What’s Wrong with Rule by ‘Elites?’

 

Part of our contemporary political rhetoric seems to be an objection to something like the “rule of elites.”  This objection appears particularly prevalent on what we call the political “right” or the “conservative” side, although it’s possible that it’s more characteristic of libertarians, who are actually on the political left (in my view).

In any event, why would we object to the rule of, or at least leadership by, “elites?”  Isn’t this what we should want?

There is a great deal of variation in ability between people.  In a country with a representative government, which I certainly prefer, I would like our leaders to be among “the best and the brightest.”  I want leaders of exceptional intelligence, ability, and virtue.  There are not many people in this category, at least in percentage terms.

Adams and Jefferson discussed this issue, at length, in their correspondence after both of them had retired from public life.  They agreed that there existed a “natural aristocracy” among men, with Jefferson sometimes using the term “aristoi” to refer to the truly worthy, and “pseudo-aristoi” to refer to those lacking such talent but treated as such (by birth or other status).  As examples, if you’re interested, you can read this letter from Jefferson to Adams on October 28, 1813, and this response from Adams to Jefferson on November 15, 1813.

As an aside, this correspondence seems almost miraculous.  Adams was dubbed the “Colossus of Independence” by, well,  Jefferson.  Jefferson, who authored the Declaration of Independence and submitted it for initial edit to the rest of the Committee of Five given this task — Adams, Ben Franklin, Roger Sherman, and Robert R. Livingston.  Who served together, under Washington, as our first Vice President and Secretary of State, before becoming bitter political rivals, with Adams defeating Jefferson in the narrow election of 1796, and Jefferson winning the close rematch in 1800.

Adams, who as he died on the 50th anniversary of our independence, as his final words, said “Thomas Jefferson still survives.”  Incorrectly, as it turns out, as Jefferson had died earlier that same day.  I have to admit that thinking about this sends a shiver down my spine.  Divine Providence, indeed.

Back to that natural aristocracy.

Adams and Jefferson were agreed that we should be led by men in that natural aristocracy.  The question that they addressed was how to accomplish this.  Jefferson wished to trust the people, writing:

May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most effectual[ly] for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government? The artificial aristocracy is a mischievous ingredient in government, and provis[ion] should be made to prevent it’s ascendancy. On the question, What is the best [pro]vision? you and I differ; but we differ as rational friends, using the free exerci[se] of our own reason, and mutually indulging it’s errors. . . .

I think the best remedy is exactly that provided by all our constitutions, to leave to the citizens the free election and separation of the aristoi from the pseudo–aristoi, of the wheat from the chaff. In general they will elect the real good and wise. In some instances, wealth may corrupt, and birth blind them; but not in sufficient degree to endanger the society.

Adams was more skeptical of the ability of the people to make wise choices, responding:

You suppose a difference of Opinion between You and me, on this Subject of Aristocracy. I can find none. I dislike and detest hereditary honours, Offices Emoluments established by Law. So do you. I am for excluding legal hereditary distinctions from the U.S. as long as possible. So are you. I only Say that Mankind have not yet discovered any remedy against irresistable Corruption in Elections to Offices of great Power and Profit, but making them hereditary.

But will you Say our Elections are pure? Be it so; upon the whole. But do you recollect in history, a more Corrupt Election than that of Aaron Burr to be President, or that of De Witt Clinton last year. By corruption, here I mean a Sacrifice of every national Interest and honour, to private and party Objects.

Ouch!  Adams, who had celebrated his 78th birthday between the writing of these two letters, was still sharp as a needle.

Remember your election, Tom?  How Aaron Burr — Aaron Burr  — almost beat you out for the Presidency?  Burr, who killed our old friend Hamilton — a natural aristoi if ever there was one?  Burr, who you had arrested, indicted, and tried for treason, though he beat the charge?

This is our conundrum, isn’t it?

I don’t think that rule by “elites” is the problem.  I think the problem is that our current elites are, by and large, an unworthy lot.  Lesser sons of great sires.  They are chosen by the people, as Jefferson recommended, and this doesn’t seem to be working very well.

