Thursday, April 7, 2016

Professor Bainbridge on Trump, Atheism and the Elites

Donald Trump is the beta test of a cure for The Revolt of the Elites

"Like most of us, I suppose, I've been thinking a lot about Donald Trump's rise to being the front runner for the GOP nomination. Watching the primary season has called to mind one of the best books on American politics and culture I've ever read: The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. If you want to understand what's going on in our politics and the rise of Trump (and, to some extent, Bernie Sanders), it is a book you need to read.

Lasch powerfully and persuasively contends that that the values and attitudes of professional and managerial elites and those of the working classes have dramatically diverged. Although the claim is controverted, many of us on the right (especially social conservatives) agree with the quasi-populist/communitarian notion that democracy works best when all members of society can participate in a world of upward mobility and of achievable status. In such a world, members of society will perceive themselves as belonging to the same team and care about ensuring that that team succeeds. But how can society achieve this sort of mutual interdependence if its members are not part of a community of shared values?

The core problem is thus the revolt of the elites against the values of the wider community: "[T]he new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension." For too many of these elites, the values of "Middle America" - a/k/a "fly-over country" - are mindless patriotism, religious fundamentalism, racism, homophobia, and retrograde views of women. "Middle Americans, as they appear to the makers of educated opinion, are hopelessly shabby, unfashionable, and provincial, ill informed about changes in taste or intellectual trends, addicted to trashy novels of romance and adventure, and stupefied by prolonged exposure to television. They are at once absurd and vaguely menacing." (28)

The tension between elite and non-elite attitudes is most pronounced with respect to religious belief. While our society admittedly is increasingly pluralistic, "the democratic reality, even, if you will, the raw demographic reality," as Father Neuhaus has observed, "is that most Americans derive their values and visions from the biblical tradition." Yet, Lasch points out, elite attitudes towards religion are increasingly hostile: "A skeptical, iconoclastic state of mind is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the knowledge classes. ... The elites' attitude to religion ranges from indifference to active hostility."
Read it all, THERE.

While it is obvious that it is possible to be an Atheist and NOT be a Leftist-totalitarian, the opposite is much more common. And the inverse - being a Leftist who is NOT an Atheist, regardless of claims to the contrary, is a vanishingly small population. The obvious reason is that of the three Abrahamic religions, only Islam is totalitarian. But Islam hates Atheists, and hence Leftists, with great vigor in the Islamic texts. So, it is not that common for Islamists, Christians and non-secular Jews to be Morally elitist-Leftist-utopian-totalitarian in the same sense that the Atheist Leftists are. It is obvious in the European immigration crisis that the Islamist flood is using the Leftist Islamophile ideologues against themselves.

It's the old snake carrying the mouse across the river story: as the "friendly" snake eats the mouse in the process, the snake says, "You knew I was a snake from the beginning; why are you surprised?"

That Lasch book which the professor mentioned, and another Lasch book, are both in the mail.

No comments: