Twilight of the Elites

Twilight of the Elites

America After Meritocracy

Book - 2012
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A powerful and original argument that traces the roots of our present crisis of authority to an unlikely source: the meritocracy.
 
   Over the past decade, Americans watched in bafflement and rage as one institution after another -  from Wall Street to Congress, the Catholic Church to corporate America, even Major League Baseball - imploded under the weight of corruption and incompetence. In the wake of the Fail Decade, Americans have historically low levels of trust in their institutions; the social contract between ordinary citizens and elites lies in tatters.
 
   How did we get here? With Twilight of the Elites , Christopher Hayes offers a radically novel answer. Since the 1960s, as the meritocracy elevated a more diverse group of men and women into power, they learned to embrace the accelerating inequality that had placed them near the very top. Their ascension heightened social distance and spawned a new American elite--one more prone to failure and corruption than any that came before it.
 
   Mixing deft political analysis, timely social commentary, and deep historical understanding, Twilight of the Elites describes how the society we have come to inhabit - utterly forgiving at the top and relentlessly punitive at the bottom - produces leaders who are out of touch with the people they have been trusted to govern. Hayes argues that the public's failure to trust the federal government, corporate America, and the media has led to a crisis of authority that threatens to engulf not just our politics but our day-to-day lives.
 
   Upending well-worn ideological and partisan categories, Hayes entirely reorients our perspective on our times. Twilight of the Elites is the defining work of social criticism for the post-bailout age.
Publisher: New York : Crown Publishers, c2012.
Edition: 1st ed.
ISBN: 9780307720450
Characteristics: 292 p. ; 25 cm.

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NFreaderNWPL Mar 28, 2017

A smart, fun read with renewed relevance for anyone trying to make sense of the U.S. election and the broader appeal of populism right now.

b
BlueHippo
Aug 26, 2013

Very well written and interesting. I do think it is stange that he never actually defines the term "meritocracy"-which I thik should have come in the first few pages. Nevertheless, I do think he does an excellent job at describing where we are as a society and how we got here. As for the future, he is probably more optimistic than I am-how long has it been since any of us have heard a news report with a reference to "Occupy Wall Street" in it?

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Dave_of_Old
Feb 23, 2013

The spectacle of a "Miritocracy" arising is wrong and this book dances around the situation without pointing out the truth - the "elite" are nothing like that, they're a clique of wealthy and powerful who use their connections to keep themselves and their family and associates in power. These "Supercriminals"are not elite at all(of all those CEOs and such who command shocking compensation and bonuses few indeed actually earned-or "merited"-them), they are just well-connected. The truth Mr Hayes dances around and doesn't mention is that the elite have figured out how to stay in power, and that's by subverting the Justice system(have you ever heard it called the "Just Us" system?) and controlling the media; Mr hayes doesn't mention it, and writed crap like this because he likes his job, and the idea of keeping it...now that he's a media personality we'll get to see him on Letterman, and maybe after that Howard Stern.

s
StarGladiator
Feb 23, 2013

"the existing social order, a meritocracy geared to reward the best and the brightest, is doomed to failure." Where in perdition is this "order"? I've yet to come into contact with it? Is he talking about hereditarily connected political types like Timothy Geithner, Larry Summers, Diana Farrell, Robert Gates, Robert Mueller III, et al., which Bush, then Clinton, then Obama keeps reappointing? I'm not too sure about that premise of an "elite meritocracy" arising - - there's certainly nothing meritocratic about crooks and super-crooks, whether they thought up that "Prohibition" thingy (to corner the market on alcoholic products and smuggling), endless monopolies, or their many other nefarious crimes. Was John Boehner a winner, because he failed at almost everything he tried (washed out of US Navy boot camp in 1968, then falsely and fraudulently claimed military service during Vietnam when he first ran for the House of Representatives)? Or John McCain, who only could get into the Naval Academy due to the influence of his daddy, Admiral McCain. George W. Bush never succeeded at anything, except for being born in the "right family." You often hear the claims that superior grades and performance have little to do with financial success (true !) but you never hear the second part of the logic, that the greatest predictor of financial success in America (and many other countries and societies) is what family you are born into! A recent sociological study by a sociologist/statistician in Scotland reveals this sort of thing doesn't just exist for several generations, but goes back for hundreds and hundreds of years; many generations! The "myth of meritocracy" is certainly correct! (Hayes' record is none too impressive - - he was rewarded with his show on TV thanks to his covert kowtowing to Wall Street: writing a so-called debunking piece of trash, claiming that the NAFTA superhighway never existed - - against all the extant data from the Council on Foreign Relations' web site, the Indiana Chamber of Commerce web site, Cintra and the Macquarrie Group, etc. and the actual deepwater port built on the Pacific coast of Mexico - - clearly contradicts all of Hayes' lies.) How almost predictable that the author of those Horatio Alger stories turned out to be a pedophile.

a
apackofviceroys
Feb 09, 2013

Well thought out social critic.

L1br0V0re Jan 16, 2013

An important book for our time. The social distance between those in charge and those they are supposed to lead has become so great that they have become simply tone-deaf to the needs of their subordinates. So long as Americans believe in the myth of meritocracy, that the average citizen has the same opportunities as the privileged to be a successful oligarch, there is little chance for equality to be high on their social agenda. The widespread loss of faith in institutions like government, schools, and churches means that the only authoritative voice is the one which gets the most media attention, regardless of its veracity.

gramercygal Dec 12, 2012

up to page 103

d
delfon
Sep 08, 2012

This has what is appearting to be a common theme in other economic tomes as well. The current elites, or the rich, are the wrong people in authority. Meritocray does not exist, favouritism and privilege have wrecked North American economies.

http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/blogs/national-affairs/chris-hayes-on-the-twilight-of-the-elites-and-the-end-of-meritocracy-20120711

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