Elite: Le Fleur et le Épée
With Comments by: Dr. Sam Vaknin
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"No bird soars too high, if it soars
with its own wings"
Proverbs of Hell
Elite. A terrible world. A select minority, that assumes leadership. All elites have been hated in all epochs, or so claimed "well -informed historians".
A lot has been written about elites, perhaps more than is necessary. As it seems, there is no agreement between historians. Someone said that elites are a bad thing, others said the opposite. We cannot adopt a position, these matters belong to "the world of eternal truths". Of its morale we cannot say nothing. Of its real existence we can say everything.
Wanted or not by idealists, elites do exist and have always existed. This is a fact and it is hitherto unremovable. Either one accepts it or not.
All of history, if we exclude some moments - the first minutes of a revolution, for example - has been created by a few select minorities. Of course a soldier can decided a battle, by its direction - that irreversible direction of Time takes personal forms. The battle´s form is decided and created in General Headquarters. This is true in military history, it is true in physics, in music, in art, in all parts of life. It is especially true in our Faustic-Western culture. It is our "pathos".
The decision-making power of the elites is true in our democracy though all democrats deny it. I can hear them now: "elite is a past, death word", "there are no more elites, only rational decisions taken by common people". Beautiful worlds. It would be nice to believe in them. But reality is as it is. The more universal a suffrage the less power the suffragists have.
There are few moments in History as delicate and marvellous as the Paris Assembly in 1798, or the reunion in Frankfurt. A soft breeze of liberty and fraternity smoothes the atmosphere. A marvellous, fragile, aroma falls like angels over the heads. But its nothing more than an instant. It's just like a rose. It's the ecstasy of the second.
Yes, soon thorns appear. Reality, with its debts and ugly deserts knocks at the door. Soon, the party metamorphoses into an organization, and after that into a mere cortege - "cohorts amicorum"- at the service of one man. This action-man is the caesar type. This appears at the end of cultures: civilizations. It appears when the battle between money and politics is untenable, and tilts the game in favour of politics. Because between politics and economy, politics is always, in absolutum, first.
The fall of culture has always been attributed to famine, to the rebellion of the poor and to other minor matters. This is not reality. It is time to say it. It is time for the nobility to assume responsibility for its own errors. Only the damage inflicted internally by the nobility prepares a country for the coming of a revolution. When officers start to cowardly remain in the rear, that army is just dead. If "le noblesse" loses its inner force, soon another elite, younger and more violent, takes over its position. But this new elite lacks diplomacy, character, tradition, experience. The time comes for the "despotism of liberty". Terror appears beside universal truths and human rights.
With the arrival of Caesarism, politics is just a hazard. A hazard of individuals. All possible directions depend on the appearance of great conductors instead of the performance of fools and madmen. In Caesarism , power is so infinite, so irresistible, that only great men can stand up to it without dissolving into narcissistic children: Neron is an extreme example.
Too much hazard. It lacks the existence of an elite. A select minority with a long view, with diplomatic skills, knowledgeable men, contrasted values, a planetary sense. A minority which can weigh the whole situation. This nobility breed its own springs and attracts, like a magnet does metal, new forces to it. Such an Elite can lead with great success a nation for centuries. England is a good example.
So, where can we find such an elite in our "strange days"? Well, history provides us with some clues. Let's start the quest.
Power and money. These rule the world.
Some say the newly rich are " le elite". Not to me. They are only mad little kings, which aspire to convert the world into an immense market dominated by their firms. The sweet dreams of castrated men.
The other side of the coin: military power. War is ended, it is dead. Only massacres remain, committed by mercenaries, by professional soldiers. Only a few of the "vieux combatants" actually survive in armies. That is what saves us from bigger destructions. The rest are only technicians and technocrats, not generals.
We think that the latter examples do not correspond to previous manifestations of elites. Where are they? Let's continue the quest.
It is a fact that money and military power are the mainstream of today. A future elite must dominate these two. So, what do these two disciplines have in common?
Don't you know yet? Do you wanna get more clues?
