project WORLDVIEW  choice info         copyright 2021               Home         

Related Words, Beliefs, Background for Choice #30

Worldview Theme #20A: Elitism

Worldview Theme #21A: Populism

art and status -- from an evolutionary biology viewpoint art seems rather useless, and explanations for its widespread appeal and persistence lead to economic and psychology of status considerations. It has been charged that many collect art works -- not for their aesthetic merits -- to engage in conspicuous consumption or to bolster their claim to belonging to some elite class.

brotherhood -- an idealized situation in which people treat each other in a highly considerate way as if they were members of the same family (brothers or sisters).

capital–an economics term referring to accumulated goods and resources (or their value) devoted to the production of other goods or set aside to produce income.  Capital can take the form of money, raw materials, buildings, equipment, inventories, etc.  While economists have long distinguished between "physical capital" and "human capital", some have recently extended this scheme to include "natural capital".    

centrally planned economy--a system, typically used in socialist states, where investment, production and allocation of goods is based on planning goals established by a centralized decision-making authority.

communitas--intense feelings of social solidarity, community spirit, and joyful togetherness.

community organizing, ten rules for–1.Nobody’s going to come to the meeting unless they’ve got a reason to come to the meeting  2.  Nobody’s going to come to a meeting unless they know about it.      3. If an organization doesn’t grow, it will die  4. Anyone can be a leader.  5.  The most important victory is the group itself.   6. Sometimes winning is losing. 7. Sometimes winning is winning. 8. If you're not fighting for what  you want, you don't want enough  9. Celebrate! 10.  Have fun!  from Community Organizing: People Power from the Grassroots by Dave Beckwith, Cristina Lopez

cooperatives principles -- These were formulated in the 1840s by a co-operative of weavers in Rochdale, Lancashire, England: 1) voluntary and open membership; 2) democratic member control; 3) members economic participation; 4) autonomy and independence; 5) provide education, training, and information 6) cooperate and work with other cooperatives; 7) concern for the community

corporate executive pay issues–according to many observers of top U.S. companies, the ratio of top corporate executive compensation to that of an ordinary private sector worker is outrageously large.  Based on figures compiled by the Institute for Policy Studies, in 2019, a typical worker at one of the top 50 (in terms of pay gaps) publicly traded American companies would have to work at least 1000 years to earn what the company’s CEO earned in one year.  Average annual pay at these firms was $15.9 million,  whereas that same year median worker pay was $10,027.  While some feel all such high corporate executive compensation is unjustified, many single out the outrageously high salaries, bonuses, and severance pay packages of executives who led companies which performed poorly for special ridicule.     

corporate state -- a term used by those who believe that government and large corporations are run by the same people and are so intermeshed that corporate goals and policy and government goals and policy are essentially the same

corruption—dishonest, unethical, possibly illegal behavior, especially while serving the public in a position of trust, with the motive of personal gain (increase in wealth, power, etc.) / pleasure. Theft through cheating or embezzlement, bribery, conflict of  interest, and unequal treatment of people with favors for  friends / penalties for opponents are examples.

culture wara cultural battle for dominance between social groups with highly divergent worldviews: different beliefs, values, practices, sources of information, etc. The term was first used in the USA in the early 1990s to describe the cultural divide / widespread societal disagreement between traditional conservative and progressive liberal camps with hot button issues such as abortion, same sex marriage, separation of church and state, gun laws, immigration, multiculturalism, etc. Increasingly the battle lines are between those who cynically don't believe the mainstream media,  buy into charges of "fake news" and "a rigged system," embrace certain (mostly fictional) conspiracy theories to some extent, resent experts and the elite, etc. pitted against  those (many with more idealistic, less cynical outlooks) who are comfortable with a society based on facts, science, professionalism, competence, meritocracy, etc where people compete on a playing field based on these things.   

democracy -- government by the people, typically controlled by majority vote of the people as a whole, as opposed to government controlled by a particular class, group, or individual. 

