walter russell mead peter berger lilia shevtsova adam garfinkle andrew a. michta
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Published on: February 22, 2014
The Weekend Read
The Irony of the Elite

The elites in Washington and Wall Street seem not to care about their decadence and even take joy in revelations about it.

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  • Boritz

    “Because the elite had largely rejected their belief in the justice and
    meaningfulness of the moral and common values that had supported the edifice of civilization, they found more joy in the ironic skewering of those values than they felt fear at what the loss of common values might come to mean.”

    In a 1976 interview Martin Heidegger was asked how the events of the preceding thirty years had informed his understanding of and attitude toward that German political movement he had joined in the 1930s. His reply: Huh?

    This article is right to invoke references to Weimar. That is a useful roadmap for where we are and where we are going.

  • Anthony

    Any determined pursuit of how and why things happen generates passion and exploration; moreover, what can be said about the predominant social institutions, values, and ideologies (of Elites generally) speaks to superstructure girding essay’s theme – essentially we are critiquing an entire cultural and social order. The ruling ideas (as karl Marx once said) are the ideas of the ruling class (allowing for modifications). “Those who control the material production of society are also able to control the mental production” and its elite behavior. So, behavior bemoaned by Noonan, et al can properly be identified as U.S. socialization via orthodoxy disseminated culturally – but for some, chickens coming home to roost appear ironic (“It is a sickness by which individuals and groups think only of themselves and lose sight of their belonging to a common world or a meaningful order.”).

  • MarkE

    When I watch ”House of Cards” I think of Nicolo Machiavelli. When I think about Machiavelli, I think about
    Florentine history in a general way. Before we had democracy we had the republic.
    Before we had the republic we had oligarchs. Before we had oligarchs we had the
    warring princes.

    To me the public acceptance of Machiavellian
    behavior suggests we are falling back from the oligarchic to warring-princes
    stage of political development. It certainly indicates a loss of respect for
    the republic and the democratic principles which depend on having a successful
    and respected republic.

  • amoose1959

    Jews are disproportionately represented in the media

    Jews are disproportionately represented in finance

    Jews are disproportionately represented in hollywood

    Jews are disproportionately represented in elite schools

    Jews are disproportionately represented in upper income

    Jews are disproportionately represented in the high IQ group

    From Peggy Noonan “And it is all about the behavior of our elites, our upper classes, which we define now in a practical sense as those who are successful, affluent and powerful. This group not only includes but is almost limited to our political class, Wall Street, and the media, from Hollywood to the news divisions.”

    Peggy Noonan is an anti-semite.

    • Nick

      I’m sure you are not, to have come up with the above thoughts!

      When I think of elites, I think of Bohner, Geithner, McConnell, Obama. I know that they are all tied in with wall street types. I don’t know the names of a lot of the big wall st types (although geithner was one), but everyone I personally know who went to wall street were Christian.

      It takes a certain type of person to project race to profession or to class. Of course, the above may be sarcastic, but I’m trying to figure out exactly where the “tie in” is here (usually sarcasm reaches for something in the subject to work with – this is just blather out of the blue…)

  • http://foobarista.blogspot.com foobarista

    Irony has jumped the shark.

    • Kavanna

      Must be some shark.

    • Jim__L

      Irony requires some level of violation of expectations.

      Once irony becomes expected, the only way to be ironic is to be sincere. =)

  • rheddles

    Fear not. Things will be much better after the crash the feds can’t cover.

  • Jim__L

    It’s gotten so bad that during political campaigns, people applaud advertisements in their own party that they know are misleading or otherwise lack integrity, on the grounds that “this will give us 3 points in the polls.” The worst is when they allow these very ads to change their own minds — when they know the ads are bull!

  • free_agent

    It sounds to me that in these two groups, in order to succeed, one has to spend a lot of time pretending in public that one is something that one is not. In this case, it seems to be the pose that everything one does is at root driven by some grand, altruistic motive. (Oddly, ordinary schmucks don’t have to pretend that.) If you have to do too much of that, there is an overwhelming urge to form a private club where you can be among others like you, let your hair down, and stop having to pretend.

    After writing this, I imagined the Stonewall Club, where gay men and transvestites could go and actually be themselves. The public of the times hated it…

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