Our modern bureaucratic coward is easy to trace as the final stage of middle class culture.
Whatever it is communists mean by “bourgeois,” that’s not the right image here. It’s loaded with too many emotional and mythical ideas. Instead of the French, we might be better off using the German “burgher” as the label that best conjures up what I’m reaching for, even if it is essentially the same word. We want to observe and discern without staining it with repulsion.
The essence of the middle class arose in the Western Middle Ages when some of the peasants distinguished themselves in battle. That’s when the nobles noticed them and began offering them privileges denied the other peasants. The attached privileges turned into economic advantages. And while there was a longing pretense to nobility, there was an entirely different morality involved. These wealthy peasants wanted the social privileges on their own terms.
You would hardly say the nobles didn’t care about material wealth; it’s that they presumed such wealth as God’s grant to their superior bloodline. Nobody else would know what to do with that wealth, so it was in everyone’s best interest that they control it. But nobles were quite willing to use it extravagantly with some simulacrum of simply not being too concerned with it. They preferred to emphasize nobility as an ethic: brave, intelligent and cultured. They were quick to war, though not violent buffoons, they believed. They were the guardians of high tradition and justice. And if God didn’t supply that day what they were used to in some urgent pursuit, they made do with what was at hand because they were so very creative and smart, of course. Their self-image was highly flavored with a concern for higher things than just groveling over material goods.
The middle-class were bean-counters by comparison. They wanted to find ways to restrict and regulate violence by what they imagined was reason. This was where the broad fear of death arose most strongly in culture, with a matching belief that life was “sacred” in that fearful middle-class way. The rediscovery of classic literature and art (Renaissance) and the human impulse to spread learning was critical, but while some fully embraced the grandeur of the past, most burghers pulled out a narrow selection of that rich heritage that offered some materialistic advantage. And they realized quickly that their superior numbers was their primary advantage over nobles and artisans who seemed utterly out of control.
Thus, they formed towns and managed trade with a wholly different mindset. They even went to war with a different approach (see the Hanseatic League). It was all to protect the stability of their family life because they really didn’t believe in the afterlife. Whatever Heaven meant to them, they had a defacto religion that was confined to this world. They did have their own brand of nobles, but it came out in the entrepreneurial spirit of risk with investments and goods, not with life itself. Because this did most certainly generate wealth, they seduced the royal-noble class into granting special privileges to towns, cities and various other groupings that would fit into royal charters through big tax payoffs. “Take our money and leave us alone.”
That was the end of European feudalism. The natural result was the rise of middle class political power. Most of the time, this devolution of power passed rather peacefully, if for no other reason than that keeping around powerless nobles and royalty gave a national identity, as Glennon noted in his book, National Security and Double Government. The burghers learned early not to flaunt their power lest the even lower classes revolt (like that mess in France where the middle-class wasn’t actually fully in charge). The burghers still needed workers.
America is the quintessential middle-class nation. Despite the Enlightenment Anglo-Saxon pretense written into our US Constitution, it was shaped by a mixture of European refugees with a broad sampling of varied middle-class culture, lightly seasoned with some disenfranchised nobles who suffered the effects of primogeniture back in England. The Constitution reflects the narrow interests of the Alpha-Male entrepreneur, but the actual work of government was always done by the socialist burghers. This alleged conflict between libertarian, capitalist, socialist and communist brands of economics is simply a dispute between cousins over which of them shall be blessed with the advantages of law and policy. What keeps them together as family is their shared materialism.
For complex reasons Glennon covered fairly well, America doesn’t do her socialism well. We are wholly dishonest about it, lacking the frank acceptance of the label that pervades the European version. It’s not that socialism doesn’t work as well as capitalism, it’s that you can’t have one without the other. You cannot have a system totally socialist and bureaucratic because there would be no one to keep the economic growth going. But the fatal flaw is this business of worshiping consensus; that is the seed of destruction. It displaces our hard-wired need for family loyalty. In fact, it’s so crazy that the bureaucratic brand of cowardly loyalty filters back into our cultural conception of family loyalty.
There is no compassion anywhere in the mix.
God’s moral character is woven into the fabric of the universe. It’s not the god of the burghers and Anglo-Saxons, but a God they could never comprehend. He is a shepherd God and His compassion is the key to how things work. It requires a fundamentally otherworldly approach. There is no place for genuine compassion in this ugly materialistic Western world and we cannot connect in any way with the shepherd morality of God. So obviously this whole thing will eventually push and push and push until it breaks, because the bureaucratic culture is a metastasizing cancer. It can’t stop itself; it recognizes no boundaries but its own.
When you talk about American government, you are actually referring to Glennon’s Trumanites. That is the US government, and it’s dying because the host for this cancer is dying.