Bum Fight

Years ago, I was driving through a rural area in the early evening and as I came up on what looked like an old store, I saw a small crowd out front. The place was a broken down old gin mill and the people out front were watching two scraggly looking drunks duke it out. It was a sad sight. This was the sum total of two lives, drunk and punching one another in the face for the amusement of the crowd. That came to mind reading David French’s critique of this column by David Brooks.

French highlights this passage of the Brooks column:

Once upon a time, white male Protestants ruled the roost. You got into a fancy school if your father had gone to the fancy school. You got a job at a white-shoe law firm or climbed the corporate ladder if you golfed at the right club.

Then we smashed all that. We replaced a system based on birth with a fairer system based on talent. We opened up the universities and the workplace to Jews, women and minorities. University attendance surged, creating the most educated generation in history. We created a new boomer ethos, which was egalitarian (bluejeans everywhere!), socially conscious (recycling!) and deeply committed to ending bigotry.

You’d think all this would have made the U.S. the best governed nation in history. Instead, inequality rose. Faith in institutions plummeted. Social trust declined. The federal government became dysfunctional and society bitterly divided.

Now, putting aside the ret-conning, you would think French highlighted this section in order to make the obvious point. That maybe smashing the old system and turning the institutions over to “Jews, women and minorities” was the reason for the collapse in social trust, plummeting faith in institutions and a bitterly divided society. For that matter, you would think the guy who wrote that passage would have noticed the obvious link between overthrowing the old order and today’s chaos.

Instead, Brooks goes on to list nonsense reasons like “Inability to think institutionally” as the cause of the trouble. This is pretty much the opposite of reality. The managerial class is incapable of anything other than institutional thinking. The section labeled “Misplaced idolization of diversity” is nonsensical, but he is not allowed to say anything but nonsense when it comes to race, so Brooks wants the managerial elite to go on a team building excursion so they can feel better about themselves.

For his part, French is even more clueless.

Combine academic ignorance with a worldview that too often unthinkingly and reflexively rejects religious traditions and traditional religious notions of morality, and you’ve got the recipe for exactly the proud, “elite” individualist Brooks describes. Or, to borrow a biblical concept, “claiming to be wise, they became fools.”

He is right that the “meritocracy is here to stay,” but he’s wrong that we “need a new ethos to reconfigure it.” An old ethos will do, one grounded in humility, true curiosity, and an openness to challenging ideas.

It’s not that America’s “educated elite” has truly failed; it’s that America’s “educated elite” no longer really exists.


This is a guy who races to the front of the room whenever Conservative Inc. calls for a two minutes of hate against sexism, antisemitism, or racism. Conservatism is in free-fall because it has been defiantly close-minded to ideas that challenge the prevailing orthodoxy. The fact that the swelling ranks of the Dissident Right see guys like David French as part of the problem should be a clue, but that would require true curiosity about what’s going on and an openness to challenging ideas.

That said, he is not entirely wrong. The managerial state inevitably has to boil off the people who question the system. This is the iron rule of institutions. Some small portion care about the mission, but the bulk are simply their to defend the system and the perks which come from being a part of it. That’s what has happened in America. The ruling class is populated with the sorts of people gifted at repeating that they have been told, but incapable to questioning the status quo. Our elites are uniformly dull and unimaginative.

That’s why the West in general, but American in particularly is going through these populist convulsions. The people who run the institutions are incapable of questioning the logic of the institutions they serve. Both Brooks and French accept as an axiom that turning things over to “Jews, women and minorities” is a good in itself. Therefore they can’t question their role in the current troubles. They are emotionally wedded to the premise of the so-called meritocracy, so they inevitably must defend it from all challenges.

Fundamentally, no society can be run on merit. Any system that attempts to select for ability will inevitably select for that which reinforces itself. That’s what has happened in post-war America. The institution grew in size and reach, but their institution knowledge narrowed. The per capita Federal budget, for example, is three times larger today than 50 years ago, measured in constant dollars. Yet, the differences between the political parties has never been narrower. That’s why elections have had no impact on policy.