Jefferson’s letter included a detailed proposal he had made in Virginia regarding education, which was not adopted.  He wrote that the abolition of entails and primogeniture, which he authored and which passed, “laid the axe to the root of Pseudo-aristocracy,” and then continued:

And had another which I prepared been adopted by the legislature, our work would have been compleat. It was a Bill for the more general diffusion [of] learning. This proposed to divide every county into wards of 5. or 6. miles square, like your townships; to establish in each ward a free school for reading, writing and common arithmetic; to provide for the annual selection of the best subjects from these schools who might receive at the public expence a higher degree of education at a district school; and from these district schools to select a certain number of the most promising subjects to be compleated at an University, where all the useful sciences should be taught. Worth and genius would thus have been sought out from every condition of life, and compleatly prepared by education for defeating the competition of wealth & birth for public trusts.   . . .

The law for religious freedom, which made a part of this system, having put down the aristocracy of the clergy and restored to the citizen the freedom of the mind, and those of entails and descents nurturing an equality of condition among them, this on Education would have raised the mass of the people to the high ground of moral respectability necessary to their own safety, & to orderly government; and would have compleated the great object of qualifying them to select the veritable aristoi, for the trusts of government, to the exclusion of the Pseudalists.

So Jefferson plainly contemplated special, state-funded education of the “best and the brightest,” to prepare them for leadership, and trusted that the more limited education of the masses would qualify them to select the best leaders.

Perhaps this would have worked, perhaps not.  My own concern is Jefferson’s confidence in reason, as opposed to faith, for the establishment of moral virtue.  I disagree with Jefferson about the proper source of moral teaching, but I do agree about the importance of educating the natural aristocracy to be knowledgeable, virtuous, and wise.

It seems, to me, that we have departed greatly from this ideal in our country.  We have democratized education, devaluing it in my view, debasing the curriculum in the name of “equality” — or, perhaps in more recent terminology, “inclusion.”  For quite a long time, our public primary and secondary schools seem, to me, to have given little priority to the education of the gifted.  Our colleges and universities have lowered their standards for admissions, significantly reduced the number of required courses, and expected little of their students.

Worse yet, far from teaching true, traditional virtue and morality, our entire educational system seems bent on instilling an ethic of shallow selfishness, toleration of all sorts of vice, and pursuit of each individual’s own personal desires and preferences, rather than the common good.  This is coupled with a widespread denial of the very existence of any differences in ability.

It seems, to me, that this leads to a new type of pseudo-aristoi.  Not the pseudo-aristoi of birth to which Jefferson objected, but a pseudo-aristoi of self-righteous mediocrities.  This new pseudo-aristoi are our modern “elites,” indoctrinated in the bizarre mix of libertinism and egalitarianism now labeled “Wokeism.”

There are exceptions here and there, of course, but for the most part, the inmates seem to be running the asylum.  At least, it seems this way to me.  What do you all think?

In a way, then, it is understandable that people on the political right would object to rule by “elites,” if this is the type of “elite” that we have.  But I don’t think that we should reject the ideal of the leadership of the natural aristocracy.

I think that we need to find a way to do a better job of identifying them, and educating them.  Though I have difficulty finding any reason for optimism that we can do so, given our current political climate.

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  1. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    thelonious (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    William F. Buckley who could be considered part of the elite summed it up rather well:

    “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

     

    If that happened all the faculty members from Hahvard would wise up and change their last names to Aaaron.

    I doubt they are that smart or that self-aware.

    • #91
  2. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    Our self-described elites are not that impressive.

    I do not see many Adams, Washington or Jeffersons in this bunch.

    They push ESG and want us “owning nothing and love it”. Meanwhile, they travel the world flying private jets to hector us about Climate Change. 

     

     

    • #92
  3. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    William F. Buckley who could be considered part of the elite summed it up rather well:

    “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

    This would reach at least the 75% Good rating. As it stands now I don’t think our form of government rule rates even a 25% Good rating, by either talent or intentions.

