The circling of the elites

Sunday morning so thought I would look at the paper and there we have this column by PVO on Political discourse coarsened by reactionary war against ‘elites’. It’s not every reactionary who becomes the wave of the future, but there is this possibility in DJT. It is a bit old timey, but let me take you back to what I still think makes a lot of sense:

The circulation of elite is a theory of regime change described by Italian social scientist Vilfredo Pareto (1848–1923). Changes of regime, revolutions, and so on occur not when rulers are overthrown from below, but when one elite replaces another.

There will always be leaders in every society and they will come from a variety of directions and use different means to hold on when challenged. But this is the essence of what PVO has to say:

A book by American professor Tom Nichols titled The Death of Expertise: The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters, explores how and why modern society has embraced such a lowbrow approach. [My bolding]

Let me take my own area of expertise, economics. You can certainly accuse me of campaigning against modern textbook theory which, so far as I can see, has brought our economies very low although making some people very rich. Go back to the first civilisations and you will see this everywhere you go. There are some few who are very rich and there are others who are not. The thing about our societies in the West is that those who are not do very very well by historical standards. But if your expertise is founded on the belief that increased aggregate demand and higher public spending are good for growth and employment, then your expertise, in my view, is junk science.

And the fact is, there is a lot of that kind of stuff around at the moment, with agw as large a danger to our communal wealth and well being as I have ever seen. So what does PVO say about that?

Climate change scientists might be the specialists when it comes to assessing global warming, and I’ll defer to their judgment rather than embrace the conspiracy theories of polemicists who dispute the evidence. But when climate scientists seek to influence policy mechanisms for addressing climate change, they move outside their area of expertise. Scientists recommending how best to structure tax or energy trading systems is akin to me offering medical advice: buyer beware. [My bolding again]

Those lowbrow polemicists attacking our elites who indulge in various forms of crony capitalism as they sell us massively government-subsidised wind farms and solar panels may actually have a point, and even more so if you think that these very same elites want to open our borders to anyone who decides to show up.

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44 Responses to The circling of the elites

  1. alexnoaholdmate

    Questioning the elites’ stranglehold on modern discourse makes one “lowbrow.”

    And that there, in a nutshell, is the entire issue, summed up in one phrase by a member of the elite himself, and without a trace of irony.

    No self awareness. Unbelievable.

  2. incoherent rambler

    I’ll defer to their judgment

    Maybe that is the sum total of the problem. No critical thinking.

  3. Mique

    PVO annoys me intensely. A classic example of la trahison des clercs.

  4. john constantine

    Pay to Play.

    All their filthvan has to offer to purchase his ride on the inside track is tonguebaths, so he makes damn sure everybody that matters gets one.

  5. Walter Plinge

    Rather than deferring to experts (never a good idea) PVO should read The Cult of the Expert by Brian Ford (1982):

    The Cult of the Expert is a highly entertaining and ingenious attack on the Experts who blind us with science, confuse us with jargon, frustrate us with bureaucracy, intimidate us with superiority – and yet – precisely because they are so successful at all this – have the power to appropriate huge shares of public funds and to make decisions which fundamentally affect our daily lives.

    Stephen Potter delighted us with One-Upmanship, Parkinson coined his famous Law, Nancy Mitford brought us U and Non-U. Brian J. Ford has added to the English language Fashionism and Nonscience (the pronunciation is part of the pun).

    His spirited attack on the huge institutions and the faceless pundits who dominate the world of science is hilarious – and has a dreadful ring of truth. Every reader will recognize his examples of bureaucratic waste, deceit, self-aggrandisement, bullying – and sheer idiocy. This is a timely and important book, for Brian J. Ford’s message is that our blind subservience to the Experts is leading to the decay and destruction of our society.”

    Nothing has changed. It has gotten worse.

  6. Joe

    …for Brian J. Ford’s message is that our blind subservience to the Experts is leading to the decay and destruction of our society.

    When Engineers were in charge of building infrastructure, we got roads, electricity grids that could be relied upon, clean water, sewerage disposal, communications networks etc. Ever since the arrival of the MBA, true experts were pushed to the side and their recommendations ignored in favour of rent seeking do nothings and responsibility avoiders. This appears to be true in all walks of life. Companies that used to be run by engineers and are now run by MBAs loose their way. Governments similarly mistake getting in everyones face as good governance.

