Liberal elite is a political stigma used to describe highly-educated, politically left-leaning people, whose education had traditionally opened the doors to affluence. It is commonly used with the pejorative implication that the people who claim to support the rights of the working class are themselves members of the upper class, or upper middle class, and are therefore out of touch with the real needs of the people they claim to support and protect. The phrase "liberal elite" should not be confused with the term "elite" as used by writers such as Vilfredo Pareto and C. Wright Mills. They use the term to mean those who exercise the most political power.
The label is essentially a rhetorical device with flexible meaning depending on where in the English speaking world it is used. As a polemical term it has been used to refer to political positions as diverse as secularism, environmentalism, feminism, and other positions associated with the left.
The originating usage in the United States is applied with various changes to other English speaking countries and by extension to left-leaning elites in other countries. However, the term "liberal" does not have the same political connotation in all English speaking countries. In Australia it has the opposite connotation to that which it enjoys in the US. It is associated with the Liberal Party, a conservative and powerful party whose name is based on their objective to liberalise the market economy within Australia. In the UK, the Liberal Democratic Party occupies the political center between the rightist Conservative and the leftist Labour parties.
Famous quotes containing the words liberal and/or elite:
“The Liberal State is a mask behind which there is no face; it is a scaffolding behind which there is no building.”
—Benito Mussolini (18831945)
“Much of what passes for quality on British television is no more than a reflection of the narrow elite which controls it and has always thought that its tastes were synonymous with quality.”
—Rupert Murdoch (b. 1931)