Elitism vs Pluralism
Elitism and Pluralism are belief systems that are opposite to each other and constitute a way of looking at a political system. This attitude system allows one to analyze the political system including the institutions such as government, army, parliament etc. Despite ostensible differences, many people seem to confuse between elitism and pluralism. This article attempts to highlight the system of looking at power equations and struggle in a political system through belief systems called elitism and pluralism.
In every country, there are select groups and individuals who enjoy clout with their views being heard with rapt attention and given due weightage before taking any major decision. These could be people having taken birth in privileged class or having special attributes like extraordinary talent in a field or long experience in a particular field. The views and opinions of such people and groups are taken seriously, and they are regarded as the elite part of the population. Sometimes only wealth can be criteria of regarding people as elite. This is a system where elite remain over and above the rest of the population and power to control the country remains concentrated in the hands of the elite.
Pluralism is a belief system that accepts coexistence of different power centers and, in fact, an ideal system where no one has dominance over others. Decision making is based upon participation, and discussion and views of all are heard before arriving at a decision that is acceptable to the majority of the population. This is also a system that echoes the sentiments of the majority. Hence pluralism is close to the concept of democracy.
In reality, except dictatorships where the rule of a select few is observed based upon their power or elite background, pluralism is seen in the form of democracy in most of the political systems around the world. However, even in the purest of democracies, there are elites in the corridors of power and in the battleground during elections to decide government formation and later policy making. The premise that real power in democracy lies in the hands of the masses does not hold water today with elite groups and individuals holding the key to power equations and the delicate balance of power.
What is the difference between Elitism and Pluralism?
• Elitism accepts that, in every society and political system, there are certain individuals and groups who are powerful and their views are taken seriously in higher echelons of government.
• On the other hand, pluralism refers to acceptance of diverse views and opinions and decisions are taken on the basis of consensus.
• Elitism is closer to dictatorships while pluralism is closer to democratic political systems.
• No political system, however, follows either of the two belief systems exclusively as the elitism remains existent, even in the purest of democracies around the world.