Tonight’s reading assignment is an outstanding essay, Weaving the Basket of Deplorables, recently posted at the site The Dissenting Sociologist. Its epopseudonymous author (sorry, but I felt the need for a name that’s both an eponym and a pseudonym), whom I shall call DS, has done a masterful job of distilling and clarifying some core neoreactionary ideas.
I am going to excerpt key sections, but please don’t let that stop you from reading the essay in its entirety. If you want to understand the new, deeply dissident Right, this is an important contribution, and is very well worth your time.
The point of entry is the increasing antipathy of our cultural and political aristocracy toward a certain segment of the American polity, as displayed most recently by Hillary Clinton’s remarks about them on the campaign trail (an antipathy that is also overwhelmingly evident in media and academia). These “deplorables” — to Barack Obama they are “bitter clingers” — were, however, once seen as the heartwood of the American nation. (In any purely practical sense, they still are.)
It is symptomatic that the leader of one of the two historic governing parties of that country, who as a Presidential candidate aspires to embody the unity of the body politic, should in the very course of attempting to convince others of her fitness for that role try to rhetorically DISMEMBER the corporate body of society, to proclaim that one of that body’s own organs- once by standard rhetorical convention exalted in political speech as the very “backbone of society”- is so much irredeemable social refuse deserving not only to be cast out of the social body, but regarded as as an anti-national element (“they are not America”).
This is worrisome:
Without wanting to lapse into alarmist dudgeon here, an appraisal of the nature and history of the modern State strongly suggests that, when a given social group is identified by elite political and ideological functionaries as an irredeemable anti-national element- viz. objectively dangerous to the State- a social process has already been set into motion that may not end well for that group, and that working-class Whites would do well to continue to cling to their guns, as the acting President of the USA has depicted them as doing.
Is this a question of class? If so, it’s not an ordinary one:
The upper classes … can be expected to sneer down their blue noses at the Great Unwashed at least a little bit. But it’s quite another thing for those classes — in any society tasked with the duty of care of the social whole — to propose that the plebs should collectively be regarded as altogether beyond the pale. In the West right now, elites are not only doing exactly that, but as though to add insult to injury seek in one and the same stroke to incorporate hordes of various migrants, who are often there illegally, and in any case exhaustively foreign (by birth, race, language, nationality, culture, and religion), as valued members of society while reducing the indigenous organic working class to the status of illegal aliens at best- and enemy nationals at worst- in their own country.
DS argues that this is better understood not as a matter of class, but of caste. This is a key insight (and one with which well-read NRx’ers will be familiar):
In order to grasp the meaning and significance of this class war from above, we need to go beyond the Marxian concept of class to the much deeper phenomenon of caste, as the bedrock social division of any Indo-European civilization past or present. [Mencius] Moldbug was on to something perhaps greater than he intended when he famously proposed that certain dynamics of contemporary American society could be profitably redescribed through ancient Hindu terminology. Caste not only provides a fresh perspective on current events, but in some cases, the only truly adequate one.
Analyzed in light of caste, the true bottom-line comes into view, as follows. It is well-known that, in modern society, politics takes over the place and function of religion as the privileged centre of social integration and thus as the dominant force that bears upon every aspect of life. Just as pre-Modern society found its all-encompassing unity in e.g. the “mystical body of Christ”, so Modern society finds its own unity in the “artificial person” of Hobbes’ political Leviathan, which aggregates a mass of isolate individual atoms into a single social organism. The State is co-extensive with society and defines its boundaries, just as religion once was.
The society in which religion is the dominant force always sets a certain bar of purity where its rites and rituals are concerned, and accordingly banishes from the ritual community individuals, and whole categories of individuals, deemed indelibly polluted, degraded, and corrupt, such that their very presence in the midst of public worship would be contaminating to the point of desecrating the proceedings. This vile condition typically accrues by, variously, work deemed unclean and debased, contracting certain types of disease, eating foods prohibited by dietary rules, miscegenation, infamous dereliction of morals or social duty, or ritual performance and utterance that is inexcusably incompetent or derelict.
The effort, in present American society, to banish an entire subset of the citizenry from the political community is clearly analogous to the older form of ritual exclusion. In this light, there can no longer be any doubt concerning the meaning of phrases like “basket of deplorables” in elite political discourse, with its image of a garbage bin filled with White people (cf. “White trash”) who fully deserve to have been discarded there: the elite is attempting to debase the White working class to the status of an untouchable caste, a new chandala for the secular 21st century milieu.
What is the cause of this “coming apart”? It is tempting to imagine that it is due to the widening gulf between the types of work the two castes do, but that explanation, while not wrong, still falls short:
Intuitively, it would appear that the cause lies in working-class involvement with industrial, construction, or agricultural labour increasingly further and further removed from the horizon of upper or even middle-class experience, and in the process come to be thought of by the latter classes as indelibly dirty and degrading. This is only partially true; the elite does not propose that other socially tenuous castes e.g. lower-class Blacks or Latinos deserve to be completely kicked out of society for doing those and other still more menial forms of work (the very opposite is true, to say the very least). Thus the Marxian hypothesis that predicts an exact correspondence between one’s place in the labour process and social status doesn’t exactly pan out here.
