Does this sound familiar?

It’s a description of the tea party movement, but it describes quite well the conflict between the rural and urban elite within Pakistan:

I am persuaded by Pareto’s and Mosca’s analysis that political conflict always results from a difference between two competing elites or elite factions. Other groups may be involved as sources of support for one or the other, but below the elite level, people are too busy trying to survive to be very much engaged in politics.

The anonymous comment to the effect that mediæval peasants had almost no contact with any recognizable state government is true. Their government was that of the baron on whose land they lived, of the church, and (on those occasions when they travelled to a burgh of regality on a pilgrimage, or to trade for what they could not make for themselves) of whatever burghal authorities had jurisdiction there. Kings and royal courts were remote.

The political conflict of this era typically arose between two elites, just as Pareto and Mosca suggest. They were, on one hand, the landed interests (noblesse de l’épée, Uradel) who held their feus by virtue of military service in time of war, and on the other, the courtiers whose rank was conferred in recognition of their civil service (noblesse de la robe, Briefsadel). These differences appeared at a very early period, and remained operative well into the eighteenth century, when the typical European political division was still between court and country factions.

Maybe it is not apparent to someone living in San Francisco like MM, but not all “gentlemen” are progressive-universalists. There are people who correspond, to a “country party” that, if not aristocratic, is at least plutocratic, here in the vast center of the country – business owners, regional and community bankers, landlords, and rentiers. Indeed, many of them have emerged unscathed from first-tier universities – not so much because their propaganda was rejected, as simply ignored. I grew up among such people, and can attest that they are instinctively conservative. You don’t suppose, do you, that someone like Michelle Bachmann raised her astonishing campaign fund from “peasants”? To be sure, large contributors to such politicians are under no illusions; they simply support what appears to be the lesser of evils.

Opposed to these people in the “court” party are of course the usual crowd of parasites, sycophants, and hangers-on of government, who derive their social and economic position from their proximity to power. Behind these, however, are the state-capitalists whose fortunes are dependent on the rent-seeking opportunities afforded them by politicians.

Broadly speaking, then, the political conflict of the present day really lies between the millionaire country elite (whose money, though smaller, is typically older) and the billionaire court elite (jumped-up, nouveau riche) of New York, California, and the suburbs of Washington, D.C.

The country elite, like the provincial noblesse of the Vendée, is closer to its peasantry than to anyone in the capital – they are natural companions in arms. On the other hand, the court elite allies itself with the urban canaille. So far the latter have prevailed, largely because the former, like their counterparts centuries ago, do not completely understand the nature or the magnitude of their enemies.


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