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John Adams Blog

The blog of The Antient and Honourable John Adams Society, Minnesota's Conservative Debating Society www.johnadamssociety.org

Monday, August 29, 2005

American Faux Elitism

Chris makes some interesting points on coffee and cliches which are all undercut by his confession that he is an elitist. At some point, I look forward to him (not me) writing a book titled, "Confessions of an Elitist." I thought I should publish some thoughts since my earlier work has been temporarily suppressed for hopeful publication in the Star Tribune. . .

Quite frankly, I hate American elitism more than British elitism -- at least British elitism is rooted in its history and authentic. American elitism is ahistorical and delusional.

British society has been and is based (but to a lesser degree than in the past) on the landed gentry, including the Royal Family, and their rights and privileges. Centuries in the making, British elitism puts the nobles above the people. It is elitism. Elitism is vibrant in modern Britain.

American society is founded on a Creed -- the Declaration of Independence -- and related documents. Inherent in that Creed is an egalatarianism of sorts -- that is we are all equal before God. Just as we were rejecting King George III, we were also rejecting British elitism and the landed gentry system.

America has never had an elite -- only pretenders. Americans who claim to be elites have no claims similar to the British nobles. They are frauds. That is why America is a populist country.

Finally, many arrogant Americans use where they went to college as a proxy for elitism. The argument goes something like this, "If you graduated from Harvard or Yale, you are an elite." It's a stupid argument. Graduating from Harvard is nothing like being the Duke of York. Three points. First, Harvard charges for its education, so graduates have loans to pay back. The Duke of York gets all the land, income and privileges without loans. Second, there is more prestige in being a noble than being a graduate from anywhere. In fact, the royalty I met at Harvard knew that. Third, last I checked, graduates of Harvard and Yale can't even automatically get their children admitted there. "Elites" who do not have the power to deliver for their children are, well, not elites.

As to the American view on America's faux elites, I think it's generally one of tolerance and amusement. America's faux elites are great only in their own minds. Harmless really. After all, America is a populist nation -- a melting pot of different cultures, religions and ethnicities. How else could we get along so grandly?

Blogger Harsh Pencil said...

SSC writes

"Elites who do not have the power to deliver for their children are, well, not elites."

Well, they're not if you define "elite" to be the same thing as "hereditary elite." I don't, nor do I think that's that the common or correct use of the term in America. Anti-elitism in Europe may mean not granting special privileges to inbred simpletons who happen to have been to the manor born. In America, those claiming to be against elitism are usually just against making distinctions. It's considered elitist to think there's a difference between stupid and smart, knowledgeable and ignorant, or even ugly and beautiful. It's elitist to want to have special classes for the smart kids so they aren't held behind by the less gifted. It's elitist to think a high school student should know who Julius Caesar was. It's elitist to believe that rap is garbage and Mozart is inspired. It is that definition of elitism that makes me "confess" I'm an elitist.

I too have met my share of the American self-made elite and the European hereditary elite. But this is just one more thing we disagree on. The Europeans are insufferable.

11:34 PM, August 29, 2005  

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