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[P]
On elitism

By ObeseWhale in Culture
Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 01:55:35 PM EST
Tags: Culture (all tags)
Culture

Elitism is a term we see thrown around quite a bit here on k5. Frankly, I know I'm speaking for a few of us when I say "I'm sick of it".


Elitism happens to be one of those insults that gets bandied around quite a bit here at k5, but is often misunderstood. To clear things up a bit, I took a trip over to dictionary.com and looked up elitism to find:
The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.

The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.

Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

Great, so now that we all know what exactly elitism means, we can begin to rule out certain abuses of the word. To begin, I doubt anyone on K5 is truly advocating for any sort of superiority because of their race, financial or social status, or even intellect. If so, then perhaps a better term would be supremacist. We can also generally rule out the third definition because most people on K5 don't really believe that geeks should rule the world. Sure, at times we may think it would be nice, but we aren't exactly positioned to rule the global socio-political landscape just yet :). So, it seems as if when k5ers are called "elitists" the insult is being used to mean "the sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class". In particular, "geek pride" as some may say.

Elitism has become a sort of curse word in this place, an almost scarring insult toward someone's credibility and decency. Well, if it's elitist to be proud of one's fascination with computers, may I be the first to say that I am among the most "elitist" people on the face of this earth. Yes, that's right, I'm not ashamed about the fact that I'm a "geek". I'm not ashamed that buying a new hard drive gives me more joy than a rollercoaster, and completing a PHP script gives me a rush like a first kiss. Yes, I'm thankful and glad for who I am, and gods be damned if this is some sort of "elitist" crime.

As soon as someone suggests that the internet was a better place back when it was dominated by the "geeks", as soon one compliments the technical achievements of the free software movement, one is branded as an "elitist". Is it wrong to suggest that those who are literate in computers should revel in there creations? Should one be insulted for having pride in the accomplishments of one's community?

The use of the word elitist has gotten way out of hand here at Kuro5hin. If you are in any way ashamed of who you are because of your affiliation with computers, feel free to express it, but don't try to shame the rest of us with the badge of elitism.

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Poll
Are you an elitist?
o Yes, I have "geek pride" 40%
o Yes, I have infectious hubris 34%
o No, being a geek is nothing to be proud of 10%
o No, I am not a geek! 13%

Votes: 110
Results | Other Polls

Related Links
o Kuro5hin
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o Also by ObeseWhale


Display: Sort:
On elitism | 60 comments (55 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
What's really on people's minds (4.29 / 17) (#1)
by Signal 11 on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 10:38:09 PM EST

I think the term elitism as used around here is actually a euphimism for two other qualities - being a charlatan, and jealousy.

In the online world, everyone believes they are equal. On many levels they are, on many they aren't. One of the things many people make a mistake on is thinking that they are equal to experts. People in online forums take great pleasure in tearing into an expert or a leader for making the slightest slip-up - it makes them feel more on the level with them. It has its basis in the real world - people who take credit for others' work and put others down to get ahead. We have the same problem online, we just frame the problem differently.

The other problem is jealousy and insecurity. We're all, to some degree, insecure about our knowledge. Only the fool believes s/he knows everything, as a result, we have an uneasy desire to sometimes strike out against others. Also, the online world is much bigger than the physical world, after a fashion. At work, you may have 20 people you work with and you're better than them at sometime, or a good number of things. It contributes to alittle bit of security - and wherever you go in the real world, that is most always true.

Online, however, you rarely are as good at something as someone else, and to some people it gnaws at them, forcing them to spar with other people. It is one of the main contributing factors to flamewars, and often the hidden motive for a particularily venomous attack.

But that's just my own, biased, opinion - take it as you may.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.

Hmm I have an example... (4.50 / 2) (#29)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 09:26:55 AM EST

The other problem is jealousy and insecurity. We're all, to some degree, insecure about our knowledge. Only the fool believes s/he knows everything, as a result, we have an uneasy desire to sometimes strike out against others.

I saw a comment here, Signal thought you might like this :).


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
a bit out of context? (4.00 / 1) (#34)
by Signal 11 on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 12:54:06 PM EST

I think you're taking that just a little bit out of context.


--
Society needs therapy. It's having
trouble accepting itself.
[ Parent ]
Mmmm maybe (5.00 / 2) (#35)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 01:45:07 PM EST

In the link you were talking about hating users because they are all stupid.They do not have your knowledge of computers. You are superior they are inferior in this case.

In the quote you are saying people strike out at others when they feel their knowlege over others can be threatened.

Some people know more about a particular topic than someone else, they believe this gives them the right to treat the person with distaste and with less respect than they should. I believe the motivation for this "superiority" complex is a fear of losing this respect. They strike out to keep their "inferiors" lower than them, perhaps hoping that with enough pressure the inferior will not attempt to learn for themselves.

A leader that fears for his power will use his army to strike down those that oppose him, while a confident leader will debate with those that oppose him.

Confident Teachers will enjoy being asked questions ( that directly relate to a particular topic, and if there is time) that they do not know the answer to. This shows them the student is critically thinking and interested in the topic, it also gives the teacher a chance to learn something new. A teacher that holds their knowledge a sign of superiority over his/her students will strike out and perhaps berate the student.
(Note asking questions that do not relate directly to the topic may be viewed as a waste of time if the course load is heavy. Simply wait until after class to further explore your question.)


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
Butt..... (3.00 / 1) (#36)
by retinaburn on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:10:45 PM EST

Thought I should clarify a wee bit.

If I am asked repeatedly by the same user to whom I have explained something, then sure I'll probably treat them with less respect than I should (if I let them live). But /hating/ users is something else entirely.


I think that we are a young species that often fucks with things we don't know how to unfuck. -- Tycho


[ Parent ]
on a broader note... (3.66 / 9) (#3)
by mircrypt on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 10:41:42 PM EST

Just for the hell of it, why limit questioning the pejorative application of elitism to computers? Specialists in other fields "suffer" from similar naming.

I would hazard that elitism nicely sums up the socio-economic hieararchy of modern society. Does anyone have a real problem with the way that society is structured at present? If there's no fundamental bone of contention with the approaching-liberal democratic state that those of us in the US live in, how can those who criticize elitism justify their claims?

I don't mean to direct the discussion away from the use of elitist appellation on k5, I'm just curious where an anti-elitist prejudice originates given the far from egalitarian world we live in.
"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you". - Aldus Huxley -

Elitism and the "system" (3.50 / 4) (#4)
by ObeseWhale on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 10:53:11 PM EST

I disagree that "elitism nicely sums up the socio-economic hieararchy of modern society". A good point to make is that those who are often experts or work hard actually do not rise to the top of society. How many people can look me in the eye and tell me that the exec at the mining corporation works harder than the men sweating it out mining for gold. How many of you can tell me that the people on the board of the many dot-com companies online are smarter than the people running the servers and creating the web site? What I find interesting is that if one were to suggest that perhaps the person running the server ought to be payed as much as the exec cutting deals with the VC firms may be labeled an "elitist". If this is the case, any socialist becomes an "elitist", quite an ironic and humorous incidence, isn't it?

