How can peasants steal from the merchants and professionals above them in the social order?
By banding together and overthrowing kings.
This allows the peasants to set up a society where numbers matter more than intelligence. A million peasants voting for free beer trumps one smarter person demanding nuclear power.
But that idea is unpopular because most people are peasants. Why are most people peasants? The ability to think critically and make complex decisions is both taught and inherited; without the raw material, people cannot do it, and it is a rare skill. Just like not every person on the street can become an astronaut, corporate lawyer, particle physicist or neurosurgeon, not every person on the street can have critical thinking or leadership skills.
The peasants like to insist that we’re all equal except for “accidents” of birth, wealth and education. We’re all the same inside, we all bleed red, etc. They don’t like to face the simple fact that people are different in intelligence, abilities and character. Some people are good people, and others are totally bad, and many are somewhere in between.
Instead we get this illusion:
“For if leisure and security were enjoyed by all alike, the great mass of human beings who are normally stupefied by poverty would become literate and would learn to think for themselves; and when once they had done this, they would sooner or later realise that the privileged minority had no function, and they would sweep it away. In the long run, a hierarchical society was only possible on a basis of poverty and ignorance.” — George Orwell (1984)
The reason they’re not thinking for themselves, known idiot George Orwell tells us, is that they’re oppressed. Not that they got into the conditions of oppression by being unable to think; no, they’re 100% innocent and oppression was imposed upon them by someone who doesn’t deserve it, but somehow got ahead by… witchcraft. Or maybe just an accident of history, as Jared Diamond wants us to buy with his Guns, Germs and Steel, a work of political propaganda unequaled in credulous dishonesty.
If we look at reality through the lens of history and logic, we see that “oppressed” populations end up that way because as a whole, they are clueless. They pick corrupt leaders. They cannot manage their personal affairs and get ripped off by charlatans, constantly. They eat the seed corn, starve all winter, and then sell themselves into slavery to eat during harvest season. They drink too much, have too much sex, take too many drugs. They follow religious mysticism of the basest sort, and are ripped off by charlatans there, too. Sound familiar? Yes, I’m describing every single “developing”/third world/impoverished (pick your euphemism) country on Planet Earth. They all fit this profile.
Why is that, you might ask? Dumb and cowlike, well-trained by a big media and their own fear of What Others Might Think, the herd answers: “Oppression.”
But that doesn’t make any sense. You don’t successfully oppress smart, strong, alert people. You oppress the dumb, sickly and intoxicated. It’s the same way with predators in the animal kingdom, who carry off the unwary, sick and stupid first. They don’t attack the leaders of the herd, but its outliers and dropouts.
But we believed the peasants, and it became the fashion to flatter them and extend the democratization process, so now we have a time where popular opinion > obvious reality. And what are the future consequences:
The greatest geopolitical development that has occurred largely beneath the radar of our Middle East-focused media over the past decade has been the rise of Chinese sea power. This is evinced by President Obama’s meeting Friday about the South China Sea, where China has conducted live-fire drills and made territorial claims against various Southeast Asian countries, and the dispute over the Senkaku Islands between Japan and China in the East China Sea, the site of a recent collision between a Chinese fishing trawler and two Japanese coast guard ships.
China has the world’s second-largest naval service, after only the United States. Rather than purchase warships across the board, it is developing niche capacities in sub-surface warfare and missile technology designed to hit moving targets at sea. At some point, the U.S. Navy is likely to be denied unimpeded access to the waters off East Asia. China’s 66 submarines constitute roughly twice as many warships as the entire British Royal Navy. If China expands its submarine fleet to 78 by 2020 as planned, it would be on par with the U.S. Navy’s undersea fleet in quantity, if not in quality. If our economy remains wobbly while China’s continues to rise — China’s defense budget is growing nearly 10 percent annually — this will have repercussions for each nation’s sea power. And with 90 percent of commercial goods worldwide still transported by ship, sea control is critical. – WaPo
Uh oh. And:
The whole situation has Washington alarmed. “[China's] military capacity has been growing by and large unabated,” Adm. Robert F. Willard, commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific, told Congress earlier this year, adding that some moves “appear designed to challenge our freedom of action in the region.”
