Navigation: This page ''
---> Main Page ---> Author. Contact. About Page.

On Elites and Elitism

The word "elite" has become a term of abuse. So, on 9 August 2018, Sweet Reason, Evan Davies discussed elitism, with three useful questions (I don't remember the exact wording). Q1, Is there only one elite? Q2, Is governing more difficult than we see from the outside? Q3, How do we make sense of public anger? His guests were Alastair Darling, who had power in the Blair government, and Nancy Fielder, editor of newspapers in Sheffield, with a number of excerpts from experts and others. Example of expert, an academic in psychology.

These were good questions, which are seldom asked and need asking. The programme exposed that many use "elite" to refer to some other who thinks differently or has power (Q1). It was mixed on Q2. It exposed a bit about public anger.

HOWEVER, I felt that Evan Davies especially, and sometimes the others, conflated elitism with (a) governing or being in political power, (b) the wealthy, (c) 'the establishment', but are not academics and artists elites?

It occurred to me that two major things were overlooked:

Elitism and Worldview

When I use "elite" I include academics and artists as well as opinion-formers, decision-makers, media editors and presenters, those in government, those behind government, those who decide what products and services to offer us, and so on.

There is a particular worldview which seems to operate behind them all. A pervading attitude and a set of prevailing beliefs, operates invisibly behind all these. Behind many of those I list above is a pervading attitude of me-me-me: self-centredness, selfishness, self=protection, self-promotion, etc. We might call it "individualism" but it is a bit more than the ontological belief in individuals; it is a set of values whereby the individual treats themselves (and perhaps their family or group) as the most important. This attitude seeps through almost all Western, affluent media (both information and entertainment sections), so it is hard to escape. Some do resist but we seldom hear of them.

When those in power, or academics, or artists, or media presenters, etc. are infected by this me-me-me attitude, the decisions they make, the theories they devise and teach, and the paintings, films and photos they produce are distorted and biased in a way that makes us on the outside feel they are elites. We see them as serving themselves, not only knowingly but often unwittingly, and feel they are elite.

The worldview also has a set of prevailing beliefs: liberal, secular, competitive humanism, which also treats the economy as the only important, or fundamental, sector of life. I, who am a believing Christian, feel alienated from them. I feel they are elite.

Elitism and Responsibility

Coupled with the above is a feeling that the elites listed above do not take responsibility. One contributor to the programme remarked that "if you are part of the elite, you abuse ..."

Yes, I thought, we are all elites to someone else. We all tend to 'look up' to those we feel have more power, wealth, etc. than we do, rather than looking around or 'down' to those who have the same or less than us. We are never content, seldom thankful for what we have. ("Be content with what we have ..." Maybe this comes from having Nobody to thank, under liberal secularity?)

We, in whatever position or power, resource-wealth, intellectual ability or whatever, do not take our responsibility seriously. Our responsibility to look after others and especially the wider world, and the future of the planet. We do this without thinking, because in our lifestyle we expect it as 'normal'. We do not see beyond our own expectations, and hence do not take full responsibility. Yet with power, resources, education, etc. comes responsibility to use these with wisdom. Is that not so? Or, if we take some responsibility, is it a very narrowed one, which does not take all into account.

I find myself calling "elite" those who do not take proper responsibility for the gifts they have received of power, wealth, education, artistic ability, and the resources to follow their chosen careers.


"Elitism" is a charge I find myself levelling at those infected by the worldview of selfishness coupled with liberal secular humanism, and who take little or only partial responsibility.

Interestingly, this links with the philosopher Dooyeweerd's notion of normative aspects: spheres of the meaningfulness of reality that are irreducible to each other and imply normativity as well as being and process. He identified the social and economic spheres (the kinds of privileges elites might have) aesthetic aspect of harmonizing all as well as art, juridical aspect of responsibility and justice, ethical aspect of self-giving love and attitude, and the pistic aspect of beliefs.

This page, "", is offered to God as on-going work. Comments, queries welcome.

Copyright (c) Andrew Basden at all dates below. But you may use this material subject to certain conditions.

Part of his pages, that open up discussion and exploration from a Christian ('xn') perspective. Written on the Amiga with Protext.

Created: 9 August 2018. Last updated: