Charles Murray has an article in the WSJ outlining America’s class divide. Murray notes the emergence of the “Super Zip Codes” that all go to the same elite schools, hold the same elite jobs, live in a very few elite cities, and live a life very different from that of the rest of the country. While at the same time among Whites, a lower class has emerged that is outside the cultural traditions and values of this country. He calls it the “Super Zips” vs. “Fishtown” (a White working class part of Philly). Arguing that both have become hereditary stations, for a number of reasons, and for an informal moral campaign to change that.
While Murray is superb in describing the situation, he shies away (from Political Correctness, ingrained chivalry, or other reasons such as fear) from accurately describing the reason for the emergence of two hereditary classes, and the action needed to break them apart, and increase personal social mobility.
Why the Super Zips Emerged
Murray notes that the United States has always had an elite. But that only recently have the payoffs for being “smart” been so large, and permanent. This is a familiar argument, one made many times in the Financial Times, and one not very intellectually rigorous. Simply because the elites are characterized by heredity, not smartness. Indeed, the dirty secret is that the elites are not very smart at all.
Elites are concentrated in the media, entertainment, the law, politics, government, “activism” and a few other areas where heredity, being born to the “correct” parent(s), personal connections, wealth, and “proper” opinions on a whole host of issues is everything. Not cognitive ability.
You will find almost no elites in professions such as engineering, computer science, entrepreneurship, and the like. Apple Computer, Dell, Starbucks, Oracle, were all formed by non-elites from middle class backgrounds or worse. Microsoft remains the only major technology company arguably founded by a child of the elite. Elites do not work as petroleum engineers, geologists, physicists, electrical engineers, and medical researchers, all highly demanding cognitive professions.
Angelo Codevilla argues in the American Spectator that the Ruling Class of America, Republican and Democrat, all go to the same national schools, share the same interests, intermarry, and form the same social class:
No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class’s continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it.
Never has there been so little diversity within America’s upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America’s upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and “bureaucrat” was a dirty word for all. So was “social engineering.” Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday’s upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.
Today’s ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits. These amount to a social canon of judgments about good and evil, complete with secular sacred history, sins (against minorities and the environment), and saints. Using the right words and avoiding the wrong ones when referring to such matters — speaking the “in” language — serves as a badge of identity. Regardless of what business or profession they are in, their road up included government channels and government money because, as government has grown, its boundary with the rest of American life has become indistinct. Many began their careers in government and leveraged their way into the private sector. Some, e.g., Secretary of the Treasury Timothy Geithner, never held a non-government job. Hence whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America’s ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats. It rules uneasily over the majority of Americans not oriented to government.
The two classes have less in common culturally, dislike each other more, and embody ways of life more different from one another than did the 19th century’s Northerners and Southerners — nearly all of whom, as Lincoln reminded them, “prayed to the same God.” By contrast, while most Americans pray to the God “who created and doth sustain us,” our ruling class prays to itself as “saviors of the planet” and improvers of humanity. Our classes’ clash is over “whose country” America is, over what way of life will prevail, over who is to defer to whom about what. The gravity of such divisions points us, as it did Lincoln, to Mark’s Gospel: “if a house be divided against itself, that house cannot stand.”
The Ruling Class, or the Super Zips, are not very smart. They have managed to run America into the ground, while in search of temporary votes to keep out those who they HATE HATE HATE (Average White middle class and working class Americans) of any power, courted disaster. Detroit is 47% illiterate, among adults. Hispanics do little better, and remain like Blacks utterly dependent on money transfered and opportunities taken from White middle and working class people to well, non-Whites.
