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Crimean war blunders ended English oligarchy (and the Iraq war?)

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I like to collect examples of liberal western regimes that have been brought down by great errors. For instance, the third French republic, intimately tied into the Catholic church, collapsed after the Dreyfus case, in part because of the antisemitic accusation. And the blueblood WASP ruling class dissolved in our country in the 1970s, in part because it had made such a terrible mistake with Vietnam. An order of birth came to an end.

Of course I am building a case that the order that followed, the meritocracy–the neoliberal/neoconservative regime of globalist Rhodes scholars and testtakers–is going to implode because of Iraq. That’s why they’re hanging on to the war ideology so. That’s why the Washington Post publishes neocons and the Times publishes Zionist warrior Efraim Karsh; because even the liberals are implicated in the disaster and are trying to preserve their place.

Another example. John Pemble writing about the English ruling class in the London Review of Books, and how it lasted for over a century before the meritocrats came in. Note that Pemble associates its rise with the decline of the oligarchy in the 1850s due to another great error. Emphasis mine:

In Britain privilege still means power, but power no longer means class. The British ruling class is long since dead. Its day was over when neoliberal think tanks dethroned liberal-humanist intellectuals and nobody was any longer interested in how to combine Adam Smith with the Bible, or the rule of the many with the wisdom of the few. Yet literature gives back what history has erased. In fact literature – Galsworthy, Woolf, Waugh, Wodehouse, Nancy Mitford, Compton-Burnett – has made this Victorian hybrid, the ‘ruling class’, so familiar that we forget how brief its existence was. A cross between a gentrified bourgeoisie and a professionalised aristocracy, it ranked as ‘upper-middle’ in the hierarchy of class. Mismanagement of the Crimean War in the 1850s provoked a crisis of confidence in the nation’s leadership, compelling the landed oligarchs to improve their performance and share their power. Politics were gradually democratised; civil service appointments and – eventually – army commissions reserved to merit; the ancient universities opened up to Nonconformists and agnostics. The bourgeoisie took advantage of the opportunities thus created and became a pillar of the establishment. They switched to careers in government service and education; sent their sons to public schools and Oxbridge; patronised the arts and the London Season; and propounded traditional Christian values in highbrow journalism and popular fiction – even when they were racked by religious doubt.

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Philip Weiss is Founder and Co-Editor of Mondoweiss.net.

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