The case for elites

It’s also important to juxtapose Buckley’s comments with those of other leading conservatives. In his classic book, “Ideas Have Consequences,” Richard Weaver argued that “democracy cannot exist without aristocracy.” This was consistent with Russell Kirk’s view that society requires classes that emphasize “natural” distinctions. So who’s right?

Nobody is suggesting that there should be some sort of hereditary leadership class. But there should be leaders — people we follow because they have earned our respect, or, at least, because they hold a position we ought to respect.

Unfortunately, all the trends — digital direct democracy and a culture that rewards youth, the lowering of barriers, and instant gratification — are pushing toward a sort of radical egalitarianism. To say anything different is to be branded an elitist — or (in this populist milieu) a liberal. David Brooks is on to something.