Living in the Hate of the Common People

 

Someone at a social media site, who I will not dignify with a link, wrote, “I think we need to find a way to stop the working class from voting altogether.”

This individual, who is in the UK and is obviously a furious anti-Brexiter, also wrote: “Idiots and racists shouldn’t be able to ruin the lives of people who do well in life by voting for things they don’t understand. The problem in this country boils down to low information morons having the ability to vote.”

The above attitude reminds me of something written by that great historian and social analyst Harry Flashman, describing how people of his aristocratic class viewed the workers of the Chartist movement, circa 1848:

You have no notion, today, how high feeling ran; the mill-folk were the enemy then, as though they were Frenchmen or Afghans.

There are people in the US who have similar views of politics, only with reference to Trump voters rather than to Brexit. Many Democrats, and especially ‘progressives’, assume and assert that Trump voters are ignorant people who are failing economically. It is difficult for them to credit that there are quite a few Trump voters who are educated and thoughtful, and who in some cases are quite successful in career/economics terms. If such people exist, it is assumed that they must either be an insignificant minority or devious malefactors who are manipulating the ignorant masses in their own self-interest.

An example of this attitude appeared on MSNBC back in August, with anchor Chris Hayes and Washington Post writer Dave Weigel avidly agreeing about the characteristics of Trump supporters (of whom they don’t approve) … men without a college degree who have enough income to buy a boat (Hayes qualifies it as white men). Personally, I tend to admire people who have managed to do ok or very well for themselves without the benefit of a college credential. (And anyone believing that a college degree necessarily implies that an individual has acquired a broad base of knowledge and thinking skills hasn’t been paying much attention of late.)

The snobbery we are seeing today is partly income-based. it is partly based on a faux-aristocratic contempt for people who work with their hands, and it is — more than any other single factor, I think — credential-based.

Indeed, education-based credentials seem increasingly to fill the social role once filled by family connections. In his outstanding autobiography, Tom Watson Jr. of IBM mentions that in his youth he was interested in a local girl, but her mother forbade her to have anything to do with him because he didn’t come from an Old Family. The fact that his father was the founder of IBM, already a successful and prominent company, evidently wasn’t a substitute. Such ‘really, not our sort’ thinking would today be more likely based on the college one attended than based on family lineage.

Those expressing such attitudes exist in the Democratic Party in parallel with those who talk about their great concern for Working People. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, for example, talked just recently about how physically tiring her work as a bartendress had been (I don’t doubt that this was so) and asserted that Republicans don’t tend to have any experience doing such jobs. Yet this same AOC posted a picture of her staring angrily at Joe Manchin–who one might think she would have considered as a possible ally on behalf of Working People–because he dared to question any Defund the Police policy. And this same AOC helped ensure that Amazon, with the jobs it would have brought for those Working People, was not made welcome in her district.

It appears that a lot of those to whom the we-care-about-working-people message is targeted aren’t believing it.

(I’m not fond of the term ‘working class’, by the way, it implies a fixed social structure and lack of mobility which is alien to American ideas. The fact that Class terminology has become so common is a worrisome indicator.)

Also, the columnist David Brooks, recently asserted that the problem with Rural Americans is that they have no contact with the Expert Class, which class he defines as journalists and academics. Brooks, evidently, believes that he has some form of meta-expertise that allows him to determine who all the other experts might be.

Just a couple of days ago, the newly-elected LA County district attorney, George Gascon, was confronted by a woman whose son had been tortured and murdered and who was understandably upset about Gascon’s go-easy-on-criminals policies. His response? “It’s unfortunate that some people do not have enough education to keep their mouth shut so we can talk.” Again, it’s the assumption of Education uber Alles as a metric of people’s assumed wisdom and their right to participate in the public dialog.

Fifty years ago, the writer and consultant Peter Drucker (himself of European origin) tried to warn Americans of some dangers involving education:

The most serious impact of the long years of schooling is, however, the “diploma curtain” between those with degrees and those without. It threatens to cut society in two for the first time in American history…By denying opportunity to those without higher education, we are denying access to contribution and performance to a large number of people of superior ability, intelligence, and capacity to achieve…I expect, within ten years or so, to see a proposal before one of our state legislatures or up for referendum to ban, on applications for employment, all questions related to educational status…I, for one, shall vote for this proposal if I can.

