Rana Foroohar has a well-written piece in FT on how elites are failing to see deglobalisation coming. It marshalls facts to show that ‘elites’ may be misreading or not reading the situation at all correctly.
Personally, the useful thing about the piece is that it cites research on elites’ strengths and weakness in cognition. The biggest weakness is overconfidence and that negates all other strengths in my view.
Since, we all come under the category of ‘elites’ as per the definition – it is not just material wealth or positions of power that determine ‘elite’ status – we must beware of the weakness in ourselves.
The paper cited by her can be accessed here.
This is a good time (make it, ‘great time’) to be a student for the world is in a churn/inflection point. One order is gone or is going and the other order is trying to establish (or, re-establish) itself. I am not even saying if it is good or bad. It is inevitable.
The pendulum will keep swinging from one fashion to the other. That is what Rana Foroohar’s article is hinting it – it is back to nationalism-socialism now. I think there are some common elements between Nationalism on the Right and Cultural Marxism that Anthony Mueller writes about here. Both don’t like markets, competition and both are elitist in their own ways.
Some of his observations, well-known, bear repetition:
Communist authors spread the insight that the socialist dictatorship must come in disguise. Before socialism can succeed, the existing culture must change. Control of the culture must precede political control.
His observation that cultural Marxism is dictatorship of the intellectuals is quite apt and spot on.
Unfortunately, for India, all of these have adverse implications both culturally and economically. In the Indian context, we need less of socialism for the economy (from our starting point) because, in practice, it has always meant state control over assets and incomes and their utilisation or distribution. The state’s record in that is not pretty. It has neither brought about equity nor prosperity.
With respect to cultural Marxism, it has the potential to wreak moral destruction of the individual through its attack on the dominant culture and religion in the country. Thus, India faces twin risks, in this regard. The following paragraph appears pertinent in the Indian context:
The way toward the rule of the cultural Marxists is the moral corruption of the people. To accomplish this, the mass media and public education must not enlighten but confuse and mislead. The media and the educational establishment work to put one part of the society against the other part. While group identities get more specific, the catalog of victimization and history of oppression becomes more detailed. To turn into a recognized victim of suppression is the way to gain social status and to obtain the right to special assistance, of respect and social inclusion.
Anthony Mueller identifies at least two weaknesses in cultural Marxism: one is that it is utopian in nature and because of its inherent nature of promoting group conflicts, it cannot grab political power. Presumably because it divides and does not assimilate or integrate to form a coherent and powerful electoral or voting bloc. He does not discuss ways and means to exploit those weaknesses to nullify the effectiveness or mute the appeal of cultural Marxism.
Worrying and dangerous times for the world and for India.