Democratic Elitism

Just as all Irish seem to be descended from Kings, a clever article in the Atlantic Monthly suggests that we Americans have engendered a new sort of multi-cultural elitism. That is, one person’s elite is not everyone’s.

On its face, this seems to be a very good thing. Self-actualization needs to have a focus on the self. It’s good to have a lot more slots at the top(s). As the networks we engage in become increasingly diverse, master of one group is not master of all. It used to be that the power elite were ultimately powerful in all realms. They still are, but perhaps new networked relationships mean that you can be at the bottom of the heap in one milieu and at the top of another.

Of course, this totally ignores the materiality of elitism. It is still the case that those with money have more social power than those without. If you measure elitism in terms of respect, then we may have established a new sort of elite. If it is measured in social power, money is still the prime mover.

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