Balancing Elites and Masses in Two Legislative Bodies

By Gordon Anderson

Headwing society is one in which elites and the general population have a symbiotic and trusting relationship in all social institutions. Many types of social institutions exist in the different spheres of society: governance, economy and culture. However, because government involves legal power and can force people to serve the will of the elites who wield that power, government institutions can cause the greatest oppression and get most of our attention.

Sustainable societies need to be both intelligently managed and serve the needs of people, “the masses.” Slavery and serfdom are the starkest examples of the masses serving the will of elites. Only a small percentage of the population makes up the political class. But, without proper checks and balances, the elites in this class will use their power to become lords and masters, treating the masses as second-class citizens and expendables.

Earlier societies were governed by kings, princes and feudal lords. Aristotle referred to good kings as those who served the population, and bad kings as those who used the people to serve themselves. Today, in more complex institutional and bureaucratic societies, individual kings are often replaced by classes of elites in government administration, political parties, and those with great wealth or organizational power. Instead of merely focusing on individuals in power, we need to focus on social institutions and elites. While this problem needs to be fixed in universities, corporations, churches, NGOs, and all kinds of social institutions, this article uses the example of governance.

One way to balance the interests of the masses with the skill of elites in the law is with two legislative bodies. This can be constitutionally addressed with an upper legislative house representing elite expertise and a lower house representing the population, with each house having the power to veto one another. This allows only legislation that is deemed functional by the elites and enjoys the “consent of the governed.” This type of legislation began in ancient times and needs to be continually updated as societies evolve.

Ancient Rome and Tribunes’ Power to Veto

A significant historical development occurred in Ancient Rome when the “plebs” (the people, or working classes) decided they had enough of fighting in the armies of the patricians (ruling elite class) without any say in the laws their Senate passed. Without checks and balances, the Senate passed legislation that burdened the masses and provided the elite with special privileges.

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