Thursday, July 29, 2010

The New Class

“It is not an exaggeration to say that the intellectuals who exercise or aspire to exercise the dominant influence on the state constitute a class. Kristol has popularized the expression “the new class,” and M.I.T. linguist Noam Chomsky coined the appellation “the new mandarins” in reference to them. Chomsky documents case after case in which the intellectual elite justify policies with intellectual dishonesty, immoral sacrifices to pragmatic ends, and outright lies. Kristol distinguishes the new class from the bureaucrats who, by and large, are timid and conservative, content to draw salaries without taking risks. The new class, in contrast, is made up of crusaders who consider it squalid to earn a living in commercial activity, who think that “private” is demeaning and “public” ennobling, and whose every word on capitalism is intended to convey the impression of exploitation and injustice.

It is not likely that the line between the bureaucracy and the new class can be drawn as finely as Kristol thinks. Both prosper as the private sector declines and as the state absorbs and expends a greater proportion of the national weatlth. In the redistributionary society, the main redistribution that takes place is the flow of power from the periphery to the center where the new class awaits. The despoiled are the possessors of private power, against whom the elites still warn us, while they quietly accrue that power to themselves. But the former power was decentralized and to some extent self-neutralizing, because competitive. Power that is concentrated is to a much greater extent inescapable.” (Herbert Schlossberg, Idols for Destruction, p. 199-200).

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