Economic Elites

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A fascinating analysis by the social science professor Kevin MacKay contends that oligarchy has been a more fundamental cause of the collapse of civilisations than social complexity or energy demand. Control by oligarchs, he argues, thwarts rational decision-making, because the short-term interests of the elite are radically different to the long-term interests of society. This explains why past civilisations have collapsed “despite possessing the cultural and technological know-how needed to resolve their crises”. Economic elites, which benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions.

The oligarchic control of wealth, politics, media and public discourse explains the comprehensive institutional failure now pushing us towards disaster. Think of Donald Trump and his cabinet of multi-millionaires; the influence of the Koch brothers in funding rightwing organisations; the Murdoch empire and its massive contribution to climate science denial; or the oil and motor companies whose lobbying prevents a faster shift to new technologies.

It is not just governments that have failed to respond, though they have failed spectacularly. Public sector broadcasters have systematically shut down environmental coverage, while allowing the opaquely funded lobbyists that masquerade as thinktanks to shape public discourse and deny what we face. Academics, afraid to upset their funders and colleagues, have bitten their lips.

Elitism is the belief or attitude that individuals who form an elite — a select group of people with a certain ancestry, intrinsic quality, high intellect, wealth, special skills, or experience — are more likely to be constructive to society as a whole, and therefore deserve influence or authority greater than that of others. In the United States, the term elitism often refers to the concentration of power in the Northeast Corridor and on the West Coast, where the typical American elite resides – journalists, lawyers, doctors, high-level civil servants, businesspeople, university lecturers, entrepreneurs, and financial advisors in the quaternary sector, often in established technological or political catchments of their higher education alma mater.[citation needed]

Alternatively, the term elitism may be used to describe a situation in which power is concentrated in the hands of a limited number of people. Oppositions of elitism include anti-elitism, egalitarianism, populism and political theory of pluralism.

Elite theory is the sociological or political science analysis of elite influence in society: elite theorists regard pluralism as a utopian ideal. Elitism is closely related to social class and what sociologists call social stratification, which in the Anglo Saxon tradition have long been anchored in the "blue blood" claims of hereditary nobility. Members of the upper classes are sometimes known as the social elite. The term elitism is also sometimes used to denote situations in which a group of people claiming to possess high abilities or simply an in-group or cadre grant themselves extra privileges at the expense of others. This form of elitism may be described as discrimination.

Professor David McNally on the machinations of capitalism which the elite have, and will continue to carry out, in order to preserve the status quo and gross inequality of our political economy: "But the purpose of a capitalist enterprise is not to make sales; it is to make profits. Once capitalism gets into a systemic crisis such as in 2008, profitability cannot be restored without enormous destruction. There are two key mechanisms by which this happens. (1) Destroying excess or unproductive capital. (2) Driving down working people’s living standards which reduces capital's costs of doing business. (1): In addition to funneling $trillions to bail out the financial sector, companies' borrowing costs are virtually free due to extremely low interest rates. So that leaves (2) - austerity - as the principal strategy. Insecurity makes it harder for workers to fight back. Capital’s ideal worker is the migrant who enters a country bound to a single employer, with no rights to live and stay beyond the length of their employment contract. Enter Cameron's open door immigration policy". more ref.

©Mike Konopacki


  • Nov.14.2018: The Earth is in a death spiral. It will take radical action to save us. Climate breakdown could be rapid and unpredictable. We can no longer tinker around the edges and hope minor changes will avert collapse. Soft aims might be politically realistic, but they are physically unrealistic. Public figures talk and act as if environmental change will be linear and gradual. Only one of the many life support systems on which we depend – soils, aquifers, rainfall, ice, the pattern of winds and currents, pollinators, biological abundance and diversity – need fail for everything to slide. The problem is political - economic elites, which benefit from social dysfunction, block the necessary solutions. George Monbiot, The Guardian.
  • Mar.18.2018: Top degree fees "to hit £40,000". Ten British universities will be charging students up to £120,000 for a degree within a decade, a leading academic has predicted. An elite group, including Oxford, Cambridge and Imperial College London could increase fees to attract the best staff and students from all over the world — and their vice-chancellors would be paid correspondingly high salaries. Sir Anthony Seldon, vice-chancellor at Buckingham University, believes the new global elite will also include Harvard, Yale and Massachusetts Institute of Technology and emerging Chinese institutions. The rest of Britain's 100-plus universities would fall into one of 5 categories, all charging students less. (Tag:The Commercialisation of Education; Creation of an Elite Class) Sian Griffiths, The Times.