George Read of Delaware and Maryland,
"The Signer," wrote most of the Maryland Constitution and
signed the Declaration of Independence,
the Articles of Confederation, and the Constitution.
He was a wealthy landholder, of Scottish origin.
He lived four memorial generations ago,
his descendants are in the tenth biological generation.
Of the hundreds, perhaps a third maintain memory traces;
the rest float trackless in the national and international cosmos.
The known descendants have a higher average net worth
and have included more politicians and property-managers than
99% of the country's family trees.
By late intermarriage with the Frelinghuysens,
sprung from a 1720 Dutch evangelist immigrant,
a connection occurred with a family
that has counted a member in one-quarter of the
Congresses since the beginning of the Republic.
A "name-fame" persists among political conoscenti
of Northern New Jersey such that, should they
so desire, their political and business activity
would be facilitated.
Their class mobility has been up, down and sidewards.
Marriages were contracted with Dutch, French, Italians,
Scottish, South American, English, and other ethnic
elements at home and abroad. Their religious
affiliations were interdenominational and
their lives were usually secularized.
Conviviality among relatives extended
typically to immediate family and first cousins.
This profile would indicate a weak class system.
And, considering the divorces that transpired, a
weak nuclear family system. All in all,
Read's line of descent has been disproportionately
present in the elite along the full range of life's values,
but has wobbled and wandered into
many niches of the societal pyramid.
The American population on the whole exhibits an
even weaker class system.
Still, America has been run by elites or oligarc hies,
confirming the "Iron Law of Oligarchy" of Roberto Michels:
the few come to rule the many, always, everywhere.
The usual bases for elites have always existed
in America as everywhere.
We define elite as a small fraction of a group
of whatsoever kind
that over a considerable time
makes most of the decisions affecting the group.
Thus there are as many elites as there are special groups,
(6% of the American people practice birdwatching),
of the total population, including the elite of the whole .
We speak therefore of tens of thousands of elites.
Elites can be classified usefully according to the several values
that we have watching throughout American history.
Power elites of America are usually weak and transient.
A power network has always existed in Washington,
composed of legislative and executive leaders,
their coteries, and promoters of interests.
It has had little penetrating power.
It is often blocked at the state and local levels and in the
law courts by the Bill of Rights and other
constitutional and judicial limitations.
There have been family elite durations:
A relationship to Kennedy or Bush or Roosevelt has
obviously helped build political fortunes.
Daleys, father and son, were mayors of Chicago
off and on for over a political generation.
Immediately following his defeat in the race for a second term,
ex-President Bush' sons ran for high office in Florida and Texas.
Respect elites, possessing high deference, are common, but
fragmented and not so strong, given the disrespectful
anti-authoritative bent of the population.
We do find that ancestry and
life style bring high marks in social regard.
Modes of dress, housing, decor, travel,
type of sports engaged in,
and especially one's education and father's occupation,
tend to assign a person to his appropriate respect class -
that is, higher or lower in esteem by
the general community in which one moves,
holding constant the individuality of the person,
which will raise or lower one's ascribed class score
within the general rating.
Actually, education is part of the skill value, knowledge.
Since various people value various kinds of knowledge,
various ideologies, religious affiliations, sciences, and
attitudinal configurations operate as bases for
heading up pyramids of respect and liaison with
other value holders at the same levels.
By attitudinal configuration is meant, for example, that
persons of upper class are expected not only to possess
fairly decent manners, but to speak and write with
political correctness - eschewing racial epithets, favoring women
and minority rights, and welcoming foreigners.
The "GI Bill" after World War II, which subsidized in
great numbers veterans who pursued higher educations,
accelerated class circulation.
Doubly effective, it increased the numbers of college teachers,
placing in their ranks many men and women
whose families had lower-ranking occupations,
thus disseminating democratic ideology.
It was a vigorous affirmative action.
Military skill has been effective in accessing other values:
political office, big-business appointment, desirable
marriage, but the trend toward machine and electronic warfare has
depreciated the charisma of the military man,
as has the entrance of women into the business.
General George Patton, glowering out of his tank turret,
should have been the "Last of the Mohicans," but
the democratic public is perfectly willing to accept a uniform
and accord it charisma regardless of the fact that
its possessor won his battles in a Pentagon suite.
