More on The Metropolitan Elite and ‘experts’
Tom Nichols, a foreign policy analyst who specialises in Russian affairs has written a wise and comprehensive post in defence of the general status of ‘expert’. It is really worth reading — here.
There’s a big gap in his argument though. It ignores a lot of the political context around expertise.
In ‘Post-democracy’ Colin Crouch did a fine job of explaining the unbalanced debates and the lack of pluralism in modern capitalist societies. Working as distinct micro-economy, the policy community have evolved into a self-serving social caste. To reprise a point I made in an earlier post about The Metropolitan Elite, this is something that the public may actually grasp very clearly, while the policy community, with its inflated sense of how benign it is, doesn’t.
There’s the problem that experts have to solve. They are distrusted for two reasons – one of which they understand, and one that they seem incapable of acknowledging. The first is that we – the muggles – suspect them because our impatience with complexity melds with some very hard-wired human suspicions about how it is used to defraud us. The second reason is a broadly Marxist observation that most of us know that we only hear the sort of experts that are prepared to play along with the fiction that Mark Fisher described as Capitalist Realism.
Until professional analysts can address this second point, they may have to keep putting up with having ‘so called expert’ as a job-title.