Class-struggle just didn’t work as a generator of loyalty

Tuesday, November 21st, 2017

The genius of Leninism was in building a ruling class from scratch and making it cohesive by explicitly choosing people from low-status groups, Spandrell explains, ensuring they would be loyal to the party given they had much to lose:

It worked so well it was the marvel of the intellectual classes of the whole world for a hundred years.

Meanwhile, what was the West doing? The West, that diehard enemy of worldwide Communism, led by the United States. What has been the American response to Leninism? Look around you. Read Vox. Put on TV. Ok, that’s enough. Who is high status in the West today? Women. Homosexuals. Transexuals. Muslims. Blacks. There’s even movements propping up disabled and fat people. What Progressivism is running is hyper Leninism. Biological Leninism.

When Communism took over Russia and China, those were still very poor, semi-traditional societies. Plenty of semi-starved peasants around. So you could run a Leninist party just on class resentments. “Never forget class-struggle”, Mao liked to say. “Never forget you used to be a serf and you’re not one now thanks to me”, he meant.

In the West, though, by 1945, when peace and order was enforced by the United States, the economy had improved to the point where class-struggle just didn’t work as a generator of loyalty. Life was good, the proletariat could all afford a car and even vacations. Traditional society was dead, the old status-ladders based on family pedigree and land-based wealth were also dead. The West in 1960 was a wealthy, industrial meritocratic society, where status was based on one’s talent, productivity and natural ability to schmooze oneself into the ruling class.

Of course liberal politics kept being a mess. No cohesion in a ruling class which has no good incentive to stick to each other. But of course the incentive is still out there. A cohesive ruling class can monopolize power and extract rents from the whole society forever. The ghost of Lenin is always there. And so the arrow of history kept bending in Lenin’s direction. The West started to build up a Leninist power structure. Not overtly, not as a conscious plan. It just worked that way because the incentives were out there for everyone to see, and so slowly we got it. Biological Leninism. That’s the nature of the Cathedral.


The Coalition of the Fringes, Sailer calls it. It’s worse than that really. it’s the coalition of everyone who would lose status the better society were run. It’s the coalition of the bad. Literal Kakistocracy.


  1. Jim says:

    Russian peasants in 1917 and later were not particularly attracted to Bolshevism.

  2. Harper's Notes says:

    I recently watched Caligula: 1400 Days of Terror. Toward the end the only people he trusted were his slaves he had raised up to power. A casual word from one of them could mean the death of a Senator. In the Ottoman Empire, the Janissaries and others were essentially the extended household slaves of the Ruler. He had total control over them. Over time they came to wield tremendous influence because the ruler trusted them because he was the one who could raise them up from non-status. The Russian case is an interesting twist, but the basic pattern is common across time and space and even in corporate boardrooms.

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