In the past month, I read a few very interesting articles on what appears to be an aristocracy in America. First, there is “The 9.9 Percent Is the New American Aristocracy”, a long, thorough accounting of a how a wealthy aristocracy came to be in modern day America. An aristocracy that is thriving today.
Then there is this article, “Land of the Lawless: How power in America has turned the rule of law into a mere myth”, by Ralph Nader, a man who ran for president a few times, and who has detailed numerous examples of corruption in America. In his article, Nader describes how complexities in the law are used as leverage to fend off enforcement of the law by wealthy, entrenched interests.
And now that I’m writing this, I might as well throw in an article I read a few years ago, “Social Darwinism Isn’t Dead: Rich people think they really are different from you and me.”, from Slate. In that article, we learn that the wealthy elite actually think they’re better than the rest of us by virtue of who their parents are, race, or just money they managed to accumulate. They have a pretty cool racket in that they help each other (just think, “bank bailout 2008”) and leave the rest of us to fight among ourselves for anything they haven’t already taken.
Maybe my high school history was off a bit, but I seem to recall that part of the motive force behind the War for American Independence was to wrest free from that aristocracy, aka, monarchy. I can see that there are still very wealthy families in America, trying to assert and maintain something like a monarchy. The Clintons, the Bushes, and now, the Trumps. They are the most famous, but there are about 400 families that own most of the wealth in America. For them to function as they do now, they need an aristocracy, a well paid layer of defense from critics and investigators. You know, to avoid accountability. I’m already thinking, “Hunger Games” here.
I’m going to try to elucidate a principle here, deriving from one that is already well known. First there is this (if you’re an anarchist, you know this one):
Every exercise of power requires justification.
I have heard those dynasty families talk a lot about accountability. But it should be noted that they are dominant families. They are wealthy and powerful. Nobody can tell them what to do. In a certain sense, they have proven themselves to be above the law. And I have yet to hear any of them justify an arbitrary exercise of power.
The purpose of attaining and asserting dominance in any realm, is to avoid accountability.
That one is mine, I made that up while writing this article. Everywhere I look, where there is dominance, there is a lack of accountability. For after all, once you’re dominant, no one can tell you what to do. No one can apprehend you with the law because you are the law. From the gross polluters of coal, gas and oil, to hedge fund managers who engage in insider trading, to the trust fund babies and those lucky enough to attend an elite prep school in Maryland, there are few who can, or would, exercise the power to call them out for the sake of accountability.
This desire for dominance, and a desire to not be held accountable, those attitudes are not consistent with what we were told about the reason for the founding of this country. The Constitution protects inalienable rights to make all of us accountable, especially those who serve in the government. Yet, I see the revolving door of business and government, with the express purpose of ensuring that businesses are not held accountable for practices that benefit no one but the business owners.
Where we used to have competition in many industries, we are surrounded by monopolies or duopolies. Where we used to see greater enforcement by agencies, we now see enforcement work against smaller businesses and letting big businesses slide for fear of expensive litigation on a short budget. We see people working in government agencies for the purpose of developing knowledge of the regulatory process so that they can go back and work for one of the companies that they regulate.
Some may even find it easy to judge people in power for acting this way. But I think that we must look forward by noticing that domineering behavior is learned behavior. It’s learned by kids from their parents. When famous politicians approve of domineering behavior, kids notice. When adults engage in domineering behavior, kids notice. Even in the movies and on TV, domineering behavior is glorified, and kids notice.
If we are sincere when we say we want to root out corruption in government, we must look to the parenting practices we employ as parents. If we, as parents, tell our kids what to do, without justification, and punish them for failing to do what we ask them to do, without justification, we are perpetuating that problem. We cannot punish children for acting in a way we disapprove of without spelling out the rules carefully, and without teaching our kids the skills they need to meet our standards for behavior.
More to the point, we cannot punish our kids for doing something that they saw us doing in the first place. If you have a potty mouth, they will have a potty mouth. If you pick your nose, they will pick their nose. If you’re messy, they will be messy. Kids look at everything we do as survival skills.
So if you’re glued to your phone, browsing Facebook, Instagram or Snapchat, while your baby is nursing, you’re teaching your kids that behavior. If you criticize and berate your kids during a meal when your kid is 1 or 2 years old, you’re going to have dinner table battles when they’re 12 or 13. Kids remember everything, even if they can’t bring it to consciousness for recall as teens or young adults.
Kids exhibit challenging behavior when they lack the capacity to respond proactively to the demands of their environment. — Dr. Ross W. Greene, PhD, author of “The Explosive Child” and “Raising Human Beings”
If you punish your kids for unwanted behavior, yet let yourself slide for the same behavior on your part, that is not just hypocrisy, that is aristocracy. Aristocracy is privilege, and a privilege is a license to do something that would otherwise not be allowed.
See how Trump approves of a Republican candidate running for Congress for body-slamming and then punching a reporter? Greg Gianforte didn’t just body slam a reporter to the ground, he grabbed him by the neck and threw him to the ground, and then punched him one or more times. Gianforte is a tech millionaire, who has demonstrated his belief might is right.
Gianforte is an aristocrat, and his action against the reporter was authoritarian. Yes, he was prosecuted, but his sentence was light, and he could win his election with votes from people who talk a lot about freedom, but fail to notice authoritarianism.
See, when you’re in an aristocracy, and you can’t be held accountable, then authoritarianism seems justified, doesn’t it? Hitler was an authoritarian. Mussolini was an authoritarian. Saddam Hussein was an authoritarian. Xi Jinping, president of China and Kim Jong Un the leader of North Korea, are authoritarians. Note that Kim Jong Un has met with Trump and wants another meeting with Trump.
Aristocracy leads to authoritarianism, and that means violent reprisal for any challenge to aristocratic authority. This is what I don’t get about people who support Trump. They talk so much about freedom, but fail to call Trump out for authoritarian practices and attitudes.
I can recall during the Democratic National Convention in 2016, how well it was reported that there were guards, fences and all sorts of security rousting protesters, and some Democrats were openly calling them out for authoritarianism. But few Republicans are willing to call out Trump for being authoritarian. Who remembers how many protesters were prosecuted for protesting Trump’s inauguration, only to have all the charges dropped? That is authoritarian.
So when I hear Republican politicians talk about freedom, I hear the dog whistle call of aristocrats expressing their fear of being held accountable. When Trump talks about deregulation, he is talking about removing accountability. And when I see grown men vote to confirm a man of questionable character to a seat on the highest court in the land, I see men gripped by real terror at the thought of being held accountable.
Originally published at steemit.com on October 22, 2018.