These days, just about everybody is throwing around the words The Establishment, and nearly every time it is mentioned, the reference is negative. But just who or what exactly is The Establishment? And why does everyone hate it?
The Establishment is a barely revamped version of The Man. And you can call just about anything The Man. If you are a worker, The Man is the employer that keeps you down. If you are an employer, The Man is the government that takes your taxes. If you are a member of government, The Man is the other party trying to take power.
In our culture of rabid and unquestioned individualism, The Establishment is any organized group of people that are actively opposing your individual interests for their own collective gain. The Establishment must be an organized group because you must always view yourself as the lone renegade. The Establishment is The Matrix. You are Neo. The Establishment is Mordor. You are Gandalf. The Establishment is the Acolytes. You are Mad Max. The Establishment is Big Brother. You are Winston (you know, before he gave up). This is the narrative we buy because we want desperately to believe that we are the lone voice in the wilderness fighting for the right cause against the agents of the evil Machine.
But this isn’t true is it? We’re not brave enough to actually be renegades. We join together as a group to put forward our champion, too afraid to enter the fight ourselves. And our opponents join together to put forward their champion, equally afraid. But both sides are The Establishment to the cowards on the other side of the valley.
Think about our current presidential “choice” in 2016. If it ends up being Bernard Sanders and Donald Trump (and I think it very well may turn out that way), we will have two self-labelled “anti-establishment” candidates. Of interest, both the GOP and DNC, two groups that could very well be called The Establishment, oppose Sanders and Trump. This lends some credence to each candidate’s claim to be anti-establishment. But can they both be anti-establishment when they are running for the highest office in the land? And can they both be anti-establishment when they claim to fight for nearly opposite policies?
No. It’s not The Establishment we have a problem with, in other words. The Establishment has become a pejorative term only because, at this time, most average voters believe “the system” is weighted against them. That is, the economic, political, and social structures in the US seem carefully organized to rob the average American of power, money, and status.
But ask yourself one question. If that were true, what could any president do about it? Sanders claims he can redistribute wealth to the poor. How? By making the civil government even more powerful? Hasn’t that always been the problem? Trump claims he can make America great again by snapping his fingers. He too needs an increase in coercive governmental power to accomplish his goals. So both “anti-establishment” candidates are, oddly, completely in favor of a gargantuan government machine.
And let’s be clear, neither party cares if the other party adds a few new weapons and features to the civil government coercion machine as long as both parties get their turns in the cockpit. So the problem for us is not who sits in the cockpit of the Oval Office. The problem is the ever-expanding monopolistic Leviathan occupying and surrounding the Oval Office whose tentacles continue choking more and more of the life out of this country. The only truly anti-establishment candidate would be promising to do less for the citizens and require more of them. How do you think that would go over?
So there is no solution to The Establishment but personal conviction and local authority. Stop trying to choose a champion. Go out into the field yourself. I must be honest—I’m not holding my breath.