---

"The hunger for liberty may he suppressed for a time; yet never exterminated. Man's natural instinct is for freedom, and no power on earth can succeed in crushing it for very long."
-Alexander Berkman
[ Parent ]
On workers and execs (4.60 / 5) (#11)
by Kaa on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 12:01:40 AM EST

How many people can look me in the eye and tell me that the exec at the mining corporation works harder than the men sweating it out mining for gold

I may. It depends on the worker and on the exec. Or do you still believe that any physical work is necessarily harder than any mental work? Let's ask you a different question: who do you think is more likely to burn out -- an exec or a manual worker?

What I find interesting is that if one were to suggest that perhaps the person running the server ought to be payed as much as the exec cutting deals with the VC firms may be labeled an "elitist".

I think this person is likely to be called a "commie" or a "bloody liberal", but hardly elitist. But I find another thing interesting: "ought to be payed". Even leaving spelling aside, what do you mean by that? How can you know what somebody ought to be paid? Based on what criteria? Your personal opinion? Or do you believe that there is some absolute truth, fairness and justice which specifies how much one should be paid for his job?

Kaa
Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.


[ Parent ]

contributions to the whole (4.66 / 3) (#13)
by mircrypt on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 12:21:22 AM EST

This question of whether the person who works to create the product versus the person who directs said production reminds me of an argument/discussion an econ prof. and I had with a student. My campus recently underwent a living wage craze. There was a movement to engender more equitable pay for those on the maintenance staff...i.e. to provide them with a "living wage". I'll refrain from including the glib remarks my prof. made about what a living wage can be defined as and leave it at this:

Just because someone contributes greatly to the production of a product, does not entitle them to reap equal rewards to those who actually enable the product to be sold or marketed.

I grant your point has some merit, but there needs to be a distinction made between those who can be termed experts and those who work hard. There is no doubt in my mind that the guy who repairs the apts. in my complex works hard. He is not however, an expert. Expertise connotes skill or knowledge in a particular area. In this day and age, simple familiarization with a concept is insufficient to merit the term "expert". I don't suggest that the execs of .com companies are inherently smarter folks than those who design the sites or run the servers, just that their task requires, or one would hope requires, a working knowledge of skills of which the efforts of those who don't earn the big bucks are a subset. The sys admin may know a hell of a lot more about keeping the network running smoothly, but his salary cannot be argued to be comensurate with the guy who's out there pushing the firm and running the show.

I would argue instead of the label "elitist" being attached to the non-free market based, perhaps more socialist oriented idealist you suggest, the term would rather be placed as a stigma on those who suggest that some (the exec for example) have a greater skill value in the market, and thereby, by virtue of their greater expertise, deserve the higher salary.

My field isn't technology, it's politics. My experience has shown me that neither hard work nor "expertise" is sufficient to rise to the top. A combination of both is required. Factoring elitism into social theory tends to explain the world we live in better than if one is to stand apart and suggest that effort or knowledge have merit in and of themselves.
"Experience is not what happens to you; it is what you do with what happens to you". - Aldus Huxley -
[ Parent ]

Elitism bad. (3.00 / 9) (#5)
by elenchos on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 10:54:10 PM EST

Even without the help from dictionary.com, I knew what elitism meant (cause I'm so elite), but you simply beg the question: when should we use this word? I assume it is still OK to use it when applied to actual eliteism. But you feel we should stop using it with reference to people who do not really suffer from the disease of elitism. I agree.

Examples, please. Change the names to protect the guilty if you wish. But if you want to say that the word is being misused here more often than K5 misuses other words (and a lot of words get misused around here!), you should at least give one or two examples.

Adequacy.org

How about a diary entry next time? Or Op-Ed? (3.33 / 9) (#6)
by pb on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 11:03:23 PM EST

First, I think "intellectual elitism" is a valid phrase, and of course people with a specific skill would be superior to people who don't have that skill when they're both trying to exercise it.

Not everyone should be a programmer. People have very specific skills that help them in their chosen fields. But when one field suddenly becomes desirable for whatever reason,(in this case probably money) a lot of people try it out because of that. Unfortunately, the really good programmers try it out (or investigate further) because of a natural inclination.

Why do something if it doesn't make sense? Why wrestle with it if you aren't good at it? And for the few people who are that determined, of course there will be some jealousy when they see other people efortlessly doing the same projects better and in less time.

I've always been pretty extroverted and talkative, but when I was younger, people would accuse me of being a "know-it-all". They'd say "You think you know everything, don't you?"--and that's essentially an accusation of intellectual elitism right there. Now, I know enough to know that I don't know everything--I can't even memorize the 216 digit number, let alone understand it.

So it's a matter of perception. I try to help out, and answer things as best as I can. If that makes me seem elitist to others, then that's just too bad. But once I start acting arrogant about it, then you can accuse me of being elitist. Since I still know people who are massively better or more experienced at any number of things, I'm not too worried about that.

Real "intellectual elitists" are probably just big fish in small ponds. Once they go out into the ocean, they should be happy to be corrected, and continue learning. And the internet can be a huge ocean, if used correctly. If anyone doubts this as regards programming, send me an e-mail, and I guarantee you'll have that assumption challenged. :)
---
"See what the drooling, ravening, flesh-eating hordes^W^W^W^WKuro5hin.org readers have to say."
-- pwhysall

Ok, but you see... (3.69 / 13) (#7)
by trhurler on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 11:31:42 PM EST

I am an elitist, in the sense that people usually seem to mean the term. It is usually used in opposition to egalitarianism, which can loosely be defined as the belief that all people are or should be equal. That is bullshit; we obviously aren't, and this is not a matter of choice, so should/shouldn't is a stupid distinction in this case. Attempts to pretend otherwise or make it appear otherwise are nothing but attacks on success and ability.

Furthermore, I'm an elitest in the sense that I have reason to believe that I'm superior to 99% of professional programmers. I have reason to believe that I have superior language skills to almost everyone I meet. I spend my time, even when I am doing other things, actively thinking - most people seem to find it difficult to really think even for a few moments while left alone.

Why would I feel any shame about this? You seem to have a false premise here - the idea that egalitarianism is a good thing, and elitism is bad. Elitism is not only good, it also is more fun.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

Belief doesn't necessarily make it so (3.75 / 4) (#22)
by goonie on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:40:55 AM EST

I am an elitist, in the sense that people usually seem to mean the term. It is usually used in opposition to egalitarianism, which can loosely be defined as the belief that all people are or should be equal.

