America's ruling class?!

Discussion in 'Politics & Law' started by SmilinSilhouette, Jul 19, 2010.

  1. SmilinSilhouette

    SmilinSilhouette Registered Member

  2. SmilinSilhouette

    SmilinSilhouette Registered Member

    Quote: "And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class."

    "No prominent Republican challenged the ruling class's continued claim of superior insight, nor its denigration of the American people as irritable children who must learn their place. The Republican Party did not disparage the ruling class, because most of its officials are or would like to be part of it."

    I hope this will encourage you to read this long article and make a comment :)
  3. SmilinSilhouette

    SmilinSilhouette Registered Member

  4. qweerblue

    qweerblue Registered Member

    Hahahaha, poor EssEss--how come no one would play with you here?

    I think this Codevilla piece could provide a great way to take a look at our country. I've been a disaffected Democrat for as long as I can recall, and so it didn't rile me up as much as it made me curious, this notion that Democratic politicians are somehow the ruling class's prime legitimate representatives. Maybe it'd be fun to kind of move through the article in chunks, deconstructing it as we go, to see if it really does stand up to close scrutiny and deep discussion.

    So, in our brief discussion of the article in the GE thread, I mentioned that while Codevilla definitely got me thinking, I was troubled by some of what feels like "truthiness" in his article.

    For example, this passage:

    And in fact Republican and Democratic office holders and their retinues show a similar presumption to dominate and fewer differences in tastes, habits, opinions, and sources of income among one another than between both and the rest of the country. They think, look, and act as a class.

    What's Codevilla saying here? That office-holders have more in common with each other, regardless of party, than they do with US citizens? I can buy that, but what do you think he bases that on? Is it one of those things that just "feels" true? And "retinue" means entourage or following, right? So, who is that?

    And then there is this passage:

    Never has there been so little diversity within America's upper crust. Always, in America as elsewhere, some people have been wealthier and more powerful than others. But until our own time America's upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another. Few had much contact with government, and "bureaucrat" was a dirty word for all. So was "social engineering." Nor had the schools and universities that formed yesterday's upper crust imposed a single orthodoxy about the origins of man, about American history, and about how America should be governed. All that has changed.

    I wonder--is it really true that there has never been so little diversity in our upper crust? And I also am not sure how I feel about the argument that schools and universities have any more of a uniform orthodoxy about the origins of man, American history, and how America should be governed now than they once did. When? And how is that measured? Where does Codevilla get this information? Or is he just saying things that seem true and so we accept them? I mean, he could very well be right, but I'd like to know upon what he bases these assertions.
  5. SmilinSilhouette

    SmilinSilhouette Registered Member

    Hahaha, I've been a disaffected republican for so long I don't even call myself a republican any more. That is why I am proud to be a conservative/libertarian.

    I think that code Codevilla expresses an opinion. One that does not require citation or reference. It can not be proved to be true or false, for it is a perspective. That does not mean we can not discuss and debate the merits, or lack thereof, of his assertions.

    So I really don't know what to say about "truthiness". I can tell you that I agree that the ruling class, republican or democrat, have far more in common with each other than they do with me. I can also agree that our institutes of "higher" learning also preach the same sermon. Growing up in a college town I have seen firsthand the liberal indoctrination that is peddled as education. It reminds me of the sixties protest song about little boxes and everyone being the same.

    And I see this attitude reflected in my indoctrinated, oops I mean educated, friends. They can not understand any perspective that differs from what they were taught and look down upon others as stupid if they do not regurgitate the liberal blather they learned in their school. I always wondered why my parents were so backward and stupid. They ran their own business and provided for our family, yet were considered second class citizens in our college educated community.
  6. qweerblue

    qweerblue Registered Member

    Hahaha, well, you probably won't like this, then, but in the way you describe Codevilla's piece, he is rather like Michael Moore, or at least as Moore's detractors describe him. It is said about Moore that he weaves together a coherent narrative that is peppered with facts and anecdotes but held together with something akin to truthiness--it just "feels" true and right, at least to those who see the world and our country the same way as does Moore. To other folks, including you, I believe, he is seen as a stain on humanity.

    As far as this uniform education system that Codevilla speaks of, I really just am not sure that (1) It exists or (2) That it hasn't always existed. One one hand, I understand the elitism and snobbery you're talking about--I was raised working-class, and we sometimes fell from the edge of working-class right into being poor. When I would visit Ann Arbor as a teenager, and even living here now, as an adult, I can sometimes feel my out-of-place-ishness. Even though I'm educated, there are certain things ingrained in me, I suppose, and I think these Ann Arbor folk can sniff the working class on me... Conversely, when I lived in Ypsilanti and attended Eastern, I didn't feel any of that judgement or criticism. Also, having known folks who attended a wide variety of schools, from UM, to State, to Eastern, to Western, to Stanford, to Antioch, to Boston University, to Yale, to Brown, to community colleges, etc, etc, I really, really am not sure about this whole single orthodoxy thing. I remember being stunned at the wide variety of differences between my own education and that at the more elite schools. And, well, most college students do not attend those elite schools, you know? At the same time, I think, ever since our education system began, there has been a drive toward standardization; perhaps our standards are different now than they once were, but I am of the mind that this striving for a singular orthodoxy has always existed and that it reached various levels of achievement at different times in our history.

