It’s the Elite Sensibilities, Stupid!

 

Ricochet’s Preston Storm produced a must-read, really thoughtful, comprehensive list of the cognitive disaster surrounding the COVID pandemic. What is most interesting in all this is the fact that contrary to the official narrative, this was never about the forces of enlightenment and science battling ignorance and superstition but a pathetic campaign by the class of credentialed, administratively empowered people to compel deference to failed models and strategies solely to protect their status. This campaign quickly mutated into an almost criminal consensus that fear, distortion of actual risk, preposterous flip-flops, and silencing of criticism are legitimate tactics.

The politics of the western world over the last hundred years has been permeated with the siren song of a safe, predictable world run by enlightened, selfless experts. Woodrow Wilson and Benito Mussolini were virtually identical in that respect (although Mussolini may have been less of a racist than Wilson).

COVID, Trump, Brexit, climate change, and the new racial politics have sharpened the tactics of the Wilson-Mussolini side. If you advocate freedom, liberty, and markets, then you deserve disruption and pain. Surrender to those who have your best interests at heart and be safe. Elect Trump or someone like him? Be prepared for a daily media and social onslaught until you tire of it and surrender. Do you want Granny and little Suzy to die? Believe and obey whatever the Governor and CDC prescribe this week.

A hundred years ago, the idea of a benevolent administrative dictatorship directing industry and controlling resources was novel and seemed consistent with the newness of railroads, telegraphs, mass production, and innovation. The expert class now seems to devote more resources to protect itself than to master the fields and problem areas for which they claim authority and expertise. In the COVID fiasco, they demand even more deference and power in the face of indisputable failure and their obvious lies. Like a faded diploma and an Obama bumper sticker on an old Prius, the modern elite is just a blob of sensibilities and entitlements pretending to be society’s cutting edge against social, biological, and economic problems for which they have only Wilson-Mussolini answers.

The more desperately they try to impose their sensibilities and to instill fear, division, accusation, and denigration, the harder it is to defend a life of uncertainties, imperfections, normal risk, and imbalances that a free people should welcome as the starting viewpoint for the work and effort required to create good lives and real progress.

Will we roll over and submit to the authorities who have betrayed our best interests? Or go beyond disobedience and hold them to account? Or will they succeed in instilling enough fear, causing enough pain, and exerting enough punitive control over our communications that we will surrender to a world centered on the emotional, social, and financial comfort levels of an increasingly useless elite?

And let’s start with those who claim science as the basis of their entitlement but have not honored the methods, requisite integrity, and open-mindedness that makes real science possible. That is the first temple that needs cleansing.

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  1. Jim McConnell Member
    Jim McConnell
    @JimMcConnell

    Thank you, @oldbathos. That is about the most sensible post I’ve read in some time!

    • #1
  2. Hoyacon Member
    Hoyacon
    @Hoyacon

    And let’s start with those who claim science as the basis of their entitlement but have not honored the methods, requisite integrity and open-mindedness that makes real science possible.  That is the first temple that needs cleansing.

    My concern is that these people are, by and large, really entrenched.  I actually think it might be easier to first cleanse the political establishment that keeps enabling them.  Our side really needs to learn to run on “freedom,” and the underpinnings for that strategy are there.

    • #2
  3. Unsk Member
    Unsk
    @Unsk

    Bathos: ” What is most interesting in all this is the fact that contrary to the official narrative, this was never about the forces of enlightenment and science battling ignorance and superstition but a pathetic campaign by the class of credentialed, administratively empowered people to compel deference to failed models and strategies solely to protect their status, a campaign which quickly mutated into an almost criminal consensus that fear, distortion of actual risk, preposterous flip-flops and silencing of criticism are legitimate tactics.”

    Damn Straight Bathos. A fine encapsulation of the enormous death and destruction  the “credentialed, administratively empowered people”  have  inflicted upon this country and the world. 

    • #3
  4. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    Hoyacon (View Comment):

    And let’s start with those who claim science as the basis of their entitlement but have not honored the methods, requisite integrity and open-mindedness that makes real science possible. That is the first temple that needs cleansing.

    My concern is that these people are, by and large, really entrenched. I actually think it might be easier to first cleanse the political establishment that keeps enabling them. Our side really needs to learn to run on “freedom,” and the underpinnings for that strategy are there.

    For the last few decades, the suburban female or female-adjacent voter found credentialism and the administrative state appealing because if you have right education and contacts, that kind of centralization of power might be directed against rednecks and entrepreneur types. But when Democrats stupidly endanger the 401(k) or make the beach house unaffordable or even worse, allows criminals to run rampant then the GOP gets their vote but not their allegiance.

    Gorbachev envisioned a bubble in which his elite could enjoy and foster western tech and consumer goods inside of a de facto totalitarian shell. That was how he could (a) keep up with Reagan’s military tech revolution and (b) keep Raisa and him in designer clothes.

    The American white collar class is increasingly inclined to endorse the Gorbachev model and let “freedom” be the rallying cry of tiresome MAGA rednecks who have no place in the bubble. Convince me that Dorsey, Bess, Gates and  uckerberg would object to that state of affairs.

    • #4
  5. Dr. Bastiat Member
    Dr. Bastiat
    @drbastiat

    Old Bathos: although Mussolini may have been less of a racist than Wilson

    Heck, Ibram Kendi is less of a racist than Wilson was.  Wilson was absolutely horrifying…

    • #5
  6. DonG (2+2=5. Say it!) Coolidge
    DonG (2+2=5. Say it!)
    @DonG

    Ike warned us.

    Akin to, and largely responsible for the sweeping changes in our industrial-military posture, has been the technological revolution during recent decades.

