Glenn Reynolds observes that the pseudo-intellectual community of fashion is not really worthy of being described as an elite.
Forget cultural insularity or smugness. The main problem with the â€œnew eliteâ€ is that theyâ€™re not an elite at all. That is, they arenâ€™t particularly smart, or competent. They are credentialed, but those credentials arenâ€™t so much markers for smartness or competence, or even basic education, as they are admission tickets to the Gentry Class, based on good standardized test scores. Thatâ€™s fine â€” ETS was berry, berry good to me â€” but it doesnâ€™t have much to do with ability to succeed, or lead, in the real world. Worse yet, it seems to have fostered a sense of entitlement.
UPDATE: A reader emails:
Very long-time reader and first time emailer. Just my two cents on the elitists.
I am an elite anti-elitist Tea Partier and I made my first protest signs way back in March 2009. Iâ€™m a Yale [BA, Philosophy], Columbia [MA, International Affairs] former Wall Street trader and risk manager who is just about done getting another masters [in Library and Information Science] during a two-year â€œJohn Galtâ€ sabbatical from work. Iâ€™ve met many, many Tea Partiers at this point and they are not anti-elitist in a general, superficial sense. Indeed, they most often admire those who have succeeded by dint of a good education or hard work or taking advantage of a bit of good luck. The subset of elitists that we are fed up with are the ones in the government, the media, and academia who think (erroneously) that they know better what we should be doing with our time every day and have the right to pick our pockets to fund it. Not only are we tired of being condescended to (and take my word for it, I could wipe the floor with most of them intellectually) but theyâ€™re obviously screwing everything up. So, to borrow Lee Harrisâ€™ word from his new book, weâ€™re the â€œorneryâ€ bastards who, from time to time, rise up to put the elite (and effete) corps of impudent snobs back in their place.
Places like Yale and Columbia (both of which I attended myself) are actually full of people with less than all that exciting SAT scores, who were really simply adequately professional performers of routine academic tasks. The lumpen Ivy League graduate tends to be sufficiently skilled in the rapid assimilation of cultural trivia and the manipulation of symbols and ideas to earn a comfortable place in the establishment community. But people of this sort are typically not genuinely intellectual, not well educated, and utterly and completely incapable of independent critical thought.
Members in good standing of the liberal community of fashion obtain all their ideas and opinions off the rack from the establishment media. They care deeply about politics because a strong commitment to fashionably leftwing politics is just like the right address, clothing, personal accessories, and automobile, a key class identifier.
Bad, stupid, and unfashionable people vote Republican, own guns, and remain committed to old-fashioned forms of conventional religion, just as Barack Obama observed aloud during the 2008 campaign. There is obviously something fundamentally defective about them. People who are chic, intelligent, and sophisticated, or at least who think they are, vote faithfully for liberal democrats and subscribe to a body of opinion simultaneously embracing Pacifism, Puritanism much modified by Epicureanism, and secularist Socialism.
The conservative critique of liberal political theory, liberal foreign policy, liberal economics, and liberal notions of environmental catastrophism is actually infinitely more substantive and serious, but conservatives are always being dismissed as stupid for failing to recognize that the smart people are the ones clever enough to identify the correct opinions and alert enough to the advantages of being aligned with the establishment.
Hat tip to Bird Dog.