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  Road to the Middle Class
Thursday November 27, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter









1930s analysis

UK spending

US bailout

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sisters, sisters


















George Simmel: The Individual and the "Dyad"

WE think of sociology as the individual and society. But Georg Simmel in The Sociology of Georg Simmel translated by Kurt H. Wolff takes us to a more basic consideration, the individual and the "dyad", or the individual as part of a two-person social relationship.

But first, consider the situation of the "isolated" individual. Actually, we are not talking here about an individual that is "physically alone" as one might be on a walk in the mountains. The feeling of isolation is much more intense

when one is a stranger, without relations, among many physically close persons, at a "party", on a train, or in the traffic of a large city.
In other words, isolation is not the aloneness of an individual; it is the separation of the social individual from the rest of society. "As a conscious feeling on the part of the individual, it represents a very specific relation to society."

But then there is freedom, which seems at first glance to be closely related to isolation, but it is decisively different. On the one hand we can see that society -- as  "the state, the party, the family... friendship or love -- quite naturally... would extend their claims over the whole of man." Against this relentless pressure to conform to the expectations of others, "freedom emerges as a continuous process of liberation" for personal independence and also the right to remain dependent. On the other hand "the individual does not just want to be free, but use his freedom for some purpose", including "the extension of his will over others."

Thus we see that "isolation" and "freedom" are not external to the notion of humans as social individuals, but particular instances of genuinely human "sociation." The "dyad", the relation between two individuals or two groups is equally social. And the dyad has a particular characteristic unlike the isolation or freedom of the individual or a group of three or more people; if one person drops out of the dyad, it ceases to exist. The point is that any large group can be immortal; but the dyad cannot.

Simmel writes at length about the characteristics of the dyad. He starts with triviality. We tend to value things that are unique and rare, and undervalue things that are routine and commonplace. Clearly, a dyadic relationship, with its daily repetition of the commonplace, can descend into triviality, and "the tone of triviality frequently becomes desperate and fatal."

Then there is intimacy. For Simmel intimacy refers to the "ingredients that its participants contribute to [the relationship} and to no other" if they are regarded to be essential, forming the "affective structure" which the two show to each other and to nobody else. It is clear that intimacy is closely related to the exclusive nature of the dyad; intimacy withers as soon as a third element is introduced into the relationship.

Obviously the iconic case of the dyad is a monogamous marriage, and yet is isn't. For marriage typically leads to children, and then the dyad is broken. And marriage does not exist in isolation as merely two people. There is the family in general, the children, and the fact that marriage is "socially regulated and historically transmitted." Men and women are not just confronted by each other in marriage, but by the collectivity itself.

There is another curious characteristic of the dyad. It does not permit the two members to slough off duties and responsibilities to the larger group, as when people expect society to do what is properly their own responsibility. In a dyad there is a "co-responsibility for all collective actions." You can push a responsibility on the other member, but the other member can push right back. You can't hide behind the group or blame the group, because the other person cannot be fooled. In other words, it is hard to be a "free-loader" in a dyad.

Simmel now considers the "expansion of the dyad," or what happens when you introduce an additional member into a two-person relationship. It could intensify the relationship, or it could distract it. And it could provoke jealousy. Once you introduce a third member into a dyad it becomes possible to overrule a member with a majority of the others. This is fine if you are a person with "strong individuality" that wants to fight rather than blend in. It's not fine for the "decided individual" that will avoid groups "where it might find itself confronted by a majority." Also, as soon as you expand a dyad into a group you risk the lowering of individuality to the group level that is particularly evident in crowds.

Thus the decisive change for a dyad is the first additional member: the first child to a marriage, but not the subsequent child. And the same applies to bigamy(!). The addition of the third wife is nothing compared to the addition of the second wife. Notice that in Rome there were two Consuls, not three. Yet there is a different relation between two political parties, where "who is not for me is against me." But when two parties dissolve into a single mass movement there is no room for opposition or disagreement. There is only "yes" and "no" for the whole collectivity.

perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 11/27/14 11:59 am ET

The Shallow Conceit of the North London Luvvie

BACK in the 2000s Ross Ashcroft was briefly a BBCer and then an assistant theater director. But after the crash of 2008 he has reached for bigger things and in 2012 released a documentary on all the troubles of the world, entitled Four Horsemen. It got tons of awards at film festivals. It's available on YouTube. You would expect that it to be pathetically banal and devoid of almost anything ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 11/26/14 1:34 pm ET

Dr. Ha-Joon Chang, Renegade Economist? Oh Please!

