elites and expert classes in post-Democratic societies

[ed. just correcting some typos. 5/2/2010]

I think that the notion of a power elite still has some validity, but in our post-democratic Western societies, it’s of a much different nature than people think when they think of terms like “The Establishment” or “the Elite”

Establishments exist, Europeans typically have a more realistic understanding of this, the English used to be very sensitive to this, more than we Americans are. Because we bought the lie of a classless and leveled society. Present day elites are of a more diffused nature than in the past. and most of those whom we typically regard as part of an elite, really are not. What we sometimes think of as “elites” are often just functionaries and auxiliaries of real financial and social elites. They are errand boys and errand girls, in essence. Albeit errand boys of higher status than we typically are. Sub-elites could be a more appropriate term, but this also has problems.

“Blah blah blah Kamal, get to the point”

Society today is a pyramid,  it is leveled  with tiers, the slope of ascent is gradual so we don’t notice it unless we are careful. Each layer is smaller than the one before, and each layer depends on the one before as its base, it’s support. Without a base it cannot manifest and affect change.

Like all things on this ‘lil ‘ol mortal coil, such things are of relativity, matters of degree; hierarchy, power and influence included.

One of today’s realities is that the potential for influence and a sort of soft exercise of power has spread widely. These have become more disintermediated. Depth is sacrificed for broad exposure, but a clever person can achieve some depth of influence – still – by realizing that the ability to inform others, affect others, to motivate, or de-motivate, to persuade, to or be persuaded, to be informed, to be motivated by others, on a large scale, has become more direct.

There is benefit in this, and there is loss.

What it does mean is that the degree of deep influence that was once the prerogative of cultural elites is now attainable, for many. Few of course take this and seize it. But the potential is there. It would be a mistake to think that this will always be the case, or that deep reach and influence is married to broad reach and influence, sometimes they exclude each other, sometimes both may be possible to a degree. It is a mistake to think that either will last once achieved.

Dig around in old books magazines or movies, or better yet just talk to older people (something few people actually do today) and pay attention, close attention to the people who were once the rage, who were influential, who had a huge impact in the past, and how quickly this impact fades. Some very clever and very smart and very creative people once were very influential but you will not find their names in Google, except on literally one or two sites. But dig around in a used book store and you will see a different picture.

Power and Money.
Financial power is more of a means than an end, money is not power, it is a tool and a means. Many people misunderstand this, including a few people with a lot of money, but who typically gained this money recently. People who have had money for a long time are more realistic about these matters. Money is not value, it is a temporary store and means by which value is exchanged. There are some things more valuable than cash money and mistaking money for influence, power, and elite status is a classic mistake.

Apart from absurd concentrations of money and wealth, the overall affluence of Western societies lessens the leverage that relative wealth has on others. We have to distinguish money and wealth from each other, because they are two separate things. One is a means by which the other can be acquired or transferred. But it is not it, in itself.

If a society is solidly middle class in its consumption and earnings even extreme concentrations of wealth on the part of a financial elite will be less noticed. When the poor are effectively rich by past standards – in that they have access to food, shelter, heat, and a surplus of consumption products, obviously both their wealth “Hood Rich” and their poverty, both, are somewhat of an illusion.

Just about no one starves in most Western nations, make no mistake about it, poverty even in the early 20th century could literally mean starvation. There are people who are desperately poor in America, of course. Millions. There are people who have fallen through the cracks. Go through small town America, Appalachia, many rural parts of the country, and you will see people who are struggling and desperately poor, trying to get by. This doesn’t contradict what I said. It adds a nuance, you see the trick here is that poverty is managed in a way to keep people in debt and in a structure that they simply will not rebel against.

“Blah blah blah Kamal, get to the point”

Post-democratic Western societies like American and Britain are typically run by an intelligentsia class, on behalf of – but not part of – an elite. Hollywood actors are not part of an elite no matter how well paid, they are entertainers keeping the masses in line.  Academic elites are functionaries kept in line by a system of privileges, grant money, and prestige who typically parrot from a general consensus and indoctrinate the next generation of middle management. Looking at the indoctrination as left wing or right is a mistake. The academia class of intelligentsia are an expert class whose political views and inclinations are irrelevant. Conservative or liberal, Right wing or left wing, there is typically a basic set of axioms that everyone subscribes to except he most radical on the edges.

