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Features

What explains the idiocy of the liberal elite? It’s their education

Getting to the point where you can’t imagine voting for Brexit or Trump takes years of hard, misguided study

7 January 2017

9:00 AM

7 January 2017

9:00 AM

Enough! Enough! For months, the so-called liberal elite has been writing articles, having radio and TV discussions, giving sermons (literally) and making speeches in which it has struggled to understand those strange creatures: ordinary people.

The elite is bemused by what drives these people to make perverse decisions about Brexit and Trump. Are they racist, narrow-minded or just stupid? Whatever the reason, ordinary people have frankly been a disappointment.

Time, ladies and gentlemen, please! Instead, let’s do the opposite. Let’s try to explain to ordinary people what drives the liberal elite. The elite persists with some very strange and disturbing views. Are its members brainwashed, snobbish or just so remote from real life that they do not understand how things work? What is the pathology of liberal eliteness?

Why would anyone support Hillary Clinton — a ruthless, charmless Washington insider with socialist tendencies? Why do lawyers, churchmen, the BBC and, indeed, most educated people support the EU — an organisation as saturated with smug self-righteousness as it is with corruption; one which created the euro, which in turn has caused millions of people to be unemployed; an organisation which combines a yawning democratic deficit with incompetence over immigration and economic growth?

The elite are supposed to be educated. So why are they so silly?

Ah! There is a clue. That word ‘educated’. What does ‘educated’ mean today? It doesn’t mean they know a lot about the world. It means they have been injected with the views and assumptions of their teachers. They have been taught by people who themselves have little experience of the real world. They have been indoctrinated with certain ideas. Here are some key ones.


They have been taught that capitalism is inherently bad. It is something to be controlled at every turn by an altruistic government or else reduced to a minimum. Meanwhile the pursuit of equality is good. These are truly astonishing things for educated people to believe when the past 100 years have been a brutal lesson instructing us that the opposite is the case. The pursuit of equality brought the world terror and tens of millions of deaths along with terrible economic failure. In the past 30 years, by contrast, since China and India adopted more pro-capitalist policies, capitalism has caused the biggest reduction in poverty the world has ever known. You may know that, but it is not taught in schools. Schools actually teach that Stalin’s five-year plans were a qualified success! The academic world is overwhelmingly left-wing and the textbooks spin to the left. They distort the facts or omit them.

What the elite have been led to believe is that governments make things better. ‘Market failure’ is taught; ‘public-sector failure’ is not. In my own area, they are taught that everything was awful in 19th-century Britain until governments came along to save the day with an ever-bigger welfare state. The importance of friendly societies, voluntary hospitals and so on is omitted. It is rubbish — left-wing propaganda. But misleading education of this and other kinds rubs off even on those who are not studying history or politics. It comes through in the Times, the Guardian or, in America, the Washington Post or New York Times. In Britain, BBC Radio 4 is the continuation of university propaganda by other means.

Meanwhile, from early on, environment-alism and recycling are taught as doctrine, rather than as subjects for discussion. My children had to report to their school whether they had arrived by public transport (good), bicycle (excellent) or car (evil). Children don’t escape the propaganda even when they study languages. My daughter studies French and has had to write essays on how marvellous recycling is. There is no analysis of counter-arguments. In fact, no data is offered on which a counter–argument could be based. This is not education. It is not teaching children to challenge ideas and think for themselves. This is anti-education: teaching them what they must think. It is as prescriptive as education in the Soviet Union. At least in the Soviet Union, many understood that they should not trust what they were being told. Here, because the propaganda is less obvious, students do not have their guard up.

One of the most important things schools and universities teach is that the students must never, under any circumstances, be suspected of racism. It is not enough to treat people of all races with respect. You must be even more above suspicion than Caesar’s wife. That is part of why the elite was against Brexit. They could not bear that someone might think they supported it for racist reasons. That, in the minds of the liberal elite, would be too awful. By extension, they also would hate to be thought of as insular or inward-looking. Yes, I know that many on the Brexit side were particularly global and outward-looking, but Remainers assumed that Brexit must equal insularity. It offended their view of themselves as internationalists.

Another central tenet of the dogma is that women have been oppressed, are oppressed and, for the future, there is no limit to what we must do to ensure they get to be in the same situation as men — having as many directorships and military medals and anything else one can think of. Feminist doctrine has so permeated the elite that its members assumed that all women in the USA would vote against Trump after his vulgar, arrogant remarks about touching women were leaked. The elite thought that was ‘game over’ for Trump. Ordinary women took a different view. A majority of white women voted for Trump.

Ordinary people have been subjected to the same kind of indoctrination as the elite. They have just had less of it. They were in the hands of the propagandists for a shorter time and have been in the real world for longer. They do not read the ‘quality’ papers or listen to Radio 4. They watch Sky Sports and Strictly Come Dancing. For their understanding of the world, they rely more on what they see for themselves and experience.

The elite’s fuller education in the key beliefs explains why it was for Remain and Clinton. They voted for Remain because, in doing so, they demonstrated they were not racist but tolerant internationalists. They were not put off by the incompetence of the EU, because they have been taught an irrational respect for government — even EU government. They also perceived the EU as more likely to pursue environmentalism than an elected British government. You could say they were trained to vote for Remain. Clinton, too, ticked every box. Members of the elite could effortlessly show how feminist they were by wanting her to win. She was also the embodiment of the other key tenets: more equality, more government and anti-racism.

You may think, ‘Can’t they think for themselves?’ Unfortunately, formal education, while requiring thought, does tend to discourage too much independent thinking, especially on the key parts of the faith. If a member of the elite, for example, finds him or herself reflecting that it is usually quite difficult to interest little girls in train sets and guns, they must squash that thought. Some rebels do hold on to an ability to think, but it’s noticeable that quite a lot of the most original minds, such as George Orwell and Pascal, never went to university.

Let’s try to understand why members of the elite get so cross when others don’t take the same view of Brexit and Clinton as they do. It’s partly a sense of entitlement. People talk of a culture of entitlement among those who live on benefits. But the elite has its own entitlement culture. They think that because they studied English literature at Durham they understand the world better than a plumber in Croydon. They think they are superior and therefore their view should prevail. They also think they are morally superior because they hold to the views which they were told were virtuous. Anyone who appears not to subscribe to these views must, of necessity, be a sinner or else appallingly misled by the Daily Mail or some other evil force. It is outrageous to the elite that the work of the Devil should prevail.

They are virtuous. They know best. They are the chosen ones. They have only a token belief in democracy. They expect and intend to prevail.

James Bartholomew is the author of The Welfare of Nations, and coined the term ‘virtue signalling’ in The Spectator.

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