Another specific characteristic of all elites is their excessive pride, a disproportional haughtiness towards others, towards "common people". There is such a distance between the respective responsibilities that the elite feels alone in its leadership and more than often translates this solitude and incomprehension to contempt to "common people".
Don't know yet? Another clue?
Historically, the elite calls itself by its proper name: elite. Which members of world's million tribes call themselves elite? Of course: hackers. They are the one and only elite. Both power and economy use computers. Radar systems, military and economic communications, strategic plans, nuclear weapons control all are managed by computers. Economic communications, markets, transactions, commerce, credits, big fortunes, and finally, pure Faustic money, rest in computers. They are the keepers of the seven keys.
There, in the seven seas of the fourth dimension, in the vast, infinite, space of internet, a new race of vikings surfs the microcosmic ocean of virtual reality, in search of new lands to conquer. Gliding like eagles over the mountains of Mandelbrot´s Continent in searching of new paradises to discover.
This is always the first phase of noblesse. All ancient lineages start as robbers and sackers. Actual hackers do the same. They steal what they need.
But soon, big responsibilities appear in the horizon. When the Internet status begins to be encroached upon by state and imperial powers, it time for the hackers to take big, serious decisions. In short: it is time to take position - and this includes "not taking a position". All of us will be at least in one list, that's for sure.
Hackers are the blade, the warriors. They are not dominated by anything, by any morale. They are their own morale. We cannot compel them to do something. They must create their own ethos and pathos, drawing it out of their inner soul. This is not new - elites have lived in such a way for millennia. What is new, outstanding, is their age. From Julius Caesar to Napoleon, "le guard du corps" has been composed of hard, experienced, veterans. Now, in this brave new world, the elite warriors have rarely reached their twenties.
As usual, this condition, has advantages as well as dangers. On the dark side: inexperience, romanticism, an urgent eagerness to destroy, a lack of ethos, a lack of that "Prussian" discipline, which allows mature-inner anarchy to blossom, geopolitical dominion, etc....On the bright side: a heart, a passion, "the secret perfume of anarchy", and above all, a new planetary-futuristic vision without which it is impossible to make any coherent, "real" politics, or thought.
These are new people for a new situation.
But, all historians, and all normal people with a little common sense; in fact, the whole world with the exception of politicians and intellectuals - know the sword is not sufficient. We also need a left hand path. Man walks on two legs. Market and State. Merlin always appears by Lancelot's side. The shaman always appears besides the warrior. Force needs spirit. Sword needs flower. Heart meets brain. Inner anarchy complements external discipline.
These officials, the spiritual side of this new lineage should be formed in Pain. To improve the world it is not sufficient to contemplate. It must be attained trough pain and errors, fault and sacrifice. This "noblesse" should be informed of the dangers which faced all elites, especially of the most pernicious: ossification and its variants: inner weakness, blind fury, degradation of ethos, narcissism, etc... This new elite should forget glory, recognition..., those are the first stones of ossification. The centre of its decisions must be in the inside.
One of the functions, the most important, of the new elite is the search for these new values. It will be encountered, as always, in that future-past which is myth. It's too soon to anticipate these new values, they belong to the future. We are in the intermezzo. For those transition phases one recommendation: caution. In this, the weapons are old: Eros, Amicus and the Muses. Sex, friendship and art are the oasis in the "desert" of nihilism. Inebriation and dreams are its keys.
Finally, as a backdrop to their actions, should be Death. The only fixed reference: the central point. In its two directions: Inner, as an ultimate exit which, guarantees a defence against all oppression. Outer, to be aware of their capability to kill, conscious of this power.
These two issues are the attributes of free men.
Caesarism is imminent. If there is any possibility of a change in history, of a change in its cycles, it is in their young hands. There, in the darkness of cellars, fighting with cryptic-logarithms instead of arrows, a new race is fighting for its world. For the first time in history an elite is not fighting to change the world, or for glory, or to conquer. They dare fight for the biggest and ultimate prize: Liberty.
