So, Tam wrote a post recently (Ha; bet you thought I was going with this one didn’t you?) in which she made the observation, “This is what comes of the gradual shift of the word “elitist” from an aspiration to a pejorative.”
To which I thought in reply, “But its always been both, hasn’t it?’
If you think of yourself as being among the elite, that you personally, not just your actions/opinions are superior to the people around you, then you are a [insert crude slang word for the appropriate human genitalia here] and the personification of the very word “pejorative”. OTOH if the majority of those around you consider you to be among the elite in whatever is under discussion, you’re probably doing whatever it is just about well enough.
I take Tam’s point to have been that these days people seem to actively aspire to the pejorative type of elitist behavior in the mistaken belief that doing so is the way to achieve the admired result. That pretending skilled accomplishment deserves equal respect to actually being accomplished at some task requiring developed skills. That the perquisites and considerations they receive from others is what those judged to be superior are really all about.
I considered elitist thinking back in 2006 at Gary Gagliardi’s old Warrior Class blog (where I first started blogging in late 2005). One of the more questionable hallmarks of elitist behavior is the assumption that the status is inheritable or somehow transmissible from another. This is the objection I have to Albert Nock’s theories regarding the elite condition; that somehow this is an inherent attribute present in some people but not others. Call me cynical, but the following makes me think he wasn’t being quite as rigorous in his pronouncements as he is credited with being:
“In the mid-1920s, a small group of wealthy American admirers funded Nock’s literary and historical work…”
Horses and carts come to mind as does biting the hand that feeds, and all that.
In my belief, true individual elite status is bestowed upon you by those both familiar with you and who are themselves regarded as being worthy to make such a judgement. Elite status can be lost by you for being seen as assuming the perks of that status rather than accepting them. Merely being the child/nephew/inheritor of an elite person will give you a certain advantage of opportunity to achieve such a status judgement for yourself, but attaining such a regard is on you. Ask Paris Hilton, for only one example.
Or Tam herself. Elite gun blogger isn’t necessarily a well-defined specialty, but having an established history of subject knowledge mastery and personal expertise is certainly part of it.