liberalism   4317

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Mike Gravel on Twitter: "Why is the media so in love with Buttigieg? Because his resume—USSYP, elite college, Rhodes—is an exemplar of meritocratic success. He is the child and apparent savior of America’s meritocratic ruling class."
"Why is the media so in love with Buttigieg? Because his resume—USSYP, elite college, Rhodes—is an exemplar of meritocratic success. He is the child and apparent savior of America’s meritocratic ruling class.

Professional Democrats and elite journalists are largely in thrall to the cult of meritocracy, which is the solidification and beautification of inequality. It is inequality based on socially-defined merit—but inequality nonetheless. It is “talent” made god.

And because the new elite ostensibly owes its position to merit, rather than inherited privilege, it feels no sense of noblesse oblige that older aristocracies felt; as Christopher Lasch pointed out, there is no valor or chivalry in the new system, just Darwinian triumph.

Ultimately, as Lasch said, “meritocracy is a parody of democracy.” Meritocracy is an idea that allows the ruling class to hold on to power through the illusion that they deserve it because of merit (read Genovese). It tells the underclass—don’t worry, all is just in the world.

The popularity of true leftism seems to augur the return of old class-based politics, when Democrats were populists who fought for equality, not inequality under the veil of meritocracy. Buttigieg is the archetypal meritocrat—he is the perfect one to save the system.

It is the dream and hope of the meritocrats in journalism and politics that Buttigieg’s shininess distracts from the ravaged country that the current system, the one he clearly wants to perpetuate, has created.

The rule of the meritocrats, the “best and brightest,” has given us a country riven by rampant inequality, drug addiction, and endless wars abroad. Whether their name is Wolfowitz or Summers or Rubin, they’ve been in charge for decades—and look how far we’ve come!

To paraphrase Bakunin: “When the people are being beaten with a stick, they are not much happier if it is called ‘the Meritocratic Stick.’”

It’s time to return to a politics cognizant of class, one that is not obsessed with helping the best and brightest rise to the top, with making our unequal system more diverse, but instead concerned with leveling the system entirely. The promise of a good life for all."
mikegravel  meritocracy  elitism  highered  highereducation  2019  inequality  noblesseoblige  society  socialdarwinism  journalism  journalists  education  petemuttigieg  capitalism  liberalism  neoliberalism  class  classism  rankings  success  justification  talent  christopherlasch  chivalry  power  control  self-importance  canon  politics  policy  mikhailbakunin  paulwolfowitz  larrysummers  robertrubin 
12 hours ago by robertogreco
@yhazony: I never thought I’d live to see something like this. But it’s exactly what we’re living through. The peer pressure, groupthink, and despair are closing liberal scholars and journalists down, one after another, to the possibility of legitim
@yhazony: I never thought I’d live to see something like this. But it’s exactly what we’re living through. The peer pressure, groupthink, and despair are closing liberal scholars and journalists down, one after another, to the possibility of legitimate disagreement with their views.
YoramHazony  Liberalism  Nationalism  Conservatism 
5 days ago by cbearden
@yhazony: .⁦@FareedZakaria⁩ lumps together as nationalist anti-democrats everyone from Brexiteers and Netanyahu to Putin and Erdogan. This continues the trend of major media and intellectual figures who’ve decided anyone who isn’t a liberal is in
@yhazony: .⁦@FareedZakaria⁩ lumps together as nationalist anti-democrats everyone from Brexiteers and Netanyahu to Putin and Erdogan. This continues the trend of major media and intellectual figures who’ve decided anyone who isn’t a liberal is in one camp.
YoramHazony  FareedZakaria  Liberalism  Conservatism  Nationalism  Thread 
5 days ago by cbearden
Deluded liberals can't keep clinging to a dead idea - UnHerd
The time has passed when the West could dictate the terms of human development. Yet the delusion persists that the growth of wealth will give liberal values another lease on life. The sub-Marxian mantra that expanding middle classes will demand liberal freedoms as societies become richer is repeated endlessly in business gatherings and academic seminars.

