Although it misses some of the fundamental phenomena that are at work in the world today, like resource depletion, environmental pollution, climate change, institutional breakdown, and the shift toward a steady-state, no-growth economy, this article from the Atlantic is worth a quick read (The Rise of the New Global Elite).
It highlights the growing gap between the super-rich and everyone else, pointing out the peculiar attitudes and rationalizations of the former and the apparent passivity of the latter.
In my opinion, the oligarchs and their minions give themselves far too much credit for their success. It may be true that they are clever, industrious, and hard-working, but so too are con men, embezzlers, and a goodly number of thieves and other criminals. Is it clever and industrious to appropriate for oneself (by force, intimidation, bribery, or manipulation), resources that are by nature the birthright of all (“the commons”), or to use one’s “insider” position to abuse a public trust? Far too many fortunes have been made that way.
The Atlantic article concludes “The lesson of history is that, in the long run, super-elites have two ways to survive: by suppressing dissent or by sharing their wealth. It is obvious which of these would be the better outcome for America, and the world. Let us hope the plutocrats aren’t already too isolated to recognize this.”
The thing that distinguishes a cancer cell from a normal cell is its alienation from the general body—from the “spirit,” if you will, that gives coherence in a living organism. A plutocracy that is alienated from the spirit of the community, like a cancerous tumor, cannot survive for long, it will eventually perish along with its host. –t.h.g.
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