Sunday, July 10, 2016

Barry Eichengreen — Inequality


Barry Eichengreen 
University of California, Berkeley
ht Brad DeLong


Dan Lynch said...

OT but I think Tom Hickey might be interested in this:

'Devoid of the middle class that has historically sustained it, democracy is unlikely to survive. At some point, deep inequality will undermine elites’ support for democracy. They will simply have too much to lose from policies that help the growing ranks of the poor. .... Without a middle class between the rich and the poor, it seems unlikely that popular democratic institutions can survive. As the sociologist Barrington Moore put it, “no bourgeois, no democracy."'
'Political scientists who have studied the conditions under which democracy is feasible have emphasized one insight more than any other: The more elites fear that democratic politics is going to appropriate their wealth, the more likely they are to turn against democracy.'

The title is misleading, the article is not so much about robots as about inequality being incompatible with democracy.

Long form article, 8 pages.

Tom Hickey said...

Thanks, Dan. I don't think that will come to pass for one simple reason. The façade of democracy us used to justify a political system that is oligarchic and oppressive.

Bourgeoisie does not mean middle class, as many suppose. It means an ownership class different from the titled nobility and land owners under feudalism. In other words the owners of production and the small business owners. There will always be an upper middle class in a knowledge society.

What will happen instead is greater propaganda based on FUD (more fear, uncertainty and doubt, and enough intimidation by security forces using total surveillance to nip unrest in the bud. The basis is already laid for this.

Along with this will be greater disenfranchisement of undesirables and voting will be harder for people at the bottom owing to red tape, etc.

The system is based on liberalism and the ownership class is going to have to maintain the appearances of liberalism.

I think that Marx probably got it right about this. After capitalism spreads globally only then will the workers of the world unite and throw off their chains because they have nothing to lose.

This will be possible owing to the non-homogeneity of elites. The Western liberal assumption is that transnational globalism under liberal principles will result in homgenous transnational corporate totalitarianism under Western rule. That is a huge assumption that is not likely to be true.

We may already be seeing sings of this developing.