July 26, 2006

Etymology of "elites" (plural):

A reader suggests a likely route for how "elites" became so fashionable in high level political discourse in this decade:

I'm not sure if it's the first use of the term, but Christopher Lash's Revolt of the Elites (1995) was the first I remember hearing the term. I quickly looked over my copy of the book and found two definitions of elites:

1. (pg. 3) "The new elites, which include not only corporate managers but all those professions that produce and manipulate information..are far more cosmopolitan, or at least more restless and migratory, than their predecessors."

2. (pg 25-6) "Today it is the elites, however - those who control the international flow of money and information, preside over philanthropic foundations and institutions of higher learning, manage the instruments of cultural production and thus set the terms of public debate..."

Lasch may have used the term "elites" rather than elite to mirror Ortega y Gasset's Revolt of the Masses, as he compares the revolts of the two groups in chapter 2 of the book. The index of the book does not have an entry for "elites" but it does include one for "elite class."

My published articles are archived at iSteve.com -- Steve Sailer

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