The rise of today’s Clerisy stems from the growing power and influence of its three main constituent parts: the creative elite of media and entertainment, the academic community, and the high-level government bureaucracy.

The Clerisy operates on very different principles than its rival power brokers, the oligarchs of finance, technology or energy. The power of the knowledge elite does not stem primarily from money, but in persuading, instructing and regulating the rest of society. Like the British Clerisy or the old church-centered French First Estate, the contemporary Clerisy increasingly promotes a single increasingly parochial ideology and, when necessary, has the power to marginalize, or excommunicate, miscreants from the public sphere.

Of course, every society needs a clerical class, to instruct the young and maintain cultural standards. But in the past, at least in modern America, they tended to be a tolerance for fairly disparate views. Today’s Clerisy, by contrast, is increasingly homogeneous in its beliefs- despite pockets of conservative power such as the Heritage Foundation and most notably the media empire controlled by the Murdoch family.

The modern Clerisy’s homogeneity springs from their social conditioning. Educated along similar ideological lines at major universities, they tend to be geographically concentrated in wealthy, “progressive” places, where few dissent from the prevailing worldview. As such they breathe, as analyst Walter Russell Mead suggests, “within a cocoon.” Inside their urban cocoons they operate from a thoroughly internalized set of progressive tropes on such issues as the environment, urbanism, gender and race. In practical terms, such as in their support of President Obama and the Democratic Party, they are both broadly allied with centers of power and influence, much as the clergy was in Medieval and early modern times.