Who are the elite?
The elite has no actual body, it is a myth which is constructed constantly in order to justify the existence of the present state of things. The meaning of ‘the elite’ differs from mouthpiece to mouthpiece, depending on the general intent. For the new emerging social-democrats of the United States, such as Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the phrase is utilized in order to signify the “one percent”. These modernizers posit that the elite, which is already a mystification in its own right, is essentially a statistic. They posit that this conflict between the whole of society is contained not within a class conflict, but rather a conflict between an abstract “one percent” verses the rest of society, or the “ninety-nine percent”.
Any amount of digging shows that this nonsense doesn’t hold up. Does it make any sense that there is a struggle between a group which makes x amount of money and another group which makes y amount of money? According to the Economic Policy Institute, the average income of the top one percent nationwide is $1.15 million. Does this mean that someone who makes $1.14 million dollars has the same interests in fighting this “one percent” as the people who are making $90,000 a month?
Across the sea, Labour Party leader Jeremy Corbyn tweeted, “The political elite and establishment have let people down across our country.” Again, the question rings more painfully here, who are the elite? We are merely left with statistics, with the vague terminology of ‘the establishment’, and so on. Nothing concrete, as per usual. But this term is not merely limited to the clique of social democrats, it has been used most recently by prominent hardline conservatives globally.
The likes of Trump, as well as his base, have identified a new elite. This elite refers specifically to what they perceive as the coastal/liberal elite which looks down upon the mid-westerners and southerners. For the anti-EU politicians in Britain and France, the elite are the leadership of the European Union “who dictate their laws and destroy their countries”.
To boil this down, the elite is simultaneously the one percent, the establishment, the coastal liberals, and whatever else the members of the ruling class decide to say. If there was to be an immediate and obvious conclusion here, it would be that there is indeed no “elite”. To the ruling class, the elite is everybody and nobody at the same time, whoever is useful at moment to blame and individualize the problems that capitalism produces.
Throw Aside All Illusions…
The massive political tide which is now growing against this abstract political elite can never be a movement which is capable of doing away with capitalism. The elite exist solely in the minds of the mouthpieces of the ruling class, a verbal tool which is picked up and thrown about when the advancing decomposition of capital becomes far too obvious to ignore. Often enough, those who find themselves attacking the elite are often members of the ruling class itself.
If this term is so concretely unusable, a new question arises: what is the actual enemy of humanity, if not ‘the elite’? The material reality in the world is that of class, and the group relation to the means to produce. There is the working class, which must sell its labor power to a capitalist in order to survive, stripping them of all possibility to self-actualize and grow. On the other hand, there is the bourgeoisie, who exploit the workers’ labor in order to gain surplus value. This is the secret of the ruling class’ survival: exploitation, genocide, destruction, and bloodshed. For the sake of its survival, the bourgeoisie does everything it can to maintain the status quo. The result for the workers is pain, war, poverty, massacres, and famine which will continue until the day that society is in the hands of the working class. This conflict is the primary social division of capitalist society, not an abstract struggle between the “common man” and the “one-percent” or “coastal elite”.
If we are to seriously take up the issue of dealing with the symptoms of capitalism, we should consider the treatment that the doctor prescribed: global proletarian revolution. Capitalism is fundamentally unable to provide humanity with sustainable growth, let alone allowing it to develop towards abundance and self-actualization.