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Elitism and democracy (in democracy, etc)


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This morning around breakfast time I was listening to a heartwarming program on CBC radio. How we manage staying positive in these difficult times? I'm taking online piano lessons! And I tried ballet and already mastered several turns (forgot the term)!

Listening to it was so nice and positive but for some reason the association that came to me was "they don't have any bread - but why wouldn't they get the brioches?!".

Some of us, isolated from our offices, having to stare at the screen some time during the day, suffering the closure of the favorite restaurant and a postponement of an annual vacation (maybe) and trying to stay positive simply cannot imagine that taking ballet lessons may not enter the mind of a human being who just lost most of their income, security, possibly the direction and facing unknown prospects for unforeseeable time. Are these two different worlds, and are they drifting further and further apart, despite the heartwarming efforts and in it together promises?

Almost daily example: another hospital CEO was let go today after traveling south of the border no less than 5 times in the recent months, while reprimanding his stuff for failing to observe PH guidelines.

And another one (from daily Facebook feed): a compassionate program by something public is actively trying to recruit resident support staff for LTC. The work is on as-needed basis, no assurance of minimal hours, $17 / hour, no vacation and benefits and little job security. Very compassionate and generous, thank you.

And so: are we getting there, slowly but steadily to the heartwarming tunes of togetherness? Two worlds, two standards, two mentalities that wouldn't intersect, and understand each other, and interact on the terms like above, oh you're having problems? But why wouldn't you take ballet lessons? And here's our wonderful foodbank thanks to our generous donations!

Elitism is an old problem of democracy. Isolation in its own world in the ivory tower, failure to know and understand the problems and concerns of little people below led to so many events that it will take books only to count, and who's there to say, won't lead again and again? And so, is it possible to build a democracy that is alive; agile; active; open; continuous; non-elitist and egalitarian? Should it be tried, again and again? And if status quo is the best we can get, how long would it last before deteriorating into its opposite?

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52 minutes ago, myata said:

1. Elitism is an old problem of democracy.
2. Isolation in its own world in the ivory tower, failure to know and understand the problems and concerns of little people below led to so many events that it will take books only to count, and who's there to say, won't lead again and again?
3. And so, is it possible to build a democracy that is alive; agile; active; open; continuous; non-elitist and egalitarian? Should it be tried, again and again?
4. And if status quo is the best we can get, how long would it last before deteriorating into its opposite?

1. Is it ?  Or is it a permanent feature of humanity ?  Tribes have chiefs and elders.  Easter Island had elites as did Sumeria. 

2. I think the 'again and again' part of history is something Marx wrote about.

3. Upon what is it built ?  A culture ?  A race ?  A philosophy ?  All of those things are ephemeral in the context of human history.   It's definitely built on an economy and a communication network.  I always hated Star Trek but the way the society of TNG was set up made sense - they were just trying to work and contribute as best they could.  

4. It seems to me we're at that mid-point of the hill now.

Interesting thoughts for sure.

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As Michael implies, elitism is a natural attribute within humanity.  Even so in the animal world (alfa males, for instance).  The problem we have had for the last century or so is that the new religion is greed, and within that religion the elite are those who take the most money while contributing the least.   When elitism is granted due to privilege it is a sad state of affairs.  It should only be achieved by merit.  Until we as an entire race learn to understand such things, it will just continue to get worse.

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3 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

1. Is it ?  Or is it a permanent feature of humanity ?  Tribes have chiefs and elders.  Easter Island had elites as did Sumeria.

You can go a step further and say wolf packs have pack leaders.

But your logic will be flawed.  Why?

In a pack, or tribe, the main points are survival, food and breeding.

In the capitalist / elitist society it is about amassing things one does not need and cannot reasonably use at the cost of a constantly increasing population of poor people and degradation of natural environment. 

On the original question: "Is it possible to build a democracy?'  If everyone has the democratic right to make as many kids as they want and to take as much as they can; the answer is a definite "No".  Such a thing cannot exist based on the principles of Math and Physics alone.

 

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6 hours ago, cougar said:

1. In a pack, or tribe, the main points are survival, food and breeding. In the capitalist / elitist society it is about amassing things one does not need and cannot reasonably use at the cost of a constantly increasing population of poor people and degradation of natural environment. 

2. On the original question: "Is it possible to build a democracy?'  If everyone has the democratic right to make as many kids as they want and to take as much as they can; the answer is a definite "No".  Such a thing cannot exist based on the principles of Math and Physics alone.