ONE of the talking heads on Ross Ashcroft's Four Horsemen documentary is Dr. Ha-Joon Chang, an economist who's a Reader at the University of Cambridge in England. In this video under the "Renegade Economist" brand Dr. Chang rehearses lefty talking points on "neoliberalism." I didn't really know what neoliberalism was when I watched the video; I just knew that it was a term that lefties swung ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 11/25/14 12:13 pm ET

Piketty: Deirdre McCloskey Weighs In

BACK in the spring the intellectual world was convulsed by a book about capitalism written by a Frenchman, Thomas Piketty. The book, Capital in the Twenty-first Century argued that the return on capital was always bigger than the economic growth rate (expressed as r > g) and this would mean that the rich would forever get richer and richer. Since the left is currently focused on "inequality" ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 11/24/14 12:36 pm ET

|  November blogs  |  October blogs  |


Download latest e-book draft here.


A New Manifesto
A spectre is haunting the liberal elite—the spectre of conservatism.


The Crisis of the Administrative State
It wasn’t supposed to be like this.

Government and the Technology of Power
If you scratch a social reformer, you will likely discover a plan for more government.

Business, Slavery, and Trust
Business is all about trust and relationship.

Humanity's Big Problem: Freebooters and Freeloaders
The modern welfare state encourages freeloaders.

The Bonds of Faith
No society known to anthropology or history lacked religion.

A Critique of Social Mechanics
The problem with human society reduced to system.

The Paradox of Individualism
Is individualism the gospel of selfishness or something else?

From Multitude to Civil Society
The larger the government, the smaller the society.

The Answer is Civil Society
In between the separated powers.

The Greater Separation of Powers
If you want to limit power then you must limit power.

Conservatism Three by Three
Conservatism, political, economics, and cultural.

The Culture of Involvement
Imagining lives without the welfare state

The Poor Without the Welfare State
Can the poor thrive without the welfare state?

The Middle Class Without The Welfare State
How would the middle class live without all those middle-class entitlements?

From Freeloaders to Free Givers
The path to the future lies through moral movements.

The Real Meaning of Society
Broadening the horizon of cooperation in the “last best hope of man on earth.”

conservative manifesto



AAM Book of the Day

Foster, C.I., An errand of mercy, The evangelical united front, 1790-1837,

AAM Books on Education

Andrew Coulson, Market Education
How universal literacy was achieved before government education

Carl Kaestle, Pillars of the Republic
How we got our education system

James Tooley, Reclaiming Education
How only a market in education will provide opportunity for the poor

James Tooley, The Miseducation of Women
How the feminists wrecked education for boys and for girls

E.G. West, Education and the State
How education was doing fine before the government muscled in

AAM Books on Law

Hernando De Soto, The Mystery of Capital
How ordinary people in the United States wrote the law during the 19th century

F. A. Hayek, Law Legislation and Liberty, Vol 1
How to build a society based upon law

Henry Maine, Ancient Law
How the movement of progressive peoples is from status to contract

John Zane, The Story of Law
How law developed from early times down to the present

AAM Books on Mutual Aid

James Bartholomew, The Welfare State We're In
How the welfare state makes crime, education, families, and health care worse.

David Beito, From Mutual Aid to the Welfare State
How ordinary people built a sturdy social safety net in the 19th century

David Green, Before Beveridge: Welfare Before the Welfare State
How ordinary people built themselves a sturdy safety net before the welfare state

Theda Skocpol, Diminished Democracy
How the US used to thrive under membership associations and could do again

David Stevenson, The Origins of Freemasonry
How modern freemasonry got started in Scotland

AAM Books on Religion

David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing
How Christianity is booming in China

Finke & Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990
How the United States grew into a religious nation

Robert William Fogel, The Fourth Great Awakening and the Future of Egalitarianism
How progressives must act fast if they want to save the welfare state

David Martin, Pentecostalism: The World Their Parish
How Pentecostalism is spreading across the world


The Will To Power
Mona Charen helpfully lists Obama's previous violations of settled law.