    Sack the MBAs, get the practical engineers back in power.

  7. wreckage

    It’d be fine if the “experts” actually respected expertise. They don’t respect a businessman’s expertise in business, a farmer’s expertise in farming, an engineer’s expertise in engineering; to dismiss reaction to that, and dismiss practical expertise as “lowbrow” is part of the institutional disease.

  8. Razor

    “such a lowbrow approach.”

    exudes precisely the elitism that is now in the way of democracy.

  9. Old School Conservative

    “such a lowbrow approach.”

    Precisely the criticism of Trump. While he was getting his message across with clarity and brevity, he was being harangued by the elites for being lowbrow.
    They missed their mark.

  10. candy

    I think “lowbrow” means not much taste or discernment/culture, so I guess PvO has good taste and discernment and those who disagree with him don’t.

  11. Razor

    I read lowbrow as lacking intellectual basis according to those who deem themselves judges of such things

  12. Bruce of Newcastle

    Climate change scientists might be the specialists when it comes to assessing global warming, and I’ll defer to their judgment rather than embrace the conspiracy theories of polemicists who dispute the evidence.

    Anyone who believes that should be treating their ulcers with milk, bismuth or Mylanta.
    A billion dollar a year quack ulcer cure industry disappeared overnight after Marshall did his work, for which he was mercilessly persecuted.

    The government climate scientists, with a very few exceptions, are the ones who dispute the evidence that the Sun and the ocean cycles mainly control the global temperature and climate, and CO2 has little effect.

    A trillion dollar industry is also about to disappear overnight.

  13. Razor

    Could be used by the author as an alternate for populism (according to elist’s def of populism).

  14. Tel

    The Campaign Against Established Knowledge and Why It Matters

    This guy is a bit late to the party.

    Should have been there in 1517 reporting about the list of grievances nailed to a church door.

  15. H B Bear

    van Wrongselen is never worth reading. A perfect example of Taleb’s IYI – intellectual yet idiot.

  16. Andrew

    Scientists recommending how best to structure tax or energy trading systems is akin to me offering medical advice: buyer beware.

    That’s about the closest we could hope to get to this cocksucker admitting he’s been wrong to be sucked in by the Green Blob. Take whatever you can get from Monty van Oscillate. This is Phase 2: “I was totally right about Da Science but these policies are ineffective.”

  17. Horace Wimple

    it’s funny, the only person who seems to take PVO seriously is PVO. To everyone else he is just a more wet lettuce blowing in the wind. Truly snails could bring him down.

  18. JamesS

    Professional technocrats are getting paid a lot of money to keep the public money spigots open, and to increase its trajectory. We could all name wasteful examples in education, health, climate deception, politics, economics etc. No value add to productive society. Enablers, like PVO and most media, were useful to keep us distracted. 2016 changed most of that.

  19. Gary

    Is it lowbrow to expect Scientists not Futurist?

  20. A Lurker

    If a well-meaning member of the Australian elite should desire to seek advice or feedback on their social engineering projects, then the obvious choice is to ask those who are at the pointy-end of the consequences of those social engineering projects. That is – ordinary working class Aussies.

    This is the primary reason for the ascendance of Pauline Hanson. She connects with ordinary Aussies, when other politicians remain in their elitist bubble.

  21. Dr Fred Lenin

    Pauline Hanson would have great experience of indigenius problems ,she would have thrown heaps of drunken foul mouthed indigenius mugs out of the fish and chip shop ,now that IS experience ,never mind the uni social work degree or the extensive academic taxpayer funded study ..

  22. classical_hero

    BoN, it’s even worse, if we are to take PVO at his work. WE should be bleeding ourselves whenever we get sick, because that will improve the imbalance in the four humors we have.

  23. Driftforge

    A reactionary war against elites. Heh.

    No, a reactionary war would actually install some elites, instead of the shambles we have now. That is rather what reactionary means.

