Happy New Year Over Produced Elites

Before diving into Rauch’s new book, I have to point out some interesting new year’s eve blog comments.


Scott Alexander’s links for December includes a tweet about the problem with highly educated people (#22). Freddie deBoer comments that he is obsessed with Peter Turchin’s concept of elite over production. Scott replies by distinguishing actual elites from want-to-be elites. Freddie replies by highlighting the unfocused rage and frustration in young people today. There are many other ‘well this is what I think’ comments but the last one from a fellow lawyer caught my attention.

Walter Sobchak points out that Turchin’s idea is not new. Joseph Schumpter’s Capitalism, Socialism and Democracy (1942) is the same idea. The success of capitalism fosters values hostile to it. Intellectuals develop critiques of social matters for which they are not directly responsible. They try to stand up for a strata to which they themselves do not belong. Elites develop critical ideas against free markets and private property even though these are the institutions that allow them to exist. I wrote of elite over production here on 12/1/20 and believe the crux of today’s crisis is that Elites are ensconced in luxury distal beliefs – they have no stake in the truth of them.

Elite over production is not a newly discovered phenomenon. Schumpter taught us in the 1940’s that our educational system will eventually produce far too many educated people for the amount of challenging mental work to be done. Failing to reach their potential, elites turn against the system.

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