Sunday, November 2, 2008

Contagious Diseases: Combating Elitism

I tend to be a rather laid-back sort of individual -- closely related to the kind of live-and-let-live folk that dot the countryside and truly believe in self-reliance, self-governance, and that whole Locke-ian philosophy of life, liberty, and property.

Because of who I am, I find myself downright irked by high-faluting, self-indulgent, I-am-the-center-of-the-universe, hoity-toity elitists.

You find them everywhere, it seems.

1. I'm consciously avoiding politics, but does it ever occur to anyone that our elected officials (on both sides of the aisle) run roughshod over us? They exempt themselves but demand our last drop of blood, our last half-penny.

The only power any government has is the power to crack down on criminals. Well, when there aren't enough criminals, one makes them. One declares so many things to be a crime that it becomes impossible for men to live without breaking laws. --Ayn Rand

2. The anti-NaNoWriMo crowd has been none-too-gentle with their derision and contempt of those of us who choose to Nano it up this November. Of course, I'm with Voltaire: they certainly have the right to their own opinion, but gracious! the hatred, the vitriolic sputtering... the moral superiority! On the other hand, it could be part of a diabolic plan to spike their blog ratings! (Whyever didn't I think of that?!)

3. Certain individuals within the education realm who consider a "degree" the final word on intelligence seem to forget that much of what life teaches lies outside of the ivory tower. And many educators have even forgotten the purpose of a liberal education within American culture: "Traditional liberal education constituted both a rich body of knowledge and a deep habit of mind, a set of disciplines and a set of practices, one leavening the other, to the creation of intellectual culture and the ennobling of Western culture at large." --David M. Whalen

4. Will the press never be held accountable for their shameless mis-education of the American people? "Hastiness and superficiality -- these are the psychic disease of the twentieth century and more than anywhere else this is manifested in the press. In-depth analysis of a problem is anathema to the press; it is contrary to is nature. The press merely picks out sensational formulas." --Alexander Solzhenitsyn

5. In tolerating the intolerant, I try to practice what I preach: I may actively disagree with many an opinion, but I believe every individual is entitled to that opinion. It saddens me when groups of people believe that they are above their own law of tolerance. I think what they really believe is that everyone needs to be tolerant of their ideologies, but they -- in their cozy superiority -- have no need to tolerate anyone else's view.


Ken Kiser said...

Ahhh I'm a wee bit disappointed that you couldn't appreciate the classic "con-side editorial" that is intended to stimulate an enthusiastic Pro-side rebuttal.

I love writers and love to see passionate people defend their dreams. There are a lot of people out there that absolutely adore NaNoWriMo, and what better way to kick off November than to give them a chance to excitedly tout its virtues to a nay-sayer?

The insult throwers don't understand... but I really thought someone like you would.

Alex Moore said...

@ken: ahhh, now. I didn't growl too badly, did I? The truth is that, in my humble opinion, kindness matters. Nevermind the research that discusses quantity versus quality. Nevermind the fact that people who have written novels (& who write all year long) choose to participate in the fun. It's the dismissive quality, the "shivers of disgust", the I've-got-the-only-way attitude that I responded to...not the opinion itself.

And honestly? You're welcome to espouse whatever attitude you desire. I contemplated entering the dialogue on your blog, but the truth is that I don't personally care overmuch about nanowrimo. I have no passionate defense of it. If you read my post, you'll notice that the only bit of humor in the entire piece emerged when discussing Nanowrimo & the anti- crowd, namely you.

To be fair, although I haven't witnessed much on your actual blog, the comments you leave on others' blogs tend to be kind, caring, full of warmth and compassion. That said, I'm sorry to disappoint you, but I still don't have a positive response to you anti-post. But it's not a personal indictment against your soul. I promise. :)

Amber Lynn Smith said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

Alex, a great post - well said. Some of the smartest, best educated people I know have never been to college. And some of the biggest idiots I know have post graduate degrees. Some of the Nanowrimoers I know are serious, published authors, and some fill up their word counts with recipes for the thanksgiving turkey and other random bits. Politicians - well, I don't even want to discuss politicians. Re: your comment, I've realized, as I think it through, that the kindness and tolerance matters more to me than the writing does, which is saying a great deal.

Anonymous said...

It can be tough holding onto your beliefs growing up when most teachers and professors are liberal (Or eventually become liberal. Maybe it's the coffee in the teachers' lounges?) and love to 'sculpt young minds'. Writers, too, are generally liberal. The media; Our very culture has been flooded with, and is now inundated with 'liberal'. I'm very glad you posted this. I myself am generally conservative and agree that opinions should be shared, but with a distinct RESPECT for the person they are sharing their opinion with.
"Beware the sound of one hand clapping" reminds us to always remember that on the other side of our opinions are counter-arguments of, perhaps, equal merit to people just as intelligent as we are. It's all about perspective.

stu said...

Of course, there are then those who assume that if you have made the effort to get a university edcuation, you must then automatically have no real understanding of the world.

I don't know if it's just me, but your text and background colours seem very close to one another. I'm having to highlight the text to read it.

diane said...

Alex, right. I have no opinion of NaNoWriMo, other than to say it's not for me. But as for the political and media realms, there certainly has been a lot of snobbery and meanness shown during this election cycle - thank God it's over for now. For me, displays of elitism and unprovoked hatred tend to arouse my sympahty and push me toward the other side. But I guess a lot of people like a good fight.