The war against our failed cultural elitists


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Link here. The author outlines quite nicely the source of today’s vicious war against Trump.

Today a well-entrenched class of professional thinkers largely understands expertise as the product of formal education and relationships to elite universities: You become an expert, or start to, by acquiring academic credentials. Extra points for grad school, and more points still for being a professor like Paul Krugman or Jonathan Gruber. Like the administrative class in Vichy France, or the scholar-officials of imperial China, you’re smart if you go to school a lot and excel on your exams, so you get to be in charge of some piece of the political or cultural mechanism.

But is it working? Are our credentialing instruments producing people who are capable of practical action? To borrow a question from firefighters, can our credential-holders put the wet stuff on the red stuff?

Nearly a decade ago, Angelo Codevilla noticed the calcification of the American ruling class, a thing we sometimes pretend not to have. Our elites, he wrote, are “formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits.” Thoroughly enculturated, the American elite gathers itself around a “social canon” that one does not question. Speaking of societal controversy with the wrong words puts a person outside the circle, out there in flyover country with the deplorables.

Considering the disaster that the federal government has become in the past half century, run as it is by this “class of professional thinkers,” I will say unequivocally that this system is not working. In the past half century this elitist culture has brought us bankruptcy, unmanageable debt, corruption, and a government unable to accomplish anything except to over-regulate and oppress the private citizen.

Read it all. The author describes well the situation we are in, as well as the reasons why there is so much hysterical opposition to Trump. This president poses a direct threat to the power of that elitist culture, and they are doing everything they can to stop him.

Their problem: They don’t know how to really accomplish anything, and for this reason Trump keeps running rings around them. To quote the article again:

For 40 years, with gathering uniformity of purpose, our credentialing institutions have taught postures rather than skills, attitudes rather than knowledge. This isn’t invariably true, and many fine scholars have taught many excellent practitioners, especially outside of the humanities and social sciences. But the overarching trend is toward training in intellectual and psychological uniformity, toward the world of excellent sheep.

The hollowing out of our credentialing institutions has been abundantly clear for years, in well-known examples like the discussion of rape law at Harvard and the “it is not about creating an intellectual space!” tantrum over Halloween costumes at Yale. What credentialing institutions teach is mental rigidity, intellectual cowardice, and the fear of disagreement. They narrow the mind and constrain the ability to act. Our elites largely can’t put the wet stuff on the red stuff, because it’s triggering and unsafe to mention that the red stuff is there, and why are you being so hurtful when I don’t want to talk about this?

But they have great power, and are doing whatever they can to hold onto that power. And worse, it appears that too many Americans support them.

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8 comments

  • Edward

    From an engineering point of view, the elite buffoons, also known as policy makers, are completely incompetent. They believe that they are engineering a better tomorrow, but they fail to use the tools that have been provided over the past half millennium.

    The elite class, because they are so smart — or think that they are — believe as Aristotle did that they can figure out reality just by thinking about it. Heavier objects obviously fall faster than lighter ones, because all he had to do is think about a stone falling and a feather falling; he didn’t have to test a large stone against a smaller stone, as it is just obvious. Besides, smart people tend to think that they are so smart that if they were wrong they would know it.
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NK6oGi5g4QE (30 seconds)

    As with Aristotle, this only leads to incorrect conclusions and the loss of millennia of forward progress. Rather than acknowledge that their policies do not work, they believe that because such smart people thought of them then they must be the correct policies and that their failure is due to not applying them strongly enough.

    This is how Obama’s Keynesian stimulus plan came to be; previous attempts at Keynesian Economics were thought to be too small, not applied strongly enough, so Obama’s attempt was made far greater, only to result in a Great Recession that had lower interest rates, more printing of money than ever before*, more borrowing than the previous 43 presidents combined, and less annual economic growth than even during the Great Depression.

    A more Galilean approach would use test of hypotheses and observation of results in order to determine what works best and to implement the parts that work and drop the parts that don’t. This was the beauty of the America for the past half millennium. Even as colonies, We the People were separated enough from the king that we could try new ideas and implement those that worked. As a new country, that same technique was used for another couple of hundred years.

    However, in recent times the national government has meddled in all things, taking over our scientific research (e.g. NSF), messing up our education system (e.g. Dept. of Education), and even to the point of insisting that they can direct us as to how to spend our own money as well as do or say anything that they want us to just so long as there is a tax associated with it.

    We have returned to the days of an all powerful king, it is just that the power of the king has been spread out a bit more, disguising itself as the power of those who are smarter than us.

    Let me tell you, those guys are not nearly as smart as they think that they are. After all, because of them we are in the mess that we are in today. If I were them (and I would do things very differently if I were), I would not be so proud of the policies that have been implemented over the past century.

    These policy makers have ignored actual science and successfully declared that global warming is anthropogenic, successfully changed global warming to be climate change, and successfully fooled most people that not only does science rely upon consensus (a policy-maker’s tool, not a science tool) — yet the abstract of the paper that they used to declare that consensus definitely demonstrates that there is not such consensus.

    Their success in this denial of science has led them to deny science in several cultural aspects of life, such as the redefinition of gender. These days, we are what we declare that we are without reference to reality. Thus, I could declare being a black lesbian woman, which is nice, because I would still get to have sex with women. It is also nice, because I have gone from being a supposed oppressor to someone in three protected classes. What good are protections for certain classes when anyone can declare that they belong to one (or three) of the protected classes? What good is Title 9 when any boy can now compete against women just by declaring himself to be female? What good is the “Vagina Monologs” play when some women don’t have vaginas?
    https://www.huffingtonpost.com/2015/01/16/vagina-monologues-mount-holyoke_n_6487302.html
    What good is an all-women’s school if a man can attend just by declaring he is a woman?

