America divided by class?

http://spectator.org/archives/2010/07/16/americas-ruling-class-and-the/

Ruth, I just now quickly read through the article. What came to mind was E Pluribus Unum (as we all know, From the Many One) and it seems like that unity is increasingly threatened or strained.

Regarding the Ground Zero Mosque issue, I am in favor of religious freedom and separation of church and state BUT I suppose it would be unsettling to learn that a major source of funding is the U.A.E. or Iran. I would feel more comfortable if it were funded by American Muslim funds.

I do wonder about the phrase “schlock sociology;” does it mean that all sociology is bad or does it mean that this is an example of bad sociology.

I do feel that the Supreme Court intervention granting G.W. Bush the election is one example of something that would give people the feeling that our society is dominated by a ruling class or the wealthy industrial-military complex. The fact that the Bush family dynasty has garnered so much power during several generations also added to the feeling of class division.

I realize that I am not the most insightful person to make political analysis but I did what to read over the article (which is a difficult one) and give you some feedback.

Chairman Mao once remarked that it is too early to know if the French Revolution will be successful. I thought it was a joke until I asked an accountant from Paris and she quickly and passionately agreed that the class power has merely shifted to a basis other than birth, family, title, nobility.

In the 1960s I thought that Mao’s Little Red Book was a joke (not that I ever bothered to actually read it.) But now that I see China emerging as an economic power and America declining I must wonder if perhaps they have something that we lack.

I do feel that things will get much worse in America. I don’t see how any one person as leader can make things better although it is obvious from the G.W. Bush terms that one person CAN quickly make things worse.

I think America has divided into groups of mutual loathing and distrust in an atmosphere where rumors and panic spread easily.

I doubt that these are the sorts of comments which you seek but I did want to give you some feedback or reaction. I shall try to read this dense article a few more times.

I do feel that the name calling and profanity and ad hominem which we frequently see from both sides does nothing to help problems and causes much harm.

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Catherine:

The flaw I see in this kind of screed is that it tends to give a kind of wide-eyed credence to some mythical knowledge that the American people are privy to, like in the discussion of isolationism vs. “bellicosity”. I’d argue that the American people are as gullible and leadable as any, and not especially well-informed, and so to criticize the “ruling class” for their skepticism (or dismissal) of the people’s ability to discern a useful American foreign policy comes across as a kind of down-home, aw-shucks naivete, or worse.

Erik:

My first thought, after reading half of the first paragraph, was that I’d be concerned about the author’s mastery of historical facts. The Wall Street Journal was not enthusiastic about TARP, for example. The opinions of its editors were divided, much like the opinions within the elites in both the Republican and Democrat parties.

Speaking for myself, I was pissed all to hell about every single one of the so-called ‘bailouts,’ except the Fanny and Freddie bailout, which was merely a fulfillment of a longstanding Fed Gov’t guarantee, and thus had to be done for in order to keep Uncle Sam’s word. A lot of the so-called ‘ruling class’ agreed with me. Not enough, apparently.

You will recall that most Republicans in the House voted against TARP. I can’t characterize the motivations of the those politicians, except that they were, at least to some extent, reacting to the will of their base.

As to the thesis of the article, I’ve heard it before. I think that there is some merit to it, in a general sense. But, politics isn’t about generalities. It’s about specific and ephemeral alliances between politicians for the purpose of better allocating scarce resources. Political alliances, more often than not, have little to do with comity or ideology; such alliances are the result of a commonality of interests, and, like everything else human, political interests are complex and ever-changing.

I think the best way to think about this is by analogy. For as long as corporations have existed, the “Outs” have rightly feared that such entities would collude with each other for the benefit of the “Ins.” What the “Outs” tend not to realize is that, though there are strong centripetal forces such as a common interest in charging the “Outs” as much as possible for goods and services, there are also equally strong centrifugal forces such as the self-interest in making more for oneself at the expense of one’s erstwhile allies. In other words, all corporate collusion is inherently unstable, since each participant wants the most for its own corporation, and really doesn’t care whether the other participants make anything at all.

Likewise, political alliances are inherently unstable. In America, this sort of instability manifests itself in party switching. Both politicians and voters freely switch parties.

One might counter, that the two main parties often collude with each other. To which I’d say, you bet they do… and how! But, in the end, the politicians in each party realize that there is political advantage in differentiation, i.e. screwing the other party. That is, there is advantage to actually standing for somethings, sometimes.

The above is one reason why I don’t buy the idea of a political ‘ruling class.’ Not only do the facts not match the theory, but the theory itself is fatally flawed.

Let me throw something else out there. The modern idea of “class” is a bit odd. In the olden-days, “class” meant something. There were lists. Some people were in certain classes and others were in others, and anyone could check the lists to see who’s who. Nowadays, classes are held together by invisible societal superstructures. In this case, according to the author, the ‘ruling class’ is held together by nothing more than a common jargon. I don’t buy that at all.
Nolan:

There’s a bit from Mencken that I’m seeing with some frequency these days:

The central belief of every moron is that he is the victim of a mysterious conspiracy against his common rights and true deserts. He ascribes all his failure to get on in the world, all of his congenital incapacity and damfoolishness, to the machinations of werewolves assembled in Wall Street, or some other such den of infamy. If these villains could be put down, he holds, he would at once become rich, powerful and eminent. Nine politicians out of every ten, of whatever party, live and have their being by promising to perform this putting down. In brief, they are knaves who maintain themselves by preying on the idiotic vanities and pathetic hopes of half-wits.