democratic elitism -- the belief that, not all the people, but only “the best” (experts, the well educated, those who have proven themselves capable, etc) should be allowed to vote or otherwise determine important public matters. Example: A local school board composed of doctors, lawyers, university professors, bankers, business owners, etc. -- not farmers, factory workers, housewives, etc. -- determines the policies of a school district.

demagogue--a corrupt leader who plays on popular prejudices, makes false claims, and pretends to champion the causes of common people, all in an effort to get elected and gain power  

discrimination-- prejudicial treatment of people based on their being different (in race, religion, appearance, ability, etc.)  In some jurisdictions certain forms of discrimination are outlawed; elsewhere they can lead to policies and practices that harm particular groups. 

dividing people, tactics used to do this -- those who fear the collective strength of people who have organized and united to form a group, often seek to exploit differences within the group and destroy its populist mission. Differences exploited often include race, ethnicity, and socioeconomic class -- but fracturing can occur along many potential fault lines if outsiders are working to encourage it.  After the fracturing, people who previously fully embraced populism may have moved away from it (to some extent) and toward individualism, and blame, dissension, finger-pointing, lack of trust, etc. may exist where previously they didn’t. 

economic democracy--while conceptions of it vary, this generally refers to a socioeconomic system that does some or all of the following: 1) transfers economic decision making from the (corporate elite) few to the majority through worker management / ownership of productive enterprises, 2) generally promotes democratic local / regional control over corporate state central planning, 3) charges central government with levying taxes that allow social control of investment, which is carried out locally / regionally, and 4) while retaining the market system, abolishes private ownership of productive resources, and wage labor. With respect to the latter, in worker run enterprises there are no labor costs: workers are compensated by dividing up what is left after other costs have been subtracted from sales  revenues.  With 3) and 4) in this conception, such economic democracy looks like a form of socialism. 

egalitarianism -- the belief that all human beings should have the same rights, opportunities and privileges

elitism--has three related but yet distinct meanings: 1) situations where the leadership and rule of many is by a select few: an elite;  2) belief that "the best"--those set apart from others by ability, experience, wealth, etc.-- should govern, lead or be granted the most influence; 3) one's conscious belief that he or she belongs to the elite

entitlement, sense of—a state or condition in which one feels deserving and worthy of particular benefits, privileges, or rewards (including respect) without needing to provide additional demonstration of worthiness.  Favorably perceiving one’s status or valuing one’s background relative to others’ can produce a sense of entitlement that is exclusive.

ethnocentrism -- adopting the social standards of one’s own culture or ethnic group as the basis for evaluating the social practices, customs, beliefs, etc. of another culture -- and doing so because you believe your society’s values and way of living are superior to those of other cultures.

exclusive -- excluding others from participating. American writer, poet and populist Carl Sandburg, whose works included a 1936 book entitled The People, Yes! , when asked what word he most detested, replied, “exclusive”.

feudal society--the dominant social order of the Middle Ages in Europe (and perhaps elsewhere) in which power was decentralized: resting in an aristocratic, land-owning elite who provided peasants with protection and land to till in exchange for labor and part of what the land produced.  The Catholic Church was heavily invested in this system: its moral authority counterbalancing the civil / military authority and associated injustice.

fundamentalism, the poor and social justice-- the failure of the government to do much for improving the plight of the poor has resulted in those people in many parts of the world turning instead to religious fundamentalist groups--particularly Islamic-- for help. As William Dalrymple describes it, "...much of the Islamists' success in Pakistan and elsewhere comes from their ability to portray themselves as champions of social justice, fighting Westernized elites."

government, branches of--in western democratic and other governments there typically are three: 1) the legislative, which often consists of elected representatives who make laws, 2) the executive, often including the head of the government, is responsible for enforcing laws and the daily functioning / administration of the state, 3) the judicial, typically consisting of courts, judges, etc., interprets the law and administers justice.  Ideally, a separation of powers gives each branch independence, while providing checks and balances against abuse.

individualism -- a social philosophy and belief system that places individual interests and rights above those of society , and individual freedom and independence above any social contract obligations.

jihad–an Islamic term, linked to religious duty, which seemingly has two meanings: 1) spiritual (greater) jihad: refers to striving in the way of Allah, promoting Islam, fighting injustice, and nonviolent religious struggle;     2) (lesser) jihad of the sword: holy war  against the enemies of Islam aimed at defending and expanding the Islamic state.