Ten Reasons Why I Am No Longer a Leftist
We rushed to cast everyone in one of three roles: victim, victimizer, or champion of the oppressed.

The DC Dem leaders hate Obama
Now they tell us.

Energy Boom Can Withstand Steeper Oil-Price Drop
names of smaller oil companies in shale plays.

The highly sophisticated hacking of Sharyl Attkisson's computers | Fox News
Sharyl Attkisson on agenda-driven journalism.

> archive


cruel . corrupt . wasteful
unjust . deluded



After a year of President Obama most Americans understand that the nation is on the wrong track. But how do we find the right track? Americans knew thirty years ago that liberalism was a busted flush. Yet Reaganism and Bushism seemed to be less than the best answer.

But where can we turn? Where are the thinkers and activists of the old days? Where do we find the best ideas? And how do we persuade our present ruling class to loosen its grip on power so that we can move the locomotive of state back onto the right track?

With all of our problems it seems like the worst of times.

In fact, this is the best of times. Under the radar a generation of great thinkers have been figuring out what went wrong and conjuring up visions of a better future. This book, "An American Manifesto: Life After Liberalism" is an introduction to their ideas, and to the great future that awaits an America willing to respond to their call.

Although this book is addressed to all Americans, conservative, moderate, and liberal, and looks to a nation that transcends our present partisan divide, I must tell you that liberals will have the most difficulty with the book. The reason is simple. I am asking liberals to give up a lot of the power they have amassed in the last century. But we are all Americans, and we must all give up something for the sake of the greater good.


I am Christopher Chantrill and I am writing this book in full view. I'll be blogging on the process and the ideas, and I'll be asking you, dear readers, to help. Read the blog. Read the articles as they come out on American Thinker and ponder over the draft chapters here on this site.

Then send me your reactions, your thoughts, and your comments. You will help more than you know.



The incentive that impels a man to act is always some uneasiness... But to make a man act [he must have] the expectation that purposeful behavior has the power to remove or at least to alleviate the felt uneasiness.
Ludwig von Mises, Human Action


“But I saw a man yesterday who knows a fellow who had it from a chappie that said that Urquhart had been dipping himself a bit recklessly off the deep end.”  —Freddy Arbuthnot
Dorothy L. Sayers, Strong Poison

China and Christianity

At first, we thought [the power of the West] was because you had more powerful guns than we had. Then we thought it was because you had the best political system. Next we focused on your economic system. But in the past twenty years, we have realized that the heart of your culture is your religion: Christianity.
David Aikman, Jesus in Beijing


[In the] higher Christian churches... they saunter through the liturgy like Mohawks along a string of scaffolding who have long since forgotten their danger. If God were to blast such a service to bits, the congregation would be, I believe, genuinely shocked. But in the low churches you expect it every minute.
Annie Dillard, Holy the Firm

Civil Society

“Civil Society”—a complex welter of intermediate institutions, including businesses, voluntary associations, educational institutions, clubs, unions, media, charities, and churches—builds, in turn, on the family, the primary instrument by which people are socialized into their culture and given the skills that allow them to live in broader society and through which the values and knowledge of that society are transmitted across the generations.
Francis Fukuyama, Trust

Class War

In England there were always two sharply opposed middle classes, the academic middle class and the commercial middle class. In the nineteenth century, the academic middle class won the battle for power and status... Then came the triumph of Margaret Thatcher... The academics lost their power and prestige and... have been gloomy ever since.
Freeman Dyson, “The Scientist as Rebel”


Conservatism is the philosophy of society. Its ethic is fraternity and its characteristic is authority — the non-coercive social persuasion which operates in a family or a community. It says ‘we should...’.
Danny Kruger, On Fraternity


©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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