“Brooks is irrelevant,” I snapped to a email friend who sent me David Brooks’ recent self-congratulatory snooze-fest Why Conservatism is Dead Because it Doesn’t Listen To Me, in The Atlantic. “Furthermore,” I continued, “The New York Times is irrelevant, and all its columnists are irrelevant because they just are.”
Remember Time Magazine? A few short decades ago, it was the dominant magazine in the world. Ten million copies a week sold for real money. Pages and pages of advertising. Now, it’s a joke edited by a woman who I used to report for and who, trust me, is a bear of limited brain. And that fate is soon coming for the Atlantic, the Times and most other broadsheets. They are, as someone clever (Sarah Hoyt) recently said, barking orders at platoons of invisible foot soldiers, their world hollowing out beneath them.
One of my last editors informed me “we are gatekeepers,” to my stunned silence. This was a charming woman, who I adored, but who had never done anything but copy edit her way to editorship, had virtually no life experience, and as far as I could see, no real interests, other than her career and comfort and Holt Renfrew.
Honey, I grew up in Westmount and there were a whole lotta women who thought they were gatekeepers too. Their world? Vanished without a trace.
This goes for almost anyone dug into the current “mainstream” of the culture, wrapped up in a plush packet, filled with velvet and down and praise for lo these many years. None of them has any idea of how real life is lived.
To a man or woman, right and left, they are all scathing of the messy unwashed populists thronging the streets of the world fit to be tied by their lives being foreshortened with every single year that passes. Like Brooks, they flatter themselves with droning graduate level synopses of conservative (or liberal) thought over the ages, compare it to Trump’s syntax and cry ‘Civilization is DEAD!”
Never mind the badly dressed, snorting barely-humans at the barricades. They have no beef, no complaint, just shut up. They are anathema, human garbage who dare to rebel against the ferocious incompetence of their so-called leaders who have assumed police power over every aspect of their lives.
Brooks et al are part of the New Class, a group identified by William F, Buckley’s National Review sometime in the 70’s, forgive me for not bothering to check, I have just plodded my way through several thousand words of basic conservative thought history, which I rather hoped I’d read for the last time, the last time I was plodding through the virtues of Locke and Montesquiou and Burke.
The New Class for those who haven’t done the plodding is that modern caste of brahmins and mandarin bureaucrats who simply know better and who clip a bit of every dollar in the economy until those dollars reach those people who produce the product as 40% of what’s left. Every career politician, bureaucrat, contract worker, academic, consultant, union head, etc etc etc. The people my industrialist father used to call parasites.
Anyway to get to the part where Brooks says conservatism is dead, despite the three billion strong furious anti-government populists simmering in their houses, getting ready to take power, because damn, this is coming whether Brooks likes it or not.
Turns out he doesn’t actually have an argument. He just devolves into Trump frenzy.
Let me count the risibilities:
1. Conservatism ended with Mitt Romney in 2012. (I died laughing at that one – the vulture capitalist is the true conservative.)
2. Populists are spiritually sick because they don’t listen to the New Class anymore. (Do you ever ever ask yourself why?)
3. We know better. We can cite Burke.
4. All of life is seen as an incessant class struggle between oligarchic elites and the common volk (well yeah)
5. A lot of my friends are trying to reclaim the GOP and make it a conservative party once again. I cheer them on (ie listen you common volk who can’t cite Burke)
6. He makes the usual charge of racism at Americans complaining about people and criminals flooding across the southern border, calling it a rejection of “pluralism”. Because Brooks never leaves his leafy bower, he has no idea how people live anymore.
Here, I’ll tell him. It doesn’t matter what damned color or sex you are, as long as you’re not grifting off us. The immigrants and criminals flooding across the border don’t end up in university towns and the upper west side. They end up in small towns who can’t afford to pay for them. Their services are overwhelmed, their hospitals and schools broken by the floods of sick, hungry people who are basically illiterate. Who immediately start stealing because they are freaking hungry and Brooks and his ilk don’t pay for anything, so the badly dressed volk are stuck with it.
7. “As long as the warrior ethos dominates the GOP, brutality will be admired over benevolence, propaganda over discourse, confrontation over conservatism, dehumanization over dignity”. (This is shameless bullshit. Warrior ethic my ass- without it Brooks and his parents and grandparents would still be laboring as heavily discriminated against Jewish peasants in Russia.)
8. Brooks penultimate para: In 2021, the core threat is social decay. The danger we should be most concerned with lies in family and community breakdown, which leaves teenagers adrift and depressed, adults addicted and isolated. It lies in poisonous levels of social distrust, in deepening economic and persisting racial disparities that undermine the very goodness of America—in political tribalism that makes government impossible.
Oh my God, haven’t we had enough of this garbled preaching? I’m kindof with Lenin and Mao here. I think Brooks, Frum, the lady plutocrat who pays for this self-regarding horseshit, and all the rest of them, should go and work in a damned field for a few years, sleep with the peasants and eat at the Olive Garden.
Families are breaking down you awful vain piece of humanity, because they don’t have enough money. It has all been stolen by you, the new class working for the plutocrats who own your withered sedentary behinds. It is you and your paymasters who have have gutted their towns and industries – hello Mitt Romney – stolen their bright children and corrupted them, and reduced their lives to the economic level at which their grandparents existed, but now both man and wife must work ten hour days if they’re lucky enough to find work. It’s economic war which Brooks supported every inch of the way, waged by the very rich on everyone else. It is entirely fitting that his publishers – Mdm Jobs and Carlos Slim are paying for what can only be seen as propaganda as vile, constrictive and extractive as the medieval Catholic Church.
To the fields. For five years. Then maybe you’d write something you haven’t written eighteen thousand times before. Not that I care. You are irrelevant.