Your beliefs, at least from what I can make of them, go considerably further than that. You seem to believe that your alleged programming skills somehow make you more worthy than somebody who has different talents. People have different talents, and some people have exceptional talents in some areas. I will respect their talents, but that doesn't necessarily mean I will regard them as "worthy" people. I personally reserve that for those who make fullest use of their talents for the good of the most.

Furthermore, I'm an elitest in the sense that I have reason to believe that I'm superior to 99% of professional programmers. I have reason to believe that I have superior language skills to almost everyone I meet.

As I've never seen your code, and I haven't bothered to research your writings beyond this weblog, I'm not really qualified to comment on that statement. However, I will say that most of the truly talented individuals I have met don't feel the need to boast about their talents - they let their accomplishments speak for themselves.

[ Parent ]

You mistake me. (3.75 / 4) (#33)
by trhurler on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 10:56:47 AM EST

Your beliefs, at least from what I can make of them, go considerably further than that. You seem to believe that your alleged programming skills somehow make you more worthy than somebody who has different talents.
This is not true. I know a great many people who are amazingly talented at other things, and I respect them as they deserve. However, most people aren't amazingly anything. If they were, then "average" and "amazing" would mean the same thing.
However, I will say that most of the truly talented individuals I have met don't feel the need to boast about their talents - they let their accomplishments speak for themselves.
And they usually try to downplay those. The culture of "modesty" we have today is pervasive - but what does it serve? It may make incompetents feel better about themselves, if they're really stupid, but in general, even morons can figure out when they're being bullshitted in this way. It may please the Judeo-Christian ethics slobs who still think humility is a virtue for some unknowable reason involving large buildings and old books written by pissed off social outcasts. What else does it accomplish? When you see your favorite "hero," be he a football player or a computer programmer, go on about how it wasn't him, he's not that great, blah blah, first off, you know he's lying, and second, you know he's doing it because he thinks it'll make other people feel better about not being as good as him.

Is that what you think? Is that what you want? People lying because someone might get their feelings hurt? That's really disgusting.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
What purpose does modesty serve? (4.66 / 3) (#39)
by goonie on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:03:53 PM EST

The culture of "modesty" we have today is pervasive - but what does it serve?

Good question. One reason is that the hero's successes often really *do* depend on their colleagues or teammates, and one of the reasons why successful people are that way is that are able to get extra results out of their colleagues. For instance, to take the computer programmer example, Linus Torvalds may be a very good individual programmer but his real talent was making use of the work of others. Drawing undue credit for the work of others without acknowledging their role (even if it was a lesser role) is one easy way of alienating those people and not having the same opportunities in the future.

Additionally, modesty makes it far easier to deal with others, even if they are "inferior". Finding common ground with people makes a relationship much easier than constantly emphasising differences. I found that, as a teacher, I got much better results by saying "yeah, I found that concept difficult, but if you work through these examples it should be clearer" (well, by comparison with the rest of the course, which I studied the night before the exam down at the pub), than "What kind of moron are you?"

Finally, I might add that many people are very bad judges of their own skills and achievements. Take Maurice Greene, the current Olympic 100 metre champion, who (apparently) claimed that he was "the greatest runner of all time." Yes, he currently holds the world record, but greater than Carl Lewis? Greater than Jesse Owens? Greater than even Michael Johnson? Gimme a break. If there is anything more annoying than a truthful braggart, it's an incorrect braggart. Letting other people judge your achievements is a lot safer and, in the long run, going to be fairer.

[ Parent ]

Ah... (5.00 / 1) (#41)
by trhurler on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:32:21 PM EST

One reason is that the hero's successes often really *do* depend on their colleagues or teammates
In this case, acknowledging their important role(even their vital role) is proper and necessary - but why does that require self-deprecating commentary? The fact that I am good does not mean they are not also good.
Additionally, modesty makes it far easier to deal with others, even if they are "inferior".
If you mean not putting them down makes it easier to deal with them, this is obviously true. If you mean that putting yourself down makes it easier to deal with them, then they aren't worth dealing with. For those people, saying "What kind of moron are you?" may be both appropriate and perhaps even a bit generous.
I might add that many people are very bad judges of their own skills and achievements.
Agreed. However, there are alternatives other than being a bragging idiot and being a humble idiot. I personally find that quiet confidence is usually the right answer, unless and until someone asks me what I think, at which time the answer depends entirely on who is asking and specifically what he's asking. You will often see me complimenting people I work with and respect, but you will never, ever see me belittling myself. I think that's the appropriate attitude for most situations. I suspect the ability to judge your own skills is related to the ability to judge your weaknesses and failings. I've cultivated both; they haven't always made me happy, but they keep me fairly honest, and they've let me develop skills I otherwise would never have gained.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
not even when true? (4.50 / 2) (#45)
by speek on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:49:21 PM EST

but you will never, ever see me belittling myself

What about when you deserve to be belittled? You still wouldn't? I mean, yes, I'm being partially sarcastic, but also partially serious. Would you never belittle your abilities in areas where you truly have no abilities?

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees
[ Parent ]

deserving (4.00 / 1) (#47)
by trhurler on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:22:32 PM EST

I think there is a difference between admitting what you aren't good at and belittling yourself. Perhaps some people don't. For instance, I'm not too good at shooting pool. I enjoy the game, and if anyone asks, I tell them I'm not too good. However, I don't regard this as reflecting negatively on me as a person, which is what the humility freaks want - they want to convey the idea that they are in some way inferior or at least unimportant. I'm not inferior, and I'm not unimportant, and I don't give a good God damn what anyone else thinks on that subject:)

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
The virtue of modesty (none / 0) (#58)
by SightUnseen on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 12:55:50 AM EST

Modesty makes social interaction easier. Frankly, I'd rather not have someone's sense of superiority put in my face. A person can boast of or downplay their achievements, but I will only know them for what they are when I see them and judge them by what I know.

By downplaying their achievements, a person is acknowledging the contributions of the people who enable the circumstances for brilliance or excellence to occur, or they acknowledging that there was or will be someone who is better. Modesty is a way of sparing other people's feelings which has value in itself.

As for those "old books written by pissed off social outcasts", Europe would probably have had several more centuries of the Dark Ages if not for them. Just because something appears stupid or illogical to you, does not mean that it does not have value.

As a disclaimer: I am not a "Judeo-Christian ethics slob" nor do I necessarily subscribe to their ethics.

[ Parent ]

elitism versus egalitarianism (4.33 / 3) (#25)
by ajf on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:05:32 AM EST

It is usually used in opposition to egalitarianism, which can loosely be defined as the belief that all people are or should be equal. That is bullshit; we obviously aren't, and this is not a matter of choice, so should/shouldn't is a stupid distinction in this case.

People aren't all the same. As you say, that's obvious - so obvious that I can't believe you think that's an argument against egalitarianism, when it's really quite irrelevant to the idea.

