Tuesday, November 22, 2016

The blindness of the educated class

Via Isegoria (you do read him every day, don't you?  Thought so), there's this must-read by Giovanni Dannato on the blindness of the educated class:
... they never have reason to question what they were taught.  Their whole life is a progression from one sheltered safe zone to the next: grade school(in a “good” district) => college => job echo chamber full of others like them while living in an isolated suburb with people at the same income they make.  They can easily live their whole lives without having to interact with anyone from another caste so that’s what they assume the whole world is like even if it’s actually a very narrow slice.  They can never depart from their group consensus or they get exiled by the only group they’ve ever known. 
This sounds right - for example, it entirely explains the view of the Upper West Side towards "Flyover Country".  But there's an implication to this:
Almost invariably, those who are most in favor of ethnic minority interests are those who interact with them least.  Or at best, if they are activist/charity types they visit the ghettoes as virtue tourists, not as residents just trying to live.  They meet token minorities at work and at school and they model what other races are like based on these outliers.  More importantly, they never interact with other races when they are in the majority.  You don’t know anything about race until you’re the only white guy in the room.  It should be a civic requirement, actually, that everyone have that experience at least once to be in the ethnic minority in a situation like a job, where power matters and you’re not in charge.   The moment whites are in the minority, all the rules instantly change.  The token ethnic coworkers you thought were buddies change their personality like the flick of a switch once they can smell they rule the roost and only ever promote their own kind.  It’s one of the most eye-opening innocence-destroying experiences a sheltered educated person can have.  Once you’re along for the ride in an environment controlled by another people, all the fundamental differences between peoples are revealed.  As it happens, a deep sense of fair play, altruism, and sympathy for outgroups are almost uniquely Western European traits that more insular tribes can easily take advantage of.  4 years of college opened my eyes to the incredible entitlement of women and the evils of feminism but it wasn’t until I was out in the world on my own that I learned what race and ethnicity means in real life.  What any man who has worked jobs in mixed neighborhoods or been to prison knows well, those supposedly the best and brightest of us who make the big decisions are totally clueless about.
The one modification I would make to this is that it isn't really about race - it's about culture:
The quote for this [2008 - Borepatch] election season, if we're smart enough to listen, is about the post-Cold War economies:
Among the heaviest losers in this period of record-breaking economic growth and technological advance were the countries of the Communist Socialist bloc: the Soviet Union at the bottom of the barrel, Romania and North Korea almost as bad, and a range of satellite victims and emulators struggling to rise above the mess. Best off were probably Czechoslovkia and Hungary, with East Germany (the DDR) and Poland trailing behind. The striking feature of these command economies was the contradiction between system and pretensions on the one hand, performance on the other. The logic was impeccable: experts would plan, zealots would compete in zeal, technology would tame nature, labor would make free, the benefits would accrue to all. From each according to their ability; to each according to his deserts; and eventually, to each according to his needs.

The dream appealed to the victims and critics of capitalism, admittedly a most imperfect system - but as it turned out, far better than the alternatives. Hence the Marxist economies long enjoyed a willful credulous favor among radicals, liberals, and progressives in the advanced industrial nations;
The USSR and East Germany were run by whites, and their economy (and society) were terrible. It's not about race.  But history tells us that culture matters:
As a public service, here's something that you should read if you really want to make a liberal's head explode like the fembots in Austin Powers. Or understand why the world's economy is the way it is.  The Wealth and Poverty of Nations, by David Landes. The title is intentionally taken from Adam Smith, but Landes focuses less on describing economics per se, and more on the constraints that a society puts on their economy.

It traces the history of economic development over the last 1000 years, and asks some very politically incorrect questions:
  • Why did China, the world's richest and most powerful country in 1000 AD not only lose her lead, but lose it so badly that it was dismembered by the European (and later resurgent Japanese) powers?
  • Why did India, fabulously wealthy and populous, not conquor the west, rather than vice-versa?
  • Why did England, an undeveloped backwater as late as 1500 AD, ultimately lead the Industrial Revolution and become the world's most powerful country?
  • What explains the vast differences in economic development between the USA and Canada, and other New World countries? After all, in 1700, Mexico's GDP per capita was $450, not far short of the colonies' $490 (1985 dollars). In 1989, Mexico's GDP per capita was $3,500, vs. $18,300 for the USA.
These days, to ask these questions is to be accused by Upper West Side types of being racist.  That's a (likely intentional) mischaracterization: it's about the culture, stupid.

