I'm frankly posting this Op-ed just because it dumbfounds me. I looked for The Onion logo to no avail. I reminded myself that it was a long way off from April 1st. I could not find proof of irony.
This is an example of just how ridiculous WSJ's opinion pieces get. Every now and then they'll throw you a whopper like George Will asserting that progressives promote railways because it conditions people to be collectivists, or a piece like this one, which at least to my mind is so steeped simultaneously in elitism, implicit bigotry, saudade, and naive idealism, that it is embarrassing.
The old U.S. ruling class had plenty of problems. But are we really better off with a country run by the self-involved, over-schooled products of modern meritocracy?The U.S. once had an unofficial but nonetheless genuine ruling class, drawn from what came to be known as the WASP establishment. Members of this establishment dominated politics, economics and education, but they do so no longer. The WASPocracy, as I think of it, lost its confidence and, with it, the power and interest to lead. We are now without a ruling class, unless one includes the entity that has come to be known as the meritocracy—presumably an aristocracy of sheer intelligence, men and women trained in the nation's most prestigious schools.
The acronym WASP derives, of course, from White Anglo-Saxon Protestant, but as acronyms go, this one is more deficient than most. Lots of people, including powerful figures and some presidents, have been white, Anglo-Saxon and Protestant but were far from being WASPs. Neither Jimmy Carter nor Bill Clinton qualified.Much can be—and has been—written about the shortcomings of the WASPocracy. As a class, it was exclusionary and hence tolerant of social prejudice, if not often downright snobbish. Tradition-minded, it tended to be dead to innovation and social change. Imagination wasn't high on its list of admired qualities.
Yet the WASP elite had dignity and an impressive sense of social responsibility. In a 1990 book called "The Way of the Wasp," Richard Brookhiser held that the chief WASP qualities were "success depending on industry; use giving industry its task; civic-mindedness placing obligations on success, and antisensuality setting limits to the enjoyment of it; conscience watching over everything."
Under WASP hegemony, corruption, scandal and incompetence in high places weren't, as now, regular features of public life. Under WASP rule, stability, solidity, gravity and a certain weight and aura of seriousness suffused public life. As a ruling class, today's new meritocracy has failed to provide the positive qualities that older generations of WASPs provided.
Tell me I'm not the only one on this forum.