Why we stopped trusting elites

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The mess we are in is not because we ‘stopped trusting elites.’

It is because we had wholesale trust in ‘elites’ to begin with.

“After all, the very core of liberal democracy is the idea that a small group of people – politicians – can represent millions of others.” 

I say bullshit. Plain and simple.

We had a system. One that worked. It was generally called ‘the social contract.’ It stipulated that the ‘system,’ whether the government or business or taxes, took care of those who needed taking care of and those who did not need ‘taking care’ of used some of their resources to make sure that everyone lived a decent life. 

But then something happened.

The ‘elites’ decided that they did not want to pay for everyone else. Why should they pay for road repairs of people who could not afford to do so themselves? Why should they cover medical expenses or college tuition or making sure a mother had enough money to buy food for her newborn? 

So screw this notion that we ‘failed the elites.’

They knew exactly what they were doing. 

This is their mess, not the ones who could not afford to pay for change.

And no, there is no turning back. Not when the choice is between pubic well-being and profits.

James Porteous

29 November 2018 | William Davies | The Guardian

For hundreds of years, modern societies have depended on something that is so ubiquitous, so ordinary, that we scarcely ever stop to notice it: trust. The fact that millions of people are able to believe the same things about reality is a remarkable achievement, but one that is more fragile than is often recognised.

At times when public institutions – including the media, government departments and professions – command widespread trust, we rarely question how they achieve this. And yet at the heart of successful liberal democracies lies a remarkable collective leap of faith: that when public officials, reporters, experts and politicians share a piece of information, they are presumed to be doing so in an honest fashion.

The notion that public figures and professionals are basically trustworthy has been integral to the health of representative democracies. After all, the very core of liberal democracy is the idea that a small group of people – politicians – can represent millions of others.

If this system is to work, there must be a basic modicum of trust that the small group will act on behalf of the much larger one, at least some of the time. As the past decade has made clear, nothing turns voters against liberalism more rapidly than the appearance of corruption: the suspicion, valid or otherwise, that politicians are exploiting their power for their own private interest.

This isn’t just about politics. In fact, much of what we believe to be true about the world is actually taken on trust, via newspapers, experts, officials and broadcasters. While each of us sometimes witnesses events with our own eyes, there are plenty of apparently reasonable truths that we all accept without seeing. In order to believe that the economy has grown by 1%, or to find out about latest medical advances, we take various things on trust; we don’t automatically doubt the moral character of the researchers or reporters involved.

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