Elitism is the belief or attitude that some individuals, who form an elite—a select group of people with a certain ancestry, intrinsic quality or worth, higher intellect, wealth, specialized training or experience, or other distinctive attributes—are those whose influence or authority is greater than that of others; whose views on a matter are to be taken the most seriously or carry the most weight; whose views or actions are most likely to be constructive to society as a whole; or whose extraordinary skills, abilities, or wisdom render them especially fit to govern. Alternatively, the term elitism may be used to describe a situation in which power is concentrated in the hands of a limited number of people.
- Only the mob and the elite can be attracted by the momentum of totalitarianism itself. The masses have to be won by propaganda.
- As soon as somebody or something stands out as excellent, the other shout goes up: 'Elitism!' And whatever produced that thing, whoever praises that result, is promptly put down. 'Standing out' is undemocratic.
- Hobbes’s psychology treated what he called vainglory as a pathological condition based on ignorance of man’s vulnerability, on unjustified confidence. This condition can, according to him, be cured by liberal doses of fear. One need only hear what is said today … to recognize how much of modernity is devoted to unmanning this disposition. Elitism is the catch-all epithet expressing our disapproval of the proud and the desire to be first. But, unsupported and excoriated, this part of the soul lives on, dwelling underground, receiving no sublimating education. As with all repressed impulses, it has its daily effects on personality and also occasionally bursts forth in various disguises and monstrous shapes. Much of modem history can be explained by the search of what Plato called spiritedness for legitimate self-expression.
- The Left Elite only pretend to be concerned about what's best for everyone else because it is the most effective way to manipulate you and your children into their abyss.
- What you're saying is that 'I, the superior elite, will take care of you.' Why? Because, you see, that superior, elite group needs to feel superior and elite. And they can't be superior and elite unless you have a whole lot of people down there groveling around. So you keep them down there by feeding them.
- Obviously those who burn to be professional jesters mean that they want to be successful comedians. And those are always an elite, microscopic portion of the population. But oh, how they try.
- We must confront the privileged elite who have destroyed a large part of the world.
- What is the U.S. government looking for? And the elite governing this country? They're looking for oil.
- There are people in government who don't want other people to know what they know. It's just another example of elitism. And I spit on elitism. Show me an elitist, and I'll show you a loser.
- The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a [[*The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.
- The control of information is something the elite always does, particularly in a despotic form of government. Information, knowledge, is power. If you can control information, you can control people.
- If you believe, as I do, that on the whole ordinary people are more competent than anyone else to decide when and how much they shall intervene on decisions they feel are important to them, then you will surely opt for political equality and democracy. But if you believe that the ordinary person is less competent in this fundamental way than some particular person or minority, then I imagine that like Plato your vision of the best government is a government by this qualified person or elite.
- Robert A. Dahl, After the Revolution? (1970; 1990), p. 26
- There's something strange about theater. My characters consistently demonize elitism, but of course it's taking place in a theater where only so many people can see it. I've been in silly popcorn movies - the kind of thing that as an actor you might feel embarrassed about - but those movies reach many more people.
- Vote to stand tall against terrorists; receive Social Security privatization. Vote to strike a blow against elitism; receive a social order in which wealth is more concentrated than ever before in our lifetimes, in which workers have been stripped of power and CEOs are rewarded in a manner beyond imagining.
- The political lesson of Watergate is this: Never again must America allow an arrogant, elite guard of political adolescents to by-pass the regular party organization and dictate the terms of a national election.
- Part of why the Tea Party so deeply threatened the elite media is the tea party looked around and suddenly realized, there are more of us than there are of them.
- I know very well that we are not all equal, nor can be so; but it is my opinion that he who deems it important to keep aloof from the so-called rabble, in order to maintain their respect, is as much to blame as a coward who hides himself from his enemy because he fears defeat.
- Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, The Sorrows of Young Werther (Boston: 1884), “May 15”
- Elitism is repulsive when based upon external and artificial limitations like race, gender, or social class. Repulsive and utterly false—for that spark of genius is randomly distributed across all cruel barriers of our social prejudice. We therefore must grant access—and encouragement—to everyone; and must be increasingly vigilant, and tirelessly attentive, in providing such opportunities to all children. We will have no justice until this kind of equality can be attained. But if only a small minority respond, and these are our best and brightest of all races, classes, and genders, shall we deny them the pinnacle of their soul's striving because all their colleagues prefer passivity and flashing lights? Let them lift their eyes to hills of books, and at least a few museums that display the full magic of nature's variety. What is wrong with this truly democratic form of elistim?