    It seems that the elite policy makers failed to think through some of their supposedly great ideas.

    Instead, they believe that they are smart enough to know what is good for everyone, then they create a one-size-fits-all solution. We the People discover that one size fits only some, and not very many at that. Instead, we all understand what the elites don’t: we each know what is best for us, not some far away group of thinkers. This is why the grocery store has a variety of products from which we choose. We know which soap, for instance, is best for us, and next time a different soap may be preferable. An individual’s needs and desires change over time.

    They aren’t as smart as they think they are; they are wrong; they just don’t know it.

    * The use of low interest rates, printing of money, and other “easy money” tactics by the Federal Reserve is the way the government attempts to control the economy. That these easy money tactics failed so spectacularly when either one should instead have created a BOOMING economy says much about how poorly the elitist thinking is about how to cure an economy that was not nearly as bad as the one Carter left to Reagan.

    The Fed considers a 1% interest rate to be a panic rate and have only implemented such a panic rate one time before. That it went below 1% to 0% means that they were beyond panic. That they then went beyond that to the printing of money means that they were beyond beyond panic.

  • Edward: I only have one area where I must correct you. These “buffoons,” as you call them, are not “elites”. That words implies a justifiable superiority. They are “elitists,” which indicates a pruning fake smugness having little to do with reality.

    As a writer I think it important to use the right word, when you can. :)

  • vonmazur

    George Gurdjieff in the 1920’s came up with a term for these types; “Mechanogentsia” as opposed to “Intellegentsia” These creatures are fully mechanized and programmed, they have no clue as to their true nature…Combine with “Artistes” and other self important groups, and we get the current situation…

  • Edward

    Robert,
    I suppose that they are not nearly as amusing as actual buffoons, and the author of the article used the word “elite.” I suppose that using that word acts to puff up their egos, as they do tend to think of themselves as intellectually superior, as evidenced by those advanced degrees, their breeding, and their successful election to various offices.

    That last is rather interesting, because while politicians require teams of people in order for them to get their jobs, the rest of us are able to get our jobs on our own. Once again, We the People know what we are doing, but the elected “elites” need massive amounts of help to do it. I think that tells us quite a bit about who has the superior brains and ability.

  • Chris

    Mr Z and Edward:
    On the right word front… a pet peeve of mine: The movement from the pompous buffoons (elites) to redefine the definitions of our “gender” is actually a redefinition of our sex. As I recall gender describes the words associated with our sex…” he, her, she, his…”etc. Sex is about male and female anatomy, psychology…etc.
    In anatomy there are two choices, in gender one can attempt to add more. The change in word use helps to control the argument.
    This changing of terms also applies to “gay” vs homosexual. I hope to be gay often but never homosexual. “Gay” is less offensive and still has possible dual meaning.

    On if these buffoons or “elites” have greater or less brainpower, I do not doubt their intelligence but do question their drive to achieve and/or their morality. This is a subject for another time.

    Great essay Edward

  • wayne

    Smells Like Social Justice
    (Nirvana Parody)
    -adult language-
    https://youtu.be/RlkQWiRZETE
    5:04

  • pzatchok

    They use big words they must be smart.

    I watched a collage professor one day cut his lawn. It took all day.
    Every time the grass bag would get full he would shut off the mower and turn it over.
    Then reach into the bag and pull out the grass and put it into a garbage bag.
    This was not the best part.
    A few days later he was ticked off that how lawn had dead spots all over it. He was convinced it was hooligans in the neighborhood killing his grass.
    Each dead spot corresponded to each spot he turned the lawn mover over. Dripping gas out and killing the grass.
    He did this all summer. Then had a new lawn put in.

    I have witnesses to this.

    He was the head of the math department and had a PHD plus other degrees.

    Just because they have a degree does not mean they are smart. Just accomplished. They put in the time and passed the tests. But can not figure out a lawn mower with instructions.

  • Edward

    pzatchok wrote: “They use big words they must be smart.

    “Don’t use a big word when a diminutive one will do” is among my multitude of rules for successful communication.

    Just because they have a degree does not mean they are smart. Just accomplished.

    Among my aphorisms: “a smart man learns from his own mistakes; a wise man learns from others’ mistakes.”

    They put in the time and passed the tests. But can not figure out a lawn mower with instructions.

    It is interesting to note that the student who cheats on tests and homework can get superior marks, but that does not make him a superior student. The morality of some of our policy makers does not impress me, and they may not have come by their positions in a moral way either.

    The article mentions Paul Krugman and Jonathan Gruber. Krugman was awarded a Nobel Prize in economics, but only a few years ago he seriously suggested that government fake a space alien invasion in order to jump start the economy by producing space weapons to fight the fictitious invaders. It was another example of Keynesian Economics about to go awry. Weapons systems do not make an economy; only goods and services do, and Krugman’s idea would have removed money from the economy that would otherwise have gone for the creation of goods and services. He indirectly suggested that he thinks We the People are stupid.

    Jonathan Gruber is the one who said that he relied on the “stupidity of the American voter” in order to get Obamacare passed. He directly stated that he thinks We the People are stupid. However, at least half of us already knew that Obamacare was a bad idea, and that was reflected in the 2010 midterm elections.

    Apparently, our policy makers try to Gruber us quite often.

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