Americans? Because it made them rich. They salved their consciences by telling themselves they had no choice but to deal with China: It was big, productive, and efficient and its rise was inevitable. And besides, the American workers hurt by the deal deserved to be punished—who could defend a class of reactionary and racist ideological naysayers standing in the way of what was best for progress?

Returning those jobs to America, along with ending foreign wars and illegal immigration, was the core policy promise of Donald Trump’s presidency, and the source of his surprise victory in 2016. Trump was hardly the first to make the case that the corporate and political establishment’s trade relationship with China had sold out ordinary Americans. Former Democratic congressman and 1988 presidential candidate Richard Gephardt was the leading voice in an important but finally not very influential group of elected Democratic Party officials and policy experts who warned that trading with a state that employed slave labor would cost American jobs and sacrifice American honor. The only people who took Trump seriously were the more than 60 million American voters who believed him when he said he’d fight the elites to get those jobs back.

What he called “The Swamp” appeared at first just to be a random assortment of industries, institutions, and personalities that seemed to have nothing in common, outside of the fact they were excoriated by the newly elected president. But Trump’s incessant attacks on that elite gave them collective self-awareness as well as a powerful motive for solidarity. Together, they saw that they represented a nexus of public and private sector interests that shared not only the same prejudices and hatreds, cultural tastes and consumer habits but also the same center of gravity—the U.S.-China relationship. And so, the China Class was born.

Chinese influence in American trade policy has been a progressive disaster for our manufacturing base, our labor force and our global standing. But it’s been a great boon to our monied elite. From Dianne Feinstein to LeBron James, Americans with connections and financial resources have greedily fed at the trough of our decline in relation to China, and our people have been placated along the way with cheap goods made with slave- or near-slave labor.

It shouldn’t be surprising that our ruling class is vigorously pushing the “transformation” of our economy away from fossil fuels to things like electric cars and solar energy which depend on Chinese rare earth materials for batteries and other components.

Finally, the corruption of federal agencies as means of regulatory capture is closing our economy.

If you’re not familiar with regulatory capture, it works like this: the government decides it’s going to regulate a particular industry, so it convenes committees and bureaus to write rules. And inevitably, it’s the richest market players who hire the best lawyers and lobbyists to influence those regulations.

Regulatory capture in America is so complete that there is a regular back-and-forth in employment between corporate America and federal regulatory agencies. Major industry players in countless economic sectors are so cozy with our government that it’s practically a conspiracy against the small and mid-sized companies the economy needs to remain healthy.

Related is the bizarre saga of the Biden administration’s oil and gas policy – bent by its Green New Deal commitments – which attacked every aspect of the oil processing chain and jacked up prices all along the way, and when the administration found itself in political difficulty due to the supply problems, it reached out to the Saudis, Russians, Iranians and Venezuelans for relief rather than letting up on domestic producers.

Because foreign oil imports wash through Washington, DC and create employment and profits for our ruling class. Much more so than market dominance by unruly country-class oilmen from places like Louisiana and Texas.

The Deep State Enriches the Ruling Class via Institutionalized Incompetence

America doesn’t much look like a country which values competence and merit at present. Is that failing accidental, or do we just not recognize the game which is actually being played?

Consider, when noting our incompetent, out-of-touch leadership, the current presidential administration.

Joe Biden was elected to the US Senate at 29 years old. He’s never had a job in the productive sector. For all of Biden’s “Joey from Scranton” bluster, he’s been a trader of influence and power among the ruling class since graduating at the bottom of his law school class. Biden rose as a stooge for the credit card companies in Delaware and ultimately parlayed Senate committee assignments into an influence-peddling operation starring his brother and children.

Which led to Burisma, Rosemont Seneca, Bohai Harvest and the rest of the patent corruption of the Biden crime family which was hidden from the public by both legacy media and the social media companies who busily “fortified” the 2020 election.

Is Biden incompetent? At this point in his life he certainly is. He’s also a puppet who doesn’t run the country.

