Malkin, Michelle. Culture of Corruption. Washington: Regnery Publishing, 2009. ISBN 978-1-59698-109-6.
This excellent book is essential to understanding what is presently going on in the United States. The author digs into the backgrounds and interconnections of the Obamas, the Clintons, their associates, the members of the Obama administration, and the web of shady organisations which surround them such as the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and ACORN, and demonstrates, beyond a shadow of a doubt, that the United States is now ruled by a New Class of political operatives entirely distinct from the productive class which supports them and the ordinary citizens they purport to serve. Let me expand a bit on that term of art. In 1957, Milovan Đilas, Yugoslavian Communist revolutionary turned dissident, published a book titled The New Class, in which he described how, far from the egalitarian ideals of Marx and Engels, modern Communism had become captive to an entrenched political and bureaucratic class which used the power of the state to exploit its citizens. The New Class moved in different social and economic circles than the citizenry, and was moving in the direction of a hereditary aristocracy, grooming their children to take over from them.

In this book, we see a portrait of America's New Class, as exemplified by the Obama administration. (Although the focus is on Obama's people and the constituencies of the Democratic party, a similar investigation of a McCain administration wouldn't probably look much different: the special interests would differ, but not the character of the players. It's the political class as a whole and the system in which they operate which is corrupt, which is how mighty empires fall.) Reading through the biographies of the players, what is striking is that very few of them have ever worked a single day in the productive sector of the economy. They went from law school to government agency or taxpayer funded organisation to political office or to well-paid positions in a political organisation. They are members of a distinct political class which is parasitic upon the society, and whose interests do not align with the well-being of its citizens, who are coerced to support them.

And this, it seems to me, completes the picture of the most probable future trajectory of the United States. To some people Obama is the Messiah, and to others he is an American Lenin, but I think both of those views miss the essential point. He is, I concluded while reading this book, an American Juan Perón, a charismatic figure (with a powerful and ambitious wife) who champions the cause of the “little people” while amassing power and wealth to reward the cronies who keep the game going, looting the country (Argentina was the 10th wealthiest nation per capita in 1913) for the benefit of the ruling class, and setting the stage for economic devastation, political instability, and hyperinflation. It's pretty much the same game as Chicago under mayors Daley père and fils, but played out on a national scale. Adam Smith wrote, “There is a great deal of ruin in a nation”, but as demonstrated here, there is a great deal of ruination in the New Class Obama has installed in the Executive branch in Washington.

As the experience of Argentina during the Perón era and afterward demonstrates, it is possible to inflict structural damage on a society which cannot be reversed by an election, or even a coup or revolution. Once the productive class is pauperised or driven into exile and the citizenry made dependent upon the state, a new equilibrium is reached which, while stable, drastically reduces national prosperity and the standard of living of the populace. But, if the game is played correctly, as despots around the world have figured out over millennia, it can enrich the ruling class, the New Class, beyond their dreams of avarice (well, not really, because those folks are really good when it comes to dreaming of avarice), all the time they're deploring the “greed” of those who oppose them and champion the cause of the “downtrodden” ground beneath their own boots.

To quote a politician who figures prominently in this book, “let me be clear”: the present book is a straightforward investigation of individuals staffing the Obama administration and the organisations associated with them, documented in extensive end notes, many of which cite sources accessible online. All of the interpretation of this in terms of a New Class is entirely my own and should not be attributed to this book or its author.

November 2009 Permalink