The Opposite of Noblesse Oblige

In the Guardian, George Monboit talks about his experience as a student in a British public (private) school, and notes that this sort of background creates people who are completely disassociated from the wants and needs of the rest of society.  I can’t really do justice through excerpts, but here are two paragraphs to give you a sense of this:

Last year the former Republican staffer Mike Lofgren wrote something very similar about the dominant classes of the US: “the rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens … the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.”


So if you have wondered how the current government can blithely engage in the wholesale transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, how its frontbench can rock with laughter as it truncates the livelihoods of the poorest people of this country, why it commits troops to ever more pointless post-colonial wars, here, I think, is part of the answer. Many of those who govern us do not in their hearts belong here. They belong to a different culture, a different world, which knows as little of its own acts as it knows of those who suffer them.

He draws his net a bit narrower than I would, he ascribes these characteristics pretty much exclusively to conservatives, while I would apply it more generally to our ruling class.

It explains why we see so many cases of, to quote Pete Townshend, “Meet the New Boss, Same as the Old Boss.”

As you ascend the political pyramid, your world increasingly becomes that of the rich elites, and increasingly, their needs become your needs.

Go read this.

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