Which is an earlier example of the put-down.

I consider myself a rootless provincial, which is a third alternative to the dichotomy of local vs. intellectual. Most dichotomies are false dichotomies.

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Erik: … voter unease about a Fed Gov’t debt three times the size of China’s whole economy, the socialization of medical insurance, and fat cat ‘bailouts’ …

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With all due respect, Karen Armstrong’s excellent “A Short History of Islam” accurately describes to goal of “one world-wide Uma under sharia” as a polity which reflect upon earth the unity of Allah.

I have read the Qur’an in English (Pickthall) several times starting in 1965 and such a statement is not unreasonable in light of what the Qur’an says in various verses.

It is not inaccurate to state such things but there are kinder ways to say them. This really differs little from those who like to say “every knee shall bow” and “Jesus is the only way.” The fact that Christians say what they say from time to time is no reason to fear all Christians nor is the analogous Islamic ideology any reason to fear all Muslims.

For that matter, the Marxist notion that the state shall “wither away” is no reason to fear socialists or communists.

Physicists speak of the thermodynamic heat death of the universe but there is no reason to fear the physicists.

We should not fear the ideals expressed in ideologies or theories but neither should we deny that such ideals exist.

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I am all in favor of the mosque near ground zero IF it is funded by the money earned by American Muslims BUT I would feel differently if I knew that the funding comes from the U.A.E. or Iran.

When a Muslim goes on a once-in-a-lifetime Hajj pilgrimage to Mecca, that pilgrim should in theory pay for the trip from personal funds and the pilgrim may not be in debt. In practice there are governments who help fund various pilgrims. I feel the same should apply to those Americans who exercise their freedom of worship, namely, that they fund it with their OWN money and not foreign subsidy.

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Islam is my least favorite religion and I have studied many in great detail. But I will grant that Islam is the purest monotheistic concept. The Jews have their Shechinah. Christian have centuries of argument to the effect that the Trinity is a TRINE unity and there constitutes monotheism but such rhetoric is weak, transparent and often repeated precisely because three cannot be one. For Islam, “shirk” (attributing plurality to Allah) is one of the greatest sins.

The Qur’an is clever and subtle. In “The Surah to the Unbeliever” it DOES NOT SAY “the God which you worship is not the God that we worship” but rather “the RELIGION which you worship is not the RELIGION which we worship” and in Surah 5:48 it says “Had I wanted to I could have created you all as ONE ETNICITY/LANGUAGE/PEOPLE (not one religion) but for my own reasons I created you as different peoples so if you must compete, then compete in doing good works.”

The Qur’an evades the direct question of whether all worship the same God, but the obvious spirit and intent of the Qur’an (at least to me) is that all do not worship the same God.

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Islam’s legalistic view is that the son of a Muslim father is a Muslim even if he never professes, accepts or practices, and the ethnicity/religion of the mother is of no consequence. A male Muslim may take an unbeliever to wife but a Muslim women is forbidden to marry a non-Muslim. Graham is simply using all this as rhetoric to further his various agendas.

And @Nancy, it is very significant that the ONLY president to bar Graham from the White House, Jimmy Carter, is perhaps the only genuine American believing practicing Protestant. Truman let Graham in but when he learned that Graham did a photo shoot on the White House lawn with his cronies kneeling in prayer (and what would Jesus say about prayer on the street corner) Truman was enraged and forbid Graham to ever enter the White House again. If Graham genuinely believed that a God was hearing his every word then he would not have chimed in with Nixon’s anti-Semitic remarks on those Oval office tapes.

Graham is not a pastor but a politician.

Graham and his ministry are morally and theologically bankrupt.

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These are reasonable questions phrased in a civil manner so no need for anger or profanity since it adds nothing to the substance of the dialog and it diminishes our own credibility. I gave no thought to the source of the funds until last week, but now I am curious. I suppose if one learned that, say, all the money sent to Pakistan to aid victims were somehow funneled back into the NYC mosque then people would see it in a different light. Money does have a source, provenance and at times a taint.

It would not bother me if every American converted to Islam tomorrow and in the coming century amended the constitution to include sharia since in theory we are free to do that.

In fact, if Islam is so powerful and terrifying then perhaps many would be well advised to convert simply to eliminate the enemy and avail themselves of such power.

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I too certainly despise the bile of the extreme right but two wrongs do not make a right and we should not feel some entitlement to emulate them. The question about the SOURCE of the mosque funding is analogous to the transparency that we expect with regard to political party donations. When American citizens join together with American funds to build any house of worship of any religion then they are exercising religious freedom. IF huge sums of money flow in from forms of government who would like to see the overthrow of the American government then the building no longer represents the exercise of freedom of religion but possible sedition insurrection and attempt to overthrow the government which is NOT a right protected by the constitution. I am writing in haste since I must go out so perhaps I am not doing justice to this point but it does seem like a valid point to make.

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