When I was a kid, serendipity landed me in a very nice prep school for boys. The student body was mostly drawn from the upper middle class. There were a few genuinely middle class kids and a few kids from very wealthy homes. The handful of poor kids, who got there on their wits and dumb luck, naturally stood out from the crowd. At that age, kids are keenly aware of differences in class. That’s because the awareness of group status is strongest at that age. As a result it was rough going for the poor kids initially.
My first taste of it was in the locker-room for gym class. A snotty little rich kid started giving me the business. He was smaller and weaker than me and it was obvious, at least to me, that he would not fare well in a fight with me or with anyone probably. He was not tough. He persisted and when he put his finger in my chest, I put his face into a locker a few times. The one thing poor guys know is that soft men do not react well to the sight of their own blood. My nemesis started to cry and then ran for a teacher.
His friends volunteered to tell the head master that I was the villain, so I was hauled away for interrogation. That was when I discovered that there was such a thing as bourgeois values. Poor kids never rat and they never run to the authorities. In the upper middle class, it is exactly the opposite. The winner is the guy who runs to the authorities with the most convincing tale of woe. It’s just assumed that some authority with the power to pass judgement will adjudicate matters, based on a set of unwritten rules I’d never unriddle.
Lucky for me, the school was not unfamiliar with this phenomenon. My adviser was a man who had come up from the lower classes, so he understood what it was like for us. This was why, most likely, he was assigned the poor kids. This was not obvious to me at the time. He just seemed to know what was in our heads, like he was magic. That made him extremely effective at convincing all of us that we had to adapt and learn how to outwit our enemies. By resorting to violence, I had given the others a reason to dismiss me.
The lesson we were supposed to learn is that in a civilized society, verbal and cognitive skill counts for more than physical skill. The lesson I learned is that the people populating the ruling classes of American society had decided violence was no longer a concern for them. They were never going to face a physical challenge. Instead, theirs would be a life of verbal jousting, while someone else guarded the walls. Later, I came to understand that they did not even think much about the walls or the people guarding them.
This is what I suspect is at the core of the problems vexing America. The Progressive ruling class lives in a world in which real risk, physical risk, is so alien that it may as well not exist. In fact, for them, it does not exist. The worst thing they can face is ostracism, which is why they obsess about the prevailing morality. That’s not a real concern, as long as they are aware of the boundaries. For most of the people in the elite, they have plenty of money, so losing a job is not a threat in the same way it is for the Dirt People.
Nicholas Taleb would say they lack skin in the game, but I don’t think that’s right. These people are not playing a meaningless game. It is very serious to them and they are ruthless in their execution.Those status points they hope to cash in at Davos or Jackson Hole mean everything to them. When Tim Cook walks into the bathhouse in Davos, he wants everyone to know that he is the guy leading the charge to purge dissidents from the internet. It’s important to him that he be seen as the most pious of the pious.
In a world where physical violence is a real possibility, the hierarchy of concern starts at the most personal and works outward to things like financial and reputation risk. In a prior age, the King had to worry about being killed or having his heirs killed. That was a sobering thought that led to a natural conservatism. In the current age, the rulers have no fear of physical violence and little fear of losing their stuff. That leaves them playing a game of school yard politics, in which status is set by words and signalling.
This seems to be the issue with the rising tide of censorship. They keep following a pattern. One platform bans a heretic and then it is a race for all of the others to do the same. Despite the overwhelming support for gun ownership, for example, the ruling class is racing to de-platform anything gun related. It’s monkey see, monkey do, as the Judeo-Puritan ruling class signals to one another their piety and then reacts to those signals with their own acts of piety. They are like lightning bugs on a summer evening.
What never crosses their mind is what could happen if they terrorize the wrong person and he decides to take action. They never think about what could happen if the public begins to turn on them in large numbers. No one in the ruling class thinks about the mob showing up with torches and rope. They don’t even think the mob will show up at the voting booth and cast a protest vote. Instead, they assume bad election results are the doings of gremlins and magic fairies with sinister names like Boris and Natasha.
The world they have created for themselves is one that is surrounded by high walls and armed men that are invisible to the people inside. It is just assumed that the walls will hold and the guards will never turn their guns on the people inside. It’s never considered because they never think about it. It’s why the silly airheads on Progressive media sites can viciously attack people they claim are Nazis. They never think about the possibility of the person they ruined showing up outside their door looking settle things old school.
This is why they will keep pushing with the censorship. In fact, it is accelerating, as they furiously try to out signal one another in what has become a piety festival among our ruling classes. Some of the girls at Progressive sites, with heads full of rape fantasies, dream of provoking a response, but most simply don’t think a response is possible. They no longer see any humanity in the Dirt People. We’re just here as props in their endless morality plays they stage for one another in the land of the Cloud People.