The Smug Style

In a Vox article, Emmett Rensin (himself a liberal) argues against the smug style, where costal liberals – who are led by wealthy and comfortable professional types – view the conservative working classes with contempt and smugness.

This isn’t going to fundamentally change, of course. Recall that the Establishment truly believes in salvation by knowledge: “If you have enough information, you will certainly agree with us! Therefore, if you don’t agree with us, then it is basically because you are ignorant.”

This is even extended to Christianity: while the old-line liberal is directly against Christianity and all its works, the modern form is smarter: following Islam (and, to a lesser extent, communism), it insists that they have the Real Knowledge about what Christianity teaches, and actual believers are merely ignorant.

This is the core of the secular Establishment, and it will never change.

(After bankruptcy and the Great Default, though, far fewer will take the Credentialed Voices of Compassion seriously.)

Still, the wise Christian will expect more flowery, pretty language used by Our Leaders to directly spit into our faces.

Two interesting passage:

The studies, about Daily Show viewers and better-sized amygdalae, are knowing. It is the smug style’s first premise: a politics defined by a command of the Correct Facts and signaled by an allegiance to the Correct Culture. A politics that is just the politics of smart people in command of Good Facts. A politics that insists it has no ideology at all, only facts. No moral convictions, only charts, the kind that keep them from “imposing their morals” like the bad guys do.

Ah yes, the modern Voice of Our Betters.

It reminds me of Scientific Socialism, and Scientific Darwinism, and all the rest of it.

But when science – now politicized and ridden with groupthink – loses its authority, rest assured, no one will bother with Good Facts. Some other thing will be used to justify their rule.

I am suggesting that they instead wonder what it might be like to have little left but one’s values; to wake up one day to find your whole moral order destroyed; to look around and see the representatives of a new order call you a stupid, hypocritical hick without bothering, even, to wonder how your corner of your poor state found itself so alienated from them in the first place. To work with people who do not share their values or their tastes, who do not live where they live or like what they like or know their Good Facts or their jokes.

If I was a liberal, I wouldn’t worry about that much. After all, the moral order has been progressively destroyed for some time now,

  • from America’s drive to Empire under both Roosevelts,
  • to the modern theft-based welfare state (beloved by the working class – and everyone else),
  • to abortion (which has never been banned by any state)
  • to easy divorce, and now to homosexuality.

But then again, all this was innate to the foundation of the (essentially fraudulent) Constitutional Convention, that merely ignored the instructions created by the states to build an explicitly secular government. “For the People” and not “For the Lord” was – and IS – explicitly supported by the majority of Americans, rich and poor, back then and today.

“The moral order means nothing, before getting what I want.”

(But then again, people have always felt that Secret Knowledge would magically get them what they wanted, something for nothing:

The tyranny of socialism’s commitment to a world of something for nothing led to a national economic disaster, as it always does. The historical model of socialism is Pharaoh’s Egypt: bureaucratic, tyrannical, and ultimately disastrous for those in charge. The events of 1989-91 in Eastern Europe and the Union of Socialist Soviet Republics were merely recapitulations of the Egyptian model. The systems broke down economically, politically, and socially in a massive collapse — remarkably, without much bloodshed.)


Most churches refuse to challenge magical thinking, explicitly teaching from the pulpit (and backed by the laity) that God’s Judgement is, and will always be, in some far away never-never land, and explicitly denying that God will judge our society (and often, us individually) in this world: perhaps in an hour, perhaps in a few generations, but judgement always comes.

Today’s preachers explicitly deny this. They are wrong: God judges in this world, as well as the world to come.

This is not a call for civility. Manners are not enough. The smug style did not arise by accident, and it cannot be abolished with a little self-reproach. So long as liberals cannot find common cause with the larger section of the American working class, they will search for reasons to justify that failure. They will resent them. They will find, over and over, how easy it is to justify abandoning them further.  They will choose the smug style.

The author is an old-style socialist, more in the ’50 mode than today. But that day is dead, and this day will die off, soon enough.

Maybe the cycle is too deeply set already. Perhaps the divide, the disdain, the whole crack-up are inevitable.

There will be no break-up today, while Our Masters have the power of the State and the Corporations to back them. After the Great Default, things get interesting.

But if liberal good intentions are to make a play for a better future, they cannot merely recognize the ways they’ve come to hate their former allies. They must begin to mend the ways they lost them in the first place.

To repent, there must be an acknowledgement that there is a higher standard of justice and ethics than your own. There is no possibility of this from a ruling class so long as they remain secular: only more effective lies, better tools of control, more up-to-date delusions.

And, perhaps, cheaper tools of thought control (“Public schools and media saturation are so expensive!” and more accurately targeted drone strikes.


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