Think fairness, not equivalence.

I know the world isn't fair - and I think it's a Bad Thing we should try to subvert when we can.

Do you believe that some people simply deserve a better life than others because of who they are?

Elitism is not only good, it also is more fun.

Oh, lots of stupid things are fun. I'm sure I'd enjoy stealing all your possessions and money and have them for myself, but that doesn't mean there aren't good reasons not to do it.



"I have no idea if it is true or not, but given what you read on the Web, it seems to be a valid concern." -jjayson
[ Parent ]
more egalitarianism (4.00 / 4) (#32)
by trhurler on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 10:45:45 AM EST

People aren't all the same.
Smarter people than you have attempted to use this as an argument that we're all as good as the next guy and no better. Unfortunately for them, it is blatantly obvious that it isn't true. Some people are "different" in that they're homicidal maniacs - I insist that I am a better person than them, and you will not alter that viewpoint, I assure you.
Think fairness, not equivalence.
That isn't what egalitarianism means, but it is nice to think about, isn't it? Of course, it doesn't exist, save possibly in courtrooms and so on.
I know the world isn't fair - and I think it's a Bad Thing we should try to subvert when we can.
You may know it, but you obviously haven't thought about why - the world isn't unfair because of people - it is unfair because that's the way it has always been. We can't change it. It is not subject to our whims. It does not bend to our will. To the extent that we control the world at all, we do so only by strict adherence to its rules.
Do you believe that some people simply deserve a better life than others because of who they are?
Nobody "deserves" anything but what he earns. I continuously earn a fairly good life(not purely in the way of salary, but also by my choices of how to live my life, whom to associate with, and so on. This is not purely an economic matter.) As such, I generally have one - but even for me, life is not fair. Sometimes, shit happens. I deal.

Here's a question for you. Do you want equality of opportunity or equality of outcomes? Think carefully about it, because almost everything done today in the name of equality is done in the name of outcomes, and yet all the talk is about opportunity. This is no accident.

--
'God dammit, your posts make me hard.' --LilDebbie

[ Parent ]
Whole argument is built around a fallacy. (3.14 / 7) (#9)
by Estanislao Martínez on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 11:39:22 PM EST

Being the implicit assumption that when the way a word is generally used and a definition of it in a general dictionary conflict, the dictionary definition wins out. Of course, the criteria for a general dictionary are exactly the opposite.

IANAL ("L" == "lexicographer"), but my perception is that "elitist" is not being used much differently here than in any other place.

--em

I advocate superiority (4.20 / 15) (#10)
by Kaa on Sun Jan 14, 2001 at 11:52:12 PM EST

To begin, I doubt anyone on K5 is truly advocating for any sort of superiority because of their race, financial or social status, or even intellect

No need to doubt, you are wrong. I advocate superiority based on intellect. The word "superior" basically means "better". There is no question that some people are smarter than other ones. Those who are smarter think better, faster, more cleanly. They understand more, can do more, can deal with more. I put forward that smart people are superior to stupid people, that is, better than them.

[Special note for stupid people: just because stupid people are inferior does *not* mean that they all should be killed, deprived of their right to vote, put into jail, or in general be limited in pursuit of their happiness whatever it might be]

As to elitism, it's a common accusation against smart, unusual, non-conformist people. Do you know what a hammer policy is? Think of people as a row of nails -- if anyone is taller than the rest, just smack him on the head with a hammer until he becomes just like everybody else. We wouldn't want any elitism here, would we?

Kaa
Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.


See a shrink (3.50 / 2) (#40)
by kumquat on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 06:15:10 PM EST

You've got some serious emotional baggage there, Kaa. A person with superior balance and control of their emotions would be able to write a comment on this topic without displaying so much deep-seated hostility and without revealing a past in which they believe they were "hammered down", unless, that is, they also choose to reveal the source of those emotions as anecdotal evidence in support of their argument.

You post implies that you think yourself superior. In what ways? Surely not emotionally, based on your post.

[ Parent ]

Another perspective (4.75 / 4) (#43)
by draco on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:26:48 PM EST

Maybe it's only because I don't feel like the target of Kaa's statement, but I didn't read any hostility in it. As I see it, all he said was that if someone were genuinely superior to everyone else, then that person would be perfectly justified to feel superior to everyone else. If you read his comment, you'll see that he never says that he is an example of a superior person. He further states that he thinks that intelligence would be a very good measure of superiority and then some statements in defense of that claim. If you feel that he's wrong, then you should present arguments refuting his claim. In other words, you should refute the argument, not attack the speaker. There's a term for attacking the speaker: ad hominem. It's a logical fallacy and invalid in rational discourse.

Do I think there is such thing as a truly superior person? No. One can be intelligent without being wise. Even if we have knowledge, we don't necessarily know what to do with it. What we can do is not the same thing as what we should do.

A superior person is composed of many superior parts. Claiming an intellectually brilliant person who is totally paralyzed is superior to another brilliant person who can defend themselves and survive in harsh environments doesn't make a whole lot of sense. Is the first person less fit to live? No! But they aren't superior either. Of course, to say the second is superior in general doesn't make any more sense. Can humans live in a vacuum? On the surface of a star? On Jupiter? On Venus as it is now?

It's not hard to see that a person who is well suited to life on Venus would be ill-suited to life on Earth. Ditto for space vs a star. And we could go on and on. In light of this, superiority doesn't make a whole lot of sense without a firm context. And with context being so arbitrary, superiority as a measure of value loses any meaning.

draco
[ Parent ]

That was not ad hominem (3.00 / 2) (#46)
by kumquat on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:53:03 PM EST

When the entire basis of discussion is that of one person's opinion regarding the nature of feelings of superiority, how can the poster's motivations not be construed as relevant? True, he never outright claims to be superior, but then again I never directly claimed he claimed it, either. That's the diplomatic game of leaving yourself a "logical" escape even though it is plainly apparent to all what you are truly saying.

There was a great deal of hostility implied towards those that "if anyone is taller than the rest, just smack him on the head with a hammer until he becomes just like everybody else", not to mention those "accusation[s] against smart, unusual, non-conformist people". It's the same old passive/agressive geeks lashing out at a world they feel treated them badly.

I agree with most of what you wrote in your last three paragraphs, and if you'll read my orginal comment as being tongue-in-cheek commentary to an arrogant post rather than an ad hominem attack, it may seem less harsh to you.

[ Parent ]

Thin skin (5.00 / 1) (#51)
by Kaa on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 02:19:37 AM EST

You've got some serious emotional baggage there, Kaa

Heh. Even if I do, do you think I am likely to spill my underwear all over K5?

A person with superior balance and control of their emotions would be able to write a comment on this topic without displaying so much deep-seated hostility

Maybe. How would I know? I do not claim to possess "superior balance"...

