A truth of the human condition, blatant and prominent today, is that of Elitism. It is a disheartening notion: oppression and class warfare, to be inevitable and ubiquitous in mankind’s nature. What truth is there in the Elitist’s claims?
The theory has its roots in the critical response of three Italian political philosophers (Robert Mitchels, Gaetano Mosca, Vilfredo Pareto) towards Marx’s theory of an equalitarian utopia. Their belief was that Marx’s Communism was an impossibility; regardless of how a sovereign-state is structured –whether it be socialist or capitalist- there will a conscious group of elites, whose influence can extend further than that of the collective masses. This is the “iron law of oligarchy”, as the jaded Italian trio put it.
How can one argue this? Empirically, one can’t. At no point in history has there been any sense of equality, in any society. Lenin and Trotsky, who failed in their endeavor to bring Communism to Russia through the Bolshevik Revolution, garnered further proof to assert the notion of Elitism. Sympathizing with Marx, the two spurred the proletariat (the working class) to raise arms against Tsar Nicholas II. The Tsarist autocracy in which the Russian people lived vested all power with the Tsar, creating a great imbalance between the clearly cut elites and masses.
Little seemed to change in terms of equality, as disproportion in other aspects of life became more prominent. With the death of Lenin and coming of Stalin, the bureaucracy within the USSR began to enjoy greater benefits at the expense of the people. It was evident that economic uniformity was no wonder drug for the malignant elites; the USSR’s failed Communist practice exemplified this.
Though cynical as it may sound, what hope is there for the abolishment of elites, when their theoretical antithesis failed to do so? Societal restructuring has been a reoccurring aspect of civilization, elites often being the malevolent impetus behind the architects. With the disgruntled masses, Feudalism was overthrown in favor of Capitalism, a system that would, theoretically, allow for greater equality and an end to elites who grasped their position solely through birthright. Individuals would have equal opportunity, and as such, not be apt to leaving their family name with perpetual peasantry. When Capitalism failed to do so, instead becoming a pseudo-feudalism in which opportunity was in so sense equal, Marx’s Communist Manifesto (noting that Lenin’s methods differed from the vision) sought to be the next miracle revision; an attempt that, as has been shown, failed.
So what options have we in the modern day? The Elitists seem to have been correct in their assertion of civilization’s plight. As it stands, the influence of private enterprise has grown to absurd proportions, for regulations on their practices were torn down while enterprise creeped its way up with insidious intentions. The injustice Socialist theorists of centuries ago perceived during the Industrial Revolution has grown, as global corporations now rival the power of a sovereign state. The corporations of Capitalism, with their vast economic resources, are capable of swaying governments into creating legislation for their benefit; for the benefit of the self-conscious elite, and detriment of all else.
Is there really no option for liberation from the elite’s oppressive existence? What seems inevitable is the restructuring of society. Eventually growing tired of the social injustice brought on by a handful of elites, the masses will weep and wind up for another revolution; and as Mitchels, Mosca, and Pareto predicted, it will be for naught.