Our Neurotic Elite

The West of today is defined by the managerial revolution and the class created in its wake. We are no longer ruled by a gentrified aristocracy that earned their position through martial valor. Instead, we are ruled by an urbanized “meritocratic” elite that values the work skills and beliefs of late capitalism.

The incubator of this managerial class is the Ivy League. Presitigious and hallowed, Ivy League colleges give their students an environment where they can mingle with the leaders of tomorrow and network with the organizations and people that can grant them the key to high status as well.

While the public still likes to imagine that our new elite possesses all of the same attributes as that of the old one (self-confidence, mastery, honor, noble detachment, good looks, etc.), the reality is that this class is increasingly defined by neuroticism, insecurity, petty status competition, and a lack of intellectual foresight.

In other words, the managerial class is composed of high-performing drones who are constantly fretting about losing their coveted positions and work even harder for the system that keeps them ensnared. They also subscribe the most fervently to political correctness and love diversity—despite not experiencing real diversity themselves.

Raised in environments shut them off from the rest of America, they have inculcated views that highlight this separation and reinforce the incredible difference they have with the people they’re supposed to rule.

A former Yale professor has called out these problems (minus the conformist liberal ideology, of course) in an article for The New Republic:

These enviable youngsters appear to be the winners in the race we have made of childhood. But the reality is very different, as I have witnessed in many of my own students and heard from the hundreds of young people whom I have spoken with on campuses or who have written to me over the last few years. Our system of elite education manufactures young people who are smart and talented and driven, yes, but also anxious, timid, and lost, with little intellectual curiosity and a stunted sense of purpose: trapped in a bubble of privilege, heading meekly in the same direction, great at what they’re doing but with no idea why they’re doing it…

Look beneath the façade of seamless well-adjustment, and what you often find are toxic levels of fear, anxiety, and depression, of emptiness and aimlessness and isolation. A large-scale survey of college freshmen recently found that self-reports of emotional well-being have fallen to their lowest level in the study’s 25-year history.

So extreme are the admission standards now that kids who manage to get into elite colleges have, by definition, never experienced anything but success. The prospect of not being successful terrifies them, disorients them. The cost of falling short, even temporarily, becomes not merely practical, but existential. The result is a violent aversion to risk. You have no margin for error, so you avoid the possibility that you will ever make an error…

Elite schools like to boast that they teach their students how to think, but all they mean is that they train them in the analytic and rhetorical skills that are necessary for success in business and the professions. Everything is technocratic—the development of expertise—and everything is ultimately justified in technocratic terms…

Experience itself has been reduced to instrumental function, via the college essay. From learning to commodify your experiences for the application, the next step has been to seek out experiences in order to have them to commodify. The New York Times reports that there is now a thriving sector devoted to producing essay-ready summers, but what strikes one is the superficiality of the activities involved: a month traveling around Italy studying the Renaissance, “a whole day” with a band of renegade artists. A whole day!...

If there is one idea, above all, through which the concept of social responsibility is communicated at the most prestigious schools, it is “leadership.” “Harvard is for leaders,” goes the Cambridge cliché. To be a high-achieving student is to constantly be urged to think of yourself as a future leader of society. But what these institutions mean by leadership is nothing more than getting to the top. Making partner at a major law firm or becoming a chief executive, climbing the greasy pole of whatever hierarchy you decide to attach yourself to. I don’t think it occurs to the people in charge of elite colleges that the concept of leadership ought to have a higher meaning, or, really, any meaning…

The truth is that the meritocracy was never more than partial. Visit any elite campus across our great nation, and you can thrill to the heart-warming spectacle of the children of white businesspeople and professionals studying and playing alongside the children of black, Asian, and Latino businesspeople and professionals. Kids at schools like Stanford think that their environment is diverse if one comes from Missouri and another from Pakistan, or if one plays the cello and the other lacrosse. Never mind that all of their parents are doctors or bankers…

The problem isn’t that there aren’t more qualified lower-income kids from which to choose. Elite private colleges will never allow their students’ economic profile to mirror that of society as a whole. They can’t afford to—they need a critical mass of full payers and they need to tend to their donor base—and it’s not even clear that they’d want to.

And so it is hardly a coincidence that income inequality is higher than it has been since before the Great Depression, or that social mobility is lower in the United States than in almost every other developed country. Elite colleges are not just powerless to reverse the movement toward a more unequal society; their policies actively promote it.

So here we have our leadership class: isolated, neurotic, narrow-minded, and driven by conformist notions of success and “leadership.” It is amazing that our society needs to be governed by people with the some of the worst virtues imaginable.

The article, as I said before, barely touches on the conformist politics of the kids who attend Ivy League schools and how it has created an elite that can’t think anyone would think outside of the confines of political correctness. It also explains why political correctness is so forcefully implemented and violations of it are treated as viciously as blasphemies towards God were by the Medieval Church.

But maybe there’s a plus side to this.

With rural and lower-class Whites shut out from these institutions and the opportunities they confer, it is bound that more and more bright White youth will be disaffected from the system that offers them nothing. Freed from the mental bondage imposed upon our elite colleges, they can search for alternatives to our modern rot and come upon dangerous ideas. A whole class of intelligent and energetic White youths alienated from the meritocracy does not bode well for the future of that system.

In addition, having an elite that is increasingly detached from the people they rule and unable to understand the problems affecting the rest of society does not augur well for the system’s future either. If they are unable to foresee problems and handle them effectively, then how do we expect them to keep this machine running?

There’s a pervasive belief amongst our circles that the system is all-powerful and capable of mitigating problems with ease. That might not be the case is if the drones who compose it are weak-minded and always fearful. They will make mistakes and they will not know how to appease discontent. The elite of every regime that was toppled by revolution carried the same attributes. They were all detached from reality and ensconced in fantasy worldviews.

Our managerial class is no different.

Instead of deploring the mindset that Ivy League schools foster, we should be take heart in it. If we want this system to be replaced, we need it to have the elite it deserves. These paranoid drones more than fulfill that requirement.