Tuesday, November 11, 2008

At Versailles

This nation's aristocrat liberals-- think Arianna Huffington, Garry Trudeau, Katrina vanden Heuvel, Lewis Lapham, Graydon Carter, Tina Brown and the like-- live on a kind of well-guarded intellectual estate, inside a marvelous stone palace surrounded by generous well-manicured gardens alongside stables of horses, with grooms and coachmen-- and ladies-in-waiting-- there to serve their every whim.

The palace contains halls of mirrors where the aristocrats admire their ruffled sleeves, or ruffled dresses with low-cut bodices; their silk handkerchiefs, gold snuffboxes, and powdered wigs; assuring themselves they're the best, because sunlight at the place forever smiles down at them.

Yet in the back of their undeveloped minds lurks a sliver of unease. They glance down cautiously at the iron gates which surround their high estate, beyond the clean lawns, and realize a world is out there which they know little about, and are surely not part of.

To confirm themselves of their preciousness they pretend to want change. "Change! We must change this country!" Trudeau, Lapham, and vanden Heuvel insist, strenuously waving their silk hankies and silk fans for emphasis. "We're such radicals!" they sniff. "On the side of the peasants. Or, at least, in sympathy with them!" They talk up the populist cause, as servants circulate hors d'oeuvres.

To prove their wondrous generosity, the estate liberals have now appointed a new manager of the house and the grounds, a man of color; moreover, educated at the best aristocrat schools to ensure his reliability; his sympathy with them. The gates open; the new man begins the long walk up the hill toward them. At the sight the aristocrats gather on the lawn to applaud.

What will the new man bring?

Will he merely rearrange the portraits in the antechambers, and take better care of the horses?

9 comments:

Fallot said...

Wow, are you really calling Barack Obama a house nigger?

Can I ask if there are five liberals the rest of us might be familiar with who you do approve of? It's a serious question, I don't expect you to print the comment but I would appreciate it if you could give some idea of what kind of "liberal" "intellect" isn't phony, what kind of concern isn't paternalistic, what kind of expression is constructive rather than token. Thank you.

King said...

Harsh words-- yours, not mine.
When you make such statements, why can't you stand behind them with your real identity? That you don't discredits yourself and calls into question your motivation.
Re your point. Your term then, I guess, could be applied to George W. Bush and other Presidents, in that they're all hired hands who are squeezed into office, as Obama was, through huge sums of money.
"Phony"; "paternalistic"; "token": these also are your words, and in some sense they're accurate, in that none of those I mention are giving up a microdot of their own power and privilege. They've been the benficiaries of America's inequalities. How much do they recognize the fact?
Liberals chief opponent is themselves, as they've destroyed their own values in the interest of power.

King said...

p.s Whether friend or foe, no fake identities, please. Have the courage of your convictions. Thanks.

Fallot said...

My name is Will Fallot. I live in New York. I come from Menlo Park, California. I went to San Francisco State University. I worked for a while at the Peninsula Humane Society and then moved east, first to Chicago where I worked at a Whole Foods and lived in Rogers Park and then to New York, where I live in Bushwick and work as an assistant at a non-profit arts magazine. OK?

I don't know why it would be necessary for me to use your exact words in order to frame the question. I think you'd have to be pretty dense not to see the implication of what you're saying about Obama, but whatever. The more important question has to do with your disgust with "liberals." If I can accept your exaggeration of the trappings of their position (palaces, snuffboxes, etc.), surely you can accept my paraphrasing of your wording.

I still would like to know if there are any liberals with a relatively prominent public position who you feel are saying something useful, doing something useful, thinking through ideas that are useful. Or is it just a matter of all of them picking up shovels and digging ditches in order to satisfy some idea you have about their need for a truer and deeper empathy than they can achieve from their estates. It's not all Graydon Carter and Tina Brown, who I don't really think of as liberals. There must be someone in the media or in academia or in the nonprofit sphere that you can support, even with qualifications. Again, just curious.

King said...

You act as if liberals are an endangered species, when in fact you now control everything.
You miss the point of the post. Will Obama do anything to disturb the plutocrats? Will he kick them out of Versailles?
If he brings in Hillary and keeps Bob Gates, it shows an old boys/old girls mentality.
Sarah palin is a threat because she's so much not of that crowd. She's feared because she's an outsider. You want instead Hillary-- a rich snot who's always been a rich snot and has had everything handed to her every step of the way. Do you understand the stark difference in their biographies? One represents true democracy and the other represents continuing aristocracy.
*****************
Faulkner wrote a story ("The Bear"?) in which the white trash protagonist tramps into the mansion of the rich guy with muddy boots. Metaphorically, that's Sarah Palin.

fallot said...

You asked me to identify myself, and I did. I asked you to answer a question, and you didn't.

