Monday, July 21, 2003

A few notes before I go off to see Max Beckman.
The people from each state elect representatives to two legislative bodies representing geographical areas and population. The people 'elect' through an odd, flawed system, a president. Through various means, through election or patronage at the state level, and joint discussion at the federal, a group of intellectual 'elders,' some not so old, are designated as judges to oversee the laws generated by the legislature and the executive, and to see that they do not go against or contradict the rules and principles put down in a document written and agreed upon by members of the leadership soon after the founding of the country. Never mind the details, it's a simple description.

I'm a snob, I believe in an intellectual aristocracy, but I don't like the idea of philosopher kings. The biggest minds make the biggest mistakes. The Bolsheviks were the most intellectually impressive group in the Russia at the beginning of the 20th century, but they gave themselves credit for too much. Their designs, as all designs must be, were flawed, with tragic results. But no I don't equate Lenin with Stalin.

Nathan Newman says we rely too much on judicial review, but without it, the political landscape today would look much different than it does. Through much of the recent past, the intellectuals, even the compromised intellectuals who make a living in government, led the way. But the pendulum is moving in a different direction. I don't agree with Nathan as a matter of principle, any more than I agree with Alex Cockburn on jury nullification, but I understand their positions and their annoyance at intellectuals who defend their own comforts, while expressing at the very least condescension towards the working population.

I don't romanticize the populations in any of the working class neighborhoods I've lived in, but I respect them. Intellectuals, on the other hand, romanticize themselves. I bitch on occasion about Atrios' lack of cultural sophistication, but next to Alterman's snooty arrogance, the basic decency and unpretentious anger at Eschaton is a breath of fresh air. What's interesting in fact about Eschaton, Buzzflash, MWO, the Daily Howler etc. is that none of them have any intellectual pretensions whatsoever. None make claims to the memory of the old left or the new. In fact, having corresponded with a few of people involved, they seem as a group no less anti-intellectual than the majority of the population, and it's a shame. But still, isn't a simple sense of decency, about economics, race, gender and sexual preference what we want in the population? Considering the pomposity of the 'intellectual' bloggers, from Alterman, to Yglesias, to Calpundit to Kleiman, and even Max Sawicky on occasion (the more I think about his response to the NAACP flap, the more it annoys me) the political 'hacks'- Atrios' phrase- those outside the Beltway at least, give me reasons for optimism the others don't.

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