For This Winter of Violent Weather …
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FOR THIS WINTER OF TREACHEROUS POLITICS, incurable war, uncertain economics, and violent weather, Caveat Lector offers a small attempt to appease the wrath of the elements and the lunacies of our species with the one elite that republics of old have delighted in: that of the mind. Do I hear a few readers goggle at what I've just said? But surely they remember Athens, Rome, Florence, Venice, France….
    A personal (if not exactly a humble) opinion alert: "Democratic elitism" is, I believe, one of the few positive justifications for a democracy. I define "democratic elitism" as the allowance for the best - the most intellectually, morally and culturally alert - to rise in any field despite accidents of origin, and the republic of the mind

as the purest instance of such "elitism." For us Americans, other elites - of power and money, of vulgarity, self-deception, and fear (the eternal political pusillanimity and pious hypocrisies of the "American dream") - often trump other elites, whatever we pretend to honor, like fairness, honesty and love. But this begs the question: have we ever been a democracy in anything but name? Are we not rather a plutocracy of peculiar and broad-based efficiency?
    I keep waking up in the middle of the night, hearing a hissing sound, as of the sharpening of a guillotine's blade. A dream - and therefore, alas, wishful thinking.
    For the time being, followers of the mind's republic must console themselves with the reminders of the wild hope of an earthly paradise