 

1. I don't know that the capitalist-elitist society is about amassing "things" as much as power.  And 'elitism' in democracy as myata describes it seems to be something different than from what canuck and myata are talking about.  "Isolation in its own world in the ivory tower"

2. I think again we're talking about the political economy here more than pure politics.  To put it in short form, myata could be talking about things like 'identity' which cost nothing but you are pretty clearly talking about access to resources money and so on.

So back to the question - is it possible to build a democracy ?  'Democracy' is such an abstract concept that it has the potential to succumb to something called 'reification'.  I just heard about that in a podcast, it's the habit of making abstract things into something real and tangible.  

I think what we can agree on is that it's possible for a large number of people to live in a system that they believe is generally fair.  If we didn't believe THAT then what have we been so upset about lately?

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11 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

I don't know that the capitalist-elitist society is about amassing "things" as much as power.  

Power came to mind while writing the above, but I deliberately left it out as to me power is only used to gain access to material things.  

I agree "democracy", "freedom", "liberty", "terrorism", "wealth" and so on and so forth are all abstract terms.  Many have had their meaning so abused and twisted by politicians that they have become meaningless.

We just live in a system interested in preserving itself at all costs.

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Isolation and self-isolation can have many facets, from psychological (why not if we can) to matters of wealth and status. Clearly, in a free market society some part of wealth is created through free exchange so I have difficulty calling it inherently unfair.
But what if wider society attempted to balance wealth inequality that is common in free markets rather than giving in to it fully and wholeheartedly? Look at this country's public service for example, it is almost accomplished corporation complete with $M CEOs, only on the public budged and in its name.

And I have to agree that it is probably related to human or rather biological nature. And for that reason, likely to manifest at every phase and level of development, can't beat the genes. And yet, if a perfect non-elitist and egalitarian society cannot be created from get-go, could democracy at least evolve its goals and horizons regularly or even continuously rather than focus on two numbers?

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2 hours ago, cougar said:

1. to me power is only used to gain access to material things.  

2. We just live in a system interested in preserving itself at all costs.

1. Lots of counter examples.   O'Brien in 1984: ""Power is inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing." "Power is not a means; it is an end."

After you have more money than you could ever spend, then what ?  Power.
2. If the system is good then why not ?  I would like to live in a system that lasts forever, much better than living within one that is collapsing.

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1 hour ago, Michael Hardner said:

1. Lots of counter examples.   O'Brien in 1984: ""Power is inflicting pain and humiliation. Power is in tearing human minds to pieces and putting them together again in new shapes of your own choosing." "Power is not a means; it is an end."

After you have more money than you could ever spend, then what ?  Power.
2. If the system is good then why not ?  I would like to live in a system that lasts forever, much better than living within one that is collapsing.

No system is lasting forever!  You may or may not see the end of capitalism, but it will come to an end.

The example mentioned regarding power just makes zero sense to me, unless those seeking power are sadists.  It is counterproductive inflicting pain for no real gain.

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8 hours ago, cougar said:

1. No system is lasting forever!  You may or may not see the end of capitalism, but it will come to an end.

2. The example mentioned regarding power just makes zero sense to me, unless those seeking power are sadists.  It is counterproductive inflicting pain for no real gain.

1. I think that the system that will last forever is the original one, the 'no system'.  So you're right: 'no system' will last forever. 😀

2. You can't relate because you are a mensch.  Maybe if you came into billions you would want to control to things.  

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6 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

It's about controlling people too.  And status, the status of the powerful.

It's not about that and it's not about amassing things. It's about providing for yourself and your family. Capitalism allows for that. It allows us to trade a thing for a thing or a service for a service. With money being the intermediary article of value. Instead of going out and farming our own food we trade for it. That's Capitalism. And we are ALL Capitalists. Even the Socialists who work so they can trade for what they need.

Some of us, of course, are better at it than others, and have a higher level of luck. But once they've achieved the primary goal, what then? Stop growing your business or enterprise? Stop taking on new customers? Stop making more widgets? Why? So you accumulate more money than you need so you get a bigger house than you need and a bigger car than you need, and hey, maybe buy a plane so you don't have to go through the hassle at the airport. Plus your time is worth a lot now.

But these people are a tiny fraction of a percentage. For most of us, Capitalism is simply about obtaining food and shelter, just like we've been doing for eons.  Find something we're good at so people will trade us coin so we can buy good and shelter, and maybe have a bit left over to buy booze and porn.

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5 hours ago, Argus said:

1. It's not about that and it's not about amassing things. It's about providing for yourself and your family. Capitalism allows for that. It allows us to trade a thing for a thing or a service for a service. With money being the intermediary article of value. Instead of going out and farming our own food we trade for it. That's Capitalism. And we are ALL Capitalists. Even the Socialists who work so they can trade for what they need.

