16 December 2008

The more things change, the more they don't -- not really.

Apparently change in which we can really believe includes continued rule by mandarins.

Whatever else changes, rule by what Herbert Schlossberg calls "scholars-on-pension" shall continue unmolested:

While Obama's picks have been lauded for their ethnic and ideological mix, they lack diversity in one regard: They are almost exclusively products of the nation's elite institutions and generally share a more intellectual outlook than is often the norm in government. Their erudition has already begun to set a new tone in the capital, cheering Obama's supporters and serving as a clarion call to other academics. Yale law professor Dan Kahan said several of his colleagues are for the first time considering leaving their perches for Washington.

"You know how Obama always said, 'This is our moment; this is our time?' " Kahan said. "Well, academics and smart people think, 'Hey, when he says this is our time, he's talking about us.'"
Rule by expert in this country began in the late nineteenth century, the particular element of it which I presently have in mind is associated with The Wisconsin Idea, Plato's dream of the philosopher-king come true (well, philosopher-bureaucrat, anyway). Henceforth the university would be put to work for the purposes of the state. Effectively, we are talking about rule by "disinterested experts," rule by bureaucrats. (This sort of thinking, naturally, wasn't original with us. Just over a hundred years after freeing ourselves from the political domination of a European power, the elites couldn't wait to put us under the dominion of state-models formulated in Europe, particularly Prussia. But I digress.)

Being somewhat fond of Plato, I might be expected to be a fan of central planning, but I'm not. I prefer liberty to dreams of an ideal state. If his Republic is revelatory of his own view of the state, then Plato was a statist. I'm not. My fondness for Plato is really a keep-your-friends-close-and-your-enemies-closer sort of thing.


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James Frank Solís
Former soldier (USA). Graduate-level educated. Married 26 years. Texas ex-patriate. Ruling elder in the Presbyterian Church in America.
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