Now at last, a proletarian revolution 8

And it is for individual freedom, not communism!

Karl Marx was wrong. When at last the working class rises, it is not for socialism, internationalism and equality: it is for capitalism, the nation-state and liberty.

Donald Trump’s movement – he and his followers are calling it a revolution – is a genuine proletarian uprising, perhaps the first in history. It is very hard to find an historical precedent for a downtrodden class actually rising spontaneously in protest against the ruling class without being incited to it by dissident members of the ruling class itself.

The libertarian Ilana Mercer writes at Townhall about “the disenfanchisement of the poor whites of America”:

The present ideology on immigration considers all whites, rich or poor, a privileged, “fungible monolith”. This outlook brooks little or no consideration of lives lived in penury for over a century. In particular: It overlooks the descendants of poor white Southern sharecroppers who did not own slaves, but were devastated by the War Between the States both “in human and economic terms”. Even now, this sizeable segment of the South has yet to recover; its attainments with respect to education and income mirror those of the region’s African-Americans, with one distinction: poor whites are barred from affirmative action programs.

These are the people – this is the DEMOS – whose chosen leader Trump is. Sure, he is a rich man, but he is not a member of the ruling elite – he is a builder. A very successful builder. No, he does not phrase his ideas felicitously. He does not develop an argument. He utters cries, he repeats himself. He expresses the half-formed, inadequately worded, but deeply and painfully felt opinions and desires of unconsidered people.

He speaks often of the plight of the poor blacks in the inner cities of America. And the poor Latinos. He is far from being a “racist” – the favorite boo-word of the Left.

The Ivy-League conservatives and leaders of the Republican party do not, many of them, “get it”. They feel threatened, along with their fellow members of the ruling class in the laughably named “Democratic Party”.

But there are a few who do.

Steven Hayward (yes, the same admirable Steven Hayward of PowerLine) writes at the Weekly Standard:

Win or lose, [Trump] has divided and may yet shatter the conservative movement …

Hayward says he does not believe Trump will win. He is interested in why a number of intellectuals he highly respects wish that he will.

Several Claremont eminentos appear prominently on the recent list of “Scholars and Writers for Trump,” including Charles Kesler, Larry Arnn, Thomas West, Hadley Arkes, Brian Kennedy, and John Eastman. … It is also worth adding that the Claremonsters on this list are typically at odds with many of their fellow signatories who hail from the “paleocon” and libertarian neighborhoods of the right — another indication of the extraordinary ideological scrambling effect of the Trump campaign.

Knowing my own deep Claremont roots — I earned a Ph.D. from the Claremont Graduate School while working at the Claremont Institute in the 1980s — several people have asked me to explain: “How is it that a group known for its emphasis on the idea of high statesmanship, and on the importance of serious political rhetoric, can champion Trump?” …

The Claremont sympathy for Trump needs to be better understood, because it differs fundamentally from the typical candidate scoring mentioned above. If Trump can’t live up to the idiosyncratic Claremont understanding of the meaning of his candidacy, the Trump phenomenon nonetheless opens a window onto the failures of conservatism that made Trump’s candidacy possible and perhaps necessary. Even if you reject Trump, there are vital things to be learned from him if we are to confront the crisis of our time. …

What is that crisis? It’s not the litany of items that usually come to mind—the $20 trillion national debt, economic stagnation, runaway regulation, political correctness and identity politics run amok, unchecked immigration that threatens to work a demographic-political revolution, and confused or unserious policy toward radical Islamic terrorism. These are mere symptoms of a much deeper but poorly understood problem. It can be stated directly in one sentence: Elections no longer change the character of our government. …

The closer source of the Claremont sympathy for Trump (though it should be noted that they are far from unanimous — several Claremonsters are Never Trumpers) is found in another aspect of the Claremont argument about which there is near-complete harmony among East, West, and everyone in-between: the insidious political character of the “administrative state”, a phrase once confined chiefly to the ranks of conservative political scientists, but which has broken out into common parlance. It refers not simply to large bureaucracy, but to the way in which the constitutional separation of powers has been steadily eroded by the delegation of more and more lawmaking to a virtual “fourth branch” of government [the bureaucracy]. …

Who should rule? The premise of the Constitution is that the people should rule. The premise of the administrative state, explicitly expressed by Woodrow Wilson and other Progressive-era theorists, is that experts should rule, in a new administrative form largely sealed off from political influence, i.e., sealed off from the people. At some point, it amounts to government without the consent of the governed, a simple fact that surprisingly few conservative politicians perceive. Ronald Reagan was, naturally, a conspicuous exception, noting in 1981 in his first Inaugural Address, “It is time to check and reverse the growth of government, which shows signs of having grown beyond the consent of the governed.”  …