In other words, the entire Elite political system is dependent on, sustained good times for everyone to smooth over the massive transfer of wealth and opportunities from average White people to non-Whites (and elites). And given those demands, the elites have made economic recovery impossible — no oil drilling, no oil pipelines, green dreams of failed solar manufacturing, strangling business regulations, and crony capitalism. When faced with the obvious danger — a White middle/working class populist revolt, the elites, the Super Zips, the Ruling Class, did little to avert it. Not even allowing victories and military dominance (that gives relief in cheaper oil if crushing the Iranians) to satisfy the pride and desire of the populists. Arrogant over-reach characterizes the elites. Who ran sub-prime into the ground, and with it the Nation, from which state it is unlikely to recover for decades.
Codevilla argues implicitly that Murray’s answer to the Super Zips rise is “schlock sociology” worthy of Thomas Friedman and David Brooks:
Who are these rulers, and by what right do they rule? How did America change from a place where people could expect to live without bowing to privileged classes to one in which, at best, they might have the chance to climb into them? What sets our ruling class apart from the rest of us?
The most widespread answers — by such as the Times’s Thomas Friedman and David Brooks — are schlock sociology. Supposedly, modern society became so complex and productive, the technical skills to run it so rare, that it called forth a new class of highly educated officials and cooperators in an ever less private sector. Similarly fanciful is Edward Goldberg’s notion that America is now ruled by a “newocracy”: a “new aristocracy who are the true beneficiaries of globalization — including the multinational manager, the technologist and the aspirational members of the meritocracy.” In fact, our ruling class grew and set itself apart from the rest of us by its connection with ever bigger government, and above all by a certain attitude.
Other explanations are counterintuitive. Wealth? The heads of the class do live in our big cities’ priciest enclaves and suburbs, from Montgomery County, Maryland, to Palo Alto, California, to Boston’s Beacon Hill as well as in opulent university towns from Princeton to Boulder. But they are no wealthier than many Texas oilmen or California farmers, or than neighbors with whom they do not associate — just as the social science and humanities class that rules universities seldom associates with physicians and physicists. Rather, regardless of where they live, their social-intellectual circle includes people in the lucrative “nonprofit” and “philanthropic” sectors and public policy. What really distinguishes these privileged people demographically is that, whether in government power directly or as officers in companies, their careers and fortunes depend on government. They vote Democrat more consistently than those who live on any of America’s Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Streets. These socioeconomic opposites draw their money and orientation from the same sources as the millions of teachers, consultants, and government employees in the middle ranks who aspire to be the former and identify morally with what they suppose to be the latter’s grievances.
Professional prominence or position will not secure a place in the class any more than mere money. In fact, it is possible to be an official of a major corporation or a member of the U.S. Supreme Court (just ask Justice Clarence Thomas), or even president (Ronald Reagan), and not be taken seriously by the ruling class. Like a fraternity, this class requires above all comity — being in with the right people, giving the required signs that one is on the right side, and joining in despising the Outs. Once an official or professional shows that he shares the manners, the tastes, the interests of the class, gives lip service to its ideals and shibboleths, and is willing to accommodate the interests of its senior members, he can move profitably among our establishment’s parts.
Codevilla compares the US elites unfavorably to France:
Much less does membership in the ruling class depend on high academic achievement. To see something closer to an academic meritocracy consider France, where elected officials have little power, a vast bureaucracy explicitly controls details from how babies are raised to how to make cheese, and people get into and advance in that bureaucracy strictly by competitive exams. Hence for good or ill, France’s ruling class are bright people — certifiably. Not ours. But didn’t ours go to Harvard and Princeton and Stanford? Didn’t most of them get good grades? Yes. But while getting into the Ecole Nationale d’Administration or the Ecole Polytechnique or the dozens of other entry points to France’s ruling class requires outperforming others in blindly graded exams, and graduating from such places requires passing exams that many fail, getting into America’s “top schools” is less a matter of passing exams than of showing up with acceptable grades and an attractive social profile. American secondary schools are generous with their As. Since the 1970s, it has been virtually impossible to flunk out of American colleges. And it is an open secret that “the best” colleges require the least work and give out the highest grade point averages. No, our ruling class recruits and renews itself not through meritocracy but rather by taking into itself people whose most prominent feature is their commitment to fit in. The most successful neither write books and papers that stand up to criticism nor release their academic records. Thus does our ruling class stunt itself through negative selection. But the more it has dumbed itself down, the more it has defined itself by the presumption of intellectual superiority.
