One of the more positive consequences of this ridiculous fiscal cliff fight seems to be a growing awareness that the beltway is out of touch with the concerns of ordinary Americans. For those who’ve read Chris Hayes’ brilliant book Twilight of the Elites, this is well-trod ground and his analysis explains quite well how this came to pass.
And if I can toot my own horn just a little bit, I’d offer that this is one of the foundational critiques of the online left, going all the way back to Media Whores Online and Bartcop. And my own little contribution to the understanding of this speaks directly to the idea. It goes back to about 2004.
The term “The Village” does stem from the notorious Sally Quinn article about the Clintons. But it’s more than that. It’s shorthand for the permanent DC ruling class who have managed to convince themselves that they are simple, puritanical, bourgeois burghers and farmers, even though they are actually celebrity millionaires influencing the most powerful government on earth.
It’s about their phoniness, their pretense of speaking for “average Americans” when it’s clear they haven’t the vaguest clue even about the average Americans who work in their local Starbucks or drive their cabs. (Think Tim Russert, good old boy from Buffalo, lately of Nantucket.)It’s about their intolerable sanctimony and hypocritical provincialism, pretending to be shocked about things they all do, creating social rules for others which they themselves ignore.
The village is really “the village” an ersatz small town like something you’d see in Disneyland. And to those who argue that Versailles is the far better metaphor, I would just say that it is Versailles — a very particular part:
A Picturesque Little Village
Part of the grounds near the Trianon were chosen by Marie-Antoinette as the site of a lakeside village, a crucial feature of picturesque landscape gardens then so fashionable among Europe’s aristocracy. In 1783, Richard Mique built this amusement village where the queen played at being a shepherdess.
In 1784, Marie-Antoinette had a farm built, where she installed a farming couple from the Touraine region, along with their two children. They were charged with supplying the queen with eggs, butter, cream and cheese, for which they disposed of cows, goats, farmyard animals.
The Village is a metaphor for the faux “middle class values” that the wealthy, insular, privileged, hypocritical political celebrities (and their hangers-on and wannabes) present to the nation.
Update: Reader JW writes in with this as well:
Everything you say about the term is true, but I also feel it is appropriate to add one additional association: Kafka’s “Das Schloss.” There is “The Village” and there is “The Castle.” The Villagers are supposedly people just like the narrator, but he can never seem to understand them, and they block his access to the Castle and its inhabitants. They are not IN the administration, but they are its minions, almost unconsciously.