17.06.2019 | Agnes Heller (Response)
“There is no democracy without a cultural elite”
Ágnes Heller responds to Jonas Lüscher`s and Michel Zichy`s question: “What role does a cultural elite play in promoting democracy?”, which was posed to debators in the opening text An initial thought...
There is no democracy without a cultural elite, essentially different from the political or the business elite. By this I mean people who are respected and emulated both for their spiritual accomplishment and social responsibility. A society in which the most respected people are the successful and wealthy ones, be they politicians, businessmen or film stars, will become a sheer mass society with no substance.
It is not the number of university degrees or mass publications that makes someone a member of a cultural elite but spiritual accomplishment, promotion of human dignity and understanding.
A stable democracy needs a cultural elite more than the political establishment because the latter is often more inclined to putting emphasis only on quantity with little regard for quality. When ideals and role models are only measured by quantity, the society degenerates and demagogues or tyrants take control.