05 January 2012

Constantine Can't Rescue Britain- 6

On another perhaps more practical level, one might engage in a discussion regarding the middle class. A society lacking this contains a large population of disengaged, socially disenfranchised people. This has been the reality throughout most of history. Those on the top look down on the crude barbaric masses of dirty uncultivated people with disgust. They control them with the threat of violence but always live with some fear of them as well. The middle class creates a new and large bracket of society that is engaged in issues and infrastructure, and cares very much about standards, advancement, manners and so forth.

Our present global economic and political system is concentrating wealth and slowly eliminating the middle class. Serfs don't act like bourgeoisie or yeomen. They don't care because a serf is all they'll ever be. The system which is bringing this about is touted as THE Christian system by the Christo-American intelligentsia, which is largely comprised of people within the middle class. The system has to be, because they have identified it as theologically orthodox. The irony is (I would argue) they have identified this position as Christian not due to exegesis, but because of social values stemming from their middle class status. And yet it is this system, this very economic model which has placed their social standing in jeopardy.
It's as if they are tying their own hands, cutting their own throats. Capitalism is nothing more than the Biblical system of economics we have been told by many. These same folks reject with hostility what might be called Global Capitalism, or even domestic 'Crony' Capitalism, but the protestations are vain. Capitalism is never static, it must grow and advance or die. The idea that men, especially fallen ones are going to ever be content with the wealth and power they have is not a Christian understanding of humanity or economics. Men will always seek new avenues, new realms to conquer. When the local realm is not enough, they go national, and eventually and inevitably international.
Government and infrastructure are essential for a society to function. Is it any surprise the wealthy will find ways to profit from it? That they will find ways to make their profits essential to the maintenance of society? Greed knows no boundaries. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Capitalism without some serious restraint is nothing more than the systemized vindication and institutionalization of the love of money. It devolves and degenerates into wealth for wealth's sake. And to survive it must defeat others, it must crush those underneath. It must exploit. Its apologists argue otherwise, but they live in an ivory-tower dream land. The facts, and history are very much against them.

Capitalism it is asserted, built the middle class. There is some truth to this, although other societies have also built a middling-class without this system. Even Feudalism was not so cut and dry as it often presented in text books. None of these systems are. With the rise of town economics, something like a middle class developed in the Middle Ages.
Capitalism in granting social transformative power to the entrepreneur, can provide a check to state power-acquisition. A lack of Capitalism it could be argued helped fuel the absolute monarchy you saw in places like Tsarist Russia. All these questions are complicated and each situation is different.
The more I reflect on the American situation, the more I've come to realize the American golden economic age of the 1950's and 60's was unsustainable. It was destroyed by greed, both Corporate and Labour. But it also was a temporary situation. The war had destroyed global competition for a generation. It was only a matter of time. So while there is a historical precedent for some notion of a middling-class... the American middle class, its standard of living, and much else that has gone along with it, is really something fairly new and is potentially proving to be a short-lived construct. The divide is returning.
In Europe, the middle class has been in part engineered and institutionally secured. Now under the strain of austerity they will soon discover whether or not the collective has the strength to stand against the desires and wants of the individual, whether or not the still present inequities of their regulated Capitalism are too much to bear.
Britain has never had quite the same scope of Middle Class as is found in America. There are other issues. One of them is space! Americans visiting England cannot but be shocked at the population density and the way people are packed into the urban areas. This has curtailed the extravagance found in American suburbia.

Britain has a middle class, but I guess I would try and argue it has always been a bit smaller, more constrained, and far less stable. The post-war social safety net has probably helped hold their society together in many ways. For some reason Americans will actually tolerate more wealth inequality. We are a nation of very rich people and very poor and in recent years the poor have grown much poorer. In most other western societies they would have taken to the streets long before now. The American Establishment has pulled off one of the greatest propaganda coups of all time...they convinced the masses to consistently vote against their own interests.

A healthy middle class makes for a stable and invested society. A non-integrated class will lead to social breakdown. They will either be viewed as being a drain on the system, or in some cases they can be exploited for cheap labour. Either way it helps to create certain conditions which are unhealthy and anytime there are bumps in the road for the middle class, they will look to the non-integrated segments as an outlet for anger and blame.


Anonymous said...

I really appreciate how you can step back and look at the big picture and then intelligently comment on it. I pray the Lord gives you the ability and opportunity to continue to do that for us.

As I read more about fossil fuels, I see, too, that the 1950's and 60's were an era quite unlike anything before or, probably, since. It was a time when people thought anything was possible with technology and the sky was no limit.

As we pass the point of peak oil - and fuel becomes more expensive - we will be able to adjust only if we are open to adjusting.

There are those who are blind to what's going on in the fossil fuel world and assume that we're just going thru a rather "difficult time" that will soon amend itself - especially if we can elect the right politicians to office.

There are those who see nothing but doom and gloom and some of those in that bunch seem to rather delight in that.

And there are those who, like me, see that we've got some changes to make and we'd best get about making them. And for me, personally, making those changes with the Lord's word in mind. How would He have me live?


Anonymous said...

I'd just like to add to what I said above...
I'm not one to tell others how to live or what to do.
When I say "we", I mean those of us with like mind. Then when others see what we're doing, perhaps they'll begin to follow suit. Or maybe they'll just wait for our harvest and take it for themselves. lol.

I don't look at the future with rose-colored glasses. But I'm not one to sit and cry over what can't be helped, either. I look for solutions. Food expensive? Find a creative, intelligent way to grow it or gather it. Eat less expensive. Just eat less. Wild greens? Community gardens? This summer we learned and will continue to learn how to garden and raise our poultry more intelligently. We're learning permaculture, deep mulching, letting the chickens work for us.
We're so out of the mainstream loop - and always have been - that maybe it's less difficult for us to adjust because we have less to give up.

One thing that I think is so important is true and good education. We know some Amish families who are very nice people - but completely ignorant of history. It's astounding what they don't know.

It's important, I think, to teach our kids not only history - as it really happened - the veil of mythology swept aside - but also how things work. Practical science.
So many of us are ignorant of that and we are led to believe, for instance, that certain energies are viable substitutes for fossil fuels when they're not.

When we don't know true history and we don't understand how things work - we can be led around by the nose and told anything and we have to believe it because - first of all they're the "experts" and second we just don't know any different.

Hopefully, I'm not too off-topic here!