"History is indeed little more than the register of the crimes, follies and misfortunes of mankind." ~ Edward Gibbon
On the Importance of Elites
I have a confession to make. I do not care for democracy quite as much as one might assume everyone is supposed to. It seems neither fair nor expedient to have a fellow cornered nor coerced by a gang of his 'peers,' whether through the ballot or the gun, simply because they feel he ought to burn his sacraments to their sacred cow of 'majority rule.' I believe in radical individualism, which is so often smeared as an 'elitist' position that I feel I must address the nature of elites and what their proper role is.
I like elites. As Renaissance Man Stewart Brand once noted, elites have always driven civilization. What I oppose is not so much elitism as undeserved elitism, which unfortunately has characterized the overwhelming bulk of elites throughout history, primarily those R. Buckminster Fuller referred to as the 'Great Pirates,' namely the all-powerful statist, corporate, and religious oligarchs and monopolies that have dominated and controlled humanity for centuries. Undeserving elites are always obscene because they consist of worthless and disgusting parasites.
The opposite is the minority that society will either emulate, mock, or try hard to fight: those few individuals with enough personality, originality, creativity, and imagination that entire cultures grow out of their minds and actions. Such people may or may not even consider themselves out of the ordinary and may not even be that unusual.
It is important to keep in mind that there can be no stereotypes here. The masses, such that they are, will always stereotype; the elites will avoid it if possible. Proper elites are not based on conditions like 'class,' race, gender, sexual orientation, collectivist attitudes or any other petty nonsense. More often than not, the poor waitress striking the root of bullshit culture is just as valuable as the well-funded software designer doing the same.
This brings me to the second personal factor that is always to be taken into consideration when talking about elites: pretense. Again, the stereotype will always be that elites are high-falutin' pretentious snobs. Forgoing my previous point about stereotypes, what's wrong with this picture? Once more, we come to the issue of deserving the image. Simply put, if you're a jerk, you're pretentious scum. Personally, I've always liked things that are usually considered pretentious, because I have my own sense of aesthetic elitism that I have cultivated. This is based on how a given cultural artifact strikes me. If I detect sincerity, proper utilitarianism, genuine bizarrism or any other host of factors, I enjoy it and appreciate it. If not, I pass. As usual, the only thing that matters is individual taste. If you listen to Nickelback, unless you're a personal friend, I exert that much energy trying to get you to stop wasting your time on suckass music. Conversely, I enjoy some crap for its own sake. Of course, when this is the case, something has to suck far worse than the usual bunk for me to really dig it.
Essentially, my simple definition of 'elite' is not 'privileged,' it is and will always be 'deserving.' Bearing this in mind, it becomes clear that elites are far more encompassing than previously assumed. By virtue of sheer individual willpower, personal responsibility, and enlightened action, a number of small elites will survive and despite all odds to the contrary, good people will continue to thrive.