Elite theory  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

In elite theory as developed by Marxist political scientists like Michael Parenti, all sufficiently large social groups will have some kind of elite group within them that actively participates in the group's political dynamics. When a group is arbitrarily excluded from the larger society, such as in the case of the racism that was widespread in the United States prior to the success of the American Civil Rights Movement, then elite members of the excluded group may form a counter-elite to fight for their group's interests (although they may be fighting for those interests only to the extent they mesh with the counter-elite's interests). Of course, the dominant elite can neutralize the counter-elite through the classic divide-and-conquer strategy of admitting key members of the counter-elite into the elite.

Elitism usually draws envy and resentment from the lower classes and the counter-elite. There are cases where elites arguably use this resentment of an elite to maintain their position. See Communism.

See also

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