No matter that Putin and Xi continue to be fêted by the middle classes in Russia and China, while in Europe they flock to Orbán and Salvini, Austria’s Sebastian Kurz and Jimmie Åkesson, leader of the Swedish Democrats. Never mind that that middle-class graduates are demanding that liberal freedoms be shut down in the institutions that once embodied them. Best not dwell on such facts, for they suggest that a liberal world order was an historical accident that cannot be repeated.
liberalism  Europe  from instapaper
9 days ago by ayjay
The prophets of illiberal progress - Rousseau, Marx and Nietzsche
The path from illiberal progress to terror is easy to plot. Debate about how to improve the world loses its purpose—because of Marx’s certitude about progress, Rousseau’s pessimism or Nietzsche’s subjectivity. Power accretes—explicitly to economic classes in the thought of Marx and the übermenschen in Nietzsche, and through the subversive manipulation of the general will in Rousseau. And accreted power tramples over the dignity of the individual—because that is what power does.

Liberalism, by contrast, does not believe it has all the answers. That is possibly its greatest strength.
history  liberalism  authoritarianism 
11 days ago by corrales
Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart
"He holds degrees from Harvard and Oxford. Like many Ivy League grads, he also worked as a consultant for McKinsey. He won a national essay contest in high school. He speaks eight languages, including English, Norwegian, Maltese, Italian, French, Spanish, Dari, and Arabic. He learned Norwegian to read a favorite author in that language, and at a recent press conference, spoke with some Norwegian journalists in their native tongue. He was a Rhodes Scholar.

He’s been precocious all his life — no wonder that at only thirty-seven he’s running for president. Pete Buttigieg, son of two professors, is a classic Smart Dude, and there is nothing journalists love more. His followers even have a proudly know-it-all approach to his name, showing up at his rallies with signs explaining, “It’s Pete BOOT-Edge-Edge.” He says he’s all about “bringing forward good ideas.”

For the upper professional-managerial class (PMC), guys like this represent a dreamy ideal of human supremacy. That’s because for them, all of life is an Ivy League application. Well-rounded “smartness” is everything, even in the wake of recent news that this is not necessarily what elite college admissions are based upon.

As a result, BOOTedgedge has been the focus of a media frenzy, despite polling far behind Sanders and Biden (even 538 is skeptical of his recent much-ballyhooed jump in Iowa). CNN’s Chris Cillizza finds his resumé “remarkable.” Some call him “bookish.” exults that he “represents the best and brightest of our country.” A New Republic headline uses the word “Genius.”

Liberal feminists have rightly bristled at the collective ecstasy over the mighty dome of BOOTedgedge. When economist boy-wonder Alan Cole tweeted this week, “Mayor Pete seems head and shoulders smarter than the other candidates running and IMO that should count for quite a lot,” he was widely and correctly rebuked for sexism. What about Elizabeth Warren, asked Katha Pollitt, Jill Filipovic, and many others. The Twittersphere weighed in with lists of Warren’s accomplishments. Others pointed out that the tweet was possibly racist as well as sexist; Julian Castro holds degrees from Harvard, Harvard Law School, and Stanford, and Cory Booker was, like BOOTedgedge, a Rhodes Scholar, among a pile of other academic achievements.

The question of what “smart” even means and why this type of smart should matter in a presidential race got less attention. One person rightly asked, “are you sure he’s not just smart in the ways you also fancy yourself to also be smart.” No one asked why this particular form of well-credentialed “smart” should “count for quite a lot.”

That’s because while the PMC are often eager to be more inclusive about who gets to be “smart” — women, black people — they have tremendous faith in the concept itself. They love rich people whose intelligence has made them prosper: they may cringe at the science-denying Koch Brothers but they went into deep mourning when Steve Jobs died. They devour Malcolm Gladwell’s veneration of the wisdom of genius entrepreneurs over the plodding, clueless masses.

This notion of “smart” allows elites to recast inequality as meritocracy. In this narrative, you’re rich because you did well in high school and went to Princeton, not because capitalism has taken something from someone else and given it to you. Yet the culture of smart is not all smugness; it also contains a heavy dose of fear. The PMC understands that while it’s fun to brag about having a kid like BOOTedgeedge, it’s not optional (like, say, having a pet that can do weird tricks, a cat that can use a human toilet, for instance). In the neoliberal order, if you’re not born into the top 0.1 percent, you have to be “smart” and unusually talented and motivated, otherwise you will not only lose what privileges you have, but possibly not even survive. As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman once gleefully proclaimed, “Average is over.”

