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 Eminence Gris

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Eminence Gris   Mon 15 Sep 2014, 12:44

A hard core of policy influencers in UK is suggested by nordmann in the thread to which I will not return.

Could it be said that currently there is any such influence in the UK? I rather doubt it. 'Old families' no longer trade in inter marriage bonds that sustained links nor own as much as they once did - or appear to care much about what goes on. And of  the new rich the less said the better. But there still is a hidden had core of resilience fomented in the English  from under the cowpat country lovers to yobbo street horrors that when utterly forced to it, can rear up with a formidable strength. Thus if independence is gained then I rather fear it may errupt - and with class and party set aside - heels will dig in about what is shared out - regardless of any treaty.

Eminence gris there may still be - but where? Does the intellectual hold great sway any more? Have they ever? E.M. Forster was said to be one and I know of an Asian here who was and possibly is still. Is playing the great game still on? Or is chess beginning to lose its significance? A muddle of questions but currently I live in muddled times; a true and sad child of her times now at the failing end of her age span.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Eminence Gris   Mon 15 Sep 2014, 13:21

The trick to being a real eminence grise, at least when it comes to power, is not be so eminent at all. It has always been thus.

A good rule of thumb for starters might be to get your hands on the Eton roll books for the last seven or eight decades and then try a "where are they now?" type exercise. You can safely ignore the ones who went into politics but instead trace the trajectory of those who openly went into business related careers or "diplomacy" even though no public record of their diplomatic careers can be found.

The reason I state Eton (and not Harrow, Highgate or Hymers etc) is that Eton is now the only English public school which might be termed "global" in the same way that ENSTA (École Nationale Supérieure de Techniques Avancées ) operates regarding recruitment and where their graduates will be placed. Between the two of them they are responsible for a significant percentage of not only European but also world-wide senior corporate management appointees. When Harvard Business School is lumped in, then the percentage goes well into a majority, and not just in industrial and commercial institutions but also in "consultancies", "defence advisors" etc etc who between them all now collectively run the vast bulk of government policies throughout the world, at least those policies that matter (ie. the ones designed primarily to generate wealth for the interested parties that these institutions and cabals represent).

I wish you luck though.


Last edited by nordmann on Tue 16 Sep 2014, 08:10; edited 1 time in total
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Eminence Gris   Mon 15 Sep 2014, 18:49

Yes, it is the advisors that mould policy - but as far as the FO is concerned,  its handbook of current officers  when last glanced at that  had far fewer from Public schools than might be suspected. All serving grades abroad also have to do a 4 year stint on home-base 'desks.' My experience is that few have a really in depth knowledge of anywhere - and most just have a good time enjoying their posting. I have often been invited to small dinners for visiting 'specialists.' I can't recall one with a PS background - and some were deplorably ill informed about many things. On the other hand big money has big trug ropes, I know - but came across few of those but their top executives with whom I worked - and played - had varied backgrounds, and let's face it ability.  Oxbridge ties counted for more than school links. It has ever been who you know - my husband says that it helps towards fomenting trust although he himself always centered on ability over pull in recruitment to his outfit.
I guess ferv's pic of a landed and titled lot is the last of a ditch and mound heirachy whose days are numbered. They rise up again though from newer stock. As Jesus ought had said along with the poor, the rich are aways with us.

(PS Harrow also has set up schools abroad - at  Singapore  for instance.) 

As for quality advisors, whether there are quiet mentors from the academic world in useful place I know not.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Eminence Gris   Mon 15 Sep 2014, 19:38

@Priscilla wrote:
Oxbridge ties counted for more than school links.


Oh, Priscilla, Priscilla - there too there were/are the two nations: the rich kids and the grammar/comprehensive school kids, some of whom learnt/learn how to play the game - some of whom definitely didn't/don't. But learning the rules of the game does not mean you are ever really accepted as part of the team. That said, I've always been baffled by the rich kids - those "Cambridge spies" (especially Antony Blunt) -  who went over to the Marxists, but that's another story.

The Riot Club is not a particularly good film by all accounts - has anyone seen it?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aO9lXtXsLco


Interesting Guardian response here:

http://www.theguardian.com/film/2014/sep/15/the-riot-club-bullingdon-oxford-university-oxbridge-elitism


EDIT: One of the messages after the Guardian article says this:

There will be no change, no challenge to this mandarin class, until somehow measures such as the tiny number of working class people recruited to the Civil Service reflects better our society and its members' potential. In 2012 that was just 25 people out of 600 by the way. Those 25 should be made Permanent Secretaries at once.

I wonder if the numbers given by the poster are accurate. And how do we define "working class" these days - does he mean state-educated?
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Eminence Gris   Tue 16 Sep 2014, 08:04

@Priscilla wrote:
...but as far as the FO is concerned, its handbook of current officers when last glanced at that had far fewer from Public schools than might be suspected.

As I said - it is the "diplomats" who never set foot in the Foreign Office who interest me.

I also said that it is not the "public school" graduates one has to examine. They might be the beneficiaries of favouritism within a British context but that is a context which has long receded in terms of international importance. Eton however is a notable exception.
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Temperance
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PostSubject: Re: Eminence Gris   Wed 17 Sep 2014, 08:38

We seem to be talking about two different things here (my error): the elitism of the ancien regime (which nordmann seems to be suggesting is irrelevant these days), and the infiltration into the highest academic institutions of big-business interests. A different elite then, being trained for the reality of the 21st century, a new breed of eminences grises, noted for their hardness of head and heart as well as their intelligence (whatever intelligence means), driven only by economic interest, and for whom - as I mentioned over on the Elephant thread - concepts such integrity and duty and conscience are not only irrelevant, but the hallmarks of foolish, sentimental and out-dated thinking?

But wasn't it ever thus, whatever we may like to believe about "educated integrity"  and "quiet mentors" in the past?
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PostSubject: Re: Eminence Gris   Wed 17 Sep 2014, 09:11

PS I am reminded of a line from the Ralph Fiennes film mentioned over on the old Lawrence of Arabia thread (A Dangerous Man: Lawrence After Arabia) - that moment during the Paris Peace Conference when the truth dawns on Lawrence and he quietly observes: "This is all about oil, isn't it?"

And the likes of the supremely intelligent Gertrude Bell, a quiet mentor indeed who was an "adviser to kings" - would she be listened to today? Was she really listened to back then? Or rather, her advice having been listened to with interest and respect, was it nevertheless promptly ignored when her recommendations clashed with economic considerations?
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