    The first 2000 people in the Boston phone book might have been of a higher caliber back then. The first 2000 people now, I wouldn’t be so confident.

    I would. Well, maybe not Boston.

    Pick a small midwestern city and rural towns instead.

    • #93
  4. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    An “autocrat” is a dictator, a single ruler. Our system is certainly not that.

    Why does it have to be a single ruler as opposed to a deep state bureaucracy with limitless unaccountable power?

    Because “autocracy” and “bureaucracy” (or “technocracy”) are different things by definition.

    “Autocracy” literally means a form of government in which unlimited power is held by a single individual. It is from the Greek words αὐτός (“single, self, same, alone”) and κράτος (“power”).

    “Bureaucracy” literally means “government by bureaus of administrators and officers”. It is from the French “bureau” meaning “office”.

    (Personally, I prefer the term “technocracy”, which literally means “a system of governance where people who are skilled or proficient govern in their respective areas of expertise”. It is from the Greek word τέχνη meaning “skill”. The problem with technocracy is, of course, who gets to decide which candidates are “skilled” or “proficient”.)

    Yet the trouble with technocracy is that the final decisions are made by people with deep but narrow fields of expertise. As we’ve seen with the covid crisis, it was handled by just such men as these, men who are the Science, but who will rule in ways that destroy society and lives in ways unenvisioned outside their areas of expertise.

    For rule with a broad understanding of life and living, economy, community and culture, we more likely need the first 2000 names out of the Boston phone book.

    Serious proposition – we would be better off drafting members of Congress at random (similar to how we do Jury Duty) rather than holding elections.

     

     

    That’s how they did it in Ancient Greece.

    • #94
  5. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    William F. Buckley who could be considered part of the elite summed it up rather well:

    “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

    This would reach at least the 75% Good rating. As it stands now I don’t think our form of government rule rates even a 25% Good rating, by either talent or intentions.

    The first 2000 people in the Boston phone book might have been of a higher caliber back then. The first 2000 people now, I wouldn’t be so confident.

    I don’t understand why WFB had such faith in people whose names start with the letter A.

    ;-)

    • #95
  6. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    What is the actual form of American Government?

    Part Gerontocracy. The president is a babbling senile husk of a man. Dianne Feinstein is in mid-stage senile dementia. Mitch McConnell, and Chuck Grassley should have been put out to pasture decades ago.

    Mostly kakistocracy. Our political class is the most venal, corrupt, and Dunning-Krugered group of people on the face of the Earth. Our global opponents laugh at us.

    Part Idiocracy/Clown Show: Idenity and celebrity politics have given us a Secretary of Transportation who is beyond incompetent (Demolishing “racist freeways” while our multimodal infratructure collapses around us), a vice president with the IQ of a turnip and the charm of a road accident, a guy hired to be in charge of nuclear was explicitly because he was a sexually depraved transvestite.

    And I don’t know if there is a name for a system that presents the illusion of a democracy; but the election system is rigged in favor of the same party that controls the deep state bureaucracy and the “opposition party” is just a Kabuki Theater in a Potemkin Village.

    And, yes, our Government is authoritarian. The FBI can lie to you, arrest you and put you in prison based on the lie. No one in Government… even if they let 400,000 veterans die on VA waiting lists or dump three million gallons of toxic waste in a western river… ever faces any consequences for corruption or incompetence.

    • #96
  7. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    A large part of the problem of rule by elites is they have very limited life experiences which are very common to one another, but not to the vast majority of the citizenry. That makes them highly ignorant,  especially for making policy and laws.

    • #97
  8. GlennAmurgis Coolidge
    GlennAmurgis
    @GlennAmurgis

    Hang On (View Comment):

    A large part of the problem of rule by elites is they have very limited life experiences which are very common to one another, but not to the vast majority of the citizenry. That makes them highly ignorant, especially for making policy and laws.

    This reminds me of George McGovern – after he left the Senate, he started a B&B. After understanding how hard it was to run a business, he regretted the amount of red tape he added to our lives. 

