The nanny state meets the Marquis de Sade

A day before the publication of the Rolling Stone article, the writer, Sean Illing, observed on Twitter: “The collapse of trust in authority is maybe the single biggest civilizational problem we face and absolutely no one has any idea what to do about it.” He’s right, but power abhors a vacuum. In the absence of popular trust in shared authorities, counterfeit authority is manufactured to legitimize the mandate of the ruling class. Enforced obedience to technocratic experts takes the place of respect for learning and technical competence. And in a more overt idolatry, ceremonial deference is lavished on categories of people who, apart from any qualities they possess as individuals, are invested with authoritative identities.

Are “trans women of color” and “dommes” genuine authorities in America? No, but they are made into public idols that real power can hide behind. In theory, these totems of the marginalized are being “centered” by social justice movements that overturn historical power structures. In practice, the dominatrix, stripped of all authentic erotic power and allure, becomes a new kind of patriotic hero defending the civic virtues of the American middle class. You can see it in this anecdote from the article about “Bob” and his dominatrix …