There's a wealth of challenges to the left's ideology in these posts: their comforting assumption that their opponents are uneducated, their comforting assumption that their opponents are racist (and so can be safely ignored), their comforting assumption that since opposition is about race not culture that there can be no principled opposition to unrestricted immigration from other cultures.

And most of all, their comforting assumption that their opponents should be discriminated against, whether by getting them fired from their jobs or by affirmative action giving jobs to someone else.

These are comfortable assumptions because they all allow the Upper West Side types to remain in their cocoon, avoid feeling bad about themselves for the economic distress they cause to much of society, and indeed indulge in an entirely undeserved feeling of smug superiority.  That, I suspect, is their true motivator: it's all Rich People's Leftism:
With this new approach in mind, let me contrast Rich People’s Leftism (RPL) with Poor People’s Leftism (PPL).

RPL thinks that its goal is to help poor people, while PPL thinks that RPL’s primary goal is to ensure that wealthy leftists dominate and get great jobs.

RPL favors equality and so rejects upward mobility. PPL favors upward mobility via capitalism, since it sees that “egalitarian” schemes never work and are really disguised hierarchies with wealthy leftists at the top.

RPL respects wealthy liberals for wanting to help the poor. PPL observes that these wealthy liberals ensure that they are well paid for what they do and prefers to support wealthy conservatives, who at least are honest about where they are coming from.
And this is where I depart from agreement with Mr. Dannato - his conclusion seems a bit utopian:
If the educated classes were no longer removed from reality, we would see a re-emergence of noblesse oblige, a sense of duty to society as a whole.  They would be aware of their superior intellect in a world defined by inequality but also understand how this entails their responsibility to guide the rest rather than throw all the biggest decisions to the ravening crowds.  They would understand themselves as the elites of a people rather than worker cog individuals.  Armed with this core concept, they would no longer form unholy alliances with foreign tribes against their own kin as they do now.  Their false pride and smug virtue posing would evaporate if only they had to test their beliefs against the world.
I don't see this - I see them not wanting to give up their bubble world because they are self-interested.  They want to continue with cheap inflated self-esteem, and they like the thrill of looking down on the "wrong sort" of people.  And so unfortunately I can't really agree that their intellect is superior - after all, the first duty of a proper intellectual is to challenge one's own assumptions.  I don't see any appetite for that, so there's no reason to expect the emergence of an enlightened sense of duty to society.

Still, this is an important read, so get on over and read it.


SiGraybeard said...

From just that last paragraph quoted from Mr. Dannato, I'd conclude he's not just a but utopian, but full blown member of the elite classes he otherwise points out the stupidity of. Reading his original piece, that conclusion paragraph seems out of place.

It is, indeed, about culture. Not just that one tiny island nation that gave us both Newton and Shakespeare, and almost subdued the world ("the sun never sets..."), but Western Europe in general. Contrary to what the intellectually blind class will tell you, all cultures are not the same and equally good. Some cultures clearly produce better results than others.

I believe from the summaries I've seen that there's no such thing as "race" as a biological construct. That means only your culture, which is to say your behavior, which is in your power to change, holds you back. I'm also told only white people say that.

Cecil Henry said...

No. It is about race. There are so many studies on IQ, ethnic behavior, and historical precedent to show that.

Culture is downstream from race. Race is not everything, but it is fundamental and non negotiable. WE must stop the lying.

Able said...

You 'do' bring up such interesting topics, don't you?

Hmm, as someone who has spent the majority of his life travelling to exotic locales (on HM's dime, well penny, so usually the grubbiest, most flea-bitten and violent – and usually acquiring scars or ballistic body-piercings along the way?) I have observed, and remain of the opinion, that it's 'both' race 'and' culture.

