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The Power Elite

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Ken Chan

on 7 November 2013

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Transcript of The Power Elite

We are ordinary
power circumscribed by everyday world
driven by forces that cannot understand, govern
suffered from "Great Changes"
They are Elites
setting up/breaking down jobs for others.
able to escape from simple family responsibility
living in hotels and houses, but not a part of a single community
...but not all men are ordinary
some men occupy high position in society
to look down on, to speak, to mightily affect
the ordinary men and women's everyday world
The Power Elite
"They are all and we are not."
Elites and Ordinary People
What do they do?
making decisions that have major consequences
even if they fail to make...
results in greater consequences
ruling the big corps
running the state machine
directing military establishment
occupying strategic command posts in social structure
They are not solitary rulers
advisers, consultant, spokesmen and opinion makers will drive their thought and decisions
Example: 2013 HKTV Licensing Issue
The CE and ExCo rejected HKTV's application
Reports prepared by some "individual consultants" supported such decision
Resulted situation:
Gov VS Public? Consultants VS Public?
3 major institutions in US society
Economy, Politics and Military
Interlocked relation
no family is as powerful as a corp
Schools now select and train men for corporations
no church is as powerful as a military men
modernised religious institution now sends chaplains to the army to increase the moral to kill
army sends out the call will further break the family, by removing men
no school is as powerful as National Security Council in shaping the momentous events
Modern USA men now depends on:

corp that he spends the most alert hours of his best years
the state which touches him throughout his life
the army in which he is disciplined
But not only....

families that he was born into or organised by marriage
schools that he is educated
the church where he listen to words of God, in occasion
within each of the 3 institutions
the typical institutional units has become enlarged, and the power of the decisions is centralised
=> greater consequences, greater interaction with one another
Economy: Many corporations' decisions will affect not only economics development, also military and political ==> Production of firearms in USA
Military: Military establishment will affect economic activity and political life ==> USA's decision on sending troops to Afghanistan
Politics: Decisions in political domain will affect economy and military ==> USA's movement to control private guns

Class and Inequality
Usually, the elites are thought of possessing
a greater share of things and experiences that are mostly highly valued
money, power and prestige
ways of life/lifestyle
high position in the institution
However, it is not that simple.
High position is the base of money, power and prestige
and exercising power in such positions is to
acquire more and more wealth and prestige

They have the corporations
=>source of wealth
but the political apparatus also opens and closes paths to wealth
=> government policies effectively affect income of elites

the hierarchy of the institution is transferable
General Eisenhower: an army leader in WWII with great establishment
appreciated by education institution run by corporate
=> political order of Eisenhower is increased
=> prestige and power of Eisenhower peaked

demonstrates the accumulative nature of prestige

Elites as a social class
member of higher circles may also be conceived as members of a top social stratum
in Cantonese, is the term we use to describe
they know each other, socially and at business
=> when making business, taking other into account
so they "feel" to be the inner circle of upper social class
a qualitative split rather then numerical scale to define such a class

Further Examples
Financial Tsunami in 2007-08
Govn't policy: lenient loaning (subprime lending)
to facilitate the operation of capital market
have effects on raising political reputation (improving economy) and increase corporate revenue
it's the decision of power elites
but when the default occurs in a large scale (bubble bursts)
strike hard to the everyday world of ordinary people
such as weakening the economy, devaluation of cash (by the government printing more notes )
induced big cut on wage or even being laid off
uncontrollable by the ordinary men
Li Ka-shing's enterprise, Cheung Kong (Holdings) Limited
profile: worldwide 9th richest person, 1st in Great-China
owns biggest enterprise in Hong Kong, CKH Ltd
all-round business: real estates, retail, electricity, etc.
have a say on policies of HK, even China
HKU's medic school was named after him with his $1Billion to the institute
Full transcript