John Derbyshire has published a fascinating perspective on the so-called (self-denominated) ‘Smartocracy’ that effectively rules the United States. Derbyshire makes several points:
- Being smarter than someone of lower class is a far greater cause of resentment amongst the poor than being richer.
- The upper crusts of ‘smart’ society previously used to marry into the ‘lower’ (though not necessarily less rich) classes; now they are more or less inbred (in a non-biological sense of the word.
- Smart people are unable to communicate with dumb people (communication over a difference of a few basis points in IQ).
This is fascinating to me because it is partially a self-indictment. I can hardly pretend to not be a member of the group of people Derbyshire so happily pillories. I can however attest to spending a great portion of my youth in a public school (a rather meek claim, I know; especially considering how good the school was and how few [though not none] friends I have kept since my time there).
I think the most compelling part about Derbyshire’s article is that it really captures what attracts me about conservatism: namely that everything will, contrary to everyone’s expectations, turn out alright. The development of a ‘cognitive’ class is far better than the development of the polyp on American society that would be the ascension of a purely landed or moneyed class (though this has unfortunately been the case over the past few years).
It all remains to be seen whether Barack Obama will be able to keep his smarts hidden away for the duration of this excruciatingly-long election period.