Thursday, September 13, 2012

Why is Elitist Such a Bad Word?

Elite schools, elite surgeons, elite forces, elite revolutionary corps.

Each has its place.

Even in our younger, Chan-Board days, L33T or L337-speak stood opposite to it's denigrated opposite, n00b. Elite was, and should be considered good, and definitely useful.

The best defence of being above average, or even in a level all to oneself, i.e, elite, is the short story I read, Harrison Bergeron by Kurt Vonnegut.

Mind you this was written in 1961, 16 years after World War II, a time when the largest economy of the world (the US), the largest landmass (the USSR) and the largest population (China) were locked into rigid systems of conformity. The latter two (the USSR & China) existed beyond mere conformity, into the totalitarianism of Communism and Maoism.

In such a world, Kurt Vonnegut penned a tale, telling the story about a boy, his love, and his desire to show boat his talent a little bit. With tragic-comic results.

But that was the more dangerous, colder, potentially more apocalyptic world of 1961.

In today’s world, the Randians of Atlas Shrugged’s fame have taken things a little too far and channeling various resentments have pushed back the welfare state so far, it’s anemic, been relieved at the post-Soviet dismantling of the Communist era social support structure and gleefully joined hand with the descendants of “Maoism” to wreck havoc on China’s environment and voiceless labour force.

This isn’t individual elitism; this is systematic exploitation. There is a difference.

And Mr Kurt Vonnegut Jr. spoke out against the depredation of the state systems against the global ecology, till the bitter end of his life.

Elite work is alright. Exploitation, never so.

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