Most Americans came from societies with strong
class systems. (Scots-Irish, Afro-Americans, and
Amerindians were exceptional.)
Reasons why the class system did not take hold well are
numerous and well-worth knowing. There was first of all
the absence here of an ancient class system,
such as existed in Europe. Second, America has
experienced from the start rapid horizontal and vertical
mobility. People made and lost money, and
changed occupations, and married in and out
of their kind frequently.
In an earlier chapter the persistence of fortunes and
high positions among a narrow group of the
population was stressed, not alone in plantation culture,
but in raw business cultures such as San Francisco.
A large study of business leaders in 1932
found that most of them had businessmen for fathers and
nearly half used family help in getting started and
rising. But such advantages probably were
no more common in America than in Europe.
Americans moved in space rapidly; even
the poor moved: an estimated 150,000
tramps were on the road in 1843; Chicago began
the twentieth century with 40 to 60,000 men
sprawling along "skid row"; whereas men
were out on the streets, women were compressed into crowded
households. In 1933 the homeless were estimated at
between 1.5 and 5 millions. As a recent study has shown:
of 18.8 million classified as below the poverty level,
one-third moved their dwelling place during the year
(60% were White, 34% Black).
Changing technologies have brought on waves of
occupational mobility and thus encounters and
intermingling among different kinds of people.
African-Americans were outside of the main White
class system to a large extent, possessing or rather
being assigned a separate pyramid resembling
the Caucasian pyramid of social deference. The Black
upper class became more restrictive than the White upper class,
because there was more at risk by downward contact,
the individual having to look both ways,
down and across.
Jews were not only replete with distinctions among
themselves, but so many of them became upper class by the usual criteria
of class membership - education, skill, wealth, connections - that
they would have to be assimilated to the gentile upper
class or more simply deny the class system and
ask the upper class gentiles to do the same.
(Internal class mobility among traditional
Jews followed anti-class features, the proverbial marrying
of the rich businessman's daughter to the poor bright scholar;
this contrasts with the pattern of mating found among landed
hereditary aristocracies, where fools are commonly matched.)
Jews belonged not only to several religious
facets of Judaism but to special "cults" such as
Ethical Culture and Humanism. They were
an ethnic group but were also outbred among
all European ethnic groups, and therefore divided
ethnically. When people were asked their religion or
their background, 3% responded "Jewish."
Of course, 3% of Americans was a grouping
comparable to the population of Portugal or Switzerland or
Norway or Finland or Nicaragua,
some five million persons.
More than half of these five millions were
in 1997 manual workers, hack writers,
clerks and government workers, petty lawyers,
shoe salesmen, bakers, business failures, perennial dependents
on family or public charity, public school teachers,
shop owners, policemen, taxi drivers, etc.,
plus spouses and children.
But perhaps as many as a million were in elite positions,
at the top or in the much larger groups near the top,
whatever the arena being considered:
science, media, professions, politics, business.
The proportion of all leading university professors
was probably about one-fifth; media (reporters,
editors, executives of major print and broadcast media)
again one-fourth; writers,producers, and directors
of the top-grossing fifty motion pictures in a recent
year 59%; partners in leading law firms
in New York and Washington 40%. Of the richest
40 persons in America, sixteen were Jewish
in the early nineties. Of the richest 400, 23%
were Jews. (Seventy women were among the
400, of whom over 60 had inherited their wealth).
Some 7.5% of the senior executives of the nation's
largest businesses were Jewish, and 13% of the
top executives under 40 years of age.
These were selected pursuits; the same held
for every public activity,every associational or
voluntary activity that was non-sectarian, many
labor unions, and then ten U.S.
Senators and 30 Congressmen. Research institutes
of all kinds, and the arts and sciences of most types were
also heavily weighted with Jews. Jews were
the source of about one-third of the financial contributions to
the major parties; they were active in practically all
successful charities. Given the combined philanthropic,
scholastic, and pedagogical penchant of Jews,
it was no accident that most of the top fifteen
American universities in recent years were
on and off presided over by Jews.
