Monday, August 21, 2023

Going to the Roots: Elitism


Going to the Roots: Elitism

Peter Schultz


            Proposition: Political life is flawed, defective, unhealthy insofar as it elitist. Those who blame, e.g., capitalism, communism, socialism, the CIA, racism, sexism, the military-industrial complex, etc., don’t go deeply enough, aren’t radical enough, don’t get to the roots of political troubles. These phenomena are manifestations of elitism and, therefore, it is elitism that lies at the roots of political life and its deficiencies.


            Why might this be so? First, because every elite deems itself superior to the un-elite and, therefore, thinks it is entitled to dominate the other(s) and seeks to do so because doing so demonstrates or proves their superiority. In the minds of elitists, might and right go together. Of course, seeking dominance will, inevitably, create conflicts and the elites will be forced to coerce or repress the un-elites.


            Persuasion will not be sufficient to reconcile the un-elite to the dominance of the ruling elites because – and here is a second reason elitism lies at the roots of political troubles – every manifestation of elitism is based on lies. That is, the justifications offered by elites, any elite, are fabrications, illusions, noble lies that are without foundation in reality. Persuasion or consent based on lies will fail because, eventually, the truth will out; viz., the truth that the ruling elites cannot govern or rule the un-elite better than those others can govern or rule themselves. Elites, any elite, being human, will always look to their own welfare before or instead of looking after the welfare of others, especially of others thought to be inferiors. It isn’t only self-interest that leads them to do this; they do it because, thinking of themselves as superior, they are entitled to do it. Their superiority justifies their injustices towards others. They are superior beings, either in being god-like or in being the handmaidens of the gods or of God. And, so, all forms of elitism end up being unjust, repressive, or even oppressive.


            This is true of capitalism, communism, socialism, Christianity, Judaism, and Islam. It’s true of any ordered human society. It wouldn’t be true in a society of friends because in genuine friendships there are no superiors or inferiors. But then political life has very little in common with friendships.


            Because most Americans are convinced America is a or even the superior nation, they are among the most elitist people on the planet. And it is this elitism that makes the United States so dangerous, so deadly. It makes the United States, as MLK. Jr. put it, “the greatest purveyor of violence in the world.” He had come to see that what he had called “an American dream” was actually a nightmare that rained destruction and death throughout the world. And changing the elites that control the government in the US will not make the US less dangerous, less deadly. What’s needed is a critique of elitism in all its forms.


            But so long as presidents live in the White House – originally called “the President’s palace” – so long as Supreme Court Justices serve for good behavior, so long as congresspersons have no term limits, and so long as the wealthy and the powerful are lionized, no such critique, even if offered, would undermine America’s elitism. The American political order is elitist through and through. Therefore, so too is most thinking in the United States. As we are politically, so too are we intellectually. It’s the nature of we humans, who are political animals.

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