    • #98
  9. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    An “autocrat” is a dictator, a single ruler. Our system is certainly not that.

    Why does it have to be a single ruler as opposed to a deep state bureaucracy with limitless unaccountable power?

    Because that’s the meaning of the word “autocrat.”  A more distributed system of unaccountable power is also bad.  It just needs a different term.  “Oligarchy” is the term for such a system based on wealth.  Something like “technocracy” may be the best term for our current system.

    Edited to add:  I made this comment when I reached yours, VTK, without reading the rest of the thread.  Misthiocracy made the same point before me, in #41.

    • #99
  10. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    An “autocrat” is a dictator, a single ruler. Our system is certainly not that.

    Why does it have to be a single ruler as opposed to a deep state bureaucracy with limitless unaccountable power?

    Because “autocracy” and “bureaucracy” (or “technocracy”) are different things by definition.

    “Autocracy” literally means a form of government in which unlimited power is held by a single individual. It is from the Greek words αὐτός (“single, self, same, alone”) and κράτος (“power”).

    “Bureaucracy” literally means “government by bureaus of administrators and officers”. It is from the French “bureau” meaning “office”.

    (Personally, I prefer the term “technocracy”, which literally means “a system of governance where people who are skilled or proficient govern in their respective areas of expertise”. It is from the Greek word τέχνη meaning “skill”. The problem with technocracy is, of course, who gets to decide which candidates are “skilled” or “proficient”.)

    Yet the trouble with technocracy is that the final decisions are made by people with deep but narrow fields of expertise. As we’ve seen with the covid crisis, it was handled by just such men as these, men who are the Science, but who will rule in ways that destroy society and lives in ways unenvisioned outside their areas of expertise.

    For rule with a broad understanding of life and living, economy, community and culture, we more likely need the first 2000 names out of the Boston phone book.

    Serious proposition – we would be better off drafting members of Congress at random (similar to how we do Jury Duty) rather than holding elections.

    No, I don’t think so.  I know that it may seem that our Congressmen and Senators are stupid, but they’re generally not of average intelligence.  They may have other problems, and there may be exceptions, but they’re generally well above average.

    Juries are quite tightly controlled.  They do not simply decide cases in a vacuum.  They are instructed by the judge, and the judge decides which evidence they get to consider, using long-established evidentiary rules.

    As a trial lawyer, I often prefer a bench trial to a jury trial, and when the other side agrees, we stipulate to that result.  Juries can be unpredictable.  They’re often favored by the side that thinks that it has the weaker case, or by a plaintiff hoping to get an unusually large verdict by persuading the jury to feel outraged.  It is possible to get a judge outraged, too, but less likely, in my experience.

    • #100
  11. genferei Member
    genferei
    @genferei

    This was a risibly dangerous idea when Plato had Socrates pop down to Piraeus to see the festival and it’s a risibly dangerous idea now.

    If the government didn’t insist on interfering in every part of my life (at the point of a gun, as governments are wont to do) I would care less about the ‘rulers’. As they do insist, I must care, and with the scale and scope of power arrogated to itself by the state I find that no mortal – however ‘elite’ – could possibly exercise its powers and functions justly. 

    Which is to say, the modern government, requiring more purchase on the property and conscience of its citizens than did Calvin’s Geneva, is fundamentally incompatible with justice. Faced with this contradiction, choosing among ‘ocracies is just choosing the form of your destructor…

    • #101
  12. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Misthiocracy has never (View Comment):

    Victor Tango Kilo (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    An “autocrat” is a dictator, a single ruler. Our system is certainly not that.

    Why does it have to be a single ruler as opposed to a deep state bureaucracy with limitless unaccountable power?

    Because “autocracy” and “bureaucracy” (or “technocracy”) are different things by definition.

    “Autocracy” literally means a form of government in which unlimited power is held by a single individual. It is from the Greek words αὐτός (“single, self, same, alone”) and κράτος (“power”).

    “Bureaucracy” literally means “government by bureaus of administrators and officers”. It is from the French “bureau” meaning “office”.