It’s also why people like French and Brooks worry about the “dysfunctional federal government and bitterly divided society.” The populist revolt is a direct challenge to the very idea of a managerial elite. Trump, for good or ill, is the rejection of that concept. He is not a man of merit. He is a man of accomplishments, which is a different thing than a list of credentials. David Brooks can sneer all he likes, but no one is putting his name on the side of a big building. No one is asking David French to build their luxury golf resort.

86 thoughts on “Bum Fight

  1. >(((Brooks))): “Then we smashed all that. We replaced a system based on birth with a fairer system based on talent.”

    this is hilarious. just look at the overrepresentation of jews in the Ivy Leagues – about 3-4 times what they actually earned while non-jewish whites are underrepresented at about 3x. Then look at CNN, then look at Hollywood, where those accused of sexual impropriety were about 75% jewish and the sample size was enough to guess that jews are in positions of power in Hollywood at about 75%.

    tell me about meritocracy, lol

  2. Meritocracy is like hate speech. It depends on who’s defining merit. I would rather be ruled by aristocrats who were “born to rule” than by people who think they earned it. It seems like aristocracy creates doubt, thoughtfulness and oblesse oblige rather than the certainty and spite meritocracy produces. it seems to me that aristocracy would also create a kind of tribal loyalty that global meritocrats can not understand

  3. “The ruling class is populated with the sorts of people gifted at repeating that they have been told, but incapable to questioning the status quo.” Hmmm…. perhaps this “best educated generation in history” has something to do with it? I taught in “higher” “”education”” for years. The people there are NOT educated. At all. They have spent the most years in a classroom — that’s it. I’ve had college seniors at a decently-ranked U. ask me if the Industrial Revolution was before or after the Renaissance. They know all 37 genders, though… so there’s that. (PS captcha ends in “IQ.” Not making this up).

    • In 1831 Tocqueville described Americans as the best educated people on earth, where almost no one was highly educated but most were highly literate through a few years of schooling, or learning to read by way of the bible and the odd volume of Shakespeare in a frontier hut. They applied their education through work at an early age and thus were educated in an unusually practical way, which he called Cartesian. Young people are curious and energetic, two things the modern classroom is designed to kill.

  4. “… a fairer system based on talent” just illustrates how “fairness” all too often really means envy of those who enjoy what you want but can’t have. So goes the Devil’s argument.

    • Back in the 90’s, a good friend of mine took the test to become a state police officer, a job he really coveted. He passed the test and was qualified. However, he and another candidate were told they had to be passed up. That’s because none of the minority female applicants had passed the test, but because of diversity requirements, two were being put in at their expense.

      Needless to say he never applied again. Yeah that fairer system based on talent…LMAO.

  5. “Then we smashed all that. We replaced a system based on birth with a fairer system based on talent. We opened up the universities and the workplace to Jews, women and minorities.”

    Brooks is not stupid. He knows that the new system is LESS fair because it advantages less qualified minorities over more qualified whites. He just can’t mention it because it would mean the end of his incredibly easy gig as well as the loss of a lot of (so-called) friends.

    What he doesn’t seem to know is that all of life is both fair and unfair, and that no social engineering will ever change that immutable fact.

    I doubt he’s read Emersons’s essay, Compensation (http://www.brainythoughts.com/ebooks/Emerson_Compensation.pdf) in which Emerson pointed out the obvious: “Drive out nature with a fork, she comes running back.”

  6. “Merit” to these guys is like the “big iron” cult at the old IBM. Why allow any divergent thinking when gross margins are so good? Organizations don’t evolve out of these problems, they either have a near death experience followed by a purge under new leadership, or they die and are replaced.

  7. “Fundamentally, no society can be run on merit. Any system that attempts to select for ability will inevitably select for that which reinforces itself.”

    Merit selects for a mix of talent and cheaters, by definition. Merit stretched all the way to the point of meritocracy only selects cheaters. Representative based republics, in true Orwellian sense, aren’t democratic at all because politicians are just the nastiest cheaters, not even remotely representative of ordinary people.

    Random selection (sortition) republics have a far better record, although monarchy is perfectly fine as well. A king is just a random guy who happened to be born king, generally representative of his people. He can allow as much merit as feels optimal, for as long as it doesn’t overthrow order and become a rigged game.

    Merit just had a great run because there were so many technological advances to be made in the last few centuries, so genuine talent lifted up society more than cheaters dragged it down. This was always going to be a temporary phenomenon.

