Image from The Past Is Unwritten
Bruce Wilder of The Coming Perfect Storm dropped this comment over at Ian's place (excerpted, my bold):
...The long history of the hereditary European landed aristocracy, as a rapacious warrior class, certainly qualifies anyone’s optimism about rational governance, let alone egalitarian and humanitarian values prevailing. The substitution of machines for slaves in the Industrial Revolution gave some hope of moral redemption through technology, but the real history of the Industrial Revolution was that it required the proceeds of world conquest and a massive wastage of the natural world to jumpstart “progress”. If the European world is driving us off the cliff of the earth’s limited carrying capacity, it is from the force of an elite habit of ruthless waste and abuse, acquired in the Dark Ages, and practiced by conservatives for more than a milennium."Rapacious warrior class." That sounds about right, and it set me to thinking of the proletarian relationship with this "warrior class."
Today, Ian is a big help on that score::
...We could talk about financialization, but financialization is just a side-effect of needing lots of rich people and having less and less to sell to the world, which is about suburbanization, which is what the rich bribed the middle class with – you can have your little castle and your unearned unwarranted wealth increase in your unproductive suburb away from brown and black people, in exchange we get to be really, really rich. Like all deals with the devil, of course, most people get cheated, but then when you decide you deserve money you didn’t earn and that being away from black people is important to you, you’ve already sold your soul. The rich will find this out as well.Let's face it - as each of us, one by one, have the scales torn from his eyes, it becomes clear, among other things, that there is a reason they didn't just fall, but required considerable violence from without to shorn these orbs.
Bruce's "rapacious warrior class" nicely encapsulates the character of what is, here in the west, considered "civilization." The contempt held towards "unambitious" indigenous people by these "civilisers" reveals a deeply-held moral perversion, in no small way stemming from the belief in the "open" system of the world, characterized in the concept of the God/Man/World hierarchy. God gave Man the World to "use" (read: exploit).
This is the pointy end of the stick. The fact that this is a perversion is not lost on the vast majority of human beings. Our culture of entertainment and diversion contain many paeans to the "noble savage," which is merely short-hand for a sustainable, non-hierarchical Man/World relationship. (It is also true that this culture is deeply injected with the "pointy end of the stick" porn - war/crime/heroism/conquest - but that would certainly be expected.) For the non-sociopathic majority, the ugliness of exploitation must be masked or mollified, and so the stories we tell ourselves about what is normal and deserved for a human standard of living - the modern middle class - requiring myths of tides that raise all boats and other nonsense that presume that this Earth can support any significant human population at the levels enjoyed by this middle class.
Yes, as the scales fall (are torn!), one is filled with horror when one realizes just how completely and cruelly one has turned away from the incredible suffering caused by standing upon the heads of politically weaker populations. And so, for most, the scales remain, their effect on the soul incalculable.
For it is indeed a Faustian bargain that the good people of America and elsewhere have entangled themselves in. The payoff is that we get to blame "unproductive" and "unambitious" "other" people for their troubles - we're doing the right thing over here! As Ian said:
...which is what the rich bribed the middle class with – you can have your little castle and your unearned unwarranted wealth increase in your unproductive suburb away from brown and black people, in exchange we get to be really, really rich...Really rich, and really stupid about what it is to be a human being in this world.
Update (for those with scales firmly in place:) For example, much is made of the "externalities" exploited by corporations, the ways in which illegal (or quasi-legal) pollution and destruction costs are borne by the population-at-large, thereby adding an undeserved margin on profits. How many of these critics note the "externalities" buttressing their own lifestyles?