Pathology of the Elites: How the Arrogant Classes Plan to Run Your Life

Pathology of the Elites: How the Arrogant Classes Plan to Run Your Life

  • ISBN13: 9781566638746
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In this bracing collection of provocative essays, Michael Knox Beran examines the false benevolence that characterizes the power classes in contemporary America. Their enlightened pity for their fellow citizens, he charges, conceals an instinct for power rather than compassion. Mr. Beran argues that today’s elites have come to rely on a social philosophy that reduces people to a mass of social groups and types, obscures their individual humanity, and makes them easier to manipulate. While they tragically conceive their desire for authority as a form of virtue, the elite classes have set about remaking schools, rewriting the U.S. Constitution, dehumanizing charity, and making war on tradition in the name of a crude form of Social Darwinism.

Through readings of such inspired critics of the social imagination as Hannah Arendt, Isaiah Berlin, Ralph Waldo Emerson, and Abraham Lincoln, Mr. Beran exposes the romance of dominion that underlies the philosophy of social benevolence, a philosophy that has steadily undermined the older and more valuable tradition that Edmund Burke associated with the moral imagination. In seeking to depose this moral impulse in the pantheon of culture, and enshrine the social imagination in its place, today’s elites have weakened not only liberalism but also conservatism-indeed society as a whole. Where the moral imagination is not regularly and habitually cultivated, Mr. Beran observes, where it ceases to have a place in education and art, in schools and in the town square, it becomes more difficult even for the best-intentioned among us to resist the allure of a narrow and obtuse self-righteousness.

Pathology of the Elites features a fresh voice of social criticism that is likely to raise hackles on both sides of the aisle.

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3 Comments so far »

  1. Jeri Nevermind "loves to read" said,

    Wrote on December 16, 2011 @ 5:43 am

    26 of 34 people found the following review helpful:
    5.0 out of 5 stars
    Superb–witty and smart and right on target, February 21, 2011

    This review is from: Pathology of the Elites: How the Arrogant Classes Plan to Run Your Life (Hardcover)

    Beran casts a baleful eye upon our elites, and finds them…wanting, to say the least. First off, there are the bad influences.

    Emerson, for example, that prototype for hippies, notoriously preferred living as far away from other human beings as possible. When his wife died he wrote, “‘My angel is gone to heaven…and I am alone in the world and strangely happy'” (p 52).

    Not that being averse to other people saved him from lecturing the rest of humanity.

    Bernan makes it clear that if there is one staple feature of our elites, it is their unending HECTORING AND LECTURING. The chattering classes always know better, don’t they? The citizen becomes a child. The state a mother.

    Emerson posed as a nonconformist; he never noticed he was also a swollen blob of egotism.

    Then there was Rousseau who pleaded for a return to the natural state. In his own natural state, when not scolding his fellow humans, he was ‘into’ spanking, refused to marry the woman who bore his many children, and viciously cast those same children of his into orphanages where, statistically, they likely all died without seeing their first birthday.

    And what has been the fruit of all these bad influences?

    In walks…Obama! Or the shaman, as Bernan calls him, whose “two books are written in the empathetic-confessional mode that his most prominent benefactress, Oprah, favors” (p 126). Who promised hope and has given us massive debt.

    Also Isaiah Berlin, who, speaking for the chattering classes all across the western world, proclaimed he could worship “‘any God except the Christian God'” (p 34), which pretty neatly sums up the last fifty years.

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  2. T. Kepler said,

    Wrote on December 16, 2011 @ 6:26 am

    13 of 19 people found the following review helpful:
    3.0 out of 5 stars
    Political Arrogance as Pathology, February 12, 2011
    T. Kepler (California, USA) –

    This review is from: Pathology of the Elites: How the Arrogant Classes Plan to Run Your Life (Hardcover)

    Author raises several provocative ideas and political concepts, and artfully weaves into the discussion various lessons from history, whether the US Civil War, World Wars in the 20th C., or critical intellectual breakthroughs as in Darwin’s impact on social thought.
    These four chapters are some of the best discussions: “The case of Lincoln, Bismarck, and Darwin”, “Lincoln as Savior of Liberty”, “Reflections on the Castle People”, and “Jefferson’s Wall”.
    Mr. Beran’s mind ranges far and wide, and has a grasp of history in detail, though his conclusions imply that change – especially political and social – and its proponents, should be held in suspicion.
    Certainly all political parties, politicians, lobbyists and their obsequious admirers are prone to intellectual and moral scotomas. These blind spots can be partially ameliorated by an understanding of history – which takes some effort on the weekends – as well as grasping the present day needs and aspirations of citizens, e.g., recent events in Egypt.

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  3. Christopher G. Rose "thyrsus" said,

    Wrote on December 16, 2011 @ 6:35 am

    10 of 80 people found the following review helpful:
    1.0 out of 5 stars
    The Whining of the Pathologically Greedy, February 14, 2011
    Christopher G. Rose “thyrsus” (Seattle, WA USA) –

    This review is from: Pathology of the Elites: How the Arrogant Classes Plan to Run Your Life (Hardcover)

    This book is just another rationalization of the selfish affluent who are bankrupting our country to pieces. They project their pathology on their political opponents. Somehow people that want to reduce human suffering become haters in their minds. It is fine with them when the government pays out corporate welfare and props up their businesses. It is fine with them when people are poisoned by pollution or when the national resources of our country are plundered for the profit of a few. They want to limit law suits and regulation so that people have no recourse to their abuses. They run a stock market that funnels investment profits away from the small investors and into the pockets of Wall Street firms and insiders. OF COURSE they want to keep the government far away. OF COURSE they want to inspire hatred of supposed elites while they themselves are exactly the elites they are talking about.

    Certainly politicians of all stripes are power hungry. That is why they became politicians. It doesn’t tar one party any more than the other. That is why we have laws restricting what politicians can do and that is why a disturbing number of our national politicians end up in prison. Power corrupts. But a country is too large to govern by direct democracy. Politicians are a necessary evil. We SHOULD keep an eye on politicians, but this has nothing to do with whether there should be economic equity.

    No one likes to be told what to do. But that is the essense of government: To mandate resolutions to conflicts between groups of people so that people are not forced to violence for redress. The rich use government all the time to educate their workers, protect their wealth, and provide a national infrastructure that allows their business to run. NOBODY MAKES MONEY WITHOUT THE HELP OF OTHERS. NOBODY MAKES MONEY WITHOUT THE HELP OF GOVERNMENT. If the rich do not what to support the country that has helped them get that way, they should try moving elsewhere. It would be no loss to us at all.

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