As far as i know it means rule by meritocracy. So one is a member of the aristocracy as long as one joins the franchise and demonstrates his merit.
Now, that is different from saying ‘nobility‘. Aristocracy is not synonymous with nobility. Although some abuse the terms and confuse ‘aristocrat’ with ‘nobility’ this is merely an error.
Although In some of the literature the nobility(priesthood) and the aristocracy(martial) are two different classes. That said, there are two forms of nobility: awarded and earned. One can join the nobility by creating a persistent family with persistent managerial position. This is a natural aristocracy of natural nobility. One can also be ennobled formally, in order to increase your chances of persisting your family into natural nobility.
Now, my family history is quite old, and from the literate, protestant preacher, commercial managerial, military officer, and lesser political classes. So I consider myself in the ‘natural’ middle class (organizers) rather than mere middle ‘consumer’ class. But in the ‘history books’ my family is referred to as ‘lesser aristocracy’. Which I translate to ‘managerial class’ that performs military service.
Now, there is also the “Romantic” and aesthetic fantasy either from the selfish-dominance or public-heroic that aristocracy refers to a spiritual belief, rather than empirically demonstrated reality.
And I am fine with this wet dream as long as it does not interfere with reality. We need to fabricate these fantasies to inspire the soldiery to risk and achievement. But it is just anotehr form of romanticism. And my function is to teach how to rule, not write songs, poetry, and propaganda.” – Curt Doolittle.