As to "deep-seated hostility", I wonder if you've ever seen a real flamefest. I consider that I was exceedingly mild in writing this post. Besides, this is K5 where elegant skewering of an opponent by a well-placed verbal thrust is an art form, much appreciated and applauded by the spectators. Not that I am successful in this art, but I try to practice ;-)

revealing a past in which they believe they were "hammered down"

You are reading what's not there. The "hammer policy" is a standard metaphor used to describe suppression of non-conformists by many groups/communites/societies. You can read about it in any sociology textbook.

Kaa
Kaa's Law: In any sufficiently large group of people most are idiots.


[ Parent ]

I advocate compassion (none / 0) (#57)
by SightUnseen on Wed Jan 17, 2001 at 12:06:38 AM EST

I put forward that the society requires people of all denominations in all aspects, including intellect, physical prowess, emotional stability and spirituality. To believe that a person is superior solely due to their intellect is misguided.

Intelligence (if it were able to be measured objectively by a universal standard) is an attribute like any other. An intelligent person is not necessarily the best person to run a triathlon or sort mail. This is because a triathlon requires physical endurance and sorting mail (a repetitive activity and one that requires concentration over long periods) requires a certain mental endurance (which people classed as intelligent do not necessarily have).

As for intelligent people understanding more, doing more and dealing with more; it may be that that an intelligent person is able to understand the task more easily and be able to do it more quickly, but would they be able to continue doing the same tasks for days, months or years on end? I do not believe this is the case.

Intelligent people may also be morally bankrupt, or have any number of psychological or social traits that are undesirable in many situtations. Given the view Kaa has presented, these people are superior to people who are less intelligent but have high moral codes and are without severe psychosis.

A person's position in society should ideally be determined by their contribution to it, rather than any perceived values such as physical or mental ability. If you are the most intelligent person in the world and all you do is stay inside and contemplate your navel, I would never see you as my superior as your vaunted intelligence benefits no one. Everyone has their part to play in the scheme of things, intelligent or otherwise. No one part is greater (or better) than the whole.

[ Parent ]

The problem with computer elitism (4.13 / 15) (#14)
by cameldrv on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 12:38:48 AM EST

The real problem with so-called "geeks" thinking that they are superior is that they usually aren't. Knowing how to use Linux or program in Perl isn't any better than knowing how to fix a car. It's just applied knowledge. So you have an IQ/SAT/ACT that puts you in the 90+ percentile. BFD. What matters is how you act as a human being. If you create some great new computer program that saves lives or time or money, then fine, you can feel like you're better if you want. Most so-called "geeks", however, don't create anything. Usually people who create something or do something neat are content enough with themselves that they don't need to feel like they are somehow intrinsically superior to everyone else, because their actions set them apart from others in a way which is readily apparent.

Reading sigs like "In any sufficiently large group of people, most are idiots" makes me cringe. What many "geeks" miss is that they're not the only ones who have something cool going on. Lots of people, maybe even most have some kind of hobby or sideline which is pretty interesting if you get them talking.

So in summary, stop letting your alienation interfere with you enjoyment of the immense beauty of the world.

Elitism (4.40 / 15) (#15)
by onyxruby on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 01:27:00 AM EST

You seem to be a little unsure of what elitism is so I'll throw some of my definitions out on the table.

Elitism The belief that because you have a certain skill set you are better than those who do not.

Arrogance The belief that your skills in a certain skill set are better than most others, and there is nothing you can learn from others.

Confidence The belief that many of your skills are better than others and the wisdom to know that the vast majority of your skills are not.

I'm going to elaborate a bit. Most people end up with their OS of choice a lot like they end up with their religion. They learn and use what they have access to. If your school has macs, and that's what you have at home, chances are that you will advocate Mac's over all else. Likewise, if you never used computers until college, and then your only exposure is *nix, than you will most likely do the same there.

The elitism comes about when people claim that anyone without their skill set (linux, C++, routers, whatever) must be an incompetent. A graphic artist who has worked professionaly on computers for the last 12 years is not neccasarily technically incompetent just because they don't know how to program in Perl. If I find someone who blindly advocates one OS or tool over all others, than I'm likely to think them elitist or a zealout. Either way, I'm not too likely to respect their opinion. On the other hand, if they can tell me why they think BSD makes a good firewall, Linux a great server, and W2K for their desktop, or whatever else, I can respect that.

I have personally experienced how the "perceived" elitism of Linux users has kept it out of enterprise level use. I tried advocating it's study at a gov contract I was on, and the reason it wasn't even up for consideration had nothing to do with technical merits or open source. The perception I was told was "if you don't know it to the kernel level, no one will even give you the time of day", followed by "even the scant directions that can be found are written for programmers only".

The way I see it, simply being proud or confident of hard earned skills does not make a person elitist. At worst this makes you arrogant. It's only when you think your better than other people because of your skills that you become elitist. I can respect someone who completely disagrees with me, as long they do not have an elitist attitude. As soon as I perceive an elitist attitude, that respect is going to vanish.

The moon is covered with the results of astronomical odds.

I am not elitist (3.16 / 6) (#16)
by extrasolar on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 02:39:44 AM EST

I am not elitist. I don't think I am smarter than anyone else. So why do I still pursue knowledge? Because I know that if I don't, then I become the kind of person I despise. The kind that stops learning and then stops thinking.

So am I an elitist? And is an elitist elitist when he claims superiority to someone and stops thinking about what that person thinks and how he feels?

I don't know.

There is elitism. Maybe I mean a different word, but I speak with meanings instead of words. And if you understand my meaning, then who are you for changing my meaning because of my choice of word? Perhaps you aren't so smart. Obviously, I am elitist.

One of my fascinations is with user interfaces. And every other day someone will say something ignorant like, "We don't need to dumb down the interface for people with IQ's under 95." If you have found yourself saying that, then you can consider yourself one of the ignorant people.

That's okay, I am elitist too.

The fact is that how productive a user is at the computer has nothing to do with IQ. Okay, I suppose you have to be something more than a babbling monkey to use an interface, but you understand. Productivity has to do with at least three things: experience, user interface, and human nature. The only thing interface designers can do anything about is interface, so they need to cooperate with the other two.

[Disclaimer: I am not an interface expert...just someone who looks for the stuff.]

But the solution to people calling others elitist is not to stop people from using the word elitist. Its a vicious circle, coming around again. The solution is to respect people for what they know and who they are. There is truth in anything that is ever said, even if it is a complete lie. A superior person looks for this truth and uses it to enhance their own being. A superior person does not look down upon others but tries to let others know the truth that they contain. A superior person, does not consider them self an elitist, for they are humble.

I am not an elitist.

oh yeah? (3.66 / 15) (#17)
by vsync on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 02:59:28 AM EST

To begin, I doubt anyone on K5 is truly advocating for any sort of superiority because of their [...] intellect.