Drucker was particularly emphatic about the dangers of giving too much power and influence to the graduates of ‘elite’ educational institutions:

One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…

The US today has come a lot closer to accepting Grande Ecole status for HLS than it had when Drucker wrote the above.

Discuss, if so inclined.

(Classic song reference in the title)

An earlier version of this post appeared at Chicago Boyz; it has been updated to include the Brooks and Gascon references and the Drucker passages. See also my post, Drucker on Education, 1969, for additional education-related thoughts from this perceptive analyst and observer.

Published in General
This post was promoted to the Main Feed by a Ricochet Editor at the recommendation of Ricochet members. Like this post? Want to comment? Join Ricochet’s community of conservatives and be part of the conversation. Get your first month free.

There are 51 comments.

Become a member to join the conversation. Or sign in if you're already a member.
  1. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    David, I think you’re right on. Good job.

    I’ve always thought that the Right was the natural home of non-U’s (for reasons that I won’t go into here). Trump did a terrific job of making sure that non-U minorities and blue-collar workers of all kinds were welcome in the Republican party. We ought to keep pushing what he started. 

    I hope to see more posts on Ricochet on this topic. 

    • #1
  2. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    • #2
  3. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    David Foster: Also, the columnist David Brooks, recently asserted that the problem with Rural Americans is that they have no contact with the Expert Class…which class he defines as journalists and academics. Brooks, evidently, believes that he has some form of meta-expertise that allows him to determine who all the other experts might be.

    The more contact I have with the “expert” class, the less respect I have for them.

     

    • #3
  4. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male
    @MiffedWhiteMale

    David Foster: One thing it (modern society) cannot afford in education is the “elite institution” which has a monopoly on social standing, on prestige, and on the command positions in society and economy. Oxford and Cambridge are important reasons for the English brain drain. A main reason for the technology gap is the Grande Ecole such as the Ecole Polytechnique or the Ecole Normale. These elite institutions may do a magnificent job of education, but only their graduates normally get into the command positions. Only their faculties “matter.” This restricts and impoverishes the whole society…The Harvard Law School might like to be a Grande Ecole and to claim for its graduates a preferential position. But American society has never been willing to accept this claim…

    In his farewell speech where Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the Military-Industrial complex, he also warned of the dangers of a “scientific-technological elite”.

    Funny how only the part about the Military gets repeated.

     

    • #4
  5. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    Susan, you want to live a “moral and productive life”? Pshaw! I want to live a life in which my pleasure centers are massaged daily, over and over, night and day.

    Yes, I said “centers.” You see, science tells us that these centers are distributed almost randomly throughout the body. One is located at the bottom of one’s feet. Another is located in the lobes of one’s ears. They’re all over, especially, of course, in the obvious places. I want these attended to every day.

     

    • #5
  6. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    Chinese Communists in large numbers apply to these schools.

    The wrongly-based attention and assessment given by our elitist to our working class has totally distracted them from being able to see and understand the real threat to our society and our Constitutional Republic. First part of my response shows you what they fail to see.

    • #6
  7. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    The obvious reason for the increase in admissions is that a lot of not-quite-Ivy League-material high schoolers are paying attention. They know that the “elite” schools are a good ticket to high paying and influential jobs, and that those schools are facing a drought in “legacy” students because of COVID.

    Aha! Since there will be fewer “legacy” admissions, there will be more “commoners” accepted. Therefore, the ones who have rich-enough parents, but who would normally be facing the normal roadblocks, are taking their shot at getting onto a lifelong gravy train.

     

    • #7
  8. cirby Inactive
    cirby
    @cirby

    Miffed White Male (View Comment):

    In his farewell speech where Eisenhower warned of the dangers of the Military-Industrial complex, he also warned of the dangers of a “scientific-technological elite”.

    Funny how only the part about the Military gets repeated.

    In other variations of the same speech, Eisenhower referred to the Military-Industrial-Education Complex.

