Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Three Peoples: What If Most People Want to be Peasants?

In my Three Peoples theory, there is a basic assumption. In today's world, people start out as People of the Subordinate Self, workers and peasants. But each in their own way, people are not content with the life of the subordinate; they struggle upwards and become People of the Responsible Self, and start to contribute to society and the world as responsible individuals, not as subordinate peasants and working stiffs.

But what if this is wrong? What if people are perfectly content to sit on their behinds, doing what they are ordered to do and not a jot more, forever complaining about "them," yet forever waiting for "them" to solve their problems rather than solving them themselves?

That is what has crashed in upon me with the Trump phenomenon. Donald Trump is promising to Make America Great Again. Not the American People. Not business owners and entrepreneurs. Not responsible individuals each doing his or her share. And the white working class, dying of despair in the ruins of the old manufacturing economy, has rallied to his promise of good jobs at good wages.

Maybe this is the last hurrah of the white working class before it succumbs to the verdict of history, which is always oblivion. Because everything is born to die, humans, jobs, cities, towns, nations, civilizations, religions. Even gods die, Nicholas Wade has written, when people stop believing in them.

On this view, the People of the Responsible Self are a subculture, squeezed in between the vast rabble of subordinate workers and peasants. The real cultural and political action is the Patron/Client relationship between the People of the Creative Self -- who used to be warrior landowners but are now the ruling class of the educated elite and the Social Justice Warriors -- and the People of the Subordinate Self, the foot soldiers in the social justice army. The first provide the ideas and the leadership; the last provide the votes and the street muscle. The first enjoy the money, power, and the love of beautiful women that come with primacy; the second get a modest competence, and such free stuff as the social justice lords distribute to their loyal servitors.

Is that all there is? I would it were not so.

For instance, the whole point of the modern world and modern capitalism is that people go out and innovate; they create new products and services for their fellow men, acting without permission from the lords, and create the Great Enrichment. Where would we be without these creative, responsible souls that have brought us so much. And yet these inventors and business creators have been roundly excoriated as robber barons and exploiters.

And yet, as Eric Hoffer writes, there are two options in the world. Either people work to the command of a master, or they are responsible for figuring out what to do and doing it. Economics and the theory of the market and the experience of socialist states tell us that the boss-driven economy cannot work. Because, as Ludwig von Mises wrote, the socialist command economy cannot compute prices.

And yet, as Hegel says, in the Patron/Client or Master/Slave relationship, despite appearances, it is the Client or Slave that learns through his work how to master the world and make it serve his needs. The Master sits around, enjoying the perks of money, power, and the love of beautiful women while the Slave acutally learns how the world works.

And yet, as the market participant learns, the way of the world is to find something that other people want and give it to them, in products and services.

And yet, despite the rhetoric of the liberal Patrons that teaches everyone to kow-tow to their Masters or be flayed alive as racists, sexists, and homophobes, in fact almost everyone pitches in with a good grace, and with a live-and-let-live attitude, and almost everyone contributes willingly to the common good, and accepts with a good grace the verdict of the market.

In other words, despite the temptations of subordinate helplessness, people do not wait around for the boss to call the big shots, as bosses like to do. They get on with things and make decisions on their own without waiting for the big guy to tell them what to do. This has been the theme of the modern era both in the civil economy of the industrial revolution and latterly in the just-in-time culture developed by the Japanese. It is also the theme of military doctrine, because the lethal battlefield inaugurated with rifled guns has forced soldiers into hiding where they cannot easily be ordered around by officers and NCOs. Instead, soldiers must be resourceful and self-motivated; otherwise the army cannot function.

There is in this a profound contradiction, and expression of negativity, of two principles wrestling with each other. And that, according to Hegel, is how the world works

Indeed, if all the world's problem were resolved tomorrow it would be the end of life as we know it. The whole point of life is that we do not know the meaning of "life, the universe, and everything."

And we never will.

So it may be that, however much we humans seem to be tempted by the Patron/Client relationship, our fate is that we must, like Adam and Eve of old, leave the Garden of Eden and go forth into the world of uncertainty and risk. Because we have eaten of the Tree of Knowledge and can never go back to the bliss of ignorance and instinct.

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