Elite[s] and elitists, Cooper and Others

minnow at belfry.org.uk minnow at belfry.org.uk
Wed Nov 5 06:54:24 EST 2003


Ven cavilled at my remarking:

>>I'd say for instance that DWJ is a member of an
>elite, in that she writes
>>excellent books and most people don't; does my
>saying so make her an
>>elitist, or me an elitist, or is it simply a
>statement of what looks like a
>>fairly obvious fact?  (A parallel would be that
>I can point out that the
>>monarchy exists without necessarily being a
>monarchist, I suppose.)>
>
>Hmm, elitist, monarchist, racist, doggist (I've
>really heard this one) fascist...... the ist
>suffix doesn't do the same thing to the meanings
>of all these words or, by analogy to racist a
>monarchist would be anti monarchs, or some
>monarchs, well it makes my head hurt really. I'm
>not at all sure whether an elitist is someone who
>thinks they are a member of an  elite which is
>superior and deserving of privilege; or somebody
>who thinks that granting privilege and/or giving
>over decision making to  an elite group is a good
>thing; or both. Just believing that elites exist
>doesn't make you an "elitist" in my view, thats
>about how you behave around, and what you believe
>about the status, of elite groups.

I was talking specifically about the difference
between the dictionary definition, which is "one
who believes in rule by an elite", and the lax
"someone I don't like because I think s/he thinks
s/he's better than I am" meaning that has come over
this word.  When I used "monarchist" rather than
"racist" or "fascist" it was because those would
have been far,far too likely to lead to political
discussion of what those two groups are or what
they really believe.

Did the doggist believe in rule by dogs?  :-)  I
can see that as being a bit iffy: dalmatians of
my acquaintance would require their human subjects
to spend all day being available to be licked!
They always seem to have that as their idea of
what people are for (in the gaps between feeding
them and taking them for ten-mile walks).

Chosen endings for words are interesting, as
pointers to feelings about the thing.  A dietician
is someone who knows about diet, but a dietist
would be somehow more likely to be someone who
advocated some fad diet, I'd suggest, just as a
for-instance.  And a magicist sounds positively
sinister.  Academician/academicist?  Politician/
politicist?

How about "-ite"?

Game played with surnames at SF conventions, of
course.  Neil is Gaimanic, Diana is Jonesical,
Dave is Langfordian.  But one has to be careful
to let the person choose for him- or herself, in
case of sensitivity about messing with names.

Minnow


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