A major theme in our work, that values agglutinate,
such that a person or group scoring at the "x" level
in wealth, tends to the same grade in knowledge, power and
deference of others, with one's affection rating
more erratic. Surveys have found Jews scoring low
in the affections of non-Jews (although in personal relations
Jews tend to rank affectionate relations higher
than do most other groups. Jews who have become
college Presidents are not
so much appointed for being typically more scholarly
than the average gentile college President, as for
being better philanthropoids, expected to gather
copiously from Jews, who have more, and give more,
and whose families are more scholarly and better connected
to the founts of power.
The situation has not yet settled down.
Before a "true," "normal," and "meritorious"
distribution of Jews in all branches of
American life were to be accomplished,
one might expect the total elite of America in all
its facets to be composed one-third of persons
partly or altogether of Jewish antecedents.
Nor is there any group, Asian, African or
European of comparable size, coming upon the scene.
The Asian groups, for instance, are specialized, if extraordinary.
Italic and Catholic elements will probably expand
their proportions in the general elite in the coming years,
but not to more than 15% of the total.
Nor can Blacks be expected to expand their top
positions by more than 7%; hopefully
their lower pyramidal base will be uplifted by considerably
more. But, please note, in both cases we are speaking about
large changes in the composition of the American
elite, and of a continued rapid circulation of elites.
The Jewish situation therefore came to be especially
important all-around in the latter twentieth century,
while in the process the definition of a Jew became hazier.
The more ramified and large the Jewish presence, the
less "Jewish" it became, in attitude, religion, occupation,
manner, appearance, sexual conduct, family relations,
political party, speech, and tradition. This holds
true despite the practical dictation to American
policy-makers of whatever policies the Jews
of America can manage to approach in the way of a consensus
concerning how the Israel government ought to behave.
Israel became increasingly an embarrassment to the Jews
and the U.S. government as its policies and practices
came to contradict not only traditional Jewish
positions on such matters as civil rights, separation
of church and state, neighborliness, economic
opportunity, education, criminal justice, terrorism,
United Nations and world cooperation, and
external aggression (including nuclear disarmament),
but also American liberal and official positions on these issues.
The solution had to come from a joint liberality of the Israel
government and the U.S. government on behalf of t
he secular and liberal elements of the Islamic peoples.
Jews generally showed no greater tendency historically
than other special elite elements in America to keep
things to themselves and exclude others.
(Every special group practices exclusion,
be it a plumbers union or a university faculty.)
It is likely that they would compare well with
other ethnic strains, from the Korean to the English,
in the weakness of the favoritism that they extended to their
presumed kind, and the limits to which they would go
in opposing other Jews on matters of principle.
That they would engage in self-celebrations was
natural. If half the book purchases of serious reading
in the country was by Jews and a considerable proportion of the
authors of serious books was Jewish, should it be surprising that of a
January month one could happen upon twenty
Jewish book fairs around the nation where authors and
audiences, mostly Jewish, gathered to talk about
themselves and their books? Then, too, there are more books
about Jews by Jews than by gentiles regarding all the
other ethnic-religious groups of the American scene.
Supposing the higher personnel of every skill and
influence pyramid numbered in all 1% of 260 millions, or
2.6 million persons. If the rule of thumb used here
were correct, and one-third of these would be Jews,
they would number 0.8 millions.
If the median child were deemed advantaged,
then practically no Jewish child would be disadvantaged,
that is, found below the middle level of serviceable acculturation,
but, on the other hand, 53% of all
children would be disadvantaged.
Jewish girls were entirely advantaged, while
prejudices against achieving girls were still rampant among gentiles,
cutting therefore the advantaged non-Jewish group in half,
to 26% roughly.
Aspiration and tradition combined to motivate
Jewish children up the pyramids of power and
influence, wealth, the arts, and knowledge,
less into dead-end physical and low-skill careers.
So, right from the start, almost all non-Jewish children
aimed at the lower levels of the pyramids, and
we discover that the very tops of the pyramids were
contested mainly by gentiles of extraordinary
qualities and connections,
contacting there the Jewish element that had found its way.
At this point, the mixture of types provided few surprises,
nor did the proportions. Indeed, given the poor cultural
and intellectual diet of the vast majority of
gentile children in the country, it became difficult
to qualify the several million non-Jewish Americans
who were needed to assume two-thirds of the posts
in the general elite of the country.
We have seen time and time again the small percentage
of the population that is active and high-performing
in practically all groups, and, of these, only a small fraction
is available for the top positions.
