Sunday, September 14, 2008

you lost me at Sloane Burgdorf

More from the cosmopolitan elite front: if you are a paid, professional blogger and writer, you are a member of the cultural elite.

One thing that I think needs to be kept in mind about this discussion is the fact that this sort of post is only insulting if you really believe it's an insult to be a part of the cultural/cosmopolitan/urban elite. I don't like any of those terms, but they've all arisen around the blogosphere as a way to talk about a certain subset of the liberal population, or just liberals generally. And they are almost always used derisively. Much has already been said about the bizarre and destructive notion that it's bad to be elite, and I continue to maintain that thinking that a president should be "a regular guy" or whatever is lunacy. I like urban people. I like educated people. I like entertainers and artists and nonconformists and thinkers and writers and, yes, I tend to like liberals. None of this indicates that I dislike the "common folk", or whatever other euphemism is in style at conservative blogs. It's no insult to the salt of the earth to say that I also really dig the pepper.

But, look, those are specific notions of why I like "cosmopolitan elites". What conservatives tend to indicate is that they don't like it when liberals go around bashing "the flyover states" because doing so violates a principle of not applying broad labels to people or making lazy generalizations. And bully for that. It's wrong to do those things. But conservatives seem to lack any kind of perspective whatsoever that would inform them that it is sad, ironic and hypocritical when they turn around and sneer at the snobs in the coasts. If the principle is wrong when the target is the rubes, the principle is also wrong when the target is the snobs. You dig?

Despite what Megan McArdle and others keep asserting, no, in fact, liberals and urbanites don't constantly look down their noses at the other half. If we did, though, it would be par for the course, because conservatives unapologetically, straightforwardly insult the cosmopolitan elite constantly. They don't bother to try to hide it or dress it up. Check the comments in that McArdle link. It's passed 400 posts. There are literally hundreds where conservatives explicitly say that liberals, urbanites and similar are just bad people, that there should be a culture war, and that it's right and proper to constantly deride us. Contrast that with the liberals posting who, almost to a man, argue without any kind of an appeal to a notion of general wickedness in "flyover land".

If you're going to attack people for engaging in cultural war, attack the people who are waging it openly and actively. Or, if you are a cultural warrior, go for the gold-- but don't turn around and complain that the other side is constantly disrespecting you.


James said...

I'm going to comment on this in the morning, but I wanted to say immediately that your line about salt and pepper is really smart, but possibly obscures an important distinction. It's not a stark distinction -- or, rather, a lot of people right and left are doing their damnedest to obscure it -- but it's important. I think. In both directions. Ahem: stay tuned...

Anonymous said...


"...if you are a paid, professional blogger and writer, you are a member of the cultural elite."

Don't you think this is an easily falsifiable statement? Or is that that you're associated with a coastal institution (Slate, The Atlantic, etc.) Does "Focus on the Family" have a blogger? I have no idea -- are they a member of the cultural elite?

What about J.D. at 'Get Rich Slowly', a great personal finance blog. He's a self-supporting blogger living in the Portland, OR area -- his last post was on canning. Is he a member of the cultural elite? -K.

Freddie said...

In a kind of self-fulfilling way, yeah, I think he's a member of a cultural elite-- meaning his profession is creating media and analysis. To me, if your profession is, at bottom, about disseminating your opinion-- if that's what you're ultimately getting paid for-- by that fact alone, you're in a cultural elite. That isn't to make a grander statement about his (or anyone else's) beliefs or lifestyle, but merely to demonstrate how slippery these concepts are.

Anonymous said...

Freddie -- I get the/your slipperiness on this point. Perhaps the difference is that you've changed the article from "the cultural elite" to "a cultural elite."

I'd be willing to submit that a blogger (any blogger) for say, Gawker, is a remora in TCE-land, while I find it really hard to imagine Steve Sailer as a member in the same club. -K.