Principalities & Powersrnby Samuel FrancisrnThe Proletarian WeaponrnNo sooner had George W. Bush enteredrnthe White House and its previous occupantsrnpadded off to Harlem —with asrnmuch public swag as they could pack intornthe helicopters—than the news mediarnsuddenly began to discover “layoffs,”rn”downturns,” and a looming economicrncrisis that threatened to strip the fleshrnfrom the eight fat years that the great andrnwise Clinton administration bestowedrnupon us. Were the media trying to knifernMr. Bush in the back—even before hernhad a chance to throw out the beer cansrnand brassieres that the Clinton clan leftrnbehind? There is no question that therneconomy did suddenly begin to sour, butrnthe new administration really could notrnbe blamed for it, no matter how convenientrnits arrival on the eve of yet anotherrnromp around the business cycle.rnIf there is any concrete cause of the recentrneconomic wobbles, it probably liesrnin what everyone now fondly terms “globalization,”rnthe process by which nationrnafter nation is stripped of its industrialrnplants, skills, jobs, and even native populationrnand converted into a vast cov’ pasturernwhere herds of former citizens andrnbarely assimilated aliens calmly munchrnwhatever fodder and slop is dumped inrnfront of them: the mental diet stuffedrndown our maws by the organs of therndominant culture. Globalization mayrntemporarily raise the living standards ofrnthose who experience it, but eventuallyrn—and the significance of the storiesrnabout layoffs earlier this year suggests thatrn”eventually” is coming closer and closerrn— it will reduce the national level of affluencernto one more typical of the ThirdrnWorld, enveloping the historic nationrnand its political and cultural identity inrnthe global fog.rnThe potential metamorphosis of Americansrninto First World proletarians wasrnbrought to mind by a February 6 WallrnStreet journal essay by neoconservativernsage Charles Murray, coauthor (with thernlate Richard Herrnstein) of The BellrnCurve and almost always a source ofrnfar more interesting ideas and insightsrnthan most of the neocon mediocrities,rnhas-beens, and never-weres with whomrnhe associates. The subject of Mr. Murray’srnarticle was the phenomenon of “proletarianization”rnitselfrnMr. Murray made use of Arnold J.rnToynbee’s definition of the term “proletariat”rnrather than the better-knownrndefinition of Karl Marx, and he quotedrnToynbee as arguing that, in periods ofrncivilizational decline, the “dominant minority”rnor ruling class of a civilization willrnbegin to emulate the proletariat it rules.rnThe elite itself will abandon the duties ofrncitizenship, “surrender to a sense ofrnpromiscuity’,” and begin to exhibit st)lesrnof behavior that “are apt to appear first inrnthe ranks of the proletariat and to spreadrnfrom there to the ranks of the dominantrnminority, which succumbs to the sicknessrnof’proletarianization.”‘ Mr. Murrayrnnoted as current signs of proletarian emulationrnthe use of drugs, the popularit)’ ofrnrap music, the vulgarization of language,rnand the acceptance of sexual license (includingrnillegitimacy), all of which are notoriouslyrnspreading up from the underclass.rnAs the preeminent model for suchrnbehavior, he cited the repellent entertainerrnEminem and, as the archetypal examplernof a member of the dominant minorityrnwho has adopted such behavior,rnnone other than Bill Clinton himself.rn”Bill Clinton’s presidency,” he wrote,rnin both its conduct and in reactionsrnto that conduct, was a paradigmaticrnexample of elites that have been infectedrnby “the sickness of proletarianization.”rnThe survival of our culturernrequires that we somehowrncontrive to get well.rnAs usual, Mr. Murray’s ideas provokernother ideas. There is no doubt that he isrncorrect, though far from being the first tornnotice or write about it, that what is ordinarilyrnregarded as moral and behavioralrndecline has crept up the social ladder andrninfected parts of American society outsidernthe underclass. But, as I argued inrnthis column last November, what appearsrnas decline to the adherents of one civilizationrnand its moral code is not necessarilyrnreckoned a decline by adherents tornwhat is trying to become a new and differentrncivilization and morality. Whatrnpagan Romans regarded as morall}’ normalrnor neutral (infanticide, homosexuality,rngladiatorial games in which the contestantsrnwere forced to slaughter eachrnother), early Christians thought abhorrent.rnOne of the central confusions ofrnour age is that we live in a society that isrnbetween civilizations—on the one hand,rnthe old bourgeois. Western, and generallyrnChristian civilization that rejects andrncondemns the “proletarian” behaviorrnMr. Murray and Toynbee describe, and,rnon the other, a new managerial, non-rnWestern, and supposedly rationalist, secularist,rnuniversalist, and egalitarian civilizationrnthat often sees little wrong orrn”sick” in the new codes of behavior. Thatrndoes not mean that the new civilization isrn”relativist” or rejects all morality; it rejectsrnthe old morality while tr}’ing to formulaterna new moral code appropriate to itselfrnOf course, in the process of civilizationalrnchange, some people who are merely viciousrnmay take advantage of the moralrnconfusion for their own gain. That isrnwhere characters like Bill Clinton comernin; it is precisely because of the moralrnand civilizational confusion of our timesrnthat he could so successfully try to talk hisrnway out of his troubles by telling us that itrndepends on what you mean by “sex” andrnwhat you mean by “is.” A clearheadedrncivilization knows perfectly well thernmeaning of these and other words, but inrntimes of confusion, enough don’t knowrn(or disagree about) their meanings thatrnknaves such as Mr. Clinton can get themselvesrnoff by exploiting the muddle.rnNevertheless, although the Toynbee-rnMurrav model of proletarianization mayrnapply to Bill Clinton and no small numberrnof his political and bvisiness cronies, itrnis not clear that the concept is applicablernto most members of die new managerialrnruling class—the dominant minority—ofrnAmerican (and by extension. Western)rncivilization. Most members of the corporaternelite, the political elite, and (with thernexception of social deviates in the entertainmentrnelite, like Eminem) the culturalrnelite (academics, scientists, journalists,rnauthors, etc.) are not particularly notablernfor emulating the proletariat or underclass.rnThey don’t rot their brains withrndrugs, catch venereal diseases from licentiousrnsex, shoot each other over their basketballrnshoes, or riot in the streets whenrn32/CHRONICLESrnrnrn