Tuesday, October 29, 2013

The Ivy League as a Mirror of the World

Last week, Prof. Esolen reflected on the biases and pretentious political opportunism exhibited by many American elites—particularly those who have brought a sense of exceptional privilege and arrogance to the levers of centralized government. I heartily agree with the crux of that argument, and with the deserved criticism directed at certain renowned institutions of higher learning, including Princeton University. Still, the satirical element of that discussion ought never be misunderstood. Having read much else of Prof. Esolen’s admirable prose, and invoking the freedom of a fellow Princetonian, I would like to add my own postscript to that article—an addendum with which (hopefully) the original author will largely agree.

Let me begin thus. History provides no shortage of horrid examples, wherein small cliques of ruling elites have stunned and oppressed the disenfranchised masses—have taken the whole of a nation’s traditions and beliefs, and attempted to turn them inside-out and upside-down. Tyrants and oligarchs have sometimes made men slaves, and bewitched them into the pursuit of profitless endeavors, even unto death.  The Protestant Reformation in England was in some ways a manifestation of exactly this type of elitist cabal—“a tyranny of literates over illiterates” in G.K. Chesterton’s simplistic, but not altogether misleading, phrase.  (more...)

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