William's Reviews > Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy

Twilight of the Elites by Christopher L. Hayes
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's review
Jun 23, 2012

Read from June 23, 2012 to May 21, 2013

Starting notes: Chris Hayes writes with clarity. For most of the way, an effective critique of meritocratic society. the notion of fractal structures among the elites (that we repeat the same distribution, the same assumptions) also seems to apply downward -- something Hayes does not address. That is, our society is as much to be deformed by these same meritocratic structures of winner-take-all/tournament rewards as not. This is the deeper, anti-democratic and anti-egalitarian problem of meritocracy.

The solution from Hayes is unfortunately limited. He ends up trying to reform from within. Here, the problem is probably better understood as cultural: the deformations, the corruptions of power are in fact self-reinforcing, so the only option one has is to change the dialogue entirely as to what matters. For the middle class, this is especially important: the cultural narratives of the elites (left and right) must be resisted.

The particular point of resistance would be that of the arts.

The nature of the wealth and ability of elites (acquired ability being but another expression of wealth) means that perfomative arts migrate north, that individuals become consumers in a culture, but not creators. The act of rejection is the assertion of art by and for everyone. In this light, one of the most potent and subversive actions with respect to the elite is the establishment of one's own culture, even while knowing that elite culture with its "cool hunters" (thanks, Gibson) will try to capture.

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05/21/2013 marked as: read

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