Arethusa considers the decline of what she calls amateurism in intellectual endeavor in recent decades — what we also might think of as the work of “independent scholars”, outside the traditional, orthodox academic setting (think Schliemann or the backyard astronomer who discovers something new Out There.) She further contends that scholarship is poorer for this lack of “outsider” perspectives, and FLG notes in the comments that these perspectives may be a strong source of surprising advances in an increasingly homogeneous intellectual world.
This led me to an observation that is about as far from new as one can get, but since I believe in eternal verities anyway, what the heck? Just as intellectual fields can stagnate in the closed circle of the academic guild system, so can the rise of the Codevillian ruling class result in a closed circle that is incapable of conceiving ideas and solutions beyond their own homogenized experiences. I would suggest that our current government’s progress from amateur citizen-legislators to mandarinate bureaucracy (No offense, O Dread One) entails a narrowing of possible perspectives that blocks out ideas that don’t come from members of the Club. (At this point, Morgan is glancing at a picture of Palin and nodding vigorously.)
Now there are some who would point out that we wouldn’t want to trust ourselves to an amateur neurosurgeon — and they would be right. However, I don’t recall a claim that neurosurgeons are supposed to represent us, so frankly I think the analogy fails. I do believe, however, that the political class has a vested interest in making what they do seem as mysterious as possible, in order to create themselves as priests of a State-as-religion, in which we are to live, move, and have our being.
I guess that makes me a heretic — but then heresy is what amateurs tend to do, until we discover like Schliemann that Troy was there all along.