    If you must know why religious Jews are a particular problem in this case, it is because they follow the heresy that nature is infinitely complex, just like the mind of God, and therefore extracting utility from nature through technology is infinitely possible. So merit always discovers material improvements more than cheaters destroy through subversion. Needless to say, this is alien and incompatible to the West! At some point more material power, like nuclear weapons, fall into the hands of cheaters and the utility curve becomes infinitely negative, dare I call it Satanic.

  8. Note to self, don’t read anything Brooks has to say after just eating a meal. The drivel just makes you nauseous. It just reinforce what Z and other say, if you want to be with the elite people, you say whatever it takes to get acceptance and to keep it.

    “We replaced a system based on birth with a fairer system based on talent.” Let’s take the word “talent” out and tweak it slightly to say, “affirmative action” and then Brooks is on the money.

    “We opened up the universities and the workplace to Jews, women and minorities. University attendance surged, creating the most educated generation in history.” Here we tweak the phrase “most educated generation in history” to a more realistic “most reeducated generation in history” and then we are spot on. When the University of Oregon student senate votes to ban anything Israeli products because “…they are complicit in Israeli settler colonialism and the Israeli occupation of Palestine,”…well….its just the tip of the iceberg. My nephew’s girlfriend changed from sweet little high school cheerleader to vegan, world peace activist after only 6 months of college.

    Yeah its reeducation Brooks. All part of the leftist elites playbook.

    “You’d think all this would have made the U.S. the best governed nation in history.”

    Only in the minds of leftist elites. Much like thinking Obama was the best President in US history .

    “Instead, inequality rose. Faith in institutions plummeted. Social trust declined. The federal government became dysfunctional and society bitterly divided.”

    Well David, your leftist elites wanted to turn all classes into victim classes, sans evil whitey. You knowing approve of the mindless drool degrees such as Gender Fluidity studies the Reeducation camps known as US Universities and colleges are churning out that are putting our kids hopelessly in debt and no hope of a job. You go on CNN, where a bunch of children play news broadcast. CNN where they think journalism means going out and shaping public opinion based on your political beliefs and ignoring news that does not fit the narrative.

    Have to wonder sometimes do they really believe what they are writing or are they just doing it to keep their standing in the elite crowd?

    • If one goes back a few years and reads Obama’s utterances, Hillary’s bleatings, or most anything in the “main stream media”, it will make you want to poke your eyes out with a red-hot spike. The self-congratulatory and infantile pablum that they spewed was incredible. It wasn’t even interesting or particularly provocative. We used to laugh at the Soviet Pravda articles back in the day, the way they described a world in the USSR that was obviously fantasy. We have had the same thing here recently. Trump ascendancy has made the bleatings more plaintive and desperate, and has cut the smugness factor by a lot. See Maureen Dowd’s article from this last week.

    • the phrase “most educated generation in history” to a more realistic “most reeducated generation in history” and then we are spot on.

      “Educated” for WHAT? If “education” is not toward virtue, understanding of the human condition (and the human’s place in God’s creation), then “education” is useless.

      Sure, MD’s and engineers require particular smarts–but those should be in addition to real ‘education.’

      • “Educated” simply means “butt-chair interface in a classroom.” Kids aren’t stupid — they don’t believe the tripe they’re “taught,” not least because their teachers either a) quite plainly don’t believe it either (e.g. the frothing Marxist professor who drives a BMW from his gated community), or b) believe it, but only because they’re obviously idiots. The only thing they actually *learn* is that “education” is a racket, in which the brown-nosers get ahead and the rest of us must simply repeat what we’re told…. so, you know, good prep for life under the Cloud People, actually. No accident, that (as the BMW-driving, $100K per year Marxist tenured prof would say).

        • One time I heard a Jewish professor from an elite university grandstanding about he’d never drive a German luxury car cuz Nazis. He drove a Lexus instead.

      • I thought all of our education was directed towards virtue now.

        Just not your virtues, and not the 3 R’s, either.

  9. The media was one of the first institutions to fall to the managerial class. I would love to see the NRO’s numbers. In the last decade or so it’s become as interesting and stimulating as drying paint.

