Elite Access, Is It Good To Be Ambitious?-There Will Be Authority And There Will Be People In Charge, If There Aren’t Already, I’m Pretty Sure

Martin Gurri via Marginal Revolution:  ‘Notes From A Nameless Conference:’

Gurri offers an interesting take on matters socio-cultural:

The dilemma is that this present is defined by a radical distrust of the institutions of industrial society, and of the elites that control them, and of their statements and descriptions of reality. The conference organizers got our predicament right. At every level of contemporary social and political life, we are stuck in the muck of a profound crisis of authority.

Hmmm…:

‘The senior people, largely white and male, seemed to believe that, in punishment for the sins of their fathers, trust had fractured along identity lines.  Women today were thought to trust only women, for example.  Muslims trusted Muslims, and no one else.  Some archetypical essence of “woman” or “Muslim” made internal communications possible, and separated each group from the rest of the human race.  It was, to be sure, a disaster of biblical proportions – the story of Babel told in the times of the tweet – and it left the men in charge desperate to put forward individuals of a different sex and skin coloration, to say the things they wanted to hear.

For younger elites, trust involves a sort of cosplay of historical conflicts.  They put on elaborate rhetorical superhero costumes, and fight mock-epic battles with Nazis, fascists, “patriarchs,” slave-owners, George III, and the like.  Because it’s only a game, no one gets seriously hurt – but nothing ever gets settled, either.  Eventually, the young cosplayers must put away their costumes, take one last sip of Kombucha, and set off, seething with repressed virtue, to make money in the world as it really is.’

Previous ‘elite’ links on this site, arriving at some yet predictable, unrealized truths:  Via Marginal Revolution via American Affairs: ‘The Western Elite From A Chinese Perspective:’

Kenneth Anderson At Volokh: ‘The Fragmenting of the New Class Elites, Or, Downward Mobility

Two Kinds Of Elite Cities in America?

There are people with careers writing about elites, becoming somewhat elite themselves, which haven’t fared too well

Roger Sandall from ‘Guardianship: The Utopia Of The New Class‘ finishes with:

One remembers Weber’s epitaph for the Protestant Ethic, as he contemplated a devitalised bourgeoisie spiritlessly tending the petrified mechanism their ancestors had raised. Adapted, without apology, it might also be used to depict that petrified Utopia of the New Ruling classes of the East.

Weber:

‘Rulers without honour, administrators without heart, priests without conviction, this nullity imagines that it has attained a level of civilisation never before achieved.’

———————-

As previously posted:

Charles Murray argues that controlling the data for just for whites in America, a gap has opened up between working-class ‘Fishtown’ and professional-class ‘Belmont.’ Fishtowners have increasing rates of out-of-wedlock births and divorce, more isolation from churches, civic organizations and the kinds of voluntary associations that Murray suggests can make a life more fulfilling, regardless of income beyond certain basic needs. Fishtowners have higher incidences of drug and alcohol use and intermittent work.

Belmonters, on the other hand, are mostly college-educated and beyond, still tend to court, marry, engage in family planning and tend to stay connected with family, friends and colleagues. Folks in Belmont are still living more moderate personal lives and working to stay ahead in the changing economy through academia, the professions, government, tech, business and global business.

Being a social scientist with a more limited government/small ‘c’ conservative/libertarian worldview, Murray likely sees a smaller role for government and limited ways in which some people acting through government can actually solve problems in other people’s lives. As a contrarian social scientist in a small minority, then, he disagrees with many basic assumptions often found amongst a majority of social scientists.

Murray thus advocates for people in ‘Belmont’ to increasingly preach what they practice, to look outside the bubble of their daily lives and wealthier enclaves, and perhaps reconstitute the kinds of family and civic associations, moral virtues and opportunities for independence and success he’d like to see more broadly.

What this would look like in practice, exactly, is unclear.

=======================

Robert Putnam, author of ‘Bowling Alone‘, seems to agree with Murray about what much of what the data highlights: Working-class whites are behaving more like working-class non-whites, and college-educated non-whites are behaving more like college-educated whites.

Putnam also focuses more on economic factors, the decline of manufacturing and the disappearance of working-class jobs that has without question affected large parts of America and small-town life. Globalization has opened American firms to global competition, global capital markets and mobile labor. Whatever your thoughts on race, Putnam creates some daylight between the data and strictly race based interpretations (often aligned with ideology, especially in academia nowadays) and focuses more on ‘class’ in a way slightly differently than does Murray.

An interesting discussion, in which the empirical research of social science can highlight important differences in political philosophy and try and transcend the inevitable political and ideological battles of the day.

