The Dems are Too Elite! So Bring Me Their King!

I agree with Cam Edwards: bringing forward Mike Bloomberg as the cure for the elitism of the Democratic Party is like dropping someone off in the desert to cure heat stroke.

I think the Dem elites are scared to death of Liz Warren, the left-populist candidate. I don’t think they mind rhetoric, as long as at the end of the day, the tech elites are permitted to do what they want. Their real fear is to have someone in the White House who won’t play ball.

The thing with having a monopoly or oligopoly is: people have to be convinced you’re making their lives better. Zuck particularly has a real problem there. Amazon and Wal-Mart have changed shopping, and I want to love Amazon, but go take a look at any small town main street. I think people are starting to ask real questions about whether we’re really better off for all this change. Even I am, and I’m a lot more change tolerant than average.

26 Responses to “The Dems are Too Elite! So Bring Me Their King!”

  1. Andy B. says:

    I’m thinking we may be experiencing a worldwide phenomenon.

    I’m not alone in having observed that over the weekend, there were mass riots around the world — Hong Kong, Lebanon, London, Barcelona, Chile — and in Chile the masses kept on rioting even after they’d won the concessions they were seeking.

    I’ve always been intrigued by the Strauss-Howe “Fourth Turning” theory of recurring history, that predicted that the U.S. was due for an “upheaval” sometime between 2005 – 2035. The theory says a culture will experience an upheaval once every “long human lifetime” from between 70 and 100 years. I reflect that technology has tended toward putting the whole world on the same clock, and it has been exactly a century since the “Red Summer” of 1919, which saw a nearly worldwide upheaval.

    • aerodawg says:

      moreso than I can ever remember, the average human has a gut feeling that they’re getting screwed. that they’re giving to the “system” but the system isn’t doing anything for them.

      Society is built on the idea that in mutual cooperation we all benefit. When one part feels like there’s no benefit for them, things get ugly.

      • Andy B. says:

        “moreso than I can ever remember, the average human has a gut feeling that they’re getting screwed. that they’re giving to the “system” but the system isn’t doing anything for them.”

        I agree, but I think a keyword in what you said was “remember.” I think the average human c. 1919 (long before either of us, or probably our parents, could “remember”), the average human was aware of the shortcomings of the Industrial Revolution, and most had been touched by WWI in some way — usually tragically. Realistically, WWI was ended more by troop mutinies and revolution (in Russia and Germany, and England came close) than by military actions, per se.

        • aerodawg says:

          Exactly. Which feeds into the generational theory I think. Our generation is too far removed to realistically remember the hardships of WWII, much less WWI, so we’re seeing the same forces at work despite overall softer lives…

        • Will says:

          One factor commonly overlooked for that time period was the Spanish Flu. It killed much more than the war did, and affected the entire world. IIRC, it hit EVERYWHERE except perhaps Antarctica. Estimated deaths go as high as 100 million worldwide. Record keeping suffered due to the impact on the health industry, and the rapid onset and death left little time for paperwork.

          The Flu and the War was a double whammy on Europe and the US.

          Fun fact: The experts say the world is overdue for a repeat, and the resulting deathrate is expected to be much higher due to airliners spreading it much more quickly. The politicians will never shut down air travel soon enough to matter.

  2. Countertop says:

    Wal Mart had, and continues to have, far more to do with the destruction of small downtown shopping districts across America than Amazon did.

    • bombloader says:

      Actually, destruction of small town shopping is likely more related to general decline in the towns primary industries than any retailer. No shops if they don’t have money.

    • Andy B. says:

      “Wal Mart had, and continues to have, far more to do with the destruction of small downtown shopping districts across America than Amazon did.”

      That may be true in many places, but locally I think we’ve seen the decline of Walmart, too — along with the total death of a couple malls.

      I recall when the main street of a small industrial town near here was the cultural center of Lower Bucks County. The local economy grew sharply when Fairless Steel was built c. 1950 – 1951. But first, the “Levittown Shopping Center” put a lot of local main streets into decline, then Neshaminy and Oxford Valley Malls sent the Levittown Shopping Center into sharp decline. Two area Walmarts were consolidated into a single Walmart, where Levittown Shopping Center once stood. Now both of the malls are moribund or dead; they are going to build apartment buildings on the parking lot of one of them, and I don’t know how long the other is going to last. Most of the big retailers have deserted them.

