The concept of civilization is becoming a problem. We tend to take civilization for granted without realizing that it is a relatively recent thing, and that most civilizations fail as a result of internal disorganization and lack of unity.
DNA studies suggest that people migrated from Africa to the Middle East followed by multiple further migrations. Civilizations appear to have started in the Middle East with subsequent populations moving to the East and West toward Europe. In each one, the same pattern has occurred: internal downfall, followed by imperial dreams.
Historic studies tend to look at the risk to civilization from those bent on creating empire, like Alexander the Great and his conquests. This means that internal civilization risks are ignored, when these are usually where instability begins and thus, a greater threat to a civilization.
In terms of internal risk, one of the greatest fears is a production failure. Productivity only improved substantially when scientific management or “Taylorism” arose in the 19th century. Taylor essentially mitigated the risk of falling into an empire mentality by ensuring that enough production occurred to keep people employed, fed, clothed and generally sated, muting the instability required to overthrow government and begin the path toward authoritarianism and empire.
Allow me to introduce you to the middle class. These are mostly commercial farmers, technicians, professionals and business managers. It even includes â€œthe millionaire next doorâ€ and could be described economically as the top 50% (excluding Kings, 1%ers and politicians whom are 14% of the US population, turning the rough middle-class percentage to the next-top economic 36%).Â These people qualify themselves, do their work, get paid and pay taxes.
Civilizations have throughout history established levels or castes, with the modern version being class or a proxy for caste as interpreted through earning power. The middle class is known for being steadfast and resilient, but history shows that civilizations destroy their middle-classes in the end. But itâ€™s not only in history though: in 2016 the American middle class found itself endangered. It is worth reading to the end of the article where the author makes a very interesting and sobering (perhaps non-partisan) reference to â€œthe politics of fear.â€
This fear has â€œtrickled downâ€ into psychology and sociology too (reference Dark Organizations) and can also be described as those who want property against those who have property. A similar but not equal idea is tax-eaters versus tax-payers, a sort of two Americas, which is not new actually and only serve to highlight the plight of the middle-class.
To drive the nail even deeper into this coffin, Thomas Friedmanâ€™s book Hot, flat and Crowded describes inadvertently how a popular (and even greened world) would drive itself to collapse. This harkens back to Portuguese seafarers whom were very afraid of two things: encountering sea-monsters, and failing that, falling of the end of the (old) flat wold. Are we (the current old ones) at this point again?
As Henry Cobb succinctly describes:
[The middle-class economy is] economically infeasible. Globalization of a flat world shall flatten their prospects. Itâ€™s the trade deal boogeyman. The only way to return to the 1950s American economic privilege is to flatten the world with bombs again. The irony is that lowered class Americans are much better off in real terms than their higher class parents were [as benefited by economic growth and effective government].
Returning to organizations and risks associated with such, one could easily say that the person at the top of an empire is not only a risk to himself, but also to his organization. For his risk to himself the organization can purchase VIP insurance, but within the very same organization, the middle-class is also at its own separate risk for which no insurance is available. This may sound ominous, but history shows that benefits of a vertical class type dispensation outweigh its risks. A benevolent dictator can benefit many more people and even foreigners over generations, while a strong middle-class will do that on its own too, without undertaking the risk of empire. Â
Since the only current civilization is Western Civilization, it can be stated that its middle class is not only resilient, but in contrast to previous civilizations, systematic and analytical. In theory the middle-class should be able to assess and mitigate its own risk. This may change the perception of an ideal “alternative right” style onarchy and possibly reveal a crack in Western civilizational design. Instead of hiding behind representatives and â€œleaders,â€ it has become incumbent on this level of organization to assess and mitigate its own 360 degree risk scenario. The most likely middle-class organizational risk is the emergence and rapid scaling of dark organizations.
The historically proven benefit of a middle-class can technically be described as follows:
Synergy generated by people working together arises from a common cause. The military is foremost in exploiting that characteristic while political as well as commercial enterprises actively exploitÂ optimization and efficiency measures. The definition of Synergy is the interaction of elements that when combined, produce a total effect that is greater than the sum of the individual elements, contributions, etc.
Positive synergy can be illustrated by the ratio of taxpayers to the total population. The top 50% income earners pay 97% of all income tax. Unfortunately there is a negative synergy too, which you do not want in a civilization since it causes a negative spiral and can therefore be described as an â€œincompatibilityâ€ that will cause internal fracture.
One example is the African-American population achievement of murdering three times above their â€œweight class.â€ If the middle class follows its analytical roots, the tax paid â€œshallâ€ provide a return benefit to the tax payer. As non-taxpayers increase, the benefit returned will become less and the GDP will shrink, but the middle-class resilience will endure. However, if the â€œburdenâ€ exceeds a certain margin, the entire country will go into debt. Once it goes into debt, pressure on the middle-class will increase until the middle-class effectively cracks or, as in the case of Rome, simply disappears.
The debate over “privilege” focuses on the force that counters this tendency toward the abyss. The middle class provides a Synergy analogous to that of the family by which all its members benefit, but also by which the rest of the civilization experiences benefit, although indirectly. Discussion of “privilege” is essentially a one-directional accusation at civilized people i.e. â€œYou canâ€™t be meritorious on your own, because you come from a privileged familyâ€ (not talking about spoilt rich kids here). The actual benefit is not the family, but the organization wherein the family finds itself. This is in principle the synergy emanating out of the middle-class. Whether you are a 1%er or a 90%er, your wealth and privilege is determined by middle-class synergy.
The more effective that middle class synergy is, the better off the entire civilization is; wealth is definitely the wrong measurand of overall health, but is a useful proxy for other measures of thriving. From this analysis, we see how “privilege” is not a thing to be avoided, but a benefit for all and a vital organ of civilization. Without it, we wonâ€™t even have a civilization but will instead live in someoneâ€™s backyard high-risk fancy dream. And that someone is undoubtedly not civilized, hence will have no concept of middle-class risk and its consequences for Rome.