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  Road to the Middle Class
Tuesday March 31, 2015 
by Christopher Chantrill Follow chrischantrill on Twitter









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Individual Responsibility: What about the Ancient Nomads?

ONE of my thoughtful emailers sent me a question about my post on SJW Anita Sarkeesian. He notes my three-stage system of People of the Subordinate Self, People of the Responsible Self, and People of the Creative Self, and writes:

You mention that responsible individualism is "the responsibility to find work, the responsibility to make your own choices, the responsibility to find your own mate, all within the demanding environment of the market economy".  Aren't these the responsibilities of all humans, always?  Surely man has dreamed of universal leisure for his fellow man since time immemorial, and only recently has such fantasy become the basis of entire ideologies.  How then do our modern age responsibilities differ than that of an ancient nomad when boiled down to the basics of the quote above?  
The straight answer to that is: yes, of course, and not just of humans but of every living thing. Of course every human has the responsibility to get on their bike and earn a living. But there's a problem with all social animals, the problem of freeloading. The basic deal in social cooperation is that we all get to eat at the communal table; we all make our contribution, and we all get to enjoy the fruits of our cooperation. The reason that social cooperation works is that the division of labor works: when animals specialize, the individuals benefit and the community benefits.

But what about the slacker? There are several ways to deal with this menace. The first is shaming and possible expulsion. Other people in the community judge your behavior and take action. Then there is hierarchy. The boss tells you what to do, and punishes you if you don't do it. Then there is divine justice. God punishes you for your sins. Finally, there is exchange, which the anthropologists tell us is unique to modern humans, although it didn't really go viral until the rise of the bourgeoisie. People find a way to contribute to society and then get rewarded by the exchange system for their contribution.

On my system, the hunter-gatherers are pre-subordinate selves. They cooperate in a face-to-face society and the slacker gets named and shamed into compliance. We see this today in the ubiquitous community of women at work or in a neighborhood that have no power over each other except the judgements of other women's gossip.

When we get to the agricultural age we get a visibly hierarchical society where people must do their part and where agricultural workers are typically subordinated to a landed warrior class. Once you get this subordination you get the freeloader that does the absolute minimum of work that will avoid sanction. We see this survive today in any corporate or government bureaucracy where you can probably enjoy lifetime tenure and a pension if you keep your nose clean and don't antagonize the bosses. The problem is that it is staggeringly inefficient to have everyone sitting around waiting for the boss to tell them what to do.

The boss system works, after a fashion, in the agricultural age because life on the farm is pretty simple. But in the industrial age, where almost nobody grows their own food or builds their own cottage, the boss system has broken down. Today we all live in the exchange system where each one of us must find out how to contribute to society, and we learn what others value through the exchange system and its prices for ideas, for goods and for labor.

In this modern age, where the yoke of work and of finding work falls directly upon the shoulders of the individual worker, it is not surprising, as my emailer suggests, that people dream of "universal leisure for his fellow man" and conjure up whole ideologies to that dream. It is telling, of course, that all attempts to realize dreams of universal leisure have turned into nightmares. They have all regressed to the old boss system and have simply been unable to deliver even a smidgen of leisure. Instead they have required the most cruel compulsion to deliver even the simplest necessities of modern life.

And so today we get Anita Sarkeesian, once a nice middle-class college girl, who gets seduced by the victim ideology of feminism and the all-explaining power of the “white supremacist capitalist patriarchy.” Sarkeesian and her fellow religionists demand "safe spaces," freedom from "microagressions" and the power to defenestrate anyone that challenges their dogmas.

For decades liberals have been lecturing us about the horror of that delicate flower, the Victorian wife, that had to be protected from the big bad world of sex and sleaze, and was told to "lie back and think of England." The solution to this patriarchal nightmare, wrote Simone de Beauvoir in The Second Sex, was the "independent woman," unafraid of sex, unafraid of the public square and men and career.

What is going on here? It's politics. The whole point of politics is power, and the needs of power change from decade to decade. In the mid 20th century the cry was for the independent woman. Now the cry is for "safe spaces." But it's all politics and political power.

