By now, you’ve almost certainly read several stories about the great divide between the ruling class (generally, the bureaucracy) and the plebes (i.e. those that don’t work for government).
These stories have all missed something: the dividing line between the classes has been getting blurrier for the last 80 years. (Of course, this wouldn’t be news if you’d been reading your Old Right).
To repeat: FDR’s political strategy was to make everyone sort-of-dependent on the government. This strategy has continued to be the strategy of the Democratic Party since the days of FDR. It has been so successful that opposition to the strategy – i.e. the Old Right – has been destroyed. Neither political party will question this strategy. Its success makes it almost impossible to fight under any circumstances, and completely impossible to fight in a democratic system.
Let’s see how this works. The ruling class is often described as those who work for government. But whom does this description encompass? My wife is attorney at a private law firm that represents lots of defense contractors. Is she a government employee? If not, why not? My dad works for a nominally private energy company? Is he a government employee? The list goes on, but the point is that its gotten difficult to determine who works entirely independently from the government. My guess is that very few people do so.
Perhaps the bigger point is that creating a large, principled anti-government movement in such an economy is an impossibility.
Another example of how FDR’s strategy works is social security. Basically everyone over 40 has no chance of retiring if social security (or medicare) goes away. These people may realize the current system is unsustainable, but they don’t want to be the generation that has to work some shitty service job until they’re 95.
Again, creating a large, principled anti-government movement among such a constituency is an impossibility.
Finally, it’s probably worth pointing out that legions of people are net beneficiaries. About 50% of people pay no income taxes. Why would these people choose to end the system that gives them benefits in exchange for nothing – all they have to do is simply exist (often they get more for existing in more immoral states)?
The brilliance of FDR’s strategy is that once it gets past a certain point, it’s impossible to defeat in a democratic election – hence no one even tries to defeat it.
It is valid to point to a distinct ruling class, but it is incorrect to suggest that the priorities of the ruling class are at odds with the great majority of the population.
If you’re waiting for the great unwashed to rise up and overthrow their masters, you’re going to be waiting for a long time.