Audacity of the Great Unwashed: Study of Elitism in "Democracy Inc"
(First published on July 2008 on old Montanamaven.com site which disappeared into the night).
Stanley Kubrick’s last movie “Eyes Wide Shut” was about a young doctor who succeeds in getting invited to the ultimate party; a meeting of a secretive society of elites. Masks, feathers, naked women, and sadism. Creepy stuff. Could there be such a secret society?
We saw the secret but slightly less creepy version of a secret society in De Niro’s “The Good Shepherd” with the frivolity of a Skull and Bones party where the men retreated to back rooms to discuss how to keep America’s new Super power status going after World War II.
I’ve written a lot about Naomi Klein’s “The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism. An equally scary book that I’ve been writing about lately is Sheldon J. Wolin’s “Democracy Inc: Managed Democracy and the Specter of Inverted Totalitarianism. I alternate reading it with Rick Perlstein’s “Nixonland”. You can imagine that I have a lot more grey hair now that I found out about what’s been going on in our so-called “land of liberty” for the last 60 years.
So as I sit on my deck overlooking the idyllic pasture where my Hereford cows are grazing with the deer and antelope playing, I plunge deeper into Wolin’s book and the hair on my arms rise as I read Chapter Nine: “Intellectual Elites Against Democracy.”
When I got to the part about the secretive followers of Leo Strauss with their secret language, I wondered...
Previously I’ve written about Wolin’s idea that the United States has embraced the system called “Superpower”. It is imperial and not national. It is militaristic and continues our manifest destiny to conquer the earth in the name of God and our goodness.
It is our new identity. It is the antithesis of democracy that is
“first and foremost about equality; equality of power and equality of sharing in the benefits and values made possible by social cooperation. Democracy is no more compatible with world domination than is 'the political,’ which is first and foremost about preserving commonality while legitimating and reconciling differences.”
Political scientists have been studying elitism for 2000 years. At first you were an elite because of your birth. Jefferson then came up with the concept of a “natural aristocracy". It was an ideal of the person who rose on merit beholden to no one.
Elitism is about how The Few are “entitled to power and reward” if they are in politics and if they are in business, they are entitled to power and wealth. Once upon a time, the two were viewed as being “at odds with each other” because political elites were supposed to be “virtuous., that is disinterested, principled, and above all, dedicated to the true interests of the society.”
At the end of the chapter a group of Sand hill Cranes appear in the distance and with their strange garbling pass directly over my head. A few minutes later, a Gulfstream jet appears from the same place that the cranes came from and loudly swoops over my head as well carrying its cargo of corporatists to a safe landing in Big Sky Country. The Few have come to play a bit in one of their many homes while the Many go about their daily chores.
I’m now joining my friend Elizabeth in being referred to as Dr. Doom. But I’m Dr. Happiness compared to Dr. Wolin. Yikes! Now he’s got me checking my phone lines and stocking up on supplies.
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