We Need to Reform America's Elites | Opinion

The following is a lightly edited transcript of remarks made by Martin Gurri during a Newsweek podcast debate on American elites. You can listen to the podcast here:

My definition of the elite has to do with the institutions themselves. The modern world that emerged at the end of the 19th century, acquiring its final shape into the 1960's, was a world of these top-down institutions. For me, the elite are those people inhabiting those institutions.

Very simply, working at the CIA made me an elite. It's in our DNA. If there are three people in a room, there's one person the other two want to copy.

I don't think we can run a modern state or society without elites. The question is, how many do we need, how big do those institutions need to be, and what is the quality of those elites.

Harvard University
Students pass in front of Harvard's Widener Library on October 10, 2003 in Cambridge, Massachusetts. William B. Plowman/Getty Images

Martin Gurri, former CIA analyst specializing in the relationship of politics and global media. He is the author of The Revolt of The Public and the Crisis of Authority in the New Millennium.

The views in this article are the writer's own.