The Respectables: Why are They Dangerous
The respectables are tied to the prevailing order because it’s that order that defines “respectability” and confers that honor on some. To receive this label, this honor, one must hold firmly to the idea that the existing order, the status quo, is honorable. That is, the order itself must not be questioned; while failures may be occur, those events must be thought of as mistakes, not as the consequences stemming from the flaws, the shortcomings of the existing order and its principles.
So, something like 9/11 cannot be seen as the result of the prevailing order and its principles. The blame must be placed on the perpetrators and on mistakes made by those charged with dealing with those perpetrators. The “dots weren’t connected.” Hence, in the aftermath of events like 9/11, the goal becomes strengthening the prevailing order, not reforming it. If bureaucratic agencies failed, they must be strengthened, not changed or replaced by other kinds of institutions. If the CIA failed, strengthen it; don’t replace it or, as JFK said he wanted to do after the Bay of Pigs fiasco, break it into a thousand pieces.
And all of this will be supported by the respectables, just as supporting all of this will become the test of one’s respectability. No support, no respectability. The powerful may have been fooled, hoodwinked, but they and their principles weren’t fatally flawed. So, what’s needed? What’s respectable? Reinforce the prevailing order and its principles, via renewed patriotism, for example. Reinforcement but not reform. Wave flags, wage wars, but don’t, under any circumstances, think critically about the prevailing order and its principles.