Thus Always to Bad Elites

When I saw the title of this essay by Ted McAllister in The American Mind, I had an inkling that it would describe a wound I have been nursing for years: a sense of betrayal by the very people who should be culture bearers for my culture–our elites. In this essay McAllister expresses my exact sentiments concisely and accurately. And he does it by comparing America’s current elites with the post-Glorious Revolution British elites against whom we rebelled and divorced ourselves:

Like the British elite of the late 18th century, America’s early 21st-century elite is imperial and has no respect for liberty, inherited folkways, or cultural forms. Similarly, they seek to centralize, control, and eventually obliterate (which is the real meaning of transformation) all cultures and peoples who do not fit their vision of the good. The problem with America today is the British problem that drove the American Colonies out of the Empire. It is not a problem with elites as such, but with our own.

I am not anti-elite, and neither is McAllister. Only an imbecile could imagine a serious society without elites. No, it is simply that I expect quite a lot from the elites in general and ours in particular, and I am quite thoroughly disgusted with their lack of formation, courage, and nobility. They are utterly feckless and self-indulgent. They are a disgrace to our heritage.

Strictly speaking, that is too broad brush. There are many elites who have taken the trouble to learn our history and culture and understand it on its own terms. There are many willing to fight to defend it, risking much, just as the founders did 250 years ago. But they are in the minority. Yet finally they have learned, as did our founders, that in the end you must be willing to fight for these things, with everything you have, else all of us will have very little of value.

Magnificent, concise little essay, well worth reading. The punchline: “The deepest fact of our time is that America has a bad elite, a mendacious one whose skills, values, goals, tastes, and types of knowledge are hostile to our nation’s inherited cultures and plural people.”

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools . . .

Yep. Onward. Vale.