“Elite” means “ select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society” according to Google. The way the word elite is used in media, however, is quite different. It means a social elite, without qualifiers, and it’s very misleading, as well as being as fake as this idiotic total failure of a society.
In times past, the word elite meant specialist, highly trained, highly qualified, very experienced, and combinations thereof. Now it means any collection of generic peasants in suits claiming status.
In the military, the word “elite” has never been ambiguous. You don’t hear about “elite” sycophants, slackers, or rear-area recidivists. You only hear about highly trained special forces, crack troops, and truly experienced professionals.
In the arts, elitism is largely despised. Elitism has done very little for the arts except get a few genuine benefactors and a much larger number of self-proclaimed elitists. That’s a very telling fact. Few great artists have been elitists themselves, either. The virtuoso is only a virtuoso because an acknowledged virtuoso calls him or her a virtuoso.
In both the military and the arts, the self-proclaimed elitist is an absurdity. Of no value to the professions, the elitist is at best a 2 dimensional bit of décor, not to be taken seriously for anything.
In our wonderful mainstream media, however, “elites” fester everywhere. You’d swear everybody with a name was a member of some vast class of superior beings. It’s though Wall Street was packed with saints, and politics was some sort of personal ordeal for the spiritually enlightened, rather than two dunghills full of the inevitable trash these sectors create in huge batches.
The WASP elite misnomers
Of particular irritation to me is the apparently interminable references to WASP elites. I’m a WASP. I even drew the picture myself. These so-called elites aren’t real elites, but a blanket term used to describe anything in the public eye. How can anyone, or anything, possibly mistake these tedious little pustules as any sort of elite?
Even more bafflingly, the actual WASP elites were first mentioned as being on the way out. The real WASP elites, of course, are anything but out of business. They’re everywhere. They have trillions of dollars. They own huge amounts of property and equity. They simply have better things to do than run countries or do red carpet events, or waste time in the public eye. (Well, who doesn’t?)
They are, however, also a good example of the misuse of the word “elite”. They exist in any old form, any old way, without much formal structure (entirely unnecessary), and have been categorized as an elite, which they were and are. The mistake is to portray the useless/insane/downright stupid American management class, usually WASPs, as elites. They’re not the same thing, in so many ways, as the true elites.
It’s the difference between Warren Buffett and some dire little middle manager in a poky little office pretending to be someone. It’s the difference between an actual wasp and a fruit fly. Buffett could be described as an elite group of one, and prove it without even trying. The substandard maggot-droppings managerial wankers couldn’t possibly be described as an elite, even in a sewer.
That’s how far out of whack the use of the word “elite” has become. Even the theory of elites is now well over the cliff in terms of reality. In the UK, the theory of elitism has been dying a well-deserved death since the social disaster of World War 1 and subsequent debacles, of which Brexit is just the latest in a series of catastrophic mismanagement events. The tiresome wastes of tweed now pottering about in British public life claiming to be elites and proving their incompetence with every nanosecond couldn’t be mistaken for a form of life, let alone an elite.
The real British upper class, or what’s left of it, may vote Tory because their accountants say their primitive Thatcherite policies are better tax options. All well and good, but they don’t mix with the Godlike Grocers of Westminster any more than necessary, and briefly. They have nothing in common with these petty-minded, governmentally-inclined shopkeepers. They certainly don’t run their businesses on the same haphazard, idiotic, basis as the pseudo-elite run Britain.
In America, Old Money dies hard. It’s the nearest thing to an economic elite, in the sense of actual experience in being rich for generations. It forms a sort of elite, if you really can call a collection of out of touch rich people an elite.
In contrast, New Money, which has some claim to respect on the basis of actual achievement, can’t even be bothered being an elite. The status of elite, particularly in its severely devalued modern form, means nothing to them, with good reason.
Everything is an “elite”. Every rock, presumably, is some sort of socially superior being. New Money knows better than that. They deal with this collection of social flotsam on a daily basis, and familiarity has bred well-deserved contempt in practical terms.
…So can we be a bit fussier about the use of the word “elite”? Can we stop elevating every transient hanger-on in a generation of true, proven fools to a status they will never deserve?