The Great American Divide Isn’t What You Think

The following guest-essay by Brad Lena was originally published in 2019, but is still apropos, given today’s events.

The great American divide isn’t what you think

by Brad Lena

For the last 50-plus years, “the peaceful transfer of political power” meant a four- to eight-year rebranding of the ruling paradigm designed to preserve the policy, perks, economic, legal, and legislative advantages of the governing class. In 2016, the election ushered in a division some say is as significant as the election of 1860. Many think it is the clear division of political ideologies. While this is true, there is another split, and in my opinion, it is generally not recognized and is ultimately more profound.

First, some context. The complex, interdependent infrastructure that supports modern life in America operates with such reliability that unimaginable amounts of goods and services are conceived, produced, and distributed with seamless regularity. It takes a massive natural catastrophic event to interrupt it. The downside is that the demands are so great that a broad interruption lasting two weeks or more would result in chaos in every major city.

What does this have to do with this divide? The divide can be generally thought of in terms of two groups: those with the skills that maintain the modern infrastructure and those who lack those skills. For example, a person might be the most brilliant, accomplished brain surgeon in the world, but he is dependent on someone understanding, building, and maintaining electrical power generation and transmission or having the skills to design and build emergency power generators.

A more down-to-earth example: What would happen to the business you work for if the power went out for a day? Would the business function?

There are countless people whose skills and detailed coordination of complex systems enable modernity. Somewhere along the line, those who benefit from modern infrastructure but lack the contributing skills decided to bite the hand that sustains them. The disdain and contempt of the media, academics, students, comics, the MSM, progressives, etc. for those who engineer, build, maintain, and repair modern infrastructure, goods, and services has become particularly virulent and now violent.

One indication is that Harvard, with input and guidance from others, organized an excursion to introduce some students to the reality that supports their worldview. So detached have these elite students become that an expedition had to be mounted to expose them to reality outside their experiences. A situation where never have so many known so little about so much will not weather a prolonged disruption with stoic endurance.

Perhaps it is no surprise that a populace encountering a level of unprecedented material abundance would, after a sufficient number of generations, act is if it were like oxygen: it’s just there, always has been, always will be. That belief will be put to the test. What the future holds is anybody’s guess, but I’d be nice to those who know how to do something practical.

Previous posts by Brad Lena:

2016   Feb   14   The Conundrum: Progressivism and Islam
2021   Aug   25   Despotism Made Easy
 

4 thoughts on “The Great American Divide Isn’t What You Think

  1. As a mere (but generally well-disposed) outside observer of US politics, I’m constantly amazed at the way elections are conducted there.

    There are certainly legitimate criticisms to be made of the “Mother of Parliaments” here in the UK, especially our unelected Upper House, but our elections are supervised by an impartial body called the “Election Reform Society”, and I’m unaware of any allegations of bias on their part.

    Also, the US system of holding mid-term elections of half of Congress seems designed to hogtie the programme of the administration elected only two years earlier, irrespective of their political stripe.

    • That hog-tying of the administration’s program is for darned good reason.

      The Constitution as written was intended to make it as difficult as possible for power to be concentrated and for much of anything to be done unless there was very widespread agreement. And for certain things to be impossible to be done since they were explicitly forbade by the Constitution. Also, senators were never intended to be directly elected since they were originally appointed by state legislators for the purpose of protecting each state’s interests against the other states or the profligacy of the lower house of representatives.

  2. One reason why eastern Europeans became so successful on the western labour market is because the final generation raised under communism gained superior “improvisation abilities”.

    What good was it that you could buy “a car”, when you could not get the head gasket you need, or it’s all well that you are building a house, but you will have to burn your own cement and mix your own sand to make it work, because the only thing you are getting from the grand Communistic Economy will be the bricks – if you can get them that is!

    I was helping my grandfather burn his own cement for a new house as late as 1989. He would bring the sand at night with his company lorry for free, and the work on the house was done over the weekends. That’s how people lived under communism, and by the looks of it, it’s coming to the West now.

    Let’s hope not.

    My view on this is very simple: Give the people the freedom to “free enterprise”, and your country will flourish. Try to command your economy like the EU does with the energy – and consequences will follow. Insufficient and/or overabundant supplies of stuff will force people to create “alternative production routes”, and people become profficient improvisers and universal repairmen by nature. The totalitarian technocrats know this, and that’s why they are so obsessed with digital control, which will make things even worse – because the Totalitarians don’t realise that the “Communism behind the Iron Courtain” was bearable only because people could run substantial shadow economy that fixed absolute incompetence of the Economic Planners.

    If they take away the ability to improvise – and I think that that’s happening right now, as we are getting “Health and Safety checks” over a mobile app with video stream where they check all our “papers” and “if we can do what we do” and “if we do what we do properly, that is – wear a helmet, and have lounch exactly at 12 and don’t work overtime!”

    So far – western Europeans bureaucrats don’t realise what’s behind – let’s say – keeping the mobile network running. My longest shift was 34 hours on job, once a week we hit 17 or 18 hours… That’s how things are done. Then – when you are done, you can go home for a week with a lot of money and good feeling that you managed that hell of a shift.

    But tell that to the bureaucrats whose only interest are the “papers”, and if you got a helmet, and bright yellow vest. Those seem to be the most important things in the world of the “real useless eaters”, though.

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