    Further, I find it interesting for Codevilla to argue that our upper crust has so little diversity and that our education system has reached some new level of singular orthodoxy, when the influx of people of color and of women and of poor people into colleges/universities, and even into the upper crust, somewhat, surely has changed the shape of those landscapes from the homogenous arenas they were previously. And I get it--I'm sure Codevilla would argue that Black, brown, female, queer, if they're in the upper crust, they're more like each other, regardless of ethnicity, sex, or sexual orientation, than they are like the rest of "us", and I am willing to believe there's some truth in that, but... Huh.

    It is my understanding that since the 1980s, the university has been under attack for allegedly being controlled by radicals and for its adherence to some sort of political correctness. I can tell you that as a history major who actually studied historiography, history, as a field, has opened up, not closed down into a singular orthodoxy. History used to be taught as a collection of Grand Themes, as declines and falls of empires, as the achievements of Great Men and Women ... It was once a much more standardized curriculum than it is now, SS. Now, we are exposed to those same themes, but also to "history from below", which is much more difficult to tame and shove inside a box. Further, because of the influx of women's studies, Black studies, labor studies, queer studies, deconstructionism, post-structuralism, and a whole slew of other -isms, students, more than ever, are able to shape and tailor their educations in ways never before possible. I mean, students can study Superman and comic books now right alongside Shakespeare, you know?

    Anyway. As I said, I am with Codevilla on some of his points, and I plan on studying his piece further, but I think he makes some generalizations that are difficult to prove and that fly in the face of my own experiences.
  7. SmilinSilhouette

    SmilinSilhouette Registered Member

    I think you provide some great examples of the liberal orthodoxy in education. Now our diploma printing industry gives degrees to show up! Come on in, bring your money, govt funding, and loans. You can get a degree here if we have to make watching porn and reading comic books into college level courses. Wouldn't you agree QB, that there is a definite liberal environment on university campuses? Would you agree that most in academia have liberal values?

    You made a point in another thread about how you find it amazing how lower income people can support tax cuts for the rich. In that same light, I also wonder how lower income people can continue to support liberal ideas that continue to fail to deliver what is promised. How long and how much has been spent on a "war on poverty" yet at every turn we are told how people have it so bad and will be starved if we don't take more from the "rich"?

    The simple truthiness of the whole matter is that the ruling class continues to make promises that it can't or won't keep in order to keep power over the country class. We see this played out on a daily basis with the budget. It is like pro wrastling seeing the repubs & democrats act like they are really fighting it out when they both are part of the same organization. Last October repubs promise $100bn in cuts if elected, then it gets whittled down to $68bn, and then $38bn when the deal is struck. Meanwhile they spent $1,600,000,000,000.00 more than they have (which is a lot) over that same fiscal year? It seems like a bad joke.
  8. Kazmarov

    Kazmarov For a Free Scotland

    [​IMG] Champagne Glass Distribution of Wealth Graphic Sociology

    Pretty simple. There's a ruling class that certain people are mad at, and other people get appropriated by to get mad at unions, the President, and politicians in fancy suits who serve the top 1%.

    EDIT: This is a world graphic. In the US it's slightly less skewed.
    Last edited: Apr 19, 2011
  9. SmilinSilhouette

    SmilinSilhouette Registered Member

    @ Kaz: I hope you will take the time to read the article. This isn't about wealth, it is about the accumulation and centralization of power. I would be very interested in your thoughts about Codevilla's essay.
  10. qweerblue

    qweerblue Registered Member

    I think there are many valid criticisms to be made about the state of higher education in the US, including falling standards. However, I find the argument that it is liberal orthodoxy that has somehow gotten a stranglehold on education to actually be rooted in the kind of elitism you decry. Allowing students to study popular culture as part of their curriculum makes sense and helps produce students who can analyze the world around them in a thoughtful, savvy manner. Classes that incorporate modern literature, such as comic books and graphic novels, and that include studies of sex and pornography are rooted in the culture that surrounds us all. Why shouldn't students who are interested be allowed to analyze these cultural products in a scholarly manner? There is no school in the US that awards degrees to students who only study porn or read comic books--those are minor facets of a much larger curriculum.

    The guardians of higher education howl about how students are no longer forced to only read "the classics" and they snidely and condescendingly refer to popular culture as something not worthy of studying. That's elitism, honey. Prior to the 1960s, students who studied history learned only about white men and their great deeds. As people began to press for more attention to be paid to the parts played by women, people of color, and poor and working-class people in history, this criticism of education being too "liberal" began to really take root. If I were conservative, I would take offense to the notion that only liberals and progressives are interested in seeing our curriculum expanded to incorporate the actions of those other than white men.

    As far as whether or not I think most in academia have liberal values, I know that's an accusation that gets thrown around a lot, but it doesn't mirror my experience in higher education. I had to suffer through many semesters of stewing quietly in my seat while professors demeaned things like socialism and delivered worshipful sermons on the wonders of capitalism, for instance. Of course, I learned to stew quietly because I was often a minority in those classes, and no one had any respect for my opinions. That's not to say that I didn't eventually find my way toward professors whose take on things more closely mirrored my own, but, as I said, there were plenty of professors and students who had ideas that were completely antithetical to my own. I'm glad for my chance to hear the other side, as it helped me hone my own ideas more sharply, and I would hope that conservative students feel the same way.

    On this, I mostly agree with you. I find the Democratic Party, save for a few members, to be a complete abomination. I see scant difference in the actions of Republicans and Democrats, and I think it's a depressing, infuriating joke that we pretend to have a two-party system.

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