To understand the possible implications of the new power arrangement, it is critical to understand the nature of the new clerisy. Unlike traditional capitalist power groups, including private-sector organized labor, the clerisy’s power derives not primarily through economic influence per se but through its growing power to inform opinion and regulate everything from how people live to what industries will be allowed to grow, or die.
The clerisy shares a kind of mission which Bell described as the rational “ordering of mass society.” Like the bishops and parish priests of the feudal past, or the public intellectuals, university dons and Anglican worthies of early 19th century Britain, today’s clerisy attempts to impart on the masses today’s distinctly secular “truths,” on issues ranging from the nature of justice, race and gender to the environment. Academics, for example, increasingly regulate speech along politically correct lines, and indoctrinate the young while the media shape their perceptions of reality.
Most distinctive about the clerisy is their unanimity of views. On campus today, there is broad agreement on a host of issues from gay marriage, affirmative action and what are perceived as “women’s” issues to an almost religious environmentalism that is contemptuous toward traditional industry and anything that smacks of traditional middle class suburban values. (italics mine)
Composers, artists, or architects in a compound began to have the instincts of the medieval clergy, much of whose activity was devoted exclusively to separating itself from the mob. For mob, substitute bourgeoise—and here you have the spirit of avant-gardism in the twentieth century. Once inside a compound, an artist became part of a clerisy, to use an old term for an intelligensia with clerical persumptions” (Tom Wolfe,From Bauhaus to Our House, p. 14).
I prefer ‘Hipster Clerisy’ and where do we start to look at this particular clerical class?*
XOXO Festival seems like a good place to start. Tech media darlings from 2012 to present, XOXO Festival held in a hipster church in Portland XOXO Fest tags itself as, “An experimental festival celebrating independently-produced art and technology.” Actually it’s a pretty standard conference featuring people talking with pitch decks behind them and larded with hipster bait such as: Portland! Free 3rd Wave coffee, artisanal BBQ and ice cream from a place called ‘Salt and Straw’. This is the conference for people who think TED has gone too populous.
I’m sure all that food is delicious.
From XOXO’s twitter feed look at all the diversity on display often found among the hipster clerisy. Some of these people even went to elite universities NOT on the East Coast. One guy has a tie (he makes up for it with a smart waistcoat).
Some of these people don’t even live in Brooklyn or the Bay Area!
How do we know these folks are ‘hipster clerisy’ Like pornography, you just know it when you see it.
Some of the speakers are certainly working on cool stuff. We know Kevin Kelly works on Cool Tools. Many of them are taste makers and early adopters. Is the clerical impulse for control present in this group? Is this an “intelligentsia with clerical presumptions.”? Is XOXO a representative face behind the anti-gamer crusade so trendy of late and other fronts on the culture wars?
Coming up shortly on Consumptionblog – #Gamergate, efficacy and message control. Music for your Throat Chakra! And much much more.
*just as there is more than one of everything, there is more of one clerical class in the US, the West and in other parts of the world where other people might live.