    (Personally, I prefer the term “technocracy”, which literally means “a system of governance where people who are skilled or proficient govern in their respective areas of expertise”. It is from the Greek word τέχνη meaning “skill”. The problem with technocracy is, of course, who gets to decide which candidates are “skilled” or “proficient”.)

    Yet the trouble with technocracy is that the final decisions are made by people with deep but narrow fields of expertise. As we’ve seen with the covid crisis, it was handled by just such men as these, men who are the Science, but who will rule in ways that destroy society and lives in ways unenvisioned outside their areas of expertise.

    For rule with a broad understanding of life and living, economy, community and culture, we more likely need the first 2000 names out of the Boston phone book.

    Serious proposition – we would be better off drafting members of Congress at random (similar to how we do Jury Duty) rather than holding elections.

     

     

    That’s how they did it in Ancient Greece.

    Where and when?

    This was not my impression, though “Ancient Greece” is such a large category that it includes many systems of government, from Agamemnon’s autocracy to democratic Athens.

    • #102
  13. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    genferei (View Comment):

    This was a risibly dangerous idea when Plato had Socrates pop down to Piraeus to see the festival and it’s a risibly dangerous idea now.

    If the government didn’t insist on interfering in every part of my life (at the point of a gun, as governments are wont to do) I would care less about the ‘rulers’. As they do insist, I must care, and with the scale and scope of power arrogated to itself by the state I find that no mortal – however ‘elite’ – could possibly exercise its powers and functions justly.

    Which is to say, the modern government, requiring more purchase on the property and conscience of its citizens than did Calvin’s Geneva, is fundamentally incompatible with justice. Faced with this contradiction, choosing among ‘ocracies is just choosing the form of your destructor…

    I don’t think that the government interferes with every part of your life.  I don’t know for sure, of course.  Maybe you’re in prison.  That seems unlikely.

    My expectation is that the government interferes little, if at all, in your daily life.  Does government interfere in any material way with:

    • Where you eat?
    • What you eat?
    • Where you go?
    • Where you live?
    • What job you choose?
    • Where you go to church, or any other community activity in which you engage?

    I do think that our government is overbearing in some areas, though I think that there are other areas in which it is neglectful and could use some movement toward overbearing.  Controlling the border is an obvious example.

    •  
    • #103
  14. Misthiocracy has never Member
    Misthiocracy has never
    @Misthiocracy

    genferei (View Comment):
    If the government didn’t insist on interfering in every part of my life (at the point of a gun, as governments are wont to do) I would care less about the ‘rulers’.

    “The common people pray for rain, healthy children, and a summer that never ends. It is no matter to them if the high lords play their game of thrones, so long as they are left in peace. They never are.”

    – George R. R. Martin –

    • #104
  15. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    William F. Buckley who could be considered part of the elite summed it up rather well:

    “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

     

    I looked at this one lately (on a video).  Here’s the one that I saw — this is a very short video, 35 seconds:

    I don’t think that Buckley was making my point, but I may be wrong about this.  He cited Adams and Jefferson, as I did, but he may have misinterpreted them.  The question, in my mind, is whether he means:

    • The people are more wise and reliable than any “elite” — which is contrary to what Adams and Jefferson said, and contrary to my own view; or
    • The people are more wise and reliable than the particular “elite” that we had in America at the time, especially in academia.  I agree that this was correct when Buckley said it, and I think that it is still correct today.

     

    • #105
  16. Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot) Member
    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patriot)
    @ArizonaPatriot

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    I mean, if you guys really do view the citizen class that poorly, well . . . we can never be friends.

    Perhaps we aren’t.

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Understand that my sympathies lie with the citizen class over the political class. With the lower classes and working classes over the upper classes. So if you say something that seems to be insulting the common man, I will stand up for him.

    I’m a bit concerned about this.  My sympathies are also with the citizen/working/lower classes.

