Friday, July 13, 2012

sounds like chicago....,



NYTimes | Everybody thinks they are countercultural rebels, insurgents against the true establishment, which is always somewhere else. This attitude prevails in the Ivy League, in the corporate boardrooms and even at television studios where hosts from Harvard, Stanford and Brown rail against the establishment.

As a result, today’s elite lacks the self-conscious leadership ethos that the racist, sexist and anti-Semitic old boys’ network did possess. If you went to Groton a century ago, you knew you were privileged. You were taught how morally precarious privilege was and how much responsibility it entailed. You were housed in a spartan 6-foot-by-9-foot cubicle to prepare you for the rigors of leadership.

The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.

Today’s elite is more talented and open but lacks a self-conscious leadership code. The language of meritocracy (how to succeed) has eclipsed the language of morality (how to be virtuous). Wall Street firms, for example, now hire on the basis of youth and brains, not experience and character. Most of their problems can be traced to this.

If you read the e-mails from the Libor scandal you get the same sensation you get from reading the e-mails in so many recent scandals: these people are brats; they have no sense that they are guardians for an institution the world depends on; they have no consciousness of their larger social role.

The difference between the Hayes view and mine is a bit like the difference between the French Revolution and the American Revolution. He wants to upend the social order. I want to keep the current social order, but I want to give it a different ethos and institutions that are more consistent with its existing ideals.

6 comments:

Paul Sunstone said...

I hope you get your American Revolution. That said, I fear we might be headed more towards the French model.

CNu said...

The best of the WASP elites had a stewardship mentality, that they were
temporary caretakers of institutions that would span generations. They
cruelly ostracized people who did not live up to their codes of
gentlemanly conduct and scrupulosity. They were insular and struggled
with intimacy, but they did believe in restraint, reticence and service.


Reflecting back on my own life, and given what I know about others whom I respect and know to practice restraint and service to others, I'm good with the structure and functions of the old WASP elite social order.

Paul Sunstone said...

By "old WASP elite social order", do you mean the New England based WASPs? It's my understanding that's the group that by and large ran the country until rather recently.

CNu said...

Not necessarily.

I think the WASP diaspora was rather far flung, at least as far as the westernmost reach of the confederacy (Missouri). I'm quite certain that through the 20th century, they were fairly well represented. Matter fact, I'd guess that representative elements were seeded throughout the old confederacy as watchmen to give signal to any potential regional political micro-insurgencies.

Maintenance of the network was accomplished via the boarding school and university ritual pilgrimages - all around the Ivy League - at which time the imprimatur (extended network) of old new england WASP sanction was affirmed and passed on.

Now, that has changed to a certain extent due to other sources and concentrations of wealth. Most particularly the energy sector (represented for example by the Koch Bros.) who old line New England or other WASP's they are decidedly NOT. (The old liners are typically to be found in banking, merchandising and transportation, communications, and media)

I'm quite certain at this time that there are at least two if not three competing deep state camps of elite governance in the U.S. which tend to pass the hot potato of public and military administration back and forth in order to maintain the peace within their own ranks and give the appearance of stability and solidarity before the populace at large.

Right now, the WASPs are running things through the auspices of the Brookings Institute presidency. How much longer this formation can be tolerated by the other two elite governance camps remains to be seen.

Dale Asberry said...

Such language was *very* clear throughout the rituals in my college fraternity. The fraternity was also very clear about no-hazing assclownery.

United States Police Hub said...

Yawn