But, what race, and what culture? Neither is ever a monolithic, perfectly identified and delineated structure. Go to Africa and even within (ostensibly) the same racial and cultural populations you will see significant variations in basic beliefs, 'industry', and even ethics and morals. The same can be seen also in my home Septic Isle with (regional, local and even familial) 'sub-cultures' actually defining behaviours more thoroughly than either race (which often decides the 'expression') or the wider culture (defining 'limits' of which 'some' may be common, since it is the commonalities that define the culture). (I've said it before, but I and mine share more 'basic' beliefs with your 'flyover' residents than with my own countries 'elites' despite our alleged common culture)

And isn't that exactly what he has identified in the RPL and PPL discrepancies? Competing sub-cultures.

I do think you're misinterpreting their 'motives' though. They aren't acting so “self-interested” because they are 'malignant', they are doing so because 'they actually believe' that they are 'right' to do so. They aren't psychopaths committing evil whilst knowing it is such and not caring, they're malignant narcissists who have persuaded (even to rewriting facts to fit the narrative) themselves (their entire upbringing within their sub-culture indoctrinates them from birth) so thoroughly that what they do is right, that they really do believe it. They don't enjoy feeling superior, they simply believe unquestionably that they 'are'.

That in itself isn't fatal, look to the 'aristocratic' traditions of Victorian England with it's 'superior' yet moral and philanthropic 'paternalistic' feeling towards the 'lower sorts' and how it … well, 'worked' (and it's 'their' culture that gave us the modern world). The current fatality is due to the marriage of this superior 'Platonic Philosopher King' attitude with the (pretence, and it has never been anything else) of 'collectivism'. Whilst mercenary self-interest of a 'ruling class' is survivable the (communist/fascist) desire to own, control and micromanage 'every' aspect of those they deem 'lesser' is not.

It's not that they're 'elitists', it's that they are left-wing elitists that is the issue – and no, they will never willingly give up what they believe is their birth-right. They are the personification of C. S. Lewis' tyranny.

(and before anyone asks, I’m a small C conservative – go figure!)

Borepatch said...

Able, great comment. However, I'd like to reply to this:

I do think you're misinterpreting their 'motives' though. They aren't acting so “self-interested” because they are 'malignant', they are doing so because 'they actually believe' that they are 'right' to do so. They aren't psychopaths committing evil whilst knowing it is such and not caring, they're malignant narcissists who have persuaded (even to rewriting facts to fit the narrative) themselves (their entire upbringing within their sub-culture indoctrinates them from birth) so thoroughly that what they do is right, that they really do believe it. They don't enjoy feeling superior, they simply believe unquestionably that they 'are'.

There is a psychic reward for doing what you believe is right, as you point out with the C.S. Lewis comment. The self-interested bit is being unwilling to give up that reward.

Plus, they've been getting richer off of the policies that are immiserating the rest of the country. They feel smug while they act in their own self interest. Not nice.

Minecraft Chuck said...

There is race, and there is culture. They both exist, and they are interrelated. Here in the United States, race is a shorthand for culture, because the overwhelming majority if blacks (race) share a similar culture, one almost defined as being different from the majority white (race) culture. No race is monolithic, of course. See, for example, the left-right split in American whites. But even there, the two groups still share many cultural assumptions that are foreign to the majority of blacks.

Then there are the Latinos, or whatever we're calling them this week. They are different races, sharing a predominant culture. The point is that they do not share our culture. And, if course, there are many different Latin-American societies, from high class (white) Mexicans to the indigenous Indian tribes which check are still fighting against the people invading their lands.

In addition to race and culture, there are words. It's simply easier, especially in America, to talk about black, white, Latino, Asian, American Indian, other. Devolving into details of specific subcultures is a tedious, unnecessary waste of time. Thus, the 'conversations on race'.

And if you don't believe that race exists, you have never seen people. To deny that human races exist is to deny the difference between a Watusi and a Finn. Just as well do deny the differences between a Dachshund and a Great Dane - after all, they are genetically indistinguishable, so they must be identical, no?

And the language works that way - our not so distant ancestors talked about the English race, and the French race, and the German race, etc. Race is another word for culture and blood ties.

burt said...

It isn't race or culture: it's unreasoning, unjustified, blind hatred, and is almost always passed down from parent to child. Watch two kids playing, one X and one Y. They usually don't give a damn about one being X and one being Y. They get along fine. It's the *PARENTS* who poison those relationships.

