The two factors about current Western elites is that they are both incompetent and suicidal.
It is hard to explain what is distinctive about them, and what contrasts with previous elites of several generations ago, by invoking just a single factor.
By the way, I am not taking account here of the factor that all elites everywhere and at all times share; that they are - to some extent - self-serving, a gangster class, demagogues, a kleptocracy; who are exploiting one set of the population to expropriate another; feathering their own nests, and preparing the ground for their own family and friends/ supporters.
This, however, is not distinctive to modern elites; indeed, although modern elites are to some extent self-serving, what is striking is the extent to which instead of feathering their own nests, they are actually fouling their own nests.
Current elites are wrecking things so fast and so comprehensively that they can themselves expect to live long enough personally to experience the problems they have inflicted on society; and certainly their children (what few children they have) and their extended family and friends will suffer greatly from the effects of what current elites are doing.
The current elite are very obviously stupid, incompetent, ill-educated, unskilled and in general rubbish at doing things compared with previous elites. This is due to a multitude of factors including the decline of Christianity, the decline of schooling and colleges, the corruption and inversion of selection mechanisms, the growth of democracy, bureaucracy and the mass media.
In other words, the modern elite are broken: they have lost the adaptations that would enable them to rule.
To some extent, they look helplessly on, as they are helpless to prevent civilization collapsing around them. They just cannot do the job.
What is most strange and disturbing, however, is the extent to which current elites are also self-hating and suicidal: they have a covert wish for extinctino which comes out in many ways.
So it is not only that they cannot do the job, but also that they do not even want to do the job.
This applies both in terms of the self-hating suicidal ideology of Leftism in the form of Political Correctness - by which the elite are replacing themselves with 'other' people (people born in some other place, other ethnicities, other classes, other sexes and other sexual preferences - for example); and extending also to their own personal lives; in which the elites have all-but abandoned having children; and are focused instead wholly on feeling good, and feeling good about themselves - with the hope of being humanely murdered ('euthanasia') as soon life stops being enjoyable and there is a risk of misery.
This is a very dangerous situation, because when the elites are self-hating and suicidal, then insofar as they act upon this will; they inflict extinction on everybody else.
I think this self-hatred is partly biological and a warped kind of altruism. Its roots may be genetic and group-evolutionary. The elites have been accumulating mutations, and their fitness declining, for about 200 years, since the child mortality rates began to plummet with the advent of the industrial revolution. And some versions of group selection theory predict that unfit individuals will tend not to to struggle to survive and reproduce, and may even de facto kill themselves (usually indirectly) to prevent themselves consuming scarce resources.
At some level, perhaps, the current elite sense that they are damaged people who are not up to-the-job, that they lack even the will to rule with justice wisdom; that they are wrecking things for everybody else, and are indeed consuming scarce resources without benefiting the ruled; and they know that the proper thing to do would be to sacrifice themselves for the general good - even unto death.
But this they will not do in any kind of wholehearted fashion (they will not even stand-aside, nor resign their power; nor will they give away their wealth). There is no follow-through, because they are conflicted both within-themselves, and also between-themselves - changing sides and one pitted against another.
So the elites vacillate and squabble and are torn between despair and selfishness. Partly they are trying to be real rulers, partly they are failing in their job due to intractable incompetence, and partly they have given-up and yearn for oblivion.
The above analysis comes from a conversation with Michael Woodley - who likened the modern elites to a nest of cancer cell - mutated and damaged normal cells that mostly try to exploit their host even unto death; but also have a tendency to self destruction (apoptosis) which can at any moment emerge and lead to localized tumour destruction and partial remission.