The Chinese say they’re acting to regain sovereignty over islands and waters that they contend were once theirs, stolen by foreign powers when their country was weak. (Their neighbors dispute those claims.) China wants the United States, the distant power that has regulated Asia’s balance of power since World War II, to butt out.
During a just-completed 10-day trip to China and the Pacific, I heard Chinese officials and scholars denounce the U.S. military presence in Asia with rhetoric that seemed resurrected from the Cold War. – LAT
But it’s not just near China where they’re active. They’re active in the USA, not just against the government, but against sources of power in our economy:
Google is using automated warnings to alert users of its GMAIL messaging service about wide spread attempts to access personal mail accounts from Internet addresses in China. The warnings may indicate wholesale spying by the Chinese government a year after the Google Aurora attacks or simply random attacks. Victims include one leading privacy activist.
Warnings appeared when users logged onto Gmail, encountering a red banner reading “Your account was recently accessed from China,” and providing a list of IP addresses used to access the account. Users were then encouraged to change their password immediately. Based on Twitter posts, there doesn’t seem to be any pattern to the accounts that were accessed, though one target is a prominent privacy rights activist in the UK who has spoken out against the Chinese government’s censorship of its citizens. – ThreatPost
Russia, India, and China. What do they have in common? One of these will challenge the US/EU superpower hierarchy within your lifetime. Look at your children. They, and their children, will be the ones to die in the rice paddies for our inability to maintain superpower dominance now. Because only one country can be on top.
But what useful things are we doing in the USA?
Unions used their considerable clout in 2006 to help Democrats gain control of Congress and again in 2008 to elect President Obama. But the union movement, which spent 96% of its money supporting Democrats in 2008, is faltering this year in its efforts to help the party retain control of Congress and win key governors’ races around the country.
Instead, organized labor— increasingly dominated by public-sector workers—is facing a backlash from taxpayers because of widespread publicity about the rich pay and benefits of some government employees. That’s made Mr. Christie’s blunt campaign talk about reining in government costs a popular approach among candidates. Even old friends of labor in the Democratic Party have made public workers a target, leaving labor with fewer allies and playing defense. – WSJ
Oh. We’re redistributing wealth, on the basis of equality and the assumed innocence principle that says the “oppressed” deserve more than the functional, to make sure that lots of peasant heads show up at the voting booth. We’re cheating ourselves, so that some people can have power over others, and no one’s focused on the road ahead.
We have abandoned the idea of competition, in part because we’re so busy pandering to our domestic market of peasants, we are no longer looking outward:
Lord Rees of Ludlow and the leaders of six of the country’s foremost universities warned that cutting the UK’s science budget at a time when other countries were boosting theirs could leave Britain on the sidelines of global scientific research.
Sir Andy Haines, director of the London School of Hygiene and Tropical Medicine, said: “The Chinese investment in science technology will increase six-fold by 2020 and the US administration has just put $10bn [£6.3bn] into health research. We need to respond to that.” – The Independent
And do the Chinese represent any different, new way of doing things? Nope, it’s the same old stuff, except that now they have another generation to find out what we’ve already discovered:
“Obesity is definitely associated with economic wealth,” said Liu in an e-mail interview with AOL News. “We saw [increased obesity] first in Hong Kong, and it will definitely continue in Shanghai and Beijing. Obesity rates are high wherever there are fast food restaurants.”
Liu, who hails from China, says that the blooming economy means higher wages and more interaction with American-style restaurants that are popping up to take advantage of the newly discovered yearning for fast food.