      All of those retail locations were the “cultural centers” of the area at one time. I remember going shopping for new civvies at Levittown Shopping Center when I got out of the Army in 1967; within a decade all that was left there were adult bookstores and fortune tellers, and I was doing my Christmas shopping at the malls. Now I haven’t been to either mall in several years.

      Forgive me, but it astounds me that I’ve outlived one steel mill, a major shopping center, and two malls. I can remember before any of them were there, and I’ve watched them all pass. But overall I’d say “the economy grew” during most of that time, so the changes represented more national retailing trends than the faults of any particular boogeyman, like Walmart, that proved to be just one of several transient phenomena.

  3. Chris says:

    A bunch of technologies on geometric or exponential growth curves are really hitting their stride, where the rate of change gets very fast.

    Computing… rate of data transfer… transportation (space flight)… human populations… bioscience… these growth curves are going to be very disruptive. The current pace of change has few parallels in history.

  4. Richard says:

    Since cities have existed, they have exploited the countryside. Using their wealth and concentration to seize and exploit power, they oppress the peasants. These things go in cycles and eventually the peasants rise. Mostly the peasants lose but sometimes they win with unpleasant results for cities and their elites.

    Who wins the current global uprising is beyond my power to predict but we are in for a bumpy ride.

    • 399 says:

      You call it “the cities” but really the cities only represent the centers of concentrated wealth, where the “noble” classes live and/or do business. The exploitation of the peasants has always been by the noble class. In England, the nobility had estates in the countryside, and in agrarian times, became rich by exploiting the local peasants. Once “the commons” had been expropriated by the rural nobility, a process extending well into the 19th century, the peasants were driven into the cities, to then be exploited there, as wage-slaves by the new nobility that had prospered from the Industrial Revolution. The Industrial Revolution needed to exploit them to gain a foothold. Human history has always been of the upper economic classes exploiting the lower economic classes, and not of one location exploiting another. Cities were only a symptom of economics, defining where the noble classes were located, and the noble classes were always the seat of power.

      “Who will win” will be who has always won. The upper economic class. Sometimes a new upper economic class comes out of a peasant revolt (like the Bolsheviks in Russia) and become the winners, but the process is always similar.

      • Andy B. says:

        “In England, the nobility had estates in the countryside, and in agrarian times, became rich by exploiting the local peasants.”

        That’s an interesting observation, because in many ways those rural estates were “cities” in their own right, containing most of the necessary manufacturing of their times. “Communities” entirely under the control of the lords.

        When I was in England, I visited one of those estates that had been adapted to tourism, and was impressed by its 18th century armory, that still contained dozens of Brown Bess muskets. The lords were required to maintain companies of soldiers that could be put at the disposal of The Crown.

        Those soldiers were also “yeoman” enjoying a somewhat higher standard of living than the peasants, in return for being their lord’s local armed enforcers, as well as occasionally providing service to the monarch. They figured in the suppression of many peasant uprisings.

        “The yeoman cavalry/was my downfall/I was taken prisoner/by Lord Cornwall”

      • Richard says:

        You have identified a chicken and egg problem. Are the cities rich because they are powerful or powerful because they are rich. Probably both but there is another issue at play. Cities are the natural haven of a particular class that are neither noble nor peasant. The priests of Ur were probably the first such but were joined by merchants, professional soldiers, bureaucrats,etc. Now they are grouped into a vast urban class that has been called the clerisy. Not rich in the sense of Bloomberg but comfortable as long as they are employed. Among other characteristics of this class are a contempt for the Deplorables in fly-over country. Thus they gain large psychic rewards for the oppression in addition to any remuneration that comes their way. They are willing participants in the economic oppression for what are cultural reasons.

