In July of 2010, Angelo Codevilla’s magnificent manifesto, “The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It” was published initially online in The American Spectator (and later in book form). It immediately went viral on the Internet and started a widespread national conversation about America’s hubristic power elite and the arrogant way they reign over the rest of us.
When Codevilla’s article appeared, I stated that it was the most important essay I had ever read. I still believe this because it is a superb synthesis of class analysis with keen insights on contemporary power elite relationships regarding today’s rulers and the ruled.
This class division of present-day America into two factions, Court and Country, has absolutely nothing to do with any Marxian view or analysis. It is a reaffirmation of the seminal insights of Bernard Bailyn’s Pulitzer Prize winning volume, The Ideological Origins of the American Revolution, and Murray N. Rothbard’s Conceived in Liberty.
These books demonstrate that the Founders’ world-view saw the crucial struggle of the Revolution as a battle of liberty versus power. Codevilla posits today’s battle in the same dramatic terms.
When Carl Oglesby published The Yankee Cowboy War, this is the first of several high-level political analyses motivated by a need to better understand the politics that led to both the JFK assassination and the Nixon Watergate Affair. It deploys as the primary theoretical model, C. Wright Mills theory of “the Power Elite” and the framework in Carroll Quigley’s book Tragedy and Hope. With these tools, Carl Oglesby posits an interesting thesis: that JFK’s assassination, instead of being a random act by a lone nut was in fact a carefully planned and professional executed ongoing coup d’ etat a la Americaine, a not so silent coup by the same deep state forces responsible for the murders of JFK, RFK, MLK, Malcolm X and possibly the demise and eventual destruction of the billionaire Howard Hughes.
What all of these events had in common was that they were links in a chain designed to replace one set of power elite (members of the old moneyed “peace promoting” Northeastern Yankee Establishment) with another (the Nuevo Riche and newly arrived, “progress through war” Western Cowboys). Thus it is argued here that the events connecting Dallas, Memphis, Watergate and the demise of the Hughes empire, are but threads in a common fabric, growing and evolving directly out of the systematic corruption of American politics and out of contemporary political realities.
The late Murray N. Rothbard was particularly enamored with this pioneering book, remarking:
Carl Oglesby’s new book is not only exciting and thoroughly researched, it presents the only analytic framework — originated by himself — which makes sense of the violent events of the last decade and a half our recent political history, and puts them all into a coherent framework: the Yankee vs. Cowboy analysis.
The important question looms: why is it that Oglesby has been alone in coming up with this framework? I think the answer is that the methodologies of other writers and researchers have led them astray: the free-market economists who are critical of government actions never bother to ask who benefitted from those actions and who were likely to be responsible for them; the Marxists are anxious to indict an abstract, mythical and unified ‘capitalist class’ for all evils of government, and believe that detailed research into concrete divisions and conflicts among power elites detract from such an indictment; those sociologists who have engaged in concrete power elite analysis have only examined structures (who owns corporation X, who belongs to what social club?) rather than the dynamics of concrete historical events; the one writer who has treated Yankees and Cowboys has been so blinded by particular hostility to the Cowboys that he virtually includes everyone living in the Sunbelt as part of a vast Cowboy conspiracy; and the various doughty investigators and reporters of Dallas or Watergate have struck to surface events because they lacked the overall coherent framework.
Carl Oglesby has surmounted all of these defects, and has therefore been able to make a giant breakthrough in explaining our recent history.
And then there is my synthesis: Who Rules America: Power Elite Analysis, the Deep State, and American History.8:34 pm on August 7, 2018 Email Charles Burris