Our next War Chest project is an extraordinary new book by Joel Kotkin The Coming of Neo Feudalism – A Warning to the Global Middle Class (2020). It’s painstakingly researched, cites copious authority and is very well argued. Almost half the book is endnotes, which in themselves are excellent assets for our War Chest.
This blog began after I studied Jeffrey Winters’ book Oligarchy (2011). His work explains the mechanism of how wealthy families stay wealthy and is cited 4 times in the endnotes of Kotkin’s new book. Wealth is war, conflictual power, because it’s “held against” others. It is critical to deploy sufficient cognitive, moral and material resource power to protect your family’s position from those who want to confiscate what you own in the name of “social justice”. But in the tug of war that is our political economy, we will prevail no matter how many minds pull against our well being.
Before we delve into the new book, I have to point out the sinister nonsense in this article:
The author is not subtle about his deceptive disdain for meritocracy writing that “it doesn’t exist”, “is bad for you”, “is demonstrably false”, that the “link between merit and outcome is tenuous and indirect at best”, “in addition to being false… makes people more selfish, less self-critical”, “not only wrong; its bad”, “is a false and not very salutary belief” and “ought to be abandoned both as a belief… and social ideal”.
Well, here we go again with Obama’s “you didn’t build that” bullshit. Obviously our economy is both a meritocracy and hereditary aristocracy. As I wrote here on 9/24/19:
“Something quite sinister is being done here. The banal fact that no person lives or thinks or works in a “vacuum” – the fact that everyone is situated in a society – becomes the basis for asserting a “vital dependence” of the individual on society. This, in turn, is said to justify declaring that there can be no suitable individual property right to intellectual work. The products of such work are, because of the individual’s immersion in society, properly regarded as inherently socialized. So individualism is attenuated to the point of disappearance, and society can claim ownership to whatever portion it feels entitled to of what individuals produce.
Obama and others are “pyromaniacs in a field of straw men”. They energetically refute propositions no one asserts. Everyone knows that all striving occurs in a social context and all attainments are, to some extent, enabled and conditioned by contexts that are shaped by government. The more that individualism can be portrayed as a chimera, the more that any individual’s achievements can be considered as derivative from society, the less the achievements warrant respect. And the more society is entitled to conscript – that is, to socialize – whatever portion of the individual’s wealth it considers its fair share.”
That’s what makes the “you didn’t build that” argument fail so badly – there is no constraining idea that limits how much it can confiscate and redistribute – no moral or rational principle preventing autocratic tyranny. Anyone who is enough of a polemicist can take a slippery slope argument, erect a field of flimsy, flammable straw men and then mow them down with a flamethrower. But what makes this particular argument so egregiously evil is that it is used in an attempt to hurt people – to attack what they and their families have worked so hard and so long to build.
The best articulation of the truth and morality of meritocracy is from Scott Alexander at Slate Star Codex. Unfortunately, I can’t cite his articles now because the reckless wielding of power by the New York Times and its arrogant hypocrisy forced him to take down 7 years of knowledge for no reason other than they just can.
This article helped me understand what’s going on – conflict theory “argument” is not rational truth seeking – it’s just ‘I shall forcibly impose my will upon you in any manner I can’ – it’s not conversation or reasoned discourse – just brutal warfare:
“There are no rules and no consequences for playing dirty. Lying, slandering, doxing, deplatforming are all justifiable tools…”