Our expert classes, while ostensibly enlightened, in reality are just as mediocre as you or I, and sometimes quite worse.

It is utterly surprising that people, well educated and intelligent, or not so well educated and more intelligent (some of the most intelligent people I’ve met have had the least formal schooling) actually believe and trust these people.

When you have a system whose natural result is to produce cliques of narrowly specialized pseudo-experts who lack any greater type of erudition, and hence who lack a cognitive database floating around in their pretty little heads that is wide enough to give them wider context to fit things in, then you have a system that is set up to inexorably produce people who are incapable of dealing with the larger world in a more nuanced way.

Multilingualism and literacy has something to do with this. Realize this, like it or not, if we only know one language, then we are handicapped no matter how intelligent we may be. Many people find their minds broadening when they learn another language in greater depth. You begin to see to a small degree how different rubrics,  little parts of speech, words and how they are used, molds our thoughts. But it really takes exposure to a wide number of languages to see this deeply.

Experts and Governance.

Expert class governance in post-democratic Western societies is typically performed by narrow minded people incapable of seeing outside their narrow fields. What people call an interdisciplinary approach is what was once taken for granted, the ability to bring facts and knowledge from multiple fields to synthesize a greater view of things. Our experts are not part of any elite, they simply wash elite dishes and iron their socks. metaphorically speaking, of course. And they are more like us in spite of degrees, credentials, or learned cant.

None of this is to insult them, I deeply respect experts, real experts. Masters at their field or art or science. And I deeply respect knowledge. But this is just to put things in perspective and to discourage paternalism. You have to cultivate yourself, learn, read widely, and question your own bloody cherished “truths” because if you don’t put in this work you are agreeing to be someone else’s bitch and slave. I won’t mince words about this, you put in the effort – to whatever degree you are capable of – or you remain a schmuck who is spoken down to by people who, in reality, are almost just as banal as you are.

There’s no way around it really.

Experts. You trust them? Why?

It’s a mistake to take an absolute attitude towards these things, being petulant and rejecting expert advice is stupid. Worshiping experts is equally stupid and pernicious. Balance, in all things. And as Hagbard Celine, (the protagonist in Illuminatus ) once said

“Think for yourself, schmuck !”

Quotes of the day, Wed. 4/28/2010

Scattered quotes that I found interesting, some from recent conversations, others from more peculiar sources:
“Nihilist is just a nice word for someone who gives up. I never met a nihilist who wasn’t thoroughly annoyed. It’s like the kind of thing that 14 year olds bandy about” – Thomas Lynn 2/10/2010

“Don’t dance around the bush, just call lies lies, period. Just throw semantic bricks but consider and read deeply first acquire to acquire the terms, words the deeper understanding. And know who to ask advice from. Yeah, advice. You have to take good advice.

Sex is a good example. You see, when it comes to sex, it is not worthy nor fitting to ask most men anything at all. Most have nothing but bad advice and most will lead you astray. You must go to purer more original sources than some schmuck with a string of failed relationships. If you are lucky maybe you figure it out without going through too much harm, or maybe you find the one unique man with actual knowledge about it who can see through the delusions of his drives appetites and give good objective advice.” – N. Budakhan over coffee, 03/2010

“..What lies?
He’s finally come alive
Out of these mediocre plentiful things all the time
A steady stream of madness
Conscious to a flood
The clock is ticking for Bad Blood..” – Ministry, Bad Blood

“..next to war the next best way to make money is health products.. You know, thats the beauty of it. The fact that someone actually went through the process of making food replacements. Take meat replacements, FDA approval and all that bullshit, it just means, well, that you probably should start eating meat after all…” – Abu Abdullah Maghribi, 4/21/2010 while chilling out on Ludlow, chatting about on Truvia, and the supplement industry

“..i’m in love with this malicious intent
you’ve been taken but you don’t know it yet
what you will know must never live to be found
cos it’s the subject of the eyes of the drowned..” – Ministry, N.W.O.