        • 399 says:

          “The priests of Ur were probably the first such”

          I don’t get what was special about the priests of Ur. From the perspective of modern history they sound like any of our modern televangelists. I doubt they were the first in history to sell magic snakeoil and make a good living at it. Are you referring to the scale of their influence? I’m sure witchdoctors in primitive villages did well compared to their contemporaries, too. That probably started before humans were walking upright. I’ve read that wild chimpanzees have been observed building stone cairns that have no obvious use, but that the monkeys treat like temples or shrines or something. I’ll make that a serious question. What should I read to learn what was so special about Ur?

          • Richard says:

            It was the first real city.

            • 399 says:

              Thanks. I did not know that. <a href="; Wikipedia has this to say about "Uruk", or "Ur":

              In addition to being one of the first cities, Uruk was the main force of urbanization and state formation during the Uruk period, or ‘Uruk expansion’ (4000–3200 BC). This period of 800 years saw a shift from small, agricultural villages to a larger urban center with a full-time bureaucracy, military, and stratified society. Although other settlements coexisted with Uruk, they were generally about 10 hectares while Uruk was significantly larger and more complex. The Uruk period culture exported by Sumerian traders and colonists had an effect on all surrounding peoples, who gradually evolved their own comparable, competing economies and cultures. Ultimately, Uruk could not maintain long-distance control over colonies such as Tell Brak by military force.

              Just for the sake of argument, could it be that what you are blaming on cities, is actually a result of the formation of states? Government seems to have always existed for the preservation and protection of the rich and the exploitation of everyone else. Perhaps cities are a only symptom of the existence of a state.

              • Richard says:

                There were cityless states that were much more egalitarian. It may be a stretch to call nomad polities “states” but some of the larger ones like the Mongols and the Khazars had many of the characteristics of states. I acknowledge your point that states largely exist to preserve the status quo which benefits the upper class. Cities add something to the mix even within a state, however. Cultural contempt is as close as I can come to describing it. And it is the clerisy, not the rich where this is most virulent.

              • 399 says:

                Those are all interesting observations. The thing I question is whether highly organized “tribes” are necessarily (or ever?) the same thing as “states.” I’m not real clear on Mongol history, but it appears to me the period that they had organization resembling a “state” was also after the establishment of settlements that though primitive, would have qualified as “cities.” I think that even Thomas Jefferson misconstrued the organization of Native American tribes (in North America), imbuing them with a “command” and “class” structure that really did not exist. But it is normal for us to assume cultures conform to the only models we have known, ourselves. European societies have almost always existed as coerced structures so it is hard to conceive of cultures that depend on voluntary cooperation. Though I have observed that even “voluntary” structures depend heavily on things like shaming and shunning to effectively force “voluntary” cooperation. No prisons, but conform or starve.

                I also think “elitism” is a universal charge that competing cultures make against each other. It usually means disdaining another culture’s certainty that its ways are “best.” For example, in our own culture, “rural” culture typically embraces anti-intellectualism as a virtue, and style themselves as the keepers of “common sense.” Their disdain for what they regard as the “effete urban elite” is at least equal-and-opposite to the disdain the urbans hold for the rurals. On that point, it is educational to study the attitudes of rural populations forced by economics to seek work in the cities, and thus become “urban” in terms of geography, if not attitudes. (Kentucky or Tennessee to Chicago is an example.)In those cases it is necessary to parse things differently to maintain “elitism” as a dividing factor. Typically, ex-rural blacks versus ex-rural whites. In those cases their original cultures come close to being identical, but anyone who begins to bridge the standoff, like Black Panther Fred Hampton, usually winds up dead. At the hands of the state.

                • Richard says:

                  The Mongols certainly weren’t voluntary but they were pretty egalitarian. They also had concepts of religious tolerance that were positively modern. Their leadership was a mix of animist, Muslim, Buddhist, and Christian. They took over a bunch of Chinese cities and became partially urbanized but maintained rural values to an extent but all that came later. Early on, they tended to burn cities down and kill everyone in them. They virtually destroyed the economy of the Middle East by freeing the slaves that maintained the irrigation systems which caused agricultural collapse which was never reversed.

