Monday, April 14, 2008

I Am a (Closet) Elitist!

It's time for a confession so I am coming out.

William Henry III says:
. . . .the simple fact that some people are better than others-smarter, harder working, more learned, more productive, harder to replace. Some ideas are better than others, some values more enduring, some works of art more universal. Some cultures, though we dare not say it, are more accomplished than others and therefore more worthy of study. Every corner of the human race may have something to contribute. That does not mean that all contributions are equal ... It is scarcely the same thing to put a man on the moon as to put a bone in your nose.
Yeah, I guess I'm down with all that, all except for art, which is in the eyes of the beholder.

I reserve the right to define what I mean by elites and elitism.

Elites are individuals who, by achievement and talent, have demonstrated a degree of mastery in their field of endeavor. In an open society, they should be raised to the top. In politics, this notion is also called a meritocracy, rule by the meritorious. The purest forum in which the meritorious are raised is of course in professional sports. In the athletic arena only the best players or best teams win.

In politics, merit is equated with leadership: A leader's greatness is predicated on his ability to govern a society so that its members are more successful in their struggle for existence, both when taken individually and collectively, than are the people of other countries. In open societies, selection is by elections involving campaigns. A good measure of leadership is indicated by effective campaigns.

As it happens, both in terms of sports and politics, the field is rarely level. There are always handicaps. Most prominently, inherited wealth creates advantages in education, training, expectations, etc. So that while all of us are created equal in the eyes of God, all of us are prepared differentially by society. Inherited wealth affords its benficiaries the inside track. Wealth buys the best education, the best training facilities, the best media resources and the best network of influential friends. When wealth determines all avenues to successful attainment of elite status, the polity or society is called an oligarchy. Oligarchical groupings in society are composed of members who believe they are entitled to elite status, not by individual achievement, but merely by membership in their advantaged class.

In my mind, Elitism is often used - too often used - as a pejorative term which is applied to the notion of group entitlement. It is misused as a synonym of oligarchy or aristocracy.

My use of the term elitism is more in line with the Jeffersonian theory of the ideal system of education. That was the meritocratic notion which involved sending the best students from all the grade schools around the state to the universities with the express intention, as Jefferson himself put it, of raking "twenty of the best geniuses from the rubbish annually."

In my use of the term, I believe in government by elite political leaders. As an American nationalist, I want my fellow countrymen to select and elect those among us who promise and offer the best in leadership and statesmanship.

After the last eight years of being ruled by Beavis and Butthead types, I want to see that Kennedy and Gore types get a chance to show their stuff.

That's why I'll be voting this year for someone who is, if anything, over-qualified to be President of the United States. And that's on Day 1.