  24. classical_hero

    BoN, as a result of the discovery of how bacteria work in the stomach, it’s been rather disappointing that the medical community has basically ignored the role of bacteria and other things in the digestive system. This is what you get when you listen to expert, since they are reluctant to listen to new advice.

  25. Chester Draws

    and I’ll defer to their judgment rather than embrace the conspiracy theories of polemicists who dispute the evidence.

    Sadly for his argument, scepticism of dangerous climate change rises with education in the sciences. It’s the non-science types who are held in thrall, because they have no choice but to believe what they are told.

    If he deferred to the judgement of people who have studied the issue but are outsiders and see its mistakes then he wouldn’t trust the experts either.

    Getting people who believe in expert opinion to run through the history of treatment of psychiatric disease tends to quieten them down. Phrenology, eugenics, lobotomies, frigid mothers causing autism, electro-shock treatment, teeth-pulling — it’s not very pretty.

  26. Razor

    The life of Brian is a wonderful demonstration of rigid democratic leadership (the Judean Front and 20 other alternate but democratically derived names for it). It seems the circulation of the elite is a complex way of describing that there are leaders and plebs by nature. It is probably true that leaders will always rise to the front in frustration of the situations described by the monty python crew. Leaders will thus always constitute an elite. Would it be true that anarchy is the only alternative? (betyu that even in anarchy there will be leading anarchists.)

  27. Walter Plinge

    “Getting people who believe in expert opinion to run through the history of treatment of psychiatric disease tends to quieten them down. Phrenology, eugenics, lobotomies, frigid mothers causing autism, electro-shock treatment, teeth-pulling — it’s not very pretty.”

    Not to mention monkey glands:

    https://www.wikiwand.com/en/Serge_Voronoff

    “As his work fell out of favour he went from being highly respected to a subject of ridicule. Other doctors, and the public at large, quickly distanced themselves from Voronoff…By the time of his death in 1951 at the age of 85, few newspapers noted his passing, and those that did acted as if Voronoff had always been ridiculed for his beliefs.”

    There’s a lesson there for the gullible PVO and his religion’s priests.

  28. Tel

    Anyone who admits they have no capacity to evaluate an argument and therefore must defer to the judgment of experts, is at the same time admitting they have no idea who is an expert, nor do they have any method for figuring out the difference between one self proclaimed expert and another.

    They would just as easily defer judgment at random.

  29. Jannie

    PVO Kelly and Savva, personify the reasons I cancelled my sub to The Australian. I wouldn’t follow a link to them even if I could get through the paywall.

    But the main underlying issue with “elites” is indeed lack of self awareness. It’s an inability to empathise, to place yourself in the shoes of those you seek to rule. In some extreme cases, such as Kelly, such lack of empathy borders on psychopathy. He may be a nice person at home, but his prescriptions to rule make him dangerous to the people doing the hard hands on work.

    The elites are intelligent for sure, though perhaps not Savva. But their intelligence is flawed by the inability to grasp that little people can follow their arguments, and are able to identify logical fallacies and false assumptions. They are not intellectual elites, they just got a lucky seat with some control over the bus. In their hubristic bubble they are able to dismiss those who do not share their assumptions as stupid or evil.

  30. Joe

    But their intelligence is flawed by the inability to grasp that little people can follow their arguments,…

    Or even if others cannot follow their arguments, their overweening pride in their cogitations lead them to dismiss the others opinions and decisions.

    Many here are guilty of the same thinking when they dismiss as shiftless those on welfare. The unappealing truth is that the unrelenting progress of modernization is designed to replace manual labour with automation. That the surplus labour in the past has found other work is no indication that this will occur in the future. Furthermore, many in the population now ask themselves why they should be a wage slave to fill the pockets of rich and shiftless. Better to become shiftless themselves and reap the benefits of a modern society.

  31. miltonf

    PVO Kelly and Savva, personify the reasons I cancelled my sub to The Australian. I wouldn’t follow a link to them even if I could get through the paywall.

    + Phillip Adams. Also used to find Melegogenis very offensive.

  32. Infidel Tiger

    What is PVO?

    A short, angry man with delusions that he is part of the elite and an intellectual.

  33. Crossie

    Questioning the elites’ stranglehold on modern discourse makes one “lowbrow.”

