Saturday, May 17, 2008
The New Elites.
Pensemos si esto no seria aplicable a la Argentina, y preguntemonos quien vive en un "abstract world" desconociendo la geografia, mobilizandose en helicopteros, llamando a la soja un "yuyo", etc, mirando a las masas "with mingled scorn and aprehension" (sectores rurales?) y un largo etcetera, tambien aplicable a las Hillaries y Obamas de este mundo.
De Christopher Lash, The Revolt of the Elites and the Betrayal of Democracy, New York, 1995
"The new cognitive elite is made up of what Robert Reich called “symbolic analysts” — lawyers, academics, journalists, systems analysts, brokers, bankers, etc. These professionals traffic in information and manipulate words and numbers for a living. They live in an abstract world in which information and expertise are the most valuable commodities. Since the market for these assets is international, the privileged class is more concerned with the global system than with regional, national, or local communities. In fact, members of the new elite tend to be estranged from their communities and their fellow citizens. “They send their children to private schools, insure themselves against medical emergencies ... and hire private security guards to protect themselves against the mounting violence against them,” Lasch writes. “In effect, they have removed themselves from the common life.
As Lasch further explained: “[T]he new elites, the professional classes in particular, regard the masses with mingled scorn and apprehension.” They regard the values of “Middle America” as mere mindless patriotism, religious fundamentalism, racism, homophobia, and retrograde views of women. “Middle Americans, as they appear to the makers of educated opinion, are hopelessly shabby, unfashionable, and provincial, ill informed about changes in taste or intellectual trends, addicted to trashy novels of romance and adventure, and stupefied by prolonged exposure to television. They are at once absurd and vaguely menacing.” (28) “A skeptical, iconoclastic state of mind is one of the distinguishing characteristics of the knowledge classes.” (215)
“It’s not surprising, then, they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
Lasch sets himself against the ideology of progress ultimately because progress is incompatible with the idea of limits, either natural or moral. It therefore leads not just to silly forms of utopianism, but to dangerous ones as well. The petty bourgeoisie, Lasch believes, are or were inoculated by their experience against such perfectionism, at least in its secular forms. This is simultaneously an attraction of the philosophy of this class and a reason why its cultured detractors include those elites for whom the commitment to secular progress is essential because, in the Western intellectual tradition, progress is mobility.
Lasch stresses, however, the positive side of this petty-bourgeois project. In the place of progress, Lasch says, the lower-middle class traditionally embraced the virtue of hope, a virtue precisely because it arises out of a recognition of limits.