Conscience and the Rich
Yeh, it's "camels through the eye of a needle" again...
Any American with political awareness at the 20% level or greater has already spent too many moments of a lifetime complaining about the democracy's injuries at the hands of the relentless billionaires. MeanMesa should probably sign that list at the very top.
Relax. Neither a single word of this post nor a single thought behind a single word of it will encourage anybody to stop complaining. Just the opposite -- raising hell -- protesting in the streets, rabble rousing and good old fashioned, overly loud griping -- has always been a great way to release otherwise depressing emotions.
Those techniques have successfully demonstrated their political inertia many times in the past, but the sad fact is that in those past cases the "targets" of such action have always previously had consciences. In those traditional cases when the "voices" reached a certain "persuasive" crescendo, those "consciences" compelled the miscreants to reconsider their corresponding actions, and beneficial change followed shortly behind.
However, in the case of today's American billionaires there is no "conscience" there at the "receiving end" of such complaints -- perhaps an occasional moment of fear -- but never a moment of conscience. At this juncture we can agree that there are no "matters of conscience" which seem to bother these savage little trust fund babies even briefly.
Given this depressing analysis, this post can turn to "the next question," and perhaps that "next question" is, in fact for us today, "the burning question of the day."
Can't Live With Them and
Can't Live Without Them
It's probably time to think about living without them.
Most likely somewhere in the dark abyss of anti-Soviet propaganda from the Cold War days our nation's oligarchs, still in their infant stages [at least compared to now...], were already obsessed with unilaterally promoting the idea that the US should, necessarily, be "run" by elites -- particularly what came to be called "business magnates" or "captains of industry."
The pitch was quite straightforward. If these "shining stars of the free market" did not, somehow, absolutely represent the ultimate genetics among all those walking around in the "free market democracy," why, then, had they become so incredibly rich?
Setting aside the biblical explanation of them "being the chosen ones," what was left became an urban myth of, shall we say, intrinsic superiority. In no time the "smelly masses" became completely convinced that, inevitably, "the sweetest oil always floated to the very top of the cess pool."
To the "thought bending" delight of these anxiously self-proclaimed "masters of the universe," there was a very convenient historical precedent available to support their scam. While, at the time, their almost mystically sacred role models may have been the vicious "Robber Barons" from a few decades before them, the essential "spark" which could validate their craven ambitions was to be found in the "righteous economic philosophy" of an 18th Century Scottish nobleman.
The "Tytler Irony"
It wasn't the poor we had to fear after all.
Alexander Fraser Tytler [1747-1813] was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, [FRSE] and a member of the old landed nobility [Lord Woodhouselee].
|Lord Tytler [image]|
Although Tytler was a prolific author and teacher, the "masters of the universe" were most attracted to a certain idea which Tytler expressed in the following excerpt:
Welfare - "18th Century Scotland-style"
“A democracy cannot exist as a permanent form of government. It can only exist until the people discover they can vote themselves largess out of the public treasury. From that moment on, the majority always votes for the candidate promising the most benefits from the public treasury, with the result that democracy always collapses over a loose fiscal policy--to be followed by a dictatorship.”
Alexander Fraser Tytler
[Visit the site here.]
Tytler's dark, prophetic promise of inevitable national bankruptcy followed by dictatorship fit the needs of the "self justification seeking" billionaires like a hand in a glove. In practically no time this dire prognosis had saturated the US electorate. It began to "show up" -- always disguised as some sort of valuable 'ancient wisdom' -- in political party platforms to underwrite the then contemporary, anti-Stalinist, anti-collectivist propaganda glacier which was, conveniently for the ambitious domestic oligarchs, inundating the US.
Further, in a perhaps more even minded -- if not prescient -- moment, Tytler gave us an interesting concept of the "cycle of time" describing the development of what he considered the fundamentals of an economic social culture. It, too, is relevant to this post. The graphic below shows how this idea has been effectively "show horned" into today's stage of the US class war.
|Tytler: Social Dominionism - Virtue in America [source Gardinersright]|
The point here is that Tytler presumed these "engines of capitalism" would be hard working fellows who started from scratch and clawed their way to the top of the pile, garnering wealth for themselves while also spewing energy and abundance elsewhere in society. There are still an abundance of these types. GOOGLE, APPLE, TESLA and even Face Book are great examples of the results of such efforts. [Although it is unavoidably painful, go ahead and add MicroSoft.]
MeanMesa holds these innovative, risk taking, entrepreneurial creators of such things in high regard -- regardless of their apparent politics. They have more than "earned" a place to be as progressive or reactionary as they feel fit.
