Catastrophes are reliable levelers of inequality; inequality creates catastrophes


#1

Originally published at: http://boingboing.net/2017/02/22/oligarchy-considered-harmful.html


#2

“I think there’s a case to be made that at least some denialists have made cynical peace with this fact and are planning to weather the centuries of disorder by amassing so much wealth before it hits that they can effectively secede from the human race.”

That’s what I’ve thought for a while, that a number of the wealthy denialists are not dumb, but are pushing that line for that exact purpose.


#3

Well that’s nice, we’ve got a proper negative feedback system, so we don’t end up with a boot stamping a human face forever. But does this mean survivalists will be the warlords of the waste?


#4


Take yer pick.


#5

Not an expert, but wasn’t the Great Recession a catastrophe, and didn’t it enrich the rich at the expense of everyone else? Just asking.


#6

“Technology has made mass warfare obsolete; violent, redistributive revolution has lost its appeal; most states are more resilient than they used to be; and advances in genetics will help humanity ward off novel germs.”

Two words: global warming. Syria is just a preview of what will happen if nothing is done. Wealthy people who think they can secede from the human race under those catastrophic circumstances are the kind of idiots who still believe in the fantasies of Ayn Rand past the age of 24.


#7

I am reminded of a passage from John Brunner’s excellent and prescient novel The Shockwave Rider (1975). (Context: post-“Great Bay Quake”. Disasterville was an academic study of post-quake society.)

I recall a point made in one of the Disasterville monographs. I think it was number 6. Stripped of the material belongings which had located them in society, a lot of refugees who formerly held responsible, status-high positions broke down into whining useless parasites. Leadership passed to those with more flexible minds—not only kids who hadn’t ossified yet, but adults who previously had been called unpractical, dreamers, even failures. The one thing they had in common seemed to be a free-ranging imagination, regardless of whether it was due to their youth or whether it had lasted into maturity and fettered them with too great a range of possibilities for them to settle to any single course of action.


#8

Yeah, you’re quite right::
“Technology has made mass warfare obsolete; violent, redistributive revolution has lost its appeal; most states are more resilient than they used to be; and advances in genetics will help humanity ward off novel germs.”

This is arguing, basically, that “this time is different”.

This has always been a bad bet. The preview you point out really seems to be just that, an inevitable preview of things to come. Claims that the winners of the status quo will keep on being winners demands that the political/environmental/economic system remains stagnant, i.e., as is. It’s more likely that environmental degradation, inequality led political instability, and any other pre-crisis scenario that is simmering will eventually, and possibly soon, give way to unforeseen feedback loops that cannot be controlled by elite triage policies.

The ruling classes have never been smart enough to outwit their unceasing greed. I can’t see them being any better in our wonderful 21st century.

Of course, unless I’m dead wrong.


#9

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