The Mezunian

Die Positivität ist das Opium des Volkes, aber der Spott ist das Opium der Verrückten

The Inanity o’ “Anti-Elite” Elites

I’m always bewildered by rich conservatives who criticize rich liberals as elites not due to their being rich—said conservatives are also rich, after all—but for their “intellectualism,” which is essentially their actually putting some effort or skill into deserving their economic success. This is why I’m less bummed that an elite like Noam Chomsky is rich than I am that elites like Thomas Friedman or David Brooks are; Chomsky a’least appears to put effort & skill into his work—including using these things called “citations”—to deserve economic rewards, whereas realizing that Friedman & Brooks apparently meet the threshold for writing @ the New York Times makes me wonder, who doesn’t meet the threshold? After all, I’m sure my mother could barf out some “Chicken Soup for the Vapid Upper-Middle-Class Soul,” too; & she’s working-class: she’s 1 o’ “the people”—as opposed to those Americans who merely look like 1 o’ “the people,” but are truly snatchers ready to force you to drink expensive lattes & make fun o’ your religious views. If they truly wanted to fight for “the people,” why don’t they fight for my mother writing for the New York Times1.

Ross Douthat—’nother pasty-faced writer the New York Times scrounged just to fit their quota o’ what they think might be “conservatives”—showed this perfectly a few months ago in an article wherein he starts by literally bragging ’bout how he couldn’t understand how to read a simple book on economics. Most people would be ashamed o’ such a statement & rationally keep it to themselves. Douthat, however, shouts it on the rooftops that he is too stupid to read regular English, just like the (offensive) imaginary “working-class” stereotype he pretends to know. Keep in mind that Douthat is not paid the multi-thousands he probably makes to do physical labor like he imagines “the people” are; he’s paid for his “intellect.” By bragging ’bout how stupid he is, he’s literally bragging ’bout how he gets paid for sucking.

How can the New York Times whine ’bout people not wasting their money on their product & ’stead perusing free blogs when they refuse to have standards higher than blogs? Unless the New York Times is prepared to explain how a guy who literally brags ’bout how stupid he is is worth mo’ than the average blogger.

Anti-elite conservatism itself is odd, considering its economic philosophy. I hope I’m not being controversial by pointing out the obvious fact that capitalism is inherently elitist. I mean, that’s literally a value it upholds: some people are better than others, & thus they deserve mo’ money. What other measure would conservatives expect us to use for deciding who should make mo’ money? (That question’s rhetorical, ’course: the answer is obviously “that they do what we want them to do”—what I like to call the “Political Theory o’ Value.”)

It is an unquestionable fact that working class people make much less money than intellectualists in any capitalist system—or any economic system, truly—that has ever existed & ever will. I dare anyone to show me the imaginary world where the janitors or garbage people are the economic 1%. That leaves 2 options: either working-class people are inferior to intellectualists & deserve their inferior economic status or capitalism is an unjust system. Trying to have both is incoherent.

Also, what am I s’posed to think when the best taunt Douthat can make gainst socialists is that they’re such smarty-shirts? What am I s’posed to think when the actually competent elites are raving commies, while the people who most defend capitalism brag ’bout how illiterate they are?

I don’t know if it’s humans in general—I lean toward this option—or if Americans, being so rich & pampered, are particularly susceptible to narcissism; but Americans have this strange refusal to actually examine the logical consequences o’ their ethical systems & ’stead demand that this & that & that also all apply @ the same time, even if they contradict each other. Rich pundits must have their cake & eat it, too: they want to be privileged, but they also want to be praised for fighting gainst privilege. That’s the American Dream, isn’t it: the amazing anti-elite elite; the powerful leader that will empower the people. One would think that in order for “the people” to be empowered that they’d have the power themselves—through their own voices in their own articles or TV shows or their own wealth; but in American fantasyland, that’s apparently absolutely zany.

@ the risk o’ sounding uncouth, I have a simpler way to determine whether one is truly on the side o’ the working-class that’s based on actual concrete reality, & not poetic abstract pseudoscientific nonsense: is one working-class? If yes, then one is on the side o’ the working-class; if no, then @ best one can have empathy for them, but probably one won’t understand their experience ’nough to be able to make decisions for them.

If one truly wants to help the lower-classes, one should allow the lower-classes to take control over their own lives by giving them direct control over the political & economic system they are subjected to. This does not mean “getting rid o’ government completely” or “making it weak ’nough to drown,”—which oddly ’nough, always seems to keep the pieces that benefit the rich—nor does it mean finding the magical benign rich leader who will supposedly run the economy in lower-class people’s interests, despite not being lower-class, & thus not understanding their interests, not to mention having a self-interest gainst that still biases them toward the rich.

Here’s the question one should ask when one sees the rich guy on television or in newspapers argue ’bout who truly serves the working-class: why can’t the working-class themselves answer that? The answer’s obvious: any poor slob can’t just walk into the New York Times & put his article in, nor can she just walk into a television station, go onto set while they’re shooting, & give her 10 cents. The means o’ communication are privately-owned: they are controlled by the rich, & thus that is who they serve. “Anti-elite” conservatives are eggs calling the sour cream white. Liberals are elite for the same reason they are: ’cause anyone who is on television or in the newspapers by definition o’ their contrast gainst those who aren’t are inherently elitist. We don’t know any poor “liberals” or “conservatives” ’cause we don’t know any poor people @ all—& we certainly don’t get to hear their opinions in the media. They are “unpersons” (much mo’ than the historical figures we usually use that word to describe, such as Trotsky, who, incidentally, is less an “unperson” in history than, say, the poor women strikers who started the Russian Revolution in the 1st place).

Neither conservatives nor moderate liberals have any logic in criticizing elitism for the simple fact that they support inherently elitist political & economic systems. Not only is capitalism obviously elitist, but republicanism—both parliamentary & presidential systems—by creating separate classes o’ “government” & “citizen” (the former always being in the rich class) is also inherently elitist. To put it simply, the United States is inherently elitist & to change that would require nothing short o’ a 2nd American Revolution.

That would be awfully dirty however—& would not be guaranteed to end elitism, anyway, but possibly exacerbate it—so ’stead ditsy elites themselves waste everyone’s time squabbling over how other ditsy elites are such elites, & I begin to understand why the actual non-elites throw ’way their newspaper & watch Family Guy3.

Perhaps these elites should focus less on accusing each other o’ being elites & mo’ on trying to put effort into their work so that they can a’least have a good explanation for their elite status. ’Cause as a lower-class person who knows how to fucking read, when I see some rich asshole brag ’bout how stupid he is—just like you poor morons, amirite?—I’m mo’ inclined to be pissed than mollified. Mo’ importantly, I’m mo’ inclined to vote the actually-smart person into power ’stead. Conservatives might want to remember that this election when they see the majority o’ the lower-class vote gainst them.

1I’m kidding, ’course: unlike the New York Times, my mother does have some standards.

2Here I must confess having not read Piketty’s Capital in the Twenty-First Century yetnot due to a lack o’ reading comprehension, but due to its apparent popularity ’mong patrons @ my library & me being too cheap to buy it.

3Well, OK, maybe I don’t understand the latter…

Posted in Politics