Why democracy is heading for extinction… get ready for elite economic domination
I strongly recommend Paul Krugman’s brilliant new review of Thomas Piketty’s Capital in the 21st Century, which documents these changes in great detail and sets them in a historical context. We’re so accustomed to the idea of equality and democracy, and a wide range of sources feed us these ideas in such a steady rhythm, that most of us fail to see just how radically our society has changed. The most important conclusion of Capital in the Twenty-First Century is, as Krugman notes, that rising economic inequality is leading us back to “patrimonial capitalism,” where the talent and intelligence of individuals counts for little compared to the power of family dynasties. This is happening before our eyes.
Yet where is the protest? Where is the public organization among the increasingly powerless to take back democracy? Sadly, this too is lacking, and in part because of the ability of the wealthy to control the public discussion and to frame debate in their own preferred terms.
The greatest trick up the sleeves of the moneyed and powerful is their diabolical ability to render themselves invisible and undetectable, to recede and operate behind a front, one relatable and common. Our politics are overrun with characters acting at the behest of shadows.
These are the politicians to whom we have become accustomed — too much polish, and too much beam — which is precisely the reason they should warrant our suspicion and not our trust, the way one cannot trust a cook with pots too pretty and not burned black on the bottoms.
And yet too many people shrug or sleep when they should seethe.