‘The threat from the top’: British and American views on how and why the rich countries of the world are governed

George Monbiot 3In an article published today, George Monbiot quotes from Revolt of the Rich, an article by Mike Lofgren, who worked for sixteen years on the Republican staff of the House and Senate Budget Committees:

“(T)he rich elites of (the USA) have far more in common with their counterparts in London, Paris, and Tokyo than with their fellow American citizens … the rich disconnect themselves from the civic life of the nation and from any concern about its well being except as a place to extract loot. Our plutocracy now lives like the British in colonial India: in the place and ruling it, but not of it.”

Monbiot continues:

“Our own ruling caste, schooled separately, brought up to believe in justifying fairytales, lives in a world of its own, from which it can project power without understanding or even noticing the consequences. A removal from the life of the rest of the nation is no barrier to the desire to dominate it. In fact it appears to be associated with a powerful sense of entitlement”.

Those who have asked . . .

  • How can the current government blithely engage in the wholesale transfer of wealth from the poor to the rich?
  • How can its front bench can rock with laughter as it truncates the livelihoods of the poorest people of this country?
  • Why does it commit troops to ever more pointless post-colonial wars?

Are given at least part of the answer:

“Many of those who govern us do not in their hearts belong here. They belong to a different culture, a different world, which knows as little of its own acts as it knows of those who suffer them”.


revolt elites 3Reading around I found that – in similar vein – Patrick Deneen quotes historian Christopher Lasch, writing in The Revolt of the Elites: “In our time, the chief threat seems to come from those at the top of the social hierarchy, not the masses . . . ”

In 1995, Lasch argued that this new class ‘retained many of the vices of aristocracy without its virtues,’ lacking the sense of ‘reciprocal obligation’ that had been a feature of the old order’.

Deneen adds that Lasch held that the elites—by which he meant not just the super-wealthy but also their managerial coat holders and professional apologists—were undermining the country’s promise as a constitutional republic with their prehensile greed, their asocial cultural values, and their absence of civic responsibility.

Lofgren: “The objective of the predatory super-rich and their political handmaidens is to discredit and destroy the traditional nation state and auction its resources to themselves”.  Their aims:

“(T)o create a “tollbooth” economy, whereby more and more of our highways, bridges, libraries, parks, and beaches are possessed by private oligarchs who will extract a toll from the rest of us”.  He demands:

“Was this the vision of the Founders? Was this why they believed governments were instituted among men—that the very sinews of the state should be possessed by the wealthy in the same manner that kingdoms of the Old World were the personal property of the monarch?”



Posted on January 29, 2013, in Civil servants, Corporate political nexus, Democracy undermined, Government, Revolving door, Vested interests and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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