I am. I'm quite a bit smarter than the average person, and there's nothing wrong with being proud of that. Know why?

Ignorance is not a choice. A learning disability is not a choice. Stupidity is a choice, and a growing majority of people are stupid.

--
"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."

Ummm, What? (5.00 / 5) (#31)
by TheReverend on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 10:35:11 AM EST

I'm quite a bit smarter than the average person

Are you? Why because you can hack Linux? If I threw you in the desert would you be able to survive for more than an hour? If I took you down with me into the neighborhood I grew up in would you be able to get out again? Can you fly a plane? Can you take a car apart and put it back together again? Could you raise a child to 18, then put them through college?

Most geeks seem to think knowledge of science is the ultimate level of intelligence. In reality (where the rest of us live), you are completely dependant on these "stupid people". Look at dotcomguy.

---
"Democratic voting is specifically about minority rights" --Infinitera
lol
[ Parent ]

you're absolutely right... (none / 0) (#56)
by vsync on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 05:27:47 PM EST

...and that wasn't what I was saying at all.

I don't really care about knowledge so much, even. I value basic common sense, learning ability, and a desire (or even just indifference; anything but outright hostility) towards learning new things.

Yes, many people know far more than I in areas I don't specialize in. I respect them for that, and I try to learn what I can about those things. It's the people who don't do that that annoy me and I call stupid.

--
"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]

Really? (5.00 / 1) (#42)
by Killio on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:10:31 PM EST

I believe that should read 'Ignorance is a choice, stupidity isn't'

---
Moo!

[ Parent ]
well, no (none / 0) (#55)
by vsync on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 05:20:12 PM EST

I meant that if you're ignorant about something (computers, for example) it's not your fault. I don't blame you. But if, in the process of fixing it or whatever, I try to explain a little bit about what's going on, or try to tell you how to keep it from happening again, and you start yelling at me and saying "Oh, you're so smart. I could never understand this computer stuff. I don't want to learn anything; I just want it fixed.", then I care.

I define stupidity as willful ignorance. You are stupid if you run away from knowledge whenever you happen to find it. I hate stupid people.

--
"The problem I had with the story, before I even finished reading, was the copious attribution of thoughts and ideas to vsync. What made it worse was the ones attributed to him were the only ones that made any sense whatsoever."
[ Parent ]

There's elitism and then there's elitism. (3.77 / 9) (#18)
by Apuleius on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:04:58 AM EST

Elitism, form 1: the belief that a grasp on a topic or topics makes puts a person on a higher moral ground than the rest of mankind.

Elitism, form 2: the belief that a grasp on a topic or topics makes one more qualified to address said topic(s) than the rest of mankind.

Vive le difference.


There is a time and a place for everything, and it's called college. (The South Park chef)

The opposite of elitism (4.53 / 13) (#19)
by Simian on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:09:00 AM EST

trhurler and kaa have both spoken out in favor of some sort of elitism. kaa advocates for an elitism based on intellectual capacity or acuity, and trhurler argues that the opposite of elitism, egalitarianism, is untenable.

First off, I think intellectual elitism fails on its own terms. I've known too many brilliant people make terrible choices with their lives to think that brains == "better". Intelligence is quite distinct from many other attributes that most everybody recognizes as being desirable, such as ethical behavior or moral courage.

I agree with trhurler that egalitarianism, if you take it to be the belief that humans are or should be equal, is ridiculous on the face of it. Clearly there are differences, and there lacks a common measure by which we could all be brought into line. Of course, most of the nicer egalitarians I know go one step further and argue that we should behave as if humans are equals, which has its own merits.

But just so, there's also a lack of a single metric by which a person's 'superiority' can be measured. Success at business can spell misery at home, beauty can easily accomodate the deepest kinds of cruelty and banality, and even the ugly, miserable, stupid coward can decide in a moment to do something noble that changes someone else's life forever.

Elitism is stupidity. Humanity doesn't evolve along a single axis. We live in a universe of convolution where the capacity to be surprised is perhaps the most singular virtue.

jb




"As I would not be a slave, so would I not be a master. This expresses my idea of democracy. Whatever differs from this, to the extent of the difference, is no democracy." Abraham Lincoln
Elitism *is* prevalent around here (4.21 / 14) (#20)
by goonie on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 04:31:43 AM EST

In my opinion, there are three attitudes around this place that fall into the broad church of elitism:
  • The belief that the individual is entirely responsible for their own intellectual gifts, ignoring the contributions that middle-class upbringings in societies that value and can afford to provide education, and sheer luck in the genetic lottery, have made.
  • The belief that certain intellectual skills and knowledge (those related to computers) automatically make one some kind of superior being and entitled for above-average social and economic rewards, whereas other skills (such as artistic talent or sporting ability) are somehow deemed as lesser in value. In my opinon, it's purely an accident of history that at this point in time demand for those skills exceed supply so greatly - for the majority of mankind's history the particular talents many of us posess would have been essentially useless.
  • The belief that those intellectual skills render the individual more qualified than anyone else to express an opinon on fields distantly related or totally unrelated to their expertise, including experts in the field in question (politics and law come to mind, for instance).


Condescension (4.55 / 20) (#23)
by Beorn on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:55:18 AM EST

You are shooting at strawmen here. My problem is not with confidence or intelligence, and not really with pride itself either. What I dislike is condescension, the arrogant attitude many intelligent people, including nerds, have towards mundanes. It's not necessarily incorrect to claim that one is much more intelligent than everyone else, but I find it distasteful to look down on them for it - like a boxer picking fights with random people on the street.

I have a lot of respect for those who were not born with skills I couldn't do without, who despite this still manage to enjoy life. I went through school almost never doing homework, reading little before tests, and getting near-perfect grades. Others worked really hard, actually reading school books on their spare time, and never got more than above average. How can I be proud of that? I'm not ashamed of who I am, but I'm not proud of it. It's just a fact of life.

Everyone has their demons and challenges, everyone has their gifts. Some are lucky, others are unlucky, and that is all there is. I feel this is central to my particular variation of libertarianism: Since I don't know anything about the challenges other people must face, I cannot tell them how to live their lives, and because they don't know anything about my life, I ignore their advice. In fact, I don't compare myself to or attack anyone who is sufficiently different from me, (unless they challenge me in the ring.) I try to study them with the detached curiosity of an alien, not the sneering arrogance of a bitter human. If elitism is bad, it's because that is often what it sounds like.

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]

Irony? (4.33 / 3) (#37)
by eskimo on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 03:36:49 PM EST

"What I dislike is condescension, the arrogant attitude many intelligent people, including nerds, have towards mundanes."