     

    • #8
  9. Bob W Member
    Bob W
    @WBob

    The white working class in America often voted with the Democrats, but it never gave them a permanent governing majority, and unlike the working class in many other countries, it never fell for socialism. The Democrat party has therefore given up on them, and one of the main tools of its agenda as it attempts to assemble a coalition of every other economic and racial group…a coalition which they hope will outnumber the white working class…is to continually demoralize them by endlessly asserting that all the things they love about America are really examples of America’s racism and their own. 

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

    I strongly recommend the Peter Drucker quotes on education that I linked here. Especially this:

    The central moral problem of the knowledge society will be the responsibility of the learned, the men of knowledge. Historically, the men of knowledge have not held power, at least not in the West. They were ornaments…But now knowledge has power. It controls access to opportunity and advancement. Scientists and scholars are no longer merely “on tap,” they are “on top.”…

    But power and wealth impose responsibility. The learned may have more knowledge than the rest of us, but learning rarely confers wisdom. It is, therefore, not surprising that the men of knowledge do not realize that they have to acquire responsibility fast. They are no different from any other group that ever before entered into power..They too believe that anyone who questions their motives must be either fool or villain, either “anti-intellectual” or “McCarthyite.” But the men of knowledge, too, will find out that power can be justified only through responsibility…

    It is highly probable that the next great wave of popular criticism, indignation, and revolt in the United States will be provoked by the arrogance of the learned.

    Drucker wrote the above in 1969, so the great wave of popular criticism, indignation, and revolt has taken a while to get going…also, I think our problem is less with the genuinely-learned than it is with he merely credentialed. (Although there are people who are genuinely knowledgeable in one field who assume a faux authority in other fields that they know little or nothing about)

    • #10
  11. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Wow, the two quotes from Gascon and Brooks simply blow me away. I think that these two bozos are not living in a “bubble” so much as an impenetrable “cone of ignorance” that effectively blocks all common sense.

    • #11
  12. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    David Foster (View Comment):
    But the men of knowledge, too, will find out that power can be justified only through responsibility…

    I’m not convinced that they will learn that. Nor will they be concerned with justifying their power. If they aren’t effective, they will blame those who don’t appreciate the benefits of their gifts–in other words, the rest of us–and demonstrate their arrogance even further.

    • #12
  13. Tex929rr Coolidge
    Tex929rr
    @Tex929rr

    This is an outstanding post, and is quite revealing about the origin of the rift between Never Trumpers and basically the rest of the free red America. It was always about much more than DJT. 

    The rift itself makes me feel more confident that there might still be a chance to save our Republic, and I regard that as a very close thing.

    If you remember when GW Bush was pushing immigration reform (actually immigration surrender) the huge grass roots revolt stopped him in his tracks. GOPe hasn’t quite figured out yet that the same thing is happening now. 

    • #13
  14. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    Wish that was true. But the connections of elite colleges pretty much guarantee those idiots manager job right out of college. The rest of us have to start at the bottom and work up while the elites rain crap and restrictions on us all the way.

    • #14
  15. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt
    @DougWatt

    Good post, thank you. In my opinion the current divide is not racial animus. It’s more of a class warfare divide. Having lived in Arizona in the Sonoran Desert area I placed my HVAC technician at the top of the essential job pyramid, both in the summer, and winter. I’m not disparaging good college professors, but when the temperature hits the high 90’s to the occasional run of 110 degree days on a consistent basis someone who has earned a doctorate in colonial imperialism gender studies was not on my speed dial list.

    When I spent some time on the shooting range for some recreation I never called Beto O’Rourke to get his opinion on how I was spending my day.

    • #15
  16. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    I don’t think it’s the education. It’s the social connections they make. 

    • #16
  17. CACrabtree Coolidge
    CACrabtree
    @CACrabtree

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    Chinese Communists in large numbers apply to these schools.

    The wrongly-based attention and assessment given by our elitist to our working class has totally distracted them from being able to see and understand the real threat to our society and our Constitutional Republic. First part of my response shows you what they fail to see.