Someday, when I have the courage, I'll tell you what it was like to grow up in the late '50s and mid '60s in a small town in northern NJ where I was the only X in the school system (yes, from K thru at least 10), and everyone else - EVERYONE, including the teachers, administration and parents - was either Y or supported Y.

Some of my experiences were horrifying examples of psychological terrorism conducted by the children, *condoned and approved* by the teachers and administrators (including a "career counselor" who told me that I should just give up and get a job digging ditches because "nobody will ever hire you - you'll never amount to anything" - THIS REALLY HAPPENED).

Some people say that high school was one of the best times of their lives, and that they still have friends that they keep in touch with. In all seriousness, I'm happy for them: it's good to feel "connected" to others.

For me: no such luck. High school was the absolute worst time in my life. I have *ZERO* friends that I kept in touch with because I had NONE. I have NEVER gone to a reunion. Wyy? Who would I "reunion" with?

It wasn't culture. And it wasn't race. It was only because I was X and they were Y.

Yes, it still hurts. But I forgave them a long time ago and, in truth, I put them out of my mind completely until I read the OP and some of the comments.

Today, I have a reasonably wide circle of friends who respect me for who and what I am, and I respect them for who and what they are. We get together fairly often just because we like each others' company. And we kid around with each other, knowing that it's all based on the fact we like each other and know it's ok to kid around with each other.

And none of us cares about X or Y - or any other such juvenile crap.

Able said...


Granted, but I never said they were 'nice'. I'd rather live next-door to a homicidal sociopath than have the slightest dealings with a malignant narcissist any day of the week. I suppose I was opining on the fact that they are actually 'worse' than you implied.


I had to laugh. The divisions within those supposedly monolithic (as seen from outside them) races/cultures are often far more extreme and/or violent than any between races/cultures (call a Sami a Finn, or worse Swedish, or a Yorkshireman a Cumbrian, or worse a Lancastrian, and prepare for blood, and those are culturally restrained as compared to most). The shorthand of defining diverse, often antagonistic, groups as one is … well, simply an easy way of saying “whoever they are, they aren't us”, no?


I empathise, but what you experienced is, unfortunately, 'normal'. You were the 'other', 'not one of us', no? I recently returned (to a country I haven't spent more than months in in 30+ years) and settled in rural Northern England (I'm a Reiver after all) and despite being definitively from the same 'race' and culture, and an almost identical sub-culture (from less than a hundred miles away), I have repeatedly been 'othered' here. (You know the type of area where you're an outsider even ten years later because everybody elses grandfather went to school with their grandfather). As someone who attended a score of schools, and who has never worked in one area/posting long enough to settle anywhere, as the perpetual outsider I've observed that, except for the rarest 'elites', if an outsider isn't available they target 'someone', anyone' (too fat, too thin, too clever, too stupid, red hair, blonde, …). You were just 'easy', 'obvious' and available (and because you were so easily identifiable as such you probably experienced more, and worse, than most). It wasn't 'personal' it's just 'what they do'.

It doesn't say very nice things about us as a species I admit, nor is it anything but horrifying for the individual excluded, but it must have some benefit for 'the tribe' practising it.

And that's the point, we may like to pretend some moral superiority with an 'overarching' (national) culture superseding all others so as to cooperate, but those underlying tribal/familial preferences have always remained.

Our (high trust) cultures have succeeded precisely because we were able to overcome (to some limited extent) the tribal/familial preference with an overarching (national) one. These 'elites' are so harmful, not because they enrich themselves or covet and hoard power, but because they are undermining the very fabric of what made our cultures superior. They have reverted, explicitly, to a 'look after us and screw the rest' mentality. (e.g. laws for the 'little people' specifically excluding 'them'?)

Oh, and I console myself on past 'experiences' of othering by visiting them now decades later and seeing my 'tormentors', still members of the 'in' crowd, have been nowhere, done and achieved nothing. They were automatically 'accepted' so they had no need to seek and aspire (I, of course, do note gloat 'too openly' at the pot-bellies, debts, failures, etc. - well much anyway). Well, that and the fact that every one of the hated schools has either been torn down or converted into apartments of course, that helps too.

Borepatch said...

Shorter Borepatch: Culture swamps race in determining outcomes.