Patrician we-know-best

Definition of patrician

1 : a member of one of the original citizen families of ancient Rome


a : a person of high birth : aristocrat

one of the most nobly born of English patricians —Sam Schulman

b : a person of breeding and cultivation

a tall patrician … who looked as if she was accustomed to serving on boards and making important decisions —J. A. Michener


As I mentioned earlier the British, and particularly the English, have this “patrician” we-know-best attitude and it still pervades today. We know what is best for Johnny foreigner especially if they are barbaric and coloured. We will learn ‘em our ways and civilize them, maybe we will chuck in a few railway lines and some plumbing. Just so long as there is some profit in it for us.

There is a tendency for the “great and the good” to gather around the campfire and make decisions about mere mortals, thence to present the decision to said mortal as a fait accompli, “we have decided” or even “it was decided”. I have sat on a number of committees like this in the past, so I know the game, a bit.

I have had a multidisciplinary team discuss my cancer case and come to decisions in which I was in no way involved or consulted. “It was decided that you won’t get chemotherapy.”

I have sat in psychiatric case reviews where a vast team of “professionals” surround the patient and act as judge and jury on them. I was advocate and suspect at the same time. To say that these are intimidating for someone already anxious, is to understate. “This person needs to be sectioned.”

I have sat on finals results committees which decide the fate, the degree class, of students. Again, I was advocate on behalf. “Freddy is one mark shy of a first-class degree but was on an upward trajectory so we shall award Freddy a first. And besides he had a heart-lung transplant in his second year, so he deserves it.”

We love this kind of shit where we get to administer our patrician wisdom, apply and enforce it without inclusion or proper consultation. Why do we do this? Well it is because we know best.

It never occurs to the patrician committee that they are in any way being excluding. It simply does not register. Why would we need extra opinions, when we already know best and besides we are God-like in our wisdom.

Having cued this up:

Have I ever inflicted or tried to inflict this we-know-best on any other beings?

On what basis did I/ we arrive at the conclusion of perfect knowledge and understanding?

Did I/we imagine that we were actually being inclusive?