Academic Questions

, Volume 31, Issue 4, pp 458–465 | Cite as

Aristocracy and Civilization

  • Chilton WilliamsonJr.

The “liberal elite,” a term that has become one of those ready-to-hand, paste-in phrases Orwell deplored in the 1930s, is one we owe to Antonio Gramsci and his theory of revolving elites. It is greatly overworked today, not necessarily through mental laziness but because, somehow, it does the job, and nobody so far has come up with an equally efficient synonym. At any rate, it’s debatable which is more hated by the members of this now dominant self-privileged class: aristocracy or the social and political phenomenon they call “populism.” They loathe them both, which says something about postmodern or advanced liberalism, whichever we choose to call it. They resent aristocracy for its grounding in heredity, which neither “merit” nor money can buy—one of the chief virtues Walter Bagehot identified in the aristocratic principle—while envying it and working to usurp its position at the head of society. And they actively and openly fear the “populists”—the supposedly reactionary middle and...

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© Springer Science+Business Media, LLC, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Chilton WilliamsonJr.
    • 1
  1. 1.RockfordUSA

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