The old adage that democracies only last until the people figure out that they can vote themselves money from the treasury is undoubtedly true and amply illustrated by the Euro crisis as much as the American inability to manage debt and deficits. A more insidious and little discussed attribute of the democratic system is the propensity of populaces to elect politicians based on shared belief systems, producing doctrinaire instead of pragmatic leadership that always seeks to impose its value system regardless of consequences or even ability to resolve the issues faced by their polities.
In the age-old, tumultuous tussle among elites it is not always clear who is rising and who is falling. Euphemism and circumlocution have always been used by elites in power to help protect their position. Conversely, dysphemism and exaggeration have been the tools groups seeking to muscle in. Devolving then to demonization of the other side is a fairly certain sign of a sense of weakness.
The greatest evils of human history — if we define evil as large-scale human suffering — have all been caused …
Whether or not we are reaching the end of the last great burst of innovation, it behooves us to remember that economic growth has through history depended on more than a single factor. Yes, the Romans did invent the arch and concrete, but most of the growth in their world came from widespread use of slaves for labor. I suppose that this was an innovation in itself, of sorts, but arguably the source of growth lay then mostly in trade. Continue reading
Richard Lachmann is right in that historical forces are not directed by a class struggle, but rather a struggle among elites. In fact, all history may be understood as history of formation and decline of elites on the basis of internal economic as well as external pressure forces.