So is another example of a ruling-class stooge in the administration. Pete Buttigieg, the Nero of our supply chain, spent two months on paternity leave canoodling with his husband and taking photographs on a “birthing bed” with the couple’s infant adopted children as our national supply chain fell apart amid a combination of regulatory shocks, bumpy recovery from COVID lockdowns and supply dysfunction in China. Buttigieg, a former mayor of the small city of South Bend, Indiana with no relevant experience to the transportation or logistics industries, held Zoom calls as ships stacked up outside California ports.

Then there is Jennifer Granholm, a failed former governor of Michigan with no experience in the energy industry who serves as Secretary of Energy. Granholm regularly roils markets with frightening statements in TV appearances; last year she claimed it was OPEC who controls global oil markets and not America, not six months after Biden administration policies had decreased domestic supply by a million and a half barrels a day. This year Granholm created chaos in the oil industry by on one hand demanding oil refiners increase capacity and on the other hand declaring that the products of those refineries would be obsolete.

Examples of colossally unqualified radicals causing chaos in our productive economy are legion in the current administration. But behind every inexplicable administrative snafu, there is always an underlying winner. A classic example is the Democrat obsession, which began during the Obama administration, with closing down the Keystone XL pipeline. That’s said to be an environmentally-driven enterprise, but it’s nothing of the sort; Keystone XL opposition was engineered by the Omaha-based capital investor and major Democrat donor Warren Buffet, whose company owns a controlling share of the Burlington Northern-Santa Fe Railroad – the main conduit for transport of Canadian tar sands oil to the refinery hub in Cushing, Oklahoma. Keystone XL would force BNSF to lower its rates to recapture its current share of the tar sands oil.

Then there are the “Woke” corporations in bed with the Democrat Party because their top management shares ruling class membership and sentiment with Democrat politicians and bureaucrats. Among the examples over the past few years of woke corporations engaging in peculiarities and abuses of good practice were the political activism of Delta Airlines and Major League Baseball in opposing Georgia’s election integrity law, and perhaps the best example was Disney protesting Florida’s anti-grooming law passed in the spring of 2022.

Disney’s public opposition to that law backfired in a spectacular way. The company’s stock has halved in prince since 2019 and its most recent feature film Buzz Lightyear is a box office bomb despite emanating from the previously-indestructible Toy Story animated franchise. After it publicly opposed the anti-grooming bill, video surfaced of a Zoom call starring Disney’s top managers as they discussed inserting inappropriate sexual material in children’s entertainment.

And then Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis and that state’s legislature eliminated $200 million per year in favorable tax treatment given to Disney since the late 1950’s, which is quite likely to mean the soon-to-be-hired new corporate management team in that company’s C-suite will never engage in political activism in Florida again.

But the institutionalized incompetence isn’t just an irritating burden on the good working order of the productive economy. It’s far more frightening than that. Take, for example, the “Doom Loop” that our central bankers and federal budget authorities have put us in.

An article at American Greatness by Adam Mill describes the “Doom Loop”…

The Federal Reserve has created a doom loop between the housing market and inflation. For years it has printed tens of billions of dollars each month to buy sketchy securities meant to subsidize the housing market and favor bond traders. This continues even now, in spite of inflation and a red-hot housing market. But the housing market has become dependent on unearned, newly printed money, and stopping the flow might cause a catastrophic correction. If it doesn’t stop, however, inflation will explode. 

Mill notes that the Fed has been buying massive amounts of what were toxic mortgage-backed-security assets after the 2008 Great Recession began, and is now so invested in the nation’s mortgages that it has nowhere to go.

Raising interest rates high enough to strangle inflation, as Fed chairman Paul Volcker did to ultimately defeat inflation in the early 1980’s, would do two things the government can’t afford. First, it would make the service on the national debt so expensive as to destroy the federal budget. And second, sky-high interest rates would crush every homeowner with an adjustable rate mortgage and plunge the housing industry into a crisis while the Fed holds a giant share of those mortgages.

So there is no choice but to continue allowing high levels of inflation. Particularly while our ruling class preys upon the supply sector of our economy, meaning too much money chases too few goods.

