English edit

Etymology edit

ruling +‎ class. First use appears c. 1653.

Noun edit

ruling class (plural ruling classes)

  1. (sociology, politics) The social class of a given society that controls that society's political agenda, whether as a formal aristocracy or a party leadership or as an informal unit within democracies.
    • 1941, George Orwell, The Lion and the Unicorn, Pt. I & II:
      One thing that has always shown that the English ruling class are morally fairly sound, is that in time of war they are ready enough to get themselves killed... What is to be expected of them is not treachery or physical cowardice, but stupidity, unconscious sabotage, an infallible instinct for doing the wrong thing. They are not wicked, or not altogether wicked; they are merely unteachable... Few if any of these people are consciously treacherous, some of them are not even fools, but as a class they are quite incapable of leading us to victory... Inevitably, because of their position and upbringing, the ruling class are fighting for their own privileges, which cannot possibly be reconciled with the public interest.
    • 1947, Anonymous translation of Karl Marx & al. as "Feuerbach" in The German Ideology, International Publishers Co., §I.B:
      The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas, i.e. the class which is the ruling material force of society, is at the same time its ruling intellectual force.
    • 2010 July 16, Angelo Codevilla, "America's Ruling Class", The Spectator:
      ...until our own time America's upper crust was a mixture of people who had gained prominence in a variety of ways, who drew their money and status from different sources and were not predictably of one mind on any given matter. The Boston Brahmins, the New York financiers, the land barons of California, Texas, and Florida, the industrialists of Pittsburgh, the Southern aristocracy, and the hardscrabble politicians who made it big in Chicago or Memphis had little contact with one another... All that has changed. Today's ruling class, from Boston to San Diego, was formed by an educational system that exposed them to the same ideas and gave them remarkably uniform guidance, as well as tastes and habits... whether formally in government, out of it, or halfway, America's ruling class speaks the language and has the tastes, habits, and tools of bureaucrats.
    • 2010 July 16, Angelo Codevilla, "America's Ruling Class", The Spectator:
      For our ruling class, identity always trumps. Much less does membership... depend on high academic achievement. To see something closer to an academic meritocracy consider France, where elected officials have little power, a vast bureaucracy explicitly controls details from how babies are raised to how to make cheese, and people get into and advance in that bureaucracy strictly by competitive exams... for good or ill, France's ruling class are bright people—certifiably. Not ours... while getting into the Ecole Nationale d'Administration or the Ecole Polytechnique... requires outperfoming others in blindly graded exams, and graduating from such places requires passing exams that many fail, getting into America's "top schools" is less a matter of passing exams than of showing up with acceptable grades and an attractive social profile.
    • 2021 Apr., Doug Henwood, "Take Me to Your Leader: The Rot of the American Ruling Class", Jacobin:
      We once had a coherent ruling class, the White Anglo-Saxon Protestants (WASPs), who more or less owned and ran the United States from its founding through the 1970s.
    • 2021 July 1, Lian Yizheng, "The Chinese Communist Party Is 100. It's Not Going Anywhere.", New York Times:
      The C.C.P. is colossal, highly hierarchical and regimented. From its inception in 1921 with only 12 members, it has expanded to over 90 million, averaging almost 20 percent growth a year for 100 years... The C.C.P., like any of the more effective ancient Chinese ruling classes, diligently reads historical events for lessons. That has helped it navigate crises and, often, emerge stronger.

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