Round Table Discussion

The Classless Republic: An Impossible Society

I cannot see the least possibility of recreating either an elite republican class (if, by “elite,” one means an untitled aristocracy) or the American Republic itself.  The notion of a republic is a product of classical political thinking, which is now virtually dead in the Western world, and never appeared elsewhere.  Not only has the classical political tradition become virtually extinct, the ability to think in classical terms seems to have been lost as well.

Classical republicanism cannot survive a modern social and political anomaly that no political tradition before the postmodern era could possibly have envisioned.  That is the rise of an elite that is revolutionary, not conservative or even establishmentarian.  A republic characterized by a bicameral government in which both the upper house and the executive branch are hostile to the traditional notion of an establishment is antithetical to the work as well as to the vision of the American Founding Fathers—in fact, of every republican theorist and statesman.  The resulting chaos is as great as if Louis XIV, instead of attempting weakly to accommodate the revolutionary spirit that succeeded in toppling the French monarchy, had himself become an enthusiastic convert to Jacobinism.  A society in which the destructionists, the antiestablishmentarians, and the professional political and cultural sappers are not only drawn from, but actually constitute,...

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