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May 13, 2011

Walter Russell Mead: Our Elites Are Fixated On How Disappointed They Are With The Tawdry Public Precisely Because That Allows Them To Avoid Examining Their Own Colossal Failures

Read Instapundit for a bite-sized excerpt, and once you've decided it's worth your time (it is), read the whole thing.

Instapundit's excerpt is the best summary, but here's the conclusion:

The French aristocrats laughed at the manners and the morals of the common people and ridiculed the faith that lit the darkness and softened the harsh conditions of ordinary lives. Enlightened and cosmopolitan, the establishment mocked the attachment of the ignorant peasants to the king. The well educated, well connected elites accepted no limits on their ability to convert their social privilege into personal wealth; they accepted no limits on the gratification of their physical desires — flaunting their romantic affairs in the same spirit in which they feasted at Versailles while the gaunt peasants starved. They used and abused to the fullest all the privileges that came with their status while mocking and rejecting any sense of duty and obligation.

It was fun while it lasted.

Essentially the "elite" has grown so enamored of its own asserted superiority it has decided it has nothing at all to learn from the people it would presume to lead, not even, in a Machiavellian manner, just to know them well enough to realize how best to manipulate them.

The "elite" is so scornful of the public they've decided they will not even lower themselves to learning our vernacular and by speaking our language, to trick us; instead, they will just ignore us completely, at least until such time as we raise ourselves up to their level (and at that point, of course, they will not have to persuade us even then, for we will have learned enough to see their wisdom and call it our own).

You can see this demonstrated in just a short eight years, comparing the manners of Bill Clinton and Barack Obama. Bill Clinton surely counted himself among "the elite," but he was willing to speak in the vernacular of the ordinary American in order to move them in his direction.

Compare that to Barack Obama, who visibly bristles at lowering himself to such a vulgar level. We shall either appreciate his (and his class') erudition and genius, or we will suffer in the darkness without it; but either way, he will not diminish himself to pay lip-service to the values of the commoners.

An Easter proclamation from the White House? How obscene. We shan't be debasing ourself so.

As Mead says about the elites' open contempt of patriotism in a country known for its patriotism: "This will not end well."

No, but it will end, and that in itself is ending well.

Oh: I've misrepresented his column a bit. He does talk about what I say he talks about, but he doesn't talk only of that. He mentions the arrogance and insularity of the class, but also notes that the class is spectacularly incompetent at its self-appointed functions.

Its arrogance hits a zenith just as its actual capability hits its trough -- a tandem that often go together, like chocolate and peanut butter.

A cadre of a managing elite actually has a limited skill set. Its skill, to the extent it has any, is "meta," not the details of specific skill areas. Its skills are about coordination, communication, networking, and of course preserving its own privilege.

It lacks other skills. This is, of itself, hardly extraordinary; most mechanics are not particularly skilled at medicine, and most doctors can't fix a car.

But what our current "elite" have is an incredible hubris, and belief that their very, very limited skill-set is some sort of omni-toolkit for solving any problem, granting them instant deep expertise in any subject they survey. So more and more they are actively hostile to those who actually do things in this country, more and more reliant exclusively upon the power of their mutual affirmations and reaffirmations, a human chain of signal repeaters, all broadcasting the same thin, limited, often-wrong information.

And they only look to that signal for solutions to problems. Others, those beneath Our Class, have little to contribute. Oh, if someone is a Celebrity -- a Celebrity Singer (Bono) or Celebrity Scientist (James Hansen), then their counsel can be sought; but of course such people are honorary members of the leadership class.

It will not end well, but it will end.

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posted by Ace at 09:39 PM

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