Tuesday, January 29, 2013

They Are Not Of Us

An interesting essay from George Monbiot today on the grooming of oligarchs and why, even though they govern in our name, they don't rule on our behalf.   They rule as they were born and raised to rule.   An excerpt.

In the Origins of Totalitarianism, Hannah Arendt explains that the nobles of pre-revolutionary France "did not regard themselves as representative of the nation, but as a separate ruling caste which might have much more in common with a foreign people of the same society and condition than with its compatriots".

Last year the former Republican staffer Mike Lofgren wrote something very similar about the dominant classes of the US: "the rich elites of this country have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens … the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it."

Secession from the concerns and norms of the rest of society characterises any well established elite. Our own ruling caste, schooled separately, brought up to believe in justifying fairytales, lives in a world of its own, from which it can project power without understanding or even noticing the consequences. A removal from the life of the rest of the nation is no barrier to the desire to dominate it. In fact, it appears to be associated with a powerful sense of entitlement.

So if you have wondered how the current government can blithely engage in the wholesale transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich, how its frontbench can rock with laughter as it truncates the livelihoods of the poorest people of this country, why it commits troops to ever more pointless post-colonial wars, here, I think, is part of the answer. Many of those who govern us do not in their hearts belong here. They belong to a different culture, a different world, which knows as little of its own acts as it knows of those who suffer them.

Ignatieff was clearly of this ruling caste.   He never demonstrated a real grasp of the country or our people.   Harper, despite his more middle-class upbringing and his fondness of hockey and cats, may not be a member by birth of the ruling caste but certainly shows himself its eager water-carrier and thereby may hope to earn his rightful place among them.   Such are the aspirations of those who govern a petro-state.


Owen Gray said...

One wonders when the mob will storm the Bastille.

The Mound of Sound said...

Hard to say, isn't it Owen? Certainly in our grandkids' time they'll be facing challenges that we were spared. You and I, Owen, came up in the eye of a societal hurricane. Peace, prosperity, consumer comforts - they all just fell into our laps. Looking back, we wanted for almost nothing even if we didn't grasp that at the time. Then again, these are the sort of "pinnacle" conditions most societies enjoy just before they implode.

We owe the generations we have spawned a great deal but we'll never make good on it. We won't even acknowledge the fact.

thwap said...

Monetarist sadist Central Bank governor John Crow's parents were London, UK janitors.

The Mound of Sound said...

Nothing inherently wrong with social mobility, Thwap, it's the cornerstone of a vital, robust middle class. Some, however, on their rise to the top do go a tad sideways. I can think of a little painter from Austria as one example. Unfortunately a dash of psychopathy is sometimes a powerful leg up in matters of social elevation. Spend a few years in any big law firm and you'll get that beyond any question.