When one examined, whether face-to-face or at a
neutral and objective distance, candidates for a post of high
competence and responsibility, one would ordinarily, not unusually,
discover that one out of the top three candidates would be of Jewish
background, in addition to her or his other backgrounds. The
inevitable conclusion was that Jews were
like other people, only more so.
A crunch is conceivable. Quotas of Jews were once used
to let less well-qualified gentiles occupy all
but a few posts in professional schools,
even colleges themselves, and in a number of occupations
and scholarship competitions.
This was actually a form of affirmative action,
that is, moving the less qualified ahead of the more qualified,
even though by the usual criteria, the gentiles involved
were disqualified mainly by their own privileges
of wealth and wasted lives. "Poor little rich boy!"
Still, if the trend of the last social generation of the
twentieth century continued, and an increasing proportion of the
major professional opportunities,
the best schools and the richest subsidies
were to go to Jews and Asians, once again we would hear
the call for affirmative action quotas to restrict
"overqualified" groups. Such a reaction was firmly resisted,
even suppressed, by governments, media, and
gentile leaders to the end of the millennium.
Yet, there were several, not entirely welcome, policy alternatives
to stifle the protests of the less (but sufficiently ) qualified:
Increase the number of top positions all through
the social structure so as to ease the pressure, as, say,
by governmental subsidies for research, charitable work,
and spreading work among many more persons.
Promoting America out into the world,
where millions of highly qualified people are needed,
exporting talents, granting great subsidies,
advancing world government.
Hope for, and applaud, such a degree of assimilation
to typical American characters, that whether a person is or was
a Jew or Asian or anything else became immaterial, and, indeed,
would reduce in consequence the preponderance of talents found
in defined groups of the population.
The worst that could happen to Americans would be some
major effective movement of an anti-intellectual,
anti-modern, and anti-semitic kind whose
purpose would be to extricate the Jews from a culture that is
now more Jewish than puritanish in its advanced aspects.
(Behind the two elements would lag all the others).
It is a hyperbolic metaphor to recall how,
in the earliest days in Plymouth, England, this queer group
dreamt of founding a new Israel in the wilderness.
Given the difficulty, if not idiocy,
of the foregoing solutions, perhaps press on
with the present solution - namely, deny that there
is any problem, and insist that merit,
so far as we can rationalize it, should be the major criterion
for membership in the top elites of the country,
defending laissez-faire and rugged individualism and
competition as the best way to get the best elite of the world,
from wherever they might come.
Religious groups generally made up their own
internal class systems, erecting the pyramid
within their parishes and congregations. The Catholic
Church provided a single generation caste
system of a type, with the celibate priesthood that
gave up two of the three ancient Roman
stigmata of class-belonging, earlier mentioned:
the priest could not properly deal in commerce nor
marry, but he could dine with outsiders.
Ethnic groups, often fortified by religious peculiarities,
also carried class pyramids within their ranks,
and then fed out members under adapting and assimilating
conditions to the larger social pyramids. The history
of trade unions in America provides significant instances of
how ethnic groups that dominated a trade or occupation
discriminated against newcomers on ethnic grounds,
usually informally, and denied it when accused. International
socialist and communist labor organizations were
most likely to provide instant equality and often
gained as a result the dedicated loyalty of their members.
Wealth has been what was left after the class system
failed to congeal. Probably this is one reason
why wealth is said to be in America the true
indication of social class, which it really is not.
Wealth brings with it opportunities to rub elbows
with one's "betters" in ancestry, education, skill, power and
beauty. So it is not the wealth in itself that is the class
criterion, but the opportunities opened up to the wealthy
to be among classy people.
American colleges have always educated the rich
ahead of the less rich and poor. Only the growth of
governmentally supported higher education
mitigated the fact. Equality and merit gained.
So did the funnel of values-agglomeration.
Half of the 1990 graduates of highly
selective institutions came of families with incomes of
over $60,000 per year. A related study
found that 54% of corporate leaders and
42% of governmental leaders had
graduated from just twelve heavily endowed
private universities: Harvard, Yale, Chicago,
Stanford, Columbia, Massachusetts Institute of Technology,
Cornell, Northwestern, Princeton, Johns Hopkins,
Pennsylvania, and Dartmouth.
