Studying the Elites
Social elites are part of every human (and some other non-human) society on earth. Some people claw their way to the top, imagining they deserve or need more than others. They are aggressive and greedy. Others become very wealthy and think they are “fresas” (snobs, upper class, strawberry-eaters), but they simply have a lot of money and remain un-cultured and/or without any socially redeeming values (eg. generosity, compassion).
Some people, like my beloved Bertie Wooster (of Jeeves and Wooster fame [author: P.G. Wodehouse]), are born to the upper class position. They remain quite untouchable and unmovable when it comes to changing social class division. They are totally oblivious (usually) to the perks of rank. They have no other view or experience of life. The fact that I love these artifacts of upper class life reveals my fresa (snob) side.
I was born into a very low social position, that of the orphan. I was adopted and raised in the middle class (with some upper-middle class friends, like my best friend, Jane Britton) by working class parents. In addition, my adoptive parents were social outcasts in the USA thanks to World Wars I and II. Mom and her large, first-generation, German-American family were cursed on the streets of Roxbury, Massachusetts as children during WW I. Dad, with his clear German accent and strange, Nazi-type (probably defensive) walk, was shunned since he entered the US in 1922.
I am autistic (sometimes called Asperger Syndrome) which gave me a particular perspective, which was unrecognized as an inherited gift until I self-diagnosed it (thanks to the chapter on Temple Grandin in Oliver Sach’s book An Anthropologist On Mars) when I was in my 40s.
All of these unrealized (at the time) benefits have allowed me to create myself as an independent, autonomous American Traveller-Gypsy (according to Judith Okely’s definition in The Traveller-Gypsies). My informal studies of social elites have helped me to further clarify my social role, since I realized at a very young age (thanks to Dad’s prejudice against that class of fresas and the Britton’s occasional obvious elitism) that I am not one of them. Now that I’m older and wiser, I am glad to be who I am. I have no desire to be one of the elites, and, while I cannot spiritually condemn them as evil individuals, I do recognize the evils inherent in any group which dominates and suppresses the masses.
The local elites slouch into the Ojai Coffee Roasting Company every morning to trade news and views. Those who wish to rub shoulders with them gather like vultures around them. The conversation, attitudes and activities of the privileged class interest me.
My constant rejection by this group of elites EVERYWHERE I’ve ever travelled is based on two things: first, my appearance and behavior (which is, as I’ve said, half naco), and second, my obvious disinclination to become one of their flock. Now, I study and critique the elites.
In a Los Angeles Times’, front page article today, Brazil’s highly socially stratified society was described as making changes that European society made one hundred years ago. The elites are being faced with lessening social power to virtually enslave their household help. The lower classes are asserting themselves; women (who are always the majority of household helpers as cleaners and nannies) are gaining social power. The elites hate this and are fighting it, but the trend toward becoming more like American society (as the article stated) is irreversible. The elites want to be served.
The Ojai Coffee Roasting Company and indeed much of Ojai is frequented these days by rich, social elites. These people use the most natural resources in any society.
In The Last Of the Wild Horses (2005) by Martin Harbury (preface by Richard Adams), the author describes feral horses as, by and large, the same thing as wild horses. Feral horses are not used by and not beneficial to humans. Feral “means simply that their domestic ancestors escaped the bonds of civilization and became wild.” Harbury goes on to say that “We have rendered it impossible for (wild/feral horses) to live in splendid isolation, maintaining a romanticized and somehow independent existence far apart. They have become, through our deprivations, our responsibility.” This is almost exactly how Okely (and other authors who study and write about Gypsies, like Michael Stewart) describes Gypsies in England: they were native English people who chose to drop out of society rather than serve the masters as part of the proletariat, and they became travellers.
Wild Horses in the world:
Asia (formerly in Mongolia, now being bred in captivity): Przewalskis)
British Isles: Exmoor, Dartmoor, New Forest, Irish Connemaras, Dales, Fells; in rural Wales: Mountain Ponies; in Northern Scotland and the off-shore islands: Highland Ponies; on the Shetland Islands: Shetland Ponies.
Camargue (Southern France): White Horses
USA, West: Mustangs
A year or so ago, I wrote a “confession” revealing to many of my closest acquaintances my worst transgression during my life. It was a terrible thing that I did. I let it go, partly for the person I hurt and partly for me. Now, I feel really cleansed, healed, transformed and free. I walk around now with a free heart and a spiritual awareness that I didn’t have when I was full of guilt and self-loathing.
Where are the US mountain lions located:
California and Texas: c. 6,000 in each state
Oregon: c. 5,000
Arizona: c. 3,000
New Mexico, Colorado and Texas: cattle ranchers sell permits for hunting lions on their private lands.
My recent trip through the Western Caribbean, South America, Central America and Mexico was notable in that it took me, rather than me taking it. At some point, the trip grew so intense, I had to surrender to it. That is, I think, a wonderful thing.
What is HOME to me? A tent, out in the woods, by fresh water (not the ocean), no kitchen or bathroom.
I have been calling on Pachamama to protect me every night. In the morning, I call on my spirit guides to help me through the day. Last night Pachamama guided me to Paradise. She told me that South America is my spiritual home. I was helping kitties and just helping (every Sentient Being) in general. It was a wonderful dream.
