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January 09, 2013

The Unburstable Bubble of Willful Ignorance of the International Self-Purported Elites

I was just writing about this basic idea yesterday (and I've written about it a lot, and I'm sure you've noticed it plenty on your own).

As I mentioned with regard to Piers Morgan, there is a certain level of pride that attaches to being ignorant of those one considers his inferiors. After all, it's the natural duty of the simple shopkeeper to know the names of the Great Lords, but it is not the duty of the Great Lords to know the names of the shopkeepers. In fact, it's the Great Lords' class obligation to go out of their way not to know the names of the shopkeepers, because this Duty to Know flows in one direction -- upwards -- and hence ignorance of one's lessers tends to solidify and reify the assumptions of certain castes being superior to others. It makes certain that everyone understands who's important, and who's not.

(I know, I sound like a communist-- I can't help it. I have to agree with Dennis the Peasant -- "I mean, class is what it's all about." I guess I would say I'm agreeing with the communist critique of the rigid reification of class structures, but I happen to think the communists and their pink fellow travelers have largely captured the upper classes. I guess by my theory they're so good at this because they've spent so long plotting vengeance for the exact same slights (which they largely imagined). In a similar way they've gotten quite good at blacklisting and guilt-by-association, eh?)

At any rate, it is your duty to know the values and customs of living of Piers Morgan, but due to his high station (ahem) he is proudly ignorant of yours. As is so often the case in our increasingly dysfunctional and nasty politics -- in which certain parties refuse to even admit that their opponents are free citizens entitled to have beliefs at all -- the Out-Classes are deemed all-but-officially Beneath Notice.

Michael Totten has written a crackerjack piece -- or at least I think it is -- about this principle in action among our foreign policy sages, the internationalist "elite." He detects the exact same sort of phenomenon going on when the International "elite" visit foreign nations -- because anyone who doesn't share 90% of their cultural values (and the wealth that permits/encourages these values -- the International Elite is not middle-class!) is beneath notice and not worth knowing about, they don't bother asking anyone but the 3% of the population which largely shares their beliefs and cultural inputs about their intentions and their political agenda.

Which means, in Egypt, they only ask the jet-setting wealthy Westernized elite about the prognosis for Egyptian democracy. And in Lebanon, they only ask the educated, urbane population of Beirut about their desires for the country.

And they ignore all the "Dirty People," the low people who aren't worth networking with and probably wouldn't be any fun to have a sexual affair with. Unfortunately -- and this has huge consequences for American foreign policy -- it turns out those Dirty Poor People greatly, greatly outnumber the small coteries of educated elites that cluster in every capital country.

And we don't know about them, because they're Beneath Notice, and our elites are too busy clinking champagne glasses in the main ballroom of the local Ritz-Carlton franchise.

And so our "elites" -- and honestly, we need to start looking for a more accurate discriptor -- come back with completely-wrong information about foreign countries.

Why, as Totten says (changing the words a bit), "All of these Egyptians are swell, educated, moderate, sexually-loose cosmopolitans! Why, democracy has a smashing chance of working out here!"

Yeah, not so much. Not so much.

Yet Another Example... of our current practice of making important policy decisions based upon little except the learned habit of ostentatious class disdain.

You notice that at this late date, with a major policy campaign against the dreaded Semi. Automatic. Weapon., that most of these guys still haven't bothered to discover what a semi-automatic is?

That's a learned habit. They are signalling to other members of their class (or the class they aspire to) that they consider such knowledge base, the sort of thing known by the dirty callous-handed illiterates of the rabble and certainly not by the Lords of Intellect.

I mean, it's like a recipe for 'Possum Stew. To even know the thing would reduce you in status. Knowledge about guns is something the lower classes have; the criminal class, the agrarian workers (the peasantry), the lesser Servitor Classes of policemen and armed guards and military betas.

What could possibly explain such ignorance at this point, except a calculated, learned ignorance of the habits of one's putative lessers?


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posted by Ace at 11:36 AM

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