    And that there, in a nutshell, is the entire issue, summed up in one phrase by a member of the elite himself, and without a trace of irony.

    No self awareness. Unbelievable.

    Just enough self awareness to believe they are the elite and under threat but not smart enough to work out why.

  34. egg_

    Questioning the elites’ stranglehold on modern discourse makes one “lowbrow.”

    Deplorable!

  35. john constantine

    Once robots, 3d printing, bioengineering, 5g internet, and the unsuspected have replaced unskilled manual labour, the only gainful employment the mobs of proles will have is hunting down and lynching those members of the elite that have locked in massive Government pensions and benefits.

    Forget death duties on legacy capital, lynch a few thousand of the highest payout social justice aristocracy every twelve months would save society billions.

  36. Up The Workers!

    Fat Al Bore, the well-known bloviating septic who made that film about his old mother-in-law in the retirement home, called: “The Incontinent Ruth”, certainly doesn’t “…embrace the conspiracy theories of polemicists…” either .

    BUT, according to numerous articles I read about him a couple of years ago, he DOES have quite a reputation for frequently ’embracing’ elderly female hotel janitors, cleaning ladies, and industrious lavatory scrubbers while earnestly beseeching them to “relieve his chakras”.

    Apparently Fat Al is often grievously constipated with these “chakras” and he believes that only the judicious intervention elderly female lavatory cleaners, charladies and over-ripe janitors can render him assistance – look it up on Google. (Maybe some deft and arcane wielding of the plunger is what he is after???)

    Yeah, I’d give a bloke like THAT a squillion or three to fix up a broken climate thingy.

    Wouldn’t you?

    You can’t get much more LOW BROW than that!

  37. Muddy

    John Constantine.
    The Hunger Games. But nastier.

  38. Leo G

    Climate change scientists might be the specialists when it comes to assessing global warming, and I’ll defer to their judgment rather than embrace the conspiracy theories of polemicists who dispute the evidence.

    So many logical errors in one small deferral. Climate change scientists:-
    – are the only experts when it comes to assessing global warming;
    – don’t dispute (ie discuss or argue) the evidence;
    – never embrace conspiracy theories.
    Deferring to the judgment of a climate change polemicist, whether or not they are climate change scientists or some other kind of expert, does not imply one is embracing their conspiracy theories.

  39. cynical1

    PVO should be pictured in the dictionary under “Glans”.

    Or for the lowbrow, “Knob end”.

  40. Jannie

    The unappealing truth is that the unrelenting progress of modernization is designed to replace manual labour with automation. That the surplus labour in the past has found other work is no indication that this will occur in the future.

    Joe I know several healthy, intelligent young men who are unable to get off welfare, for any length of time. Sadly I am a bit of a missionary and have tried to help in various ways, including financially. They try hard to find work, but seem to keep failing because of supposedly unreasonable supervisors and profit hungry bosses. One common theme is that they think they are not appreciated for their obvious abilities (their supervisors are stupid), another is that they are proud men who know their rights and are not going to put up with shit from anybody. They don’t need to swallow their pride because a job is not a key to survival. The languish on the fringes and never develop real working skills.

    But labour, surplus or not, has a value, and could do many useful things, even if menial. From cleaning to gardening, recycling waste to planting trees. The price of the labour makes many possibilities uneconomical- the price inflated by attitudes of personal entitlement and institutional barriers such as minimum wages and regulations.

    There may indeed be a permanent underclass of drones who are unable to cross the barriers to productive employment. You could pay them the average wage, and buy them all a seaside bungalow, but without the discipline of daily employment and hard work, you will still have to feed them and clean their houses. So if they must be supported, it would be better to have them digging holes and filling them in again, rather than sitting in front of the TV, getting wasted and watching the footie for life.
    xxx

    Milton, I’ve spent a long time trying to clear my head of pollutants such as Adams and Megapills from my head. I have to start again now. Thanks…;-)

  41. Tom

    I would like Steve Kates to debate the topic, in fact, any topic with PVO on Sky News. PVO gets far too much coverage for half-***ed News ‘Academic’ in ‘Political Science’, and I would dearly like to see his comeuppance.

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