Elite vs. Elitist


So I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately. It’s the concept of being elite vs. being an elitist. It’s a concept that I’ve pondered many times throughout my life.

First let’s look at the definitions (dictionary.com, American heritage dictionary):

Elite:

1. (often used with a plural verb) the choice or best of anything considered collectively, as of a group or class of persons.
2. (used with a plural verb) persons of the highest class: Only the elite were there.
3. a group of persons exercising the major share of authority or influence within a larger group: the power elite of a major political party.

5. representing the most choice or select; best: an elite group of authors.

Elitist (Elitism):

1. practice of or belief in rule by an elite.
2. consciousness of or pride in belonging to a select or favored group.

and:

  1. The belief that certain persons or members of certain classes or groups deserve favored treatment by virtue of their perceived superiority, as in intellect, social status, or financial resources.
    1. The sense of entitlement enjoyed by such a group or class.
    2. Control, rule, or domination by such a group or class.

So after reading these definitions, I wonder, can one be elite, and be conscious of it, and not be an elitist? Any gift, talent, or even pedigree that we possess is bound to factor in to our self-worth, right?

Let’s say for arguments sake that there is something about me that makes me “elite.” It may be my intellect, my family background, a talent, my profession, or my bank account (Ha!)

The question at hand is; should others treat me differently, do I deserve more than common respect? Do these gifts, does being “elite” cause me to be entitled to certain treatment?

OR

Do being elite entitle me to to help enhance the lives of others? Be it via (personal) education, employment, exposure to new and different things, or just providing inspiration.

OR

Both?

OR

Neither?

Now I’m not talking about business, and being compensated properly for a service (talent/skill/intellect/gift), and I’m not talking about government either. I’m strictly referring to personal and social interaction. Do you on any level, buy into a caste system? Whether purposefully or unwittingly, does or has your behavior ever reflected elitism? If so, do you feel it’s justified or valid? If so, what are your reasons? Have you ever acted elitist and aren’t proud of it? Give and example. Or have you never in your life had even a moment of being elitist?

No right or wrong answer here, just something to think about. I want to hear opinions. I’ll give mine after I have a few comments.

Truly,

Mitch Mitchowski
The Wondaland Arts Society

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