Isn't calling them the 'mundanes' sort of condescending? Isn't turning 'mundane' into a noun sort of...uh...an abuse of your poetic license? I guess that's another topic. To me (and the dictionary), calling somebody 'mundane' is a direct comment on that person's experiences, which you later freely admit you know nothing of. And being mundane has little to do with intelligence.

Hello Black Pot, I am Black Kettle.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Throwing glass in a stone house (4.00 / 3) (#38)
by Beorn on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 05:55:08 PM EST

Isn't calling them the 'mundanes' sort of condescending?

Yes, but that was intentional. Elitists are defined by which kind of mundanes they despise. Usually the word people is used instead of mundanes, but that is what is often really meant. Try it out some time on any random comment that complains about "people", replace it with "mundanes" and see if it makes more sense.

Isn't turning 'mundane' into a noun sort of...uh...an abuse of your poetic license?

It is some times used as a noun in RPG's and fantasy literature to refer to non-magicians. I was specifically thinking of the ruling elite of Moonshade magicians in Ultima 7: Serpent Isle - who uses the word in its most condescending sense. I thought it was a good allegory to my point, (and obscure references are fun for the whole family!)

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Uh...I thought we were in a ring? (2.50 / 2) (#50)
by eskimo on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 10:30:23 PM EST

First of all, I will NOT use 'mundane' as a noun. And this may seem like a flame, but I think that using 'fantasy' and 'literature' in the same sentence is almost as brutal an offense as turning 'mundane' into a noun. Sure you can cling to TLOTR, but I won't. Didn't like it. Don't care. So for me, mundane is an adjective. Even if I did buy the whole 'mundane' is a noun bit, I still don't get what you are trying to say. Mundane is a descriptive word. It categorizes a person based on their experiences, which the observer might see as somewhat lacking, or unadventurous. That said, you are not a mundane person. I see you lead a really vivid and fulfilling fantasy life. No, my friend, you are what this elitist would call a 'square.'

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

Whatever (none / 0) (#52)
by Beorn on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 05:47:37 AM EST

First of all, I will NOT use 'mundane' as a noun.

This is pointless bickering. All I did was use an insulting word to ridicule elitist thinking. Perhaps I should have used another word, (peasants?) It doesn't matter, but your objections are noted. :)

- Beorn

[ Threepwood '01 ]
[ Parent ]

Not Pointless... (1.00 / 1) (#53)
by eskimo on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 07:23:22 AM EST

My point is that if you think you are ridiculing elitism, why place yourself above others so crudely to do it. You claim to have a distanced interest, but the words you choose to describe apparently everybody but yourself are tainted with the same kind of resentment towards the masses you decry.

I am my own home. - Banana Yoshimoto
[ Parent ]

UK: *Discussion Salon on The Liberal Elite* (2.75 / 4) (#26)
by yojimbo-san on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:13:28 AM EST

I received this announcement in my mailbox this morning, K5ers on this thread may be interested :-

Subject: Discussion Salon on The Liberal Elite (Fri Feb 9th 7.30pm London N7)
To: Salons <rhinos@ntlworld.com>

Dear walkers and salonards, an invitation to a:

*Discussion Salon on The Liberal Elite*

To be held on Friday 9th February 2001 from 7.30pm -10.30pm, at 1
Brecknock Rd, N7 (top flat). Nearest tube Camden Town, then take bus 29
or 253 outside Sainsbury's and get off at Brecknock Rd (a few minutes
ride on these frequent buses).

Please bring food to share for afterwards.

This discussion will be hosted and introduced by Thom Osborn. Please
email him at

<thomosborn@onetel.net.uk>

Please say you are coming in good time (by at least a few days before)
as space is limited and the venue may change if more than about a dozen
people want to come. Please also sign up for this event by going to
<http://www.dobe.org/EventView.jsp?id=666&category=132> so that would-be
participants can see how the event is developing.


About a month ago, William Hague made a speech about the MacPherson
report on the Police, in which he referred to the `liberal elite'. It's
a label that is increasingly used to attach to a widespread cultural
grouping, stigmatised by the fairly far Right as corrupting all kinds of
structures and moral values in our society. In this speech, Hague
specifically referred to the undermining effect of this `liberal elite'
on police morale. But the label has been invoked in a wide range of
areas: rising crime, rehabilitation versus punishment, sloppy education,
declining family values, the spread of homosexuality, asylum seekers,
abortion, pornography and so on.


In this salon, I want to pose some questions as a basis for the
discussion.


Are we (in this room) part of the `liberal elite'? My starting
assumption is that we are. Some defining of the cultural divide will be
needed here.


If so, what are our implicit moral precepts? For example, on what basis
do we give importance to rehabilitation rather than punishment? On what
basis do we oppose Section 28? On what basis do we consider theft
wrong? On what do we base our views on taxation? On what basis do we
consider oppression of minorities wrong?


Can we make these more explicit? I believe that many implicit moral
precepts operate in our daily lives which it would be useful to make
more explicit.


Can we take a stand on this position? By this I don't mean joining a
political party or demonstrating in the street (although it could mean
this) but rather arriving at a clarity from which to be able refute in a
tough way the accusations levelled.


Quick wafting zephyrs vex bold Jim
Hmm... (1.00 / 16) (#30)
by slashfucker on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 09:50:52 AM EST

Sounds great, I just might show up! I'll have to come early, to get a parking space up front. I'll be the guy in the Ryder van that's got bad shocks in the back. That's because I'm delivering a heavy load of ammonium nitrate fertilizer to some farmers later on. Also, I've got some fuel for their tractors, kinda mixed in. I don't know why I'm telling you this. Anyway, be sure to save me a place, but I might have to leave early, on foot.

[ Parent ]
MLP (4.66 / 3) (#27)
by FunkyChild on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:48:02 AM EST

I'm surprised nobody's mentioned this link yet:)

BBspot - New Linux Kernel Will Increase Intellectual Superiority


-- Today is the tomorrow that you worried about yesterday. And now, you know why.
Hm (3.00 / 3) (#28)
by Anonymous 7324 on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 09:05:45 AM EST

If you are in any way ashamed of who you are because of your affiliation with computers, feel free to express it, but don't try to shame the rest of us with the badge of elitism.

Why do you let others tell you how to think and feel in the first place? Make your own judgements about yourself and others.

You might be an elitist if.... (4.57 / 7) (#44)
by speek on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 07:39:21 PM EST

...you frequently say "unwashed masses"
...you feel "elitism" is something to be proud of
...you think gui's are for morons
...you think execution time is the only thing that matters
...you have more non-functioning computers in your backyard that working ones in your house
...you quote a dictionary's definition of "elitism" to prove you are not
...you frequently tell others your IQ
...you get emotional in discussions about [vi, emacs, Perl, assembly, ksh/bsh/csh, etc]
...you can't think of anyone you know who is smarter than you
...are feeling insulted right now
...became upset and angry upon learning the the "superior" people at K5 actually were interesting in discussion whether we'd been visited by aliens
...you've never lost an argument

--
al queda is kicking themsleves for not knowing about the levees

You unwashed masses! (none / 0) (#49)
by BehTong on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 09:54:27 PM EST

...you frequently say "unwashed masses"

Not only so, when people see me, they feel like unwashed masses!