Just thought I’d Throw This In There:

An interesting take from Slate Star Codex-‘The APA Meeting: A Photo-Essay:’

There’s a popular narrative that drug companies have stolen the soul of psychiatry. That they’ve reduced everything to chemical imbalances. The people who talk about this usually go on to argue that the true causes of mental illness are capitalism and racism. Have doctors forgotten that the real solution isn’t a pill, but structural change that challenges the systems of exploitation and domination that create suffering in the first place?

No. Nobody has forgotten that. Because the third thing you notice at the American Psychiatric Association meeting is that everyone is very, very woke.

This reminds me of a poem by Robert Pinsky, entitled ‘Essay On Psychiatrists’

V. Physical Comparison With Professors And Others

Pink and a bit soft-bodied, with a somewhat jazzy
Middle-class bathing suit and sandy sideburns, to me
He looked from the back like one more professor.

And from the front, too—the boyish, unformed carriage
Which foreigners always note in American men, combined
As in a professor with that liberal, quizzical,

Articulate gaze so unlike the more focused, more
Tolerant expression worn by a man of action (surgeon,
Salesman, athlete). On closer inspection was there,

Perhaps, a self-satisfied benign air, a too studied
Gentleness toward the child whose hand he held loosely?
Absurd to speculate; but then—the woman saw something.

 

David Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Party Of Strivers’

Full piece here.

‘But there is a flaw in the vision the Republicans offered in Tampa. It is contained in its rampant hyperindividualism. Speaker after speaker celebrated the solitary and heroic individual. There was almost no talk of community and compassionate conservatism. There was certainly no conservatism as Edmund Burke understood it, in which individuals are embedded in webs of customs, traditions, habits and governing institutions’

Well, there’s the matter of battling against the current administration and its constituencies which generally seek to vastly increase the size and scope of government, bending the social contract toward collectivist ideals as well as their own interests.  Political favoritism, expanding bureaucratic control, and cronyism will naturally come with the territory.

A Burkean return to conservatism would be nice, but the rise of libertarianism in the U.S. usually coincides with the rise of particularly liberal administrations out of necessity.  Most of this administration’s defenders wish to define individuals as free from those customs, traditions, habits that are religious, or even practically conservative.

I do recall Ross Douthat floating the idea of getting back to basics for conservatives, away from individualism and the libertarians, which was likely preparation for the upcoming election (E.J. Dionne also suggested a return to community, but mostly to protect the current administration and “community” of the secular and Statist variety).

Libertarians and liberals share a broad swath of the same turf of liberty as a guiding ideal, and both mostly wish to drive change toward themselves and their ideals as seems natural to the human condition.  Libertarians, in my experience, think of themselves as the true classical liberals.  They see current liberals having gone down the path of excessive individualism and collectivism (liberals believing that institutions will guide and perfect the individual and they will run the institutions, thus increasing liberty….and for which they always promise more equality…at some point in the not too distant future).

Brooks finishes with:

‘Today’s Republican Party may be able to perform useful tasks with its current hyperindividualistic mentality. But its commercial soul is too narrow. It won’t be a worthy governing party until it treads the course Lincoln trod: starting with individual ambition but ascending to a larger vision and creating a national environment that arouses ambition and nurtures success.’

Fair enough, but for whom is David Brooks writing?

*** Food for thought:  A girl from Kansas makes her way to Seattle, then Hawaii, then Indonesia, on a trajectory away from the customs, traditions, habits and governing institutions for various ideological and personal reasons.   The Republican ticket promises to restore a government that works for the customs, traditions, habits from which she was likely running.

Related On This Site: Does all that sociological analysis naturally lead towards a more liberal political philosophy?: Will Wilkinson At Forbes: ‘The Social Animal by David Brooks: A Scornful Review’…Charlie Rose has a full interview with Brooks and his new bookDavid Brooks At The NY Times: ‘Why Our Elites Stink’From Darwinian Conservatism By Larry Arnhart: “Surfing Strauss’s Third Wave of Modernity

William Saletan and Ross Douthat At Slate: ‘Liberalism Is Stuck Halfway Between Heaven And Earth’…Douthat’s The Grand New PartyRoss Douthat At First Principles: ‘The Quest for Community in the Age of Obama: Nisbet’s Prescience’

Yes, Edmund Burke opposed the French Revolution: Sunday Quotation: Edmund Burke On The French Revolution..

Still reliving the 60’s?: A Few Thoughts On Robert Bork’s “Slouching Towards Gomorrah”

The classical liberal tradition…looking for classical liberals in the postmodern wilderness: Isaiah Berlin’s negative liberty: A Few Thoughts On Isaiah Berlin’s “Two Concepts Of Liberty”… From George Monbiot: ‘How Freedom Became Tyranny’…Looking to supplant religion as moral source for the laws: From The Reason Archives: ‘Discussing Disgust’ Julian Sanchez Interviews Martha Nussbaum.New liberty away from Hobbes?: From Public Reason: A Discussion Of Gerald Gaus’s Book ‘The Order of Public Reason: A Theory of Freedom And Morality In A Diverse And Bounded World’…Richard Rorty tried to tie postmodernism and trendy leftist solidarity to liberalism, but wasn’t exactly classically liberal:  Repost: Another Take On J.S. Mill From “Liberal England”

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Charles Murray At The New Criterion: ‘Belmont & Fishtown’

Full piece here.