They will surely lose. This is the tragic, sublime and terrible in life. This is the sadness of a historian. But it doesn't matter. Their victory is not historical, its a-temporal. They will have won in the most important field. Cause here, in their own chest, burns the most terrible battle. Cause, here, in their own heart, is where the world really changes.
To those youngsters who are gonna die, my eternal respect.
Dialogue on the Crest
About Elites and Break Points
SV: I think that yours is an outdated definition of elite. For instance: in the USA, the White folks constitute the elite. They are better educated, richer and so on. But, of course, they far outnumber the blacks. The case was even clearer during the apartheid days. It is wrong to confuse "elite" and "minority". An elite is a group which is coherent and cohesive, on the one hand and which controls the bulk of the resources of the nation (or the planet, or any other frame of reference), on the other hand. If the majority has a number of common denominators sufficient to identify it as a group - and masters most of the economic, political, scientific and spiritual resources of the nation - it is still an elite.
Moreover: the mass media and the Internet give rise to "instant celebrities". This "equal opportunity elite" fills the void created by the failure of previous institutional elites: the aristocracy, scientists, politicians, businessmen, financiers, athletes (doping scandals), and even artists and musicians. Contemporary technology finally ushered Henry Wallace's "Era of the Common Man", replete with a revolving, itinerant, "flash in the pan", "15 minutes of fame" elite.
RCM: I can't agree with this observation. Elites are always minorities. This concept is not negotiable. Do you want to include in the USA elites the millions of white small labourers and farmers? And this is true, as I have said, in all parts of life. How many people understand quantum mechanics? How many people understand post-modern paintings and sculptures? How many people can comprehend relativity? Who can understand Heidegger?
SV: The criterion of "being hated" is a tricky one. French aristocracy was not really hated until well into the 18th century. Still, it was undeniably an elite. Moreover, following the French Revolution, the majority of people were sans-culotte. They were greatly hated and feared but they can hardly be called an elite. Jose Ortega y Gassett elucidated this paradox of "mass-elites", when the undisciplined, uneducated, cruel masses assume the roles of the preceding elites.
RCM: I use "well-informed historians" with an ironical twist. Your comment about the French aristocracy just emphasizes my comment. There are a lot of semi-truths about elites in History. This is, of course, because we are in an egalitarian world.
SV: The argument harks back to the eternal backbone of historiosophy. Is it history that creates its heroes - or the reverse? Are historical figures - including military leaders, musicians and physicists - a product of their times? Are they only flotsam on the Newtonian, immutable, uniform flow of the river Chronos? Or is history generated by exceptional personalities? I am a proponent of the first view. I believe that a Hitler would have led Germany regardless. Scientific discoveries are simultaneously discovered in a few places. Sheldrake called it the "morphogenetic field". Even scientific titans can be put in historical context and their theories and inventions explained away as by products of a gigantic, resonating cultural field. The uncertainty principle in quantum physics was invented by Heisenberg during a period in history when uncertainty was the only tenable principle. Relativity reflected relativism and the collapse of the Ptolmeic-Newtonian mechanical and predictable worldview. History creates elites. The converse sentence is wrong, in my view.
RCM: Certainly, this argument is the eternal crux of History. But, I think that in my essay a narrow path between the two options can exist. Some forms are immutable -- i.e. Death, human ages, etc...., others are product of a Hazard and self-organization. The big lines could be already discerned, but surely not the smaller ones. Here there is a void. One political example: modern politics has two weapons: elections and the mass media. These weapons come with time, and are provided by the "morphogenetic field". A good politician can't change the weapons, he must master them as Mozart mastered XVII century musical forms. But I assure you it is really different if the name of the hand that rocks the cradle is Adolf Hitler or Julius Caesar, quite different...
SV: Regarding your comments about democracy: some forms of "democracy" are not democratic, precisely as some forms of socialism are antisocial. Most voting systems are a charade. Either they do not reflect the vox populi (first past the post systems) - or they reflect it too faithfully (proportional representation). One must not identify the universe of democracy with a unique brand of celestial mechanics. How about the Swiss direct democracy? It is stupendous. There is no political elite in Switzerland (never has been). Still the country is prospering.
