Elitism: A Progressive Defence

Anti-elitism has become a common staple of media commentary and political rhetoric. But we are taking aim at the wrong enemy. The populist right have diverted public anger away from the real corporate and financial elites and onto those who treat us when we are sick, champion our rights in court, represent our interests in Parliament and create and curate the best literature, art and ideas.

This important book argues that the real elites escape scrutiny, while everything that makes our lives worth living becomes ‘worthy’ and dumbed down. Culture and education have been made to function as merely symbolic arenas of democratisation, but gross inequality remains intact.

Liberals have lost their nerve, accepting the anti-elitism slur at face value and worrying that promoting cultural high standards means protecting social privilege. For too long, conservatives have had a monopoly on upholding aesthetic values. But now that they’ve become ruthless modernisers, it’s time for progressives to take on that task. Elitism: A Progressive Defence provides powerful ammunition for the fight, arguing that, rich or poor, beauty and truth belong to us all.

Eliane Glaser

I am a writer, radio producer, and research fellow at the School of Advanced Study, University of London. Motherhood: A Manifesto (Fourth Estate, 2021). Elitism: A Progressive Defence (Biteback, 2020). Anti-Politics: On the Demonization of Ideology, Authority and the State (Repeater, 2018). Get Real: How to See Through the Hype, Spin and Lies of Modern Life (Fourth Estate, 2012). My comment pieces, features and reviews can be found in the Guardian, Prospect, and the London Review of Books, among other places, and I speak at conferences, festivals and in the media about my ideas and research. I also regularly produce programmes on Radio 4 and Radio 3. You can email me at elianeglaser at hotmail dot com