    I don’t have any statistics but I doubt that the Chinese are enrolled in any programs such as “Gender Studies” which produce the “ideas” similiar to those espoused by Brooks and Gascon.

    I also suspect that there aren’t many “Uyghur Studies” programs in Chinese universities. Their focus seems to lay elsewhere.

    • #17
  18. Bob Thompson Member
    Bob Thompson
    @BobThompson

    CACrabtree (View Comment):

    Bob Thompson (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    Chinese Communists in large numbers apply to these schools.

    The wrongly-based attention and assessment given by our elitist to our working class has totally distracted them from being able to see and understand the real threat to our society and our Constitutional Republic. First part of my response shows you what they fail to see.

    I don’t have any statistics but I doubt that the Chinese are enrolled in any programs such as “Gender Studies” which produce the “ideas” similiar to those espoused by Brooks and Gascon.

    I also suspect that there aren’t many “Uyghur Studies” programs in Chinese universities. Their focus seems to lay elsewhere.

    Agree with what you say here but that doesn’t change anything I expressed before. These elite universities offer solid programs in technical fields. It is not beyond the realm of possibility that some Chinese communists might go into the softer programs for the contacts that facilitates. Think the anti-racists and BLM, those are not places for engineers necessarily. And recall that these elite universities have to put limits on the Asian entries in order to meet their other ethnic quotas and most of those denied are likely American citizens since the ChiComs can always throw more money at the problem for their applicants.

    • #18
  19. Susan Quinn Contributor
    Susan Quinn
    @SusanQuinn

    Django (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    I don’t think it’s the education. It’s the social connections they make.

    I didn’t say anything about connections. There was a time that an education helped us live a moral and productive life–unless you’re saying that making social connection is productive.

    • #19
  20. Django Member
    Django
    @Django

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    I don’t think it’s the education. It’s the social connections they make.

    I didn’t say anything about connections. There was a time that an education helped us live a moral and productive life–unless you’re saying that making social connection is productive.

    I didn’t attend an elite college, but I know and worked with some who did. Those connections made at their universities helped their careers quite a bit. 

    • #20
  21. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    Susan, you want to live a “moral and productive life”? Pshaw! I want to live a life in which my pleasure centers are massaged daily, over and over, night and day.

    Yes, I said “centers.” You see, science tells us that these centers are distributed almost randomly throughout the body. One is located at the bottom of one’s feet. Another is located in the lobes of one’s ears. They’re all over, especially, of course, in the obvious places. I want these attended to every day.

    Did your degree help?

    • #21
  22. Stad Coolidge
    Stad
    @Stad

    David Foster: Someone at a social media site, who I will not dignify with a link, wrote, “I think we need to find a way to stop the working class from voting altogether.”

    Coming soon to a country near you . . .

    • #22
  23. Fake John/Jane Galt Coolidge
    Fake John/Jane Galt
    @FakeJohnJaneGalt

    Django (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    Django (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    I don’t think it’s the education. It’s the social connections they make.

    I didn’t say anything about connections. There was a time that an education helped us live a moral and productive life–unless you’re saying that making social connection is productive.

    I didn’t attend an elite college, but I know and worked with some who did. Those connections made at their universities helped their careers quite a bit.

    I have worked in a few companies that were driven into the ground as the young Ivy Leagues get upper management jobs with absolutely no understanding of how business works. Even managed to get one fired when I demonstrated how his $5000 “cost savings” decisions was costing the company about a million dollars a year. Not sure he knew what hit him with my “county boy” backward logic.

    • #23
  24. Anon Member
    Anon
    @Anon

    What makes this chap in the UK think that if there was an intelligence threshold for voting that he’d qualify?

    • #24
  25. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Flicker (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    Susan, you want to live a “moral and productive life”? Pshaw! I want to live a life in which my pleasure centers are massaged daily, over and over, night and day.

    Yes, I said “centers.” You see, science tells us that these centers are distributed almost randomly throughout the body. One is located at the bottom of one’s feet. Another is located in the lobes of one’s ears. They’re all over, especially, of course, in the obvious places. I want these attended to every day.

    Did your degree help?

