Hoor Asrar talks about the disturbing influence of Pakistan and elitism
It is widely known that Pakistani polity is under the strong grip of elites that think only about themselves and pay no attention to the welfare of millions of their compatriots. There is neither any control over these elites nor there is any accountability process to help them. These Pakistan and elitism elites have caused enormous harm to the interests of the Pakistani people along with manipulating the state itself.
These elites comprise a relatively small dominant group and social category of people who occupy a position of privilege or dominance and have a privileged status within a larger society and have taken undue advantage of their position. It stands for a group or groups that hold power in a social system and exercise dominating influence on carrying out public decisions.
Such power and privilege are out of sync with the usual notions associated with them. This lopsided situation causes a serious disruption in the natural state of affairs and results in a critical lack of societal balance. It is usually observed that though elitist classes belong to a multiplicity of social strata yet from their perspective, they remain united so that they can wield stronger power. They consider keeping hold of power as their ideology and they rarely abandon it.
It is also acknowledged that members of the elite are defined as people with exceptional virtues who show distinguished abilities in any domain. Being part of the elite, therefore, depends on individual capacities and natural talent that lead to above-average success. The premise of elitism is that the masses lacked the mechanical and technical capacity to govern themselves therefore society cannot exist without a dominant class because leadership is technically indispensable to the survival of organizations.
Ruling Elite And Masses Difference
The main difference between the ruling elite and the masses does not lie in ownership as much as in the control of the means of production, in particular through knowledge and technical competence. They do not distinguish between corporate and state ownership and their oligarchy holds power in both capitalist and socialist regimes.
The main decisions are made by an elite composed of the people at the top of the three big institutional hierarchies comprising political, military, and economic elites that form a triangle of power. These major institutional orders are interdependent and interlocked, and their members share a common worldview and a class identity and they consider themselves as being separate and superior to the rest of the society.
Keeping in view their very nature elitists in general are criticized for focusing on political domination and failing to identify it with the economic class that owns the means of production. These elites all belong to the same dominant social class and share the same social origins, the same networks, and the same ideology. Their leaders share the same origins, the same interests, and the same education and training.
Their solidarity stems from their social similarities and psychological affinities in which their common training plays a critical role as the basis for permanent alliances of power and strategic marriages and other affiliations. Educational institutions participating in the reproduction of the power of the wealthy few.
Schools and universities are indeed developed by the upper class and are filled with their children, who are socialized in an upper-class worldview along with the newly wealthy people who are assimilated there. The primary reason for such homogeneity is their social and class origins which grants them easy access to positions of power both in and out of the government.
Social Order In The Reproduction Of Education
Education is also critical in the reproduction of the social order. Elites can reproduce themselves, that is, pass on their privileges to their offspring, even in the ostensibly most meritocratic social fields, such as education. The educational system enables children from the dominant class to obtain the best diplomas and thus gain access to dominant social positions.
At the same time, the system legitimizes their academic achievement by linking it to individual and natural gifts, concealing its social origins. The modern practice of functional democracy has also experienced the stranglehold of elites, particularly in fledgling governance structures such as Pakistan and elitism. The history of democratic evolution is replete with elites’ struggle for power and their idea of the iron law of oligarchy was the result of their analysis of leadership patterns in democratic governments and in other organizations such as trade unions.
They view their hold on societal organs as tenuous and fear that their overthrow by the general public will eventually lead to serious disruption in their status. Owing to this consideration they refute the possibility of the existence of an ideal democracy as it is harmful to their existence and dominance. Many analysts are of the view that the existence of elites at all times and places is a natural phenomenon because of the unequal distribution of talent, wealth, and political influence in society.
As a consequence, it is assumed that the great masses of people are largely unorganized, ill-informed, virtually powerless, and controlled and manipulated by the powerful elites who exploit them both economically and politically. Their dependence and disorganization prevent the masses from participating in democratic life and the elitists try hard to ensure that their hold remains permanent.
Pakistan And Elitism Prevailing Situations
Pakistan and elitism also view that above the masses exists a middle level of power composed of local opinion leaders and special interest groups that is reflected in the political representative bodies and political parties but they not only fail to represent the masses but also have no real effect on the elites, who leave them to debate and decide some minor issues, as long as they do not represent a serious challenge to their authority.
The political directorate itself is described as undemocratic in both the process of its selection and its maintenance. Moreover, it is believed that the widespread alienation of the masses. Despite the prevailing situation in Pakistan is slowly changing as the elites suffer from the critical lack of legitimacy and this point has now become the focus of public attention.
It is also observed that the extent of elites’ positions of authority is determined by the reactions of the public toward those who hold power and currently such reactions in Pakistan are massively negative towards them. The existence of political elites depends on the legitimacy of their authority in the eyes of the people and since they lack it in large measure therefore their grip is strongly challenged though the opposition and resistance have not reached the level where it could easily dislodge them.
The situation is such that there is no option but to strike a compromise that points out that an allowance is given to the fact that the democratic process does allow the emergence of merit-based public representation that though may not have reached satisfactory levels but is slowly getting there. It appears that the situation is ripe for removing the influence exercised by elites in the Pakistani polity and it may not be long before it takes place. The Weekender