RCM: This is a poor argument. Why not live as in
Monaco, be all of us rich, beautiful, sail our yachts all day long. That would
be great!!! And it's not a democracy.
On the other hand, I must say that Switzerland should be an ideal reference to all of European politics. It's clearly the better way. Its a good approach to what should be a democracy, to the making of a society, or as we say here in Spain, to becoming, once and for all: "Pueblo".
SV: You say: "There are few moments in History as delicate and marvellous as the Paris Assembly in 1798, or the reunion in Frankfurt. A soft breeze of liberty and fraternity smoothes the atmosphere. A marvellous, fragile, aroma falls like angels over the heads. But its nothing more than an instant. It's just like a rose. It's the ecstasy of the second." And this sublime moment was followed by Terror and Dictatorship, however enlightened and benevolent. You do agree with me ("soon thorns appear") but then proceed to make a strange observation. Many would disagree with your distinction between money (or economy) and politics. Aren't the two intertwined, reflections of one another? When comfortable, the one is used to agitate the masses, when suitable - the other is used to provoke them. Politics and economy are true instruments of elites. They are ahistorical in the sense that they are anti-historical. The masses form history and use it to force the transformation of political and economic elites. It is a fierce battle. On the one hand legions of working classes and middle classes catapulting the cornerstones of history at their opponents, the elites. The latter are trying to buck the inevitable with their politics and with their economic might. History wins. It always does. And no amount of money or politics can change that.
RCM: As it had to happen, in a historical dialogue, the
apparition of Hegel has just entered the room. History wins? What is, then,
History? A God? A superior power? The Player who always wins?
Masses don't change anything. This is a false thought, a leftover from the French Revolution. This possibility is, since the appearance of Technology, dead. A look at W.W.I will confirm this theory. Masses are, in these "strange days" just a number, no more!
My remark on the separation between politics and economics is again down a narrow path. It's a metahistoric consideration. It's a far away perspective. In democracy equalization confuse concepts and realities. Nobody can distinguish anything. Powers don't have a clear form. Who can distinguish between law and money? Between executive and legislative? Between war and massacre? A killer and a policeman? Yet, they are not the same. The State is not the Market. Money can dominate for a long time. Why? Because it doesn't exist. An example? Let's imagine an experiment. Let's dream about a future world divided to furious liberal economists- who want to destroy the planet, and fanatics ecologists- who wants to destroy all machines....What I want to say is that the ecologists will surely win. Life always beats economy.
Faced with a hold up, there are two types of people. The ones who give the money, and the ones who sacrifice their lives. The latter are always the most powerful. This plus Faith always tilts the game in favour of politics. A mercenary can always be bought, a fanatic never.
SV: I think that you reach fascinating conclusions further on, based on little rigorous analysis at this stage. This essay of yours is in support of a view of history called "elitism". It is the belief that society - the faceless, helpless, masses - is led by definable and discernible groups of pre-eminent people. This pre-eminence can be political, scientific, economic, or military. There are a few hidden assumptions here which I would like us to bear in mind as we near the conclusion of your essay.
RCM: This is neither a historical view, nor any kind of analysis. It's a feeling of life. It's the Faustic-occidental feeling of life and of the universe - either we know it or not, either we accept it or not. Its our pathos. If we will feel different in the future - or by now - I don't know: the historical cycle coincides with another, bigger, telluric one. That it has been this way since 1200 I am sure.
SV: First and foremost, we are talking about GROUPS, organizations, assemblages of people with an agenda and the means to achieve their goals in a coherent and cohesive manner. These are also known as "parties". I am not sure that hackers fit the bill. If they do not, then they form the first "diffuse" elite in history. I am willing to accept that. the internet is the first "diffuse" medium in history. Networking replaces all modes of central planning and centralized control or co-ordination.
RCM: You touch the keystone. How to make predictions in a terra incognita. Of what kind is the next cycle? Of what magnitude? Do the changes also encompass the human race? What kind of myths fit this situation? What kind of morphology will the elites - if they will finally exist - assume? Who wants to bet about one?
