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In the classic comedy, The Jerk, there is a scene in which the main character, played by Steve Martin, is in court. He is being sued because the invention that made him rich is supposedly causing everyone to go cross-eyed. He invented a thing to go on the bridge of glasses that prevents them from falling forward when you look down. In the scene, Martin looks around and sees that everyone in the court, including the judge and the jury, are cross-eyed like the people suing him.
This is what Elon Musk is going to face in the Delaware Court of Chancery Chancellor when his case against Twitter goes to trial. That assumes it ever gets to a trial, as there is a good chance his lawyers see the writing on the wall long before that point and there is some sort of settlement. The Twitter legal team features a former chief judge from the Delaware Court of Chancery Chancellor. No doubt there are others with connections to the small club that is the Delaware bench.
Like the Steve Martin character in that movie, Musk is about to learn that the laws and procedures do not matter. What matters is who decides. Every judge on the Delaware Court of Chancery Chancellor was put there by a politician. Those politicians were selected for their loyalty to a system that many deny exists. That system is the managerial system that governs America. You do not get into office with a chance to wield real power unless you are trusted by the system.
System is probably not the best word for what we are seeing. It is more like a mindset, a set of shared beliefs. The judge in the Twitter case, Kathaleen McCormick, will look out at the players and see that Musk is not her sort. He is not the type of person she thinks should be a winner in this world. She thinks this because everyone she knows thinks this about Musk. She may not be able to say why she thinks Musk is a threat to our democracy, but she is sure of it.
It was not always this way for Musk. He was once the darling of the managerial class, celebrated in popular culture as a modern day Thomas Edison. He was serving Gaia with his electric cars and hyper loops. His battery plants would magically allow us to stop raping Mother Earth for fossil fuels. His reward would be to one day travel the stars in his rocket ships. Musk was the way to the glorious future. When he spoke out against Twitter, he suddenly transformed into the terrible past.
This is what stumps people about managerialism. There was no official pronouncement from the leader of the managers. The supreme leader of managerialism did not read out a fatwa against Elon Musk. There is not even an anonymous memo circulating that says Musk is now on the proscribed list. It is a thing that just happened. One day, people with power were showering Musk with your money. Then all of a sudden, they all agreed that Musk was a threat to our democracy.
Another example of the managerial mindset is in this story about the law firm that won the recent gun case in the Supreme Court. The two lawyers who won the case were met with a termination letter after their victory. The law firm, Kirkland & Ellis, represents the most important people in the most important matters. There is a revolving door between Kirkland & Ellis and the Department of Justice. Former AG Bill Bar was a Kirkland man, as were many on his team.
Why is Kirkland & Ellis dropping second amendment cases? No one has made an official announcement on the issue. The attorneys who won the gun case stated that they were told the firm was dropping their gun clients. No one came to the partners of Kirkland & Ellis and made them an offer they could not refuse. They simply decided that their conscience could no longer allow them to handle these cases. Then they were celebrated for it by their friends down at the club.
This is the first domino. All of the other big forms will drop second amendment litigation because they will all be struck by the same crisis of conscience. Much the same has happened in the insurance industry. Insurers refused to do business with the National Rifle Association. Many banks have also joined the boycott. Again, there was no memo sent out from the secret lair in the hollowed out volcano. No one is forcing these big players to do this. They just think it is right.
It is one of things the paleos got wrong about managerialism. Perhaps wrong is too strong a word for it. More like they did not anticipate it. Burnham, a former communist, focused on the material aspects. He never addressed the culture of managerialism that was evolving along with the managerial system. Later paleos started to approach this topic, but they never fully embraced the idea that this class that rules over American society has reached class consciousness.
That class consciousness is not simply an awareness of their position with regards to economic and cultural relations. It is a moral community now. To be in the managerial class requires accepting a set of beliefs about what is right and wrong. Good people accept climate change. Bad people are deniers. Good people think guns are bad, while the bad people talk about their second amendment rights. The good people saw Trump as a threat to our democracy. The bad people voted for him.
This is what Musk faces in the Delaware Court of Chancery Chancellor. He may have the facts on his side with regards to the fake accounts. He may have the law on his side with regards to the terms of the deal. He has all the money in the world, which should count for a lot. None of that may matter as the people making the decision have all decided that he is a bad guy. Like every issue for the managerial class, Musk is now a moral signifier. Where you stand on him is where you stand on everything.
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