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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.


“A seriously smart and audacious examination of what exactly we mean by ‘elites’, and whether the rhetoric of the populist right has encouraged the wrong ones to be demonised.” 

Matthew d’Ancona

“Eliane Glaser’s polemic demolishes the canard that expertise, intellectual achievement and cultural excellence are somehow ‘elitist’ and, as such, undemocratic. Words matter. Glaser shows that we must distinguish quality from economic privilege, ability from mediocrity. Perhaps we cannot restore the word elitism to its just esteem, but we must guard what it represents.”

Simon Jenkins

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  • Hardback, 128 pages
  • ISBN: 9781785906077
  • 18 August 2020
  • £10.00

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  • ISBN: 9781785906084
  • 18 August 2020
  • £6.99

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