This is a great piece at Plough, drawing de Tocqueville to diagnose the problem with democracy. The bottom line: In a static culture, a man knows his place and settles into quiet contentment. In a democratic culture, no one knows his place and is neither quiet nor content . . . and he's always on the move.
If you put it on a 1-10 continuum, the most static cultures are serfdom (or maybe graveyards): 1. The most wholesale democratic ones are the Wild West (or maybe just de Tocqueville's America in general): 10. Neither are ideal, though both have been unfairly caricatured.
The problem is, America today is increasingly registering simultaneously at 7 and 14. Everyone still has the freedom to do, for the most part, what they want with their resources, but there's a new class of people with unbridled freedom to harness money, culture, and politics to do what they want, which is increasingly to reduce everyone else's freedom by taxing their earnings, siphoning it to the rich and powerful, and then using that money to further reduce everyone else's freedom by further dominating the culture and politics. It has gotten so bad, that freedom of speech and religion now hangs uncertain.
The rich and powerful have never had the kind of power they have today.
Medieval kings often enjoyed seemingly arbitrary and capricious power, but they were often hemmed in by the aristocracy, potential peasant rebellions, and the Church. And even when they weren't theoretically hemmed in, they were physically hemmed in by limited geographic boundaries and money. They had political, cultural, and monetary power, but all three were severely limited or checked.
The "robber barons" of the 19th century had money, but they didn't have political or cultural power: influence, yes, but not the kind of intertwined power we see today from Silicon Valley to Wall Street to Washington.
But today, all three--Culture, Assets, Money--are held by an increasingly brazen ruling class. There's never been anything like it . . .
unless you count the Soviet Union . . . and I'm afraid you have to, if you really want to see where this all ends. Two classes: The members of the CP (Communist Party (or, today, the Cocktail Party)) and everyone else. Two modes of freedom: members of the CP registering 38 on that continuum and everyone else registering 1.
In the meantime, everyone is increasingly on the move. Agitated, restless, like something is wrong.
We sense it: We need to get into the ruling class or our children will suffer greatly. We need to move, move, move: succeed; amass assets.
And it's all because the gnostics are on the move. In the past, their warped worldview was heretical or merely cutting edge. Today, it's mainstream.
We need to keep up with them so we can carve out freedom for ourselves and children or we need to join them.
Or we need to stop them.