 

 

kinship metaphors -- examples of these abound: brotherhood, sister cities, fraternities and sororities, mother country and fatherland, “Brother, can you spare a dime?”, “Our Father who art in Heaven”, etc. All of these seek to extend the natural love or special treatment that exists between blood relatives to those who are unrelated. Evolutionary biologists explain the special treatment of kin in terms of relatives sharing many more genes than nonrelatives and that natural selection can work to insure survival of common, favored genes by promoting favored (altruistic behavior) treatment of relatives.

kleptocracy--a government characterized by greed and corruption in which the ruler (or rulers) loot the national treasury and use his (their) position(s) to extend his (their) personal wealth to the detriment of the people he (they) are supposed to be serving. In a 2004 study, the German group Transparency International identified five national leaders of recent decades who directed at least $1 billion of their nation's wealth into their own private bank accounts. Former Indonesian and Philippine presidents Suharto and Marcos topped the list--ripping off an estimated $25 billion and $7.5 billion respectively. 

labor union -- an organization of workers whose purpose is to promote and advance its members’ interests with respect to wages, benefits, and working conditions. The power of organized labor in America peaked in the mid 1950s when 31% of the work force belonged to either a craft or industrial labor union. By 2019 it had declined in America such that only 10.3 % belonged to unions, although in Canada (30%) and some Western European countries the labor movement was relatively stronger.  

lobbyist--a person paid to act on behalf of a particular corporation, union, organization, etc. in aggressively promoting their agenda to elected representatives or those in positions of power in governments.  In some democracies, (like the United States), lobbyists help funnel campaign contributions to politicians--which often subvert the will of the people critics charge.  

master -- a derogatory term that refers to an individual or group -- historically often associated with a man or men -- who dominates and controls another person or group of people, and to some extent exercises authority that keeps those subject to it in a submissive state of servitude.

merit system / meritocracy -- a system in which people are promoted based on their merit, which generally refers to their education, expertise, qualifications, demonstrated ability to do the job, experience, etc -- rather than who they know, their membership in some favored group, etc. The term meritocracy can refer to either a society, government, or both. For some a meritocracy is a society in which each person’s status (in occupational, civic influence, social terms) is based on individual merit rather than political, economic, family or other factors. Others would carry the merit system way of doing things to logical extreme and put a meritorious elite in charge of running a government or managing a society.

monarchy --government based on the absolute authority of a sovereign royal family ruler, i.e. king or queen

multiculturalism--an orientation in which blending of cultures / cultural diversity is seen as beneficial to the larger society / nation since it creates societal cohesion.

noble savage view of human nature -- the belief that people, if they lived in a natural state away from the corrupting influence of social institutions, are fundamentally peaceful, co-operative, and altruistically concerned with each other’s well being -- not aggressively greedy, acquisitive, competitive and merely out to advance their own self interest. This view was popularized by 18th century French philosopher Jean Jacques Rousseau.

oligarchy--a from of government in which a small privileged group rules. Often those in this select group are there because they possess great wealth, military power, or family connections. Typically the rule is minority rule--meaning that if a true democracy was in place such rule would not be tolerated.  To some the term oligarchy connotes corrupt and selfish rule. 

pluralism--a societal state in which people of diverse religious, racial, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds all live together, both preserving aspects of their heritage and traditions and living together under the same national government .

plutocracy--government by or conducted in the interest of the rich.  Generally in societies governed like this, the level of economic inequality--measured by the gap between rich and poor--is high, and social mobility--measured by the % of once poor who escape their poverty and become rich--is low. "By 2000 the United States could be said to have a plutocracy" argues Kevin Phillips in his book Wealth and Democracy.  

