Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Elite Or Effete?

A democracy is a government in the hands of men of low birth, no property, and vulgar employments. - Aristotle (384 - 322 BC)

The single most exciting thing you encounter in government is competence, because it's so rare. - Daniel Patrick Moynihan

A little disrespect is not a bad thing. Skepticism is essential to chasten what Walt Whitman called "the never-ending audacity of elected persons." But, carried too far, ridicule of the people we choose to govern us may undermine self government itself.
- Arthur Schlesinger (1917 -)

Conservative pundit Peggy Noonan recently published an article entitled Why so many of us resent the 'elites'.
It is worth a read regardless of your political persuasion.

Per Mr Google, the word 'elite' is taken originally from the Latin, eligere, "to elect".
In sociology as in general usage, the elite is a hypothetical group of relatively small size, that is dominant within a large society, having a privileged status perceived as being envied by others of a lower line of order.

The elite at the top of the social strata almost invariably puts it in a position of leadership, whether it be expected or volunteered, and often subjects the holders of elite status to pressure to maintain that leadership position as part of status.

In elite theory as developed by political scientists like Michael Parenti, all sufficiently large social groups will have some kind of elite group within them that actively participates in the group's political dynamics.

Meritocracy is a facet of society that tries to promote merit as a route to the elite.

Does it seem to you that folks who so casually dismiss 'elites' in government service are being just a tad disingenuous?
For example, which of the following would you prefer to NOT be elite?:

military personnel
public servants/elected officials/regulators
financial advisers
sports figures/entertainers

Maybe you would prefer people better defined as 'effete'?

Here, Mr Google suggests this particular word means 'having lost character, vitality, or strength', or
'marked by weakness or decadence', or 'soft or delicate from or as if from a pampered existence'

Examples: 'effete members of the aristocracy', or 'the soft, effete society that marked the final years of the Roman empire'

Origin of EFFETE is from the Latin 'effetus', from ex- + fetus fruitful
First Known Use: 1660

Synonyms: decadent, decayed, degenerate, overripe, washed-up

Thomas Jefferson’s letter to John Adams, dated October 28, 1813 contained this phrase:

There is also an artificial aristocracy founded on wealth and birth, without either virtue or talents; for with these it would belong to the first class. The natural aristocracy I consider as the most precious gift of nature for the instruction, the trusts, and government of society. And indeed it would have been inconsistent in creation to have formed man for the social state, and not to have provided virtue and wisdom enough to manage the concerns of the society. May we not even say that that form of government is the best which provides the most effectually for a pure selection of these natural aristoi into the offices of government?

Sounds like old TJ much preferred an aristocracy of the 'natural' kind, doesn't it?

Christine O'Donnell - who claims she's NOT a witch -has recently bragged about NOT going to Yale.
What is that about?

This article attempts to explain the strange 'Start Poor. Work Hard. Do Well. Be Hated Anyway' dynamic that we are hearing as campaign rhetoric these days:
Why do Americans resent upward mobility?

If there's one epithet the right-wing seems to never tire of, it's "elitism."
If you'd like hearing what the likes of Sarah Palin and John McCain have to say about this, check out this URL:
Elitist Nonsense

Elitism, it seems, is in the eye of the beholder.

"It is impossible to tell for certain the difference between genuine stupidity and a parody of stupidity."
- The General Case of Poe's Law