    However, most such people are not competent to do difficult and complex tasks.  We don’t expect them to innovate.  True inventive geniuses are rare.  People with the ability to be doctors or surgeons are rare.  There are many areas in which this is true, and one of the most important such area is government.

    People with the ability to understand the complexity of law and government are rare.  Thinking that ordinary people could handle it is simply not true.  The typical person could not get through a law school class, any more than they could get through a graduate class in math.  I know this, as I’ve done both.

    So I think that we need to understand the limitations of the “common man.”  He’s not fit to be a President, or a Congressman, or a cabinet secretary, or a general.  Recognizing such limitations should not be insulting.

    One of the unpleasant things about our current “elite” is the dismissal of the value and virtue of the common man.  Working an honest 40-hour-week for a living, being faithful to your wife, providing and caring for your kids, should command the respect of everyone.  Since the advent of what Charles Murray called the “cognitive elite,” generally in the 1950s with the expansion of college education, the common, working man seems to have been denigrated in the eyes of the upper class.

    I think that this is terrible.

    However, I think that it is also a mistake to fail to recognize the importance of the unusual talents of the gifted, the natural aristocracy discussed by Adams and Jefferson.  Maybe it’s as simple as the loss of the idea of noblesse oblige

    Exceptional people need to be taught of their obligation to others.  It is not virtuous for such people to live just for themselves.  But our modern doctrine of Liberty undermines this, as it tends to be a view of liberty disconnected from duty.

    Traditional virtues were better, I think.  In my view, in many ways, even the pagan ancients like the Greeks and Romans were better than our modern secularists.  I do, of course, think that Christian teaching is the best.

    • #106
  17. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    I mean, if you guys really do view the citizen class that poorly, well . . . we can never be friends.

    Perhaps we aren’t.

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Understand that my sympathies lie with the citizen class over the political class. With the lower classes and working classes over the upper classes. So if you say something that seems to be insulting the common man, I will stand up for him.

    I’m a bit concerned about this. My sympathies are also with the citizen/working/lower classes.

    However, most such people are not competent to do difficult and complex tasks. We don’t expect them to innovate. True inventive geniuses are rare. People with the ability to be doctors or surgeons are rare. There are many areas in which this is true, and one of the most important such area is government.

    People with the ability to understand the complexity of law and government are rare. Thinking that ordinary people could handle it is simply not true. The typical person could not get through a law school class, any more than they could get through a graduate class in math. I know this, as I’ve done both.

    So I think that we need to understand the limitations of the “common man.” He’s not fit to be a President, or a Congressman, or a cabinet secretary, or a general. Recognizing such limitations should not be insulting.

    One of the unpleasant things about our current “elite” is the dismissal of the value and virtue of the common man. Working an honest 40-hour-week for a living, being faithful to your wife, providing and caring for your kids, should command the respect of everyone. Since the advent of what Charles Murray called the “cognitive elite,” generally in the 1950s with the expansion of college education, the common, working man seems to have been denigrated in the eyes of the upper class.

    I think that this is terrible.

    However, I think that it is also a mistake to fail to recognize the importance of the unusual talents of the gifted, the natural aristocracy discussed by Adams and Jefferson. Maybe it’s as simple as the loss of the idea of noblesse oblige.

    Exceptional people need to be taught of their obligation to others. It is not virtuous for such people to live just for themselves. But our modern doctrine of Liberty undermines this, as it tends to be a view of liberty disconnected from duty.

    Traditional virtues were better, I think. In my view, in many ways, even the pagan ancients like the Greeks and Romans were better than our modern secularists. I do, of course, think that Christian teaching is the best.

    You realize that that is pretty much a rejection of our entire system of government – you know, that whole “we the people” thing, not “we the exceptional who understand the intricacies”

    • #107
  18. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    My expectation is that the government interferes little, if at all, in your daily life.  Does government interfere in any material way with:

    • Where you eat?
    • What you eat?
    • Where you go?
    • Where you live?
    • What job you choose?
    • Where you go to church, or any other community activity in which you engage?

