Elitism Redux

Apropos the discussion here yesterday about elitism and the conservative opinionmaker opposition to Harriet Miers, Duncan Black provides an insightful commentary.

Lots of discussion in wingnuttia about whether or not it’s “elitist” to oppose Miers. These discussions seem to confuse different kinds of elitism. There’s one kind of elitism which dares to suggest that smart qualified people should get the kinds of jobs that require smart qualified people. This seems to be perfectly reasonable.

The other type of elitism is the one which focuses on pedigrees and certificates. One must come from the right family and go to the right school.

His follow-on discussion about the merits of the latter is spot-on.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. sammler says:

    I think that the Ivies and comparably elite schools do attract the bulk of talent at the very top — look at Stanford’s incredible run of consecutive Nobel prizes, for example. People falsely generalize from these highly publicized facts to the erroneous idea that _all_ Ivy graduates are intelligent or accomplished, which is manifestly not the case.

  2. James Joyner says:

    Sure. But the success of the Ivies is mostly in identifying and attracting the best and the brightest, not in creating them.

  3. Moe Lane says:

    I don’t know what’s worse: the fact that you linked favorably to something Atrios wrote, or the fact that I agree that what he wrote made sense.

    Hell, it wasn’t even vile.