Where Codevilla goes wrong in describing the emergence of the Ruling Elite, the Ruling Class, the Super Zips, is describing the emergence in political terms, i.e. being merely the heirs of Wilsonian upper-crust elitism. But the elites of today are nothing like those of Wilson’s day, holding attitudes towards race, sexual mores, nationalism, crime, punishment, wars, and everything else that are at opposite ends of the spectrum from the old Progressive Elites. Yes elites have always entrenched themselves in crony capitalism and regulations, tension between them and the ordinary people being as old as the Whiskey Rebellion.
He describes the hatred of traditional religion, of marriage, and the family, and the worship of big government. Which is held to be able to re-order society at will, but never win wars abroad.
There is a word for people who hold such views. The natural basis for the Super Zips. The Ruling Class. The New Elites. We call them … women.
Specifically, White professional women. A new class, never seen before in America’s history. With lots of money, lots of disposable income. Hostile to traditions and values of the “old America” and in particular, the military. Desirous of a New America, multicultural, multiracial, united in opposition to “Dead White Men” and icky, horrible, Beta White males. Fond of eternal apologies (name any elite dominated by men fond of apologizing itself, name any group of women not fond of ritual and thus meaningless abasement).
The growth of the New Elites, the Super Zips, the Ruling Elites, and their attitudes has been one that has been driven by the emergence of women into new territory. It is a fundamental truism that everything has its cost. Liberation of women from drudgework, from early marriage and early deaths (often in childbirth), from non-participation in the nation’s affairs, from entering into and being amply rewarded from the workforce, has helped create a modern West (in the US and Europe) that is more robust, more wealthy, and more fair in many ways. But everything costs, and the cost of the emergence of women has been the creation of a hereditary elite, a ruling class of princes, kings, queens, princesses, dukes, and what not. The Cinderella, Sleeping Beauty, Disney-esque fantasy, complete with adult Oprah-ized “Wise Black Woman” companionship, pushing the interests of White Professional women to the exclusion of everyone else outside the female-Elite coalition.
That is what all that wealth, power, and stability cost — long term instability by a Ruling Class driven entirely by feedback loops of making Upper and Near-Upper Class White women happy. After all, the Ruling class as Codevilla notes, appeals to be “smarter” and more “moral” than the other guys. That’s an appeal to female tastes. Name a football coach who pushes that he’s more moral than his opposition, or “smarter” in terms of dress, comportment, and so on. Cleverness, devious tricks, and such like (when employed for your side) appeal to men in sports, business, and the military. Appeals to moral authority and general intelligence do not. Which is why Patton ironically meant as a hit piece is popular among conservative men and “the Help” among SWPL, Professional White women. It is why tough old football coaches are beloved by male sports fan and Oprah by White women.
The Super Zips emerged because the class that provided the support, the balance, White professional women, emerged. Yes Welfare made things worse, as did crony capitalism and credentialism. But the key had always been, the post-War emergence of White professional women, newly liberated, hostile to the old ways that kept them out of power, eager to embrace personal sexual liberation, disdainful of male peers who lacked sexiness (nearly all of them, because they were equal) and thus enamored of anything and everything foreign and non-White. “Authentic” came to mean foreign and exotic, and “White” a synonym for “boring” because newly liberated White women found them so, and through massive consumerism driven mostly by their buying decisions, shaped through advertising the culture to what it is today.
In the early 1960’s, commercials ran on national television wherein housewives, even of working men at factories, agonized over the quality of their coffee. Today you have commercials where rock-climbing professional women eschew marriage for outdoor adventure. With their “boyfriend.” And no one says anything. Because the culture changed so much. Organically, all around the West, all at the same time.
