The Analysis of Political Systems

By Douglas V. Verney | Go to book overview

IX
ELITE THEORIES

IN his satire Animal Farm George Orwell gave an exposition of elites which may well outlast that of the textbooks. In this fable the horses, intoxicated by the thought that the taking-over of the farm means that everyone shall be on an equal footing (as in classical democracy) are surprised to discover that the pigs, shrewd creatures, are taking things easily and are regarding themselves, apparently, as a new governing (and leisured) class. Indignantly they rush back to the spot where the principles governing the new society have been painted on the wall. Alas for them, the Declaration of the Rights of Animals has been amended so that it now reads: 'All animals are equal -- but some are more equal than others'. In other words there was now to be an elite.


1. TYPES OF ELITE

The main characteristic of all elite societies is that the'more equal few'have an advantage over the many. Such societies differ from one another first of all in the type of people who comprise the few. In some societies, for example, the elderly may be given deference -- even to the extent of being accepted as the political as well as the social leaders. Here government is a gerontocracy. In most societies until recent times the men (whom Lipson in his The Great Issues of Politics calls the'unfair sex') have had an advantage over the women. Customarily, too, a man's family backround, that is to say his birth or ancestry, has often afforded him the sort of privileges indicated by the phrase'born with a silver spoon in his mouth'.

-157-

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The Analysis of Political Systems
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • I - Introduction 1
  • Part 0ne - The Structure of Government 15
  • II - Parliamentary Government 17
  • III - Presidential Government 39
  • IV - Convention Theory 57
  • Part Two - The Political Process 95
  • VI - 'Classical' Democracy 99
  • VII - Representative Democracy And Political Parties 115
  • VIII - The Political Process: Interests and Pressure Groups 129
  • IX - Elite Theories 157
  • X - The 'Iron Law of Oligarchy' 174
  • XI - Class War 186
  • Part Three - Conclusion 197
  • XII - Government and the Political Process 199
  • Index 233
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