Mon Sep 3, 2012, 04:49 PM
pampango (24,366 posts)
CBC: And old book, The New Class, describes the 1% in the USSR and Yugoslavia -
members of a greedy elite that, while paying lip service to greater equality, became the owners of everything. Their share of wealth increased, they ate well while others starved, and they controlled the media and justice system to maintain their grip on power.
Why elites will always try to protect their wealth
The author, Milovan Djilas, was next in line to Yugoslav leader Josip Tito before writing this book. A member of Europe's most successful anti-Nazi underground during WWII, Djilas was a loyal communist and propagandist. He had meetings with Stalin. But in the early 1950s, Djilas discovered something about the communist revolution he didn't like. Djilas noticed the formation of a "new class" with fleets of cars and country houses at their disposal.
What was especially interesting about them, he writes, is that they truly believed they deserved these advantages for their efforts on behalf of the working classes. At the same time, Djilas noticed that the large majority outside this new class lived in virtual poverty. Instead of pursuing the original, idealistic goal of the revolution, which had become politically dangerous, this new class focused single-mindedly on crushing dissent and maintaining its wealth and power.
Ten years later, bushy-browed Soviet leader Leonid Brezhnev became famous for his fleet of foreign cars, leading to the one-liner, "Comrade Brezhnev, what will you do when the revolution comes?" As Djilas discovered, reversing inequality, even in the midst of a Communist revolution, was an almost impossible task. The new elite had replaced the old and they weren't inclined to let go.
...gross inequality is established, it is really difficult to fix. As with the Communist Party bureaucrats, the rich in the West become convinced they deserve every penny. And like those bureaucrats, they stoutly maintain that their continued wealth is in everyone's interest.
I don't see the author as an apologist for the excess of capitalism and the current horrendous state of economic inequality, but as someone pointing out that there is a 1% in every system that has to be rooted out.
He certainly makes no attempt to deny that our current 1% needs to have that done to them. Rather he believes that the desire of the 1%, in any society, is to hold onto power at all costs.
Not sure what this teaches us about how to reign in our 1% in the capitalist US. He notes that the impoverished populations in the book eventually led to the collapse of those national economies, just as will happen in capitalist economies if the 99% are not empowered and rewarded. "(A)n economy where everyone has a substantial stake will be richer, healthier and more productive than one where all the economic activity is concentrated among a small elite."
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CBC: And old book, The New Class, describes the 1% in the USSR and Yugoslavia - (Original post)
Response to pampango (Original post)
Mon Sep 3, 2012, 04:56 PM
DBoon (12,554 posts)
1. Be wary of those who believe elites are inevitable
Fascism has been built on this.