Myth of the elite

The idea of a 1% who call the shots in our country is somewhat flawed. There is, primarily, not a discrete class of power-holders. Rather, there is a multiplicity of power dynamics, situations in which members of favored classes prevail over members of unfavored classes. For example, in some contexts, people in the racial or ethnic majority prevail over people in minorities; in others contexts, people with wealth prevail over those without, or men prevail over women, legal residents over aliens, those with more education over those with less, those with the right connections or good looks or charisma or big muscles over those without, and so on. Sometimes, the expected power dynamic is flipped, and the member of the generally disfavored class prevails over the favored, but those situations are less common. These power dynamics, these instances in which some people prevail over others, occur countless times every day in everyone’s lives. You win some, you lose some. But some people win more than others. Some people are members of many favored classes, for example, a wealthy white male citizen with a graduate degree and a charming smile. Some people may not have many of the favored class memberships but are able to situate themselves in niche positions to prevail. Over the course of time, as the outcomes of these innumerable power dynamics aggregate, a class of power-holders does come into being, but as a secondary effect, an epiphenomenon of the overall set of power dynamics.


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