Friday, August 25, 2006

The Waning Days of the Republic? -5

In today's NYT, Thomas Frank comments on the philosophy of presidential chief domestic policy adviser, Karl Zinmeister, former editor of the American Enterprise Institute's flagship magazine.He notes that even though Zinmeister has written the idea "that the United States has separate classes is dubious", Z. spends pages after pages going after the "elites". The "elites" it turns out, are not the leaders of rightwing think tanks, corporate lobbies and bosses of corporations, they are uniformly liberals - "educated elites", "East Coast elites", "professor/lawyer/journalist/activist elites".

Frank writes:

"Then why has Zinsmeister expended so much ink assailing elites and their works? Enter the magic concept of the market, the source of corporate power and all else that is sacred. The working of the free market “is democracy,” Zinsmeister writes, “with pluralities of economic actors exerting votes.” Democracy itself, however, if it takes the form of a regulatory state, “is monarchism. It lets the handful at court boss the masses.”

Swallow this, and all the rest of it starts to make sense: how liberals are elites even when they aren’t, how the sweatshop economy of the Mariana Islands is the will of a humble people looking to be free from a domineering central government (an argument Zinsmeister’s magazine made in 1997), and how a well-subsized think-tank editor can advise the victims of economic dislocation to stop whining."


The idea of "commonwealth" is going down with the Republic.