The PMC therefore tries hard to make their children “gifted” and to nourish their talents, an effort that is supposed to culminate in the kind of august institutional validation that BOOTedgedge has enjoyed. Because they have, all their lives, felt a certain panic about the need to be college-application impressive, the PMC has come to see such impressiveness as somehow morally admirable. For people like this, the recent college admissions scandal, exposing corruption at institutions like Yale and USC, occasions not eye-rolling and wisecracks, as it does on dirtbag Twitter (this writer is guilty), but earnest hand-wringing about fairness and social justice. Smartness, to them, makes some people more deserving of the good life than others. Smartness culture is social Darwinism for liberals.

This obsession pervades the politics of the PMC. Trump’s proud ignorance and shameless pandering to the nation’s dumbness often seems to gall them more than his inhumane, death-drive policies. This class always seeks a Smart Dude as savior. Obama, of course, represents successful fulfillment of this dream, and they can’t wait to repeat it. Beto, after some initial signs of promise, has now revealed himself to be a dummy who has to ask his wife on the proper usage of “subconscious.” Hence, BOOTedgedge mania.

The quest reflects a theory of change in which, as political scientist Adolph Reed Jr remarked years ago, describing the worldview of some of his academic colleagues, “all the smart people get together on the Vineyard and solve the world’s problems.” Davos is the fullest expression of this: elites get together and showcase how smart they are, advertising how fit they are to be our ruling elites.

It’s oddly banal, the culture of smart. Like most of the detritus of “smartness” culture, from Freakonomics to TED Talks to NPR, BOOTedgedge is politically underwhelming. What good ideas he has are shared by other candidates in the crowded field, some originating from politicians to his left, like Bernie Sanders. His bad ideas are hardly edgy, either: capitalism can be good while government regulation can be bad.

This Democratic primary lineup is not the worst, and within it, neither is Mayor Pete (the term used by those not quite smart enough to pronounce BOOTedgedge). He seems to support Medicare for All and the Green New Deal in some form. He invested in infrastructure in South Bend. He won office as an openly gay man in Mike Pence country and has a record of connecting with voters who voted for Trump. And there’s no question that he’d be a better president than Trump or some of his Democratic primary competitors. We do need a president capable of reading a book, not one reveling proudly in his ignorance like the current occupant of the White House, who seems to reflect our dumbest tendencies insultingly right back to us. (When Trump this week fantasized that a Hillary Clinton victory would have turned the power grid over to solar energy and deprived us of the joy of watching TV, the writer Tara Rose aptly observed, “He’s so perfect for the kind of stupid that we are.”) A BOOTedgedge presidency would reassure those of us who believe in things like science and logic that we have stepped back from the braying idiocy that now envelopes us like a toxic plume. Of course, that would be a pleasant reprieve.

But the obsession with his kind of ostentatious intelligence is deeply unserious and anti-democratic. “Smart” is not going to save us, and fetishizing its most conventional manifestations shores up bourgeois ideology and undermines the genuinely emancipatory politics of collective action. Bernie Sanders, instead of showing off his University of Chicago education, touts the power of the masses: “Not Me, Us.” The cult of the Smart Dude leads us into just the opposite place, which is probably why some liberals like it so much."
elitism  meritocracy  2019  petebuttigieg  smartness  lizafeatherstone  inequality  berniesanders  politics  elections  saviors  merit  liberalism  socialdarwinism  malcolmgladwell  genius 
11 days ago by robertogreco
The rise of post-truth liberalism - UnHerd
Alt-liberals aim to deconstruct monotheism, along with the grand narratives it has inspired in secular thinkers. But what emerges from this process? Once every cultural tradition is demolished, nothing remains. In principle, alt-liberalism is an empty ideology. In practice it defines itself by negation.

Populist currents are advancing throughout the West and supply the necessary antagonist. The old liberalism that prized tolerance no longer survives as a living force. Iconoclasts who smash statues of colonial-era figures are raging at an enemy that has long since surrendered. An impish avatar of a vanished liberal hegemony, alt-liberalism needs populism if it is to survive.

Resistance to populist movements fills what would otherwise be an indeterminacy at the heart of the alt-liberal project. Privileged woke censors of reactionary thinking and incendiary street warriors are mutually reinforcing forces. At times, indeed, they are mirror-images of one another. [...]

