NOTE: I’ve been working on this one for a while to publish it this week. It is in no way related to the politically-motivated attacks perpetrated by conservative terrorists in America over the course of the previous week.
There is an odd truth to the term “liberal elite” when it is used to pit uneducated people against highly educated people. Of course not everyone with advanced degrees in a skill are liberal, but such rhetoric is a great way to glorify lack of education and keep people who fall for it down and self-satisfied. We can be sure that the term was coined in a think tank by highly educated conservative elites.
Let’s get to the odd truth, because it is one that elites on both sides of the fence they’ve erected to think exclusively (problem one) completely miss: The deeper you go in refining and specializing formal education, the more divisions you create, which sends a cue to the poorly educated that they exist in the shallows, even if they are masters of their domain, no different from the formally educated. Sometimes, better-educated by life experience, including unpaid apprenticeships.
It is not all well and good to focus on the stereotype of the angry, uneducated redneck being maneuvered by conservative media into a defensive position that quickly becomes offensive against liberal elites. Liberal elites are characterized as pampered, holier-than-thou people who rule from a bubble consisting of their educated peers. Liberal elites, the story goes, don’t understand “the real world.” They forgot where they came from. It’s been educated away and now they live in this virtual headspace with other simulated characters on campus. Well-educated people know that this is nonsense, know they are just like everyone else, and so they blame the brainwashing efforts of conservative politicians and media, which can only be effective, funny enough, if you’re an uneducated redneck.
When we ignore the division this way, it is within the narrative framing of the dividing line. This is problem two, and we are playing into the hands of the think tank sharks who created said division, which they know we will likely do because that’s how we avoid looking at ourselves. By not forecasting where how we think will lead, we avoid the critical point that triggers so many people in the first place—the point that makes the manipulation work. The point is that—and this is problem three—there is often a soft bigotry and an underlying arrogance that comes with highly specialized degrees. Why wouldn’t there be? You paid for this. You want to get what you paid for. You live in a culture that loves competition, war, and “winning.” And in this culture, each degree is considered a better weapon against workplace competitors. Meaning, everyone else.
Again, we see that there is you and there is everyone else. We reinforce our divisions even as we preach coming together. This is the lie of us and because the mechanics of it benefit the educated, they don’t see the problem. Why can’t we all just get along?
Living in a world where your understanding of life is considered so basic that it’s beneath the educated—who have incentivized living off-earth in mental constructs, which should be the privilege of people who have mastered meeting their basic needs—kinda sucks. And kinda sucks a lot when you realize that the educated haven’t mastered practical living, but have instead enslaved you to do it for them, because it’s a waste of their time. Their time is precious. Their time is money. Their thought is better than your thought because they have retained knowledge from a classroom. Doesn’t much matter what the subject is.
The difference between conservative elites and liberals is that conservatives are conscious of this and know how to weaponize it. They do so by claiming that the liberals are also conscious of it and are secretly laughing at you and looking down at your pathetic existence, while claiming to see you as an equal. Most liberals I know don’t consciously know this about themselves. Because they strive for progress for all, they really do think they see equals when they look at the wage slaves who were no match for them early on in the competition. They view themselves as the ones in the trenches fighting against, or trying to change, the very system that benefits them. But they are not really doing either, or they would have done so already, or else opted out in such great numbers that the system would have failed by now. Instead, the noose is tightening. We are increasingly becoming a nation, a world, of haves and have-nots despite liberal best efforts.
The have-nots perform the tasks that keep us alive and keep society going. Think about that. And think about this: perhaps the most liberally liberal liberals of all are in the green movement. They are the ones trying to save the planet from our own death grip. They fight corporate polluters in the courts. They demand environmental regulations. They problem-solve global warming. They are on the front lines of alerting us to problems like genetically modified poisoned foods and corporate farming. They create publicity campaigns around topics they feel they need to sway the rest of us on, such as recycling plastics and papers, and only buying fish we know don’t contain dolphin meat. These are good people. Intelligent people. Compassionate people.
And yet… and yet….
And yet they refuse to listen to indigenous people. Indigenous people who know more about the land, sea, air, and animal nations than the best-educated environmentalist ever will. The problems of environmental disaster must be solved by the well-educated, or else why did they spend all that time and money on a degree in the first place? People who paid tens of thousands of dollars to know better have to be the smartest people in the room for their existence to make sense, even if it means wiping everyone out of existence, as they struggle desperately to keep this existence going. If that’s confusing on the page, watch it play out in real time. It’s quite simple when you observe it happening.
Readers, I say all of this not to depress you, not to pick political fights, although I am certainly exploiting the timing of the American midterm elections by writing this now. I say it to point out just how deep and intricate this one little problem appears to be; this one throwaway political line of attack is. There is a reason these things have legs. It benefits conservative elites to plant seeds that will sway voters to keep them in power. And it benefits liberals to have an obvious, stupid stereotype to fight against, to say, “No, I’m not like that.” It works because on some level, well-educated, well-intended liberals are like that, even if they don’t want to be. They certainly benefit from this system they just can’t seem to shake no matter how hard they try.
You may not be able to see that this is true in the context of the political charade engineered to make enemies out of educated progressives, but when you see that liberal environmentalists do not include, for instance, “Indians” in their conversations, when Indians should be leading them? The Western educational/cultural biases become strikingly obvious regardless of the false narrative.
Notice how two paragraphs up I wrote that this one little problem appears to be deep and intricate? I didn’t say that it is deep and intricate. It appears that way. Like all of our problems, it appears that way because it branches off in numerous directions as it grows. But the root is the root. It’s one tiny, simple, problematic root. It is neither shallow nor deep, it just appears deep because it’s growing branches, which, in their distraction, give a sense of depth.
Understanding the root cause of this or any psychological problem is the uprooting of it. With that, the whole tree withers and dies. But we’d rather kill the physical landscape than our psychological mindscape, because the physical environment appears to be external and other. We know how to approach “others.” We can examine others and fix or destroy them. Or so we tell ourselves. But understanding the roots of ourselves is destroying the roots of ourselves. We don’t want that because we’re what we know. We’ve spent lifetimes knowing us. Lifetimes killing what we know. Our psychological death is a mystery best kept repressed. Except this is the ultimate root of all our virtual headspace cancers.
Do you understand what we’re repressing when we’re killing? We’re repressing living. Understand what we’re repressing when we’re hating? We’re repressing loving. The very things we struggle to attain are what our struggles keep just out of reach.
Each one of us is a coffin. There is no educating our way into the wholeness of life, which is Love. There is only gussying up our box. The dirt we use to bury all of our psychological problems, which are the world’s problems, is knowledge. Understanding takes no education. It takes no precious time. And it yields real knowing, real being in-and-as this world.
Just as distraction is not depth, knowledge is not understanding. It is a weapon we use against each other. It is a weapon we use against ourselves. It is the dirt, the shovel, and the shoveler, knowledge is, because knowledge it thought. And thought is the self. Not your self different from my self. We are the same self, which is why we all give and take hurt.
We are hurting. That is our action. That is our common education and our bond. We feel hurt and we hurt others. Hurt is what we do because hurt is what we are. When we believe we are separate from one another, we react to our hurt by pushing it off to the next person, in blatant and subtle ways. I would never hurt myself to stop hurting myself. There is no sense of relief through power in that. Power is always over others, including trying to save them from themselves.
What happens when I understand there is no other? Understand it beyond articulating a rational case for the fact? Understand it to-and-as the core of me? Understand until I am no longer hurting?
This is the beginning of proper education.