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To my mind, the most interesting question is the other way around. We have an abundance of data about the public, we have relatively little data about how the elites operate. As I've gone up in my career, and begun to reach elite levels, I've been fascinated to learn about some of the upper levels of the economy, some of the odd rituals that it has.

I have taken an almost sociological interest in some of the minor social codes of elite life, such as who is allowed to use curse words, and what they are actually communicating when they allow themselves to use curse words. But also the opposite: who never uses curse words, and why?

But my point is, if I want to learn how coal miners in West Virginia use curse words, I can easily learn about that. I own several good books about working class life in Appalachia, I've read half of them. But good books about the use of curse words among the elites? That is much more rare, and the situation tends to evolve at a faster rate.

Also, I'll point out, this form of journalism is fairly common. Over the last year I've seen several good essays that suggested various elite groups were misunderstanding the mood of the public. What is somewhat more rare is to read a book about how the public misreads the elites. Into this category I would, arguably, suggest that Democracy For Realists is the best:

https://www.amazon.com/Democracy-Realists-Elections-Responsi...

I read this at the end of last year, and posted a few excerpts here:

https://demodexio.substack.com/p/democracy-for-realists-part...

The public also seems to misunderstand how much any political system, but especially democratic systems, depend on certain elites, and in particular political parties, to allow the system to continue to function. Consider the Panama Exception:

https://demodexio.substack.com/p/the-panama-exception

Occasionally someone is born into wealth and they turn out to be a great novelist, so they can write a novel that gives us some sense of growing up in the upper class. Interesting stuff. But in general, if I want to learn how poverty persists in Appalachia, I have many more books to read than books that teach me how the upper class transmits its status to its children. Some of the details of that operation are hidden, and difficult to learn about, save when we make friends with people who had that upbringing, and even then, we are only seeing a narrow slice of the overall process.

And obviously, the life of the wealthy frequently shows up on television and movies, but not in a realistic way. Such shows amount to a kind of obfuscation of elite reality.




I'm not sure I agree - but also "elite" is not really a stable locus.

If we look back to ancient Rome, we have much more information about the life of elites than we do of the life of the common peasant. I am skeptical that the phenomena has entirely reversed in modern America.

> Occasionally someone is born into wealth and they turn out to be a great novelist, so they can write a novel that gives us some sense of growing up in the upper class. Interesting stuff. But in general, if I want to learn how poverty persists in Appalachia, I have many more books to read than books that teach me how the upper class transmits its status to its children

"Turning out to be a great [and widely read] novelist" and growing up with wealth are not independent conditions that are very rare to coincide. The people writing these stories and creating content are typically elites, writing from an elite perspective.




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