political campaign contributions--the money and favors that individuals and groups give to candidates running for political office. Supporters view this as people extending their free speech rights; critics charge that the contributions are an attempt to buy influence and that such money from a relatively few wealthy people can subvert the will of the majority of the people.

populism--idealistically, this is related to appreciation of "the people," their heroic struggle, and their potential to unite and claim the political power that their numbers suggest they have to oust the self-serving elite who rule. The preceding can connect with either the first or both of the following and give the term two different meanings: 1) use of appropriate, persuasive language in political appeals to common people; 2) a social and political movement in which diverse groups bridge their differences and come together to work for meaningful change. Practically speaking, many so-called populist politicians are actually demagogues--some actively involved with fooling voters with disinformation campaigns, conspiracy theory peddling, etc. 

power elite, the -- refers to the class of people in positions of power in the corporate state. The term was first used in the 1950s as the title of a leftist assessment of who runs America (a book by C. Wright Mills).

social class-- divisions amongst members of a society typically based on wealth, heredity, land owned, occupation, education, etc. that order a society in ladder fashion ( lower, middle, and upper classes are common divisions).  Extremes here have ranged from extraordinarily class conscious feudal society (remnants of which today still remain in the United Kingdom) to ideally classless communistic societies.  In the United States talk of social class and class struggle is "politically intolerable" according to historian Howard Zinn.

solidarity—with respect to people involved in fighting the “powers that be” in what they see as a just cause, a solid commitment to both the cause and each other

specialist -- one who narrowly focuses on a particular topic, area of study, or practice. Specialists pursue something with lots of depth, but don’t seek breadth. To be contrasted with generalist.

technocracy -- refers to a society managed by technical experts, or a government with technocrats or the technically elite in control.

top down vs. bottom up–contrasting approaches to bringing change, solving problems,  structuring interaction (compare centrally planned economies, market based ones), etc. The former typically involves a very small number of people (sometimes even just one person) at the top setting policy that works its way down through various levels of organization to ordinary people at the bottom. The latter approach typically involves ordinary people at the bottom finding that something works, a groundswell of enthusiasm develops--or in a more modern context something goes viral on the internet--and eventually word of this development reaches all the way to the top. Here is another summary: top down: within a government or organizational power structure...assemble the experts and smartest people  to understand a particular problem have them study the situation, produce a report, and legislate or implement it! bottom up: within a community of dissatisfied individuals...identify each other, share visions, organize, set goals, have meetings make this grassroots people power work to bring change at state, national level

trust--with respect to extending this to another person, it refers to relying on the integrity, character, and ability of that person.  The degree of that trust is in proportion to the belief and faith one has in the honesty, good intentions, and competence of the person to be trusted.

Winner Take All Society--a phrase used to characterize what many see as a disturbing societal trend toward greater inequality.  The phrase is from the title of a 1995 book by Robert H. Frank and Philip J. Cook about income inequality in America and why, in the words of Molly Ivins,  "A few people get ungodly rich, and the rest of us fall behind!"  Simple-minded example of such a trend: Imagine a hypothetical state lottery switches from awarding $1 million prizes to twenty people and instead decides that one lucky person should take all $20 million! 

wishful thinking–involves interpreting events / actions of others, decision-making and forming beliefs based on what one desires to be true (rather than what is true) or what is the pleasing to imagine (rather than facing the perhaps grim?) reality behind a situation.   A related orientation–involving deluding oneself and similarly lacking in rational analysis / real world grounding–is "wishing makes it so."  This simplistic, fairy tale, magical, childhood fantasy way of dealing with problems is to be contrasted with the planning / hard work / repeated trials before success that adults solving real problems more typically are faced with.          

workers' rights--legal rights under relevant (labor) law and human rights, as in the UN Declaration of Human Rights articles 23 & 24, that govern workplace conditions, conditions / benefits of employment, and relations between workers and management.  Important rights here include the right to safe working conditions, right to join labor unions, expectation of fair compensation, and freedom from discrimination.  The International Labor Organization is the UN agency concerned with promoting decent working conditions.

Google
 
Web www.projectworldview.org

Back to Choice #30