The Possible Collapse
Part of what leads to conflict in human society is both a perceived lack of connectivity between and amongst the two or more parties in question (“if I were to hurt you, I don’t think I would be negatively effected by this, or I might achieve a positive from doing this”) in addition to one or more of the belligerents having some kind of reasoning behind the conflict as well as the material means to make the conflict happen.
It was very interesting to read Adam Smith’s chapter on how towns evolved and how they shaped the economy and politics of European (especially English) societies. He argued that when the nobles were able to trade their surplus wealth for either foreign trinkets or homemade exotic goods and services. When the nobles stopped sharing their wealth out (ostensibly, amongst the people who helped produce the wealth to begin with) was when people were less inclined to support the nobles and, consequently, more independent of them.
“In a country where there’s no foreign commerce or any of the finer manufacturers, a man of 10,000 Pounds cannot well employ his revenue in any way other than in maintaining, perhaps, 1,000 families who are all at their necessity, at his command. In the present state of Europe, a man of 10,000 Pounds a year can spend his whole revenue, and he generally does so, without directly maintaining 20 people or eing able to command more than 10 footmen, not worth the commanding.” -Adam Smith, The Wealth of Nations.
This passage highlights two key points. The first is concerning dependency upon the feudal Lord for sustainance and well being. This could be seen as analogous to people being dependent upon public sources of goods and services from the government (which, I personally see, as a negative for well being and health within a society, especially in American society). This is how I would propose that instead of welfare and redistribution of wealth through the channels of government, that we redistribute wealth according to a profit sharing scheme that enables people to receive higher wages and salaries depending upon how productive the company they’re working for is.
This brings us to the second half of the passage, which concerns itself with the disintegration of the feudal order as a result of the greed and careless avarice of the nobles. Through encouraging trade and manufacturing, the nobles enabled people to be more than peasants and to provide independent wealth to the merchant and manufacturer classes. It seems that when the nobles (or, in modern times, the bankers and the corporate executives) attempt to distance themselves from the general populace economically, it leads to increased resentment along with the increase in perception of independence between one group of people and the other. It is this disconnect that both creates and enables conflict to begin and spread, potentially, throughout the whole of the social world at the noble’s (corporate or otherwise) political and economic expenses. When there is a perceived disconnect between leaders and the rest of society with things going excessivly in favor of the leaders, a universal injustice is committed (according to human social logic) and the system is put into an existential crisis because of this lack of harmony, balance, positive, effective and benevolent action from the leadership in question.
Consider what was about to happen in Adam Smith’s time when these conditions, not unlike our own, was taking place. Whole new concepts concerning humanity, its individual and collective place in the universe and the ways it ought to be governed were taking root, partially at least, as a result of this lack of actual care, benevolence and effective action by the elite at the time. The American Revolution, what was effectively an anti-imperialist, anti-colonial and, eventually, anti-monarchical and aristocratic revolution helped trigger what would be a wave of change throughout Europe, at the very least, with regards to how governments operated and how governments and elites related to the general public. Even in conservative England, the tide gradually enabled universal sufferage over the course of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Try as the conservatives might to reverse the course of history through dialogue and creative framing of issues beyond what is actually there and how things actually work in the space beyond our brains, the small-selfish tendencies of a few will always lead to their own destruction in the grand scheme of things, even if they are successful in convincing a majority or a minority of coming over to their side. The elite, when they are unaccountable and disconnected with the general public in their own minds, tend to get themselves into the same pickle that has befallen many of their predecessors, from the tyrants of Athens on through to the traditional, landed aristocrats of the world. It’s absolutely incredible that these folks, with so much to lose from a lack of care, responsibility and attention to the other haven’t figured out how to live symbiotically with the rest of society, rather than parasitically as they’ve traditionally done. Very curious to see so many supposedly adept people failing so badly at one of the simpler puzzles that the universe has to offer us, especially when all that is lost on their end is a little bit of extra financial wealth (which they couldn’t use in the first place) and a little bit of power (that they never really had to begin with).
Think about it.
Tags: behavior, brains, collapse, Cosmos, economy, Elite, elites, function, governing, government, health, Morality, Negative action, Positive action, quality of life, Social, society, universe, well being