Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart

Source: Jacobin 04.01.2019 Have You Heard? Pete Buttigieg Is Really Smart

By Liza Featherstone

The recent craze for Pete Buttigieg — multilingual Rhodes Scholar and all-around smart guy — is just the latest incarnation of the meritocratic cult of “smartness.” It’s social Darwinism for elite liberals.

This notion of “smart” allows elites to recast inequality as meritocracy. In this narrative, you’re rich because you did well in high school and went to Princeton, not because capitalism has taken something from someone else and given it to you. Yet the culture of smart is not all smugness; it also contains a heavy dose of fear. The PMC understands that while it’s fun to brag about having a kid like BOOTedgeedge, it’s not optional (like, say, having a pet that can do weird tricks, a cat that can use a human toilet, for instance). In the neoliberal order, if you’re not born into the top 0.1 percent, you have to be “smart” and unusually talented and motivated, otherwise you will not only lose what privileges you have, but possibly not even survive. As New York Times columnist Tom Friedman once gleefully proclaimed, “Average is over.”

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