Elitism is as Elitism Does…But who exactly are the elite?

The Demonization of the Intellectual Elite:

In a recent article in The American Interest –  American Dreams, American Resentments,  Walter Russell Mead describes the surging rage against the American upper-middle class or so-called intellectual elite on the part of the middle-middle and lower-middle classes.  He points out quite aptly that the so-called upper middle class is ready to push back against the plutocracy that is now crippling our government and to their shock and surprise – when they look behind them  – they find the angry masses lining up with the plutocrats – buying into their simplistic spin and  fighting any hint of progressiveness tooth and nail.  It often appears that the only way  to prevent the fall of our republic into an institutional oligarchy  will be by brute force. The great seething masses are going to have to dragged kicking and screaming into any type of  future that offers them enough opportunities to thrive.

In previous posts, I have referred to this phenomena  alternately as “willful ignorance”  and as  the “triumph of the sound bite” over a substantive discussion. People want simple solutions to infinitely complex problems and the plutocrats have an  unparalleled capacity to deliver that  Kool Aide.   Conservative pundits  have  successfully labeled the progressives as ivory tower “elites” with no working knowledge of the real world.  This elite wants nothing more than to stage a coup d’etat and establish a police state in which both guns and Bibles are banned.   We’re also all going to be forced to read  the Koran while kneeling  facing Mecca.

Fanciful as this sounds – it isn’t a far cry from the fear mongering that goes on day -in and day-out courtesy of the Glenn Beck’s and Rush Limbaugh’s of the world.  If you want 24/7 Hate TV – Fox News will oblige. No cable?  Talk radio is even more filled with rancor.

The intellectual elite are the new working poor…

While the middle and lower middle class have focused their wrath on the intellectuals they are doing so devoid of facts and a reasonable context.  Even Walter Russell Mead assumes that elites such as scientists and professors have made monetary gains over the past 20 years?  Like Thomas Freidman, this man has obviously never interviewed an actual scientist or engineer.   Salaries under $40k a year for about a 70 hour work  week are the norm for about 6-10 years post-doctoral in my former field. Income wise – my colleagues and I  resemble the lower middle class/ working poor and we are a world away from the centers of power.  We may have invested time and money in our careers but for most of us it was all for nothing.  Our careers were yanked out from under us just as brutally as any one working an assembly line at a GM plant.  Elite? Perhaps…Prosperous? No way.  Influential? Not a chance.

Our Founding Fathers were the intellectual elites of their time

Those who think that being an intellectual or a  so-called “elite” is antithetical to American society are practicing revisionist history.   Bill Maher pointed out on his “New Rules” our founding fathers were – if nothing else – the elite of their time.   Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were all lawyers.  Benjamin Franklin’s first calling was that of scientist.  Madison could translate Greek and Latin, Jefferson founded the University of Virginia and spoke six languages. Below is a clip from Bill Maher’s New Rules for Friday Jan 14, 2011.

The battle for hearts and minds – the intellectual elite vs. the monied elite…

The issue has been confused by the presence of two classes of elites.  The intellectual elite has been supplanted by the monied elite.  The waters are further muddied by the fact that  many of the monied elite sport degrees covered in ivy.  But a Harvard MBA is a far cry from a Ph.D. in software engineering or molecular biology.  The former is the degree de jour for the monied elite while the intellectuals would be all over the latter.

Cleverly, the true elite – the monied elite have amassed vast wealth and treasure at the expense of  intellectual elite, middle class and working class.  Salaries for all but the few have stagnated or declined and the burden of risk has been shifted from the government or insurers to individuals.  So that most are just one accident or illness away from bankruptcy.

The deflection of blame by the monied elite and the demonization of intellectuals and professionals shows a level of animal cunning that is quite impressive. The massive spin machines which have been enabled by the end of the fairness doctrine has been used with great finesse by those who would exploit the have nots in favor of the have mores.   Forcing the have nots of society whether they be intellectuals, auto-workers or public union members to squabble amongst themselves over the scraps allows the monied elite to go on doing what they do best…extend the robber baron economy that they have already established.

Further Reading:

The education conundrum – do I pay to play?

We get the government we deserve…

Fact-free news –

© 2011 – RMG Hicks – http://www.therobberbaroneconomy.com- All rights reserved.

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2 Responses to Elitism is as Elitism Does…But who exactly are the elite?

  1. Cetis says:

    Ah, the great unwashed, always ready for another lashing. Remember the chicken rebellion in Animal Farm? That part of the book still haunts me.

  2. Pingback: The Robber Baron Economy » Countdown withe Keith Olbermann Signs Off - the same week the Comcast Acquisition of NBC Was Approved by the FCC.

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