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Plutocracy, Pitchforks, Patience

I’ve been thinking about the tide of resentment back and forth created by things like politics. Nick Hanauer’s article from 2014 - “The Pitchforks Are Coming… For Us Plutocrats” - reads in 2020 more like a strange, persistent problem than any prophecy.

Hanauer invested early in Bezos and Amazon. He loves capitalism, but he believes the best investment in capitalism is the middle class, not the plutocrats.

People can be amazingly patient with plutocrats. Historically, it’s the expected default. But as long as the plutocrats maintain what appears to be a fair game, people seem very willing to play along. A vote for a zillionaire plutocrat in a democratic system can feel like a vote against corruption.

Hanauer won a financial game because he took some risks and happened to invest in Amazon very early. According to Jordan Peterson, the real win is getting invited back to play again and keeping the games fair so that others want to keep playing. Hanauer believes the middle class is the best bet for that.

Peterson also tells us resentment fails to make a real foundation for a healthy, developing society. Resentment is no foundation for an integrated individual either - resentment up or resentment down. When political suspicions arise, people start to ask who benefits? But perhaps the question is, who will be our sacrifice? In mythology, high-born heroes die tragically on hills.

Supposedly, entry into the middle class is a reward to the disenfranchised or dispossessed. Peterson asks us to pick up our burdens, set our houses in perfect order before criticizing, and compare ourselves to who we were yesterday rather than compare ourselves to others. We could ask this of the plutocrats as well - comparing up or comparing down.

So, how do we persuade plutocrats, for example, that they will be better off if they help more people into the middle class? I doubt a Facebook post will change minds or even rattle any sabres.

And do you think the pitchforks are coming? For the plutocrats, the middle class, or the politicians?

Are you grabbing your pitchforks, or your ploughshares, to cultivate your garden?


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