The Case Against The Professional Managerial Elite (Part Five)

Another point which strengthens the case of not only demagogues and populists but also that of progressives and socialists against the “Professional Managerial Elite” (PMC) is that in the choice between capital and the ordinary person or worker, the PMC has chosen capital over the welfare and well-being of the ordinary person and ordinary worker. As Catherine Liu wrote in a book titled “Virtue Hoarders: The Case Against The Professional Managerial Class”:

“For as long as most of us can remember, the professional managerial class (PMC) has been fighting a class war, not against capitalists or capitalism, but against the working classes.”

One of the major differentiating factors between the PMC and the working class in a psychosocial sense is that high levels of education and the time available for leisure are used as weapons by the PMC to deprecate and demean others while boosting and elevating their own egos. This makes today’s PMC similar to the bourgeoisie of the past in Europe right before the outbreak of the two world wars. As Liu wrote:

“Today’s capitalists and PMC elites are also interested in self-cultivation, but their anxiety about their ‘privilege’ makes them work very hard to humiliate others and project themselves tirelessly as a cultural and political vanguard, doing things to themselves of which ordinary people are incapable. PMC elites are always experimenting with themselves: from returning to the ‘land’ under the aegis of new communalism to keto diets, only drinking sewage-laden raw water, and intermittent fasting, their self-indulgence is always a kind of sanctimonious austerity.”

And while reading and writing are obviously important, the underlying purpose and manner of reading and writing is different for the PMC than for normal people. As Liu wrote: “Reading matters deeply, but not in the way Obama and Kakutani want it to.” Liu also writes that the PMC’s general discourse and language of “tolerance” is actually a guise for arrogance and condescension towards others: 

“In terms of etiquette and new forms of mutual address, PMC elites have pioneered a language of liberal tolerance that the working classes have not mastered. PMC elites, consciously or unconsciously, want to humiliate their adversaries by attributing to them a desperate lack of intelligence, empathy, and virtue.” 

And in terms of culture and lifestyle, PMC culture and lifestyle is defined largely by a combination of hypocritical puritanism and paranoia. As Liu wrote:

“Even with full-time hired help, PMC working parents are stressed about infant pedagogy and proper stimulation while pulling down the double salaries that allow them to maintain upper-middle-class consumption habits. Babies are notoriously sensual beings, both dependent and hedonistic. Their helplessness and drive for pleasure represent an existential threat to the Puritanism of American elites.”

In turn, PMC hypocrisy, puritanism, and paranoia greatly impacts the PMC’s approach towards sexuality and sexual freedom. As Liu wrote: “It is truly an ironic reversal in values, upending the logic of the culture wars when PMC families, whether straight or gay, embrace monogamy and family values with greater zeal than their working-class counterparts.” And when one combines on one hand the exploitative nature of capital to which the PMC is bound and subservient with the PMC’s general approach towards sexuality and sexual freedom on the other hand, the result more often than not is sexual abuse, coercion, exploitation, and repression. As Liu wrote: “The lack of boundaries between the personal and the political is the poisoned fruit of contemporary neoliberalism’s metabolization of the historical counterculture.” Liu also wrote:

“It is clear that sexual coercion and economic insecurity work together to create conditions for abuse. There is no sexual freedom or pleasure without freedom from the terrifying economic fear for simple survival to which so many of us are reduced.” 

Thus, even if the PMC is not an outright enemy of the people, it is hard to deny that the PMC resents regular people, even though their underlying resentment towards regular people is confounded and clouded by the delusion and false notion of altruism and public service. As Liu wrote:

“[The PMC] labor in a world of floating signifiers, statistics, analytics, projections, predictions, and identity performativity, virtue signaling, and affectual production. Their loves and lives are both virtual and disembodied.”

The PMC’s resentment towards the ordinary person and worker also stems from the futility of their work and the fact that in the overall scheme of things, the PMC is worth less and is of lesser value than the ordinary person and worker in the international system:

“Workers remade the industrial world, but today’s PMC elites resent the revolutionary power of the leftism of the past. They want to manage social change and a possible revolution even as their own functions are constrained by the ideological demands of the ruling class. Even though they understand the futility of their own work, they do not believe in the systemic changes necessary to remake economic systems that would allow the many to find rewarding work and lead meaningful lives of dignity and economic security.” 

In turn, this hidden resentment towards regular people on the part of the PMC is mostly psychological and subconscious, mainly because the PMC suffers from “blind conformity to norms” in addition to suffering from both cowardice and the fear of engaging in “positive deviance” away from these norms in order to avoid the self-damage and hurt which comes from blind conformity. And at the heart of the continuation and perpetuation of blind conformity to self-damaging norms is lying and living a lie, given that lying and living a lie suggests inertia and thus lying and living a lie is much easier than acknowledging and internalizing the truth, even though lying and living a lie does more damage than good to oneself over the long run. As Hannah Arendt wrote:

“Lies are often much more plausible, more appealing to reason, than reality, since the liar has the great advantage of knowing beforehand what the audience wishes or expects to hear. He has prepared his story for public consumption with a careful eye to making it credible, whereas reality has the disconcerting habit of confronting us with the unexpected, for which we were not prepared.”

And by lying and living a lie, the overall power of the PMC has diminished through the course of time, even though the PMC tries to bolster its diminishing power through the costly and wasteful manufacturing and production of machines and weapons of destruction. Whereas the actual solution lies in a substantial and thorough reorganization of economic and social life, the political class and PMC continues its denial and its lies regarding this simple truth. And the irony is that the change and reorganization of economic and social life usually does not occur from the bottom-up. Rather, the change and reorganization are prompted by certain individuals from within the political class and the PMC which are fed up with the way in which ordinary people and workers have been getting the short end of the stick for such a long time, as Arendt noted. Arendt also noted that universities are the platforms and springboards for the programs and preparations for economic and social reorganization. Thus, the influx of “donations” and “grants” to universities is a novel way of stifling the energy and programs which usually come out of universities aimed at the reorganization of economic and social life.

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