Sunday, December 5, 2010

An Introduction

What is an egalitarian elite? A play on words, obviously. But more than that.

The word "elite" has been bandied about a lot lately in our public discourse. "Intellectual elites", "liberal elites", "media elites", etc. The word "egalitarian", sadly, has not been part of our public discourse in quite some time. It should be. It means, to save you having to look it up if you're unfamiliar: (adj.) asserting, resulting from, or characterized by belief in the equality of all people, esp. in political, economic, or social life.

That's fundamental to our very existence in the United States of America.

"We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness. That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."

That's the pre-amble to the Declaration of Independence, penned largely by Thomas Jefferson (he wrote the first draft anyway). So from the very beginning egalitarianism has been in our national psyche. This sense of equality among Americans is what allows us all to share the same freedoms regardless of our background. It has set us apart from many other societies around the world in which equality is not a priority. It gave rise to the concept of "American Exceptionalism" - the belief that we are exceptional among all people in the world. Which, of course, is not very egalitarian.

So what is the purpose of this blog?

I'm still trying to figure that out. I know I want to focus on issues germane to our country and the world since what happens in the world's largest economy affects virtually everyone on the planet. I want to do that while avoiding political labels and "politics" in general. That doesn't mean I won't often write directly about political issues, but I will do my best to avoid partisanship. I would rather focus on the philosophy of governing. I know that may sound boring, but I hope to make it interesting - getting to the underlying beliefs behind many of the policies that are proposed or enacted by our government.

Ultimately I hope to have a voice in the public conversation about these issues. I feel that far too much of our civic energy is poured into policy advocacy or partisan power struggles and far too little is put into understanding the philosophical underpinnings of our disagreements. It's very easy to dismiss our adversaries as evil, stupid, or insane. It's much more difficult to understand why we disagree and try to find solutions to these conflicts. I hope in some small way I can lend some assistance in this process.

So back to the beginning. What is an egalitarian elite?

That's me. I'm egalitarian. I grew up in a lower middle class suburban family in the South. I attended public universities. I worked in a grocery store in high school. I'm also an elite as currently defined by our media. I live in New York City. I'm an Ivy League academic.

Welcome to my blog. 


  1. This excites me. For myself, I will file this as my continuing education. Good luck!

  2. Awesomeness!

    An interesting side note: Thomas Jefferson's initial draft of the Declaration of Independence went as follows: "We hold these truths to be sacred and undeniable." Benjamin Franklin made the suggestion: "We hold these truths to be self-evident". The subtlety of this suggestion had huge ramifications. It changed the entire flavor and nature of this declaration. It made the foundation of our most basic rights and principles based on enlightened rationality of scientific and empirical truth rather than just another faith based theology. It made the Declaration of Independence a true revolutionary document as an enlightened treatise for all mankind. It gave it an unshakable foundation in which went on to inspire rational and enlightened peoples, regardless of faith, around the World.