Walter Russell Mead writes over at The American Interest writes on the “Blue Social Model” of the Progressive left and where it is likely to go in the future. It is an insightful examination of where Progressives believe society will, and ought to, go. It is well worth reading in its entirety. There are a few points, however, that deserve being expanded and commented upon.
The Progressive left sees the inevitable death of the middle class, of the hated bourgeois and petite-bourgeois.
“This view holds that the death of industrial society means the death of the mass middle class. When millions of people can’t make a living “making stuff” in factories anymore, wages for the unskilled will fall. America will be increasingly polarized between a small group of high skilled creative professionals and a larger group scavenging a living by serving them: mowing their lawns, catering their parties and so on.”
In lieu of an actual Middle Class, with the Middle Class values that allowed them to take command of their own lives and families via financial independence, the left wishes to impose the trappings of a Middle Class by government welfare and handouts. They do not wish to preserve the Middle Class, but replace it with a Dependency Class.
“The people who work in the cutting edge firms, directly or as contractors, will do extremely well and live fascinating lives. But the rest of the country will be cut off from wealth creation. For 4.0 liberals, the programmatic consequences are obvious: tax the productive private sector in order to fund a dignified life for those in education, health care and especially for the large majority of the population without the skills or the creativity that would qualify them to join the productive minority.”
But ultimately, this creates the very stereotype of medieval serfdom, wherein a rich lord provides land, food, protection, &c. to his serfs, and in return they serve him. In modern parlance, the poor support the enlightened rich by voting in their candidates and ideas, and in return the enlightened governance of the Progressive elite enriches the poor and provides them by taking care of their needs. The elite are more than happy to pay most of what they earn in taxes, not only because it will come back around to them, but because it fuels the bureaucracy and addictive welfare that keeps the Hoi Polloi poor and dependent; it is nothing less than the New Feudalism. Add in the “Enforcer” Class of public employees, which is but an elite class-within-a-class of the Dependency Class, and you see something approaching what California is slowly turning into. This is in stark contract to previous generations of American liberalism that believed that the privileged ought to lift the poor up until they were prosperous as well:
“The concept of an elite guiding national development for the benefit of those it governs remains operative today among blue partisans, but what’s changed is that the blue elite no longer sees a bright future for the masses. It turns out that there are two ways to think about the trajectory of liberal society. The traditional view is that over time the differences between elites and non-elites can and should shrink, and it is the proper goal of liberal policy to ensure that they do.
“The other view is to believe that differences of talent and ambition ensure that the world will always be divided between a creative minority and an inert majority, and that the goal of social policy isn’t to eliminate that ineradicable difference, but to ensure that the process of recruitment into the elite is genuinely fair. Once the privileges of race, gender and fortune have been neutralized so that the elite is a purely meritocratic body, the members of the elite are obliged to concern themselves for the welfare of the majority, but there is nothing more to be done about equalizing their condition with that of the elite. Authority must rest in the hands of the qualified; those who score poorly on aptitude tests, don’t do well in classes and/or lack extraordinary beauty, artistic talent or ambition must resign themselves to taking direction from the natural aristocracy that a well ordered society has brought so smoothly to the fore.”
There is no better example of this than the “Life of Julia,” wherein a woman is protected and benefited by the guiding hand of the enlightened state, run of course, by the enlightened Progressive elite.
While this seems to conflict with the oft heard cry of the Progressive left for “democracy,” there really is not contradiction. The left has always believed that the “general will” of the people can be divined by the enlightened few, and that the voice of the few is in fact the voice of the many, even if the majority of people stand against them! It can bee seen in the Jacobins of the French Revolution to the Spokes Councils of the Occupy movement. Even Mussolini defined “Fascism as an organized, centralized, authoritarian democracy.”
In all those cases, a tiny elite “guided” the massive with the presumed mandate of the masses through divination of the “general will” or other such pseudo-divinity (e.g. Die Volk, the Proletariat, the 99%, &c.).
This, of course, is anathema to American culture and heritage. Even if not everyone could become rich, they could become self-sufficient and free, with such conditions being the natural result of the free interaction of freemen and women, both economically and socially. It is the rare confluence of liberty and virtue wherein both could exist, and from which prosperity could thrive. The view of the Progressive left however, wishes to do away with that and enforce a nouveau Feudalism where prosperity must be rationed out, and the elite accorded a special egalitarian status in order to create the wealth and cultural worth that enriches the masses via the machinations of the state.
Theirs is a fatalistic view that must not be allowed to come to pass.