I'd appreciate it if you didn't put words in my mouth, please. I'm not acting as if liberals are an endangered species. I'm asking if there are any liberals in the public sphere who you think are doing some good. I think I'm pretty well aware of what you think of the mainstream democrats, who I don't really think are liberals, and I'm pretty well aware of what you think of Sarah Palin. I don't really want to get drawn into defending Hillary or condemning Palin or whatnot. You like Palin, fine. You hate Clinton, well, I'm not a big fan either. But my question is, and was, is being a "liberal" an ipso facto disqualification of a person's abilities, sincerity, and intent? Are there any liberals who you think are doing good in the world, or are they all paying lip service to it?

And what good have conservatives done? Again, just curious. What's Sarah Palin done, other than attend a state school, that you like?

By the way, Faulkner wasn't a big fan of the Snopeses, I don't think.

King said...

You sound so self-righteous, "Fallot."
If mainstream Democrats and press people aren't liberals, then I think you'd better define the term.
**************
Excuse me if I have no love for the breed. I've encountered their phoniness on many occasions.
Looking at the current news headlines: what percentage of your garden variety liberal (college profs), who pay lip service to the working class, own domestically produced cars? Wasn't it these folks, with their contempt for their own, who started the exodus away from Detroit? (See Volvos, Volkswagens, et.al.) Just asking.
You precious liberals:
-You've sat and watched Sarah Palin ruthlessly destroyed, simply because she's on the other side.
-You say nothing about Roger Hodge's editorial which publicly advocates lying, because he's on your side. (Where's the outcry?)
-You accept no dissent about global warming-- and so many other issues-- even though doubts about it are as present as the snow on the ground in front of you.
--The liberal media didn't ask for Obama's college records, or even proof of his citizenship, while every shred of document about palin and Joe the Plumber were dredged up. For you, this is fair.
-You've shit over your credentials and ideals on issue after issue, yet insist you be accepted as wonderful. Why? How?
*******************
I'm no more a fan of the conservative wing of the establishment than I am of the liberal wing of it.
regarding palin, I was simply struck at the instant hatred against her, which has caused me to examine my stance and ideas.
Why the extreme animosity?
Do you deny that it exists?
***********************
Please feel free to point out your examples of good liberals.
I think you're being overly defensive, as the liberal crowd right now holds all the power.
We shall see what they do. I wish them well.

fallot said...

To me a "liberal" is someone wide open to new ideas and new social and economic arrangements, and in favor of the elimination of class, racial and other barriers. There's some other stuff, but the people you're referring to as liberals don't really fit that description, do they?

So, I'm not a "liberal" by your definition. I wouldn't buy an American car because American cars are lousy compared to Japanese cars. I'm not really a big fan of trade protectionism generally, though it's moot in this case -- me and all those "college professors" are buying foreign cars that are often manufactured in the US or made by company's with US ownership.

I told you I wouldn't get drawn into the Palin thing, but I will say that Palin's devastation at the hands of the "left" was pretty much commensurate with what they tried to do to Obama on the right. Obama, though, was able to parry the criticism because he's actually an intelligent and articulate man and a competent politician. I don't actually think the same of Palin.

Snow in Detroit is evidence of precipitation and no more, I think. If you wish to deny evidence of global warming, fine. It shouldn't be a political issue, though, unfortunately, it is. The funny thing is, I get the feeling you'd vote for a politician *because* they went to a state school and vociferously denied global warming.

What's all this "you" business? I haven't done any of these things. I didn't decide to start designing cheap, shitty, oversized cars to offset the stupid, self-destructively short-sighted deals I'd made with organized labor. I didn't wake up one morning and decide to beat up on Sarah Palin. I didn't defend Roger Hodge -- I ignored him. I don't want to be accepted as "wonderful." What I did was I wondered if there was some way for you to talk about "liberals," what they think, and what they achieve, without getting angry because they've gone to Harvard or Yale, without becoming upset because they live in New York, without discounting them because their opinions are published in book form or in newspapers. I wondered if it were possible for you to acknowledge that maybe there's a "liberal" out there who got into Yale because he or she was smart, who went on to teach at an Ivy college or serve in high office or publish a book (or all three) because they worked hard, who lives in New York because it's an exciting city. I still wonder.

King said...

Your sophistry is your undoing, Harland. You're "open" to other ideas? This is a statement that means everything and nothing at the same time. From you, it's a lie, as you're definitely not open to change in the literary system. How many words, under how many phony names, have you expended here to oppose change?
Re global warming: It IS a political issue, one not of my making.
Re cars: All studies show unionized Big 3 quality now comparable to that of the Japanese. is there not one-- NOT ONE-- American car of all their many models worthy of your privileged tastes?
What makes liberals like you phonies is that you pay lip service to the working class and the little guy, but your actions show otherwise.
Re Palin: Yes, the entire mainstream media and culture went after her, and laid not a glove on Obama; not a glove-- indeed, continue to celebrate his victory.
Please have the intellectual honesty to admit the media was one-sided.
Re Yale: As always, you turn reality on its head. The argument is simply that the Ivy League not have ALL the power and ALL the privilege in society, including in the lit game. Certainly, that someone from a state college or no college occasionally be given a voice would be nice!
No one is trying to exclude the privileged liberal. You have no worries. You own and dominate everything. I suggest you be open to other voices.