SV: Regarding the second implicit assumption, Plato
wrote: "The human race will not see better days until either the stock of
those who rightly and genuinely follow philosophy acquire political authority,
or else the class who have political control be led by some dispensation of
providence to become real philosophers."
Plato says that we can identify a group of individuals who - by birth or upbringing (philosophy) - are best fit to rule. So, he identifies elite with political power. This is the second condition: that the aforementioned group has - and EXERCISES - political or other power over those who are not its members. It is not sufficient to possess a POTENTIAL to exercise power. It must be put to use. The hackers are not there yet. In this sense, they are a POTENTIAL elite, but not an actual one.
RCM: I must agree with you. It's only potential. My writing is quite futuristic, it's not for tomorrow. Caesarism will be easily recognizable in 30-60 years. This prediction should be confirmed or denied only as time passes.
SV: Mankind spent the last 300 years trying to refute these two hidden assumptions. Liberal philosophers disputed the purported identifiable talent for political leadership. Think about people like Truman in the USA or Hitler until 1919. Could you have guessed that they will become great leaders? Has a quality of "leadership" been identifiable in them? What about the adolescent Einstein (later, a scientific leader)?
RCM: No. Who can guess the singular, the individual? What has this to do with my essay? Where have I said that there is an identifiable individual talent or political leadership? Caesarism has nothing to do with Hitler, he was a demagogue of the masses. Caesars are always unpopular. They are not leaders. They are above the masses.
SV: Another, more populist, streak of Liberalism sought to diffuse and spread power among ever larger numbers of people. The concentration of power (of any kind, including the power of knowledge) in the hands of a demarcated elite was thought dangerous and abhorrent. Of course, neither "pure" and "ideological" approach prevailed. What is your view, do you think that the hackers are the closest we got to a "democratic elite"?
RCM: I think that you are making a mistake when you put at the front a lot of "static" concepts. Politics are more fluid. They are like a man. He must be a child, a teenager, a young man, a mature one, an old person and finally a corpse. He must pass trough these phases or die beforehand. There is NO THIRD POSSIBILITY. What is unique to us is HOW we experience these phases.
SV: Indeed. So, instead of these static concepts, a hybrid - Karl Popperian approach - characterizes the second half of this century. Your hackers are facilitating this process, they are catalysts. It is the belief that elitism is a bad solution that failed. The affairs of Mankind should be entrusted to LAWS. A "transient", "temporary" and "disposable" elite is put in charge of supervising the just and equitable implementation of these laws. If they fail - they are replaced. They become "has been elite". Ask George Bush, Margaret Thatcher, John Major, Philip Gonzales, Yeovil Ne'eman (a scientist who ALMOST won a Nobel prize). Look at Einstein during his last thirty years (made the mistake of trying to discredit the new elite of quantum mechanics) or at Lisenku (wrong theory of Genetics supported by Stalin and his murderous elite). Ask all the authors that are out of favour, the have-been movie stars, the unelected politicians, the defeated generals in all the Juntas. There seems to be nothing less permanent than being a member of today's "elites". The important question is no longer WHO rules or leads (in any field of human endeavour) but HOW rulers can be regularly and peacefully got rid of by the ruled. It is the control and change of "elites" that matters - not the elites themselves.
RCM: In the abstract, I am politically a full fledged conservative. Not like those liar-politicians but a real one. I want things to remain static. I want things to keep on going as you say .But it's only a dream, things change. To say it in SV's words, life is change. Who can guarantee that there won't be durable elites - which won't change in a short time - in the future?
SV: I am a realist. As long as people are not created
equal - there will be elites. The more social mobility, the more division of
labour and specialization - the more entrenched the concept of elite becomes.
But today's elites are meritocratic. One becomes a member through excellence.
This sits well with your prediction regarding the emergence of the
"hackers-elite". Hackers are the embodiment of perfect meritocracy.
Nietzsche said that those who object to the formation of elites of excellence
and merit are simply envious. This may be true but he went further to say that
this resentful egalitarianism was counterproductive.