  10. Can’t applaud the bit about misidentifying what merit really is nearly enough. You can tell from Brooks’ essay that he has literally no clue about what true merit entails

    • As bureaucratic systems evolve and grow enormous following some natural law of bureaucracy two things happen simultaneously. Two or more persons are required to do the work of one, and, the number of tasks which should never have been done in the first place are multiplied and staffed in that same ratio. In this system merit has little application.

      • ….and rules are set up where, rather than solving a problem or creating something organically, it is done by the book, always the same. They were always telling me “best practices” as a teacher, where I could only answer that teaching was an art, not a science.

        But of course, “best practices” meant that no one got out of control…So the creative minority resisted the attempt to mechanize us and did what was necessary whenever possible.

  11. Most of the “anti-semitic” old boys/Boston Brahman networks blocked Jews for the simple reason that they knew Jews were the most nepotistic and clannish people around. Combine the data put together by Timur Kuran and Ron Unz and what you’ll discover is that whites, relative to their share of the population, are drastically underrepresented in colleges. Extract the Jews from the white population (which is a necessary distinction, as Brooks proves every time he opens his mouth or inks his nib) and it’s even worse and more pathetic. People with Jewish last names are something like 16 times more likely to be admitted to Ivy League schools, even when controlling for objective indicators like test scores and extra-curricular activities. This was actually Henry Ford’s insight, not that he hated Jews, but that he knew once Jews were admitted to “the club” that their trading and dealings would become so intra-group that the result on Wall Street would be the same as the diamond concessions in Sub-Saharan Africa. David Brooks is basically Bernie Bernbaum, from “Miller’s Crossing.” He’s only breathing because of the Anglosphere bleeding itself white to save his people from annihilation, and his thanks is to torment his wounded and hobbled savior.

  12. That men like Brooks and French are promoted as opinion leaders in our society is a clear sign of our decline as a species. Imagine that you found yourself in a remote austere wilderness with few resources and a snowstorm approaching. Would you follow the lead of either of these charlatans?

    • It’s ok to fall in love with the thoughts of our thought-leaders, but dangerous to fall for them as entities. It’s not always easy to separate the two. We need our heroes, as much as we need our villains. You disagree with a good guy like Peterson, and he becomes an instant “charlatan”. You disagree with a guy like Zman. Does he become a charlatan too? We all need to mellow on personalities.

      • I’m not sure what your point is here, but let me be more clear about mine. If your life depended on it, you would be more careful about who you choose to follow in life. Brooks and French are not leaders of men.

        • If my life depended on it, I wouldn’t depend on Aristotle, much less Brooks or French.

        • Brooks and French could be HL Mencken and TH White, ie thoughtful and literate commentators on the contemporary scene; ‘Leadership’ is not what any adult seeks from a columnist, so what you are saying makes no sense to me.

          If my life depended on it, I woudn’t be working through opinion writers; nor would you. I’d be making friends – fast – with guys with guns, pickups, generators, canned food…

      • Excellent observation, Frip.

        Tommy Robinson has been in the Z man court, and found wanting. He’s an attention whore, and that is bad.

        The attention whores in Cuba and the PRC are only by miracle heard from again. But I guess we reject them. Nothing beats back the tyranny of totalitarianism like pseudonymous blog posts, rather than “attentiion whores”.

        By Z man’s calculus you worry that Solzhenitsyn was just a self-promoter, working the ‘anti-Soviet’ vibe, the way the Bee Gees worked the disco craze.

  13. Guess we’ve all wondered what’s gone wrong over the years . The culture went from “peace, love and happiness to “sex,drugs and rock and roll” not even sure what the mantra is for this generation.

    But it’s obvious it’s been a long slide into decadence. Friend told me once the difference now is the owner’s name is no longer on the building using Henry Ford as an example.

    Obviously the old-time companies had a board of directors yet somehow seemed to have the American people’s interest in mind. Now we’re treated like so much cattle. The “pink slime” episode really sent it home for me.

    We seem to be de-evolving as a species. As our host often likes to say nothing good can come from this.

    • “Decadence is a moral and spiritual disease, resulting from too long a period of wealth and power, producing cynicism, decline of religion, pessimism and frivolity. The citizens of such a nation will no longer make an effort to save themselves, because they are not convinced that anything in life is not worth saving.”