Yes, it's true that every individual has the responsibility to provide for himself and his family. But nomads are socialized into cooperation in a different way than modern city folk. The question is: how do you deal with the freeloader? In nomad society the freeloader got a frown from the other women; the agricultural bondman got a frown from his lord (and from the village women). Today it is a frown from the exchange system (and from the boss at work and the neighborhood women).

The way to stay clear of the modern freeloader police is to be a responsible individual. Then you'll have nothing to fear from the gossiping women, nothing to fear from the boss at work, and nothing to fear from the market system.

But you still have to watch out for the diversity police. There is no escape from them!

perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/31/15 12:12 pm ET

Robert Kuttner: On Another Planet

SOMETIMES it really pays to read the guys on the other side and try to understand how they look at the world. Here's Robert Kuttner of the American Prospect wondering “Why the 99 Percent Keeps Losing.” You and I understand this perfectly. The 99 percent is losing because liberals. But Kuttner, against all the evidence, thinks Republicans are to blame. And he still can't understand it. The vast...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/30/15 10:55 am ET

Anita Sarkeesian: The Road from Individual to Victim

CANADIAN critic and social justice warrior Anita Sarkeesian is the young lady that stirred up #gamergate. So far so good. But I recently got to view remarks she made at All About Women 2015 at the Sydney Opera House (H/T Susan L. M. Goldberg). In her prepared remarks Sarkeesian described her journey from neo-liberal individualist to feminist victim. This is fascinating to me because of my ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/27/15 12:30 pm ET

What Would an Islam Reformation Mean?

I love Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Somali Muslim turned western atheist. Her books Nomad and Infidel are breathtaking views into the crisis in Islam. Now she's just out with Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now and proposed to reform Islam, and I'll be out there buying myself a copy. Meanwhile we have the reviewers. Writes Brian Stewart: The argument in Heretic, Hirsi Ali’s fourth book, is ...

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perm | comment | Follow chrischantrill on Twitter | 03/26/15 12:21 pm ET

|  March blogs  |  February blogs  |


Georg Simmel’s Sociology

Thomas Piketty’s Capital

The Spirit Level

McCloskey’s “Bourgeois Era”


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?

Liberals and the Welfare State
How liberals became the ruling class.

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 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


Is Israel Losing Its Soul?
liberal Israeli mourns Netanyahu election win.

Krugmans Fatal Conceit
so, the "austerity" of sequestration didn't hurt, contra Krugman.

Keep Your Worlds Straight
Jonah Goldberg wants you to be socialist authoritarians in your families but not in the bigger world.

Eevil corporation's message in secret code!
FCC’s ‘Throwback Thursday’ Move Imposes 1930s Rules on the Internet

Misunderstanding the millennials
Guess what: Millennials want to move to the suburbs!

> 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.


Faith & Purpose

“When we began first to preach these things, the people appeared as awakened from the sleep of ages—they seemed to see for the first time that they were responsible beings, and that a refusal to use the means appointed was a damning sin.”
Finke, Stark, The Churching of America, 1776-1990

Mutual Aid

In 1911... at least nine million of the 12 million covered by national insurance were already members of voluntary sick pay schemes. A similar proportion were also eligible for medical care.
Green, Reinventing Civil Society


“We have met with families in which for weeks together, not an article of sustenance but potatoes had been used; yet for every child the hard-earned sum was provided to send them to school.”
E. G. West, Education and the State

Living Under Law

Law being too tenuous to rely upon in [Ulster and the Scottish borderlands], people developed patterns of settling differences by personal fighting and family feuds.
Thomas Sowell, Conquests and Cultures

German Philosophy

The primary thing to keep in mind about German and Russian thought since 1800 is that it takes for granted that the Cartesian, Lockean or Humean scientific and philosophical conception of man and nature... has been shown by indisputable evidence to be inadequate. 
F.S.C. Northrop, The Meeting of East and West


Inquiry does not start unless there is a problem... It is the problem and its characteristics revealed by analysis which guides one first to the relevant facts and then, once the relevant facts are known, to the relevant hypotheses.
F.S.C. Northrop, The Logic of the Sciences and the Humanities


“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


©2014 Christopher Chantrill

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