That "the good of humanity ... (lies) ... only in its highest specimens". This is the crux of our disagreement, I think. I say that history provides us with NO PROOF that elites are preferable to more egalitarian modes of governance.
RCM: I will say it again. The issue is not whether elites are good or bad, this belongs to the "world of eternal truths". What matters is that they exist and will continue to exist for a long time. Perhaps not for ever. That would be nice.
SV: It is in this context that I raised the spectre of Switzerland. It is rich BECAUSE it is egalitarian - not the other way around. The Swiss model can be implemented everywhere, in great poverty as well as in great affluence. It is THE egalitarian model. It involves no elites and still it is highly successful. Granted, the Swiss are a nation of merchants. They worship the God of Mammon (money). Hitler stigmatized the British similarly.
RCM: Stop with the Swiss! My God! If one of the sides in WW2 were to destroy Switzerland, what would you have used instead?. We all know the reason that Le Confederation Helvetique survived as a neutral country. Where the money comes from - the robberies and spoils of the third world - this feeds the Swiss, this allows them to maintain such a beautiful life. But why stop at that utopia, why not take Monaco as the ideal? All the people over there are beautiful, rich, and ,what is enchanting, they don't pay TAXES. And it's neither democratic, nor egalitarian. Why not take the Vatican as an example? or San Marino? Or the Caiman Islands - they have a sea, Switzerland doesn't? Or Lichtenstein with its fabulous ski locations?
SV: Hitler and the Fuhrerprinzip, after all, were the epitome of elitism. but then perhaps I misunderstood you and you do not take a position. Perhaps you merely observe an inexorable historical process unfolding. In this case, accept my apologies.
RCM: My predictions on Caesarism are a mere observation of a historical process. I have already said that Hitler has nothing to do with Caesarism.
SV: To summarize:
I agree with you that elites are inevitable. I say that they are not necessarily good news. Moreover, many elites in history have proven to be VERY BAD NEWS INDEED.
I say that there is no point in comparing today's "elites" to yesterday's. Our "elites" are transitory, elected, disposed of. Membership in these new elites is not for life. The meritocratic elite is so open that its elitism is rendered meaningless.
I say that the relevant argument is not about elites but about laws and especially the laws relating to the orderly replacement of elites. The changing of the guard - not the guard itself - has become the focus.
RCM: I hope you are right. But it's only a hope.
SV: We cannot distinguish elitism from egalitarianism
unless we also distinguish it from the belief in the virtues of an hereditary
class system. A French nobleman may have owed his position to his birth - but
this in no way should imply that he was also a member of an elite (in the
current sense of the word), i.e., that he was in any way talented. In support
of this hereditary selection principle you raise the twin issues of experience
and upbringing. You say that members of a new elite - ANY new elite - chosen
because of their administrative, financial, political, scientific, or military
skills - are likely to have no sense of their duties. Ruling and leading entail
a kind of "noblesse oblige", the almost intuitive knowledge of what
one ought to do, of what is not only right but also proper. It is insufficient
to realize one's duties but also what OUGHT TO BE one's duties. This
magnanimity, this deep sense of commitment eludes the meritocrat. It is the
result of upbringing or experience or both. This responsibility is
characterized by a chivalrous protection of the underdog (women, the poor, the
weak). It is superiority inverted: the real raison d'etre of the aristocrat is
to serve. It is this right to serve that is coveted by new elites because it
confers upon them the authority as well as the responsibility. This is the kind
of elitism that you seem to espouse. Without it there is "too much
I beg to differ. I say that elitism is possible only in a classless society wherein talented people are rewarded for their talents. Elitism is impossible without meritocracy and equal opportunities. In other words, WHO is a member should not be determined randomly in a cosmic genetic lottery. Where I do agree with you is in your belief in upbringing. I am far from being egalitarian. Equal opportunities - yes, equal treatment - no. Parents (or the state, or philanthropists, or whomever) should provide their children with the advantages and upbringing and experiences that they need in order to fully develop and utilize their talents. Otherwise, society will "level-off". Egalitarianism is a deadly poison when applied indiscriminately. Members of the elite should be chosen and should receive special treatment and special advantages - but based on their talents and, later on, based on their skills. In effect, this is your conclusion as well. It cannot be derived from your premise and it leaves me very baffled. England - your "good example" - was led "for centuries" by hereditary peers. Hackers are the antithesis of hereditary peerage. Which is it that you support : meritocracy or aristocracy?
