Eliot Spitzer, David Brooks, and the State of Nature
The significance of what Eliot Spitzer did is too important to leave to amateurs like the New York Times' David Brooks to explain.
David Brooks’ March 14 New York Times column, “The Rank-Link Imbalance,” purports to explain the mindset of New York’s fallen ex-governor. (I hereby apologize to my readers for descending in consecutive columns to the level of the New York Times. Sometimes, it happens.)
Brooks, while a graceful stylist, often suffers from an honesty deficiency. I’ll never forget his 2003 Times column misrepresenting the Old Testament, as part of his attempt to rationalize gay marriage, or his long, mid-1990s’ weekly standard article promoting the notion that Rudy Giuliani’s policing strategies were an unqualified success. (See also here.)
This time, Brooks was much better than I had expected; of course, my expectations had been extremely low.
… our social structure seems to produce significant numbers of people with rank-link imbalances. That is to say, they have all of the social skills required to improve their social rank, but none of the social skills that lead to genuine bonding. They are good at vertical relationships with mentors and bosses, but bad at horizontal relationships with friends and lovers.
Perhaps they grow up in homes with an intense success ethos and get fed into the Achievatron, the complex social machine that takes young children and molds them into Ivy League valedictorians….
Their parent-teacher conferences are like mini-Hall of Fame enshrinements as all gather to worship at the flame of their incipient success….
Then they go into one of those fields like law, medicine or politics, where a person’s identity is defined by career rank. They develop the specific social skills that are useful on the climb up the greasy pole: the capacity to imply false intimacy; the ability to remember first names; the subtle skills of effective deference; the willingness to stand too close to other men while talking and touching them in a manly way.
And, of course, these people succeed and enjoy their success. When Bigness descends upon them, they dominate every room they enter and graciously share their company with those who are thrilled to meet them.
So far, Brooks is getting a lot of the details of a generic sort of man right, though there’s already a fatal flaw to his description, but catch his next sentence:
They master the patois of globaloney — the ability to declaim for portentous minutes about the revolution in world affairs brought about by technological change/environmental degradation/the fundamental decline in moral values.
Granted, Brooks gets invited to a lot more cocktail parties than I do, and I realize that there is a sort of generic, PC nonsense that even libertarians in our elites now speak and write (see the horrified response by establishment libertarians to Ron Paul’s impolitic newsletter, or libertarian blogger Megan McArdle’s embrace of civil rights laws), but “the fundamental decline in moral values” is a quintessential GOP talking point; Spitzer is a liberal or leftwing Democrat.
They treat their conversational partners the way the Nazis treated Poland. They crush initial resistance, and the onslaught of accumulated narcissism is finally too much to bear.
The Nazi reference is over the top, but the narcissism part is good.
But then, gradually, some cruel cosmic joke gets played on them. They realize in middle age that their grandeur is not enough and that they are lonely.
No dice. Loneliness and the desire for intimacy played no role whatsoever in Eliot Spitzer’s rendezvous with the prostitute “Kristen.” Not that some men have not sought out, and even achieved intimacy with a prostitute, but Eliot Spitzer did not know Ashley Youmans aka Ashley Alexandra Dupré aka Kristen from a hole in the wall. He was a regular customer of Emperor’s Club VIP, such that after ten or so times, the madame knew his pay arrangement by heart, and yet he was going to be with the young woman in question for the first time. Indeed, Ashley/Kristen/Whomever had to spell out the rules for him, in refusing to go along with his desire for unprotected sex.
Had Spitzer truly thirsted for intimacy, he would by now have had a regular “VIP” girl, and known her real name. Eliot Spitzer sought not intimacy, but thrills, and the biggest thrill he knew was in breaking the law. The last several years of Spitzer’s life, he has shown a bottomless contempt for the law, which he has violated at every opportunity and encouraged certain other groups to violate, while going out of his way to gleefully persecute law-abiding citizens. A list of the particulars will require a separate column.
