Tuesday, October 23, 2018

Chris Hedges — The Rule of the Uber-Rich Means Tyranny or Revolution

It is essential to understand the pathologies of the uber-rich. They have seized total political power.…
The uber-rich live in an artificial bubble, a land called Richistan, a place of Frankenmansions and private jets, cut off from our reality.... 
Political theorists, from Aristotle and Karl Marx to Sheldon Wolin, have warned against the rule of the uber-rich. Once the uber-rich take over, Aristotle writes, the only options are tyranny and revolution.…
Corporate capitalism, which has destroyed our democracy, has given unchecked power to the uber-rich. And once we understand the pathologies of these oligarchic elites, it is easy to chart our future. The state apparatus the uber-rich controls now exclusively serves their interests. They are deaf to the cries of the dispossessed. They empower those institutions that keep us oppressed—the security and surveillance systems of domestic control, militarized police, Homeland Security and the military—and gut or degrade those institutions or programs that blunt social, economic and political inequality, among them public education, health care, welfare, Social Security, an equitable tax system, food stamps, public transportation and infrastructure, and the courts. The uber-rich extract greater and greater sums of money from those they steadily impoverish. And when citizens object or resist, they crush or kill them....
The uber-rich, as Karl Polanyi wrote, celebrate the worst kind of freedom—the freedom “to exploit one’s fellows, or the freedom to make inordinate gains without commensurable service to the community, the freedom to keep technological inventions from being used for public benefit, or the freedom to profit from public calamities secretly engineered for private advantage.” At the same time, as Polanyi noted, the uber-rich make war on the “freedom of conscience, freedom of speech, freedom of meeting, freedom of association, freedom to choose one’s own job.”…
We will repudiate these pathologies and organize to force the uber-rich from power or they will transform us into what they already consider us to be—the help....
Not that this is anything new. The Enlightenment was the first successful attempt to modify the historical trend of rule by dominant alpha-males over the submissive rest, even though the rest are the vast majority and provide the alphas with what they glean from exploitation through power.

However, Enlightenment liberalism only attacked feudalism and sought to replace it by bourgeois liberalism, the "bourgeoisie" being the owners of capital, both land and technology, as the means of production. while Adam Smith was aware of this, Karl Marx analyzed it in detail and concluded that the options were revolution or acquiescence in tyranny, at least until another mode of production replaced capitalism, with no guarantee that the alphas would not still be dominant.

The fundamental questions are whether the alphas can be bridled by the establishment of democracy as government of the people, by the people, and for the people. The prior question here is how that could be accomplished against the will and interests of the dominant ruling class.  There is also the question whether the "masses" could effectively govern themselves in a socialistic system. Prior experience suggests that another dominant elite would seize power.

So while Chris Hedges rant is rousing, it leaves major issues up in the air. What happens after the revolution, if there is one? Marx left that question rather up in the air. The American colonists handled it pretty well, while the French didn't do was well. However, the colonists were left to themselves while the French were struggling with a longstanding tradition. Even with the advantage of new beginning, America experienced a civil war before reaching its first centennial.

On the other hand, Chris Hedges is correct and even downplays the actual threat somewhat. The real threat now is transnational corporate totalitarianism being imposed globally. Such is the intent of the American Empire.

This was the intent of Rome and Rome was quite successful in doing it ruthlessly. With the Enlightenment behind us, the US is more restricted in carrying that out as ruthlessly, at least in a obvious way. So now the hidden agenda is cloaked in an Enlightenment agenda of spreading freedom and democracy, defending human rights, exporting prosperity, and culturing enlightened Western values and the American way globally.

What could go wrong?

Jeffrey D. Sachs | Professor of Sustainable Development and Professor of Health Policy and Management at Columbia University, and Director of Columbia’s Center for Sustainable Development and of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network.

See also

Nation of Change
An Arena Full of the Richest Americans Would Own As Much Wealth as 70% of the World
Paul Buchheit / NationofChange / Op-Ed

1 comment:

Andrew Anderson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.