What we’re describing isn’t just idiocy. The people making these decisions all have Ivy League degrees. This is what we’re calling Weaponized Governmental Failure.

Here’s a description of weaponized governmental failure at the local level…

It’s a choice to do a poor job with the more mundane tasks of running a city; if you do those what you will get is middle class voters moving in. Middle class voters tend to choose to live in places where they can expect to get actual value out of their tax dollars – good roads, safe streets, functional drainage, decent schools, a friendly business climate and a growing economy, among other things – and those things are hard to produce when you govern the way the Left does.

Put a different way, middle class voters are a pain in the rear. They want lots of things which make for grunt work out of a mayor, and a Democrat mayor like a Mitch Landrieu would rather spend his time on vacuous crap like “social change” and other cultural aggressions, and offering wealth redistribution and excuses for the bad personal habits which cause so many people to be poor. Accordingly, it is no great loss if those middle class voters decamp to the suburbs. Their exodus simply makes for an electorate which is a lot less demanding and easier to control.

Rich voters don’t really need anything, because they can generally pay for whatever they need out of pocket (for example, their kids go to private schools and they’ve got private security in their neighborhoods). All they require is the politicians give them access and the occasional favor, and they’ll not only vote for them but write campaign checks. Poor voters are generally unsophisticated and susceptible to government dependency, and thus manipulating them is no great task.

And the more middle class voters you drive out of the city, the more pliable the electorate becomes.

This dynamic is what we’re talking about when we describe it as Weaponized Governmental Failure. Urban Democrats have learned how to turn the decline of the cities they run into a formula for permanent political domination of those cities.

They rule over a ruin, but they rule.

Weaponized governmental failure certainly operates at the state level – see the more-or-less forced exodus of successful country-class Americans from California and New York.

And the crushing of the middle class under the inflationary doom loop, which is sure to create more poverty and government dependency – and more centralization of things like the housing market – is weaponized governmental failure writ national.

How To Win

The good news is the Country Class is anything but powerless against the Ruling Class.

We’ve already seen that “Get Woke, Go Broke” is a real phenomenon. Disney is a wonderful example. So is Gillette, which pushed transgender advocacy and dumped a sizable chunk of its market share in men’s shaving products. So is Coca-Cola, the NFL, and even Netflix, which has seemingly gotten the message and is rapidly pulling back from its membership in the woke club.

Beating the Ruling Class on the corporate and economic battlefield is a relatively simple proposition. If the Country Class can adopt a few straightforward practices the cumulative pressure would be game-changing…

  • Buy local, and buy small. Limit your purchasing activity from large, multinational companies
  • Do everything you can to squeeze Chinese products out of your purchasing intake
  • Dump Hollywood entertainment vehicles as much as possible, except when its offerings are explicitly not woke. Top Gun: Maverick is an exception, and its success proves the rule. When consistent contrasts between Buzz Lightyear and Top Gun: Maverick are available, capital will be starved of the former in favor of the latter
  • Stay away from corporate legacy media where you can. Frequent independent media sites instead.
  • Don’t put your investment dollars with woke financial managers, particularly those which offer DEI or ESG investment funds.
  • Bank locally with community banks. Don’t put your money with Wall Street banks.

The more regular Americans observe those practices, the more the economy can be decentralized and the power of the Deep State and the Ruling Class in the economic realm will begin to drain away.

Vincent McCaffrey at American Greatness offered several excellent suggestions as well…

Write your congressman, and your senators, and your town councilmen, and your school committee. Do not parrot others. Speak your own mind. Do not threaten. Cajole. 

Write a fan letter to those who do the right thing. Give them some moral support.

Buy American-made products wherever you can. You may not be rich but there are none so poor as a slave in some Chinese factory.

Establish your own independence. Build a business—parttime, and, if it works, full-time. Leave the corporate rat race. Start a machine shop in your basement. Raise chickens. Sell eggs. Grow carrots. I am personally a believer in used books, not for the money (ha!), but for the soul food, and you will be preserving the literary heritage that is now being expurgated by the libraries and schools.

Teach a child to read. Then to read well . . . I think you get the idea.

