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I’m an elitist.

September 21, 2008

There’s no shame in it, on the contrary, everyone should be be one.

Some are probably reading this and thinking to themselves “See, I told ‘cha, that thar lib-uh-rul even admits to it!” The problem is that people no longer know what ‘elitist’ means. It has many ways of being interpreted, but some relate to ideas that are, or are close to being, antiquated in the US. There seems to be some confusion about the modern concept, attributing one or two of the connotations of elitism that no longer fit the modern idea of elitism. I can understand the confusion, but when the word is being bandied about as an insult, much as liberal had been, we need to get a grasp on what the word really means to prevent it from being redefined by those who mean it ill.

The Roman Empire was elitist, but in the social notion. Social and financial status decided who the elite were, creating somewhat of a caste system. India has a caste system, with the ruling class being from certain social strata, although they are taking measures to evolve the system into extinction. Although the United States has had much experience with social elitism, the nation was founded upon concepts to shed many elements of the social elitism problems inherent in a monarchical system of rule. It’s true that for half of our history (and more in the South) whites were the social class that ruled, with no chance of minorities being able to break through the social chains that bound them. We’ve made progress though, and with a minority the presidential nominee of his major political party, it could be argued that a chapter in social elitism has finally perished in the US.

Social elitism is a curse on humanity, and nothing good comes of predefined roles of predefined groups. But I’m not a social elitist–I’m an intellectual elitist. Not that I’m one that should rule, or that I consider myself of the intellectual level to be able to rule–I’m probably far from that capability. I believe that the intellectual elite should be our elected officials. That’s the type of elitism that I believe in.

Now, what does elitism really mean?

Elitism means to favor the rule by a particular group.

What group should be chosen?

It’s not a number of people that necessarily already are part of an existent group, but rather individuals that should be voted in, thus creating the ‘group’.

What would intellectual elitism be?

It would be favoring rule by a group that exhibits superior intellectual capability.

What individuals should be elected?

Those that exhibit intellectual prowess through education, industry, military, or academics. Whether they were born in a gutter, or to a wealthy family should be no matter. Men and women who are of a special intellectual ability are easily marked by certain distinction. Not those distinctions of profit or celebrity, but of successful innovation, extremely high regard among other academics, uncommon educational attainment, and/or military management and tactical prowess at the highest ranks. These attributes are not bestowed so much as earned through the use of superior intellect.

We should seek out the candidates that exhibit these qualities, and promote them to the best of our ability. There are too many shallow thinkers using lowest common denominator tactics to manipulate the electorate into basing their vote on fear, or upon ideals that sound wonderful, but lack any inherent role in governance.

For Congress, shouldn’t we seek out and elect those that we believe can best dissect large issues and create solutions worthy of a great society? For President, should we elect those that are of such intellectual capability that they will assuredly make sound judgements and surround themselves with other intellectual giants? Of course we should. Nothing against ‘the common man’, but the common man is that for a reason, and we know that representing hundreds of thousands of people, or in the case of the Presidency, hundreds of millions, is not a task for a common man.

We need intellectual elitism in this country. The Founding Fathers were a group comprised of intellectual giants that created this great nation. They relied on reason to form their opinions, and philosophical discourse to form their agreements. Thomas Jefferson, Benjamin Franklin, John Adams, James Madison, George Mason, George Washington, among a cast of other greats, were the intellectual elite. These are men who structured a system that not only thrives, but has become the most dominant in the world. It should be the intellectual elite that we seek out to ensure the continued greatness of the Founding Father’s experiment, anything less would be foolhardy.

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2 comments

  1. Your ideas are both historical and ahistorical.

    Your entire post is based on a presupposed ideological position or rationalization of human society: the nation-state.

    An intellectual elite would know this. An intellectual elite would know that the “founding fathers” did not by any stretch of the imagination “create this great nation.” They formed a State that was in turn premised on the bourgeois rhetoric of “natural rights.” The American Revolution, like the French, was not about “America,” it was about the social organization of wealth and property. The idea of “America” came much later, and according to the many voices frequently suppressed by the official narrative of American history, the nation has not been very great.

    An intellectual elite would know, in turn, that the tropes of “freedom” and “democracy” are untenable in the modern world of nation-states and global capital — a world formed by those “founding fathers” who expressed profound lack of faith in “the masses” and converted that lack of faith into oppressive political institutions. An intellectual elite can readily perceive, then, that your discussion of congress and candidates is a hegemonic discourse designed to sustain the illusions of American mythology: democracy, land of opportunity, land of the free, free market, equal representation, etc.

    I agree with your most basic thesis: that it is good to be an elitist, and to be an intellectual. Intellectualism and original thought are lost arts and values in the American public sphere.

    But I disagree that YOU are an elitist.


  2. I think you may have read more into my post than I meant, but it’s always good hearing other views.



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