Mittwoch, Februar 18, 2009

A follow-up...and liberal condescension

This was in today's WSJ.

Read the whole thing.

The key quote is:

Thus, if patriotism is the last refuge of a scoundrel, snobbery is the last refuge of the liberal-arts major. The striver may wind up with the bigger house, better car and nicer vacations, but the very meretriciousness of these aspirations confirms the liberal arts major's belief in the striver's inferior taste and barren inner life. Conspicuous consumption advertises not the wealth but the cluelessness of the consumer who acquires to flaunt. It has been supplanted by conspicuous disdain for conspicuous consumption. The Toyota Prius is a testament to its driver's virtue, not a mark of his prosperity. Its distinctive homeliness has made it a hit, at a time when Honda has cancelled production of the hybrid version of the Accord: it turned out nobody wanted to buy a hybrid that was indistinguishable from an iceberg-melting V-6.

This is exactly the snobbery that we saw buried in the last post: a sort of post-modern snobbery, as it were. It is the core of the anti-globalist sentiment that we saw in yesterday's article: the cluelessness of the consumer and how it is necessary to stop them.


...the new bourgeois bohemians have figured out a way to have their pesto and eat it, too. They can have nice homes, cars, clothes and vacations—as long as all those consumption items are ones that the Babbitts wouldn't buy, wouldn't like, and whose appeal they'd find mystifying. The Bobo can pay for his socially correct lifestyle by working in a socially correct career—in Silicon Valley, a public-interest law firm, a startup involved with the internet or renewable energy; anything where work "becomes a vocation, a calling, a métier," according to Mr. Brooks.

We see here all the basic elements, employed for the past 28 years, of liberal condescension. Every issue of The New Yorker, Vanity Fair or Rolling Stone makes clear that the policy positions of George W. Bush, Republicans and conservatives in general are wicked and stupid. The real problem, however, is that everything about these people—where they reside, what they believe, how they live, work, recreate, talk and think—is in irredeemably bad taste. To embark on a conversation with one of them, based on straight-faced openness to the possibility of learning something interesting or important, would be like choosing to vacation in Wichita instead of Tuscany.

By the same token, whatever the correct assessment of Sarah Palin's abilities and limitations, it's impossible to imagine that it would have taken her 20 years of close contact with the Rev. Jeremiah Wright to notice that he sincerely believes a number of toxic, lunatic ideas. The thread connecting all of these—that 9/11 was a minor incident compared to the terrorism undertaken by the U.S., that AIDS was inflicted on Americans through deliberate government policies, that Louis Farrakhan is one of the greatest leaders of the 20th century—is that America is a wicked, contemptible place, and there is no such thing as an excessive criticism of it. Barack Obama's degrees from Columbia and Harvard law school may be proof of intellectual agility, but they do not guarantee good sense. For this, as William Buckley suggested 45 years ago, we are better advised to rely on graduates of the University of Idaho, or even the opinions of stewardesses.

This last is the key: liberalism has come to mean condescension and an arrogance that is at times overwhelming in its vehemence.

Intellect is no guarantee of good sense, let alone commons sense.

And Buckley was right: it would be better to be governed by the first 2000 names out of the Boston telephone book than by the 2000 professors of Harvard.

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