e·lite [əˈlēt, āˈlēt] NOUN; elites (plural noun)–a select group that is superior in terms of ability or qualities to the rest of a group or society.
There have always been elites and always will. In the past, if you read the Bible, the elites such as Moses, David, and the prophets were chosen by God. Through much of history, being an elite was either a birthright or the outcome of a conquest. From the time of the enlightenment until–well, who knows when it ended–elites exhibited special talents or capabilities, such as America’s Founding Fathers, inventors, etc..
Today, being either immensely rich, powerful, or famous is how one becomes an elite. Some are elites because their parents were accomplished (Look at how many actors or musicians are the offspring of parents who succeeded, as opposed to having competed against others on an even playing field). Some elite are elites merely because they are famous for being famous.
The problem is that the Elites achieve their position due to society, and they owe society something in return. Would Bill Gates or Steve Jobs, as creative or brilliant as they are have had the same success if they had been born in rural Afghanistan or Mali? Probably not.
The Robber Barons enriched themselves in the 19th century, however, in the process, they gave the rest of society telegraph and rail systems that connected both coasts and various industries, which provided jobs to regular people. It can be argued that the Elites got the better end of the bargain, however, society benefitted substantially, nevertheless.
Henry Ford, while not the inventor of the automobile, through his invention of the assembly line, changed society. The most radical thing he did–which was condemned by the rich and powerful–was to pay his employees $5.00 per week. Why? Was he beneficent? Was he charitable? No, he was a model capitalist. By paying his employees such an “extravagant” sum, his employees were now able to afford to purchase Ford automobiles.
Not a bad move.
During the twentieth century, elites forgot that they had been succesful and became rich by utilizing the benefits of society–the roads, electricity, clean water, financing systems, etc. They forgot that they owed something back and this tends to lead to disaster. There are some very persuasive arguments that their attitude led to the Great Depression.
The theory continues that people, disenchanted with the Elites in power, turned to the other end of the spectrum. They were not benefiting–in fact they were disadvantaged by the Elites, so they wanted something different–something totally different.
In Germany, their was severe economic hardship. The “different” choice for the citizenry led to the ascendance of Hitler.
Today, many Elites seem oblivious to the plight of others and feel no obligation to contribute to the good of the order. There are exceptions, of course, but for every Bill and Melinda Gates there are a hundred other Elites who lose sleep because their yacht/house/country club is not the biggest and best.
The Elites have their advantage based on what society provides; whether they appreciate it or not, their future depends upon replenishing it.