Belmont and Fishtown are two imagined communities, well-to-do and poor/lower-working-class-white respectively, that Murray invokes in order to stastically argue that many changes have been occurring over the past half-century.   He further argues these changes are coming at a cost to social mobility and the virtue necessary to maintain our unique egalitarian American project.

Marriage:

‘In Fishtown, marriage continued a slide that had not slackened as of 2010, when the percentage of married whites ages 30–49 had fallen to a minority of 48 percent. What had been a 10 percentage point difference between Belmont and Fishtown in the 1960s stood at 35 percentage points in 2010. The culprits—divorce and failure to marry in the first place—split responsibility for the divergence about equally.’

Marriage certainly isn’t what it was, but on this argument, people in Belmont may have a duty to the people of Fishtown to promote religious values, specifically that of marriage.  What if Belmontians are non-religious believers but accrue all the benefits of marriage, which is to some degree, probably what’s happened?  I think it’s easier to stay married regardless of your beliefs if you have a stimulating and rewarding career, money, connections, vacations, good friendships etc.  I also think this is Murray’s argument…religion is being drained away from the stew.

Should we aim to put more social shame on women who have illegitimate children…potentially as it was in the 1950’s?

Industriousness:

‘The primary indicator of the erosion of industriousness is the increase of prime-age males with no more than a high school education who say they are not available for work—they are “out of the labor force,” in the jargon. ‘

And Murray points out that there are more of them than before.  It would be interesting to note how much of this is due to the continued decline in manufacturing in America (perhaps a lot of IT and technology may be going the same way…getting globally competitive as well, and being outsourced).  There are external pressures that may not have been present before.

Honesty:

‘Furthermore, the reductions in crime since the mid-1990s that have benefited the nation as a whole have been smaller in Fishtown, leaving Fishtown today with a violent crime rate that is still 4.7 times the 1960 rate.’

Are you honest?  Check one:

Yes   No

Why?  Why not?

I see what Murray is driving at, but I don’t know how he gets there with the social sciences alone.  Isn’t that like falling into a David Brooks-like trap?

Religiosity:

‘Over the next three decades, secularization did indeed grow in Belmont, where the percentage of de facto seculars grew from 29 percent in the 1970s to 40 percent in the GSS surveys taken from 2006–10. But it grew even more in Fishtown, where the comparable numbers went from 38 percent to 59 percent

And, if true, perhaps many of the functions that charities, churches, and religious organizations perform will be co-opted by the government (the Obama administration certainly seems to be trying).  Interestingly, old-school Democrat, poor Brooklyn kid, and fellow sociologist Daniel Patrick Moynihan made a similar argument.

Murray notes:

‘The socialization of children in Belmont and Fishtown has become radically different, and everything we have learned about the problems associated with single parenthood forces us to expect that the consequences for the transmission of industriousness, marriage, honesty, and religiosity to the next generation will be profound.

We need not rely on statistics to make these points. The real Fishtown in Philadelphia was chronicled in the 1950s by Peter Rossi, who would go on to become one of America’s most eminent sociologists, and in the 1990s by Patricia Smallacombe, who conducted a detailed ethnographic study of Fishtown for her doctoral dissertation.’

Fishtown, at least, is not imagined.  Is some sort of grand conveyor belt at the heart of American life slowly grinding to a halt without these virtues?  Has Murray made the case?  Would the social sciences ever be enough to make a similar case?

See Also On This Site:  Can you maintain the virtues of religion without the church…of England?:  From The City Journal: Roger Scruton On “Forgiveness And Irony”…Are we going soft and “European”… do we need to protect our religious idealism enshrined in the Constitution….with the social sciences?…Charles Murray Lecture At AEI: The Happiness Of People..Repost-Gene Expression On Charles Murray: Does College Really Pay Off?

How does Natural Law Philosophy deal with these problems, and those of knowledge?

Catholic libertarianism: Youtube Via Reason TV-Judge Napolitano ‘Why Taxation is Theft, Abortion is Murder, & Government is Dangerous’

I’m not sure I’ve understand him properly:  Harry Jaffa At The Claremont Institute: ‘Leo Strauss, the Bible, and Political Philosophy’Via An Emailer: Some Criticism Of Leo Strauss? From Wikipedia’s Page On Leo Strauss: A Few Quotes:

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