      The above is from Sir John Glubb’s “The Fate of Empires”:


      He states that the average “empire” lasts about 250 years. The final stage he calls the Age of Decadence.

      The US has been a country (empire?) now for almost 242 years.

      Make of that what you will. 🙂


      • Depends on when you start the clock running on Empire. You can argue that we were not an empire before the Civil War. Probably not even until about 1900, maybe after 1945… so depending on the start date, we may still have time on the clock.

        • Some consider the Mexican-American War (1846–48) to be the beginning of the American empire.

    • The mantra for this generation? It’s called ‘Gimme free stuff”.

    • My husband said something like this just the other day, looking up the occupations and residences of the 15-20 board members of his college alma mater. Most of them are professionals/doctors/lawyers/govt; some hedge fund guys/insurance/silicon valley; no one MAKES anything!! Live in D.C. to Boston NE axis, one in New Orleans, West Coast, a couple in Asia. They are all kind of the same in outlook, i. e. not very diverse, despite the gentle variations in skin tone.

      • All part of the coastal elites. 50 years earlier the board members would have been factory owners, executives in major corporations like IBM, Kodak, etc. All of them with a vested interest in the country. Now with our transition from a manufacturing economy to a service one. We get this new breed of rent-seekers. They live off the wealth of the country that was built by heavy industry. They contribute nothing, have no loyalties to the country, they only take in one form or another. Eventually this new class will either kill the country or cause a revolution.

        Even Silicon Valley has morphed from making innovative hardware and software, to glorified rent-seeking scams that are impoverishing people and stripping them of their privacy.

  14. If everyone else here is like me they come here to read what they are already thinking written out more clearly and concisely than we can say it ourselves.

    One thing I’ve learned from reading Greek history is that you can’t just talk about the Athenian political system without specifying what time period you are talking about because it was constantly undergoing change. One aspect of their early “democracy” was that the most common form of election didn’t involve voting at all. People were nominated by tribes and neighborhoods and the winner of the office was decided by the drawing of lots. When things got more complicated later on certain offices were held in reserve for people with specific qualifications for them, and gradually the use of lottery was given over to votes. And if you were to ask an early Athenian why things weren’t decided by voting more often they would have told you that votes were more easy to corrupt than lotteries.

    In other words, the early Greeks thought that merit was good up to a point, and then it was a good idea to turn the final decision over to the gods. As time passed, the people weren’t as interested in what input the gods had, but insisted on leaving the entire process in their hands, the result being that the quality of government got more “merit based” while the quality of government got progressively worse. In their eyes voting made things better, but when things went from bad to worse, they insisted on more voting over more things, while keeping their special classes of people for the highest roles in government. This is why you see people voting on a plethora of things, but the leadership remained in the hands of a few families, with the exception of a few self made men toward the end, the demagogues.

    By the time these guys came along it was pretty much all over. This is a bit depressing, because Athens’ populist moment came when she was near or in free fall.

    I don’t think we’re that bad off and I hope I’m not wrong.

    • You see elements of early Greece in the design of our government. If you get the basic foundations of the society right, you put almost anyone into the government and they will do a competent job. Worked for a firm that was, frankly, the top decile performer in a highly competitive industry for decades. There was no “star” system in management. It was however, a grow-your-own approach with the same basics hammered into everybody. Then managers were regularly rotated to positions not necessarily in their direct competence and expected to learn. If you didn’t you were washed out. What you ended up with was a simple set of operating principles and a management depth chart that was deeper than any in the industry. And, btw, we only got paid in exec management if the firm made money. Period.

  15. David Brooks is a self-admitted “red diaper baby”. Take his word with a grain of salt. He is not on our side.

  16. I used to sort of believe in meritocracy since I thought it meant that people like me from humble backgrounds were given a chance to advance if we had the smarts and work ethic. I later learned of the downsides of even a “true” meritocracy from Christopher Lasch’s writings (drawing on Michael Young). Namely that meritocracy breeds disdain from the winners towards the losers. There is no sense of noblesse oblige. Further, I realized that we have a largely sham meritocracy in which the elite class is able to stock the college applications of their kids with fancy extracurriculars (volunteering for a senator; doing some charity thing overseas) that Joe the Plumber can’t do for his kids. That and expensive test prep classes. Add to all this the boosting of SAT scores for affirmative action purposes and meritocracy has meant diversity at the expense of white males. As I often put it, it isn’t about coming to join white people at the table, it about expelling white people from the room entirely.

