We have democratized elitism in this country. There is no longer a clear pecking order, with the Vanderbilts and the Biddles and the Roosevelts at the top and everybody else down below. Everybody gets to be an aristocrat now. And the number of social structures is infinite. You can be an outlaw-biker aristocrat, a corporate-real-estate aristocrat, an X Games aristocrat, a Pentecostal-minister aristocrat. You will have your own code of honor and your own field of accomplishment. And everybody can be a snob, because everybody can look down from the heights of his mountaintop at those millions of poor saps who are less accomplished in the field of, say, skateboard jumping, or who are total poseurs when it comes to financial instruments, or who are sadly backward when it comes to social awareness or the salvation of their own souls.
Communications technology has expanded the cultural space.
In my own hilariously less readable style *grin*, I pondered this trend over 2 years ago:
Imagine a rich social fabric within which so many separate dimensions matter that you're a beloved leader/guru/sherpa along several dimensions -- and so is everyone you know. There is no uniquely ultimate basis for comparison between your social "worth" and another's, and most all of your relationships are devoid of social inequality. Twenty years ago, this might have sounded fairly absurd (and Marxist, to boot!). Now, it's merely descriptive of how many of us presently live. In my circles, for example, creativity matters; experience matters; wealth matters; friend connections matter; intelligence matters; honesty matters; physical fitness matters. Each individual weighs and ranks these factors differently, with the result that there are no clear orders among us -- and usually with the result that everyone feels he's on "top" because he's acting in accord with his own weights and ranks!
Our next huge cultural movement will be about focusing on what to do AFTER each individual secures 20th-century success. You have great control of your sensory environs & respect in all your social environs. What next? What matters to you after all your historical, childhood goals are more than achieved?