A thoughtful reader writes:
Many years ago I read Leon Uris' "Mila 18" about the Warsaw ghetto uprising in WWII. Early in the book there was a conversation between an American journalist and a Jewish Polish army officer. Don't remember a lot of the conversation, but at some point the officer explained to the American about the Jewish situation in Poland. Something to the effect that in Poland the people in power kicked the shit out of the peasants, but the peasants put up with it because they in turn could turn around kick the shit out of the Jews. Needless to say, the Jewish Polish officer did not come to a good end. I've always thought that explanation sounded like a parallel to some of the history of the American south. The poor whites in the South put up with being kicked around by the elites because they could take it out on the poor blacks, never realizing that they really had more in common with the blacks. Does that fit in with your understanding of peasants or am I completely off base?
My aim in pursuing Peasant Theory is to put the context of the American Middle Class into world historical perspective. My observation is that much of it is degenerate in such a way as to contradict itself. I think the values of the American middle class are still pointed in a generally sound direction, but that the efforts made in those directions have been so weak as to undermine those values. For example, I think it is a useful idea for all people to write and voice their opinions online in this marvelous thing called the internet - a truly miraculous invention. But if the quality of that writing is low, and the conveniences made so idiot-proof as to require no thought whatsoever, then the lofty value of disintermediating the old media is undermined. And so instead of using the inheritance of Western Civilization to truly achieve excellence, the plurality of Americans are spending it on the cultural and moral equivalent of barbarism. The end result is that people are not being elevated at all, because to be elevated is to put away uncivilized, course behavior, and we are raising yet another generation of chavs.
Much of that is to be expected, and I think it is useful and necessary, in order to defend what is most valuable about the principles of a constitutional republic and a market-oriented meritocracy is that people of skill, honor and quality make the appropriate distinctions between themselves and the rest. The idea of America as a classless society is foolish and dangerous. It remains on the brink of losing its essential distinguishing quality which is, as Jefferson put it, aristocracy of merit.
What does it profit ethnics to play out their melodramatic squabbles in a proper society as Jefferson would have it? Nothing. It's nothing more or less than the endless feuds of villagers. There is no useful quality of Jews beating up Poles beating up Irish beating up Africans beating up Jews. It is exactly as circularly pointless as Rochambeau to the death.
What is much more important is the character of the elites, because only a certain elite will rule and maintain that society in which the anonymous Pole or African might enjoy the infrastructure that leverages their modest virtues and talents. There is no brotherhood among any men. It is only the projects of the powerful which give righteous and useful employment to the masses that can incent them to put aside their squalid blood feuds. And it is only a proper meritocracy that can guarantee that those who rise above their ghetto beginnings will have anything more than empty platitudes to give back to their communities.
In a sense, I am judging the extent to which radical Muslims and snobby Euros are correct about America. I want to measure the extent to which the Land of the Free is populated by Amero-trash. I wish to identify that behavior exhibited by Americans that is in fact anti-American. I am under no illusion that simply being here and having some luxuries and protections is equivalent to citizenship. But I am also acutely aware that America did not itself invent those values and disciplines that make life worth living, so I distinguish the life of a Free Man from that of a proper Citizen of the republic. The point being that our ideas about freedom are old, open-source, well known, and it surely would be better to have been a free man in any ancient society than to be a slave today.
If American elites misbehave in such a way that undermines American meritocracy, then the so-called American middle class will erode. Only a fraction of them will possess the character to persevere. I would suggest that by their character in the absence of such a collapse, those who strive to be free men have already distinguished themselves from the American Peasantry.