Back in 1995 when I first saw author Harlan Ellison in person, he brought up the subject of elitism, and said something I've always remembered. Today, in the context of the news flap over Barack Obama allegedly being "elitist," he revisited the thought on the message board at Harlan Ellison Dot Com:
- Wednesday, April 16 2008 10:10:43
Politicians endlessly seek the acceptance of the widest swath of constituency. That's how they stay in power. Thus, they must endlessly pretend to buy into whatever massmind tenets hold sway at that instant. They know very well -- as does even the dullest among us who is paying even minimal attention -- that (as Will & Ariel Durant so perfectly put it in THE LESSONS OF HISTORY) "Freedom and equality are sworn and mutual enemies. And where one prevails, the other perishes."
Concomitant: not all people are equal.
Equal before the Law ... ABSOLUTELY! No discussion, no contrariwise, no exceptions. Equal. Absolutely equal.
In reality? Quite another res ipsa loquitor. Common sense, common observation, common experience lead all but Faith-Blinkered deniers of the received universe to understand and accept (and to be CHALLENGED BY) the reality that Some People are Better than Others. I've said this before, I'll say it again and again and again: you cannot convince me that when Jackie Robinson was running the basepaths, that he was not BETTER than anyone else; that Herman Melville was not BETTER; Eleanor Roosevelt, Enrico Fermi, Ludwig von Beethoven, John Simon, Dorothy Parker -- flat-out better; Peggy Lee, Sojourner Truth, Albert Einstein, Winston Churchill, Stephen Jay Gould, Norman Corwin, Fangio, Tiger Woods, Eero Saarinen, Ambrose Bierce, Copernicus, Jane Addams, David Hume, Michelangelo...
Smarter, faster, clearer-thinking, more in tune with the music of the spheres and the commonality of the human experience. Good and smart and caring. More valuable to the human race. Worth more than a million "celebrities." Simply: Better.
And so, we should ALL strive to be Elitist, to pay homage only to those among us, however noted or humble, known or unassuming, DO THE WORK OF THE WORLD. They are the Elite; and if ANYone seeks to demonize the word, even if it's a cynical presidential hopeful, playing the egalitarian down-home just-folks ignorance card, we should flay them.
As Bertolt Brecht has written, "He who laughs has simply not heard the bad news."
We live in parlous times. We need serious men and women who will be brave enough to tell the truth, not merely truckle to the prejudices and bigotries of the groundlings.
This has been my Manifesto.
I will not be voting for Hillary Clinton. She made my mind up for me herself. Say "anything" to win is not a quality I revere in a President; we've had eight years of that; and Clinton years before THAT.
Copyright 2008 by The Kilimanjaro Corporation. With this notice
the above may be circulated as you wish.
By the way, one thing Harlan said that time in 1995 was that an elitist IS NOT NECESSARILY someone who thinks HE OR SHE is better than other people, but that it's easy, cynical, and unthinking to look at someone who believes the above and say "You think you're better than me??!"