The Disadvantages of an Elite Education

Tuesday, June 24th, 2008

One of Mencius Moldbug’s recurring points is that modern progressivism is in fact a form of secular Quakerism, with its doctrine of the Inner Light only slightly modified.

William Deresiewicz, who taught English at Yale University from 1998 to 2008, inadvertently makes the same point in discussing The Disadvantages of an Elite Education:

One of the great errors of an elite education, then, is that it teaches you to think that measures of intelligence and academic achievement are measures of value in some moral or metaphysical sense. But they’re not. Graduates of elite schools are not more valuable than stupid people, or talentless people, or even lazy people. Their pain does not hurt more. Their souls do not weigh more. If I were religious, I would say, God does not love them more. The political implications should be clear. As John Ruskin told an older elite, grabbing what you can get isn’t any less wicked when you grab it with the power of your brains than with the power of your fists. “Work must always be,” Ruskin says, “and captains of work must always be….[But] there is a wide difference between being captains…of work, and taking the profits of it.”


  1. James says:

    I’m a big fan of William Deresiewicz. He’s not as well known as he should be. Excellent to see you quoting his work.

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