And just one historical remark. Plutocrats and military men were almost never considered members of the elite. The "New Rich" married the old (and bankrupt) aristocracy all over Europe IN ORDER to belong to the elite. Titles and estates were bought from England to America, from Spain to Japan. The emergence of the plutocracy as THE elite is THE major process of the 20th century. These two rejects - money and military power - conspired and succeeded to replace the old elites of blood and history. It is true, though, that military power had some advantages over money, in historical perspective. All elites started as military lineages. Money was relegated to outcasts such as the Jews.
RCM: I Agree with all you said, except with regards to the "common view" of Jews as bad fighters which is false. The Jews in the time of Josephus Flavius, the biblical Israelite tribes and today's combat pilots are the proofs to the contrary.
SV: In my view you use some weak criteria when you mention haughtiness. Let me explain myself. Either you define elite as "any group of people in power" (you have rejected this definition when I proposed it earlier) - or you define it as "a group of WORTHY people, who exercise power to improve the present and the future of humanity (in accordance with their own mores and values, of course)". The Nazi SS and the Stalinist Bolsheviks qualify as elites under the first definition - but NOT under the second. The SS were haughty, contemptuous, convinced of their hereditary (Aryan) destiny to lead and of their superiority. Does this make them an elite ? You can say, of course, that all elites are haughty - but not all haughty groups of people are elites.
RCM: Yes. I inserted this paragraph only to again note the dangers which must be avoided.
SV: I must compliment you on this highly original thought. It is captivating. The internet as a new continent, waiting to be conquered and colonized. The surfing metaphor. And the accurate historical comparison between the robber barons of yesteryear and today's robber-hackers. It is all true and unassailable, in my view. But the big question is will the hackers ACT?
RCM: Only God knows!!
Probably yes. Perhaps not by their own decision. They will be impelled to. This is always the mythical starting point. In short: History.
SV: That they have the potential to act as an elite, that they fit the description of a newly-emergent elite, that they talk and walk like members of an elite - we both agree. Now, will they BECOME an elite? Some kind of organized action is needed. Some kind of guidelines, a platform, political goals, organization, hierarchy, focus, cohesiveness, coherence. All these are anathema to hackers. Will they overcome their anti-establishmentalism to become the establishment? Other elites have. Maybe they will, too.
RCM: If we believe in Elites, they will be cohesive. Why? Because of the old, ancient reason: a common enemy, in this case, Imperial power.
Myth of the Catacombs
A Technical Epilogue
By: Roberto Calvo Macias
Certain comments made by Dr. Sam Vaknin suggested to me the need to clear some aspects of my essay. In it, I tried to put elites in a mythical context. Now, I am asked to take the myth as near to "Reality" as possible. This is dangerous. To touch a myth is to break it. But I will try to do it. After all, life is a game, isn´t it?
To begin with, I should say that the Elite is not historical - though it has historical references. It is meta-historic. It defies historical, sociological, materialistic ... any enclosing framework. This is because the framework itself - and, of course, the observer- are also moving. This is where only concordance or disagreement are possible: is the framework moving or not? It is morphological rather than analytic. My writing is with a risky intention of seeing things in their quiet angle. It's visionary. It's a desperate trial at constructing a new language - to see things in their flashing movement.
Mr. Vaknin keeps, in some aspects, within the old framework. This is the reason he uses several times the word "elitism", which is , as other isms are, reductionist. Yet my essay is all but reducionist! I only use the word "elite". Talking about elites don't stem from a deterministic historical viewpoint. It is talking about Man, more specifically, it is talking about men. About his natural, immutable attributes and conditions. About his interrelationships as a political animal and about "that something extra". Here, I want to note that my writing is western and only in the faustic-occidental context should it be understood and applied.
