SHANE’S EXCELLENT NEW WORDS: Is there a -cracy word for government by the beautiful people?


There’s a song by Marilyn Manson called “The Beautiful People,” but my first recollection of the phrase is from The Beatles.

[Verse 1]
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
Now that you know who you are
What do you want to be?
And have you traveled very far?
Far as the eye can see

[Verse 2]
How does it feel to be one of the beautiful people?
How often have you been there?
Often enough to know
What did you see when you were there?
Nothing that doesn’t show

Baby, you’re a rich man
Baby, you’re a rich man
Baby, you’re a rich man, too
You keep all your money in a big brown bag inside a zoo
What a thing to do
Baby, you’re a rich man
Baby, you’re a rich man
Baby, you’re a rich man, too

The song combined snippets from John Lennon and Paul McCartney.

This song grew from a verse of John’s (“one of the beautiful people”) and a chorus of Paul’s (“baby, you’re a rich man”). The song deals with the celebrity, wealth and fame the Beatles were experiencing at the time, and is sung to their manager Brian Epstein, as they ask him how it feels to be thrust into the limelight as “one of the beautiful people.”

I was a little kid during the “Summer of Love,” but evidently the briefly ascendant hippies were referring to themselves as “beautiful people.”

Musicologist Walter Everett writes that the song “asks an unnamed Brian Epstein what it’s like to be one of the ‘beautiful people'”; Everett adds: “This appellation was used of both communal hippies and those who mingle with the most celebrated entertainers.” Another interpretation is that the “Beautiful People” verses were meant as a “tip of the hat” to Epstein for finally taking the psychedelic drug LSD. Lennon claimed, however, that the meaning of the song was that everybody is a rich man, saying, “The point was stop moaning. You’re a rich man and we’re all rich men …”George Harrison said that the message of the song was that all individuals are wealthy within themselves, regardless of material concerns.

“Those who mingle with the most celebrated entertainers” strikes closer to the heart of the matter, because to me the term “beautiful people” is decidedly pejorative.

It’s inevitably the people who fancy themselves as beautiful, not necessarily in some accepted sense of outwardly physical beauty, but those possessing the right ideas, the right look, the right connections and the right way of viewing their privileged place in the world.

Obviously I reserve the right to heatedly differ with “right” in these contexts, extolling a alternative definition in the process.

As an awkward and ungainly ugly duckling of a book reader, I’ve learned the hard way that trying to fit in with the beautiful people is a fool’s errand. Whenever I’ve tried it, the story has ended badly.

I’m not sure whether these experiences made me into a defiant jaded contrarian or the other way around, but there we are. I’ve become fairly contemptuous of the self-centered milieu of the beautiful people, who know far less about the world than they profess, and who tend to dismiss the “little people” — and this may be one reason why Donald Trump is president, among other things.

Rant over, although a clarification is necessary.

The “usual suspects” aren’t always synonymous with the “beautiful people.” The latter need to be out in front to be seen; selfies were made for them. Conversely, the usual suspects can include those who are in the game for power and money alone. They’re the cynics who see the value of leveraging the vanity of others, and are content to remain in the background whenever expedient.

I’m venting owing to an omission. We often use the word “democracy,” noting the meaning of the suffix -cracy (government by the people).

60 words ending in -cracy

When you’re tracing the etymology of a word, you’ll find that many roads lead to Greek. A large amount of English word do have their origins in the Hellenic language, although they might’ve entered the English via other routes.

We have already looked at words ending with Greek –phobia, so this time we turn our attention to another word of Greek origin that has produced many words used in English. The combining form –cracy denotes a particular form of government, rule, or influence, and originates in the Greek –kratia, meaning ‘power, rule’. The suffix – cracy did not, however, find its way into English directly via Greek, but has rather been borrowed from French –cratie.

While browsing the Oxford English Dictionary (OED), we found a large number of words using –cracy. Some of them, like democracy, are in frequent use, and will doubtlessly be well-known to you. Others, like logocracy, may be more obscure – or they might’ve even entered the language as nonce words. But read through the list below to see whether you’ll find some new terms to add to your vocabulary.

My question today: What is the word for “government by the beautiful people”?

Is it omorphiocracy?

Omorphia is one of several Greek words for beauty. If any readers have a source for the proper term, please let me know — and I’ll keep it ready to use as an antidote to pomposity.