Volume > Issue > Revolt of the Ultra-Elites

Revolt of the Ultra-Elites


By Marek Jan Chodakiewicz | May 2022
Marek Jan Chodakiewicz is a Professor of History at the Institute of World Politics: A Graduate School of National Security and International Affairs in Washington, D.C. He holds the Tadeusz Kosciuszko Chair of Polish Studies and heads the Center for Intermarium Studies.

Some 30 years ago I watched as the parents of a Columbia University freshman reacted with incredulity to their daughter’s shrill peroration about the necessity to remove crosses from all public spaces so as “not to offend anyone.” Her folks had shown up in New York to fetch her home for Thanksgiving. They yearned for familial continuity. Instead, a chain of love snapped, perhaps irreparably, because within three short months, their daughter had become indoctrinated in the dogma of what we now call wokeness.

The young lady became a janissary, one of the active courtier participants in the revolution of the One Percent. The moniker derives from the Occupy Wall Street movement, which ostensibly targeted the ultra-wealthy. The target, however, responded with a revolution of its own, a revolution from above, the often violent convulsions of which are taking place primarily in city streets, on university campuses, and in corporate boardrooms.

The revolution of the One Percent has two aspects: existential and pragmatic. The former reflects a strategic endeavor to replace the moral order of the West with antithetical arrangements. The latter consists in a tactical and operational effort to perpetuate the One Percent in power.

To accomplish this, the civilizational context must be altered. Arguably, the most important impediment to the One Percenters’ domination is tradition, including American nationalism and Christianity. By destroying traditional America and remolding the ruins to their fashion, the One Percenters anticipate no serious challenge to their supremacy.

But they may be deluding themselves. Revolutions usually acquire momentum of their own. Think of France in 1789 or Russia in 1917. The moderate liberals who pushed to overthrow the old regimes found themselves dizzyingly disoriented as whirlwind events promptly rendered them irrelevant. Utopians took over with ultra-violent results.

At any rate, at present, the chosen tool of destruction is class-struggle-cum-race-struggle aimed at upending America’s middle class and thus nearly everyone who is neither a One Percenter nor a janissary. In this the revolutionaries resemble the Abbasid-led mobs in Baghdad during the third Islamic caliphate. The Arab oligarchs and religious leaders could mobilize and sometimes control such mobs, including staging a revolution, to implement their agenda.

Yet, destruction alone will not do. America must be remade in the image of the One Percent. An ersatz new “civilization” must be erected to replace the old one. It must co-opt former sensibilities by appropriating cultural symbols and conditioning people to adopt new ones, often disguised under familiar slogans, visuals, and concerns. Words must reflect not reality but deception serving the One Percent. For example, diversity now means uniformity of opinion, and tolerance denotes intolerance toward anyone who stands in the way of the revolutionary project.

To implement their radical agenda, the One Percenters have attracted an entourage, a rear guard. Let’s call them courtiers, magicians, janissaries, and minions. Each group displays different levels of cognition and boasts different skills, and they occupy several levels in the revolutionary hierarchy. We can describe their representatives separately, but, in reality, the levels tend to overlap.

The gazillionaire One Percenters — Angelo Codevilla in The Ruling Class: How They Corrupted America and What We Can Do About It (2010) dubs them “oligarchs” — stand at the top. They are followed by the courtiers. The latter are loyal and well-remunerated personal attendants, perhaps sometimes junior partners, maybe even friends, who identify completely with the One Percenters. Others are ubiquitous “experts” in every imaginable field (or none at all), often guns for hire who work for the highest bidder. These subsets include lawyers, investors, foundation heads, and other highly placed enablers.

A bit lower on the courtier rung are the classical minions. They are the hangers-on, attracted by power and wealth. Always eager to please their One Percent masters, they live off the crumbs of the tables of the oligarchs and bask in the light of their reflected glory. Their fortunes ride on the success of whatever enterprise their betters undertake. This cohort fields otherwise superfluous talent, such as personal shoppers, interior designers, dog psychologists, and other specialized spongers and fawners.

Then there are the magicians. They can be courtiers, but, more often than not, they stand alone. They process and interpret the incoherent theories of the One Percent so they appear viable in practice. Sometimes they partake in the glory of the court; at other times they stay away to appear independent. The most sophisticated cyclically bite the One-Percenter hand that feeds them, but they bite just a bit and never tear it off, at least not at this stage. Intellectuals are foremost among them, denouncing “corporate greed” and “evil capitalists” while living off donations, endowments, and glitz purveyed by the oligarchs’ financial machine.

Some magicians are dialectical manipulators, while others are just venal mercenaries. Some are both. The most cynical simply salivate for grants, which trickle down to them from One Percenter-endowed foundations. Some manipulator-magicians wear several hats, including as courtier-experts, say, in a One Percent foundation. Knowing the oligarchic master’s general sentiments, they can channel an unending stream of largesse to their own pet projects, for example, Antifa or Black Lives Matter.

The manipulators among the magicians brazenly take advantage of the One Percenters, whom they consider useful idiots. The gazillionaires can be either dupes supplying income or blind bankrollers providing the wherewithal ultimately for a real revolution that will end with the extermination of the One Percenters and their cozy system. For example, in the 1990s, radical “community organizers” in Chicago obtained access to the head of an affluent foundation and, under the pretext of wanting to help underprivileged black children, secured a substantial amount of assistance. This was congruent with Saul Alinsky’s teachings in Rules for Radicals (1969).