    • Yes, I work as a custodian in one of the local professional schools, and each night I clean the floor where hang the class portraits dating back twenty years. The white proportion of the class has shrunk from some 95% to 60%(ish) over that time, crushed in a vise of blacks below and Asians from above. It’s a conspicuous trend over the past 15 years.

      • Well, Harvards admission of whites has fallen below 50%. What the articles don’t tell you is that 50% of the “whites” are jewish, haha. So 25% white and probably a goodly portion of them Mic and catholic.

    • Kodos, interesting observation.

      A fellow that I chatted with at a barbecue told me that he grew up “comfortable” but not rich in Tewksbury, NJ. The new money rich kids in class looked down upon him because “we’re rich, you’re not, what’s the matter with you?” He said that the old money people were more down-to-earth: they wore old clothes, drove old trucks and would talk with him while in line at the supermarket checkout line.

      I also find it interesting that members of the ultimate aristocracy, the British royal family, served in the military: Prince Andrew in the Falklands and Prince Harry in Afghanistan. The children of the Cloud People never do that. And Americans mock monarchy.

      • Funny, but the last “name on the door” in my old firm was exactly that. Richer than Croesus, drove an old station wagon from the “farm” to work. Worked every day until he was 68. Ate in the HQ cafeteria, would sit and talk to anybody to keep informed about what was really going on in the firm.

        • Not richer than Croesus but we drive an 87 GM station wagon. Buy perfectly good clothes at Good Will and so forth. A kid went in the military, husband served during Vietnam from one of last ROTC classes in Ivy League. Watched the strivers’ kids elbow their way into select spots at private schools. Many have done well in life, so kudos to them, but there is something lacking and I feel like they know it. “Copycat” is a childish term, but upon what else can you say that Ralph Lauren based his successful enterprise. I know they are observing us, trying to get “it” just right. This is also the reason they detest/disdain Trump — because he is not of this (dying) elite that they want so badly to be a part of. If they were really serious, they would join the Episcopal Church, right? (bad joke, I know;-)

          You have to laugh, I mean Chinese girls playing lacrosse at Choate!?! Why? To demonstrate well-roundedness to get into Princeton? Too funny. Sad, too, that an era has passed. What has changed IMO at these institutions is that they now bill themselves as “globally” concerned. They don’t salute the Flag of the U. S. A. at school events. An Iraqui doctor funds the building of a new swimming pool at his daughter’s private day school. We don’t want to emphasize that no one in the family is a naturalized citizen, do we? At least the public schools still instill some civic pride and patriotism and have a J. R. O. T. C. program, filled in good part by the Asian and Hispanic kids, blacks, too, at least where we live.

          The era’s almost finished now, but I very much enjoyed reading the alumni notes and obits for the classes in the 1930s/40s which briefly discussed the individual’s World War II service with a light touch, not exaggerating the danger or sorrow; women proudly served, too, as nurses and so forth.

        • Many of the old-line rich knew that their wealth and position were to a significant extent a product of their parentage – hence “noblesse oblige”.

          The New Elite fancy that their position is based on merit only, hence their hauteur toward those “of less merit”.

          Unfortunately, today’s “merit” appears largely to be credentials + willingness to believe what you have been told to believe.

          • Andrew Carnegie once observed “from shirtsleeves to shirtsleeves in three generations”: The first generation makes the money, the second generation blows it and the third goes back to work. I wonder how many of the grandchildren of the New Elite will still be among the Elite.

      • Ris Eruwaedheil, extended family members once ended up living next door to a vacation home of one of the wealthiest families in the country. They were slumming it, I guess. Instant gentrification when they showed up. They ended up buying the family’s place next door to create extra space from neighbors, and squeezed out every penny, though they were billionaires, but that’s another story. The husband inherited the wealth, very low key guy, drove a Ford Bronco, IIRC. The now widowed wife married into it. Berserk lady. Old money vs. new (married into) money.

