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

Twilight of the Elites by Christopher L. Hayes
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Jul 20, 2012

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Read from July 20 to 28, 2012

I've always enjoyed Christopher Hayes on MSNBC, and was looking forward to his book. The theme he elucidates is one that should be familiar to any American today - whether of the Tea Party or Occupy Wall Street variety - namely, that those "in charge" (our elites) have failed us. And they have failed us horribly. Our elites, supposedly having risen to their positions of power due to their own merit (hence, the meritocracy), have not suffered for their dismal performance, while the rest of America has had to pick up the pieces of the wreck they have left in their wake. It is a compelling argument made citing numerous recent examples from the past decade - such familiar disasters as Enron, Iraq, the housing bubble, Katrina, the Catholic Church - and he writes with an easy style that is easy to understand.

The main problem I have with his thesis, and here I'll insert my "SPOILER ALERT", is that he rightly says that it isn't enough to get angry and demonstrate against the powerful elites (a la OWS or the Tea Party) if all that it does is perpetuate the normal state of affairs for the vast majority of citizens (e.g. the middle class). He proposes that the solution is to rally the mass of the middle class through a combined Tea Party/Occupy Wall Street movement to fundamentally alter the terms of debate and seek systematic changes in American society that are middle class focused instead of 1% focused. I might add, he might as well call for world peace and legislate the end to all hate and require that each day start with a rainbow and unicorn parade. This solution is pure fantasy - even Obama has come to realize that the idea of reaching across the aisle to find common ground and compromise for the greater good, to be "post-partisan" is nonsense. The American Right have no desire to compromise or change. They are the defenders of the 1%, and they have made willing stooges of the Tea Party for their purposes in continuing the status quo.

So I started the book hoping for something truly thought provoking as a possible solution and instead I was left disappointed by his starry eyed belief that if we could only just come together as a middle class we could find a common ground of blah-blah-blah... sigh.
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message 1: by David (new)

David Sackett What a fantastic review! Thank you, Buck.

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