The Games Elites Play – The Final Chapter

November 28, 2007

This is the final chapter in a trilogy – this is also where I drop the big one and we end it all with a big bang! So lets dive in: What makes elites, elites? That’s to say, why do they do the things, they do? Yes, I know power, influence and position certainly features in this equation, but that hardly answers the questions – what if I told you; elites actually believe they are righteous and good even when they are bashing gays, pulling out nails and generally making life miserable for the rest of us?

That’s to say, they don’t see themselves as bad asses any more than those Moslem fanatics who once hijacked a commercial airliner and ploughed it into the world Trade center saw themselves as evil. On the contrary, they actually believe they’re pure, enlightened and even see the world clearer than you or I. Take it from me; absolutely nothing can be further from the truth! These erudite lot aren’t your off-the-shelf psycho’s. They are affable, intelligent and even folk that one regards as perfectly sane enough to invite home for a spot of curry – that’s what makes elites so dangerous! 

To really understand elitism from the inside out one needs to take a peek-a-boh at imperialism – in essence, both concepts remain one of the same reality. I admit, it’s difficult to connect these two different realms, to show exactly where one steps in or when the other fades out. To use an analogy, these two dichotomies are a bit like drunk dancers, who take turns at a jig in piggy-in-the-middle.  

If we are to really pin down why elites think and do the things they do? Then we really need to map the affiliations of elitism with the whole concept of imperialism. It stands the acid test of reason; at some very basic level, imperialism requires controlling land that you do not possess i.e other people’s land, that is distant, that is lived on and even has its own speed and purpose. This invariably leads to encroachment (trust me, I have invaded about 20 planets in the virtual!) on the rights of others to even knock them over the head, dominate and rule over them. Somewhere in this great imperialistic mess, the whole idea of elitism needs to kick in, one complements the other to even create a symbiotic relationship in the way two poles tie off to support a beam – it could even be said, the whole idea of imperialism and elitism represents one of the same reality – in every model that I have fashioned they remain complimentary.

It doesn’t take a lot to seek out how tenuous a hold imperialism has over the whole idea of elitism historically.  All one needs to do is consider 1930’s Imperial India. Where a mere 4,000 British civil servants assisted by less than 50,000 troops had successfully billeted themselves upon a country of 300 million!

What can possibly account for this statistical anomaly of Byzantine proportions?

I don’t dispute somewhere in this great feat of colonization, complicity certainly featured on the part of the colonized, but that doesn’t diminish my point as it amplifies the idea; ‘complicity’ is merely symptomatic of mental invasion – an adjunct even of elitism i.e an attitude that renders one malleable to subordination (Hey think about! For elites to exist, you need sheep – no sheep, no elites, simple equation) – whether through a positive sense of common interest or due to lack of choice remains immaterial. For the purposes of this article, this example serves only to underscore how; ‘mental invasion’ made empire building a sustainable endeavor which would otherwise have remained impossible. This highlights clearly the relationship between elitism and imperialism.  

At the heart of it, is an idea, not a very robust idea but nonetheless an idea that was once mentioned by Joseph Conrad in his book, The Heart of Darkness,  

“What accounts for conquest, which mostly means the taking away from those who have a different complexion or flatter noses than ourselves, is not a pretty thing when you look into it too much. What redeems it is the idea only. An idea at the back of it; not a sentimental pretence but an idea; and an unselfish belief in the idea –something, you can set up, and bow down before, and offer a sacrifice to…” 

What needs to be understood is for a man (any man for that matter, not even a very intelligent man) to migrate from the disposition of the ruled to the ruler only requires a mental shift – the equation goes like this: while superiority confers rights, it also imposes strict obligations in return.

This underlines the importance of legitimizing the act of imperialism i.e the conviction superiority is ‘good,’ not merely just the mechanical, economic and penicilin ‘good,’ but the poisonous variety of ‘good’ that’s able to deliver the moral good vis-a-vis the belief that it remains the only enduring way for heathens to be delivered out of the jungles. In this corrosive equation: material power is nothing more than a means to serve that end.

It has frequently been argued incorrectly many a time, (I can supply ample proof of this!) that economics alone could have accounted for the successful conquest of the Americas and 2/3 of the world during the 19th century. That’s rubbish – while sail, navigation and gun powder technology may have accounted for the initial success of the conquistadors in the America’s – what cannot be denied is wherever those mother fuckers went so did the cross and the holy inquisition. Long before that the same set piece of moral authority featured similarly in the crusades – see the tenuous hold that moral authority had over will?  

