Led by a class of omnipotent central bankers, experts have gained extraordinary political power. Will a populist backlash shatter their technocratic dream?
Two decades ago, in his final and posthumous book, the American cultural critic Christopher Lasch went after contemporary experts. “Elites, who define the issues, have lost touch with the people,” he wrote. “There has always been a privileged class, even in America, but it has never been so dangerously isolated from its surroundings.” These criticisms presciently anticipated the rise of Davos Man – the rootless cosmopolitan elite, unburdened by any sense of obligation to a place of origin, its arrogance enhanced by the conviction that its privilege reflects brains and accomplishment, not luck and inheritance. To survive these inevitable resentments, elites will have to understand that they are not beyond politics – and they will have to demonstrate the skill to earn the public trust, and preserve it by deserving it. Given the alternative, we had better hope that they are up to it.