‘The democratizing of aristocracy’
Egalitarianism and elitism
in This is your hour
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The Oldham group had ambivalent views about social inequality. Britain was seen as an unfair ‘plutocracy’ that betrayed the nation’s Christian traditions, and breaking the power of ‘privilege’ and reducing disparities in wealth and educational opportunity were seen as prerequisites for a more Christian society. But ‘mass’ society was also seen to threaten principles of excellence and moral and cultural standards. These tensions between egalitarianism and elitism were apparent in discussions about the need for a culturally guiding elite in a new planned society and about educational reform. The discussions around a Christian ‘elite’ or ‘clerisy’ remained inconclusive, but the group’s thinking influenced discussions about educational reform. Some group members were involved in consultations with minister of education R. A. Butler during the drafting of what became the 1944 Education Act, and played prominent roles in early post-war debates about university education policy.

This is your hour

Christian intellectuals in Britain and the crisis of Europe, 1937–1949

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