...you feel "elitism" is something to be proud of

Absolutely so!

...you think gui's are for morons

There's braindead GUI's, and there's non-braindead GUI's. But all GUI's out there are braindead!

...you think execution time is the only thing that matters

Of course! You're not gonna kid me that you actually think it's OK for Mozilla to take 5 full minutes to pop-up on your screen, and another 5 full minutes to load the intro webpage!

...you have more non-functioning computers in your backyard that working ones in your house

I have functioning computers that really ought to be in the backyard. And even more, my dad actively uses those computers (Apple II's) for accounting!!

...you quote a dictionary's definition of "elitism" to prove you are not

I'm above the dictionary!!!

...you frequently tell others your IQ

On the contrary, I think IQ tests are for Lesser Elitists. Greater Elitists are above that!

...you get emotional in discussions about [vi, emacs, Perl, assembly, ksh/bsh/csh, etc

If you don't get emotional about something, you don't really care about it, and so you might as well not talk about it!

...you can't think of anyone you know who is smarter than you

Smarter than me? Stop smoking that pipe and go wash yourself!!

...are feeling insulted right now

On the contrary, I feel complimented because you've just proven that you're a Lesser Elitist!

...became upset and angry upon learning the the "superior" people at K5 actually were interesting in discussion whether we'd been visited by aliens

I am an alien!! I'm not a part of the unwashed masses!

...you've never lost an argument

Nobody dares to argue with me!

You've gotten under my skin.

Yes, the unwashed masses are always threatened by my awesome presence!

That you got there speaks ill of me.

Absolutely. The unwashed masses will drop dead at my coming!

That you like it there speaks ill of you.

Yes indeed. What am I doing among the unwashed masses?

Yes I know the last part is the sig, not part of the comment, but since this is a parody I might as well take it to its logical extreme :-)

Beh Tong Kah Beh Si!
[ Parent ]

On egalitarianism and elitism (5.00 / 5) (#48)
by 0xdeadbeef on Mon Jan 15, 2001 at 08:30:13 PM EST

There are two kinds of people on the far right of the bell curve, whatever that curve is measuring: those who use their superiority as a means to lord over others, and those who would rather bring all others up their own level. The former are elitist, and the latter, egalitarian.

A lot of elitists make a false straw man out of egalitarianism, either because it is a threat to their station or because it highlights their own insecurities: we can't have the [perceived inferior] getting "uppity".

They trod out "Harrison Bergeron" and political correctness as if Vonnegut weren't a Humanist and PC weren't a laughing stock.

They intentionally ignore the meaning behind Jefferson's "all men are created equal", and paint a picture of the inept punishing the effective. Of course, that's the truth of it, except the inept have been the recognized superiors throughout most of history. That's elitism in a nutshell for you.

Of course, people whining about other people rejecting their values, such as the cultural type bemoaning the geek's lack of "humanity", or the teeny-bopper failing to understand why anyone would prefer a computer over the latest bitchin' fashions, is not elitism, it's just plain insecurity. We're responsible for it too. "Oh why, oh why, won't popular culture treat me with respect?"

Because the people who like popular culture don't like boring nerdy shit, guh. What, you think you're the sole arbiter of what's interesting?

If anyone tells you that your rejection of their values is elitist, tell them to fuck off like the whining busibody that they are. But save the same attitude for your own that wish to remake the world for the "smart people", or the "intellectuals" or the "champions of freedom".

Just "out there"... (none / 0) (#60)
by ana on Mon Jan 22, 2001 at 05:17:46 PM EST

There are two kinds of people on the far right of the bell curve, whatever that curve is measuring: those who use their superiority as a means to lord over others, and those who would rather bring all others up their own level. The former are elitist, and the latter, egalitarian.

I'd suggest that there are also those, perhaps most of them, who are just out there on the edge of the population, doing their own thing. They aren't relying on either the hostility (for elitists) or the adulation (for the egalitarians) of the population at large for their opinion of their importance.

Indifferent eccentrics of the world, unite!

Ana

Years go by; will I still be waiting
for somebody else to understand?
--Tori Amos

[ Parent ]

I'm just an individual. (3.00 / 1) (#54)
by WWWWolf on Tue Jan 16, 2001 at 12:51:33 PM EST

I'm member of various "groups", yet, I'm part of none of those groups because I would feel such groups would actually Rule the Galaxy or something.

Further, the groups are groups, and I'm an individual. I don't usually speak for any group, my opinions are my opinions only.

I know when to be proud of myself, and to what extent - and I know when to be humble (some people just say that I don't know how deeply humble I should be, ocassionally my self-esteem knows no lower limit - just see my user info page).

I have tried to avoid saying (regarding any of my groups) that "hey, we Rule", because ocassionally, "we" definitely don't. None of the groups I'm in are perfect... so why I should feel any of them are better than the other groups I'm in?

-- Weyfour WWWWolf, a lupine technomancer from the cold north...


In Defense of Elitism (none / 0) (#59)
by Port Forlorn on Fri Jan 19, 2001 at 12:24:50 PM EST

One of the best reasoned arguments I've encountered for elitism and against egalitarianism is the book "In Defense of Elitism" by William A. Henry III. Although it's been a few years since I read it, I agreed with many of the points he raised.

If I know two people who have spent the last twenty years improving their craftmanship, one a plumber and the other a surgeon, I'd be unlikely to approach the plumber to perform a heart transplant. If I have a Linux device driver that's failing, I'm unlikely to seek out a SAP Financial specialist to repair it. This is a form of elitism - and common sense. For almost any task, some people are far better prepared and trained than most.

Given an aspiring sculptor with 6 months training and a computer guru with 30 years experience designing and building systems, whose opinion should someone trust more about the best tools to optimize the performance of a new Beowulf cluster? For most software questions, some people are far better prepared and trained to provide useful opinions. This is, again, elitism.

And should the sculptor be entitled to respect for assulting the guru with pejoratives (like "elitist") because we believe the guru's opinion has more merit than his?

I understand that your feeling my be hurt if my opinion is more respected in this field than yours. I understand that it can be labelled as "unfair" - but we live in a universe that is massively indifferent to the current concept of fairness and in a society that has been built, until recently, on the priciples of a meritocracy - that you can aspire to achive excellence and are entiled to raise yourself up.

I am an elitist - and I will respect you for what you have achieved but not for any accident of birth nor for how loudly you proclaim your equality.


. . . ignore that man behind the curtain . . .
On elitism | 60 comments (55 topical, 5 editorial, 0 hidden)
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