In 1952, Ralph Ellison published, to great acclaim, his first and only novel, Invisible Man. The book narrated how Ellison’s protagonist, a black man, suffered social oppression. But that was long ago, and one thing black people definitely don’t suffer anymore is oppression. Rather, many dish it out, aided by their allies of other races, as seen most dramatically in the terroristic Floyd Riots, but it happens every day in every organization in America. The targets are, most of all, those at the bottom of today’s social hierarchy—heterosexual (that is, normal) white men outside the professional-managerial elite. And Samuel Finlay’s Breakfast with the Dirt Cult is, one might say, the new Invisible Man.
What is populism? The snap answer is rule by the people. The more accurate answer is rule by an elite who strongly claim that they govern on behalf of the whole people. That claim is sometimes true and sometimes false, but as Neema Parvini’s The Populist Delusion, a compact summary of what is often called elite theory, pithily shows, it is always an elite who actually rules. Thus, the key question for a society’s flourishing is whether it is ruled by a virtuous elite, who rules for the common good, or by a rotten elite, as America is ruled by now. Embedded in this question is another question, however—how an elite can be removed and replaced. This latter question is the most important question in 2022 America.
Is a Caesar, an authoritarian reconstructor of our institutions, soon to step onto the American stage? A betting man would say yes. The debilities of our society are manifold and will inevitably result in fracture and chaos. History tells us that such times call forth ambitious and driven men, who in the West usually aspire to reconstruction and dynasty, not mere extraction, what is usually featured in primitive societies. As Napoleon said of his accession to Emperor, “I came across the crown of France lying in the street, and I picked it up with my sword.” In human events, past performance is always a key predictor of future results. But neither you nor I is going to be Caesar, so this truth raises the crucial question for us—what to do when Caesar comes?
What is truth about the January 6 Election Justice Protest?
A review by me of this book has been published in the excellent journal IM-1776. The first paragraph, and a link to the entire review, and the journal itself, can be found below. America is already a low-trust society, and with good reason societal trust is rocketing further downward. Yet Americans still, by and large, trust medical institutions — perhaps more than any other set of entities. The pseudonymous Paracelsus, a practicing physician, in his book with the deliberately ironic title First Do No Harm, narrates how we are foolish to trust the medical profession, what is really the medical industry. Published by Calamo Press, First Do No Harm tells us, in short, that the two words that characterize American medicine are not “health and healing,” or even “science and rationality,” as one might think, but rather “corruption and oligarchy.” . . . Read more at IM-1776!
Who rules? That’s what we all want to know. The Managerial Revolution, James Burnham’s still-influential 1941 book (the subject, for example, of recent pieces by Aaron Renn and Julius Krein), gave that eternal question a fresh answer. Broadly speaking his was, we can see eighty years later, indisputably the correct analysis. Burnham agreed that capitalism, private enterprise as the engine of the ruling class, was dying, the usual opinion in that tumultuous time, but made the entirely new claim that what would replace it was not, as most assumed, socialism, but a new thing. Namely, the ascent of managers, a new ruling class, who would hugely expand government and use it to mold society into new forms for their own benefit.
My recent appearance with Maarek and Bog Beef of the Good Ol Boyz podcast. We cover patronage, elites, what young people should do with an eye to the future, as well as much more. And, of course, we talk about Foundationalism. This one should not be missed. It is available here on Patreon (audio only—no sexy Charles on video today), [Note that this podcast episode is currently behind a paywall; it may be available for free later, but as always, I encourage everyone to spend a few dollars to support quality content, and there is much more outstanding content available from the Good Ol Boyz than just me!] (Language warning for the delicate.)
The people, they demand yet more Michael Anton and Charles! This time, of Ukraine, Canada, and tyranny in general and as currently being applied. I am again pleased to announce that The Claremont Institute, in the form of The American Mind, a publication of the Institute, has published another Special Edition of its regular podcast, featuring Professor Anton and yours truly. It is available here in audio, or on all the usual podcast platforms, or here on YouTube in audio format.
As the twenty-first century grinds on, with history returning in spades, Ernst Jünger, German warrior and philosopher, grows more relevant every day. This book, On the Marble Cliffs, I view as his third book in an unrecognized trilogy advising us how we should conduct ourselves under different types of tyranny. It fits with two other books, more famous, The Forest Passage (1951) and Eumeswil (1977), which also parse freedom and oppression, each with a different focus and tone. This book, fiction both dreamlike and phantasmagoric, is lesser known and even harder to grasp than the other two. Yet it serves the same purpose: to instruct us how an individual in society should act when threatened by, or subsumed by, tyranny.
How will our current regime fall? That’s what we all want to know. For those who have eyes to see, it is obvious the American regime is extremely fragile. It awaits only the inevitable crisis for it to collapse. I am staking my reputation, such as it is, on this claim. But because we cannot see precisely how this will come to pass, many believe, against all evidence, that our regime can grind on for decades. Reading Stephen Kotkin’s analysis of how Communist regimes in Eastern Europe collapsed in 1989 offers us insights into our own immediate future. Uncivil Society does not offer total clarity about the future, for nothing can do that, but it confirms many of my own thoughts, and so it must be an excellent book.