    Pretty much all of those. Certainly their actions influence what is available to eat.  The government puts barriers to entry to many jobs that are totally unnecessary. They kept me from going to church three years ago. You have to be blind to assert the government does not interfere, and in major ways. 

    • #108
  19. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    I mean, if you guys really do view the citizen class that poorly, well . . . we can never be friends.

    Perhaps we aren’t.

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Understand that my sympathies lie with the citizen class over the political class. With the lower classes and working classes over the upper classes. So if you say something that seems to be insulting the common man, I will stand up for him.

    I’m a bit concerned about this. My sympathies are also with the citizen/working/lower classes.

    However, most such people are not competent to do difficult and complex tasks. We don’t expect them to innovate. True inventive geniuses are rare. People with the ability to be doctors or surgeons are rare. There are many areas in which this is true, and one of the most important such area is government.

    Why is it the guy who sits at a desk all day pushing papers is somehow considered of higher status than the guy who can build a house?

     

    • #109
  20. Hang On Member
    Hang On
    @HangOn

    Seawriter (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    My expectation is that the government interferes little, if at all, in your daily life. Does government interfere in any material way with:

    • Where you eat?
    • What you eat?
    • Where you go?
    • Where you live?
    • What job you choose?
    • Where you go to church, or any other community activity in which you engage?

    Pretty much all of those. Certainly their actions influence what is available to eat. The government puts barriers to entry to many jobs that are totally unnecessary. They kept me from going to church three years ago. You have to be blind to assert the government does not interfere, and in major ways.

    You may not be aware that the FDA is coming after Amish farmers in an effort to determine what it is that people eat. The FDA was expecting the Amish farmers to roll over, but others have come to their aid. There are people who want meat without pharmaceuticals added, and the FDA was trying to forbid that. The Amish farmers were producing it. The FDA came in full Nazi against the farmers. The same was for non-pasteurized milk.

    The Amish were to be the canaries in the coal mine.

    • #110
  21. BDB Member
    BDB
    @BDB

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    I mean, if you guys really do view the citizen class that poorly, well . . . we can never be friends.

    Perhaps we aren’t.

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Understand that my sympathies lie with the citizen class over the political class. With the lower classes and working classes over the upper classes. So if you say something that seems to be insulting the common man, I will stand up for him.

    I’m a bit concerned about this. My sympathies are also with the citizen/working/lower classes.

    However, most such people are not competent to do difficult and complex tasks. We don’t expect them to innovate. True inventive geniuses are rare. People with the ability to be doctors or surgeons are rare. There are many areas in which this is true, and one of the most important such area is government.

    Why is it the guy who sits at a desk all day pushing papers is somehow considered of higher status than the guy who can build a house?

     

    Because he writes the papers about status.

    • #111
  22. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Hang On (View Comment):
    You may not be aware that the FDA is coming after Amish farmers in an effort to determine what it is that people eat

    The FDA sending its in-house SWAT team to arrest Amish farmers for selling milk absolutely refutes anyone claiming or government is not tyrannically authoritarian. 

    • #112
  23. Seawriter Contributor
    Seawriter
    @Seawriter

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):
    Why is it the guy who sits at a desk all day pushing papers is somehow considered of higher status than the guy who can build a house?

    My theory? The guy who sits at a desk all day pushing papers has more time and energy to spend convincing others that he has a higher status than a guy who can build a house. The existence of this whole thread demonstrates that.

    • #113
  24. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):
    An “autocrat” is a dictator, a single ruler.  Our system is certainly not that.

    Tell it to Fauci and demonstrate how the COVID “emergency” did not expose the autocratic tendencies of various Governors, eg Witmer, Cuomo, Newsome, …

    • #114
  25. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):
    What do you call it when you have governance by the stupidest, least-informed people on the planet?

    Idiocracy – There is even a movie.

    • #115
  26. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Haven’t read the comments yet, but clearly the best form of government is a benevolent dictatorship with a meritocratic ministry and selfless public servants. The trouble is finding the wise and benevolent dictator and the most noble ministers and righteous public servants.

    Nah, it is rule by Angels.

