Preemptive Offenses

Monday, March 18, 2013

"One Of Us"

One of John Ringo's recent novels, The Hot Gate, contains some extremely valuable musings about how people come to trust one another. (The book is the third volume in his "Troy Rising" series, which I recommend unreservedly.) I hope Mr. Ringo will allow me to summarize them without becoming litigious.

In Societies of Status, which includes most of the nations of the world, individuals tend to extend their trust to others of comparable status. (Ringo phrases that as "trust is based on relationships.") Smith's acknowledgement that Jones is "one of us" is the critical determinant in Smith's decision whether to trust Jones. This is a natural consequence of the most important social alliances in such societies: the alliances within a given social stratum, intended to promote that stratum's interests against all the others.

In a Society of Contract, such as America used to be, individuals tend to extend their trust to others of proven standards of conduct. They form friendships and other interpersonal bonds only with those who share their moral and ethical basis. (Ringo phrases that as "relationships are based on trust.") Smith will not associate with Jones, nor permit their reputations to be linked, until he is satisfied that Jones's conduct will not besmirch his own standing. When there are no class barriers, this is the most important of all criteria, as one's economic altitude and social standing are all too easily undermined by associating oneself with a lowlife.

So what are we to make of this?

On ABC’s This Week, hosted by Martha Raddatz, Speaker of the House John Boehner appeared to downplay the problem of national debt while loudly proclaiming his wonderful relationship with President Obama. “The president and I, as I have made very clear, have a very good relationship. We're open with each other. We're honest with each other,” said Boehner.

“Do you trust President Obama?” Raddatz asked.
“Absolutely,” Boehner replied.
“Absolutely?” Raddatz emphasized.
“Absolutely,” Boehner repeated.

Is Boehner speaking sincerely? Is that even possible, given Obama's record of deceit, dissimulation, and evasion of responsibility? If it is so, does it mark him as a fool? Or might it mean that Boehner sees himself and Obama as "of the same class," and therefore naturally allied against us lowly ones outside the corridors of power?

Americans speak of the "political class" with a good deal of contempt. We know it for what it is...and the politicos know it, too. It's led to an us-versus-them mindset among them, in which any tactic, however low, becomes licit if it will serve the class's interests -- and the class's principal interest, always and everywhere, is in defending and expanding its power, privileges, and perquisites.

KG at Crusader Rabbit says, quite directly, that Boehner's statement marks him as unfit for public office. I find it hard to disagree...but then, I was mostly of that opinion already, based on Boehner's beneath-lackluster performance as Speaker of the House of Representatives.

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