I understand that waking life can never be Paradise. Waking life is where we come to learn and grow. I once read this: you cannot spiritualize matter (the material world/waking life), but you can materialize the spirit (or make the spiritual felt in the material/physical reality). This is so true.
I am collecting male FRIENDS (not lovers). What a great change! I think my Aspie nervous system had/has a role in my occasionally overactive, sexual appetite.
Last night a mockingbird sang for hours near my tent. It sang so long and so steadily that, at one point during the concert, I half woke up and laughed at myself for thinking it was a real bird singing. I knew it was someone playing a recording. Then, this morning, the mockingbird was still singing, and I realized that, yes, it was a real bird, singing its amazing compilation of other birds’ songs all night long. When the other birds woke up and began to sing their one liners, the mockingbird retired for the day.
“Mockingbirds are a group of New World passerine birds from the Mimidae family. They are best known for the habit of some species mimicking the songs of other birds and the sounds of insects and amphibians, often loudly and in rapid succession.”
Making the transition out of the social class system in the US or just out of one’s own class is a dangerous enterprise. Many social guardians (both formal and informal) tried to block my way; many people resent those of us who buck the system.
Ojai is a real health center these days. It’s a wonderful town to return to after a long, city-heavy trip. Here I can camp and be outside in nature, walk a lot, go to the gym, and do yoga. Stretching in public is not looked upon as a sign of insanity as it is in much of the world (at least in those places where I’ve travelled).
USA = 800,000 Black Bears (black bears only live in the US)
Grizzly Bears = Alaska, USA and Canada
Kodiak Bears = Alaska
Polar Bears = Alaska, Canada, Greenland, Norway
Brown Bears = Alaska
I want to spend half the year living in warm, dry climates, in a tent, out in nature (close to the wilderness of National Forests and National Parks). No bathroom. No kitchen.
I figure these places are good for this way of life:
1.) Ojai, California (mid-March through mid-October);
2.) much of the rest of California (not south of Ventura, but north of San Francisco);
3.) Alaska (summer).
During the rest of the year, I will travel outside the US.
IN THE NAME OF KNOWLEDGE
Ojai, California (this little town I’ve spent time in almost every year since 1968) is such a Ship Of Fools: the very wealthy people control the town and constantly threaten others (especially those from other social groups) with dominance posturing of all kinds (physical stances, material possessions, private property, etc.).
Today at the Ojai Coffee Roasting Company, I read an OP-ED article in the Los Angeles Times (pg. A21). Here are a few exerpts:
“They aren’t like the rest of us.” OP-ED article in today’s Los Angeles Times. “If the concerns of the wealthy carry special weight in government–as an increasing body of social scientific evidence suggests–such extreme differences between their views and those of other Americans could significantly skew policy away from what a majority of the country would prefer. Our Survey of Economically Successful Americans* was an attempt to begin to shed light on both the viewpoints and the political reach of the very wealthy.” (*”…one of the first studies to systematically examine the political attitudes of wealthy Americans.” See my notes [later today or tomorrow] on Robert Coles’ US studies and the problems inherent in studying the rich. Hint: they hate to be studied; they don’t want their lives revealed.)
Almost half of these top 1% “recently initiated contact with a US senator or representative, and nearly half (44%) of those contacts concerned matters of relatively narrow economic self-interest rather than broader national concerns.” The very wealthy want (instead of taxes on the rich) to cut Social Security and entitlement programs to balance the budget.
The wealthy “tend to be well-educated, well-informed and committed to charitable giving…” (Note: this study was small and all were from Chicago.)
“A larger-scale national study is needed to pin down more precisely the views of wealthy Americans about public policy. We need to understand how they formed the preferences thy have,* and how wealthy people from different regions, industries, and social backgrounds differ in their political views and behavior. We also need to understand more about their political clout.” (*Thacher School, where I lived [and where my ex-husband taught] from 1968 to the end of 1973 is a perfect example of the kind of nest in which wealthy kids grow up; my ex-husband went on to teach at another elitist prep school, Robert Louis Stevenson in Pebble Beach, California.)
If the influence of the top 1% is far greater and their ideas are very different from other Americans (“ordinary people”), is the US becoming (or is it already) an oligarchy?
Some differences between he rich and the rest of the US population are explained by “differences in economic experiences and self-interest.” For example, they are not dependent on Social Security. (I live totally on my Social Security [actually my “disability” income from Social Security].) They have never received food stamps.
Note: how do Gypsies and Travellers fit into this country’s stew of domination of the 99% by the very wealthy people? The Gypsy music group Gogol Bordello write: “Revolution is internal, evolution isn’t over/is preparing a surprise… Rise the knowledge, rise. Purification fire is coming.”
The authors of this L.A. Times article are Benjamin I. Page, who teaches political science at Northwestern University and co-authored the book “Class War? What Americans Really Think About Economic Inequality.” And Larry M. Bartels, professor of political science at Vanderbilt University and author of “Unequal Democracy: The Political Economy of the New Gilded Age.”
Privileged Ones: The well-off and the rich in America: Vol 5 Children of Crisis