06 July 2010

The collapse of the elites

It is always a bad bet to count out the elites of any society, especially ours, where the elites simply put on jeans and a plaid shirt and pretend to be just one of us (George Bush comes to mind: a millionaire son of a millionaire's son who was famously regarded as a 'common man'). But if Sententiae ever concentrated enough to have a theme, it must be this: no one's reputation survived the Double Zeros. Not the business elites (Wall Street? Bankers?), not the industrial elite (Detroit? BP?), not the political elite (do I even need an example?). Not the military elite (Pat Tillman fiasco, Jessica Lynch lies, etc) though the common soldier looks golden.

What is the final upshot of this? Perhaps the Tea Party Movement, though the elites are working hard to co-opt whatever it really is. Perhaps this, as discovered by Richard Cohen in today's Washington Post after watching a superbly qualified political candidate present himself as an anti-Washington jerk on TV:
Bennet's reticence about his stellar qualifications represents something sad: the collapse of the elite. People who should know better -- who, in fact, do know better -- slum with political primitives, thinking they can be wallflowers at the tea party and still go home with their integrity intact. The elite -- often wrong, often unwise -- are scorned not for their mistakes but for their very credentials. It is somehow better to know a little than a lot. In this way, the average person gets a government in his own image -- a standard no one would seek in a dentist.

As for me, so far historians researching the North Iranian peoples have not yet covered themselves in disgrace. So that is the way I am going to self-identify until they do.

it will prevent me from recognizing I am part of an elite.

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