On real radicals, and polarization


I just come across something I first heard in the mid 90’s…

On real radicals, and polarization /img/image.jpg

More exactly, I just read “Why the rich are revolting”, and found a couple of interesting points in it that I want to share, both because they are relevant for much of my work, and because I would really appreciate feedback on them (especially the first). Here are the relevant quotes, verbatim, except emphasis, mine:

Point one: “the real radical are the rich”

“The upper-middle-class, the haute bourgeoise, are the driving force behind revolt and disorder throughout history, especially - as with today - when they feel they have no future.”

“The rich have always paradoxically been radical, something G.K. Chesterton observed over a hundred years ago when he wrote “You’ve got that eternal idiotic idea that if anarchy came it would come from the poor. Why should it? The poor have been rebels, but they have never been anarchists: they have more interest than anyone else in there being some decent government”.”

“That noble tradition of haute bourgeoisie revolution continues today, especially in the US. The Occupy movement, for example, is deeply opposed to the 1% but largely because they come from the 2-5%;… They also have hugely disproportionate numbers of graduates and post-grads among their members.

[This is also due to] the expansion of the university system has created what Russian-American academic Peter Turchin called “elite overproduction”, the socially dangerous situation where too many people are chasing too few elite places in society, creating “a large class of disgruntled elite-wannabes, often well-educated and highly capableā€¦ denied access to elite positions”.

So while around half of 18-year-olds are going onto college, only a far smaller number of jobs actually require a degree.

Many of those graduates, under the impression they were joining the higher tier in society, will not even reach managerial level and will be left disappointed and hugely indebted.

Point 2: polarization (especially of the young)

“When… ideas are disseminated among huge numbers of the young, many of them conformists sensitive to the social cues around them, then quite extreme ideas about dismantling society become normalised.”

A question on the first point

I remember very well how impressed I was when I read in some US magazine, in 1995 or 1996, an article whose main point was exactly like “These days (i.e. 25 years ago!) we are pushing a huge number of people to college, promising them great careers and piles of money… but when almost all of them will find themselves middle-aged, without careers or money there will be a huge, unmanageable wave of discontent”. Unfortunately, I did not write down the title or author of that piece. If anybody can help me to find it, please let me know.

And a [obvious] observation on the second point

The obvious observation is that today’s social networks, that must amplify extreme positions by design, to make profits, can only make that phenomenon much worse, much faster. For more on this, please read here.

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