From the beginning of history the struggle between liberty and domination has been a constant theme, with the ancient Greeks being a prime example. There has been an aristocratic element which strives to maintain a two-tiered society of a few ruling over many. The mindset underlying aristocratic domination can be found clearly in the ideas of Plato who has had undeserved influence for way too long. Socrates and Plato can be detected in the fraudulent intellectualism of our time which is troubling in it's failure to comprehend ordinary greatness, and its success at keeping the impulse to dominate and control alive.
There's a not so much talked about aspect of human nature which supports aristocracy with it's justification and motive power -- this aspect of human nature can be seen as fear, false pride, arrogance, base desire to dominate, a way to avoid competition, elitist snobbery or simply a belief that the masses are in pitiful need of guidance by those superior in intellect and cultural refinement. A cynic could reduce the aristocratic impulse to the advantage of wealth, privilege and power, simply a means to protect the few in power from losing a nice set-up where the aristocrats are supported by the labor of others.
America made great strides in leveling the playing field and reducing the power of the few over the many, but, ultimately, America has failed. In terms of history, America is a minute, and in this historical minute we've gone from our original form of representative republic style democracy to the direction of domination of the few over the many -- not aristocracy proper, but the same impulse and motivating force that establishes all oligarchies.
In his book, Freedom and Domination, Alexander Rustow wrote:
To be sure, Socrates did not pursue...a political course for the sake of material gain, but rather out of convction and inner passion--which, of course, only made him all the more precious to the oligarchs and, correspondingly, more dangerous to the democrats. Plato on this point outdoes himself in contrasting Socrates with the other Sophists, whom he repeatedly rebukes for accepting fees for their instruction. In Platos's opinion, only descendants of aristocratic families with independent incomes are properly entited to decide intellectual matters--or at any rate only persons subsidized by such wealthy people.
Socrates the Sophist was imbued with a passionate drive to truth bordering at times on the manic, but a drive to truth that first of all activated itself in a nihilistic tearing down, not in a positive, constructive way.
Many, if not most, of the thought leaders, or would-be thought leaders, in the political class, made up of the priveleged and protected, or those who aspire to privilege and protection, i.e., domination, are busy denigrating certain values necessary for a free, independent and industrious people. As with the problem when Athens gave way to Spartan victory, direction weakened the foundation and led to freedom's defeat. The facade of democracy and the direction of aristocracy and imperialism were the death blows, once the personality of Pericles was no longer strong enough to keep the charade going.
The political class is most righteous when values are at stake which protect the political status quo, but suddenly stricken with relativity, doubt and cynicism when the values of liberty are most prevalent among the "little" people. The modern thought leaders, high on their soap-boxes, excoriate talk-radio hosts for their closed conservative stance and hyperbolic criticism of modern liberalism, but when Democrat leaders are caught time and again in lies and deceit and the failures of statism, the political mouthpieces apologize, rationalize and explain the nuanced mechanisms of modern, benevolent government. The current rise of classcal liberal resistance to a smothering statism has the political class worried, threatened by the prospect of private sector, free market resurgence. The mental gymnastics performed by the State's most loyal intellectuals deserve gold medals for their magnificent performances.
When the powerful values of a free market, limited government and individual rights rise among the public, the State's best and brightest denigrate and negate the "greedy", atomistic, capitalism-influenced money-grubbers who are trying to regain their oppressive advantage. The apologists attempt to show the public how going backwards into a dog-eat-dog capitalist jungle will destroy the progressive achievements of the State: the old will suffer in poverty and untreated illness; young bellies in school classes will feel the pain of hunger as they struggle to concentrate on their lessons; gays will be be harrassed and pushed back in the closets; the poor will work, if they can find work, as slaves for pennies doled out by cruel industrial masters; women will be pushed to the bottom of the corporate totem pole and objectified by the good old boys waiting in the wings to regain their priveleged positions; minorities will be forgotten and humiliated, locked out of the Amerian dream once again, stripped even of welfare and dignified assistance -- on and on and on, until the values of freedom go from good, empowering and uplifting to cynical ploys of rich businessmen used to save the capitalist masters from the State's equalizing justice.
The State and all it's tenacles, universities, the media, Hollywood, unions and all the special interests dependent on the State, push the narrative of savior in a cruel and uncertain world, so the direction continues into more State power and more foreign entanglements to aggrandize its magnificence among other powerful States who need now only bring the entire world under the benevolent control of technocratic management and protection -- a cartel of the best and brightest.
This is how great freedom movements fail.