edward.luce@ft.com on Trump, or Edward Luce as Thomas Piketty? Almost Marx comments

Poor Mr. Luce almost tells the historical truth: In place of America’s Episcopalian elites came the meritocratic establishment. On that  topic of the eclipse of that  ‘Episcopalian elite’ see: The Color of Truth: McGeorge Bundy and William Bundy, Brothers in Arms, Joe Alsop’s Cold War: A Study of Journalistic Influence and Intrigue. And for gossip masquerading as ‘History’ see The Georgetown Set: Friends and Rivals in Cold War Washington.

But on the question of rise of the Jewish Elite: The Neo-Conservatives were the successors of that Episcopalian elite, of which Mr. Brooks, protege of Wm. F. Buckley Jr.,  was an integral part. His Bobo’s in Paradise, dull witted, politically motivated pop sociology, and or wan satire, take your pick. Is the rhetorical stand-in for the ‘might-have-been’ of historical candor. See The Neoconservative Revolution: Jewish Intellectuals and the Shaping of Public Policy for a friendly history of that ascendancy.

Except for Samuel P. Huntington and Francis  Fukuyama that Neo-Conservatism is a largely American Jewish political phenomenon. The fact is that these Neo-Cons were and are the midwives of Trump and Trumpism: a fact exemplified by the panic, that has led to their hysterical Anti-Trumpism.  Instead of the collapse of the legitimacy of the whole American political class: New Democrats and Republicans. These arguments, that Mr. Luce and his coterie of political pundits, at the utterly respectable Financial Times, avoid at all costs, puts that politically respectable reputation in jeopardy. As it almost has the unsavory aroma of Antisemitism. But just name it the want of political candor!

Then the reader is confronted, even a bit astounded, with this ‘Almost Neo-Pikettyism’:

What will America’s elites see when they look inwards? The first will be the shock of self-recognition. Bourgeois bohemians thought they could have it both ways: capital accumulation and moral certainty with no trade-offs. If you studied hard and earned merit, there was plenty of room at the top.

But there was a flaw in this thinking. America’s elites have stored more wealth than they can consume. This creates three problems for everyone else. First, elites invest their surpluses in replicating their advantages. Kids raised in poorer neighbourhoods with mediocre schools stand little chance. Their parents cannot match the social capital of their wealthier peers. The drawbridge is rising. The gap between the self image of meritocratic openness and reality is wide. Psychologists call this “self-discrepancy”. Economists call it barriers to entry.

Or is it a mere argumentative ploy ? But pay attention to this sentence, though there is still much more to comment upon, in Mr. Luce’s essay. Notice that it is a telling self-description of its author, framed in Neo-Liberal terms:

Social capital is about knowing what to say to whom and when, which is a sophisticated skill.

Almost Marx





Thank you for your comment. Mr. Luce takes the least obnoxious of the Neo-Cons, Mr. Brooks in his former Neo-Con incarnation, before his self-transmogrification into a Political Sage, as the unofficial historian of a group of pseudo-bohemians, who thought that their thirst for profit was not antithetical to their hippy ways. Mr. Luce used that weak rhetorical frame for his latest essay.

The intellectuals only served as cover, this is one of the more ridiculous comments I’ve read at the FT.

I’ll call your two pronged sentence stunningly superficial, both about the intellectuals and about my ridiculous comment ! Look to Feith and Wolfowitz as Neo-Cons inside the Bush II White House, and Perle as part of the Pentagon Oversight Board. See this essay by Juan Cole on Bush I and his anger at how the Neo-Cons led Bush II astray. Just a sample:

They are mainly Neoconservatives, a group of old Cold Warriors, many of whom had been Democrats, who were dismayed by the Democratic Party’s turn left in the 1970s and the rise of a New Left within it that was critical of Israel. They therefore threw in with Ronald Reagan and then W. Most were Jewish Americans, though R. James Woolsey (former CIA director) and John Bolton were Neoconservatives as well (Woolsey said he was the only Episcopalian of the lot).

Richard Perle, who was appointed to the Pentagon oversight board.

Paul Wolfowitz, who had wanted to invade Baghdad at the conclusion of the Gulf War in 1991, but who was slapped down by Bush Sr., then Secretary of Defense Dick Cheney, and Secretary of State James Baker.

Cheney and Rumsfeld brought Wolfowitz, who was obsessed with Iraq and alleged in sprng, 2001, that “Iraqi terrorism” was more of a menace than Usama Bin Laden’s al-Qaeda, to Washington in January 2001 as Deputy Secretary of Defense.

Douglas Feith, then the no. 3 man at the Pentagon, the biggest imperialist since Cecil B. Rhodes, opposed the Oslo Peace Accords and his former law partner was a spokesman for Israeli squatters on Palestinian land in the West Bank. (I’ve been criticized for saying that Feith, Beitar and a Likudnik, had no place high in the US government, as though that were racial bigotry. Having suffered for decades with the idiotic calumny that criticizing Israeli government policy is a form of racism, must we now descend into a moral cesspool where criticizing the crypto-fascist Betar & Likud Party is labeled racism? Is it also racist to say that a supporter of Milosevic shouldn’t have had high office in the US?)

Feith in turn organized a black cell inside the Pentagon, the Office of Strategic Plans, which cherry-picked intelligence in support of an attack on Iraq.

John Bolton, an ill-tempered attorney with no foreign policy experience, who was made undersecretary of state for arms control with the portfolio for “weapons of mass destruction” and was later ambassador to the UN was also from Neocon circles.


Don’t forget PNAC, Project for the New American Century, founded in 1997 by Wm. Kristol and Robert Kagan, in sum the Neo-Con Vanguard that advocated the invasion and occupation of Iraq. The signatories of the statement of principals:

This is a roster of Neo-Cons who were more than willing to send America’s children, to war, to realize their bellicose wet dream. How many of these men,except for Ms. Decter, had any real experience of war, or even a stint in the Armed Services?




About stephenkmacksd

Rootless cosmopolitan,down at heels intellectual;would be writer. 'Polemic is a discourse of conflict, whose effect depends on a delicate balance between the requirements of truth and the enticements of anger, the duty to argue and the zest to inflame. Its rhetoric allows, even enforces, a certain figurative licence. Like epitaphs in Johnson’s adage, it is not under oath.' https://www.lrb.co.uk/v15/n20/perry-anderson/diary
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