Charles Murray has been going around saying that the elite is smarter than ever before. That the difference between the top and the bottom is getting bigger and bigger. I myself wrote I saw nothing wrong with that development. Societies are supposed to sort out the best and give them advantages so as to disseminate those traits. Evolution accelerated by human agency. I’m all for it.
But that was assuming the premise. I am guilty of wishful thinking, perhaps. Jim A Donald thinks the premise is false. He says the elite is getting dumber, and you need only see the results of their rule in the recent decades. It’s really not a pretty picture, with slowing technological progress, wacky economic theory and pure madness in the social realm.
I think what’s happening is that the elite is getting bigger. As Murray says, the educational system is filtering smart, as defined by high IQ, people better than before. Murray makes his case in Coming Apart, and the data is solid. Jim’s argument talks about smarts as a function of results. And he makes his case that the quality of the results of the elite’s output has been decreasing dramatically. That’s also solid.
But the real result of the filtering of high IQ people is not that the elite gets smarter as in the average IQ of the decision makers got higher. It’s smarter because the middle and lower class have suffered a massive brain drain to the elite. Anyone with a middling IQ (say 115+) which has a good work ethic and swallows the party line, will go to what we call elite professions. The bureaucracy has expandid greatly, academia is also an order of magnitude bigger. Add journalists, activists, businessmen, and all the orbiters who now get a voice in public policy, and you have an ‘elite’ which is probably 100x as big as the old elite was. Democracy is a sham, but the ruling class has indeed expanded. The middle class never got to rule itself, but it saw its members rise up in the social ladder. Meritocracy did come, but merit changed its meaning.
But of course as Jim points out, IQ was just a necessary condition for joining the elite, never sufficient. The real hurdle was Faith. Buying into progressivism, the Equality cult, in its various manifestations. Feminism, Atheism, NAM empowerment, the Holocaust myth, Global Warming, Open Borders, Free Trade. The Cathedral’s pet causes are many, and new ones appear from nothing all the time. As Jim said in his probably most brilliant article, the elite today has to be dumb, not because it has biologically poor cognitive power, but because its belief system basically consists in refusing to see patterns in reality, so progressives must be dumb to still belong to the elite. They aren’t allowed to use their brains to anything other than rationalize whatever insanity the elite is working on.
Of course many geniuses are part of the elite, and in general terms, the elite has even probably raised its average IQ. But once inside the elite, the internal hierarchy doesn’t depend on smarts, but on licking ass, political skills, and Faith. So you see 120 IQs overseeing 150s. You see Matthew Yglesias badmouthing James Watson. You see dykes pushing Lawrence Summers. You see a blue eyed black woman directing Paul Krugman.
The path to heaven is not through results, but through belief in the Cathedral’s cause. Justification through faith. I’ll elaborate this line of thought in further posts this week.