Wednesday, March 13, 2024

#73 / Billionaire Cage Match? Shuffle The Cards!


Some may remember that there was, last year - once upon a time - the thought that Mark Zuckerberg and Elon Musk would square off in an actual, real life "cage match." It came to nothing, unfortunately. Ah, well! 

I was reminded of this episode by Evan Osnos' excellent article in the January 29, 2024, edition of The New Yorker, because Osnos mentioned it. Osnos' article was titled, "Ruling-Class Rules." That is the hardcopy version. Online, where that link, above, will take you, the article's title is perhaps a bit clearer. Online, the title is, "Rules For The Ruling Class." 

Osnos' article is definitely worth reading, if you are at all interested in searching out how best to understand and/or navigate our current political situation. Osnos cites to a book by Peter Turchin, an emeritus professor at the University of Connecticut. Turchin calls our times an "age of intraelite conflict," and suggests that politics, in the end, is mostly about how elites scramble, among themselves, for political, social, and economic dominance. Turchin's book is titled, End Times, Elites, Counter-Elites and the Path of Political Disintegration." 

"Political disintegration" just about sums it up, and captures our moment, don't you think? One of the personalities that figures prominently in what Osnos has to say - an exemplar of "political disintegration" - is the former Fox News personality, Tucker Carlson. Carlson is, according to Osnos' reckoning, essentially a "failure" among elites scrambling for success and prominence. Prime example? He lost his position at Fox. Now, apparently, Carlson is a serious contender to become a candidate for Vice President on the Donald J. Trump Fascist/Oligarch ticket. Osnos, however, is not really spooked. Here is how he ends his article: 

Carlson is not just overlooking his history of falling short; he is trying to rebrand it as righteousness. In his broadcasts, first on Fox and now on X, he specializes in giving voice to fellow frustrated élite aspirants: former general Michael Flynn, former Representative Tulsi Gabbard, and, of course, former President Trump, the last of whom is toying with naming Carlson as his running mate. (“I would, because he’s got great common sense,” he said in November.)

Together, these counter-élites conjure a pervasive conspiracy—of immigrants, experts, journalists, and the F.B.I. It’s a narrative of vengeful self-pity, a pining for the wonderful times gone by. Carlson’s old friends in the ruling class occasionally wonder how much of his shtick he really believes, and how much he simply grieves for having lost the game of musical chairs to faster, shrewder, more capable élites. The latter, at least, would make his desperation understandable: he is being replaced.

That's what I like about Osnos' article - and about his analysis. As he tells the story, the United States has dealt, before, with the kind of politics we are currently facing. And what happened? The elites got shuffled off the stage. They got replaced. It was called "The New Deal." 

I think it's time. What do you think? Time to shuffle the cards!

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