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Elites’ Illusions About Democracy

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Chapter Summary

An important question about democratic elitism is how elites think about democracy. This chapter explores one facet of the question, which is the influence of democratic ideology on their thinking. Ideologies are general doctrines that encompass broad social and political matters. Reduced to its basic elements, an ideology contains a distinctive belief about human nature and motivation, instrumental reasoning about how, in light of this belief, society should be structured, and consequent approval or disapproval of an existing society. The chapter examines how the ideology of democracy, in which Western elites today have unquestioned faith, conceals a range of fundamental social changes and distorts the implications of various major events. Like the ideologies that preoccupied elites in earlier periods, the ideology of democracy presents a vision and poses choices that are illusory. The fixation of elites on these illusions is leading to disaster.

Keywords: democratic elitism; democratic ideology



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