Friday, July 23, 2010

Who Is That "Ruling Class"? The "Creative Class'" Spawn

We've quoted Patrick Deneen often, and Jeremy finds him again.

Deneen describes both the progenitors of and the enablers of the "Ruling Class" identified by Spectator contributor Prof. Codevilla. They are overlaid circles in the Venn diagram, to some extent.

The best guide on this subject remains the work of historian Christopher Lasch, especially his exploration of the rise of the meritocracy in the title essay of his posthumous book, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy. There Lasch excoriated the new meritocratic class, a group that had achieved success through the upward-mobility of education and career and that increasingly came to be defined by rootlessness, cosmopolitanism, a thin sense of obligation, and diminishing reservoirs of patriotism. The meritocracy had all but replaced the old aristocracy of the sort embodied by a Connecticut man like Prescott Bush, on the one hand substituting talent for privilege, but on the other hand replacing older forms of noblesse oblige with self-congratulation. Lasch argued that this new class “retained many of the vices of aristocracy without its virtues,” lacking the sense of “reciprocal obligation” that had been a feature of the old order.

And that had consequences.

Deneen refers to the group not as "Ruling Class" but as "Creative Class," which is a distinction only in degree, not in substance.

...a key difference between “Creative Class” cities and the rest of the country was a remarkable gap in what Putnam called “social capital.” While Creative Class locations are successful in generating financial and creative capital, they are comparatively poorer in social capital. Bishop discovered that people living in non-Creative Class settings enjoyed “the comfort of strong families, bustling civic groups, near universal political participation, and abundant volunteering.” Creative Class cities, by contrast, “had fewer volunteers, lower church attendance, and weaker family connections.” Among other attractions for the Creative Class were “anonymity, the opportunity for self-invention, and the economic benefits of loose ties.”

...Inclined toward individualism and a devotion to personal expression and development, and committed especially to success in their careers, members of the meritocracy rely not on each other for assistance and support, but rather expect the government to fill in the abandoned civic sphere. Thus their decision to support liberal politicians is a classic case of recognizing opportunity costs: rather than generating their own social capital, which would detract from their careers and their lifestyle experimentation, they are willing to use relatively ample economic resources to get someone else to do the job

Having used Connecticut as a proto-locus of the Creative Class, Deneen contrasts it with Kansas:

If the denizens of Connecticut are acting reasonably in supporting liberal politicians, so are Kansans in opposing them. They inchoately recognize that expanding government is a desideratum of the Creative Class, not of those left behind. Theirs is a new kind of class resentment, ironically one in which the “revolutionary” class supports conservative policy and the “aristocracy” advances a global liberalism


Should I mention "subsidiarity" again? Or note the term "revolution" in Deneen's work?

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