Despite everything, liberals cannot help thinking of history as a story of redemption. That is why they cannot help seeing Putin and Xi Jinping, Orbán and Salvini as reverting to the past. A future that contains hyper-modern tsars, technocratic emperors and intelligent demagogues is unthinkable. So facts are ignored or denied, and truth sacrificed for the sake of securing a consoling meaning in events. While post-truth populism has become one of the clichés of the age, a more defining feature of our time is the rise of post-truth liberalism.

It would be foolish to expect liberals to admit that their faith has been falsified. They would have to accept that they do not understand the present—an impossible demand, when they have seen themselves for so long as the intellectual vanguard of humankind. Whether secular or religious, myths are not refuted. Instead they fade and vanish from the scene, together with the people who embody them.
liberalism  JohnGray 
17 days ago by ayjay
Liberalism: the other God that failed - UnHerd
In fact, any simple analogy between the fall of communism and the decay of liberalism is misleading. The difference is that old-style liberals have nowhere to go. To be sure, they could abandon any universalistic claim for their values and think of them as inhering in a particular form of life — one that is flawed, like every other, but still worthwhile.

Yet this is hardly a viable stance at the present time. For one thing, this way of life is under siege in what were once liberal societies. Yet liberals cannot help but see themselves as carriers of universal values. Otherwise, what would they be? Anxious relics of a foundering civilisation, seeking shelter from a world they no longer understand.

There may be no way forward for liberalism. But neither is the liberal West committing suicide. That requires the ability to form a clear intention, which the West shows no evidence of possessing. Nothing as dramatic or definitive will occur. Koestler and the ex-communists of his generation regarded communism as the God that failed because they once believed it to be the future. Today almost no one any longer expects liberal values to triumph throughout the world, but few are able to admit it — least of all to themselves. So instead they drift.
liberalism  JohnGray 
17 days ago by ayjay
You're reaping what you sowed, liberals - UnHerd
If classical liberals believe human beings can use the laws of nature formulated in science to make a new world, postmodern liberals believe scientific laws – including those that apply to human nature, a concept they reject – are no more than cultural constructs. The upshot is the same. Humankind can shape its own future unconstrained by any external force or authority. But if freedom is unlimited it is also empty. Whatever latter-day nihilists may say, science cannot supply human values. There is nothing in the laws of physics that prohibits the Holocaust. Equally, deconstructing science cannot validate whatever values are currently regarded as progressive. If science is ideology and human nature a fiction, anything goes. The alt-Right is as much a product of postmodernism as the alt-Left. Either way, the practices of tolerance and free expression that used to underpin liberal values are consumed in culture-wars between rival mobs.
liberalism  freedom  JohnGray 
17 days ago by ayjay
The Southern Poverty Law Center Is Everything That’s Wrong With Liberalism | Current Affairs
Dees was as successful at selling causes as he had been at selling cakes. Fueled by Dees’ direct mail campaigns, the Southern Poverty Law Center brought in million after million. Last year it took in $136 million, and it now sits upon an endowment of nearly half a billion dollars. Yet even after some within the organization thought it should stop raising money, and despite promises by Dees that it would do so, its fundraising pitches in the mail became ever more desperate and frantic. A 1995 pitch, sent when the SPLC was sitting on more than $60 million in reserves, told potential donors that the “strain on our current operating budget is the greatest in our 25-year history.” All sorts of tricks were tried, and a former Dees associate reported that the organization once used about six different low-value stamps on envelopes, to give the appearance that it could barely afford to cobble together 35 cents of postage.

(Sometimes all of this became downright grotesque. In the 1980s the SPLC sued the Klan over the lynching of Michael Donald, and won a $7 million verdict for Donald’s mother. The Klan, however, had by this time diminished to almost nonexistence. Its sole asset was a warehouse that was sold for $55,000, which was all Donald’s mother got. She apparently used a large portion of this to pay back an interest-free loan that the SPLC itself had extended her. Afterward, the SPLC began using photos of Michael Donald’s corpse in its fundraising letters, raising $9 million off the case. Donald’s mother evidently saw none of this money, though when she died barely a year later Morris Dees was quoted in her obituary praising her bravery.)
liberalism  activism  nonprofit  cultural-norms  institutional-problematics  no-heroes-I-guess  acts-and-grace-sittin-in-a-tree 
25 days ago by Vaguery

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