Letter: Disappearing elites

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The Independent Online
Sir: David Mellor's promise to 'tackle elitism in the arts' (report, 3 September) is disturbing when seen in the light of Milan Kundera's discussion of the term:

The word 'elitism' only appeared in France in 1967, the word 'elitist' not until 1968. For the first time in history, the very language threw a glare of negativity, even of mistrust, on the notion of elite.

Official propaganda in the Communist countries began to pummel elitism and elitists at that same time. It used the terms to designate not captains of industry or famous athletes or politicians but only the cultural elite: philosophers, writers, professors, historians, figures in film and the theatre.

An amazing synchronism. It seems that in the whole of Europe the cultural elite is yielding to other elites. Over there, to the elite of the police apparatus. Here, to the elite of the mass media apparatus. No one will ever accuse these new elites of elitism. Thus the word 'elitism' will soon be forgotten]

Yours sincerely,