I am using “elite” here deliberately and “power elite,” the term of social critic, specifically. And, that essay discusses two sorts of elitism — power and cultural — and how they have come into conflict, and it argues that culture is the only sphere that the power elites don’t control completely.
For the past few years, we have watched the people of Tunisia and then Egypt revolt against the power elites that govern them. It has been thrilling, speaking as someone who is not a member of a power elite. It reminds me of the dock strikes in Poland before the collapse of the USSR or the massive rallies in Prague that culminated in the Velvet Revolution. The big rallies against the War in Vietnam are nearest equivalent to these events in my own life, but we were attempting to overturn a policy of the government, not the power elite itself.
The language of Egypt right now is familiar to us — democracy, human rights, representative government, self-determination, equality before the law. We may be skeptical that Egypt ultimately will act on those ideas, create a society that attempts to live by them. It’s a big place with lots of competing ideologies, religious and otherwise, that aren’t very democratic. But the purity of the language now is almost as thrilling as the video of the rallies in Tahrir Square. Here is what Mohammad Mursi of the Muslim Brotherhood said: “We aim to remove all forms of injustice, tyranny, autocracy and dictatorship, and we call for the implementation of a democratic multiparty all-inclusive political system that excludes no one.”
Where did that language originate? From the cultural elites of the 17th and 18th century, who argued against the Divine Right of Kings and for the essential dignity of the individual? I could name a few — Locke, Hume, Montesquieu. And I can point to the Americans who took those ideas and made them real — Jefferson, Madison, Hamilton and Franklin, our own cultural elite — in a functioning Constitution.
Who, then, is guilty of elitism, if not the elatedly educated in general? The main culprits turn out to be people for whom a moneyed and therefore educated background lies behind the adoption of aesthetic, intellectual, or political values that demur from the money-making mandate that otherwise dominates society.
I could just as easily talk about the history I learned in college, the philosophy, the Shakespeare. Almost anything. It all led to the same place ultimately, a place that resisted control by power elites and sought to replace it with systems built on power sharing by individuals imbued with the same dignity.Artists
I tend to divide artists into two kinds: the elitist artists who make art with other artists in mind and the popular artists who make art for a wider community.
Art allows the artist to enjoy the satisfaction of creating something.
And the artists are very “artist-centric” and “unfortunate* ways of looking at art. But, again, there’s a state change from unsatisfied to satisfied, so it’s still about revolution, self-absorbed and a sometimes unique.
Art will NEVER be about causing change. The “artist as social critic” concept failed in 1937, when Picasso painted Guernica. Neither Guernica nor a million Guernica-like paintings have ever even slowed down a war for a second or stopped one.
The art will always be there regardless of political norms, wars or revolutions, but the elite `s artists thrive in quiet waters, where art is enjoyed and respected as a part of society` s spiritual needs – but until then it will always be the world’s many cultures, who must join forces for the great common tasks – Being able to speak, live and respect the differences `s diverse political attitudes as well as religious beliefs.
Kurt Lykke Lindved
Ambassador, Lecturer and Author