For admission to top U.S universities, “privilege awareness has become an essential competence,” Bovy argues. “An otherwise qualified applicant who demonstrates unchecked privilege is suddenly out of the running.” The trouble is that students who are truly disadvantaged are precisely those less inclined to declare their vulnerability. “Meanwhile, the students socialized to view themselves as deserving of special help tend to be .?.?. privileged.” This is an example of Bovy’s true beef with the privilege critique — that it exacerbates existing inequalities while offering the powerful the means to assuage their guilt. “I’ve never quite sorted out by what mechanism awareness of privilege is meant to inspire a desire to shed oneself of it,” she writes.
Daily Archive: March 27, 2017
For all its merits, democracy has always had a weakness: on any detailed piece of policy, the typical voter — I include myself here — does not understand what is really at stake and does not care to find out. This is not a slight on voters. It is a recognition of our common sense. Why should we devote hours to studying every policy question that arises? We know the vote of any particular citizen is never decisive. It would be a deluded voter indeed who stayed up all night revising for an election, believing that her vote would be the one to make all the difference.
So voters are not paying close attention to the details. That might seem a fatal flaw in democracy but democracy has coped. The workaround for voter ignorance is to delegate the details to expert technocrats. Technocracy is unfashionable these days; that is a shame.
One advantage of a technocracy is that it constrains politicians who are tempted by narrow or fleeting advantages. Multilateral bodies such as the World Trade Organization and the European Commission have been able to head off popular yet self-harming behaviour, such as handing state protection to which ever business has the best lobbyists.