Importantly, in almost every case of such "ascensions" to the free market's top, there have been moments or doubt and insecurity. MeanMesa wishes to think that even a passing experience of self-doubt, pangs of conscience or a shudder of insecurity gives these contemporary successes a durable memory of their humanity -- a memory allowing them to identify with the challenges faced by the less wealthy.
So far as the current crop of billionaires is concerned, these types with such a "human memory" are not the "problem children." MeanMesa suspects that the precise reason that these types are not the "problem children" is because they worked and gambled for their success.
The problem with the "problem children" in this sense was that they were already firmly endowed with "their success" before their little umbilical cords were cut. Victims of an eerie alienation, they have never experienced so much as a single moment of insecurity -- and generally, not so much as a single moment of hard work, either.
Herein lies the irony.
In our modern case Tytler's "descent into bankruptcy and dictatorship" is much more the primary result of these billionaire "problem children" than the "grumbling, voting poor" who frightened and disgusted him so much.
Although Tytler may have, in a sense, "lucked out" with his vision of the social economic cycle, he clearly misplaced the various roles the rich and the poor would play in its "cycle of rotational development." The only trick remaining to make Tytler's model "fit" today's situation is to equate the inability of a crippled, looted economy to provide jobs as evidence of laziness.
The billionaires' think tanks sailed through this one without breaking a sweat. An obedient media has now planted this "equation" so deeply in the minds of Americans that is widely accepted as fact. Citizens who, only a few years ago, were strongly convinced of the "virtue" of the, say, "Eisenhower model" of the US economy now march in a grotesque lock step to blindly transform the nation into an essentially illiterate, "anything goes" oligarchic paradise ruled by dynastic wealth.
By the way, this bunch of billionaires purchased the Republican Party at about the same time they were purchasing the corporate media and the Congress.
A Vision of "Life After Billionaires"
Maybe not all of them,
just the ones that chew up your shoes.
Of course we must accept the idea that there will, in our future, still be billionaires. Further, we needn't presume that the mere existence of such successful people is anything we should never tolerate because we imagine them to simply be some sort of evidence of "sinister forces" thriving among us.
This leaves the "problem" of formulating some remedial strategy which can restore the representative democracy and end the anti-democratic maneuvering of some billionaires while leaving open the possibility of leaving the more rational types with all this wealth the opportunity to enjoy happy, productive lives so long as they avoid the temptation of becoming reactionary sociopaths.
This is not a "small" problem.
As for the really bad ones in this present crop, we can't -- unfortunately -- simply "wish them away into the corn field."
|"You're a bad man." [image source]|
Many of the dynastic fortunes we find supporting and defending these modern day "parasitic problem plutocrats" have been passively "tolerated" in our society for generations. Although this class of our society "took a hit" in the recovery from the great Republican Depression of the 1930's, they haven't changed their ways.
Rather than seeking out a new, more co-existent social role for themselves, they have been resentfully scheming while patiently working to restore their futures to the oligarchic "wet dream" which has hardly changed at all. Now, they believe --- possibly accurately -- that this is their day. This explains their current behavior which has become so unexpectedly reckless and strident.
It's not surprising that the billionaire denizens of the lowest levels continue to host an abiding, cordial hatred for FDR and his policies. Events now upon us, on the other hand, present FDR and his determination to control and limit the oligarchs of his day for a fresh, starkly modern appreciation. Roosevelt actually succeeded in overcoming what appeared at the time to be just as intractable as what we currently face.
Hope springs eternal.
If the Republic is to be, once again, salvaged from grip of these overly ambitious billionaires, the task will not be an easy one. The miscreant fortunes now threatening the democracy have the same character, but they have increased exponentially compared to those facing FDR in the darkest days. The modern oligarchs enjoy all the tactical assets that come with dynastic fortunes. The carefully constructed meme is now that nothing is strong enough to challenge their grip.
A mere handful of these billionaires dreaming of oligarchy now control around 85% of the entire United States. They can, apparently, start or stop wars benefiting their interests at will. The Congress will do nothing. There is good reason to suspect that, having already descended into the corruption this far, no future Congress will ever stand up to them, either.
They are anxious to convince us that elections amount to simply replacing their old servants in Washington with equally corrupt new ones. Thanks to the work of their think tanks and media, most Americans now believe that the corruption of democracy has become perpetual.
Today, we see exceptions to this which hold faint promise. Senators such as Sanders [I-Vt] and Warren [D-Ma] are speaking quite frankly about the mess, but these are two of one hundred. They are surrounded by deep crowds of the sold out dead enders who have ushered in the calamity we now face.
MeanMesa see violence "floating forth from the woods as if a morning fog."