The salient political fact is this: No matter who wins elections nowadays, the experts in the agencies rule and every day extend their rule further, even under Republican presidents ostensibly committed to resisting this advance. We still nominally choose our rulers, but they don’t reflect our majority opinions. No wonder more and more conservatives regard the GOP leadership in Washington as “collaborationists” with Democrats. …

Marini [Prof. John Marini of the University of Nevada, Reno, “a Claremont Institute stalwart”], a Trump supporter, told me last week, “Public opinion is in the hands of a national elite. That public opinion, the whole of the public discourse about what is political in America, is in the hands of very few. There’s no way in which you have genuine diversity of opinion that arises from the offices that are meant to represent it.” A good example of the defensive crouch of Republicans accepting the elite-defined boundaries of acceptable opinion was Sen. Ted Cruz’s comment shortly after the 2012 election that conservative social policy must pass through “a Rawlsian lens”,  an astonishing concession to the supercharged egalitarian philosophy at the heart of contemporary leftism. …

Trump’s disruptive potential explains therefore his attraction for Claremonsters. More than just a rebuke to political correctness and identity politics, a Trump victory would be, in their eyes, a vehicle for reasserting the sovereignty of the people and withdrawal of consent for the administrative state and the suffocating boundaries of acceptable opinion backing it up. A large number of Americans have responded positively to Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” because they too see Trump as a forceful tribune against the slow-motion desiccation of the country under the steady advance of liberalism. …

The Trump disruption thesis is not held uniquely by the Claremonsters. David Gelernter offered a version of this argument in the Wall Street Journal last weekend, and Victor Davis Hanson has been arguing along these lines for months. …

The exacting demands of statesmanship have seldom been put better than by Hillsdale’s Thomas G. West, one of the most fervent Claremont pro-Trumpers, in a 1986 essay: “A president who would successfully lead the nation back to constitutional government must have the right character, be able to present the right speeches, and undertake the right actions to guide the people to elect a new kind of Congress.” Last week, I asked West whether and how Trump could measure up to this understanding of what is necessary today. West points to what he calls Trump’s “civic courage”, i.e., his intransigence in the face of relentless attacks, his willingness to call out radical Islamic extremism by name while noting the guilt-infused reluctance of Obama and Hillary Clinton to do so, his willingness to question the bipartisan failures of foreign policy over the last 25 years, and his direct rebuke to the collapse of the rule of law in cities with large black populations. West thinks Trump’s breathtaking stubbornness and shocking candor are the ingredients for the kind of restorative statesmanship the times demand. …

That Trump can be made out to be the only candidate since Reagan who has represented a fundamental challenge to the status quo puts in stark relief the attenuation of conservative political thought and action over the last 20 years and the near-complete failure of aspiring Republican presidents to marry their ambition to a serious understanding of why the republic is in danger. …

Lincoln famously said in 1854, “Our republican robe is soiled.” We need only capitalize one word to adapt it to our time: “Our Republican robe is soiled.” The cleanup is going to be excruciating. But nothing is more necessary and important.

As intellectuals ourselves, we heartily agree. And we want Donald Trump to win.

  • Cogito

    I continue to be pessimistic about the outcome of this election – for two reasons.
    First, despite some polls indicating that 65% of Americans want change, other polls say that if Hussein were constitutionally permitted to run again, he would easily win.
    Second, the electors had an opportunity to “throw the bum out” in the recent vote for Paul Ryan’s seat. He won handily.
    These two data are not harbingers of optimism.

    • liz

      Yes, none of it really adds up unless you take into account the ‘useful idiot’ vote and/or massive voter fraud affecting the outcome. If that continues, the outlook is very dim.

  • liz

    Trump’s “Contract with the American voters” that he delivered at Gettysburg is the exact embodiment of the Revolution we need. This is what the Tea Party was all about.

  • liz

    Trump has GOT to win. If he doesn’t, the ‘proletarian revolution’ will be buried under the highest, deepest pile of regulatory excrement in history.

    • Azgael

      what about revolution? why is it that its either trump wins or surrender to the communists and become slaves of government or killed by them? why is revolution NEVER an option?

      • liz

        I just don’t see it happening. I suppose it could, but it doesn’t seem realistic. Remember that March on Washington by Sargeant Whatsisname? Nobody came.

  • Cogito

    This is a profoundly important article and needs widespread distribution. Until now, I have had the position “Anybody but Hillary” because I have seen Trump as severely and disappointingly flawed.
    But now I am siding with my wife Cassandra, whose view is “Nobody but Trump”!
    Continue the battle, Jillian.
    Cogito

    • Your encouragement comes at a time when it is very much needed.
      So many thanks, Cogito and Cassandra!