Lefties joined hands to see Obama through the elections.
After the inauguration, when the champagne glasses were tossed, and when the circle of hands dropped, we stood back in the winter weather. Looked at each other, and took breath.
Ready? The Democratic party has lost its soul.
That’s right. The party that was once known for its activists who organized street vigils, tore up the night for social justice, yelled their questions at authorities, electrified courtrooms and ran boycotts to champion the underdog, no longer exists.
A good portion of the active left has grown comfortable. They still wear blue jeans; but they’re established. Now they collect rents. They arrive at street demonstrations in glossy cars. They pull out $400 digital cameras at street events.
Another talented portion is now playing with very big wealth. It’s true, some of the big money is Republicans who have switched parties, embarrassed. But the fact is that behind those penthouse windows, some of the richest people in America are Democrats.
Beautiful people. You can find them in the plate glass Beverly Hills shops. They inhabit the mirror. Weekdays, they game the hedge funds. But, as Joel Kotkin says in a frigid article, these people don’t keep contact with the rest of us. The only contact they have with have-nots is their nannies and parking valets.
What’s the point? Our basic liberal values, from John Rawls’s Theory of Justice, go like this: The goodness of any society is not measured by how wealthy the best-off are, but how well the lowest member is doing. In a well-ordered society rank is unavoidable, but it is wrong that some should have less in order that others may prosper. Liberty is vital, but justice is the highest virtue.
The Democratic party has just woken up with a nasty twist in its neck.
Painful contradictions, because these rich members are the ones now creating these vast inequalities that derail equal treatment. Within the Democratic party, the division between the haves and the have-nots is now fierce. Worse than anything in modern Europe.
And the new, manicured left is not interested in social justice any more. They’re disinclined to pay taxes for public goods (clinics, transport, schools) because they don’t use public goods. They call themselves Democrats, but they never talk about moral principles transcending the material, which is a leftist basic. They don’t say it, but it’s on their faces: ‘in property we trust.’
I’ve listened to progressives. Some hope the current free market explosion is reaching the end of the pendulum, and will begin to swing back. Unlikely. It’s precisely these Democrats with exponential money that have the momentum for the continued outward swing. (Complete with their contradictions. War and environmentalism? – they grin and give the thumbs up. )
These ultra-rich Democrats are the reason I’m predicting capitalism is just getting started on its second Big Bang.
Moral principle, shoved aside for materialism.
Listen. I’ve tried personally to get this haves vs. have-nots topic talking. It never works. And I’ve listened to left wing talk radio trying to get this topic onto the morning airwaves. It never catches on.
Nobody will talk about haves and have-nots. These starkly unequal days it could be in every conversation, but utter silence. Why – is it guilt? Is it self-consciousness? Not really.
The fact is, among liberals, the basic moral values are gone. Property is back at center. So if we did talk haves vs. have-nots, eventually we’d have to admit it: Nothing has changed since Medieval times.
And something I’ve been reading, it’s about a new trend. These days the wealthy are retreating into walled communities – in such numbers a book has been written about it. Behind those big gates, the wealthy are “forting up.” It appears they want walls and guards between themselves and the poor.
This is not civic behavior.
Throughout history, walls have been thrown up when you’re expecting trouble. The Great Wall of China. Barricaded Army forts. In ancient European times, the feudal lord built stone walls against barbarians. And when trouble came, in ancient times, the lord of the castle would gather his people inside for protection.
Are our very wealthy expecting something?
And there’s a difference. In case of social unrest, I don’t think today’s rich will invite the rest of us in.