Enarques

There are two stark facts about British politics. The first is that it is controlled, to a degree unparalleled in any other western European nation, by a tiny, unrepresentative elite. Like almost every aspect of public life here, government is dominated by people educated first at private schools, then at either Oxford or Cambridge.

Given the existence of France and enarques, how can anyone possibly say that?

Entirely willing to agree with too much control by the public schoolboys and Oxbridge graduates. Or even too little if that’s the way your fancy takes you. But elite more than anyone else?

40 comments on “Enarques

  1. I suspect that it’s really more about correlation than causation. Like, why are so many musicians, journalists and actors from private school, too?

    All of these things are not, if you look at them overall, a great way to make a living. Yes, there’s Benedict Cumberbatch, but how many people who go into acting hit that level? Same with politics. How many people spend a decade in a low-paid job in Conservative Central Office, living off parents before realising they’re going nowhere? Or in a back bench job for 5 years before getting the push?

    There’s a lot more parents spending £200K extra on educating their kids than the number of MPs, actors or good journalism jobs. And considering how many MPs and cabinet ministers are state school educated, it doesn’t seem to work that well, does it?

  2. Is the country really ‘controlled’ by Johnson, Rees-Mogg, etc? What about the civil servants who obstruct conservative policies, the judges who strike down laws when it suits them, the NGOs which dominate policy debate?

    Are the Guardian creating a straw man here to deflect attention from the much larger group, people like them, who really do dominate large areas of public life in this country today?

    For example, which of the following is more likely to get you arrested these days:

    1. Screaming violent abuse at Rees-Moggs children
    2. Saying on Twitter that men with beards we not women

    The answer to this question, and others like it, will tell you who dominates the country.

  3. it is controlled, to a degree unparalleled in any other western European nation by a tiny, unrepresentative elite.

    Swing and a miss from Georgie. The same thing exists everywhere in the Western world – how representative do we think the European Commission is? Or the stagnant politically correct monoculture of the Scottish Parliament? Or the quadrennial choice between Kang and Kodos the Yanks were offered until Trump (PBUH) descended the golden escalator to shake up the system?

    It’s about class, yarp, but not in the way he thinks. The extremely smug and incestuous institutional class and its dangerous delusions of globalist managerialism and Babel 2.0, not braying toffs per se.

    But the article isn’t really about that, it’s about George’s unresolved childhood trauma from being sent to boarding school:

    Premature separation from your family “can cause profound developmental damage”.

    This seems to be true, I dunno why some people don’t want their kids around. For sure, children are generally little bastards, but they’re your little bastards and they need Mummy and Daddy in their little daily lives.

  4. The underlying dynamic of all of these lefty agitators is that they went to the exact same schools and universities as their much hated toffs. However back in school those toffs were the cool kids who played for the rugby team, rowed in the rowing team and generally were seen as the people to be. Our lefty friends instead were those who were not as bright academically and had sub-par sports skills, relegated themselves to the school drama club and generally were not seen as cool. Their sense of hatred of the toffs is not driven by anything toffs do or believe but by the lefties’ own insecurities of when they themselves were back at school with them.

    I did not go to private school myself but met all these characters at Cambridge and witnessed this dynamic first hand. It was a sight to behold (the Eton/Harrow/etc. drama kids, who were generally entitled insufferable c*nts, wailing against the “toffs” from Eton/Harrow/etc. who were generally pleasant people to be around and just wanted to have a good time)

  5. I think Steve has it. It’s about networks of influence & barriers to entry to networks. Also the relative strengths of rival networks of influence.

  6. Steve,

    Yeah. Count the names: Bush, Cheney, Kennedy, Roosevelt, Clinton. You can even look at some rather non-traditional people like the Le Pens in France, where almost the whole family are in politics.

    One thing with politics is just fucking turning up. Look at the leadership election. 139,000 people voted for who the prime minister would be. That’s all. Not even 0.2% of the population. That’s how few people go past the basic level of politics, from voting to spending £25/year joining a party.

    I’ll be knocking on doors to try to stop Corbyn getting in, and it’ll be me and at most, 20 people from the local party. Labour are similar, Lib Dems a little smaller. Is it any wonder that I got asked if I’d be interested in being a parish councillor after a few months, when there’s only 20 people doing it (I wasn’t interested, I’ll do it when I’m semi-retired).

  7. The irony is that Moonbat is absolutely to sort of iron clad shameless self obsessed me-me that you get from his background.Its the lack of a sense of humour that gives the game away – anyone who at some deep level does not know they are actually a bit of a prat cannot be trusted .
    Still if the powerful are never hypocritical we don`t get all that far do we , there is growing problem with public schools the unavailability of capital to most and the funnelling of wealth and opportunity not into the sort of elevate circles Moonbat knows but to a top 15%
    Its the big numbers on the in the middle are the problem ..Georgey has not met them

  8. My kids are all at Oxford and I fucking want the dominance to continue. Does that make me a bad person? I don’t give a shit.

  9. The underlying dynamic of all of these lefty agitators is that they went to the exact same schools and universities as their much hated toffs.

