An elite is a small group of powerful people in political and sociological theory, such as an oligarchy, that controls a disproportionate amount of wealth or political power in society. This group holds a superior position among the ordinary people and exercises greater privilege than the rest of the population.
- The State is a political abstraction, a hierarchical institution by which a privileged elite strives to dominate the vast majority of people. The State’s mechanisms include a group of institutions containing legislative assemblies, the civil service bureaucracy, the military and police forces, the judiciary and prisons, and the subcentral State apparatus. The government is the administrative vehicle to run the State. The purpose of this specific set of institutions which are the expressions of authority in capitalist societies (and so-called “Socialist states”), is the maintenance and extension of domination over the common people by a privileged class, the rich in Capitalist societies, the so-called Communist party in State Socialist or Communist societies like the former Union of Soviet Socialist Republics. However, the State itself is always an elitist position structure between the rules and the ruled order-givers and order-takers, and economic haves and have-nets. The State’s elite is not just the rich and the super-rich, but also those persons who assume State positions of authority — politicians and juridical officials. Thus the State bureaucracy itself, in terms of its relation to ideological property, can become an elite class in its own right. This administrative elite class of the State is developed not just the through dispensing of privileges by the economic elite, but as well by the separation of private and public life — the family unit and civil society respectively — and by the opposition between an individual family and the larger society. It is sheer opportunism, brought on by Capitalist competition and alienation. It is a breeding ground for agents of the State.
- The institution of Capitalist property, moreover, permits a minority of the population to control and to regulate access to, and the use of all socially produced wealth and natural resources. You have to pay for the land, water, and the fresh air to some giant utility company or real estate firm.
- But there were a few human beings who gradually, through the process of invention and experiment, built and operated, first, local river and bay, next, along-shore, then off-shore rafts, dugouts, grass [sic], and outrigger sailing canoes. Finally, they developed voluminous rib-bellied fishing vessels, and thereby ventured out to sea for progressively longer periods. Developing ever larger and more capable ships, the seafarers eventually were able to remain for months on the high seas. Thus, these venturers came to live normally at sea. This led them inevitably into world-around, swift, fortune - producing enterprise. Thus they became the first world men.
The men who were able to establish themselves on the oceans had also to be extraordinarily effective with the sword upon both land and sea. They had also to have great anticipatory vision, great ship designing capability, and original scientific conceptioning, mathematical skill in navigation and exploration techniques for coping in fog, night, and storm with the invisible hazards of rocks, shoals, and currents. The great sea venturers had to be able to command all the people in their dry land realm order to commandeer the... skills necessary to produce their large, complex ships. [...] There were very few of these top power men. But as they went on their sea ventures they gradually found that the waters interconnected all the world’s people and lands [...] these very few masters of the water world became incalculably rich and powerful.
- These hard, powerful, brilliantly resourceful sea masters had to sleep occasionally, and therefore found it necessary to surround themselves with super-loyal, muscular but dull-brained illiterates who could not see nor savvy their masters’ stratagems. There was great safety in the mental dullness of these henchmen. The Great Pirates realized that the only people who could possibly contrive to displace them were the truly bright people. For this reason their number-one strategy was secrecy. If the other powerful pirates did not know where you were going, nor when you had gone, nor when you were coming back, they would not know how to waylay you. If anyone knew when you were coming home, “small-timers” could come out in small boats and waylay you in the dark and take you over–just before you got home tiredly after a two-year treasure-harvesting voyage. Thus hijacking and second-rate piracy became a popular activity around the world’s shores and harbors. Thus secrecy became the essence of the lives of the successful pirates; ergo, how little is known today of that which I am relating.
- It is better to be a total failure in democracy than a martyr or the crème de la crème in tyranny.
- The whole notion of the free market, laissez-faire capitalism, globalization is a very thin rationale for unmitigated greed by a tiny oligarchic elite. And they have made sure that that ideology is taught in universities across the country. And people, especially economists, who deviate from that ideology have been pushed aside, and become pariahs. And yet the driving ethos of that ideology is really to justify the hoarding of immense amounts of wealth by a very tiny percentage of the upper ruling class.
- People with advantages are loath to believe that they just happen to be people with advantages. They come readily to define themselves as inherently worthy of what they possess; they come to believe themselves 'naturally' elite, and, in fact, to imagine their possessions and their privileges as natural extensions of their own elite selves.
- C. Wright Mills, The Power Elite (1956), p. 14
- More and more, I tune out when I see the word "elites," regarding it as a lazy Marxist slur, from both Left and Right. I still use it, when I believe it is absolutely the right word. But more and more, it makes me say, "Bye."
- I came to understand how organized governments used their concentrated power to retard progress by their ever-ready means of silencing the voice of discontent if raised in vigorous protest against the machinations of the scheming few, who always did, always will and always must rule in the councils of nations where majority rule is recognized as the only means of adjusting the affairs of people. I came to understand that such concentrated power can be always wielded in the interest of the few and at the expense of the many. Government in its last analysis is this power reduced to a science. Governments never lead; they follow progress.
- The practice of democracy has the notorious tendency to become paradoxical. It begins in the name of the "demos" but goes on to construct the demos rather narrowly; oftentimes, sections of the population manage to ensconce themselves as "the people", they count as the public, their ideas masquerade as the people's ideas. This inevitably produces a layered citizenry.
- We should be alarmed when members of the ruling class start pleading with us to take sides with them against the 'elite': one section of the elite calling for us to oppose the elite.
See also edit
|Social and political philosophy|
|Ideologies||Anarchism • Authoritarianism • Capitalism • Collectivism • Colonialism • Communism • Confucianism • Conservatism • Elitism • Environmentalism • Fascism • Imperialism • Individualism • Liberalism • Libertarianism • Marxism • Nationalism • Republicanism • Social constructionism • Social democracy • Socialism • Totalitarianism • Utilitarianism|
|Concepts||Authority • Duty • Elite • Emancipation • Freedom • Government • Hegemony • Hierarchy • Justice • Law • Monopoly • Natural law • Norms • Obedience • Peace • Pluralism • Power • Propaganda • Property • Revolution • Rights • Ruling class • Social contract • Society • State • Utopia • War|
|Government||Aristocracy • Autocracy • Bureaucracy • Dictatorship • Democracy • Meritocracy • Monarchy • Oligarchy • Plutocracy • Technocracy • Theocracy|