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Monday, September 9, 2019

The Anti-Gun Culture

For John, BLUFOur betters believe they have to save the rest of us from our ignorance.  Nothing to see here; just move along.

Here is the sub-headline:

Column:  Why the debate over gun control is so polarized

From The Washington Free Beacon, by Mr Matthew Continett, 9 August 2019.

Here is the lede plus three:

The pattern was established long ago. A killing spree happens.  The Democratic Party and mainstream media erupt in calls for gun control.  Republicans shy away from cable news for a few days. Various fixes to the background check and mental health systems are proposed, video games are criticized, and eventually our attention turns elsewhere, until another spectacular attack restarts the cycle.  President Trump increases the volume and heightens the perceived stakes.  The advocates of gun control, such as Elizabeth Warren, say he's a "white supremacist.  Opponents of regulation say he's the only thing that stands between them and dispossession of their Second Amendment rights.

Disentangling the various threads of argument in the debate over guns, mass shootings, mental illness, white nationalism, and domestic terrorism would take volumes.  What interests me, as someone who is inclined to support some gun controls, is why the debate takes the shape it does.  Indeed, the fact that I, a child of the D.C. suburbs and graduate of Columbia University, am a self-confessed squish on guns points to a possible explanation.  For the argument over firearms is not really over any of the specific proposals floated in the aftermath of mass murder.  It is over who shall direct the shape of American society, and by what means.

Beginning in the 1970s, some of the writers and editors who became known as neoconservatives observed changes in the American elite.  The tradition of liberal internationalism, which held individual liberty as the preeminent value and believed in equality of opportunity, as well as a safety net, was under assault.  A rising generation of activists charged liberal internationalism with hypocrisy: not only abroad, where intervention in Vietnam had run aground, but also at home, where formal equality under the law had not produced substantive results.  Something was wrong with America, the students said. Only a fundamental transformation of our nation would set things aright.

Neoconservatives called this incipient elite the "new class."  It consists, Irving Kristol wrote in 1975, "of scientists, lawyers, city planners, social workers, educators, criminologists, sociologists, public health doctors, etc.—a substantial number of whom find their careers in the expanding public sector rather than the private." To that list one might add journalists, professors, post-docs, adjuncts, foundation officers, and a great number ofprogrammers, managers, human resource officers, and CEOs.  The neoconservatives never defined the "new class" precisely—something their critics pointed out.  The category was meant to be a catchall, a handy description of the well-schooled professionals who began their long march through America's academic, media, entertainment, government, and corporate institutions in the aftermath of 1968.

The New Class is an excellent term, but it wasn't invented here.  Yugoslav intellectual Milovan Đilas, who defined the Communist apparatchiks as The New Class in his book of the same name.  Per Wikipedia:  "He proposed that the party-state officials formed a class which 'uses, enjoys and disposes of nationalised property'".

Here is how the article ends:

No amount of evidence showing the inefficacy of gun control, or the virtues of alternative policies, will convince the new class to drop its crusade for regulation.  That is not just because guns are safety hazards.  It is because guns remind the new class that it has not succeeded in imposing the values of one part of the country, and one segment of the population, on the rest.
Isn't that the truth!

Hat tip to the InstaPundit.

Regards  —  Cliff

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