Thursday, May 29, 2008

"...set upon by the puckering multitude..."

Mark Slouka over at Harpers slays some of the dragons of Democratic politesse in his outstanding article: Democracy and deference

We need more of this kind of rebelliousness.
You say I’m tilting at human nature? That the race of man loves a lord—and always has? That power (and what good is power if it can’t be abused a little, no?) has always been one of the time-honored perks of success, and that, of all the lies told, the one about all men being created equal is the most patently absurd? Perhaps. But surely one could argue that the American democratic experiment was at least in part an attempt to challenge this “reality,” to establish a political and legal culture from which would emerge, organically, a new sensibility: independent, unburdened by the protocols of class, skeptical of inherited truths. Willing to be disobedient. To moon the lord.

Alas, if that was the plan, it went sideways a long time ago. In today’s America, the majority is nothing if not impressed by power and fame (its legitimacy is irrelevant), nothing if not obedient. As for mooning the lord, the ass to the glass these days is more likely to be the lord’s, and our own posture toward it, well, something short of heroic. Worse yet, should someone decide to take offense, and suggest that it is not the lord’s place to act thusly, he will be set upon by the puckering multitude who will punish him for his impertinence.

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