The rise of the despotocracy
American Greatness regularly provides a long essay by an erudite writer whom the site describes as a "Weekend Read." The May 6 offering was by Kevin Slack, Ph.D., University of Dallas, now on the political science/philosophy faculty at Hillsdale College of Michigan, a well regarded conservative institution. The essay is an edifying exposition of the rise of the Western (American and European) elites to become despots.
Plato favored rule by oligarchs, persons of distinction, but Plato ignored the potential for what Lord Acton observed about power and corruption: "Great men are almost always bad men, even when they exercise influence and not authority, still more when you super add the tendency or the certainty of corruption by authority."
Oligarchy often deteriorates to despotism because many ambitious men are bereft of the virtues and morals essential to a good ruler and political leader. An oligarch can be good or bad. The bad ones become despots, who rule in a cruel or oppressive manner.
The concept of self-governance espoused by the founders requires embracing the principles of stoicism. We have lost what was advocated by the American founders and led John Adams to wisely assert, "Our constitution was made only for a moral and religious people. It is wholly inadequate to the government of any other. Morality and virtue are the foundation of our republic and necessary for a society to be free." The success of the American Republic requires a moral and ethical populace and leadership.
In his writing, Dr. Slack is not careless in his assertions or negligent in his presentation of evidence that present-day America and Western civilization are in the thrall of despots in various positions, public and private — elected and appointed officials, corporate plutocrats, mavens and doyens of academia and the arts, media, and other sectors of the culture. All of these sectors have been impacted by a growing number of despots and kleptocrats.
Slack provides ample evidence of the rise of despots in all aspects of American culture, business, and politics and displays impressive reach and understanding of the implications of what he chronicles. He points out that the seeds for our destruction were planted a long time ago, in 19th-century humanist progressivism, then amplified by Teddy, Woodrow, FDR, and then later progressives followed by aggressive socialist statist fascists.
This is not a recent sabotage of America; it is a long time developing, most of the destruction energized and organized by atheist and commie infiltrators marching under the banners of liberalism and progressivism, hiding their nihilist amorality and destructive quest for power and control. Well, here we are, and we did it to ourselves.
I stopped reading Professor Slack's essay a number of times because it was so stunningly depressing. In fact, before I had finished, I called him at Hillsdale and asked if I should give up. He assured me that, in the book from which the essay is excerpted, he also has a chapter of optimism and how to reverse the trend. He said, to paraphrase, I have five children. I can't give up on America and Americans.
Here are a few of the points made about the rise of despotism:
- "the evidence ... exposes the globalist American empire as a kleptocracy that has betrayed the country, outsourced its wealth and defense, and degraded its people."
- "Today's globalist American empire is a kleptocracy filled with princelings of the political and corporate elite who inherited — and now drain — the wealthiest and most powerful empire in history."
- "the kleptocrats claim science's authority to subdue the populace"
- "[T]hey enlist an identity politics priesthood to stoke racial hatred against middle-class whites, who suffer indignities, humiliations, and loyalty tests."
- "Following the COVID lockdowns and unlawful 2020 election, the last vestige of legitimacy has collapsed, and the kleptocracy has revealed itself as an incompetent, corrupt class of degenerates."
- "In their palaces at the center of a rotting kingdom, the despots surround themselves with harems, catamites, and vicious eunuchs to administrate a world of performance rituals and sadomasochistic fantasies even as their people and world hegemony decline."
How's that for a starter? Need a break?
Slack goes on to describe the deterioration of America in excruciating detail. The wealthy become a form of shadow government because wealth is used to obtain and retain political control in a fascist state, where the distinction blurs between government and corporate entities and power centers. Slack summarizes:
While each fiefdom helps preserve the order and negotiates for its privileges, at the center are the 3,000 tyrants, a ruling class of kleptocrats who ally with, stroke, tax, or intimidate the monopolies they secure. ... [This group] controls more than half of the nation's industrial and banking assets and more than three-quarters of its insurance assets. ... [and] over half of all the assets of private foundations and two-thirds of all private university endowments. They direct the nation's largest and best-known law firms in New York and Washington, as well as the nation's major civic and cultural organizations. They make the largest political campaign contributions. They occupy key federal government positions in the executive, legislative, and judicial branches.
Amazon and Google are the Government
Slack doesn't let up. He reminds us that Amazon and Google are the government. Banking and credit card companies are another example of the creeping fascism and monopolization of activities that have dominated economies and politics the past decade in particular:
- "The ruling class monopolizes the gateways to power and congeals its influence in the top 9.9 percent (incomes above $158,000) in an ooze of bureaucrats and corporate toadies."
- "Whereas the United States used to draw its best and brightest into physics and engineering, now it draws them into finance, where they make more convoluted instruments for the hucksterism of the kleptocracy."
- "The function of elite universities is to instill an education in both ruling class mores and diversity."
- "Every regime needs religion for both legitimacy and sacrifices. It turns to moralistic priests to sanctify its power and indoctrinate its own children as well as to give subjects an identity and sense of meaning."
- "The priests of identity politics explain race and gender identity, attaching each individual to a group with certain rights and duties."
- "The ruling class claims a right — by birth, wealth, and education — to rule others without their consent. It speaks of vague ideals like 'democracy,' the 'Constitution,' and 'the rule of law' while staging the hoax of popular government in ritual public elections and televised press conferences."
- "As the kleptocrats bask in their power, they are cut off from the problems of the people they rule, and they resent challenges to their legitimacy."
The Book: War on the Republic
Slack's recent book is a historically ordered discussions of political developments — 19th-century humanist progressivism, a result of the enlightenment, evolving to the progressive periods of Teddy and Woodrow, then the progressive socialist early liberal era of Walter Lippmann and the effects of Marxist communism, a big acceleration with the administrative statist socialist/progressive FDR, the liberalism surge, then in the '60s the appearance of radicalism with a commie tinge, followed by neo-liberalism and identity politics mixed with communist-inspired racialism and ending with despotism and a fascist consolidation of power in the hands of a small ruling class. Slack's exegesis certainly reminded me of the work of Angelo Codevilla and Thomas Sowell, who have warned about the negative impact of the anointed, the elites, the intellectuals who think they were born to be in power.
The book looks at the massive political disaster that has been coming for a century, beginning with Teddy and continuing 'til today — progressive-era administrative state changes mixed with communism. Slack looks at the charnel house and examines the remains — looking at the dead elements of a once vigorous dynamo of capitalism, citizen freedom, and republican self-governance. There is no sector of society that has escaped the corruption that has been amplified the last two decades, and in the book, Slack provides the report on the dying patient, the American Republic.
I told you he said he wrote an optimistic chapter — and he told me I shouldn't polish up my ritual short sword (wakizashi). Well, the chapter is titled "Conclusion," and it proposes that a return to the foundations is the solution for The New Right — a constitutional republic restored, what has become a fascist alliance of despots destroyed in favor of the people, and a government that protects the rights of a newly alert citizenry that demand a limited government and consent of the governed.
Slack reminds me of Victor Davis Hanson writing about the Greeks. He is an authority on political history and philosophy, and he shows it. The War on the American Republic is a classic. Most authors would consider it a magnum opus and take a victory lap and go home to domestic chores and an early bedtime. However, I suspect there is more to come from Dr. Slack. For our benefit, he is young and sounds energetic and enthusiastic about his work.
Thomas Sowell is 90; Victor Davis Hanson is 70 this year. Slack can do this as long as he likes, and his readers and students will be rewarded.
John Dale Dunn is a retired emergency physician, consultant, and inactive attorney in Brownwood, Texas.
Image via Pixnio.