Monday, October 8, 2012

the last book I ever read (Twilight of the Elites, excerpt one)

from Twilight of the Elites: America After Meritocracy by Christopher Hayes:

When you bring your car to your mechanic because it's making a worrisome noise, you trust that he's knowledgeable enough to figure out what's wrong and scrupulous enough not to rip you off. On all things auto-related, your mechanic is an authority. In public life, our pillar institutions and the elites who run them play the mechanic's role. They are charged with the task of diagnosing and fixing problems in governance, the market, and society. And what we want from authorities, whether they are mechanics, money managers, or senators, is that they be competent--smart, informed, able--and that they not use their authority to pursue a hidden agenda or personal gain.

We now operate in a world in which we can assume neither competence nor good faith from the authorities, and the consequences of this simple, devastating realization is the defining feature of American life at the end of this low, dishonest decade. Elite failure and the distrust it has spawned is the most powerful and least understood aspect of current politics and society. It structures and constrains the very process by which we gather facts, form opinions, and execute self-governance. It connects the Iraq War and the financial crisis, the Tea Party and MoveOn, the despair of laid-off autoworkers in Detroit to the foreclosed homeowners in Las Vegas and the residents of the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans: nothing seems to work. All the smart people fucked up, and no one seems willing to take responsibility.

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