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  Road to the Middle Class
Thursday September 18, 2014 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter









1930s analysis

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Peter Thiel's Challenge

I just happened upon a 90 minute video interview of capitalist Peter Thiel -- as in PayPal, Facebook -- conducted by an obseqious Bill Kristol.

I can well understand Kristol's hesitating politeness.  Thiel is an impressive man, who obviously thinks about and knows his stuff. For instance, he writes in praise of monopoly against free competition: "Competition is for Losers." He means, of course, that you want to start a business where it will be difficult for people to copy you and catch up with you. As in PayPal and Facebook. You'll never make much money in a commodity business where a ton of steel is a ton of steel.

Mind you, Thiel talks in a veiled way.  He says that PayPal solved its problems with fraud with a combination of big data and the human factor.  What does that mean?

And what about the new Apple Pay and all the other payments solutions for mobile devices? Are they coming up with something new or merely playing catch-up?

But here is the takeaway for me on Thiel. He says that one question he likes to ask when interviewing job applicants is this:

Tell me something that other people don't believe in. And that's true.
That notion aligns with Thiel's preference for financing opportunities that will yield monopoly profits. It means in many cases doing something that other people think is impossible. For instance, you'd think that the banks and credit card folks would have got into the payments-by-email business before PayPal. After all, money transaction is what they do. But in fact, according to Thiel, they didn't, and the reason they didn't is that they thought that payments by email would be too hard, because of the fraud.

Kristol asked Thiel about his Question? How do people answer it? Usually they don't.  They fake it. And Thiel then went into a discussion of the social nature of opinion.  People just don't tend to stray too far from the herd.

Thiel got me to thinking.  What would I say in response to his question? Here's my first attempt.

Most people don't believe that the free market is just and fair. They think it needs to be hedged around by regulation and government ukase. They think, perhaps not as passionately as the Occupy protesters, that we need a government with a gun to the head of employers. In fact business runs on trust, and the way to succeed in the market place is to make sure that all your transactions reward and amplify trust.

That's not to say that there isn't cheating and fraud in the world. But the way to succeed is to use TIT-FOR-TAT. Trust first, and then continue to trust if the other person is trustworthy. And avoid a "last transaction" because that's when it pays to cheat.

Here's another. Most people think of government as a powerful patron. You want to stay in good with your patron and collect the crumbs that fall from the master's table. But in reality government always betrays you. That's because government is force. It uses everyone that supports it as an army uses its soldiers, as cannon fodder in its campaign of force, in its endless wars, foreign and domestic.

Thiel's point is that you'll never amount to anything unless you've done a bit of contrarian thinking. Because if the herd is ever to change direction then someone has to swerve away from the herd and start off in a different direction.

perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 09/17/14 12:46 pm ET

Here We Go Again With Liberal Malaise

THERE really is a reason for the Six Year Itch.  After six years of a president even his supporters can begin to see that he's a fool and a charlatan. So it was with Bush, so it is with Obama. So it wasn't with Clinton because the Republicans, in moving to impeach Clinton for crimes that would have sunk a Nixon, riled up the Clinton partisans for one more assault on the breach. With a Democrat...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 09/16/14 11:42 am ET

Marxism, Power and Freedom

ERIC Hoffer writes that when the "scribes" are in, working for the ruling class, they are happy to do its bidding and order the lower orders around.  But when the scribes are out, meaning that the government can't afford them after a societal collapse, then the scribes decide to represent the "people" and enter a phase where they critique the ruling class. In our day, I suppose, the scribes do ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 09/15/14 1:16 pm ET

The Ordinary Middle Class on the "Golden Princess"

ON BOARD GOLDEN PRINCESS IN INSIDE PASSAGE  Cruise passengers, according to John Derbyshire, are predominantly over-50s.  No doubt he's right, and I've been observing these ordinary American middle-class over 50s the last few days as they "come back new" on board the Golden Princess.  I'll tell you what I think. You don't get to see the ordinary middle class where I live in liberal Seattle.  ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 09/12/14 9:37 am ET

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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

Thoreau, Henry David, Walden

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

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

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


Classical Liberalism’s Beleaguered Victory
why does liberalism keep encountering counter-ideologies, romanticism, nationalism, socialism, and now islamism?

The Power Of Scapegoating
life begins when you stop whining and resenting.

A Series Of Chafing Dishes
left wing activism turns the melting pot into chafing dishes.

Bullies for Social Justice
Social justice and religious freedom on a collision course.

A Recovery Stymied by Redistribution
economist explains how help for unemployed discouraged people from taking jobs in the late great recovery.

> 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.


What Liberals Think About Conservatives

[W]hen I asked a liberal longtime editor I know with a mainstream [publishing] house for a candid, shorthand version of the assumptions she and her colleagues make about conservatives, she didn't hesitate. “Racist, sexist, homophobic, anti-choice fascists,” she offered, smiling but meaning it.
Harry Stein, I Can't Believe I'm Sitting Next to a Republican

US Life in 1842

Families helped each other putting up homes and barns. Together, they built churches, schools, and common civic buildings. They collaborated to build roads and bridges. They took pride in being free persons, independent, and self-reliant; but the texture of their lives was cooperative and fraternal.
Michael Novak, The Spirit of Democratic Capitalism

Taking Responsibility

[To make] of each individual member of the army a soldier who, in character, capability, and knowledge, is self-reliant, self-confident, dedicated, and joyful in taking responsibility [verantwortungsfreudig] as a man and a soldier. — Gen. Hans von Seeckt
MacGregor Knox, Williamson Murray, ed., The dynamics of military revolution, 1300-2050

Society and State

For [the left] there is only the state and the individual, nothing in between. No family to rely on, no friend to depend on, no community to call on. No neighbourhood to grow in, no faith to share in, no charities to work in. No-one but the Minister, nowhere but Whitehall, no such thing as society - just them, and their laws, and their rules, and their arrogance.
David Cameron, Conference Speech 2008

Socialism equals Animism

Imagining that all order is the result of design, socialists conclude that order must be improvable by better design of some superior mind.
F.A. Hayek, The Fatal Conceit


[Every] sacrifice is an act of impurity that pays for a prior act of greater impurity... without its participants having to suffer the full consequences incurred by its predecessor. The punishment is commuted in a process that strangely combines and finesses the deep contradiction between justice and mercy.
Frederick Turner, Beauty: The Value of Values

Responsible Self

[The Axial Age] highlights the conception of a responsible self... [that] promise[s] man for the first time that he can understand the fundamental structure of reality and through salvation participate actively in it.
Robert N Bellah, "Religious Evolution", American Sociological Review, Vol. 29, No. 3.


©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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