Sunday, July 6, 2008

An Inconvenient Lesson from History for the Economic Elite

Upstairs, downstairs

As the filthy rich accelerate away from the grubby masses are we risking a dislocation in society that would surprise our Tudor forefathers. Since the economically super rich have no need to interact with less prosperous members of their community at all, they know increasingly little about us, whereas Tudor times it was simply impossible for the inhabitants of the manor houses to forget those less fortunate than themselves.

Posted by enuii @ 10:09 PM (519 views)
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3 thoughts on “An Inconvenient Lesson from History for the Economic Elite

  • The detachment is very dangerous for them. Not because they are under direct threat (though they may be in some occasions), but the lack of knowledge of even very ordinary and everyday facts of human life presents a major hazard. Quite self conciously, they have engineered a situation, or a variety of situations in which basic infrastructure is greatly compromised. This is certainly true in Florida; my daughter has had a long pen pal relationship with a boy in that area, and he is from what seems to be a nice middle class neighbourhod, which is descending into chaos because (a) the electricity supply is intermittent and of increasinly poor quality; (b) there are now food shortages on basic foodstuffs – apparently, none of this is reported even in the local media (c) food inflation is approaching triple digits for some produce (d) there is an astonshing increase in violence in (i) inter- neighbourhood disputes (ii) police activity. The boy is very upset because he cannot afford to send the letters any more. This is very upsetting for her because the messages haave become more and more distressed and it is clear that he is afraid for his whole family.

    The detachment for the elites is a terrible trap. The asumption they live under is essentially summed up in what you might call the doctrine of separability.This doctrine baldy states that a society can fall into total ruin (which is obviously in the future, bar divine grace) while a subset not just survives, but lives in a situation of almost unimaginable excess.

    This doctrine only really works in the minds of people in a state of profound delusion. The difficulties are manifold. Firstly, none of the elite (there may be a few exceptions) have not undergone any discipline or study which would allow them insight in the way that society has progressed from primitive situations to advanced, or even give insight into basic science above 19th century physics; they believe that the major advances have always been the province of people like themselves; they have no idea of the thousands of contributions that made the major, visible advances in medicine or engineering possible. Neither do they understand or recognise the impossibility of filtering out the unsuccessful side branches of research to advance the general front of understanding.

    This deficiency is the primary product of a fixed ideology that only recognises success, and only success in financial terms. It is as though you applied the “absence of hidden variables” principle of quantum mechanics to an entire society. To them the entire societal structure is composed of 99.7% deadweight.

    It doesn’t, of course, work like that – but to admit that would be to face the deconstruction of most of their life’s efforts.

    The effect of pushing the bulk of the country down will be to eventually negate their own efforts to prop up their own habitats and ersatz infrastructure. You cannot move out to a remote location, because to do so would require the construction a small image of the society that was abandoned; This is not possible without creating a host of tiny, self sustaining communities, at the apex of which sit the elites – this can’t be done because by hypothesis, they don’t want to be part of any societymuch;and they are very fearful of living in one which they have affected in the way that they have..

    You can look at this and expand the arguments quite well at leisure. In fact, I would greatly encourage this,because it has the most fascinating implications in other areas. The illusion that these people have – similar to the survivalists in the 1950’s – is that somewhere “out there”, there is, or will be, a sink of semi-infinite capacity to serve their needs. Essentially, this is the problem that the ESA have in designing a Mars habitat – in the end it requires either a tether (albeit very extended) – to earth, or a replica of it on Mars itself.

    At the moment, it looks like the elites really have succeeded, through ignorance and arrogance, to saw off the branch they have been perched on for so long. The realisation of their predicament will take a while, but it will come. This time, they may well find themselves asking their ancestors, in vain, for the way back home – and there will be none, because they will have destroyed it all.

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  • Wonderful article, genuinely thought provoking. A bit off topic may be, but a lot more relevent than all the conspiracy nonsense.

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  • Superb post Panda

    *cut paste save*

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