Illustrious scholars and scientists exhibited similar profile.
Scholarly merit played a role in selection -
though here again family background,
expensive childhood opportunities and
college preparation, and diligent pressure -
entered willy-nilly. Only 1 in 50
college students attended these schools
Physical beauty and strength have to do with the attraction of
affection, and affection singularly works against other
class criteria because it is likely to appear
unassociated with them. The movie star or athlete
comes out of nowhere, but is charismatically and
sexually attractive. Affection is excited, infatuation,
some would say, who believe marriages should be convoked
on other grounds. (American women have almost
always except in ethnic and cultic enclaves
been fairly freed from the disposition to deny them
access to affectional potential; that is,
where sets of values held by one or both families
of two mutually attracted persons were different,
family authority has rarely been absolute.)
Cosmetic medicine has somewhat dimmed the lights of
natural beauty. And steroids have put champion athletes
ahead of ordinary muscle men of the beaches.
Noted above were several traits of the knowledge elite.
There is much more to what we call intelligentsia.
It stretches from the forestry research station scientist in Alaska to the
instructor in English-as-a-second-language in Miami. Thinking about
who these people might be brings one into mental arithmetic once
more. Historically, the number has been low in proportion to
population until the mid-twentieth century,
at which time it expanded greatly until it is probably the
largest in proportion to population in the world.
The time of Ralph Waldo Emerson may be chosen for example,
because the ideas of the creative intelligentsia
of that age were perhaps the most "American" and most
beneficial of any until today. (One cannot deny
strong connections being then re-established with the
English radical intelligentsia.) Counting
500 as the number of the top intelligentsia
of the nation - consisting largely of transcendentalists of
greater New England (with related Germanics in Missouri),
Unitarians, a few professors and scientists, several politicians,
cosmopolitans (mostly foreigners of New York City and
Philadelphia), and several authors, poets, and artists
- in a population of twenty millions, would result
in a ratio of one in fifty thousand (1/50,000).
The total intelligentsia of the period around 1845
would be no more than 10,000.
In 1995, the number of the intelligentsia of highest rank would be
about 50,000, in a population of 260,000,000, or roughly one in
five thousand (1/5,000). The total number
of the intelligentsia would be in the neighborhood
of five millions.
Five millions of highly trained people engaged in brainwork and
aesthetics should be more than enough to weight the country toward
large and imaginative goals of a humane nature.
Instead, the country's perspectives are dominated by the vast
fortunes that ramify like an impenetrable jungle,
an eco-system that finds a large majority
of all types of Americans ready to accept and
pursue insignificant and forlorn ideals and ways
of life, and a political class that seems even
clownish as it performs its tasks.
Perhaps the most important single reason
for this tendency of the nation to be mediocre and misdirected,
if not downright oppressive of ultimate human ideals,
is now, as it has been since the downfall of the Loyalists and
Federalists, the preference of the mass of people for raw
wealth as opposed to intelligence.
If great wealth has learned to dissemble itself and not make
a direct play for general political power - which has been
the case in America from the middle of the eighteenth century -
the majority of people will choose to believe that they
themselves are in charge of the state and that the great concentration
of wealth can be suffered because it does not seek
to take political power away from the people.
That the great rich were malefactors, and the industrialists and
commercial class were terribly exacting of the poorer classes, was
natural and to be expected; it is what the poor were taught was
proper, and wished they might become.
The intelligentsia were more vulnerable and hateful from the
standpoint of the mass of people. To be rich could be an accident
that might befall oneself, while to be clever and concerned over the
world at the same time was a perpetual insult to the ordinary man.
Even the prevalence of the pragmatic way of thought and conduct
among the American intelligentsia, and its efforts to be like
everyone else, "just folks," have not diminished by much the
congenital hostility of the people as a whole.
They and their leaders have been all too ready to find in the
intelligentsia disloyalty, foreignness, impracticality and
insubordination to the ruling directive of democracy of the
masses as represented in the mass media.
The history and present state of classes and elites
in America reveals a situation without hope
of any natural consolidation of an elite and
certainly not of a competent elite, given
the set of heavy problems confronting the nation.
