Tuesday, August 08, 2017

On "Elitism"

I have been accused of being an elitist. I seek to address this claim – as well as all sorts of associated attitudes – once and for all.

I have maintained serious, lasting friendships with people from all sorts of backgrounds. I have friends in “high places”; I have also walked among the humblest of the humblest. I did not find better or worse qualities in one or the other.

Yes, I attended a private school. I did not do so because I was high-born. I attended it because they liked my writing – enough to offer me a full scholarship.

Now the political figures – on both the Left and the Right – like to tell people what they want to hear. I will not tell you what you want to hear. What I have to say is scary. And the situation is, we are facing all sorts of major problems. Both the people in the “elites” and the people not in the “elites” have been a part of them. The conservative “elites” have made a mess of the planet, and the liberal “elites” have made a mess of society. Both have had all sorts of willing followers among the so-called “masses.” Which means that everyone is guilty; and it will take the efforts of everyone, both in the “elites” and not in the “elites,” to solve this mess.

In “Revolution,” the Beatles stated that “everything will be all right.” Everything has not been all right. Not anything close to it. Blind optimism and “positive thinking” cause more problems than they resolve. You think positive, you fail to anticipate problems, you do foolish things. This appears to be the most lasting lesson of his generation.

Yes, the people in the “elites” can do wrong things to people who are not in the “elites.” But it can also work the other way around. Julia came from English royalty. She married a “low-born” Reagan conservative, and he was horrible to her even though she was good to him. Certainly people in the “elites” can be bad to people who come from the “masses.” But once again, it can also work the other way around.

I had another girlfriend who called me a “classist fuck.” Yet I provided for her for four years, put up with her philandering and her yelling, and adopted her concerns and her worldview as mine. I got so involved in addressing her concerns that she decided that I had nothing to offer her. At that point she left me to be with another man. This kind of irresponsible behavior discredits women and gives credibility to men who are misogynists for real.

As for the “elites” - am I the only person who has the courage to address this? The founders of America – Thomas Jefferson and Ben Franklin – were both what such people would claim to be elitist snob intellectuals. So was Vladimir Lenin. So was Voltaire. And without these “elitist snob intellectuals” an average American would be a serf in a hidebound European monarchy, tilling a two-acre plot of land, living till age 30 and having his sons drafted into the military and his daughters into domestic servitude.

Now it may very well be correct to not discriminate against the so-called “low-born.” But it is also correct to not discriminate against the so-called “high-born,” especially if they bear you no ill will. Once again, I have had all sorts of interactions with both. I did not find either to be either better or worse than the other. Anything human is capable of choice. Anything capable of choice can be good or bad.

At one point in my life, I had an unconditional admiration for people who came from bad backgrounds and made good. However after having had two such people viciously attack me for extended periods of time over the Internet, I corrected my views on that subject. I did not correct my views with “elitism.” I corrected them with a rational view – namely, once again, that anything capable of choice, regardless of background, can be good or bad.

I have respect for any number of people among the “high-born,” and I have respect for any number of people among the “low-born.” I however have no respect for attitudes that are obviously wrong. Nor do I have respect for demagoguery. Both the conservatives who militate against the “liberal elites” and the liberals who militate against the “conservative elites” are full of crap. Once again, the current conditions are a result of actions of both liberals and conservatives, regardless of whether or not they are part of “elites” or of the “masses.” And once again, solving these problems will require the efforts of both, whether or not they are a part of “elites.”

It may very well be valid to not discriminate against the “low-borns.” But neither is it valid to discriminate against the “high-borns,” and that is what we are seeing here with both sides.

Probably the most intelligent statement that I have read on this subject comes from Rudyard Kipling. He advised people to, “talk with crowds and keep your virtue, Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch.” This makes much more sense to me than the nonsense with which we have been dealing. Once again, there is no reason to see either the “high-born” or the “low-born” as better or worse than the other. Anything human is capable of choice; and anything capable of choice can be good or bad.

So no, the claim that I am an elitist stands rejected. I respect some among the “high-born” and some among the “low-born,” and I do not respect others. It is just as wrong to attack the “high-born” as it is to attack the “low-born.” And I, not being either, am completely against both forms of discrimination.


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