The Davos Man’s Dilemma

I hear the train a comin’
It’s rollin’ ’round the bend,
And I ain’t seen the sunshine
Since, I don’t know when
I’m stuck in Davos Prison
And time keeps draggin’ on
But that train keeps a-rollin’
On down to San Antone

For some reason, that’s what came to mind when reading this Forbes piece about a Davos Man’s puzzlement over the current ructions.

Billionaire Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzmann apparently finds the anger of voters both on the right and left bewildering, according to a report from the InternationalBusiness Times.

“I find the whole thing astonishing and what’s remarkable is the amount of anger whether it’s on the Republican side or the Democratic side,” the Wall Street mogul said at the World Economic Forum in Davos. “Bernie Sanders, to me, is almost more stunning than some of what’s going on in the Republican side. How is that happening, why is that happening?”

The classic Johnny Cash song Folsom Prison is not about prison, it’s about the torment the singer feels about what he imagines is going on outside the prison. That train he hears could be a freight train for all he knows, but it is what he imagines it to be that torments him.

We are seeing a variation of this with the ruling classes at all levels. They heard noises on the streets and they just assume the people were celebrating the great wonderfulness of the modern age. Davos Man is so thoroughly divorced from the daily life on this planet, he may as well be from an alien race that has colonized the earth.

It’s not just the plutocrats. Turn on cable news and the news readers are perplexed by what’s happening “out there” among “those people” they hear about. It’s as if these people are locked away in a mountain prison from which they do their “reports” every night. Their field reporters operate like Jane Goodall, reporting back to the mother-ship on the doings of the meat sticks.

The funny thing about this is the strange lack of awareness in the media to their own disconnect from the daily reality of their audience. They really think they are “speaking truth to power” and leading the conversation on the topics of interest to the public. In one of life’s many ironies, the managerial class, at least that portion that serves in the mass media, is suffering from false consciousness.

The panic we are seeing in Conservative Inc over Trump, National Review is now running special editions bashing Trump, stems from this disconnect. These are people who have somehow come to the conclusion that they are serving shoulder to shoulder in a mass movement. They keep talking about the “conservative movement” as if it is a real thing and not just an old catch phrase from a bygone era.

All of a sudden, the people they truly believed were their brothers in arms are abandoning them to go fight in some other cause. At least that’s the way they see it. The reality is these well-scrubbed college boys and girls making a career in conservative media have as much in common with the hoi polloi as poor Davos Man at the start of this post. In fact, they have more in common with him because he signs their paychecks.

It’s not just the prep school wing of the the Right. The Evangelical rackets are suffering from a similar problem. Rod Dreher has an interest post up on this at The American Conservative. The “leaders” are wildly out of sink sync with their followers. Those people making a living in Evangelical Inc. are suddenly feeling the ground shift too.

The thing is, it’s not this disconnect that has the revolting out their revolting against their betters. Resentment of the rich is a popular unicorn on the Right, but it’s just that, imaginary. Like the poor, the rich will always be with us. Most of human history is the story of the people rallying to the standard of a rich guy who is vexed by some other rich guy.

The issue is something different. It’s that the rich guys these days are rallying the people and then abandoning their post. It’s nothing but a litany of excuses as to why they can’t do what they say they want to do. Those Evangelical voters have been hearing the same sermon for a long time and things just get worse. Why not throw in with the heathen?

What we are seeing is a public that is coming to the conclusion that the game is rigged. Vote Republican or Democrat and the results are the same and always at odds with the wishes of the people. There are other social forces at work, of course, but the people in charge are undermining the legitimacy of the system over which they preside.

That’s ultimately the dilemma facing Davos Man. Being a member of a global ruling elite is not all ski trips and swank conferences. Unless they square their interest with those of the public and do so through the popular political institutions, the divide will grow and the unrest will get louder. The lesson of Trump is the lesson of history. There’s always another rich guy to whom the public can rally.

25 thoughts on “The Davos Man’s Dilemma

  1. Pingback: Why Trump? | THE TEXAS SCRIBBLER

  2. Piling on here, and only tangentially related, but….

    Middle of Saturday afternoon here on the Left Coast. I flip on CNN for blizzard porn…….

    Q. How am I supposed to take seriously a network whose weekend afternoon anchor is a 33 year old named Poppy Harlow?

    I was a grammar school kid when Chet and David were king of the hill. I don’t consider myself that old, but I must be, because this nation has changed drastically just in my lifetime. Some of it good, and some…….well……Poppy.

    BTW……..Anyone remember the theme music to Huntley-Brinkley? (I had forgotten about it, of course). Try getting a green light from a producer to go with Beethoven this these days.

    Ohh God…Now there’s pics of Cuomo helping pull somebody out of a ditch in Long Island. ……..

  3. The Managerial Class: “But we have always lived in the castle.”

    The Rest of Us: “Welcome to the Great Upheaval.”

    • I call this neo-feudalism. A great game underfoot: A dystopic plan for a new world in which human (and national/cultural) distinctions are stamped out. This plan is actually being implemented through mass immigration.

  4. All media these days tend to report on what troubles them within their own circles. The old idea of a journalist going out and finding out has long since passed: what we see now is the result of some inane chatter round the tea wagon/water cooler or ‘reported’ the next day after a fine cheese-and-wine party with one’s dearest friends.

    A journalist now looks inwards, but should they lift their eyes it is only to look at the equally self-obsessed faces of their brothers and sisters in the same sphere. We may as well call all news outlets ‘The Daily Bubble’ though it will contain few clues as to when said bubble will burst.