And I haven’t even gotten to what I referred to above as Brooks’ fatal flaw: His ignoring of class prerogatives. Go back to what he said about “mini-Hall of Fame enshrinements.” I don’t care how brilliant a child is, if his family is poor or working or lower-middle-class, he will not experience such “enshrinements” in his school days, and probably not in adulthood, either. Those are the experiences of the children of the rich. Not all children of the rich, perhaps, but if being wealthy isn’t a sufficient prerequisite, it is a necessary one. Eliot Spitzer’s father made half a billion dollars in real estate. Eliot’s luxurious, upper-east-side digs are a gift from Dad, as are the real estate holdings that last year reportedly earned him $1.9 million.
When I started this essay, I was going to separate the wealth and lawlessness factors. After all, contempt for the law is widespread among the black poor, the black rich … and while we’re at it, the black middle classes, too. It’s a black thing. Most blacks have contempt for everything white, and they consider the law a white institution. (Or is it simply, a contempt for everything? They seem to hate other blacks, too.)
But Eliot Spitzer is white. The same passionate hatred of the law that one sees among blacks of all social classes is not pervasive among the white poor, working, and lower-middle classes … yet. Those are the guys who still step up and serve as policemen, firemen, jail guards, infantrymen, Marines, and in the special forces. Not only do they go to Iraq, but they frequently re-up, when their tour is done. The guys who run toward the trouble that the “smart guys” flee. And those are the guys that the Bill Clintons, George W. Bushes, and Eliot Spitzers think are idiots.
Criminality is so entrenched among the white upper classes that they think only “losers” obey the law. They hire illegal immigrants to work in their homes, farms, factories and businesses, cheat on their taxes, violate the social security laws, and can’t imagine not committing their daily felonies. Even before the rich as a class began living off of illegal aliens, they routinely committed tax fraud, by writing all manner of personal expenses off their taxes. But they didn’t publicly flaunt that criminality, the way they started to a few years ago, after their embrace of class war through the exploitation of illegal immigrants. Now they say, “Everybody’s doing it”—everybody they know, that is—and even spout sanctimonious sophisms worthy of a David Brooks in defense of their lawlessness.
Eliot Spitzer must go to jail, and a whole lot of other “Spitzers” must join him. The Spitzers and Clintons and Bushes—not mention the racist blacks and Hispanics—assume that white guys will continue forever being saps who do the right thing, so that the aforementioned groups can be crooks and free riders. (And yet, those same groups have done everything in their power, to ensure that white guys are an ever decreasing portion of the populace. Which goes to show that wealthy whites are as irrational as blacks and Hispanics.) But the immorality and lawlessness of the aforementioned groups started influencing ordinary white guys about thirty years ago. The proof is that the illegitimacy rate among non-Hispanic white females, which in 1950 was 1.8 percent, in 2005 reached 31.7 percent, an increase of 1,661.1 percent. Already in 1993, when based on 1991 figures the non-Hispanic white illegitimacy rate was 22 percent, Charles Murray wrote of “The Coming White Underclass.” Since Murray’s warning, the white illegitimacy rate jumped another 55.4 percent.
When poor, working, and lower-middle-class white guys decide—helped along by feminism, sex ed, and news and entertainment media that simultaneously damn virtuous conduct by white men and variously celebrate, patronize, and rationalize immoral conduct by black and Hispanic men—“the hell with it,” that there’s no point in being virtuous and obeying the law, and join the Spitzers and blacks and Hispanics, the state of nature, in which Hobbes described “the life of man [as] solitary, poor, nasty, brutish, and short,” will be upon us.
Award-winning, New York-based freelancer Nicholas Stix founded A Different Drummer magazine (1989-93). Stix has written for Die Suedwest Presse, New York Daily News, New York Post, Newsday, Middle American News, Toogood Reports, Insight, Chronicles, the American Enterprise, Campus Reports, VDARE, the Weekly Standard, Front Page Magazine, Ideas on Liberty, National Review Online and the Illinois Leader. His column also appears at Men's News Daily, MichNews, Intellectual Conservative, Enter Stage Right and OpinioNet. Stix has studied at colleges and universities on two continents, and earned a couple of sheepskins, but he asks that the reader not hold that against him. His day jobs have included washing pots, building Daimler-Benzes on the assembly-line, tackling shoplifters and teaching college, but his favorite job was changing his son's diapers.