- Stephen Jay Gould, "Cabinet Museums: Alive, Alive, O!" Dinosaur in a Haystack: Reflections in Natural History (1995)
- As you probably know, I'm often accused of intellectual exhibitionism and all forms of elitism. Although I can understand this point of view, it's a rather wasted argument because, if we regard areas of information as being elite and therefore somehow not usable, it means our center ground of activity becomes very, very impoverished.
- Ask yourself: how has "elitism" become a bad word in American politics? There is simply no other walk of life in which extraordinary talent and rigorous training are denigrated. We want elite pilots to fly our planes, elite troops to undertake our most critical missions, elite athletes to represent us in competition and elite scientists to devote the most productive years of their lives to curing our diseases. And yet, when it comes time to vest people with even greater responsibilities, we consider it a virtue to shun any and all standards of excellence. When it comes to choosing the people whose thoughts and actions will decide the fates of millions, then we suddenly want someone just like us, someone fit to have a beer with, someone down-to-earth—in fact, almost anyone, provided that he or she doesn't seem too intelligent or well educated.
- And, since people generally go on from this to talk about elitism versus democracy, I would add that genuinely difficult art is truly democratic.
- The common elements of fascism, such as extreme nationalism, social Darwinism, the leadership principle, elitism, anti-liberalism, anti-egalitarianism, anti-democracy, intolerance, glorification of war, the supremacy of the state and anti-intellectualism, together form of a rather loose doctrine.
- Of course, there's a certain type of person who feels that anything which becomes mainstream has to be rejected immediately. And that's part of the indie-alternative snobbery and hierarchy and elitism.
- This distinguished corruption will teach the distinguished person that he exists only for the distinguished, that he is to live only in the alliance of their circles, that he must not exist for other people, just as they must not exist for him.
- The distinguished person ... may very well use an exaggerated courtesy toward the more lowly, but he must never associate with them as equals, since that would express that he was—human, but he is—distinguished.
- Chinks in America's EGALITARIAN armor are not hard to find. Democracy is the fig leaf of elitism.
- This school used to be a bastion of rich, white elitism. And now... now they let homosexuals on the football team. Whining minorities run the student government. And you can't even coerce a woman into having sex with you without being brought up on charges.
- People with advantages ... 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
- Are we like late Rome, infatuated with past glories, ruled by a complacent, greedy elite, and hopelessly powerless to respond to changing conditions?
- Party become so arrogantly detached from ordinary Americans? Though they claim to speak for the poor and dispossessed, Democrats have increasingly become the party of an upper-middle-class professional elite, top-heavy with journalists, academics and lawyers.
- I'm worried about the future of America insofar as our academically most promising students are being funneled through the cookie-cutter Ivy League and other elite schools and emerging with this callow anti-American, anti-military cast to their thinking.
- There's a very small group of elite actresses who are my age, who people want to work with. It's not easy to get a good job with good actors.
- By denying people's sense of visual beauty in painting and sculpture, melody in music, meter and rhyme in poetry, plot and narrative and character in fiction, the elite arts wrote off the vast majority of their audience. They purposely excluded people who approach art in part for pleasure and edification in favour of social one-upmanship and an ever-narrowing, in-crowd elite.
- The decadent writer writes shamelessly of himself, convinced that his life is special enough to impress those who have … made miserable by frankness, his handsome condescension, his elitism, and his perfect lack of candor were fatal gifts, ...
- Having cancer gave me membership in an elite club I'd rather not belong to.
- In Europe, anti-Americanism is much more a hobgoblin of the political, cultural, and religious elites.
- In every election cycle that I can recall, there comes a moment - or a few - where charges of elitism and claims of commonness are wielded by presidential candidates like a sword and shield: 'Vote for me 'cause I'm one of you. It's the other guy who's out of touch.'
- The only genuine elite is the elite of those men and women who gave their lives to justice and charity.
- Politicians fascinate because they constitute such a paradox; they are an elite that accomplishes mediocrity for the public good.
- George Will (2009), in Embracing Your Inner Mediocrity: Making Peace with Reality, p. 19
- Being slim is the new elitism. Thinness today says that you are richer, smarter and more successful than the overweight masses. With our lives and food chain set up to make us fat -- I mean, you can't drive down any highway in America and find a grapefruit -- a guy needs to be smarter and more determined to get lean. So telling people you lost weight is telling them, Hey, I can outwit the world; I can beat the system.
|Social and political philosophy|
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