(K. Brent Tomer),
AN ACADEMIC, a politician, a journalist, a film star, a nobleman and a banker walk into a bar. They order different drinks, and sit at separate tables each doing their own thing. There is no punch line; these people do not belong together in any sensible way. Yet members of these groups and others are regularly given the same label: “elites”. Careful writers should avoid this word; it is becoming a junk-bin concept used by different people to mean wildly different things.
It is easy to understand why people reach for “elites”. If pundits can agree on anything about 2016, it is surely that it has been bad for elites. Populist wave after populist wave has broken over Western politics, with a vote for Brexit, the election of Donald Trump and Italy’s loss of a popular young prime minister over a constitutional referendum that he called—and lost. The masses are out for blood, and the elites are quaking.
But if you can picture those masses in your mind—pitchforks, torches, perhaps overalls—what do the elites look like? For Mr Trump, the hated elites comprise the Washington political establishment and the press. But for his own…Continue reading