  5. “The lesson of Trump is the lesson of history. There’s always another rich guy to whom the public can rally.”

    Trump represents the modern day American elite like no other: NYC denizen, FIRE economy billionaire, shameless self-promotion, family members married into the Tribe,… But he betrayed his class like Ross Douthat said and allied with the American public.

    How this happened?

  6. It is not primarily the rich who I have a problem with. It is the wealthy who have a god complex who fear I fear the most.

  7. Yes. What is a rich globalist oligarch to do? Here they are implementing their decades old plan to mix the east with the west, rich and poor, white and non-white, mooslim and christian get some good miscegenation going on and voila differences in the races and cultures will be melded together into one big happy family with a global governing elite in valhalla. The big human family should be happy. No more wars or competition. Imagine peace & equality breaking out just as John Lennon sung.

    • Friend of John Lennon to the man: “Imagine that, hey, John?”

      John Lennon, sourly to friend: “It’s just a bloody song.”

      Unfortunately no one who imagines this big new happy world has recognised that it really was just a bloody song.

  8. Well, as far as I’m concerned, this desire to tear down the rich is the politics of envy. It’s a desire that communism is ultimately based on: take down the rich and take their money and we will prosper. Except that as we know, capitalism works and communism doesn’t. Movies and various articles help spread the idea that the rich are a problem and that they all screwed someone (or everyone) to get their money. This is simply another part of communism. What was it that annoying woman wrote once? Something about how “if you’re rich, it’s because we helped you”. Now that’s a woman I’d love to throw into a volcano.
    If there’s a problem with Davos, it’s to the extent that they bought into rich-guilt (which is an extension of western white guilt “why should we be rich when africa and the arab world and pakistan are poor? It must mean that we have ‘their’ money”.) So even though I don’t have the kind of money which would allow me to go to davos even on holiday, I sympathise with their puzzlement over ‘the anger’, since it’s ultimately anger against capitalism.

    • You’re as bad as the out-of-touch elites! Envy is but a very small part of the emotions felt by a growing plurality; feelings of betrayal are far, far stronger, more immediate and far more dangerous to the elites and their managerial class toadies.

      Frankly, I hope they keep missing the boat on this. All the better for the rising plurality to sweep them away!

  9. “It’s as if these people are locked away in a mountain prison from which they do their “reports” every night.”

    Or maybe chained up in Plato’s cave.

  10. “Turn on cable news and the news readers are perplexed by what’s happening “out there” among “those people” they hear about.”

    So true. I don’t watch a lot of cable news, but some weeks ago I turned on Fox after a hiatus of many months because, seized by some strange masochistic sense of obligation, I wanted to watch 0bama’s State of the Union address (which was as ludicrous and painful as I had hoped). But what really struck me was not the Great Leader’s bromides and vapidities – which were entirely, indeed, eagerly expected – but the astonishing disconnect in the “after coverage” between what the earnest, dedicated, well-heeled beltway pundits entreated as their version of political reality and what is actually going on in the country. I wish I could remember some specifics of what was said that caused my jaw to drop time and time again, but sadly my memory is weak. But the sense of gobsmacked amazement abides.

    It’s one thing to talk of beltway insularity and ignorance as a kind of geographical and political abstraction, and another to really witness it, to really feel at some visceral gut level that these people – whose professional lives are ostensibly devoted to observing politics – are hopelessly out of their depth. I had a sort of Marie Antoinette epiphany that night, and sensation of having the ground open beneath my feet hasn’t left.

    • Talking of Antoinette, Obama’s dismissive attitude towards the Islamist attack reminded me of Antoinette’s alleged dismissive attitude towards the peasants. He professed to share none of their fear. He showed zero empathy with his subjects. Let them eat gun control and global warming.

  11. What they are are a group of psychopaths having cognitively ignored the consequences of their unbridled freeforall of greed and corruption, resulting in a spectacularly legitimate preference cascade of their own creation, aka a plurality that is beginning to understand it is one.

    Being a member of a global ruling elite is going to be about dodging pitchforks ropes and firing squads pretty soon.

    By the way, they have nothing to do with being elite. With one exception, they are the ultimate entitlement class, they think they are entitled to rule over the rest of us with impunity. That is the only thing elite about them.

  12. The game should be rigged against the wishes of the people. And the politicians. That original republican form of government is now so far in the past that nobody has any sense of what it was.

    Yesterday I spoke to a Republican who is an enthusiastic Trump voter. I’ll vote Trump when it comes to that, but in politics enthusiasm is a form of ignorance.

    • Politics is supposed to be a necessary evil. That means the best you can expect is a president who will do little harm.

      • And which goes against the current narrative (Daddy Government, in the form of the President, is here to right wrongs and provide for all.)

        And which is why Coolidge will always remain at best under-appreciated and most often ignored. Because he didn’t “do stuff”. I’m firmly in my 50s, and even when I went to school Coolidge got barely a mention. FDR, on the other hand……

        I cannot even imagine what today’s textbooks must look like.

      • I’m sorry Zman, I not only expect better, my liberty demands it.
        That is just the problem here. The lowest common denominator is politics in all what has happened since that instrument of administrative tyranny was ratified, and that in no uncertain terms determines that I in any way shape or form I have to put up with these fucking corrupt clowns and their tyrant bullshit.

        I’ll tell you what’s necessary, get rid of every damn one of the sonofabitches and start over.

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