The Prince and the Pauper

As Mao Zedong said: “Learn from the masses, and then teach them.” Hence, the existential and phenomenological method which I have used for my research and writing is very much an intellectual gloss derived from book learning and literary efforts. This intellectual gloss derived from one’s book learning and literary efforts is then cast over one’s raw life experiences. Without these raw life experiences garnered from the masses, the liberal discourse and liberal ontology of the elite amounts to hollowness, superficiality, and even narrow-mindedness and ignorance. As Mao Zedong said: “The masses are the real heroes, while we ourselves are often childish and ignorant, and without this understanding, it is impossible to acquire even the most rudimentary knowledge.”

But with the book learning and literary work that is cast over raw life experiences comes social mobility, and as a result, a person who has educated themselves out of the popular class is in a state of limbo. One is elevated out of the masses because of book learning and education, but at the same time, one cannot achieve elite status because of the richness of one’s discourse and because of the depth of one’s ontological state. Seeking “acknowledgement” and “recognition” from the elite after one’s book learning and literary efforts would require a hollowing out of one’s discourse and ontological state in exchange for pettiness, superficiality, groupthink, toxicity, hedonism, and luxury.

Thus, a truly civilized and truly cultured person is sandwiched between the elite and the masses. Class is indeed a major feature of the economic, political, and social dimensions of international affairs. Any discourse or ontological state would ultimately have to confront obvious class differences in any society. In turn, education leads to a transformation of identity, and identity is at the heart of one’s personal life. Thus, in addition to prompting social mobility, education leads to displacement from one’s culture and community, which seemingly puts an educated person on a path to nowhere.

But given that class divisions are a reality of economic, political, and social life which are impossible to abrogate or remove, true genius requires an understanding of both elite mentality and popular mentality. One may have to end up traversing both classes in order to survive in a society which no one can be fully removed from. Neither class can be fully ignored, and there is an obvious interaction and symbiosis between both classes. Thus, education is a double-edged sword, given that it enables class mobility and social mobility but at the same time it does not solidify a sense of belonging to either class.

A truly intelligent person would somehow manage to get the best of both worlds. But as I mentioned on a number of occasions, the hollowness and superficiality of elite discourse and elite ontology can make life unbearable. The street smarts of the masses amount to the actual reality of human life, whereas elite discourse and elite ontology is a denial and a gross aloofness from this reality. But one must also take into account the extraordinary ability of certain individuals to cope and also adapt.

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