06 December 2011

Elite Prestige

The Power Elite by C. Wright Mills, 1956, Excerpts
Prestige is the shadow of money and power. Since the men of the higher political, economic, and military circles are an elite of money and power, they accumulate a prestige that is considerably above the ordinary; all of them have publicity value and some of them are downright eminent; increasingly, by virtue of their position and by means of conscious public relations, they strive to make their names notable, their actions acceptable, their policies popular, to become national celebrities.

The celebrities are The Names that need no further identification. Wherever the celebrities go, they are recognized, and moreover, recognized with some excitement and awe. Whatever they do has publicity value. More or less continuously, over a period of time, they are the material for the media of communication and entertainment. These national means of mass communication have been the channels through which those at the top reach the underlying population.

As military men have become more powerful during the wars and during the war-like interludes between, they too have joined the new national prestige scheme. They derive such importance as they have from the simple fact that violence is the final support of power and the final resort of those who would contest it. Only when war threaten international order do the generals and admirals come to be recognized for what at all times they are: indispensable elements of the order of power that prevails within and between the national states of the world.

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