We are all now familiar with the decision by FBI Director James Comey not to indict Hillary Clinton for her email scandal. In his announcement, not only did Comey contradict a number of Clinton’s claims, he laid out the case of gross negligence and extreme carelessness that would have landed any one of us in prison.
But not Hillary.
Comey fabricated what Charles Krauthammer called a “completely, irrelevant new standard which is ‘malicious intent’” as a way of absolving her from indictment. You can be grossly negligent and even lie about it, but if you didn’t really mean it, it’s cool.
So what’s really behind all of this?
First, we need to understand that the modern age is comprised of two main classes of people, what C.S. Lewis called the “conditioner” class and the “conditioned” class. What he meant by that is because the modern age operates according to complex technological and scientific processes, it requires a class of experts and engineers who have the specialized competency and expertise to govern this technocracy. And so within such a modern matrix, the wider population is conditioned to believe that their health and happiness is dependent upon this ruling class of experts and engineers.
Second, we also have to understand that technology-based societies tend to reject traditional moral conceptions of life. This is because technology is organized and governed by modern scientific processes that are considered value-neutral and thus devoid of moral frames of reference.
What this means is that traditional conceptions of law and order are increasingly replaced with modern conceptions. So while traditional societies viewed human law as something reflective of transcendent divine law, modern societies actually invent law; they make it up in accordance with the needs of social conditions as the elite class of conditioners understands and interprets them.
And so, in modern societies, there are two fundamentally different relationships to the law. While the conditioned are always under the law, in that we don’t invent but are called only to comply, the conditioners are always above the law, since they are in a position to invent law in such a way that complies with their own social management and engineering.
You see, in a society where laws are made up by a class of elites, it’s not a coincidence that those elites tend to benefit from those laws and their variant interpretations.
But wait a minute: Why aren’t people up in arms about this? Arbitrary laws? Where are the mass protests over the injustice of such a thing?
Ah, don’t forget: We’re the conditioned class. We’ve been conditioned to believe that it is experts like Clinton and Comey who maintain the social conditions necessary for our health and happiness. So this is just a small toll that we pay for all of these wonderful benefits of living in a modern society.
In fact, if you really think about it, now that law is just arbitrarily made up, deriving its legitimacy not from God or divine justice but from the state, then there is no basis for a citizen to contest the justice of a law or its application beyond the decrees of the state.
So what then would we be protesting?
And of course, this goes the other way; all the efforts of politicians and media commentators to exonerate Clinton by playing the lawyer, making legal distinctions and exceptions in her favor, are in the end meaningless. There is no ultimate standard of justice behind these laws and their application; the issue is only power, whether the circumstances benefit or hurt their trusted conditioner.
The good news is that there is a mass gulf growing between the conditioners and the conditioned. As we have seen in the recent GOP and to a certain extent Democratic primaries, there is a profound distrust brewing among citizens for the so-called “establishment.” And if global events are any indicator, this distrust will eventually reach critical mass, resulting, as it has so often throughout history, in a tectonic social and political shift.
Until then, however, the modern elite will continue to have their fun engineering society for their own benefit, and at our expense.
Steve Turley (Ph.D., Durham University) is an internationally recognized scholar, speaker, and blogger at TurleyTalks.com. He is the author of Awakening Wonder: A Classical Guide to Truth, Goodness, and Beauty and The Ritualized Revelation of the Messianic Age: Washings and Meals in Galatians and 1 Corinthians. Steve is a teacher of Theology and Rhetoric at Tall Oaks Classical School in Newark, DE, and Professor of Fine Arts at Eastern University.