By William A. Henry
From the Pulitzer Prize-winning tradition critic for Time journal comes the tremendously arguable, but hugely persuasive, argument that our devotion to the largely unexamined delusion of egalitarianism lies on the middle of the ongoing "dumbing of America."
Americans have consistently stubbornly clung to the myth of egalitarianism, of the supremacy of the individual general guy. yet right here, at lengthy last, Pulitzer Prize-winning critic William A. Henry III takes on, and debunks, a few easy, fundamentally ingrained rules: that everybody is pretty well alike (and may still be); that self-fulfillment is more imortant thant goal success; that everyone has anything major to give a contribution; that all cultures provide anything both priceless; that a really simply society might immediately produce equal good fortune effects throughout strains of race, class, and gender; and that the typical guy is almost always correct. Henry makes transparent, in a e-book complete of vivid examples and unflinching reviews, that while those notions are seductively democratic they are additionally hopelessly mistaken.
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Extra resources for In Defense of Elitism
The Russian smiles slyly and says, “In my village, I have a neighbor who has a cow. I do not have a cow. ” The point of elitism is not, when all is said and done, to promote envy or to enlarge the numbers of society’s losers. It is to provide sufficient rewards for winning, and sufficient support for ideas that have shaped past progress and that might aid future progress so that society as a whole wins—that is, gets richer, better educated, more productive, and healthier. There is plenty of room for upward mobility in such a system.
In the effort to wish it so, we have warpingly redefined contribution and reduced its meaning. It is not necessarily a conspiracy of silence that the historical record is so thin in detailing women painters and writers of the early Renaissance or black nuclear physicists and Hispanic political leaders of the early twentieth century. Sometimes the record is thin because the accomplishments were too. I expect many people will reflexively find these observations racist. But I am not asserting that, say, people of African descent cannot compete equally—only that their ancestral culture did not give them the tools and opportunity to do so.
For the most part, games and scores are avoided altogether in favor of self-development. Running is not necessarily timed; basketball hoops are adjusted in height and distance to fit each pupil’s capacity. The point is not to measure oneself against absolute standards but to feel good about exercise and taking part. That is about as concise and benign an embodiment of egalitarianism as I can imagine. And I still think it is pernicious. Elitists of equal misguidedness, and some of outright menace, permeate American society.