In his last podcast, John Derbyshire mentions Sam Francis with regards to the Tea Party movement and similar spasms of Middle Americans Radicalism. Francis was a brilliant observer of America and first rate political thinker. The reason he is largely forgotten now is he ran afoul of the ruling elite. More specifically, he was a blasphemer on the issue of race, which can never be tolerated. Anti-racism is how the elite define themselves, so they see anything that can be described as racist to be a personal insult.
There should always be a wide space between what the culture rules out of bounds and that which the elites would like to silence. Elites will always want to silence critics, but in an open society this must be tolerated. The elites can point and sputter, but they should not be willing or able to condemn their critics, outside of extreme cases. If the ruling class becomes the arbiter of what is tolerable on moral grounds, the result will be something closer to a theocracy, rather than liberal democracy.
That said, it’s not wrong to say that guys like Sam Francis harmed themselves by deliberately violating public morality. Public discourse should be raucous and rude, but you have to know when to pull your punches too. You’re not getting very far by offending people, especially when you seem to enjoy being offensive. It makes the target sympathetic. When that target is the elite, that means they have license to swing the hammer at you. In other words, you’re asking for it.
Despite being a fan of John Derbyshire, I would say he had it coming when he was un-personed over this column. He was intentionally provocative. He could have pulled his punches a bit and made all the same point, but he wanted to provoke a response and he got his wish. To his great credit, he has never complained about it, so he did what he did fully prepared to take his medicine. There’s a place for that, for sure, but there is a place for those willing to use esoteric language and euphemisms too.
Anyway, the reason for this post is that Derb’s mention of Francis got me to re-read some old old Sam Francis essays. The man was not only brilliant, but he was right about a lot of things. In fact, the paleocons were right about an amazing number of things. Pat Buchanan was right about immigration, trade and the economy. Joe Sobran was mostly right about the culture and capitalism. John Derbyshire has been right about things like immigration, the culture war and the human sciences.
I could go on, but the point is, they were all mainstream voices in their day. They were contrarians, for sure, but no one thought of them has crazy or dangerous. Eventually, they were all driven from the stage. Those that have died have been erased from the collective memory. Those still alive have been forced to live in their shed, brought out once in a while for a struggle session. In other words, they were punished just as much for being right as for being at odds with public morality on the issues of race and culture.
Mark Steyn coined the term I’m using as a title. The elites of America are feverishly insulating themselves from reality. It is perfectly sensible for elites to insulate themselves from the physical reality of life. The King knew the peasants lived in filth. he did not have to see it every day. That’s not what is happening in modern America. Our royalty is walling themselves off from reality and demanding the rest of us accept their imaginary world as our reality. We have to play make believe with them.
The obvious question that arises from this is how long can such a condition go on before reality simply refuses to stay out of sight? At some point the differences is human potential have to be accepted. Are we really going to try and run and army with girls in combat units and transvestites in the command staff? Are we going to fill Congress with the quality of people we see on the Baltimore city council? Even if this is possible, how long could it endure? What happens when even the elites learn it is impossible?