Yet there is not only little hope of a mass
democracy doing the job but no job can be done
without an elite to do it: we speak here of
a general leadership responsible and accountable
for solving the Big Problems of Society,
which has to be World Society.
Perhaps the formal basis for a spawning elite
is a point of birth and development. It cannot be
in America a church, nor can it be a poolroom or
legislative committee. The best hope may reside on
university campuses. Only there does one find
every part of the population represented, every
skill, too, and access to government and philanthropic
wealth as well. There one finds youth with the vigor and
the time ahead required for the immense tasks.
There, too, one finds the reliance upon the sciences,
all of them, and the resort to philosophies,
all of them.
There one finds the semi-public spaces needed
to gather in consideration of plans and alternatives.
There we find the association of the younger and
older generations providing experience and mutual
counsel. The outside authorities are not so likely
to burst in upon the premises, yet representatives
of the larger society are in constant attendance.
A useful historical model for prospecting the future
would be the late medieval and Renaissance gilds.
Associations of workers grew first from Roman Catholic parishes.
These lay groups tended to specialize by occupation.
They separated largely from the Church and became
political forces, finally ruling forces,
in many local communities, regions, and among nations.
Meanwhile, we recall, there also spun off from religious
orders of the Church, which held periodical councils composed of
representatives of their scattered components,
the practice of calling nobility, high clergy, and then
representatives of towns and shires to an assembly to
deal with the monarch. And thus began the modern form
of representative government, ultimately
dispensing with the king, together with other changes,
in the case of America and France, followed by most other
governments to this day.
Early universities, practically everywhere,
while descending from religious associations, enjoyed
autonomous powers, more extensive than those of
modern universities. Once, Oxford and Cambridge
sent representatives to the House of Commons, a step,
although halted, on the way to larger power.
But the gilds helped build and develop the towns,
trade, technical training, overall public administration,
and defense measures. They turned the slothful medieval
bucolism into modernism. It is emphatically noteworthy that the
most advanced colleges and universities today
are centers for both general and special technologies of the times.
They have come to replace the medieval gilds in many ways.
They supply directly the skills of the society and the ruling elites,
both general and special. Here, then, would be grounds for
developing a general elite that would competently manage the
potential of modern culture.
They would not be saying "What hath God wrought,"
as proclaimed the first message by Morse code.
Prayers have always been aplenty in America.
Nor posting scurrilous graffiti, such as adorned
many a wall in the student revolts of the nineteen sixties,
which were no less mendacious than the messages that
professional party managers cast upon
the television screens.
These student revolts revealed the strength and value of the
college campus as center for national and world movements.
They also displayed an utter negativity and absence
of substituted program. Remarkably, the ideology and
slogans emitted by the greatest schools
- the University of California at Berkeley, Columbia, Chicago,
Harvard - could hardly be distinguished from the nonsense
emanating from the "cow colleges." Sometimes the call went out
appealing to the workers to make common cause with the students.
Since the students could only prattle to the workers,
instances of workers putting down students were
more numerous than cases of joining them.
In scores of cases, a university administration
admitted its political and pedagogical follies and
even put itself at the mercy of the crowd.
But the crowd, impelled by the Jacksonian direct democratic idea,
sought diligently the inspiration of its lowest
common denominator and put forward demands each more
audibly flatulent than the last.
The intelligentsia were likely to be liberal in thought and
politics, and followed liberals in a belief 200 years old,
that the will of the populace should lead the public. Unhappily,
intellectuals spawned no autonomous mind or will.
Fewer unattached intellectuals are to be found today
than before, many fewer. There were absolutely fewer until the 1920's,
then multiplied, until quite numerous. Meanwhile, universities
became more authoritarian and bureaucratized with
regard to students and faculty, and media and politics
became more strictly controlling of their personnel and expression.
The trend reversed toward the end of the century.
The growing number of computer hackers was in one way promising,
for they were independent, but they were also ignorant of
social and political theory and praxis, and fell victim often
to gurus, sentimental sludge, absolute liberalism,
mooism ("Milk me and hear me moo.").
Low circulation of civic courage and liberal or
revolutionary activism was notable. Intellectual life
was fragmented, circles here and there that knew little
about others but believed that they knew all about all.
In each circle the participants supported one another;
they had a favored medium; some press, radio, association,
played their tunes and got playback.
