chapter  14
25 Pages

Elitism and class dominance

An elite is defined by the OED as a ‘select group or class’ and elitism, as a rather loose political concept, is the theory or view that modern industrial societies are always governed by elites. The significance of the theory in the contemporary world is that it runs contrary to almost all versions of democratic theory. If the elitists are correct, all systems of government are actually oligarchic and democracy is ‘either a will-o’-the-wisp or a sham’ (Runciman 1963: 74). The theory therefore challenges most western liberal assumptions about politics and the organization of government.