Clash of elites

Published On: June 9, 2019 02:05 AM NPT By: Babu Ram Neupane

Nepali elites seem mostly regressive in nature and character sans originality, novelty, and thirst for knowledge. Democratic elites are dejected by disgraceful downfall of Nepali Congress

Elitism has an inverse relationship with the underprivileged and marginalized. However, many people often rise to the ranks of elitism championing the cause of the underserved and downtrodden. But most of them transform into defenders of elites or establishments in no time. Power and influence play hide and seek with them. This mostly coincides with the rise and fall of political establishments and cultural and social forces of the day. 

Most of the elites in underdeveloped and developing countries are closely associated with political blocs. Their intellect is beholden to some ideology being carried by political forces. Therefore, expectation of impartiality and independence on their part is doomed. Their aggressive standpoint against the establishment soon fizzles out and they fall into regressive groups. 

The elites in highly developed and capitalistic countries can maintain their independence as they don’t require trading themselves with political entities to make a decent living. They can advance their independent and objective opinions without using state resources. Hence, they could remain progressive for a longer period of time, if they wish so.    

The domain of elitism is playground for extrovert people and objectification of things. The more the elites speak or write (or even tweet), better the chances of faster promotion to super elite clubs. They are being closely watched as the stances presented through their speeches, writings or tweets might strike a chord with an establishment figure or also a special group (special interest groups included). This objectification of stance plays out in their favor.

 “The extravert’s feeling is always in harmony with objective values. For anyone who has known feeling only as something subjective, the nature of extraverted feeling will be difficult to grasp, because it has detached itself as much as possible from the subjective factor and subordinated itself entirely to the influence of the object,” says Carl Gustav Jung, Swiss psychiatrist and psychoanalyst.  

Elite types 
The progressive elites of any country and culture constantly strive to make things better and change the world around them. They receive international exposure and quickly achieve stardom. That ultimately guarantees international mobility thereby widening their avenues of economic prosperity. They consequently create multiple job opportunities for their multiple supporters and followers at home and abroad. Consider economists and scientists of international fame establishing and leading multinational research agencies. 

Conversely, retrograde elites (call them regressive if you wish) only monopolize state resources let alone adding to it. They can’t add value to ongoing discourses and find new directions. They contribute nothing to make societies better and prosperous. Consider senior advisors to the government (read Nepal) who can neither form any relevant opinions of their own nor give any constructive advice to the garrulous, inconsistent and incoherent political leaders. Most of such figures are rewarded with political appointments for their long-lasting loyalty to parties and their leaders. 

Wealth and elitism have symbiotic relationship in poorer countries. If you are born into an upper echelon of society, you just need to make some monetary investment (which you can) like donations to major political parties.  If you hail from the middle class and have no fortunes to depart with, then it could involve years of struggle to start climbing the ladder of elitism from anonymity.   Charles Darwin’s theory of survival for the fittest applies in this case. Your gene and means give you a certificate to elitism. 

‘The target of natural selection is the environment, within which selection favors one form of a given gene over other forms…Natural selection simultaneously operates at the level of the group, affecting how well each group performs in competition against the other groups’, opines Edward O Wilson, winner of the Pulitzer Prize, in his latest book Genesis: The Deep Origin of Societies. In the same book, Wilson also argues that “personality and intelligence have middling heritability. A kind and extroverted genius can arise from a poor and uneducated family and an ill-tempered dunce from wealthy and privileged.”

Elites and unity  
Heritage, legacy, and inheritance matter in the formation of elites in developing countries. However, Nepal presents a stark contrast to an old proverb: birds of same feather flock together.  Most feudal landlords, bad actors, and oppressors sided with the violent Maoists during the decade long civil war to protect themselves from being killed and their assets being looted. They formed an evil elite club to help the Maoists, whose lopsided war quickly degenerated into a war of vengeance at the local level where innocent civilians were mindlessly slaughtered by criminal people whom the Maoists had provided safe harbor. That was the reason why the Maoists saw a spectacular downfall forcing them to seek an unusual marriage of convenience with KP Oli.  

The nature of the clash of elites differs from country to country. In America, the coastal elites (mostly sympathetic to Democratic Party) wage an invincible wordy duel with the rest of American elites (mostly sympathetic to the Republican Party). The coastal (east or west coast) elites work in renowned universities like Princeton, Harvard, Columbia, Yale, Stanford, Duke, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), California etc. These globalists make up the majority of global influencers while their detractors’ voices and opinions don’t even reverberate within the national boundary. That is the reason why American liberal thinkers, philosophers, and political scientists do play a mammoth role in forming the global public opinion.   

So how do Nepali elites fair in this regard? Nepali elites seem mostly regressive in nature and character sans originality, novelty, and thirst for knowledge. The leftist elites’ primary role is to be feral (not federal) government’s accomplice in undoing of the democratic values and institutions. These chameleon creatures love enjoying the perks of political appointments which they have either purchased through a hefty donation to the communist parties during the elections or passed a personality test by being brazen bootlickers of supreme leaders.

The so-called democratic elites are utterly dejected by the disgraceful downfall of Nepali Congress, a rudderless party with visionless leaders, rife with infighting, and fast slipping into anonymity. They are yet to figure out how the party of such a glorious history has been undone by the arrogance of its policy makers and finance ministers, who once worked in the international financial institutions, and tried to ape and implement the bookish knowledge without customizing it in the changed contexts, while their rivals were formulating policies to siphon off large chunk of budget to appease farmers, senior citizens and local government officials. 

They kept implementing hawkish financial austerity policies while the people in the villages were expecting dovish infusion of resources in the local economy. This is how copycats failed to deliver to the public and floundered in the general elections. They will keep failing like this until they know how best to help ordinary people and farmers to construct irrigation canals so that they don’t  have to look up in the sky and wait for the monsoon rains to come down before starting  paddy plantation  in their fields.  

Robert Haas, Pulitzer Prize winning American Poet, writes in his minimalist poem, “Iowa, January,” depicting farmers’ pain:

In the long winter nights, a farmer’s dreams are narrow.

Over and over, he enters the furrow.


The author loves to write on contemporary issues

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