In the college and university deliberations and budgets,
localists usually won out over the generalist and universalist
who centered on the campus but whose minds were thousands
of miles away in focus and in time, and often, too,
their bodies were on planes to Arizona, Montreal,
Paris, Istanbul, or New Delhi. The hundreds of colleges
were self-centered, doting upon their community and their alumni;
their departments, when they stretched out, touched
special professional associations and their works
reached different audiences.
The American School of Classical Studies in Athens,
for instance, not a true college, reached into
nearly two hundred subscribing campuses for
representatives and a collective program.
A dental school and its faculty would belong to scores of groups.
There were caste and class characteristics within the functional group.
Like cartels and oligarchies in business and politics,
the powerful would have exponentially more power
within the aggregate and to represent the aggregate to
outside interests than would the least powerful elements.
Migrants who tried to leave their intellectual
headquarters for elsewhere, might accommodate or
be miserable or even return home.
Fewer and fewer intellectuals knew non-intellectuals
except when brought together in commercial transactions -
a politician embracing a poet,
a baseball star signing a ball for his old high school.
At Cambridge, Chicago, Washington, New York, Boston,
Philadelphia, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas,
distinct elites each had its tentacles or threads
extended to its special clientele in the world.
Although Harvard strove mightily in every sphere to be regarded as best,
helped by a name that tripped off every one's lips,
it failed as often as not because of the competitive muscle
precisely exercised by a score of competitors in specialized fields and
a half-dozen all-around competitors at Chicago,
Berkeley, Yale, Cornell, Los Angeles, Michigan, and
Princeton. All dipped down and rose over time.
Far from emerging as a prime factor of the elite,
both faculties and students lost the larger
deference granted to traditional education.
Curricula took on a mottled look,
students entered by virtue of their warm bodies,
and everyone hid from one another,
foregoing the hope of cordial community.
Perhaps, if the students had used friendly politicians and
authorities to help devise a national constituent
assembly, which would sift, screen, select, frame, and
formalize a manifesto for the world,
their movement would have progressed swiftly toward bringing basic
changes benefitting American society.
A correct perspective of American history would have helped
to arrive at both the means and the ends.
However, structural changes in the educational system
would have done more to carry out the promise
of needed revolutionary change in the colleges.
Two such changes would be a universal system of connections
between the campus curriculum and the outer world.
Pragmatic philosophy would dictate that there can be no subject
without an operative object. All decisions should be applied
science; all applied science should be ethically prescribed.
Schools of business and law, and other divisions
of the Universities have come to provide these connections
and they are beneficial and in line with this recommendation,
although often narrowly construed and one-way -
the outside sponsor without participation in the school,
nor thinking in the large frame of
guiding the great society.
To the private and governmental counterparts of the subject field
should be adjoined the millions of teachers in the lower schools of the
country, private and public. Educational activities
occupied 40% of the 4.5 million
State government employees, and over 50%
of all local government workers. The intelligentsia
of private schools add another half-a-million persons.
The outer and the inner elements of a discipline or subject
should be joined formally in a Club that would be composed
of interacting inner-outer elements. Such Policy Clubs,
networked around the country and housed on campuses,
could begin to supply the organized and integrated general
elite that the nation so badly needs. Americans
have, on the one hand, always typically scorned
the power of the working mind in favor of the gun,
the loud voice, the evangelist, and the money bag, but typically,
too, responded to the power of organized numbers.
Furthermore, to fortify and extend the intelligent public
outwards and upwards in public policy, the practice
of age-limited cohorts in education should be
abandoned; people of any age ought to be allowed
to study where they would benefit themselves and others; this would
not only teach and up-date the outside practitioners
of a subject or field, but would put them in a position to engage
more effectively, with the resources of all levels of schooling,
the policy -determining and administrative world outside.
Perhaps the present U.S. Senate should be
replaced by 100 representatives elected by the faculties,
graduate students, and scholars in residence of
equally apportioned university districts. We could be
sure that all economic interests would be virtually represented,
along with geographic cultures, and especially with the
rapidly accreting knowledge in the treasury
of the sciences and arts.
Mobilizing the intelligentsia of the nation, and
giving it constitutional standing, as described here,
would alter yet bolster the party system;
it would be unrecognizable as the old system,
which would be all for the better.