                  As to whether they were a state, I guess that depends on how you define it. They created the largest land empire in history that for a while took orders from the center.

                  • 399 says:

                    My favorite ancient society has always been the Icelandic Dane-Vikings before about 1100 AD. They had only one “government official”, a guy charged with remembering the rules and reciting them in a public meeting once every three years. If he left out a rule and no one called him on it, it was no longer a rule. If he added a rule and no one challenged it, it became a rule. The normal procedure was to propose a rule at the meeting, and everyone would vote on it. I doubt they were very diverse in religion, though. After around 1100 they fell under the authority of the monarchs of Denmark.

  5. Alpheus says:

    For all the hate towards Walmart and Amazon, though, I can’t help but notice something: I typically try local shops for something I want first; more often than not, though, I cannot find what I’m looking for, so I go online to look for it.

    I do not think that big box stores and Amazon should be blamed for the deaths of companies that don’t provide a means for customers to get what they want.

    Incidentally, this is what did Radio Shack in. Rather than sell electronics parts online (As Jameco Electronics does), they tried to sell cell phones. That worked for a time, but then the cell phone companies decided to have kiosks is malls, and no one was interested in buying from Radio Shack anymore.

    Having said that, I live in cities where local shops (and even book stores) seem to do well enough, and even thrive. They thrive by providing things that Walmart (and, to a lesser extent, Amazon — Amazon seems to have everything) doesn’t provide. If they have it, it’s nice to be able to get it immediately, rather than wait for shipping!

    • Alpheus says:

      Come to think of it, even if you aren’t thrilled by Walmart or Amazon, it’s relatively easy to see how they make your lives better: they offer you things you want. And by “offer”, I don’t even mean that they are necessarily pushing thing onto you. By “offer”, I mean they sometimes just carry the darn thing!

      But with Facebook, Twitter, and Google? They are supposed to facilitate communication. Twitter probably never actually did so (I could never bring myself to create a Twitter account), but with their clamping down on Conservative and Libertarian viewpoints, they are making it more difficult to do so. The more they do this, the less viable they become. It makes me wonder if they’ll reach a tipping point where they aren’t relevant anymore.

      (It’s not as if these organizations don’t have competition — they do — it’s just that, due to network effects and other issues, they aren’t in the limelight. They are nonetheless there, chugging along, waiting for some sort of CRACK! that breaks the “monopoly” service, and that old service all of the sudden becomes irrelevant. It happened to IBM, to Microsoft, and to MySpace, and it’s likely to happen again….)

      • bombloader says:

        Agree with your point on independent shops-some are great, but others especially in remote areas act just like economic theory predicts monopolists would. Not stocking what people need, and when they have it charging high as of price as they can. I get the high prices when you’ve got people who need it now and so will pay $2.00 for the $1.00 item now, but I think some places seriously overestimate how many of their customers really can’t wait a day or two. And so they end up fighting online retailers way more than they have to.

  6. Sigivald says:

    “go take a look at any small town main street”

    Ever shopped in a small-town Main Street store?

    Checked their prices and selection?

    Yeah. There’s a reason they’re gone – they could only compete because it was a small town with no real competition.

    Before Amazon it was Wal-Mart “killing Main Street”.

    But Main Street SUCKED.

    Yeah, sucks for the shop owners, just like it sucked for people who shoveled horse poop and made buggy whips when cars came along.

    • Andy B. says:

      I’m not arguing with you, but in the past few hours I had the experience of looking for a simple item (a set screw) at a Big Box home improvement store, and drawing a blank. Some of the hardware drawers were completely empty. So tomorrow I’ll go look for what I need at a couple mom and pop hardware stores I have found to be well-stocked in the past. I may have to visit only one.

      There is something to be said for “service,” though I know damn well that for large items I’ll be bypassing mom and pop and going back to the Big Box stores. (Mom and pop didn’t/don’t suck, they are just way more expensive.)

      That said: My WAY back memories of mom and pop are not kind ones. I remember a lot of arrogant, take-it-or-leave it attitude, 50+ years ago. Same goes for gun shops.