    • #116
  27. Instugator Thatcher
    Instugator
    @Instugator

    kedavis (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    Doug Watt (View Comment):

    William F. Buckley who could be considered part of the elite summed it up rather well:

    “I am obliged to confess I should sooner live in a society governed by the first two thousand names in the Boston telephone directory than in a society governed by the two thousand faculty members of Harvard University.”

    This would reach at least the 75% Good rating. As it stands now I don’t think our form of government rule rates even a 25% Good rating, by either talent or intentions.

    The first 2000 people in the Boston phone book might have been of a higher caliber back then. The first 2000 people now, I wouldn’t be so confident.

    The problem is there isn’t a phone book anymore.

    • #117
  28. AMD Texas Coolidge
    AMD Texas
    @DarinJohnson

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    I mean, if you guys really do view the citizen class that poorly, well . . . we can never be friends.

    Perhaps we aren’t.

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Understand that my sympathies lie with the citizen class over the political class. With the lower classes and working classes over the upper classes. So if you say something that seems to be insulting the common man, I will stand up for him.

    I’m a bit concerned about this. My sympathies are also with the citizen/working/lower classes.

    However, most such people are not competent to do difficult and complex tasks. We don’t expect them to innovate. True inventive geniuses are rare. People with the ability to be doctors or surgeons are rare. There are many areas in which this is true, and one of the most important such area is government.

    Why is it the guy who sits at a desk all day pushing papers is somehow considered of higher status than the guy who can build a house?

     

    And who would think that building that house or say just a chair isn’t a difficult and complex task?

    • #118
  29. DrewInWisconsin, Oik Member
    DrewInWisconsin, Oik
    @DrewInWisconsin

    AMD Texas (View Comment):

    DrewInWisconsin, Oik (View Comment):

    Why is it the guy who sits at a desk all day pushing papers is somehow considered of higher status than the guy who can build a house?

    And who would think that building that house or say just a chair isn’t a difficult and complex task?

    Remember Mike Bloomberg’s ignorant comments on what it takes to be a farmer?

    Bloomberg’s attitude is not uncommon.

     

    • #119
  30. Victor Tango Kilo Member
    Victor Tango Kilo
    @VtheK

    Jerry Giordano (Arizona Patrio… (View Comment):

    Does government interfere in any material way with:

    • Where you eat?
    • What you eat?
    • Where you go?
    • Where you live?
    • What job you choose?
    • Where you go to church, or any other community activity in which you engage?

    Let’s parse this.

    Where you eat: Zoning is a thing. Also, let’s consider the egregious regulations government’s use to protect their cronies while creating barriers to entry against competitors. New Jersey, for example, enacted severe regulations on microbreweries so they couldn’t compete with established mafia money-laundering operations local restaurants.  Also, true story, you can get arrested for eating food on the Washington DC Metro.

    What you eat. Food production is one of the most heavily regulated sectors of the economy. In addition to using SWAT teams to arrest Amish farmers for selling milk, the Government is the reason why unhealthy high-fructose corn syrup is the sweetener of choice in American foods; subsidies for corn and artificially high pricing for sugar.

    Where you go. Covid showed us the Government can literally shut down your travel options at the drop of a hat. You also cannot board a plane* without going through TSA Security theater, where a power-tripping bureaucrat can wreck your travel plans with a scribble on your boarding pass.

    Where you live. The Biden administration is implementing new regulations that will require your neighborhood to accommodate the sort of people you chose your neighborhood to be away from.  There’s also the trendy progressive notion of “Urban growth boundaries” to further limit your choices.

    What job you choose. The Government is going all-in on DEI, which means that unless you are a member of a favored social group, you may not be able to succeed at the job of your choice.

    Where you go to church, or any other community activity in which you engage? Shall we ask Matt Houck about this one? Also a good chance to remind everyone, the Government shut down churches during Covid. I know people who met in secret on Sundays in the basements of churches with the curtains drawn.

    * Unless, like the SecTrans, you have unlimited access to private jets

    • #120
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