    A good way in the old days to get an instant ban from the Guardian comments section was to paste a copy of the “school+university” list for Guardian editors and columnists under any opinion column railing against the class structure or ‘toffs’ who went to Oxbridge.

    It was hilarious – private school and Oxbridge all the way.

  10. Moonbat’s parents should be suing his private school as it did not succeed in beating or buggering the fvckwittedness out of him.

  11. Ursula von der Leyen (incoming Big Boss of the European Commission) went to the same elite Brussels school for kids of eurocrats as Boris Johnson did. So really don’t think domination by a semi-hereditary elite is a UK issue only.

  12. See also: various “young leaders” schemes, “30 under 30” type power lists, young writer/artist/designer “talent” awards, maths/physics/informatics Olympiads for high schoolers and so on. Many people who are going to be Big Cheeses of the future can be identified quite early on – even before we get into the topic of whether intelligence / drive are genetic or whether family nurturing and connections are the happiest accidents of birth. So there’s a degree of circularity to this Oxbridge/Ivy League dominance.

    As “elite” institutions they benefit from hoovering up the next generation of potential Big Things, and they are at least somewhat identifiable early on. As BoM4 says I’m not convinced those unis play more than a marginal role in transforming and reshaping these people, in particular I can’t see how pleasant undergrad days in green courts and punts can give someone the megalomaniac or intensely self-centred levels of drive you need to sustain for years to get to the top of most greasy poles. In terms of finding other similar people who will join and help you on the way up, the networking of power that’s concentrated in an elite institution I can see. But abolish Oxbridge and they’d just congregate elsewhere instead. Even if you switched the higher education system to an egalitarian “everyone just goes to local uni” thing, they’d network outside the academic structures at political conferences or “young entrepreneur” conventions or whatever.

  13. ” I can’t see how pleasant undergrad days in green courts and punts can give someone the megalomaniac or intensely self-centred levels of drive you need to sustain for years to get to the top of most greasy poles.”
    You don’t think the teaching at universities might have an influence?
    If it was purely meglomania & intensely self-centred levels of drive you’d expect a variety of intellectual viewpoints to be coming out of Oxbridge. So why do they feed an overwhelmingly socially liberal, interventionist elite? You only have to read some of the stuff in the Graun written by faculty members to come to the conclusion they’re largely taught by the barking insane.

  14. The usual chutzpah from members of the tribe, experts at misdirection as they are. Strangely, in this case, George is a member of both the unmentionable tribe and the tribe at which he points and shrieks. It’s all so insufferably tiresome.

  15. Since good old Sir Alec, how many of our PMs had the bulk of their secondary education at a private school and then went to Oxbridge?

    Wilson no
    Heath no
    Callaghan no
    Thatcher no
    Major no
    Blair yes
    Brown no
    Cameron yes
    May no
    Boris yes

    I suppose 30% isn’t the proportion that the writer had in mind: have I missed anyone out?

  16. Mind you, of the three who scored “yes” I thought Blair a despicable and disastrous PM, I didn’t take to Cameron at all, and for Boris it’s too early to say. Whereas amongst the “no”s … actually it comes down to only Thatcher being impressive. And the longer she’s been gone the more impressive she seems to me.

    But I’ll admit that Brown was a much less bad PM than he was a Chancellor of the Exchequer.

    Of the ten, they score Oxford 7, Edinburgh 1, and no uni 2. So the problem might seem to be specifically with Oxford, or rather with the type of people who choose to go there. But then Thatcher is the counter-example. It’s hard to say much decisive about such small samples.

  17. The issue is not with the elite being educated as such, in any job you want the best and in most cases a better education gets you the best.

    What is actually the issue is how these educated elite are selected and pruned down into the current batch of candidates, and this is done by the party political process. Anyone can stand for parliament, but let’s be honest, you wont get far unless you are a member of one of the main political parties, regardless of your educational background.

    The “unrepresentative” part of the argument applies to this process, there is nothing else stopping candidates from entering parliament, whatever education they have had.

    Exclusive political parties are the carpetbaggers of democracy, corrupting the original de Montfort ideology.

  18. Ah bloody ha! But Thatch read Chemistry at Oxford so perhaps she’s not “really” Oxford at all? Too many hours in the lab, you see.

    Have we ever had a PM who read Natural Sciences at Cambridge, or Medicine, or Vet, or Engineering? Indeed, apart from La Thatcheronata have we ever had a PM who knew one end of a molecule from the other?

  19. I seem to recall seeing stats on an extraordinary dominance of Eton and Christ Church Oxford. The latter, iirc, having produced something like 15 PMs.

    Then of course there’s the disastrous PPE degree, a degree which seems to be targeted at self-important, monstrously opinionated youngsters and which encourages them to believe they are the sophisticated masters of the future.

  20. Bom4

    I’ll be knocking on doors to try to stop Corbyn getting in, and it’ll be me and at most, 20 people from the local party. Labour are similar, Lib Dems a little smaller. Is it any wonder that I got asked if I’d be interested in being a parish councillor after a few months, when there’s only 20 people doing it (I wasn’t interested, I’ll do it when I’m semi-retired).

