It’s a promising title: The Double Standard That Lets Elites Survive Even Catastrophic Failures
But it turns out Conor Friedersdorf’s article, which argues that the problem with protest movements is that they are held to higher standards of behaviour, rationality, personnel, etc than the elite they criticise, is both willfully disingenuous and plain shy of the mark.
The screamingly obvious point he should have made and doesn’t is that the corporate, political, cultural and financial elites don’t get away with exploiting/ignoring/savaging the citizenry because of a double standard. They get away with it because they have money and power. Because they make the rules and enforce them, or don’t, according to their whim and convenience.
What is more disturbing than the author’s obliviousness is the way his article displays the same attitudes and behaviour that it purports to critique. Take this paragraph:
There are a lot of reasons that elites keep their place at the top even after being party to catastrophic failures. One reason is their success in delegitimizing their critics. There’s often a lot of material to work with. If you spent any time at an Occupy Wall Street camp, you met a lot of great people, a number of ignorant protest groupies, and committees that chose the least workable form of group governance imaginable. Tea Party rallies were filled with both competents and crazies too. As were anti-war rallies.
Take a look at that second sentence: One reason is their success in delegitimizing their critics. Instead of starting an apposite discussion about the power structures and manipulation techniques the elite employ to this end Friedersdorf reinforces the double standard he’s complaining about by blaming individuals’ behaviour for the fact that protest movements aren’t taken seriously.
The following paragraph sinks to fresh depths of calculated naivety: “For some reason,” Friedersdorf bleats, “The press is complicit in a system by which groups challenging elites are deemed unserious due to the presence of any incompetent or radical fringe …”
The “for some reason” kills me. As if it’s an impenetrable mystery that the corporate-owned, monopolistic mainstream press protects the elite it creates and serves. The phrase “radical fringe” is a nice, subservient touch too. Obviously anyone who disagrees with the agenda of corporate America must be touched in the head.
The problem isn’t a double standard. The problem is that America’s press and powerbrokers sing from the same hymn sheet — and drown out the rest of us.