No, it is a question of a breach of ritual, an insufficient deference to what is sacred in our new secular ekklesia (I have bolded what I think are two especially important passages):
It is rather to ritual itself — more accurately, its secular and political functional equivalent — that we have to look. Mrs. Clinton made that absolutely clear; the White working-class deplorables, and their political speaker, Donald Trump, are deplorable because they either out of ignorance or willfully break with good ritual form and decorum as defined by the protocols of what is known in popular parlance, and with exact sociological precision, as political correctness…
In most societies, public ritual and its exactitudes do not concern the labouring castes, who on an a priori basis are deemed incompetent to perform it, and are quite content to leave this area to the priestly and other superior castes. In the West, this sociological default setting began to change, over the course of the past several centuries, with:
— the rise of Protestantism, in which each worshiper takes an active part in the proceedings on a more or less equal footing as part of the universal priesthood, and is held to the same, exactingly high, standard of conduct
— the rise of mandatory universal and standardized education
— finally, the rise of democratic notions of citizenship, according to which each citizen has both the legal right and ethical obligation to stay abreast of public affairs, to vote according to his conscience and interest, and above all, to speak freely on all subjects (“civic participation”).
The “democratic” ideal of a mass of standardized citizens collectively making decisions on an individualistic and egalitarian basis is, of course, a Utopian fancy that has not been realized anywhere and will not be. Our societies continue to be vertically organized according to a caste hierarchy, and the governing castes continue to define the standards of public protocol, decorum, and good form. What democratic ideology does succeed at doing, though, is seriously undermining the social authority of the governing castes on the one hand, and on the other hand conscripting working-class participation in affairs in which their input may clash dramatically with the expected standards set by the higher castes.
How does this have a uniquely delaminating effect in a democratic, and ostensibly egalitarian society, as compared to more firmly stratified ones? Pay attention here, because this is another innate liability of doctrinal egalitarianism (and by extension, democracy itself):
The net result with respect to political correctness is as follows. Where the right to pronounce sacred words, and the corresponding obligation to hold one’s conduct to the highest standards of moral and ritual purity, would by civilizational default be jealously reserved to the highest castes, today each citizen is expected to do his part to Celebrate Diversity, Ban Bossy, be an LGBT Ally, and so on like that. This means mastering, and then publicly repeating, words like “systemic racism”, “misogyny”, “White privilege”, etc.
The working class, as a group, sometimes runs into problems with this sort of thing, which is foreign to the overall working-class horizon of lived experience and likely to be rejected by a greater or lesser number of its members accordingly.
In other words, the strain occurs when modes of speech and thought are imposed on people for whom they are simply not believable. And why aren’t they? Because they collide with reality in ways that the caste doing the imposing does not personally experience (I have bolded another key passage here):
The typical early-adulthood bourgeois experience starts with attending University. There the student learns the correct cant from the source, and is rewarded for repeating it. He then goes on to take a white-collar job, where the exact measurement of his productive output is difficult or altogether impossible, and where in any case proven mastery of this or that form of correct ritual jargon will be a criterion of his fitness for assuming a management role. Once again, he is rewarded for repeating, in the presence of superiors, cant he need not actually understand, and which likely has no precise denotation in any case.
The working-class experience is different. The blue-collar youth is much more likely to enter the workforce immediately, or following completion of vocational training. In any case, whatever technical terminology he learns does have a precise technical denotation that must be understood in order to carry out practical operations whose success or failure will have productive consequences immediately and transparently known to everybody in the work process. (N.B. much the same set of considerations can also go for University-educated STEM personnel, especially engineers- who, to the extent that this is the case, really comprise part of the working-class, notwithstanding that both the salaries and social prestige attached to these positions are often very high).
The bourgeois youth acquires, both by training and experience, a “postmodern” worldview in which there is no objective reality worth worrying about, and pleasing superiors in positions of power- which means telling them the things they want to hear- is what really counts. Use of language, for him, is thus primarily a matter of social, i.e. ritual and magical, efficacy. His working-class counterpart, who bears the weight of objective reality on his shoulders the live-long day as though Atlas, primarily uses language that has a direct connection to material reality, exerts its effects by direct action on material reality as opposed to acting on social reality from a distance, and thus has mechanical as opposed to magical efficacy. This individual naturally regards the postmodern attitude with scorn, those who use magical language as untrustworthy charlatans, those who are socially but not mechanically efficacious as effeminate, and ritual cant with skepticism, if not open derision.
Those for whom words and ideas are generally much more than social utilities empty of substantive contents, but have serious practical implications, are also that much more likely to think the practical implications of politically-correct cant all the way through, and to ask certain critical questions: What would happen to society if polymorphous perversity became the rule? Why are all White people evil, or all straight men “misogynist”, because some of them are? Am I not in a certain existential danger for being a straight White male, now that all of us are collectively impugned? Meanwhile, none of this even occurs to the postmodern mindset- after all, the practical nuts-and-bolts of things are somebody else’s job to worry about.
Last but not least, the working-class guy is more likely, especially if from a geographical area in which industry/resource-extraction and/or agriculture is prevalent in the economy, and/or from a small community with relatively high social cohesion, to already have traditional values, regularly attend church, and so on, and so find the ultra-Leftist content of PC cant to be utterly odious and depraved from a moral point of view to begin with.
The potential for fairly serious social friction in all this is obvious.
That “potential for serious social friction” is an equally serious understatement; the potential is becoming actual all around us in these darkening times.
Go and read the whole thing, here. Then, if you like, we can discuss.