11/28/2019

Who are the elites?

"Such confidence makes elites think they are best: sometimes, they are simply more organized, more compact, more homogeneous- and therefore capable to keep their grip on society. Yet from the great Italian “discoverers” of elites theory, from Mosca and Pareto onward, such grip is seen as dependent upon the rest of society recognizing elites are on top because they should be. Whatever form legitimacy takes (from the divine right of kings to liberal democracy to socialism), it defines why a certain group ought to be enjoying political power at the expense of the others. Vilfredo Pareto thought that elites were complex networks which, far from being monolithic, had constantly to renew themselves by co-opting—by whatever mechanism—new talents to avoid degeneration and decline. Yet if they closed themselves down that decline can accelerate sharply. I think it will be interesting to see how this broad scenario applies to the current crisis of elites- and in the face of almost endless talk about “diversity”. Is it that the more Western elites became obsessed by talking up diversity, the less diverse in truth they became? I suppose this would be the (arch)conservative view. But at the same time, at least prima facie, it is hard to deny that elites have been better to spot and acquire talents on the outskirts of society in recent years than they have ever been."