      • >I also find it interesting that members of the ultimate aristocracy, the British royal family, served in the military: Prince Andrew in the Falklands and Prince Harry in Afghanistan.

        yes Harry guarded the poppy fields and do either of them utter a peep while their country is invaded by the dregs of the third world?

    • They’ll be sorry they wasted their time and money when the fancier institutions of higher learning are filled with Asians who could give a rip about who wins the Ivy League football championship. The good news is that AA for AAs will drop considerably;-)

      • Saw a study about ten years ago that showed income advantage from elite school lasts 2 1/2 yrs after graduation.

  17. Combine academic ignorance with a worldview that too often unthinkingly and reflexively rejects religious traditions and traditional religious notions of morality

    I suggest that a good part of the ‘populist revolt’ has to do with that rejection, forced on the citizens by the Cloud-Elite. While consumerism has had impact, it has not overcome the Christian ‘dirt people.’ So they revolted, ironically electing someone who is NOT a paragon of virtue, but who is what you say–a do-er who promises change.

  18. Brook’s Semitic prejudices make me laugh. The old WASP elite won wars, unified a divided nation, expanded the country and ran stuff well. The Old WASP elite could run america because it was connected to it by bonds of history and faith. It was organic. America was an outgrowth of their ideals. It was by them, and for them.

    The oh so Semitic and oh so brilliant new Elite loses wars, racks up debts, plunders the economy, imports invaders and sows divisions.

    The new Elite is not organic. It has no connection to america and no vision of america beyond a place where they can get rich. It functions less like an organic elite, and more like a the British Raj, ruling contemptuously over a diverse and seething mass of people that they dont care to understand.

    • Well, yes, except the WASP elite (e.g. Wilson & Roosevelt) moved the USA from a nation of subsidiarity (State power) to a Federal Power system–the opposite of Federalism. Worse, they worshiped Statism.

      There is something to be said FOR ‘the elite,’ and Socrates said it. However, the elite must be seeking and living Virtues, rather than money and power. BIG difference.

      • I agree. And it was the abandonment of virtues and solidarity by the WASP elite and its pursuit of raw power and money that lead to its downfall. They factionalised, engaged in a struggle for power and began to recruit outsiders as allies. One of those outsider groups were the Jews, and the Jews built thier own coalition and threw down the WASPs.But the Jews can’t really run stuff because they dont actually like the people they have power over.

    • Good analysis, except it’s not entirely fair to equate the British Raj with our (((overseers))). The British tried to instill the rule of law in India, create a modern (for the time) infrastructure, and suppress the abhorrent “religious” practice of suttee. It’s hard to imagine India today if the English language hadn’t been introduced to allow communication among India’s speakers of dozens of languages.

      Sure, the Brits were self-serving and not entirely benevolent. But their faults were those of human nature and didn’t cancel out a sense of noblesse oblige entirely lacking in today’s political and managerial elite.

  19. “Any system that attempts to select for ability will inevitably select for that which reinforces itself”

    This feels like the key point of the entire piece, and yet I’m struggling to fully grock your point. Could you elaborate?

    • I’m not fully certain, but maybe try removing “for ability” from the sentence. So his point is that at the end of the day, any institution will champion those who support the institution and stifle those who are against it, no matter what they claim their purpose is.

    • The primary goal of any established elite is the continuance of the system (including its pretenses) that got them there.

    • I think the point is just that “ability” is defined in the context of the existing system and not as some fixed absolute. Basically, “ability” within the system is that which supports the system, however flawed or even ridiculous the system might be. History is replete with examples.

    • In order to gain entry into the ruling elite, you have to pass muster with the people in the elite. That means going to the right schools, making the right connections and most important, holding the right opinions. Ability and accomplishment only play a minor role. What our rulers call the meritocracy is really just a long filtering mechanism to screen out people who don’t have the same values and beliefs. It’s why all of corporate America embraces all of the Progressive fads. You can’t get to that level unless you are true believer.

    • Part of the problem that Z Man highlights is that pure meritocracy is difficult to practice because of subjective factors like class divisions and group loyalties. There is no solution to this problem because we are emotional creatures at least as much as we are rational. A partial solution is to be ruled by an elite that identifies with the non-elite as much as possible, so that the desire to disregard or hurt the non-elites is minimized. Ethno-nationalism, while it doesn’t solve this unsolvable problem, maintains countries of people that are more likely to identify with one another.

