Today, the term courtesan has become a euphemism to designate an escort or a prostitute, especially one who attracts wealthy clients.
Apart from their self-assurance, the most common characteristics of our elites are cynicism, rhetoric and the worship of both ambition and power. These were also the characteristics of eighteenth-century courtesans. The assumption is that the world-weary-cynicism demonstrates intellectual superiority. In reality it indicates neither intelligence, experience nor accuracy. If anything, it demonstrates mediocrity and an inability to profit from experience. To be world-weary is to be willing to go on repeating old mistakes. p.580
I am invariably struck when dealing with members of our elites by their profound pessimism. Above all, they are pessimistic about the human character. They consider it unlikely that the average individual will work hard enough or recognize beauty or vote for the best policies or even obey in a suitable manner. They take as a given that this individual cannot or will not understand the complexities of whatever responsibilities fate has thrust upon someone who has expertise and power. p. 582
– from the chapter, The Virtue of Doubt, Voltaire’s Bastards, John Ralston Saul
[O]ur élite is primarily and increasingly managerial. A managerial élite manages. A crisis, unfortunately, requires thought. Thought is not a management function.
– Reflections of a Siamese Twin