“They’ve become more in tune with the American diet, and as a result, they’ll end up suffering from more obesity,” Liu predicted. “They want KFC, McDonalds, Taco Bell, etc.” – AOL
Instead of us here in the USA being so critical of ourselves as exceptionally bad, we need to start thinking of ourselves as the first to go down this path. Our next thought should be: switching to another group, doing the same thing, will not be better — in fact, it will be worse as we expand the “American lifestyle” to all seven billion people on earth.
But we have no intention of figuring that out. After all, we’ve finally so edited our society that we betray our founding origins, and can re-structure our society however we want it to be — in fact, how we want it is surprisingly like how other societies collapse, which is a re-distribution of wealth to peasants, a denial of reality, and an eventual passage into tyranny:
More to the point is that the constitution provides few answers to the hard questions thrown up by modern politics. Should gays marry? No answer there. Mr Klarman argues that the framers would not even recognise America’s modern government, with its mighty administrative branch and imperial executive. As to what they would have made of the modern welfare state, who can tell? To ask that question after the passage of two centuries, says Pietro Nivola of the Brookings Institution, is to pose an impossible thought experiment. – Economist
Victor Davis Hanson gives us an insightful view of the difference between the two basic types of societies you have — an upwardly-mobile society, which rewards competence, and a peasant society, which rewards participation equally and therefore offers no incentive, and rapidly devalues itself for that reason:
Traditional peasant societies believe in only a limited amount of good. The more your neighbor earns, the less someone else gets. Profits are seen as a sort of theft; they must be either hidden or redistributed. Envy, rather than admiration of success, reigns.
In contrast, Western civilization began with a very different, ancient Greek idea of an autonomous citizen, not an indentured serf or subsistence peasant. The small, independent landowner — if he was left to his own talents, and if his success was protected by, and from, government — would create new sources of wealth for everyone. The resulting greater bounty for the poor soon trumped their old jealousy of the better-off. – Victor Davis Hanson
Why would anyone want this type of civilization?
Thorstein Veblen invented the term “conspicuous consumption” to refer to the showy spending habits of the nouveau riche, who unlike the established money of his day took great pains to signal their wealth by buying fast cars, expensive clothes, and shiny jewelery. Why was such flashiness common among new money but not old? Because the old money was so secure in their position that it never even occurred to them that they might be confused with poor people, whereas new money, with their lack of aristocratic breeding, worried they might be mistaken for poor people if they didn’t make it blatantly obvious that they had expensive things.
The old money might have started off not buying flashy things for pragmatic reasons – they didn’t need to, so why waste the money? But if F. Scott Fitzgerald is to be believed, the old money actively cultivated an air of superiority to the nouveau riche and their conspicuous consumption; not buying flashy objects becomes a matter of principle. This makes sense: the nouveau riche need to differentiate themselves from the poor, but the old money need to differentiate themselves from the nouveau riche.
This process is called countersignaling, and one can find its telltale patterns in many walks of life.
So my hypothesis is that if a certain side of an issue has very obvious points in support of it, and the other side of an issue relies on much more subtle points that the average person might not be expected to grasp, then adopting the second side of the issue will become a signal for intelligence, even if that side of the argument is wrong. – Less Wrong
The peasants want to believe they are blameless, so they claim they are equal but oppressed.
The noueveau riche — who are now all in service and media industries — want to consume conspicuously, but not get on the bad side of the peasants, who they recognize as (a) soon to be in power, demographically, thanks to democracy and (b) the primary consumers of their products.
The old money avoid conspicuous consumption, including false altruism, which they see as being trivial, childish, reality-denying and emotional. So they go about their lives, while the masses build up steam around them.
Why are some of the nicest places on earth, like Sweden and England, so crazed to be altruistic? They have rising lower middle classes who want to act like the nouveau riche and be counted among them, so they have more social connections and thus, more money.
As a result, all layers of society go along with the peasant society agenda, and we all go down together. Never fear: the Chinese hover at our elbows, eager to make the same mistakes.