"A lie gets halfway around the world before the truth has a chance to get its pants on."
- Winston Churchill
I was explaining to Jake the other evening. Explaining to Jake is one of the world's great pleasures. Why? Because Jake gets it. If I have any claim to intelligence, it is only that I am recognized by other people that I find intelligent, and I don't have to wear my sociable skin. That counts for Brinkman and it counts for Ro when I'm talking about systems. It counts for Jimi and it counts for Courtney when I'm talking about people and character. It counts for Benzon and Yllona when I'm talking about music. It counts for my man in Florida when it comes to power and the evil that men do. And it counts for Gerard most of the time when I'm talking Epicurean. But I never get to talk to all of these people enough. I'm spindrift without an institution to gather me mateys and so I drift towards that 20th century sulk, the mind it its garrett.
These days I get weary. But I was explaining to Jake that I don't have an elevator pitch for my Peasant Theory, and I'm not sure I've ever required myself to make it more clear. So tonight's essay is to explain all that and update where I am.
I quit The Barbershop because I kept feeling 2007, and I still do. 2007 was when gas prices went ballistic and I was commuting over 100 miles a day but not really caring because I made that much money. 2007 was when I seriously considered buying a Hummer because it was just that audacious. But then I suddenly stopped wanting to be audacious and actually become sensitive to how much I exhibited various forms of lifestyle bling. It occured to me that it is a sensible thing for a rich man to drive a pickup truck when times are hard for the working man. It is a lesson I learned from observing the Christianity of a man who orders Budweiser in a French restaurant. Even though I prefer to remain a lot cooler than he, I took the lesson to heart. And so when it came to the Barbershop, I realized after a bit, that there were people who needed to advance their career in media more than I needed a cool high profile second life. I didn't really want to half-ass a media spotlight and so I couldn't see myself arguing just for the sake of argument - at least not in the format I was afforded.
But I also realized that I didn't quite care as much, and I had to get back to my own basics.
Peasant Theory came about primarily from the realization that war is always with us. And when you realize that, then you come to appreciate that you ultimately will have to choose sides. Whom do you expect to defend your life, and that of your family in wartime? In lesser degrees we all have that problem. Who cares what you know? So who will defend all the truth you possess? Do you even have a purpose and a reason to get to the truth? Does anybody even care if you know the truth? These are the fundamental questions I think most Americans do not ask themselves because we are cozy enough in a nation without starvation or slavery. But then there was 2007, and I had to start thinking about good reasons to do without.
So Peasant Theory is about the difference between the free man who knows enough truth to recognize those fragile things upon which his freedom depends and the other man who doesn't think enough about the truth to realize his position in society is completely leveraged. The first man understands the conditions under which his flexibility is compromise, the second man beleives that flexibility is a skill. The second man is a peasant because he is always at someone's service.
Let me get into that for a moment. If you've read much of the writing of people who lived under monarchs, you recognize how obeisance to the feudal hierarchies establish one's station in the lives of yore. You had to believe, of course, that your leige served Truth and God. So to bend one's ways to one's lord was, hopefully to bend toward The Lord of Lords, etc. And this is all the honor afforable. All honor came from living the truth of one's masters. And before the Reformation and the Revolution this was all most of humanity knew. Feudal.
Today we are largely feudal, because we have a slimy layer of corruption in the Baby Boom Generation and they haven't loosened their grip. So it is no surprise that all American journalists want to be Woodward & Bernstein because all American politicians want to be Nixon and Kennedy and as David Brooks so astutely noted, they're all bush league observers of the Wealthy who get away with everything. So the pols and journos establish the narrative of American life, bullshitting the masses who still tend to believe, unlike more wary Europeans, that their betters are actually running a meritocracy or anything actually resembling an ethical McMansion.
You can take this as a roundabout way of saying that there is some fraction of Obama's aims that make sense. On the other hand he shouldn't have won because he really had no idea... more on that another time. Having gotten into it for the moment, this is what you should take away. All who follow do not follow truth. Your station in life, borrowing from Neil Simon, isn't all you think it is, American. And that is because you're not as American as you believe yourself to be. That is precisely because you are a follower. You are an urban dweller, skill seller and you buy your clothes off the rack and your food in a box.
It wasn't a great disappointment to find that the American Right is full of half-assed reactionaries. It took me only two years to find, love, tolerate and get sick of Hugh Hewitt. But Dennis Prager is as wise as he has ever been, and Dennis Miller is still the man. So when I consider the fact that I probably will not read Mamet nor Breitbart's books, there was a point some time ago when I knew the moment would arrive. I would understand the American Left and the American Right and become disgusted with both, but not in the way that Dawkins' Dorks are self-righteously disgusted with all religions. They can only be that way because they are peasants following Dawkins. Peasants follow and they mark their progress ll the time. Peasants must always have something to prove, which is why they are only half fully human, and why they pay attention to the Kardashians and the Hiltons. The Wealthy get away with everything - they represent our understanding of the power of Will, something peasants do not possess. Peasants possess the power of Want.
Peasants Want to be like Mike. Peasants Want to get into Harvard. Peasants Want world peace. Peasants Want meritocracy.
'Power to the people' should hereby be pronounced. Markets to the Peasants. Peasants never get any real power; they wouldn't know what to do with it. Peasants only know how to get what it is they want, such as they are allowed and or encouraged to do so by their superiors. If you are unclear about how this operates, then just stop and listen to the Narrative of American pols and journos. The 'answer' is out there somewhere. And somebody clever will tell you what it is for a small fee, and then you will Want it and you'll find a way to get some small fraction of it (or the designer version if you are an affluent peasant).
Aside from all that, Peasants don't want any real power anyhow, because that would necessitate killing people. When you understand this, you recognize that you are a peasant because you want your Lord to do your killing for you. Remember what I said? War is always with us. All you get to do is choose sides, or by degrees, choose who will defend all you have come to be with your flexible version of the truth.
So it has been a couple years since I was on the air discovering the hard way how much attaches to the various Peasant cults of Wanting. Nothing seems quite so lame today as Will I Am's "Yes We Can" video. Go ahead. Watch it. I dare you. It's not about what anybody can do, it's all about what peasants want. That's the bottom line.. you have to wait and listen to it, after all the poofy phrases. Hope for change that the peasants will actually get more of what they Want. Peasants always can get what they want, but it's never enough. What never changes is that true power requires that you kill your enemies and frighten your rivals into submission. It's a lesson that peasants stubbornly refuse to learn and that is why all they ever have is hope. Hope that they can get enough so that the wanting goes away.
Can you smell the paradox? I mean all humans desire something. But only peasants organize their Wants and pile them all into one giant Grinchbag of narrative. Or policy, or manifesto or declaration or some other whereas filled gripe with fancy dropcaps. The Wealthy get away with everything and they don't bother to write it down for posterity.
There are in America, Republican and Democrat cults of Wanting and they keep offering us miniature Lords and Ladies for us to idolize and subsequently serve. They're not doing us any favors. They're all just trying various methods of Acting Presidential without getting caught up in a Gate of some slimy sort. But really that's all peasants want is that endless churn. A peasant cannot stand to be reminded that there are free men out there... so watch your back.
So there it is, basically. It takes a bit of precarious hopping around on one foot to get truth's pants on, because a peasant will run out of the house in a New York minute with the latest new song on their lips. It's a catchy tune not because it is, but because you want it to be.