The illegitimacy of new fledgling American regimes
Ozymandias built his statues for a reason.
The cause of my schism with Charles was partly addressed in my article entitled The Scourge of Austin City, but admittedly that post addresses things more symptomatically, and does not get much to the root of what, in my opinion, is going wrong, and why.
Early on in my collaboration with Charles, I came to identify a rough map of what I came to call the New Establishment – a loose group of mostly millennial and younger Gen X rich kids and beneficiaries of the dotcom aberration, which as far as I can tell are attempting to seize the future and define the ethos and implementation for the next incarnation of the American regime. I put this on a whiteboard with him at a coworking space in Madison, at the time in the context of who we were looking for to find funding for Anodyne. The rest was obviously history.
I believe that for the most part, these people are earnest, if a bit dense. But I think it’s important to underscore that they very much intend to constitute a regime – that is, a power base only accountable to itself and patently superior sovereigns. If you aren’t the United States government or something, they aren’t going to recognise your legitimacy on a reasonable account of argument or evidence.
Here’s the problem though: they have no legitimacy. It doesn’t matter how many deep minds you pour into the questions of life and governance when at the end of the day you are only able to maximise eyeballs and clicks by co-opting an information regime from the NSA and friends. Why the fuck should anyone respect you? What have you done for them?
Until such a question is adequately answered, this regime is doomed to fail, or more likely be subsumed into some new, as of yet unknown emergent power base, where they will serve as its Fourth Estate.
What we see in Austin is a prime example of what most of the world calls mafia tactics. More exactly, they are running what can be called an influence racket. As investigated in the article about the City, the dynamic is one of a highly circular and controlled drip of influence and money, meted out deliberately to keep the patsies on a track to maximise their output in legitimising and propping up this regime. Their answer to my above question is simple: they purchased people like Louis Rossmann, and convinced him to sell his business and his soul and move down to run a flop house for them.
Unfortunately, this is a fucking awful answer to the call for legitimacy. Louis Rossmann has done nothing of note for the general public besides repairing Macs, and you just bought him out of that one thing he was doing that other people can care about. Your forced association with him is not only not impressive, it’s creepy.
Of course, they don’t see that this is creepy, because they don’t have a grounded perspective on what people can care about. Their idea of influence and power is rooted at the bedrock in the fiat of social status – that is, people care because [XYZ people] with all of the influence make them care. This cannot be any basis of legitimacy because there’s no honest assessment of consensual interest from the public. Engagement does not mean people give a shit; even advertisers understand this. You would think people who enjoy such policy wonkery as discussing energy grids and geopolitics would get that, but I guess it’s a bit too close to the page that their noses got in the way.