The recent battle cry of “elitism!” raised against Barack Obama has caused some damage to his reputation recently.  (For example: http://www.reuters.com/article/politicsNews/idUSN1547078420080416).  Americans like to see themselves as equal in opportunity as the capitalist class.  Heck, almost all Americans who have food in their fridge like to think they’re ‘middle class,’ meaning middle-income-bracket, meaning able to be top dog someday, capable of being the top of the hierarchy somehow.  Everyone gets their chance to walk over others.  But simultanously, Americans ignore that the seemingly obvious and logically necessary result of “equality of opportunity” is “being able to become an elite,” and like to think that elites don’t exist.  So any intimations that a potential candidate is ‘elitist’ raises hairs on the back of the American ‘middle class.’  (Don’t get me started on the percentage of Americans who judge candidates on being most “presidential” . . . what do they think they mean by “presidential” if not “of the appropriate elite”). 

You cannot get elected in America without money and connections.  I don’t think I need to cite proof–I can’t see anyone disputing this.

The book Towards a New Socialism by Cockshott and Cottrell (http://www.ecn.wfu.edu/~cottrell/socialism_book/) talks about the necessary problems with the ‘elite’ influencing representative governments.  From their new preface, 3rd draft, they say:

“Parliamentary government, legitimized by regular elections, is presented to the modern world as ‘democracy’ plain and simple.  We view it differently.  We think, as Lenin did, that it is the most perfect form of rule by the rich.  We think, as Aristotle did, that elections are always and everywhere the mark of an aristocratic rather than a democratic state.  Experience teaches that those elected to parliaments are always, everywhere, unrepresentative of those who elect them.  Whatever indicator one looks at–class, gender, race, wealth, or education–those elected are more priviledged than those who vote for them.  The elected are always socially more representative of the dominant classes in society than they are of the mass of the population.  Once elected they will always tend to represent the interests of the classes from whom they are drawn.  There are 101 detailed circumstances to explain this fact, but they all come down to the same thing.  Those features which mark you out as one of society’s ‘elect’, one of the better sort, are also the features that help you get elected” (23).

I think they’re right about representative government.  I suppose what I don’t understand is the suprise Americans feign at electing someone who represents ‘the elite’.

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