(The thunderstorm kept me off the computer. I scratched outline notes on the porch. Good thing. This is going to be many posts, so it's better to divide it up.)
First off, it's not a conspiracy, this ruling class thing. This hardly needs to be said to my readers, but I bring it up because that is going to be the accusation, that Codevilla and all these nonliberal commentators are claiming that they are victims of a conspiracy. No matter how many times that is specifically denied, it will be repeated, as a way of ridiculing and marginalising critics. The ruling class does not choose its members or keep its power by conspiracy. It doesn't have to. It was a cultural wave of the 20th C, the right people absorbed the lessons, and they can intuitively sense who qualifies and who doesn't - not with perfect accuracy, but well enough.
After all, you don't have to teach a cat to catch mice.
Even speaking about something called a ruling class smacks of weird guys complaining about the Illuminati and pointing to the pyramid eye on the back of the dollar bills. (That we react that way is part of how we have been influenced as well.) Nonetheless, I'm not backing off from it.
The same charge was leveled 20 years ago when accusations of media bias started arising. Larry King would tell a caller - who had said nothing about a conspiracy - "There is no conspiracy, caller! Get a life!", hang up, and sneer "the country is being taken over by lunatics." Newsweek and Time ran articles about the supposed bias, which they disbelieved in but no one doubts now, focusing large portions of their coverage on how ridiculous the idea of a conspiracy was, and what nutcases the people who believed it were.
The second accusation will be that powerful forces - secretive wealthy businessmen, conservative think tanks, and corporate interests - are encouraging this kind of irresponsible talk, with hints that this groundswell may eventually result in violence.
All part of the automatic tribal response to criticism. Codevilla and others will be accused of being publicity hounds, playing to the masses, whatever. Attend to content. Keep to the data, not the social disciplining by our betters.
So not a conspiracy, this ruling class. It is an automatic response of any tribe threatened with loss of status, because in evolutionary biology, loss of status always meant loss of food, mates, and protection. We respond to any attack as if it were existential. We're just wired that way, and have to work to overrule it. They perceive a threat to their tribe, interpret it as a threat to their safety, and conclude that the nation itself must be in danger.
So just pretend for the moment, just to try it on, that the ruling class consists of 15% of the population. Most of this class are aspirants and supporters, only 1% actually rule. But the remainder identifies strongly with its goals - believes that the rulers have been drawn out from its number - partly true - and are the best hope of the world. They perceive the ruling class as an all-star team drawn from their league, so they root for them.
So, if this class of people is a sort of special interest group, what groups are the possible competitors? Which groups have a reservoir of money, or moral authority, access to the eyes and ears of the people, or even (gulp) weapons? Yeah, make that list.
Which of those groups is not systematically painted as evil, dangerous, or ridiculous by the ruling class and its supporters? Answer: none. If the ruling class were indeed just another tribe vying for power, wouldn't its footsoldiers spend their energy just this way, mocking businessmen, churches, the military, alt-media, and any other group that might become too big for itself? Would it not automatically perceive them as a threat and move to discredit them? Not the 1% rulers, of course. They would remain aloof from that and even get their polite cliches in a row about these other groups.
There are more captive power groups as well, and groups that are in current symbiosis while it is determined which shall digest which. More about those later.
On the basis of Codevilla's essay, I am rethinking the relationship between the Arts & Humities Tribe and the Government and Union Tribe. I think the good professor gets closer to the truth. But I hope to have something to add to the understanding.