Oligarchic Jousting vs republicanism

The IM-1776 review Neo Feudalism or New Class War is ,as good non fiction book reviews should be, a thoughtful look at the books and discussion of the core thesis.

Michael Lind in The New Class War and Joel Kotkin in The Coming of Neo-Feudalism both demonstrate the defunct nature of the ‘socially liberal, fiscally conservative’ worldview that dominated post-Cold War politics. Lind’s central contention is that, because it creates vast power inequalities, class matters as much now as in pre-modern politics, in spite of our democratic aspirations. Kotkin, on the other hand, argues that class divisions now resemble the Middle Ages specifically. Both books herald a society we should strive to avoid.

IM-1776, Neo Feudalism or New Class War, Henry George

As a side note IM-1776, an online magazine, appears to be a very promising source of thoughtful discussion on society from a somewhat acerbic point of view.

Have not read either book, but have them on the list of possible future reads. Possible because from Mr. George’s review I have to say that I have absorbed much of what they think from a broad swath of other reading and my own thinking on the topic of where we are and where we might be going. It is also interesting that Scott Adams (of Dilbert fame) our populist public philosopher seems to be paralleling the threads woven here but I see his perceptions as being driven from dynamic understanding of the online gestalt rather than analytical sourcing.

Put rather bluntly the gestalt of the populace regarding their own nation is largely illusory. That while the theory and form of gov’t is one thing the reality is largely different. While we think this is a republic where the ‘will of the people’ rules the reality is that a small number of people establish what that ‘will’ is through control of the focus of the media and the ‘rules of the game’ via law and regulation.

If you look beyond America, at some extreme examples, you may see a distorted mirror of this. That in places like the Soviet Union, China, North Korea, the ‘people’ who could rise up and blot out the ‘establishment’ don’t. Because the ‘hive mind’ that is our base perception is convinced that the status quo is as good as it gets or at worst is so ingrained with everyone else that your rising against would be useless.

Recently Scott Adams pointed out that Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook invested 10’s of millions in changing the voting rules in many places to increase the % of people voting. That you might see this as a driving factor in why certain places saw unprecedented voting, which tipped the balance to Zombie Joe instead of Orange Man Bad. (Now I happen to think that unprecedented levels of cheating had something to do with this as well but am willing to see MZ’s contribution as having a large, perhaps overwhelming effect… perhaps by making cheating easier?)

So Scott Adams said, (roughly) maybe Mark Zuckerberg’s is really the only vote that counted in this last election. Please note that Scott Adam’s is purposefully hyperbolic in many cases to get his thoughts to stick ‘directionally’ (which is how he sees a lot of Trump’s messaging on Twitter.)

What has evolved in the Post Cold War west is a form of Oligarchy with a surface wash of Republican representative democracy. The forms that Japan, Korea, Europe, even Russia and China took on are in essence what we have evolved to. You could say that the US was ALWAYS this way to some significant extent. With the Oligarchs jousting, politely’ each other and to a large extent, ‘following the will of the people.’ And if that then those other states maybe saw this more clearly than ‘we’ did and followed along since it clearly left the Oligarchs in charge while also providing them a safety buffer against the pitchforks and tiki torches.

If this is the future (and maybe it explains the past?) then one has to hope that the oligarchs who manipulate (for that is what it is) the people’s thinking have the best interests of the country in mind and are smart enough to know what that is before the results of past actions come to fruition. Because the rest of us are going to be suffering when the ‘best minds’ screw up.

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