Many magicians are denizens of academia and/or media. They cultivate the common woke vernacular at two levels: esoteric and base. The former requires fluency in Michel Foucault, Jacques Derrida, and other caciques of deconstruction and postmodernism, as well as in Karl Marx and Frantz Fanon. For their intellectual epigones, however, everything is about “power,” “oppression,” and “racism.” Hence, “intersectionality” — or a state of political, social, cultural, and environmental-level handicap — engineered at the top by the magicians turns, at the bottom, into a shrill and irrational program to identify and (allegedly) promote the most disadvantaged identity group. The key is to deceive through stripping words of their true meaning and endowing them with a new one.

In a way, the contemporary oligarchs are akin to ancient Sumerian priests who, though highly organized if hermetic, used emotive language to control the masses, whose worship consisted of irrationally wriggling on the ground and speaking in tongues. Gwendolyn Leick in Mesopotamia: The Invention of the City (2003) describes how, to maintain their position, the ancient elites manipulated the people in a variety of ways, including by promoting promiscuity and all sorts of sexual shenanigans, which most of us falsely believe to be an invention and affliction of postmodernity.

In any event, contemporary magicians have emulated some of the same ancient patterns. Nihil novi sub sole — there is nothing new under the sun. And they have been extremely successful. They have the opposition outmaneuvered. Middle-class Americans generally believe in “live and let live”; they interpret tolerance as putting up with the unpalatable for the sake of domestic peace and as long as they themselves remain unaffected by it. The magicians, however, have managed to redefine tolerance as not just begrudging acceptance of the unpalatable but mandatory celebration of every pathology they promote.

The magicians further insist on exercising their own freedom of speech while muzzling others with speech codes and allegations of “hate.” They both contrive the woke narrative and serve as its propagandists. The success of propaganda is to ensconce a grain of truth in multiple layers of mendacity. Key to the success of any propaganda is repetition. The narrative of policemen as killers of black people is one example. The magicians have fueled this discursive fever, which has resulted in neighborhoods set on fire and an illogical “Defund the Police” movement, thus aiding and abetting the revolution.

The magicians direct the flow of propaganda, but it is amplified by their apprentices, the janissaries. In the Ottoman Empire from the 14th century, the Yeñiçeri were pre-teen Christian boys from the Balkans who were kidnapped or otherwise forcibly taken from their parents as devshirme, or a punitive tax. Compelled to convert to Islam, they were indoctrinated and trained to serve as Ottoman bureaucrats or, much more often, personal bodyguards of the Sultan.

Before qualifying, many experienced the “joys” of the Great Porte, or the central Ottoman government. Rape was routine, not just of would-be janissaries but of Christian child hostages in general. That, incidentally, was the lot of Transylvanian prince Vlad Tepes. Held prisoner in Istanbul (Constantinople) since he was five, upon regaining freedom he turned on everyone with a vengeance, becoming Vlad the Impaler, the inspiration for Count Dracula.

Nonetheless, Muslim historian Tamim Ansary, in Destiny Disrupted: A History of the World Through Islamic Eyes (2010), argues that the lot of Christian boys in the Ottoman service was marvelous, comparable to obtaining a free education at an Ivy League school: They were lifted from their crummy villages and allowed to join the elite, and they would fight and die for the Sultan. Never mind that their parents considered them stolen, much as many American parents probably feel nowadays about their precious ones being brainwashed in college.

Today, we have no devshirme, but we are chained to the conviction that university education is the key to success. Meanwhile, in college, your sons and daughters abandon Christianity and embrace an alien creed, ultimately joining the ranks of woke revolutionaries. Then as now, you have lost your children who, along with the other janissaries, are the most effective grassroots missionaries for, and cannon fodder of, the revolution. Fueled by critical race theory, they terrorize the campus. Some get out to loot, burn, and riot. The most committed convert others on and off campus.

Of course, modern-day janissaries find themselves at different levels of wokeness. Some may be redeemable. Even the most committed may grow disenchanted and yearn for a way back home. Left to their own devices, however, they tend to succumb to the siren call of the revolution of the One Percent and its courtiers, magicians, and minions. And they will do their bidding until they burn out, as most do, for it is nearly impossible to maintain revolutionary fervor forever.

Within this context, we can make sense of Michael Anton’s The Stakes: America at the Point of No Return (2020). He writes:

This is the real nature of the modern American regime: a high-low coalition against the middle. The high — the oligarchs and their (relatively) impecunious but “educated” culturati — team up with the so-called “disfavored” or “disadvantaged” or “marginalized”: the fringe, the poor (but not the taxpaying working class!), single women, the unemployed and unemployable, welfare recipients, immigrants, and anyone unhappy with or angry at America.

But there is hope in the janissaries, who tend to be the weakest link in the revolutionary chain. They can be returned to the fold or won for the faith anew by missionaries who preach both openly and surreptitiously. What could draw the janissaries away from their perilous path? Some can be persuaded by reason, others with the truth of Christ, and still others by encouragement to abandon their revolutionary ferocity in favor of counterrevolutionary radicalism, which can be emotionally similar. Speaking metaphysically, zeal for Satan can become enthusiasm for God. Either way, the revolution must meet a counterrevolution.

Who will lead it? Generally, it will be the Church militant. There exists a Catholic remnant that understands the mechanisms of the revolution of the One Percent. This remnant must foster this knowledge first among the faithful and then among others who oppose the revolutionary wave. Christ promised us that the Gates of Hell shall not overcome the Kingdom of Heaven. Meanwhile, we are expected to fight the Good Fight, which today is counterrevolution.


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