2. Some of us, of course, are better at it than others, and have a higher level of luck. But once they've achieved the primary goal, what then? Stop growing your business or enterprise? Stop taking on new customers? Stop making more widgets? Why? So you accumulate more money than you need so you get a bigger house than you need and a bigger car than you need, and hey, maybe buy a plane so you don't have to go through the hassle at the airport. Plus your time is worth a lot now.

3. But these people are a tiny fraction of a percentage. For most of us, Capitalism is simply about obtaining food and shelter, just like we've been doing for eons.  Find something we're good at so people will trade us coin so we can buy good and shelter, and maybe have a bit left over to buy booze and porn.

1. Ok but we're taking about elitism.  Are you saying elitism and capitalism are... the same? 🤔

2. This sounds like meritocracy, which is a third thing related to the other two.

3. LOL at your shopping list.  

 

I doubt anyone on this thread is against capitalism.  Good post.

 

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5 minutes ago, Nefarious Banana said:

And just how do you get status . . . . how do you get powerful?  

Money is one sure way, but there's political power too.  I can't think of other ways.  There used to be people without money or political power that had power - like the pope for example - more than today, I think.  

Money is one sure way.

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I am going to help the OP by restating the question of the thread.

And so, is it possible to build a democracy that is alive; agile; active; open; continuous; non-elitist and egalitarian? Should it be tried, again and again? And if status quo is the best we can get, how long would it last before deteriorating into its opposite?

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2 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

1. Ok but we're taking about elitism.  Are you saying elitism and capitalism are... the same? 🤔

 

No, elites rise in any system if its working right. We are tribal and need hierarchies. Those who rise to the top of those hierarchies (in a perfect world) would do so on merit. Certainly some of the new elites like Steve Bezos and Bill Gates did so due to drive, intelligence, hard work and imagination - and luck. There are elites in every human endeavor; those just so much better than the average they shine.

The problem in a society is not so much when elites gain a lot of power, but when the elites are undeserved of their status, like those who inherit their wealth and are not particularly intelligent, knowledgeable, hard working or responsible - and yet still wield tremendous power.

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10 hours ago, Argus said:

1. No, elites rise in any system if its working right. We are tribal and need hierarchies. Those who rise to the top of those hierarchies (in a perfect world) would do so on merit. Certainly some of the new elites like Steve Bezos and Bill Gates did so due to drive, intelligence, hard work and imagination - and luck. There are elites in every human endeavor; those just so much better than the average they shine.

2. The problem in a society is not so much when elites gain a lot of power, but when the elites are undeserved of their status, like those who inherit their wealth and are not particularly intelligent, knowledgeable, hard working or responsible - and yet still wield tremendous power.

1. Jeff Bezos ?  Ok though yes.  But if you read the 'OP' it seems like they are using 'Elites' as a pejorative in the way that the new populists do.  I say 'it seems' but I am not 100% sure.  Now, your assertion could still hold but they mention the CBC and 'ivory tower' so it could be something else.

2. It's a problem only if you want a society to thrive and get better but yes... meritocracies closely resemble happy blooming flowers not dying ones.   Your take on this isn't surprising to me, as we share values in this way.
 

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9 hours ago, Argus said:

It's not about that and it's not about amassing things. It's about providing for yourself and your family.

If that were the case, you wouldn't have billionaires who still want to have more.  Hello...

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10 hours ago, Michael Hardner said:

1. Jeff Bezos ?  Ok though yes.  But if you read the 'OP' it seems like they are using 'Elites' as a pejorative in the way that the new populists do.  I say 'it seems' but I am not 100% sure.  Now, your assertion could still hold but they mention the CBC and 'ivory tower' so it could be something else.
 

 

It's an old concept...way before "new populists"...and very Canadian:

 

Quote

The Laurentian “Elite”: Canada’s ruling class

There come times in the history of nations when institutions and dominant elites fail, when they can’t accommodate change, or become severely detached from the lives of average citizens. In Canada, such detachment has been the rule rather than the exception over the last 50 years, and the Laurentian Elite is largely to blame.

https://c2cjournal.ca/2019/11/fbp-the-laurentian-elite-canadas-ruling-class/

 

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14 minutes ago, bush_cheney2004 said:

 

It's an old concept...way before "new populists"...and very Canadian:

 

 

 

The Laurentian Consensus is a Canadian political term, first coined by John Ibbitso in 2011. It is used to describe the belief that a general governing political consensus existed in Canada from Confederation until the early twenty first century with the election of Stephen Harper and the Conservative Party of Canada with a majority government in the 2011 Canadian Federal Election without significant support in Quebec.

The problem with beliefs is that they lack in facts.  But I wouldn't waste my time trying to explain that to a trumper.  

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