Here we can capture the crux of this dialogue: are Elites the natural human form? Is our condition pyramidal? What is the reason for Lenin´s mausoleum? Why are workers' parties led by lawyers, unemployed, unsuccessful students, charlatans, etc. In other words, why aren't worker parties led by workers? Why didn't anybody ask himself about this strange situation? Why all constitutions have no account of this tendency to personalize? Why did all the communist states yield a "politburo"? Why do we remember Picasso and not Cubism? The sequence which moves a party onto Caesar´s suite, is it a natural, human, tendency? Is it universal? 95% of all societies, in all epochs - with the exception of the short timeframe between monarchy and cesarism, have been pyramidal -- only few entities, "anti-statal societies", are not; and to take them, or Switzerland, as examples would constitute a big error. These are times of change, so, will we become a non-pyramidal society? The response to this question could be only answered in our own hearts. It's not a normal decision, it commits our lifestyle, our morals, our relationship with others, etc... Finally, It risks Life and Death.
An Elite is also the search for a dialectic surpassing the two opposing figures which dominate these "strange days". The Masses and the Individual, with his own demons and dangers. In this atmosphere I look to a third element, which, perhaps, could combine the best of the two. Here, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Dr. Sam Vaknin for the Ossification concept - as well as O. Spengler, E. Jünger, Antoine de Saint Exupery, and Joseph Conrad for showing me all the ideas and notions I've incorporated in this essay. I have merely mixed them.
My essay is basically made up of two parts. The first one is a search for potential elites. It has its results in the hackers - here, I deliberately ignored the other emerging elite that perhaps will be more decisive than hackers: the biologists. This new elite is even more bizarre, and it will be analyzed in my next essay: A Jurassic NightMare - Superman and the Gene.
Hackers.We have to take this word in a wider context. I use this word in the absence of a proper language - which is now just emerging. Hackers are only the tip of the iceberg. They should be regarded as an advanced manifestation of E. Jünger´s Worker. Its a neo-platonic idea. Its starting point is the man who works with the computer: the informatics soldier. In today's world this means a big percentage of the population. It has multiple applications: financial players, military technicians, and all the fields of informatics - which means almost everything. Everybody will be a species of hackers. Hackers are the elite of this species - i.e. crackers would be the future nihilist and aggressive terrorists.
As an example, we can look at hackers in Art. They are the new painters. These people of "Light and Magic" are the revolutionaries of art. Soon films won't require humans. Using powerful computers and programs they are creating a new world - one step nearer to Magic.
The Second part its a tragedy. It has been played in History a lot of times. It is the ancient, older than Life itself, struggle of free men against oppressing and excessive power. It's based on pessimistic utopias, on the advance of digitization, on Huxley - an epigram can be constructed on the phrase: now, in this "brave new world", elite warriors "rarely reach their twenties". It's an essay about these strong, indomitable men that barely survive in all continents: the Massais, the Samurais, the Tuaregs, the Australian aboriginals, the Araucanians, the Kiowas, the old Afghan Tribes, the Spanish Guerrilleros, the Shu-ars, the Innuits and all the other warrior tribes. About these aggressive, haughty, sanguinolent tribes. These people, so barbarian that they are incapable of fighting with unarmed men. So savage that they only see natural frontiers. It is the despairing, hopeless, chant of their death and disappearance. It's also the narration of romantic encounters in the darkness of catacombs. Of that immutable friendship forged in red hot by powers and catastrophes of empire. It's a description of their Rise and Fall. A cry against solitude, against destiny. Its about desperation, fear and Death. But, finally, in its latest, deepest sense, its a chant of Pride and Liberty.
Life is unconditional. Death is only the
PD: Finally I want to say, in confirmation of all the above-said that this very same writing is elitist. Which percentage of "common people" can understand this essay? This writing is addresed only to that extremely rare phenomenom known as "anarch-historian" and its variants: the anarchist-Prussian, the "waldganger", the true aristocrat, monarchs and finally, all sovereign individuals.
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