The Super Zip emergence is probably best shown by the old WB/CW television show “Gilmore Girls,” and the current CW show “Gossip Girl.” Both appeal to young women, the former depicts a glamorous young single mother and her hot young bright daughter, who gets into Yale. The mother dumps her long-time devoted blue collar hunk boyfriend for the guy who got her pregnant at 16, and never did anything for her or her daughter, but is rich and arrogant and an Alpha jerk. The daughter tellingly dumps a younger version of said blue collar guy, who worships her, for a rich and drunk jerk after he humiliates the blue collar guy. The female audience went NUTS for this, and could not get enough of it. They loved the rich, arrogant bastards because they were rich and arrogant. Inherited money too, which was the best kind. “Gossip Girl” does away with even the pretense of small-town-ish life, with glamorous soap opera hook-ups among the spoiled rich kids of Manhattan.
The very things that enrage the mostly White male non-elites, makes the elites extremely attractive to the female White professionals. Who under the elites have done well, to the point where income, education, and other status-markers are higher for White women than men.
Black voters will reliably vote Democratic (Elite) about 98% or so. Year after year. Hispanics vote around 70% for elites. White men and blue collar White women, on the short end of the stick, vote 70% non-elite (or against the most elite candidate). Those who swing, significantly, from elite to non-elite, are White professional women. The good news is that they can be persuaded to vote against Dems (always the elite candidate) some times. The bad news is that they require elite characteristics in candidates to do so: Scott Brown, Ronald Reagan, George W. Bush. Handsome and tall are best, at least not “angry” or “ideological” which is a Beta Male turn-off. Women voters outside the White blue collar group want fairy tales, handsome princes, and tales of hierarchy and aristocracy. In real life as in stories of vampire queens, kings, and princes. That is why the elites emerged.
Neither Codevilla nor Murray get that.
The Emergence of Fishtown
Murray notes that “Fishtown” or the hereditary lower class White hangouts have decisively rejected the idea of regular church attendance, marriage before kids, education, and males in the workforce. What Murray does not get, because perhaps he is an older male with attitudes and chivalry formed from another country (the past) is how the sexual revolution impacted all these things.
Just as most White professional women (seriously, lurk about on ANY Television discussion forum, to see the attitude) HATE HATE HATE Christianity because of its cultural limits on female sexuality, so too do lower class women. The modern era after WWII, with cheap and easy contraception, anonymous urban living (less so now with Facebook and Twitter), high personal mobility, radically increased income and freedom for women, meant a sea-change in how women viewed sex, love, marriage, and kids.
Basically, any woman that wants sex, and is half-way attractive, can have sex any time she wants with an Alpha male. Commitment and love is another thing, but sex is not. Sex with the most desirable of men (aggressive, dominant assholes) is there any time. The only threat is Christianity. Islam is a distant fire, limiting only Muslim women (who most White women don’t really care about anyway) as they see it. Some pastor saying “don’t be slutty and stupid” is a direct threat, because their parent(s) might echo it. No one wants to be shamed like Snooki. The popularity of Jersey Shore is as a vehicle for White women of all classes to laugh at Snooki and how stupid she is. She is the guido version of a minstrel show. Appealing mainly to women.
Of course lower class women don’t attend church. Who wants a lecture on staying away from bad boys, when they are so, so sexy?
Marriage for kids is for losers, among White lower class women, not because of welfare (though it hardly helps) but because of sexiness among men. The sexiest of men, are those who are aggressive, dominant, hyper-masculine, and so naturally women want kids by them. There is not enough reason to hold out for commitment (the sexy men won’t commit) and the non-sexy men who offer commitment just are not sexy enough. It is not welfare (most White blue collar women in Fishtown work, and quite hard too). It is their own income plus no social pressure (because of anonymity, and independence of income) to stay away from bad boys that drives high rates of illegitimacy (and low rates of church going).