    Mais oui, Flicker. With the extra bucks that my degree added to my income, I was able to hire a pleasure center expert, who located another pleasure center for me, my outie belly button. Who would have thought? That little devil is ton of fun. 

    (Perhaps I’d better call it quits here. One more response and the moderators will be all over me like potato bugs on a potato.)

    • #25
  26. Basil Fawlty Member
    Basil Fawlty
    @BasilFawlty

    David Foster: Living in the Hate of the Common People

    A wonderfully ambiguous headline.

    • #26
  27. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Flicker (View Comment):

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Susan Quinn (View Comment):

    I just read that applications to elite colleges are up. Seriously? What is wrong with people? Those universities will charge them through the nose, for what–a worthless piece of paper that will not help them one bit in living a moral and productive life? Okay, I’m done. Good post, David.

    Susan, you want to live a “moral and productive life”? Pshaw! I want to live a life in which my pleasure centers are massaged daily, over and over, night and day.

    Yes, I said “centers.” You see, science tells us that these centers are distributed almost randomly throughout the body. One is located at the bottom of one’s feet. Another is located in the lobes of one’s ears. They’re all over, especially, of course, in the obvious places. I want these attended to every day.

    Did your degree help?

    Mais oui, Flicker. With the extra bucks that my degree added to my income, I was able to hire a pleasure center expert, who located another pleasure center for me, my outie belly button. Who would have thought? That little devil is ton of fun.

    (Perhaps I’d better call it quits here. One more response and the moderators will be all over me like potato bugs on a potato.)

    So you are one of the coddled elite.

    • #27
  28. KentForrester Moderator
    KentForrester
    @KentForrester

    Mr. Foster of the OP, if you’re listening in, my apologies. Flicker was feeling provocateur-ish and I was feeling whimsical. Note, however, that I earlier gave a straight response (#1) to your post. Flicker still owes you one.

    • #28
  29. Eridemus Coolidge
    Eridemus
    @Eridemus

    What amuses me about the prog former friends that have gotten more and more snobbish is how they have two odd inconsistencies I cannot fathom but seem invisible to them.

    A) They are conservative about having and demanding a strong work ethic from anyone (including students) under their authority, while they can’t see that this isn’t consistent with the takeover of life by government which they vote for. They also show a strong preference for personal associates having only upper middle class tastes and behaviors. In other words, they think they are “good people” because while they don’t want anything to do with “lower beings” personally, nor endorse slack tendencies holding such people back….they certainly want the distant infinitely funded government to “do something” about every social problem anyone can define, just as long as they are not personally being affected.

    B) All of the ones I know in the local elitist wannabe class have a fairly limited education beyond something social science related, yet they brag of their faith in “SCIENCE.” They have not a single course in chemistry, biology, physics, physiology, genetics, etc. and yet look down on those who have. It seems to not occur to them that majors in agronomy, various medical peripheral technologies, food science, and industrial, engineering, etc. related fields have had far more direct exposure in their studies. I would guess that machinists, industrial workers, designers, builders, and many other realms have applied more brain cells to physical problem solving than the self appointed elitists can even frame in their furry minds. And they don’t even appreciate this when calling for help when their autos break down or pets get sick. So the problem of whether those they would loom over should vote (unless getting a pass for minority credentials) makes no sense. It is a pure nasty power grabbing idea to continue operating with characteristic A).

    • #29
  30. Flicker Coolidge
    Flicker
    @Flicker

    KentForrester (View Comment):
    Pshaw! I want to live a life in which my pleasure centers are massaged daily, over and over, night and day.

    They’re all over, especially, of course, in the obvious places. I want these attended to every day.

    KentForrester (View Comment):

    Mr. Foster of the OP, if you’re listening in, my apologies. Flicker was feeling provocateur-ish and I was feeling whimsical. Note, however, that I earlier gave a straight response (#1) to your post. Flicker still owes you one.

    These aren’t puckish? They seem humourously meant to me. But very well, if an apology is due, I offer it. Oh, I see, I got the names Foster and Forrester mixed up. I’m sorry for the error and the distraction from the content of the OP.

    • #30