Posted on: August 5, 2017 Posted by: Felicia S. C. Gooden Comments: 0

In 2010 Kanye West spoke these wise words, “No one man should have all that power.” From time immemorial, individual men or small groups of elitists have sought out total and complete control over mankind, whether in their local provinces or on a global scale. Several tools and strategies have been used including fear, religion, policy making, virtually all forms of government, slavery, economic disparity, mass mind control, terrorism, and the list goes on. While the talking heads like to hyperbolize the latest events orchestrated by a global elite, one must ponder the question: what gives the people in power their elite status and how do they maintain this illusion of elitism?

The Power Elite

Elite theory, fleshed out by political scientist C. Wright Mills in his book The Power Elite, posits that two key factors contribute to the stature and exclusiveness of the power elite: 1. control of top positions in government and business and 2. shared values and beliefs. Apparently, there is a specific in-group that shares particular values and belief systems, like the Christian conservative world view of Republicans, the liberal worldview of Democrats, Capitalists, Marxists, and so on. Combining these shared world views with political, military, or business interests that benefit a bigger picture of how the world should work leads to certain people of caliber and qualification being chosen to fill key positions in government, business, the military, and the non-profit sector. According to elite theory, anyone who shares the values and beliefs of the elites, “enjoys good luck”, and finds themselves qualified to fill positions can enter into the power elite circles and enjoy the benefits of exclusive inclusion.

Social Mobility

So, what about those who don’t enjoy good luck? Clearly, the masses tend to share similar values and beliefs with the power elite, as many of the public believe that aligning with a power elite group’s world view will yield them some kind of social benefit. Do most people just have bad luck? Not exactly. There are those who settle for a basic life of working to earn an income – they don’t seek to do anything more than earn and honest living and care for their families. Then there are those who aspire to something greater. This higher aspiration is where a mix between ambition and networking come in – some people succeed, and some people fail.
From the search for employment to acquiring funds for a start-up, two things are required: 1. a level of ambition and 2. a willingness to network and make beneficial social connections. The ambition to attain a position of power and influence, be it working for someone else’s corporation or starting one’s own business or non-profit all lead to the next step required for success – networking and developing contacts. The drive and personal selectiveness to go to a networking event or join a social club or professional association and seek out the highest quality contacts and opportunities are how the average citizen makes his or her way up the socio-economic ladder. The element of good luck manifests from here, for it is often sheer luck – or divine intervention – that ensures the opportunist is in the right place at the right time to meet the right person and make the right impression.

Controlling the Public

According to elite theory, the rest of the masses who lack the ambition and social qualification to become members of the power elite are alienated from power and politics for two reasons: 1. the people have become too busy with their personal lives, leading to apathy and disinterest, and 2. the power elite do not want the masses to participate, for fear that the elite won’t be able to maintain their level of continuous control. Think about it. On a daily basis, the emotional reactivity of the masses to major headlines without thinking to read the content of a story shows the state of individual – or collective – ambition of the masses, much less intellectual or social qualification. The people have become so caught up in barely surviving, identity politics, religious or cultural illusions, and in-fighting on social media that they do not even realize how they are contributing to their own demise and giving up their own power. Most do not even realize that public polls, term elections, and social media commentary are symbolic, for the most part, and have limited impact on the end decisions that are made in positions of power. Case in point, the 2016 Presidential Election of Donald Trump.
Further, the power elite don’t want the masses to have too much influence. Allegedly, the power elite believe that too many hands in the pot keep it from being stirred, and to a point, that’s true. When one takes time to objectively observe the chaos that is found on social media and the comments sections of various digital publications, one gets a glimpse into the chaos that would be made manifest if a true democracy was present in America, much less the entire world. It is, in fact, more efficient to have a representative democracy.
People tend to have a microcosmic view of the world and only care for the decisions made and policies implemented in their towns and counties, and in some cases, their states. The part that appears to leave the masses in an outrage on a larger scale is that they are coming to realize how symbolic their participation is. However, what they still fail to realize is that ranting and raving on social media will not bring about the change that they seek, and the power elite will continue to rule as they see fit unless the right person with the right worldview and the right amount of influence disrupts current political and elite thought.

No One Man

It still remains that no one man, woman, or small group of seemingly self-serving people should have absolute, tyrannical power over the masses. Most, if not all people seek to have a life of liberty and independence. However, even with that common desire for liberty, most people also want to be lead and guided – they want to be coddled and reassured. To a point, the follower mindset may be a symptom of societal and cultural conditioning, but it may also be a part of human nature. There are some alpha personalities who naturally seek to lead and create while there are beta personalities who seek to follow and execute duties. This dynamic is manifest in every aspect of life: politician and citizen, employer and employee, spiritual gurus and students, religious leaders and devout followers, teachers and students, and so on. However, is it accurate to claim that those who have common interests to lead, as opposed to those who have common interests to follow and be cared for, are elite? I’m not too sure about that.

The label of “elite” suggests that there is a certain quality that makes those in power “better” than those who are not, when in reality, they simply have different interests and aspirations. Continuously labeling those who have more power, money, or symbolic status “elite” suggests to the subconscious mind that those with certain interests and ambitions are of more importance than everyone else when the reality is that those who serve in government or corporations do their part in developing society and maintaining peace, prosperity, and structure. They are just doing their jobs to the best of their ability. Does this mean that those in power are not prone to believing that they have some special place in society that warrants them certain rights and privileges in contrast to the person who is not in a position of power? Not at all! History has proven that the ego typically overcomes the virtue of the soul when individuals are put into positions of power, no matter how well meaning they may be. However, what should be realized is the fact that those who are in the power elite are merely another group of people with commons interests, aspirations, and beliefs who seek to manage society and earthly resources in the most efficient manner and in a way that, as any person would expect, benefits them the most.

Politicians, celebrities, businessmen, and entrepreneurs are all people just like anyone else with ambitions and qualifications that are suited for serving in certain positions in society. The only thing that truly makes these people elite is their belief that they are superior to others and the fact that the public falls into this same belief system. It’s time to stop seeing people as superior or inferior to one another and start realizing the powers inherent within each and every human being – the power to create and the power to destroy based on one’s beliefs, values, and choices.

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