29 December 2015

Elite Cosmopolitanism


Tweet from Anand Giridharadas @AnandWrites Dec 27
Dear @realDonaldTrump,

I'm at a Muslim wedding in a Christian church in NYC, and everyone is dancing to salsa.

America already is great.



That scene may not appeal to everyone: @ClareYChen calls it "a shallow multicultural hellhole where the traditions of different peoples can become reduced to mere window dressing". But to argue against Girdharadas on aesthetic grounds is missing the point. It gives the impression of conceding the implication that the majority of Syrian refugees currently being bused into middle America will likewise be holding salsa-dancing weddings with friends of multiple races and religions; a proposition which could mildly be described as far-fetched. (Not that there necessarily aren't Syrian refugees that would do that, but, inevitably, those that do will end up in New York City or somewhere similar, while the rest of the country will get the rest).

It is normal for elites to be cosmopolitan. Aristocrats married foreigners, collected curiosities from abroad, adopted (playfully or otherwise) ritual and dress of strange religions. (Some, alternatively, studied and promoted their native culture, but that took the form of treating local traditions and folklore in the same way that others approached the exotic).

That normal elite cosmopolitanism may be good or bad—that's an interesting discussion for another day—but either way the elites in the past did not impose their exotica on the common people. George IV built the Royal Pavilion, but he did not import thousands of Indians from Madras to live in Brighton. Christian VII of Denmark commissioned translations of Persian histories, but did not expect his subjects to go to mosques.

Today's elites, unlike those of any previous era, do not even see themselves as elite. They think that everyone is equal, that everybody else should be like them, and assume without hesitation that everyone else could be like them. That produces a disconnection with reality that could become the stuff of legend. The peasants have no bread? Let them eat cake! Flyover people don't want Syrian refugees? Let them dance salsa with them! The apocryphal French princess was probably less out-of-touch.



The interesting question, beyond the immediate concerns, is whether it is even theoretically possible for a whole society to live in the cosmopolitan elite style. If it is only a matter of material wealth or intellectual development, then there is no reason why we couldn't one day all live in multicultural fairyland.

I'm not sure, but the most plausible explanation of why elite culture can only be elite culture is that there has to be a threat of expulsion. If elite culture is universal culture, then there is no way to get rid of unpleasant people; there is nowhere for them to go. I emphasised originally that the NYC culture of Anand Giridharas is a "selected" subculture, but the most important aspect of selection is not the positive filter of who comes into it, but the negative one of who is not ejected from it. The culture of the rural town or the inner city is not an elite culture and cannot be an elite culture, because it is not possible to drive those that do not fit out of it. In those bottom cultures, it is necessary to manage to live alongside those that the elite would exclude, and that involves a range of behaviours to avoid outsiders in ones activities and to reinforce one's own status as an acceptable insider who should not be avoided in turn.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Would have been perfect if it was a *gay* Muslim salsa-dancing church wedding.

Anonymous said...

Cosmopolitan even derives from the Greek word kosmopolites, or citizen of the world.

But todays elite is the "safe space" type of cosmopolitan, they talk like MLK but live like the KKK. The great strongholds of The Cult are whiter than a Lynyrd Skynyrd concert in Reykjavik (the Capital of Iceland), to quote The Z Man, who goes on further saying:

"It is why I argue liberalism is a religion. It demands the adherents immerse themselves in the faith and judge everything through the lens of the faith. When you talk with a moonbat, it does not take long before they are hectoring you about some outrage or another. Even discussions of the weather will eventually turn into a debate about global warming. They may not sport crucifixes, but they are going to signal their commitment to the one true faith and proselytize if the chance arises."

While i argue that our liberal overlords are orthodox, all they need at this point is matching jumper suits and arm patches.

They truly believe how they are above it all, that they shed partisanship, ideology or mere subjectivity like the Homo sapiens shed it’s tail. As far they are concerned, modern science affirms all progressive premises.

The apocalypse? Crazy bible thumper talk, but climate doom, pure cold logic, hard data, so why not strong-arm people into it?

Doomsday cultists used to wait for the mothership hidden away, and only bothered confused runaways, now they run the show and one of them is even the president!

Let them eat cake, or just wait some more if the mothership doesn't arrive on time...