  20. According to Steve Sailer when David Brooks says “Meritocratic Elite” it’s means the Jewish ruling class.

  21. Great article. Great symbol “bum fight.” This is better than the best of Mencken.

    However, I would question just how excluded from the management of America Jewish people really were pre 1960s. Sure that’s the story, and I guess there were relatively permissive quotas at certain private universities, but when I survey the names on great firms that survive from the 19th and early 20th centuries, I think of names like Lehman brothers, and Goldman Sachs. All rather Jewish sounding. I’m not up on law firms but I imagine it was similar there. I wonder about the truth of this “disenfranchisement,” whether the facts truly bear out the legend.

    • It’s a huge exaggeration and myth. Because some country clubs didn’t let in the chosen people until the mid-20th century, therefore all Jews were excluded from all WASP institutions. It doesn’t make any sense and it falls apart the moment it gets held up to any analysis. However it is one of the founding myths of baby boomers, the generation that can’t pat themselves on the back hard enough for all the “progress” they brought (wreaked) on society.

      • Plus the little fact that the clubs they complained about were for their elite co-religionists. WASP clubs already let them in, but that’s not what they really wanted.

      • Trust me when I tell you that a large percentage of boomers are dismayed by the current condition, more than any other group, really, as we have the best and oldest memories of growing up in traditional America. Creating another identity group (those rotten boomers) is not the answer, but working together in common interest is promising.

    • Re: law firms (specifically elite NYC law firms)

      The elite WASP firms (e.g., Cravath, Sullivan & Cromwell, Davis Polk) pretty much shut out the Jews as I understand it. The Jews reacted by forming their own firms and taking work the WASPs thought was uncouth (e.g., litigation).

      Of course today, Jews are absurdly over represented at every level of the legal profession, and elite Jewish firms (Wachtell, Skadden, Weil Gotshal, etc.) are just as prominent as the old WASP firms.

    • Meritocracy is not an unqualified good. Meritocracy is harmful to a native population if the country includes a more capable alien group with interests opposed to the natives. We want to be ruled by the best of our group, not by those who bested our group.

      • That’s what they said in South Africa.

        I know, I know – badthink. But it’s true.

        • The Boers has no business leading Africans even if the results were good. Its not their nation and a desire for cheap labor and virtue signaling gave them the mess they are in now.

          The lessons the West must learn from that is “Do not help anyone but your own people or disaster will result.” and “cheap labor is poison.”

      • “ruled by the best of our group”

        Exactly. Jews didn’t create our society and certainly not Hindus or Chinese. And they have no use for our society outside of being able to extract wealth and power out of it. The Jews have done a great job at enriching an empowering themselves at the expense of our people and nation. Not to mention wrecking the country in the process.

    • If you read the last paragraph, you’ll notice that Zman juxtaposes merit – as a list of credentials – and accomplishments.

      • I noticed that also. Which is why I came away bewildered. I don’t get the post. …What is merit if not accomplishment?

        • One example: 100 Michigan State diversity administrators.

          “Any system that attempts to select for ability will inevitably select for that which reinforces itself.”

        • Merit means “you deserve what you have.” Accomplishment means “you got an A on your transcript.” These days, those are opposites.

        • Merit is like being a straight-A student with an Eagle Scout badge.

          Accomplishment is like a Grant or Patton stepping up and winning a war against a formidable enemy.

          That’s not all of it, but it helps to make the distinction.


          Put another way: My guess is that John Brennan has as all the ‘merit’ badges that you can fit on a uniform, from his exclusive private secondary schools, through college, through the whole scale of the system right up to CIA director, like Curly in ‘The Three Stooges’ playing a Goring-type with medals pinned on his ass, as all the room in front was filled.

          That’s “merit”.

          “Accomplishment” is, to my dying generation, anyway, and fuck us, what do we know – a worker like Lech Walesa in Poland, stirring up discontent against what seemed to be an unstoppable monolith – the USSR and its client states – and winning.

          That’s “accomplishment”.

      • Reading is like that. You notice things, like juxtapositions made by the writer you might have missed if you stopped reading.

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