The New Merchant Class: A primer on next century’s politics
Daniel Imrie-Situnayake
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Thanks for an interesting piece. I think you’ve combined the fact of economic change with the myth of generational change. The merchants of the 17th and 18th centuries weren’t necessarily a new generation challenging an old elite. The reality was messier and more contingent. Some old elites actively participated in the Caribbean trade (which was about slave labor on plantations). People of a range of ages and classes profited, including non-aristocrats. The slave trade helped usher in the industrial revolution and created immense wealth. In particular it made Manchester and other cities world cities. Today, the change is not necessarily about what a particular generation or type of business person will do. Rather it is dependent on changes that they are a part of, not driving. Who knows what the shape of the global economy will be in 20 or 30 years, and whether the Silicon Valley boys will be more than a footnote. Maybe San Francisco is the new Manchester, but I’m not sure the parallel holds beyond that.