    In this revolution, research has become central; it also becomes more formalized, complex, and costly. A steadily increasing share is conducted for, by, or at the direction of, the Federal government.

    Today, the solitary inventor, tinkering in his shop, has been over shadowed by task forces of scientists in laboratories and testing fields. In the same fashion, the free university, historically the fountainhead of free ideas and scientific discovery, has experienced a revolution in the conduct of research. Partly because of the huge costs involved, a government contract becomes virtually a substitute for intellectual curiosity. For every old blackboard there are now hundreds of new electronic computers.

    The prospect of domination of the nation’s scholars by Federal employment, project allocations, and the power of money is ever present and is gravely to be regarded.

    Yet, in holding scientific research and discovery in respect, as we should, we must also be alert to the equal and opposite danger that public policy could itself become the captive of a scientific-technological elite.

     

    I could also adapt his military-industrial complex section to the Intelligence Community.

    • #6
  7. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    Old Bathos: Will we roll over and submit to the authorities who have betrayed our best interests? Or go beyond disobedience and hold them to account?

    One can only pray that those who embraced the former are now ready to demand the latter. 

    • #7
  8. kedavis Member
    kedavis
    @kedavis

    Vince Guerra (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: Will we roll over and submit to the authorities who have betrayed our best interests? Or go beyond disobedience and hold them to account?

    One can only pray that those who embraced the former are now ready to demand the latter.

    I dunno, they might be unwilling to hold them to account since it also suggests holding themselves to account for their previous support.  And people don’t like to admit having been fooled, much less face any consequences THEMSELVES for it.

    • #8
  9. Vince Guerra Member
    Vince Guerra
    @VinceGuerra

    kedavis (View Comment):
      And people don’t like to admit having been fooled, much less face any consequences THEMSELVES for it.

    They also don’t like being twice losers. 

    • #9
  10. David Foster Member
    David Foster
    @DavidFoster

    Good post.  This relates to the idea that *larger* entities are able to manage risk better, are generally more benign, and are inevitable anyhow given improvements in transportation and communications. The latter point was argued by the former Confederate general Porter Alexander, who after the war became a railroad president:

    Well that (state’s rights) was the issue of the war; & as we were defeated that right was surrendered & a limit put on state sovereignty. And the South is now entirely satisfied with that result. And the reason of it is very simple. State sovereignty was doubtless a wise political instution for the condition of this vast country in the last century. But the railroad, and the steamboat & the telegraph began to transform things early in this century & have gradually made what may almost be called a new planet of it… Our political institutions have had to change… Briefly we had the right to fight, but our fight was against what might be called a Darwinian development – or an adaptation to changed & changing conditions – so we need not greatly regret defeat.

    See my posts What are the limits of the Alexander analysis? and Coupling.

    • #10
  11. Old Bathos Moderator
    Old Bathos
    @OldBathos

    David Foster (View Comment):

    Good post. This relates to the idea that *larger* entities are able to manage risk better, are generally more benign, and are inevitable anyhow given improvements in transportation and communications. The latter point was argued by the former Confederate general Porter Alexander, who after the war became a railroad president:

    Well that (state’s rights) was the issue of the war; & as we were defeated that right was surrendered & a limit put on state sovereignty. And the South is now entirely satisfied with that result. And the reason of it is very simple. State sovereignty was doubtless a wise political instution for the condition of this vast country in the last century. But the railroad, and the steamboat & the telegraph began to transform things early in this century & have gradually made what may almost be called a new planet of it… Our political institutions have had to change… Briefly we had the right to fight, but our fight was against what might be called a Darwinian development – or an adaptation to changed & changing conditions – so we need not greatly regret defeat.

    See my posts What are the limits of the Alexander analysis? and Coupling.

    Alexander is correct that some undertakings, industries and conditions call for laws and investment at a national level. But that also means more of a conscious effort to preserve subsidiarity, intermediate institutions and fresh understanding of the importance of limited government. Those goals are quite different from trying to remain an autonomous slave-holding backwater. 

    • #11
  12. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    The central planners never let a crisis go to waste

    I see the permanent bureaucracy use the levels of control applied during Covid for Climate Change.

    This time, they will use board rooms of major corporations to implement it

     

    • #12
  13. Eugene Kriegsmann Member
    Eugene Kriegsmann
    @EugeneKriegsmann

    For me, the problem has been that there has been a complete lack of candor surrounding the entire Covid mess. It has been one lie after another, as seems to be the pattern whenever someone tells a lie, a new one needs to be invented to cover for the first. 

    I listened to Bret Weinstein and his wife this morning doing one of their podcasts. I don’t know how accurate their information is because nothing is debated. The entire issue is compartmentalized depending on what you believe. Statistics are cited on all sides, none of which seem to correspond to any “proven truth” or to agree with each other. It is like they are talking a different language. 

    The media does no independent research. It simply repeats the current administration line verbatim. No wonder there are so many who won’t take the vaccine. If I hadn’t done so already, I might be just as reticent as those who are now refusing to do so. 

    Who are we to believe? The real pandemic is not Covid 19. It is the total loss of credibility of the media, of the presidency, of the CDC, of all who claim to have some authority and knowledge. This is truly what the Chinese define as “interesting times” when they use the curse: may you live in interesting times.

     

    • #13
  14. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    Dr. Bastiat (View Comment):

    Old Bathos: although Mussolini may have been less of a racist than Wilson

    Heck, Ibram Kendi is less of a racist than Wilson was. Wilson was absolutely horrifying…

    Wilson’s horrifying views were four-square with the (progressive pseudo-) science of the day. All the right credentialed people agreed – to deny the (bien pensant) consensus of the (progressive) elites was to Deny Science Itself (TM). 

    • #14