If we strip down the moral wheel, it’s nothing more than a hub that allows the rest of the imperial spokes to converge on one point – that’s to say, the wheels of empire cannot turn without first having the moral imperative to rule! (this is where you have to ask, why so many of us have Christian names?) The Romans fleshed out their empire with the moral authority of  ‘Pax Romanus’ / black letter law – the Manchu’s did it with the moral mandate derived directly from the will of heaven / the British with the moral authority of wire brush Victorian values which they believed rightly or wrongly was the only means to bring about order, symmetry and progress to their feral colonies – long after that – so did the Bush administration when they decided to invade Iraq to impose their moral authority i.e Pax Americana on the Middle East.

In every single case, the legitimization of empire is predicated on moral superiority, never economics.  

Naturally, we would like to believe empire building is all nuts and bolts economics. A process of accidental accumulation and acquisition, that may remain true in the initial stages of colonization. But in order to sustain empire as a social, economic and technological engine, that needs to be regularly dominated, administered and economically sustained, it requires nothing short of a moral imperium; the vocabulary of classical 19th century imperial culture bears this out only to clearly, ranging from Jane Austen to Charles Dickens. As its redolent with such words as ‘inferior’ – ‘dependency” – ‘child like’ and ‘inadequate.’

(foot note on Imperial Culture) The expansion of empire as a model for economic gain was important, as the attraction of spices, rubber, tea, sugar and chili padi all undoubtedly featured in the calculations, but there is more than that to imperialism and elitism – it was the belief that natives had to be subjugated and even ruled, if they were not to return back to their feral, tribal and unchristian toe smelling jungle ways. In this play of giants and pygmies, we must never forget there was very little domestic resistance to the formation of empires, although they were frequently established and maintained under adverse and even disadvantageous conditions – contrary to post modernist accounts of colonialism which is a crock of shit! In comparative terms, the colonized were better off than what was typically imposed by tribal chieftains and local warlords prior to colonisation.

Even modern historians agree these attitudes of perceived advantage on the part of the colonized accounted for the reasons why empires continued to remain a viable economic enterprise. An accretion of this politics of complicity spawned elitist ideas – the will, self confidence, even arrogance which came with the whole idea of being able to rule over natives (sometimes the ratio was 1:300,000 as in the case of East Indies India!) who were no wiser than children can only be guessed at no end, but, as we can glean from contemporary literature of that period, such as A Passage To India and Conrad’s Nostromo – it was a period when the whole idea of superiority and inferiority were very much the sine quo non of the day.  

What elitism imposes as a school of thought is the idea there is no other alternative to this cruel tautology – in the words of  ramrod Victorian schoolmasters, spare the rod and spoil the child, hence the whole idea of imperialism assuming a paternalistic guise. This is exactly the sentiments of 19th century Europeans towards their colonies; that if independence is to be wished for, then it has to the kind we (the elites) approve of, which incidentally isn’t a matter of choice as it remains an accretion that emerges from the ruler and ruled compact! Anything else is unacceptable and worse, unthinkable. After all didn’t we (the elites) teach them to speak and count from one to ten? Didn’t we (the elites) deliver them from the heart of Darkness? And when they rebel, aren’t they simply confirming our (the elites) views of them as silly children? No losing us (the elites) would be like losing a limb! They need to be shielded and protected and who might be the ones to shepherd over them? We of course – the elites.  

It is no paradox therefore that while no one disputes these days, the age of empire has long past – the same corrosive self-confirming, self-deluding idea that one has the right to rule over another continues to persist even till this day and is it such a wonder that it still predominates so much of the modern socio-political sphere?

“You cannot succeed in the eight dan by moving like lightning, that you can do in the fifth or sixth, but never in the eight – it requires a step in the mind……leave your sword here, you don’t need it, where I am taking you.”

Kendo Tales from the Book of Hagakure.

Darkness 2007   

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November 28, 2007

4 Responses to “The Games Elites Play – The Final Chapter”

  1. […] be a researcher? – Part 1 – Angry Doctor: SMA Medical Students’ Assistance Fund – Just Stuff: The Games Elites Play – The Final Chapter – My Singapore News: The danger of racial […]

  2. my foot said

    if you look at the shape of the pyramid, it soon will occur to anyone that there is less base as one ascend. the standing room diminishes with each climb, and the need to constantly maintain one’s dominance or suffer the painful fate of fallen disgrace heightened. lesser space also means less accommodating. the narrowness and the constriction inevitable sets in and the relative irrelevance is pushed aside. few can resist the exhilaration at the top, even fewer can resist the tempting offer to share the counter values of the great serpentine in a secureligious order. perhaps, that’s how you separate the multitude of grains from the seed that falls to the ground and die?

    but at the bottom, the base is wide. the diversity and the full spectrum of life are their inheritance and the irony of it all, their true wealth also.

  3. passerby said

    someone said….there are two kinds of morality. two kinds of righteousness. you must be blind UP there not to see the difference and acknowledge the ‘bloodshed’ below.

  4. observer said

    This guy reminds me so much of Darkness, the spirit that is:

    The boy who couldn’t buy the toy he wanted, so he built it – the brotherhood.

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