When you observe class divisions in wealth among the masses – it appears land is still the most valuable asset, land that is privately owned, with that private ownership protected by force. People must pay the land lords to live on that land, or they will not be protected from enforcers (once roaming bandits, now the institutionalized police). In short, we have a New Feudalism today. (A bit of a jump to that conclusion I realize, but humor me for now).
The rise of the Capitalist class gained some of that land-owner power that was traditionally monopolized by royalty, and yet now it is being monopolized by Capitalists, who work to buy whole governments to serve their own interests (and so make serfs of the laborers living under those governments in the process).
In my previous post – it was not out of some pretense of superiority I labeled minimum wage workers as today’s peasants. Branding people as an innately “inferior” class is arrogant and not my intent, I am merely making wealth and power-based observations about groups of people in society.
Dominance has evolved throughout the ages. From strength as beasts, to kinship in tribes, to the royalty and capitalists of nations. Democracy does provide a healthy counter balance to private concentrations of power – but the private power holders, in their lust for control, are driven to endlessly try and de-legitimize all things Democratic. It is a dance because excesses of both private and public power can lead to tyranny.
As an American in the early 21st century, I am inclined to note the scales of power appear tipped at an unhealthy imbalance, with an excess of influence in private hands.
In the simplest of terms – a land lord owns the people living on his land. He can demand rent from them – and the police will enforce payment of that debt.
It’s not exactly slavery – but combined with wage labor, it isn’t much better than that either, especially for people born without wealth, without land. Granted people are free to leave if they wish – if they can afford to. Money – and unemployment in particular – are tools through which the masses are controlled, they are the whips of the new age slave drivers.
The concept of profiting from land-ownership rather than labor is perhaps the invention of elders. It is conceivable such a system was intentionally devised to perpetuate the welfare of older people, who become less able to work with time but who experience no lessening in their desire of wealth as they age.
The nature of privatization has left many elders at the mercy of Capitalists too however, so it would be unfair to wholly characterize the state of the world as an “Old vs. Young” conflict. In a similar vein, “Rich vs. Poor” is not wholly accurate either, because one need not be a land-owning Capitalist to be rich. The Capitalist class is the top 1% of the top 1%.
It may not be that this elite group of people seek to enslave the world, but the infrastructure of our Capitalist business system does in fact give them that power. Further, a sinister minority is conceivable who do in fact consciously intend to make serfs of us all. More likely however, is that they have deep faith in a profoundly misguided ideology, whose benefits to them will blind them to the mass harm it does to others.
Hence it is very interesting that in 2011 – after 30 years of unprecedented gains by the 1% at the expense of the 99% (but also to their marginal benefit) – that open rebellion has begun against the Capitalists.
If history teaches us anything – it’s that no dynasty has ever been immortal. The dominance of Capitalists appears to be on its way out – and even if recent events prove to be only the planting of a new seed, it cannot be unplanted – and the Capitalists will eventually lose power.
The question is – when will that be, and who will replace them? I hope for all our sakes we can make the new rulers design a more sustainable global economic system!