Societies change. That is natural and to be expected. And as they do, who makes up the ‘elites’ also changes. While I think that observing the patterns in societal changes may be interesting all on its own, it may also help us predict the future patterns of change.
A while ago, the ruling class was determined by family affiliation: in order to raise an army to conquer a country with, a person had to belong to a royal or, at least, an aristocratic family. Same for succession. Well, usually!
This has changed. The patterns of how and why are complex and more suited to a book than a simple blog post. Let it suffice to say that looking at today’s elites, it appears that most of their members do not have pretentions to royal bloodlines.
So, whom are todays elites made up from?
Aside from the celbrities (why they are ‘famous elite’ is a whole different post), today’s elites can be (very roughly) divided into two general groups: ‘rich elites’ and ‘intellectual elites’. (Looking at the infinite nuances of their sub-casts would take another book…so let’s stick with the ‘big’ differentiation.)
The rich elites are often marked by the pretentions of past nobility: ‘familly money’ individuals often look down on the ‘nuveau-riche’ as ‘upstarts’. But, especially in the US, where personal achievement is not yet regarded as a bad thing, the rich can all be lumped together under the general label of ‘rich elites’. Especially by the second generation…
The intellectual elites are a lot more interesting: these people have no pretentions to being able to actually do something. Instead, they see themselves as the ‘thinkers’ of society. It is not sufficient to be highly educated and very intelligent in order to be part of the ‘intellectual elite’ – scientists, for example, would satisfy these criteria, yet they are most certainly not politically influential. They get patted on their heads, warmly welcome (for a little while) if they can be temporarily useful, but then they get locked back in their labs. So, what is that quality?
Unsurprisingly enough, to be a member of the ‘intellectual elite’, one has to appear to fit in comfortably with the ‘rich elite’. This ‘fitting in’ could be an ostentatiously overdone ‘poor look’ (like the ‘bohemians’ that many University Professors used to affect while it was fashionable), but underneath, one must be able to act rich, rich, rich!
This immediatelly rules out those who are unpretentious - keeping up fake appearances is simply not attractive to unpretentious people. Now, since our Universities and Colleges have, to a great degree, been staffed by professors who typically hold radically socialist views, it is not surprising that those who wished to be admitted to these ’intellectual elites’ had to affect similar manners and assimilate these very political views.
So, the group which emerges as being most politically influential (other than the ‘old rich elites’ – as in, old-money families) is made up of pretentious, radical socialists! In Canada and the US, we easily recognize them as our ‘Liberals’ and ‘Democrats’…
But, where do the journalists fit in? They, most certainly, are not even now rich enough to be admitted to either of the ‘elites’ of today! Yet, in Journalism schools, they were subjected to radical socialist teachings. And, now, they are sent to cover the lives and actions of the two elites. Is is surprising, then, that getting to know these people as individuals during the course of their work, the journalists (who, like all of us, wish to be ‘special’ and ‘extraordinary’) have come to identify themselves with one of these two elites?
Unless born or married into a rich family, a journalist cannot hope to fit in with the ‘rich elite’. That is just a simple economic fact – even the best newspapers do not pay that well. However, many of them can and do fit in comfortably with the ‘intellectual elites’. Well, sort of. At least, they are much closer – close enough that from the point of view of the journalists, they feel like they fit in.
And while there may be some crossover, at least in the USA, the ‘rich elite’ is traditionally associated with the pro-business Republicans while the ‘intellectual elite’ tends to be associated with the socialist Democrats. The rest of us mortals fall into one or the other camp, based on what we think is a better way to organize a society: based on individual achievement or on group-rule. (In Canada, the ‘rich elite’ is almost non-existant, so the ‘Conservative’ party only retains the image of ‘old money’, rather than embodies it – but despite the facts, the image remains. The ‘intellectual elite’ in Canada is split between the ‘Liberal’ and ‘New Democratic’ parties).
Is it surprising, then, that when covering ‘their own’ elite, the journalists of the MainStream Media find themselves ‘cheering’, and while when covering ‘the other elite’, they are incessantlly booing?
All right, so I don’t have a revelation here, or much of a real point of any kind. But, watching this particular pattern is interesting, is it not?