Elite Fail: How Could This Happen?

Ding! Ding! That’s the Noonan Conventional Wisdom Alarm going off again, as Peggy writes her weekly WSJ piece about how the migrant crisis in Europe exposes the gulf between the elite and the people, between the safe and the not-so-safe.

And if anyone needed confirmation, extreme left-wing politician Jeremy Corbyn, just elected leader of Britain’s Labour Party, doesn’t believe in borders, according to Breitbart.

In his acceptance speech, Mr. Corbyn said his first act as leader of the party would be to go to a demonstration in support of opening Europe’s borders to unlimited migration in London.

The question is: how could our beloved ruling class go so far off the rails? Is not the first duty of any government to defend the border?

Here is Norman Tebbit, once a minister in the Thatcher government and branded as a “polecat” by his Right Honorable Friend on the Opposition benches, defining government.

A state must have a territory over which it is sovereign, and a people who owe it allegiance. It must have the capacity (and the will) to defend its territorial boundaries and its people from aggressors. It must provide not only external but internal security, allowing its citizens to go about their lawful business freely, and criminal and civil justice systems as well as a currency and the regulatory and legislative infrastructure needed for agriculture, industry and trade. Nothing else has to be provided only by the state.

Wrong! A state doesn’t need “allegiance” if it is willing to use terror. Here’s what I think.

Government is an armed minority ruling over a subject people in some territory. To maintain itself it must have the will and the power to defend its territory with armed force from enemies foreign and domestic. Its rule is founded upon the power to requisition soldiers and resources from the people living within the territory or from the sponsorship of a foreign power.

Do you see what the problem is? Government is boring! Once you and your revolutionary pals have emerged from the Sierra Maestra mountains and seized power, and Che has feelingly dispatched a few thousand enemies of the people, and the Bacardi family has decamped to their satellite distillery in Puerto Rico, then there is nothing left for a Fidel to do except reinvent cattle breeding and give five-hour speeches whenever the mood takes you.

So every ruling class yearns for something funner, something more meaningful than changing the guard at border posts and chasing criminals off the streets. Here’s an idea! How about saving the planet from the horror of the common people heating and cooling their homes with fossil fuels and driving their grubby broods around in monster minivans? How about saving special snowflakes in college from having their feelings hurt? How about spreading around $1 trillion a year in health care to a grateful medical establishment? How about playing Lady Bountiful with the victims of the eternal mess in the Middle East? Now you are talking!

The problem is that, most of the time, we don’t need government defending the borders and arresting criminals and most of the time governments get into mischief doing other stuff. Even the high-minded William James thought in 1910 that, with shooting wars obsolete, government needed to invent “The Moral Equivalent of War.”

It is all great fun, but suddenly one day the whole Middle East blows up and the music stops and people ask the rulers: hey, what happened to the border? How come murders are up in #BlackLivesMatter cities like Baltimore and Milwaukee? And all of a sudden the usual accusation of racist, sexist, bigot, doesn’t work.

And people start shopping around dog-shaming pictures of #BlackLabsMatter vs. #AllLabsMatter (H/T my sister).

Here’s my question about our modern ruling class. How come, about the moment in 1850 when the condition of the working class started to improve for the first time since whenever did Marx and Engels decide we had to do something about it? How come about the time that humans turned the corner on racism in the Sixties did the ruling class become obsessed with stamping out racism? How come about the time that women became free of involuntary childbearing with the Pill did the ruling class decide that women were helpless victims? How come about the time that advances in human technology meant that we could probably survive an abrupt change in climate did our ruling class become obsessed with saving the planet?

(OK, I know. There is no one like an intellectual for kicking in an open door).

There is something pathological going on here. Maybe the only way to fix it is a genuine world war with Islam and ramped-up #BlackLivesMatter mayhem in the cities. That would force the elite to get back to the real job of government. For a change.

Christopher Chantrill @chrischantrill runs the go-to site on US government finances, usgovernmentspending.com. Also see his American Manifesto and get his Road to the Middle Class.