Today, the Goliaths of the modern political age – the technocratic equivalent of the Tories and the Royal Government – are struggling to understand and deal with the new reality of American conservatism. The elites on both sides of the aisle are insular in their thinking. For the moneyed establishment, this is because they misunderstand the altered nature of the political process; for the intellectual elite, because their vision of conservatism focuses on the powdered wig and denigrates the coonskin cap.
For those intellectuals on the right equipped with some insight, they recognize that the thread of populism which runs through Bunker Hill and The Alamo is an ally, not a foe. But for those who are prisoners to their narrow frame of the world, misunderstanding this long-running American tradition has turned into dripping condescension of the populist right. They decry the Tea Party and its new institutions as a kabuki dance performed for filthy luchre from ill-mannered hicks and racists… not realizing that it is in the nature of populism, particularly conservative populism, to to see the structures of power more clearly for what they are, as opposed to what they claim to be.
Just as the aristocracy of the day bought the Tories with the benefits of privilege, so today the existing Goliaths guard the status of the self-styled elite. Their approach to government not only protects elite status but also creates it, typically without merit – paired with the authoritarian technocrats’ belief that they know best, and have the right to make that best a reality. It’s why such elitism is the one thing they are conservative about – the modern aristocracy bequeaths titles of nobility for surviving the attacks of the hicks, protecting its own, and attempting to control the agenda in the same way they did in pre-revolutionary times. But the more Goliath ignores, insults, and fights David, the stronger he becomes.
Niccolò Machiavelli warned in The Discourses on Livi that Aristocracies devolve into incompetence and corruption. They begin with cronyism so that’s the natural course.