    I think you might be underestimating Labour. I’ve just been listening to the Tribune magazine’s podcast and they talked to a full time staff member at the Momentum office. They sound really organised and if you’re in one of their target seats you’re going to be inundated for the last 2 weeks of the election. They’re already coordinating students and workers taking a week off to campaign and their databases sound up to stuff.

    On the subject of canvassing, I was thinking of going down to Plymouth to help Johnny Mercer but then I thought: Who am I to tell the people of Plymouth who to vote for. If it was me and an outsider came knocking on my door I’d tell them where to get off and not vote for them out of spite. Listening to Momentum I might be tempted to volunteer if they target his seat.

    (The Tory here gets 50%+ here. Even in their worst year, ’97, they got 45% so no need to waste my time. Plus he’s a twat.)

  21. Thatch went on to work in industrial food chemistry, so at a push I’d claim her as an Engineer as well. How many PMs (or even MPs) have we had who were science-based engineers?

  22. How many PMs, for that matter, did more than a few years’ work before becoming MPs?

    I mean, seriously. Is it just me, or does life kick the stuffing out of you? Is it just me, or are you different at 45 from what you were at 25?

    The idea of some callow twerp of 27 becoming an MP is surely an abomination….

  23. The idea of some callow twerp of 27 becoming an MP is surely an abomination….

    Elected by 16-year-old who thinks he’s old and wise.

  24. “I mean, seriously. Is it just me, or does life kick the stuffing out of you? Is it just me, or are you different at 45 from what you were at 25?

    The idea of some callow twerp of 27 becoming an MP is surely an abomination….”

    I keep saying, the last people we should allow to become MPs are the people who want to be MPs in their 20s and 30s. People who want to be MPs at that age are (at best) arseholes, more likely cunts, and also undoubtedly suffering from sociopathic tendencies. They should be kept away from positions of power at all costs.

    Whats needed is to let life grind down the full of themselves shits who go to Oxford and read PPE and think they know it all, and also let life have enough time to show those people who didn’t come out of school thinking they should be a master of the universe that they also might have something to offer society as well. And by age 50 each of these personality types might be more rounded individuals, and we might get a better class of politician.

  25. @dearieme November 7, 2019 at 4:36 pm

    In the docu about Mrs Thatcher’s rise to power Edward Heath was talking with a snob (Geoffrey Palmer)

    Snob: I trust you will stop her, we can’t have a grocer’s daughter leading us; dear God, a grocer’s daughter

    Heath: Of course you can trust me, I’m a carpenter’s son

  26. The heir to the heir to the throne married a girl whose background isn’t much different from being a grocer’s daughter. She’s a much better bet than his Ma, an aristocrat’s daughter, or the wife of his bruv, a Hollywoodite.

  27. Two points – first would you prefer to have government dominated by the brightest of the bright who went to Oxford and Cambridge or the dullards who attended Murphy’s classes at Islington polytechnic?
    Second. the numbers of idiots like Moonbat who quivered and curled up and cried when some lout bullied them was a trivial percentage of public school boys. There were far more working class louts trying (unsuccessfully) to bully me when I was living at home than when I was at boarding school (in the latter case one, who was on a means-tested bursary). I knew all about bullying and how to fight back before I was eight – actually I was starting to forget by the time I was eight having moved out of a mining area when I was not-quite-seven.

  28. “Two points – first would you prefer to have government dominated by the brightest of the bright who went to Oxford and Cambridge or the dullards who attended Murphy’s classes at Islington polytechnic?”

    Thats a ‘if you want to reform the NHS you must be in favour of the US system of healthcare’ type argument, ie ignores the entire middle for the two extremes.

    There’s also the point that intellectualism is not the same thing as wisdom.

  29. Bullying, john77? My parents sent me to primary school wearing clogs. I’ve believed in deterrence ever since.

  30. ““My kids are all at Oxford…”
    God help ’em.
    More to the point. God help us.”

    Why? They’re politically sound. You can abandon these places to the left but it doesn’t seem to me to make much sense to do so.

  31. ÉNA is a post-graduate school with 80-90 students per year – vastly smaller than Oxbridge, and there just aren’t enough Énarques to dominate everything the way that Oxbridge graduates do.

    Sure, they dominate the top levels of the civil service and politics, but not the media or major businesses – British CEOs (of existing businesses, not so much founders) tend to be Oxbridge graduates, and the media is completely dominated by Oxbridge.

  32. Sure, they dominate the top levels of the civil service and politics, but not the media or major businesses

    The Frogs have other Grandes Écoles for that purpose – the Polytechnique, the ENS and its many offshoots, etc.

  33. @ Jim
    I should have thought the lower extreme was a school for children with severe learning difficulties, but I haven’t actually studied the intellectual qualities of Murphy’s stuents

  34. There are 45,000 people at the Oxbridge universities. Half of them post-graduates. That’s not exactly a small pool.

    If your two biggest, best universities didn’t dominate then they’re doing something wrong.

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