In times past, women would compromise because lowering the bar on acceptable sexiness was the only way to have a family. Now they can earn enough, with marginal government assistance, to have kids by sexy bad boys all they want. That’s better, as Roissy notes, than a lifetime of a beta male’s devotion. As the proprietor of Heartiste notes, “five minutes of Alpha beats five years of Beta.”
Education, and males in the workforce, are directly related to sexual rewards on the lower class. Bad boys who work part time, deal casual drugs, engage in fruitless endeavors to “make it as a musician” and layabout, get the best women. The most beautiful, the youngest, the most fertile, the most willing. Often some of the most intelligent too. Bad boys, casual criminals, are sexier. That is why they dominant fantasies oriented towards women, be they vampires or warlocks or whatnot.
The path to sex, and fatherhood, is based on not life in the work-force and provider beta loser-dom. But rather pure male sexiness. This is the model in the Black ghetto and Mexican barrio. It is how most of the world orders itself sexually and socially. It is how most families are formed, and have been formed, in human history. It optimizes for female satisfaction, at the expense of wealth formation for all but a few.
A man who observes the behavior of the women around him, from an early age, at Fishtown, learns hard lessons. Regardless of what women say, the most beautiful and desirable of them, those who can have any man, give themselves to the casual, bad boy criminal lay-abouts. What you reward, and perhaps no reward is worth more, you get more of. What you punish (dutiful providership and steady blue collar work among men) you get less of.
What Murray misses is the sexual component. Late marriage by a woman in her mid-thirties with many, many sexual partners (between 30 and fifty is not out of the question), kids by another man or men, often ending in divorce, is not the same as the passionate devotion of a sixteen year old beauty, a virgin or near virgin, who only has eyes for you. And will happily bear you a child. Newsflash, young women are more beautiful than the older ones.
This is borne out by Murray’s own statistics. The Super Zips live 1950’s lives. They might have “only” $10 million dollars, and rest assured the drudge on Wall Street is not sexy, as being sexy takes hard work (George Clooney basically works all the time to be sexy, as does Brad Pitt, and your local drug dealer). There is not enough time for Wall Street mid-level honchos to be sexy, they are busy making money. But as “the Nanny Diaries” showed, “enough” money to buy say, a Summer home in the Hamptons, or at least rent one in the Summer, and all sorts of social settings, can mitigate un-sexiness among husbands. Can cause at least regular church going (the women have already sold out sexy for the Hamptons and society) and legitimate child-birth.
For the super-rich, well the money is no object, so marriages don’t last long and like Hollywood demonstrates, illegitimacy is no barrier. The Middle class is increasingly sliding towards the sexy vs. money side of things. The lower class has no hope of upward mobility (here illegal immigration has taken its toll on White blue collar wages). So that’s a problem.
Women WILL trade sexy men for men with money. Will sacrifice that sexiness, that thrill of danger, that pure excitement (and even real danger, as Rihanna again pursuing Chris Brown for another Ike Turner style beat-down shows). But it takes money. Real money. Even for the Middle Class, a nice condo is no longer enough. Not even a nice house. All that frenzy over marble and granite counter-tops was really the frustration of the middle class wife or girlfriend over her man’s lack of sexiness. Drowned with status consumption.
In the current situation, it takes a house (at least rented, preferably owned) in the Hamptons or about $10 million or so annual income to keep the nuclear family intact. That’s the amount of money most, though certainly not all, White women require for monogamy and abjuring sexy men.
[Note, I am sure “not all women are like that.” Who cares? I am describing the collective actions of White women as a whole, in society, for both good — such as increased wealth, productivity, resiliency, and stake-holders, and bad — collapse of church-going, the nuclear family, men in employment, and the rise of the elites, the Super Zips in strangleholds on most institutions of this nation. This is not a conspiracy, or the actions of “devious Jews” or “Gramscian Frankfurt School theorists” making a “long march” through institutions, nor even “women are evil.” Because they are not. However, neither are women comprised of pure good and supernatural wisdom, collectively. Women, like men, respond to incentives, for either society’s good or bad. I would not say a woman pursuing a bad boy and having kids with him outside marriage is “wrong” individually. In a free country it is her choice. But the social cost is horrendous, when normalized and free of stigma.]
