Is the Intellectual Elite Out of Touch with Reality?
It has been a central conceit of the progressive movement since the early 1900’s that simply getting enough smart people together will cure all our problems.
This is the approach of technocracy — rule by experts. We tried it. Wilson and his ilk “solved” the problem of world peace after WWI, Kennedy and his brain trust “solved” the Bay of Pigs crisis with Cuba, Reagan and his A-Team of savvy business people “broke down” the Soviet Union, George W. Bush and his close circle of neo-cons “prevailed” over evil in the Middle East.
All of them with their elite “Ivy leaguers” thought they were going to redraw the maps of the globe. All what they did was create a bigger mess than ever in every single corner of the globe…. We’re still cleaning up the mess in the Middle East caused by acts of hubris and years of “rookie” foreign policy. We now have practically every country in the world on our back resenting our actions after having lost all trust in us to say the least…. and this is just the beginning.
It is high time to wake up and start realizing that very smart men, with PhD’s and holding distinguished chairs at elite universities does not mean that all intellectuals are wrong, but it does mean that mere academic pedigree is an insufficient credential for developing public policy.
As Thomas Sowell’s book, “Intellectuals and Society” states:.
“If you have an elite that thinks the voters are stupid, then the voters end up just being their political plaything. If voters try to make an intelligent argument, they are rebuffed and suppressed, because the elite think of themselves as the smartest people in the room, and they don’t want anyone contesting them”.
Precisely what’s happening during every Presidential election in recent history. Anyone outside the “elite Establishment” is a plain idiot who does not know what he/she is talking about. Anyone inside the “beltway” is someone we should closely listen to… How far from the truth.
I believe that Leadership, particularly at large scales like government, isn’t about telling people what to do, it’s about bringing people with you. If you aren’t bringing people with you, you functionally aren’t leading.
Communication is a key part of politics in our age. And the relational and EQ piece of the overall leadership package is critical if you want to be a real representative of the people.
The big problem with the intellectual elite is that they tend to either underestimate the difficulty of solving large complex problems, or overestimate their ability to reason through them….Their egos write checks their intellects cannot cash.
My hope would be that political leaders one day develop the good judgement to know when to call on intellectual elites and when not to.
I would say we do want an intellectual elite contributing to society, but we would benefit a lot from more humility from many of them.
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