Monday, November 29, 2010

Long Live the Order of Egoism and God Save the Planet

The exercise of sovereign power by a part of the nation over the whole is an inevitable consequence of the inequality consecrated by the Order of Egoism.

Some two hundred years ago, the Italian ex-patriot, Philippe Buonarroti writing about the French Revolution, characterized the struggle as one between the Order of Equality and the Order of Egoism. Despite the lofty rhetoric invoked by those who advocated fundamental equality to be found in Robespierre's Declaration of the Rights of Man, and of the Citizen, the Aristocrats have won the day.

They have done so by circumventing the desire for equality by appealing to the mass's own desire to become members of the privileged elite. Hereditary and lineage are things of the past. Today, what confers status is money and the things that it can buy.

Moreover, the acquisition of great wealth is no longer confined to landownership and the return on investments obtained from industrial ventures. Today's aristocrats earn billions exploiting currency exchange and financial derivatives. Lower down are the CEOs of publicly traded companies who earn hundreds of millions, followed by sports and entertainment stars who earn millions.

As the old adage goes, it takes money to make money and what we have seen over the last thirty years is a net transfer of wealth from the lower and middle classes to the very upper class, more precisely the top one percent of revenue earners.

What has also changed is that the lower classes have lost the ability to effectively mobilize in order to improve their lot. It's as if the ideology of egoism normally associated with the monied class has worked its way down so that those with significantly less aspire to become celebrities rather than self organize to challenge for a greater piece of the economic pie.

Indeed, YouTube has become the opiate of the masses. If only my video goes viral can I escape the banality of being a member of the precariously employed working class. If that doesn't pan out, I can pretend to be important by amassing a significant number of followers on Twitter, and if I really get lucky, I can get my 15 minutes of fame by appearing on a reality based television program.

The only people that I come across who reject the Order of Egoism outright are the deep greens who reject conspicuous consumption altogether in favor of voluntary simplicity that smacks of the desire to live in an egalitarian society. But their numbers are far too small. They don't comprise a critical mass that could actually contest the nature of the economic order.

So, I guess I'm saying that corporate capitalism has triumphed. Representative democracy is as good as it gets with its illusion that political legitimacy is derived from the people. In reality, it's the super rich that rule and they are hellbent on amassing as much wealth as they possibly can since their egos know no bounds. The vast majority, try as they may, attempt to follow in their footsteps, and if they're lucky, they might make enough to enjoy life in the realm of affordable luxury.

In the meantime, those of us who can lift our heads above the crass accumulation of material possessions can only watch and wait. Eventually, the non-renewable resources that sustain global economic growth will run out and then and only then will all hell break loose.

Will it happen in my lifetime? In the lifetime of my children? I don't know. Only in my dreams -- there probably exists a video game -- can I grab a rocket launcher and blow those egotistical bastards away.

1 comment:

  1. There are too many escape routes and procrastination rules the day. Besides the rich have weapons such as the Republican Party in the US that ridicules anything that isn't one of them.


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