Murray rightly eschews Big Government solutions to this problem. Though he notes correctly that America should reform Welfare to remove incentives to single motherhood. He is correct for a campaign to make the old, church going, nuclear family, men in the workplace, value education America return to Fishtown. But he leaves Super Zips alone.
Murray is only partly right, in the solutions because again he does not understand the cause — the sexual liberation of women, and the concentration of wealth and power among Upper Class White women, who switch votes based on personal attributes of candidates. Thus, getting their way, more often than not (the power of being the deciding votes).
Fishtown won’t embrace those old virtues, unless the sexual liberation of women is matched by social stigma for choices that while maximizing individual happiness for the woman, causes disaster upon society. It must be a campaign directed by women, for women, with perhaps the involvement of a few Alpha males. Beta males must and should stay directly out of it. The Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD) campaign is a good one. Women respond to this social pressure and stigma very well, perhaps because being part of the group is far more important than for men. Everyone knows “loner” men and they form the backbone of male oriented entertainment from John Wayne to Jason Bourne. Women on the other hand are never depicted as loners in anything directed at them. They might form their own groups, but never set themselves off deliberately and permanently the way loner men heroes in movies do.
The solution is simply on the behavioral front, “don’t be slutty. Don’t be Snooki.” Delivered by almost exclusively women, with a few sexy Alpha guys. That’s it. A simple message. But one powerful given women’s group behavior. [Which is both a weakness, and strength, forming the backbone of the Temperance and Prohibition and Civil Rights and Feminist and Environmental movements.]
On the incentive fronts, blue collar White guys, and White collar White guys, need to have incomes raised. Women will understandably fight tooth and nail to deny any reduction in their wealth (I would too) so that’s a non-starter. But concrete action can be taken to increase earning power of White guys: deport illegal aliens (and their kids); increase military spending particularly ship and plane building; eliminate most legal immigration (and H1-B visas and variants); put import quotas on (increase local factory production); increase the ability to file and make money off patents (money to backyard tinkerers). Oil and energy production must be increased, vastly, and spending on various government make-work stuff killed.
These are all things that are difficult, but achievable. None will happen overnight, but all have the possibility of being enacted.
The most important strategic objective, however, is destroying the Hereditary Super Zips. A few observations are in order. Hollywood used to be filled with guys like Mel Brooks. A guy from nowhere, who rose to fame on writing really funny things, and pushing the envelope, not in just dirty words or taboos violated ,but form. “Get Smart” was the first zany sitcom, based not on a family but a complete idiot who parodied the James Bond smooth spy guy. Don Adams is another out of that mold, a guy who survived Guadalcanal and was a Parris Island Drill Instructor. Nowadays, comedy in Hollywood is very restricted to the Harvard Mafia. Want a job writing for the Simpsons, or Conan O’Brien? Better have graduated from Harvard. Only South Park, created by a couple of guys from Colorado, fits the old Brooksian Hollywood open to new talent that produces.
To destroy the Super Zips, it is necessary to destroy its ecosystem, the female driven consumerism. And all that is needed to do that is frugalism replacing consumerism. Buying only when needed, and on value and price, not status. The dirty secret of the Super Zips is how dependent either directly or indirectly they are on female-driven consumerism. Network and Cable TV, much of the movies, advertising, marketing, and whole swaths of government depend on either direct expenditures or indirect revenues and taxes derived from that. If Americans and particularly American women just bought say, 40% less, entire major portions of the Super Zips would collapse. Others, particularly Hollywood, would rely on entertaining people rather than just a profitable sub-group (see “the Help” the book and movie, and Oprah’s career).
For the Super Zips will not go away quietly. They are happy to wreck America to get one more day in power.