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Elite, not Expert: America’s elites are neither bright, competent, nor qualified

Editors’ Note

The following transcript is from a speech delivered at an event entitled “Lies of the Ruling Class,” hosted in May 2022 at the Claremont Institute’s DC Center for the American Way of Life.

e’ve all been asked to speak to some particular lie of the present regime. First, though, a word on that word.

We, or at least I, have been taking some flak recently for using it. It is said that we mean it as a pejorative. But when I say “regime” in reference the present ruling order, I am speaking as a political scientist. “Regime” means “ruling order” or “form of government.” How, then, could using this clinical word possibly be pejorative?

It’s true that I do not believe the present regime of the United States bears much similarity to that of the founders. In this, though, I am once again just being descriptive. Any honest observer would have to admit as much. Indeed, those who have done the most to change the founders’ regime into what we have today are, or used to be, quite open about what they consider to be the inadequacies of the former which necessitated its transformation. But partisans of the present regime recently determined that their former openness no longer serves their interests. Hence todacoy they obscure the nature and extent of the changes to our regime, the better to confuse and disorient their enemies.

Do those who accuse me of using “regime” as a pejorative deny that any change has taken place? If so, they are being unscientific, not to say delusional. Or is their denial insincere, an example of what I have termed the “Law of Salutary Contradiction”? The regime hasn’t changed—and it’s good that it has, because old regime was “racist” or whatever.

In the case of the fake “conservatives,” I believe they know our regime has changed, they welcome that change, and so attack those who notice but don’t welcome it. This is the Law of Salutary Contradiction married to the Celebration Parallax: they get to say it because they like it; when we say the same thing, it’s a dangerous conspiracy theory. The role of these fake “conservatives” is therefore to gaslight you into believing that the founders’ regime still rules, and, failing that, to denounce you for saying otherwise. Telling the truth about the present regime is not a privilege allowed to its critics.

It’s hard to say what, exactly, the present regime is. I can find no precise analogue for it in the various regime catalogues of classical, medieval, or modern political philosophy. For classical political science, a regime is defined by who rules. But who rules ours? Who is sovereign? This is not, at least not for me, an easy question to answer.

The best I can do right now (that is to say, I don’t rule out coming up with a better answer later) is some combination of a corps of elites and the doctrine they follow. Which is tantamount to another chicken-or-egg question. Certainly, elites write the doctrine, but only a subset of them; the rest follow blindly. And even the elites who do the writing are not “creative” in any Nietzschean sense; they are following what we may provisionally term “deep doctrine,” which they only dimly understand and don’t know the origins of. Perhaps, then, the doctrine is sovereign?

Be that as it may, one may more confidently say that, unlike many past notions of a “regime,” ours includes more than the officers of the government. It is comprised of a whole array of elites in business, finance, tech, academia, entertainment and media, and the non-profit sector (to cite only the most important). The elites work together seamlessly in a way that… read more

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