The actions of the authorities are an effort to overthrow 200 years of self-government to install a permanent dictatorship. It is a rise of exactly the sort of fascism that our fathers and grandfathers defeated in World War II—or so we thought. Socialism may be the sharpest tool for the takeover, but the technical term for this sort of governance is fascism. It is the rule of the many by the few. It is the coordination of corporations and special interest groups, each with their own specific objectives but all in the interest of a single authority. 

In the political realm it’s more complicated. But there are things which should be done, and can be.

For example, this kind of activity among Republican politicians can’t be tolerated by Republican voters…

You’d think that with recent special election victories and polls indicating a red tsunami in the midterm elections, Republicans would be politically savvy enough to outright reject Democrats’ assault on Americans’ constitutional liberties. Such commonsense thinking, however, has always been absent from GOP leadership, who have routinely caved to the left on nearly every major policy issue and worked to stab their base in the back.

Take, for instance, the subject of immigration. In March of last year, when illegal immigration along the U.S. southern border was beginning to skyrocket, a group of congressional Republicans led by South Carolina Sen. Lindsay Graham and Florida Rep. Maria Salazar proposed legislation that would’ve provided a pathway to citizenship for illegal aliens living in the country. As reported by Breitbart News, the plan would have provided “green cards to illegal aliens enrolled and eligible for former President Obama’s Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program and gives work visas to the roughly 11 to 22 million illegal aliens in the U.S.”

“Specifically, the amnesty — dubbed the ‘Dignity Proposal’ — would give legal resident status to anywhere from 1.5 to 3.5 million illegal aliens who are enrolled and eligible for DACA. Eventually, these illegal aliens can apply for green cards and obtain American citizenship,” the Breitbart report reads.

Regular Americans, particularly on the Republican side, have to insist on supporting ONLY candidates who clearly understand that the “ruling class” is not our friend and CAN NOT be trusted. Resumes are important, and the wrong resume – having worked solely in government, for example, or even having an Ivy League background, have to be red flags in vetting a candidate. That said, there are exceptions: J.D. Vance and Ron DeSantis have Ivy League degrees, for example.

Elect clear country-class members to offices everywhere possible. Members of political dynasties (like the Bushes) should be disqualified almost out of hand.

And once politicians are in office, they must be made to understand that they work for us. Stay engaged. Monopolize their time, because if you don’t, the lobbyists and connected ruling-class types surely will. Politicians are primarily motivated by fear, so use that. Make them understand that serving the ruling class rather than the country class will get them fired – there are a lot more of us than there are of them.

Also, demand reduction and decentralization of government at every level possible. For example…

  • In Louisiana, the next governor must vacate the membership of all appointed boards and commissions, and start from “scratch” with new, properly vetted membership.  They must also appoint a “blue-ribbon commission” composed of people outside of government to review each and every department, state agency, board, and commission with the goal of eliminating each one that can possibly be eliminated, consolidating those that remain where it is possible to do so.
  • All Federal cabinet level and other agencies, with the exception of the Departments of State and Defense must be physically moved out of the Washington DC area, and dispersed throughout the country.  Many of these should be eliminated and their legitimate functions devolved back to the individual states.

The good news is that the weight of their corruption and incompetence is dragging the Ruling Class down, as Joe Biden’s polling numbers are making clear. The opportunity is there for the Country Class to return to the center of American life, but it will only happen if we repurpose the Republican Party as an engine for that return.

Right now, whether you’re a Democrat, Independent, or Republican, you’re likely scoffing at the idea today’s Republican Party is capable of making a majority that can govern—politically, culturally, and economically—for the next three generations. And you aren’t wrong.

But the revolution has to start within the GOP. It has to fundamentally change the nature of conservatism and Republicanism. It has to inject a strong dose of testosterone and human growth hormone into the American Right. I’d suggest giving the movement a new name better reflective of the challenge it seeks to meet, and demanding that it go on offense and stop losing ground to the Hard Left.

For more on how the Country Class revolution might revive America as founded, read The Revivalist Manifesto, now available at Amazon.