“..We are products of our environment, but you have to seperate yourself from people who don’t think and see like you think. You’ve got survive, and reign supreme, and know and recognize this.  So avoid idiots, and even your family if they don’t see what you see and obstruct you. They try to tell you you are wrong, but no, I’m going to MAKE it work,  and it will catepult me to the level where I need and want to be at.. Never forget that even though you might break through a barrier, you will still have enemies. So you’ve got to always know and keep touch with your support base, and keep communications with them.

Benazir Bhutto’s an example. If the goal is to perpetuate yourself and persevere, and not destroy yourself prematurely, then always keep close to your base of power and support. Malcolm X made the same mistake as Bhutto, he stepped out there thinking he’s changing the world and making an example, and what do they do? They slaughtered him right in front of his babies and wife. That’s no way to go.

The English have a proverb, he who runs away lives to fight another day. Basically quitting while your ahead isn’t the same as quitting.. it’s like the Prophet’s hijra, you retreat to survive, and to be stronger and then return.

It works like this, the uncouth and dishonest destroy the cream of the crop. This is a problem with the western world. If you know that you have the cream, then you’ve got to develop yourself to the point where you can protect yourself from the uncouth and from maggots, and maybe someday even propel away and advance. They would crush you if they could, so if you want to survive sometimes you must retreat, and then come back with strength. So you get your money in a way they have to respect you for, by not hurting anyone, respectable, the hard way, you keep close to your support base, and then you return with strength.” – B. Muhammadu D. S. Kamau on business, war, and politics.

funny search term of the day, that people find me by

This stuff is all anonymous in my logs, I mean I can see ip address and geographic locations but there is no way for me to actually tell who out there is typing in this stuff. So if I sound snarky or sarcastic, I’m not making fun of anyone in particular, just all in good humor.

Anyway the google search term of the day, by which someone landed at my little nest here, is:
mariemont starbucks skinny barista

I couldn’t resist cracking up over this one.

Whoever you are out there, the one you probably have in mind is Erin.
She is an absolute cutie, a sweetie, well bred and her ingenue like demeanor has caused many a foolish boy’s heart to fall into depths of infatuation. She has good taste in Indie Music and you will probably find conversations with her quite pleasant.

This gives me an opportunity to talk about the Mariemont Starbucks folks in general. They are all cool as hell. In particular Rob. He’s one cool mother..

Yo, just representing ’em.  Be sure to leave them large tips. They deserve it.


Quote of the day Sunday April 25 2010

“..why are we getting our political opinions from entertainers?

It means that all of those who you hear lauded as “geniuses” are not, and those you never hear about may be, because society confers “genius” as a marketing title for denial experts, not reality experts.

It means you live in parallel worlds, one called social-reality and one called physical-reality. In social reality, the language of commercials predominate; in physical reality, when you bring the product home, you find the instructions are wrong and you need some hideous hack to make it even work.

Take a critical look around you as you go through life. The people you see celebrated; are they worth celebrating, or just clever denial experts? Are our leaders honorable, or just good at hiding their intentions? While I love my country, and my world, the best manifestation of that love is a clear-eyed view of reality itself. ”
– Brett Stevens at Amerika.org

Awesome and detailed tutorials in Classical Arabic !

I stumbled on these awesome and extremely detailed tutorials in the Classical Arabic Language.

They are designed to allow an english reader to teach herself a good deal of the theory behind syntax, morphology, and other essential topics in Ancient classical Arabic.

Each page has sub page sections to click on below. I’m finding them fascinating and this material is rarely covered in english books on the language. Anyone teaching herself Arabic – or just interested in knowing a bit more about the language would find these fascinating.

Greater Etymology


This one, on Greater Etymology, is particularly fascinating. It shows a good deal of the process of how meaning is found and extracted in the individual letter patterns in Classical Arabic

Some Fundamentals of Classical Logic al-Mantiq (the Arabs considered Logic as a linguistic science, essential to deriving meaning from statements and discovering invalid statements)

Some Fundamentals of Classical Rhetoric