Patrick Deneen on the Power Elite

Patrick Deneen on the Power Elite May 14, 2015


Today’s corporate ideology has a strong affinity with the lifestyles of those who are defined by mobility, ethical flexibility, liberalism (whether economic or social), a consumerist mentality in which choice is paramount, and a “progressive” outlook in which rapid change and “creative destruction” are the only certainties. The response to Indiana’s RFRA law shows very clearly that corporations have joined forces with Republicans on economic matters and Democrats on social ones. Corporate America is aligned with the ascendant ­libertarian portion of each party, ensuring a win for the political, economic, and ­social preferences of libertarianism. In effect, there is only one functional party in America today, seemingly parceled between the two notional parties but in reality unifying them in its backing by financial and cultural elites.

What this means is that today’s cultural power elite is entirely aligned with the economic power elite, and they’re ready to steamroll anyone in their way. In the case of Indiana’s RFRA, corporate and gay activists combined to bring to heel conservative Christians in a rural, Rust Belt state that struggles at the margins of America’s global economy. The threat to demolish Indiana’s economy is only a more explicit expression of a project that corporations like Apple and Walmart have been carrying out with the ­assistance mainly of Republicans (as well as free-trade Democrats) for a generation.

"I do feel bad though. It seems unfair to pick on Mark, being he’s so ..."

A good compendium of every lie ..."
"Yawn, I am not jazzed about Mid East military adventurism as you are."

A good compendium of every lie ..."
"I have eagerness to commit violence? I would ask you for evidence but I know ..."

A good compendium of every lie ..."
"Which is clearly because Democrats fear they will lose in 2020. It’s an insurance plan. ..."

A good compendium of every lie ..."

Browse Our Archives

Follow Us!

What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • HornOrSilk

    Which goes to explain the problem of capitalism when used as an ethic, as the GOP has done for a long time.

    • thisismattwade

      I think you win a prize: you got the spambot to try to sell to you. #capitalism

  • Joseph

    Wow. This is what I’ve been saying for a while… except he says it much better than I ever could. Brought a tear to my eye. Makes me cling to hope that some people are waking up out there. The bad part of it is, something like this will inevitably attract the Infowars crowd. Then it will be relegated to the cesspool of insane conspiracy theories by the mainstream… and those who believe stuff like this will be branded as “crazies”.

    • AquinasMan

      The “mainstream” horse is so far out of the barn, it’s not worth worrying about. Reading the catechism quietly on the train will have people moving away from you.

      • thisismattwade

        You should move to Texas. Reading the Catechism on the train is usually a good way to get into an “argument” with an evangelical/other Protestant. 🙂 +JMJ+

        • johnnysc

          That is what is so great about being a Catholic today. When I read the Wanderer in public I make sure everyone gets a good look at it. Pissing off the left and protestants is all the more proof that Catholicism is True.

          • Rebecca Fuentes

            It’s the pleasure of being disreputable. 🙂 Haven’t you heard that we let anyone in?

        • Joseph

          That’s actually a better outcome than ignorant *enlightened* people secretly judge you while they slither away in disgust. The anti-Catholic Evangelical Texan will at least engage you in honesty. Believe it or not, that’s because Texans are more open for discussion and debate… and evangelicals are, deep-down inside, interested in what makes the Church tick but they mask that interest with vocal hostility.

          • thisismattwade

            Be it the “anti-Catholic Evangelical Texan” or the “ignorant *enlightened*”, I think there is plenty of ignorance to go around that you and I will have our evangelizing hands full until the day we pass away. God bless your efforts.

  • MarylandBill

    As I think about it, it is really quite clever. Most people see the need for laws governing behavior, they just disagree on whose behavior needs regulating (the individual or the corporation). By playing both ends of the political spectrum, corporations are able to push a libertarian agenda.

  • FrogLeg

    The core of the story is with the Memories Pizza anecdote, which ended with this:

    “And never mind that the employee said that they wouldn’t discriminate
    against any customer who came into the restaurant and that the entire
    “story” was manufactured. The outpouring of fury and denunciation on the
    various websites connected to the restaurant was relentless, vicious,
    and devastating.”

    This is true as far as it goes, but Christians are (almost) as unable to come up with real anecdotes that show oppression of Christians. Not only was the RFRA backlash manufactured, but the original push for RFRA was manufactured. You had two sides who were spoiling for a fight and willing to make up a parade of horribles to support the need for a preemptive strike. The whole fight is complete BS, on both sides.

    • AquinasMan

      Well, I don’t know if the backlash was entirely “manufactured” per se, but it was ignited by interested parties that were 1) horrified at the possibility that Pence would backtrack once the heat got turned up, and 2) viscerally offended by the venom that spewed forth from its opposers, ultimately finding a scapegoat that turned out to be an icon for middle America. Now, we can talk about political gamesmanship and the falsity of the whole political process — but the undeniable truth is that a family minding its own business, bothering no one, was eviscerated by the SJWs and the pro-homosexual juggernaut. Maybe all the fund raising was a happy accident as a result of getting a political fastball in the right wing wheelhouse, but this was legitimate persecution that a segment of the public responded to.

      Anecdotally, if we’re relying on what happens in the mass media to inform us on the frequency of persecution against Christians in this country, we’re probably not being very smart. Every business owner who has to wrestle with following the law or closing up shop is being persecuted. Every individual who has to cloak his combox username in a pseudonym to avoid losing his livelihood, is being persecuted. Every teacher in a public school that has to choose between the mandated curriculum and their soul, is being persecuted. But we’re not going to hear about these on CNN. We’ll hear about it when someone of the alternative persuasion hits the litigation jackpot, and we’ll hear about it when institutions collapse in front of the fascists. The media made the mistake of creating a storm of sympathy for the “wrong” side. It won’t happen again.

    • Clare Krishan

      re: real anecdotes that show oppression of Christians how about paying twice for schooling their children? Rather than enjoy religious liberty in taxation, many faithful Catholics in the US exercising their religious duty of passing on their faith to the next generation — the narrative thrust of the Hebrew Old Testament, no less — are coerced to submit to supporting the education of others’ children in their public school district, and then pay again to educate their own in parochial and archdiocesan schools. The oppression isn’t obvious to many because it is born silently, without complaint save for the intermittent resistence via political lobbying for voucher schemes, or the oppression is unequally exerted – in my homeland the taxation revenues for education are parsed out to religious schools and secular schools in proportion to the local interest of engaged parents, some schools pass into abeyance under local authority control for lack of enrollment, others are built from scratch to meet demand
      after public consultation (religiously motivated SE Asian parents often support RC schools for moral reasons, they are more likely to hold their students to higher social conduct standards, a value shared by Hindus and Moslems alike)

  • AquinasMan

    Fantastic piece. I’ve struggled to articulate this point: “Corporate America is aligned with the ascendant ­libertarian portion of each party,”

    Politics, I suppose, has always been a state of capture by special interests and commerce, but the financial power of the biggest corporations outstrips entire nations. If we want to know where the country is headed culturally and politically, we need only look to the board rooms.

  • Stu

    This guy hit a bulls eye within a bulls eye.

    Everyone who is using Facebook should share this article.

  • Dan13

    If he continues to write things like that, First Things will no longer print his pieces. From what I understand, their whole raison d’être is to baptize economic liberalism.

    But I absolutely agree with him. The liberalism of the right and left is combining at the head and is totally antithetical to Catholicism. Essentially, you can define Catholicism by taking liberalism (i.e., libertarianism) and doing the opposite.