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Author Topic: Power Structures in Human Society: Pros and Cons Part 1  (Read 14229 times)

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It's really an Occam's razor type problem (a principle urging one to select from among competing hypotheses that which makes the fewest assumptions). Because the 1% are our leaders, the masses of humanity always attempt to imitate what the 1% do, period. When the 1% stop their massive piggery, the small scale piggery of the masses will stop as well. Claiming that the 1% only "do what they do" because the 99% are a bunch of sheep is a half truth. True, we sheep are unfortunately permitting the 1% to parasitically prey on us. But putting the onus on the sheep is "blame the victim" illogic.

Yes. And neo-Malthusians specialize in just that sort of illogic: victim-blaming. Malthusianism is the close kin of elitism, feudalism, fascism and other skanky fetid social ideas -- added to its reflection of personal pathology (depression, nihilism, defeatism, misanthropy, etc.).

It's not the 99%'s biomass (e.g. ants have more than humans) that is destroying the biosphere; it's the 1%'s carbon footprint by a huge margin despite their tiny biomass. A detailed study of per capita footprint which includes resource ownership by wealth would conclusively prove that.

I don't think it needs to be "proven" so much as simply mentioned. It is obviously true. Which is not to say that (mass) population pressure does not have an effect; it does. But first things first.

If you were not aware of this work, you should be: How the Rich are Destroying the Earth, by HervΘ Kempf. Below are links to reviews, and snippets.  You'll love the bit about how "oligarchs vie with one another in sumptuary competition and EVERY SOCIAL STRATUM BENEATH DOES THE SAME".  Ha.

The book is from 2008. I posted this stuff to a bunch of fora at that time -- energyresources on yahoo, savinar's joint, etc., etc. I don't think it did any good. Malthusians are too stuck in their ideology and too anxious to blame the common people -- if not actually relish the prospect of mass dieoff (get rid of all those low-class "useless eaters") -- to see the obvious for which Kempf is arguing. The real primary issue, as Kempf makes clear, is profligate consumption, not profligate reproduction.  The common people have actually done very good at controlling their reproduction over the last 50 years, what with fertility dropping off drastically almost everywhere. How much better could they be expected to do? That is, could it be reasonably expected that everyone CEASE reproducing entirely, reducing fertility to ZERO? No, of course not. Whereas, it IS reasonable to expect the wealthy to cease their wild profligate overconsumption (but instead, they'll gone in the opposite direction). I argued this point at length, but to no avail. The misanthropic Malthusian mind cannot grasp such an idea.


SNIPPETS from reviews and excerpts at these links (hopefully the
links are still good; they are from 2008):

"The book's central thesis [is] that the 'oligarchy,' a global stateless class composed of the hyper-rich and the 'new Nomenklatura,' is responsible for our species' headlong rush to environmental destruction, both indirectly, through the rest of society's attempts to imitate and emulate their wasteful habits of conspicuous consumption, and directly, through their control of the levers of power, all presently fixed at the 'Catastrophe' setting'."

"[Kempf depicts] a predatory, self-perpetuating elite that has become wealthy 'not through success in production, but through constant redistribution of collective wealth'  (think Halliburton or Blackwater senior executives and shareholders) and that lives '...separated from the plebians. They are not aware of how the poor and wage-earners live; they don't know and don't want to know.' No sense of the public good or civic virtue moves 'this predatory and greedy controlling class, wasting its rents, misusing its power, (it) congeals as an obstacle on the way. It bears no proposal, is animated by no ideal, delivers no promise ... is blind to the explosive power of obvious injustice. And blind to the poisoning of the biosphere that growth in material wealth provokes, a poisoning that means a degradation of the conditions for human life...'"

"None of this would matter so much, Kempf suggests, were it not for insatiable human rivalry in ostentation. Globally, wealth is an indicator of status and the social stimulus of emulation and imitation creates limitless 'needs.' Drawing on Veblen's 'Theory of the Leisure Classes,' Kempf suggests that production is adequate, but consumption is excessive as oligarchs vie with one another in sumptuary competition and EVERY SOCIAL STRATUM BENEATH DOES THE SAME." [emphasis added]

"ince justice demands that the consumption of the poorest be increased, 'the rich have to consume less.' That last requirement would appear to apply to me and to almost anyone reading these words online."

"Since the collapse of the former USSR, it appears that capitalism no longer needs democracy -- so antithetical to the oligarchy's objectives. Terrorism is the latest alibi to tighten security, criminalize dissent, expand surveillance and imprison the poor. 'The hyper-rich will attempt to maintain their excessive advantages by force as they did after Hurricane Katrina, when armed forces were sent -- not to help the drowning poor -- but to hunt down looters."

"There is hope, Kempf says, but not in the measures people think. Sustainable development is pointless. The technology that supposedly will save us won't develop in time. To stop the inertia of destruction, society, particularly the hyper-rich, need to soberly rethink their lifestyles."

Kempf: "To achieve [our] goals, it is not enough for society to become aware of the urgency of the ecological crisis -- and of the difficult choices its prevention imposes, notably in terms of material consumption. It will further be necessary that ecological concerns articulate themselves as a radical political analysis of current relationships of domination. We will not be able to decrease global material consumption if the powerful are not brought down and if inequality is not combated. To the ecological principle that was so useful at the time we first became aware -- 'Think globally; act locally,' -- we must add the principle that the present situation imposes: 'Consume less; share better.'"

"The book seems to me an incredible tour de force. I could not imagine it possible to lay out systematically, with sentences of classical limpidity and concision, such a complete, as well as completely persuasive argument for what ails the world and what needs to be addressed. The dense connections between all the disturbing phenomena of recent years -- ecological degradation to the point of habitat destruction for our own species, increasing social inequality and unemployment, the new totalitarianism (government snooping, torture, the percentage increase in prison populations), and the disappearance of a seriously contentious press are simply and powerfully delineated."


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