Sunday, May 15, 2011

Privilege and Elites

Early yesterday, Zenpundit tweeted an article by Walter Russell Mead on the corruption of the elites. Later yesterday, yet another example of that corruption hit the headlines.

There are a number of things I think are wrong about the Mead article, not least, as Pundita notes, that Mead himself is a member of that elite establishment. And I should include the mandatory disclaimer that Dominique Strauss-Kahn is innocent until proven guilty.

I'm not in total agreement with the Paul Krugman article that Mead links, either. I'm following the idea that power corrupts and that elites will use that power to maintain and cover up that corruption. Further, that this is a large problem across the world, including America.

The two elites that come together in the person of Strauss-Kahn and the crime he is accused of are the world-ruling elite of the President of the International Monetary Fund, hopeful of running for President of France, and the male elite. The response of far too many male commentators has been revealing. On a listserv I participate in, a male commentator says that this "smells of entrapment." As so many male commentators have said of so many sex crimes for so many years. In the link I've provided above, Christopher Dickey seems unable to distinguish between "skirt-chasing" and sexual assault. And why not? Skirt-chasing has been a privilege of males, particularly as they acquire money, and it's slopped over into sexual assault like forever. Part of that male elite privilege.

So my less moneyed male friend on the listserv feels sympathy for this poor entrapped male, never mind that that same male privilege makes it very unlikely that a maid at a hotel would irritate the (largely male) management with such a claim. At the same time, this same friend complains loudly about other misuses of power by ruling elites. That's not too different from the Tea Party's support of not taxing the rich while complaining about poor governance.

It's the overlapping of those elites, and the elites we don't see, that help to perpetuate that misused power. That's why it was so smart for Mead, as a member of those elites, to hide in plain sight by condemning their corruption.

Update: From another old friend, Jamie K, who is better than I am at literary subtlety.

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