Staving Off Revolution

April 10, 2024 in Columnists, News by RBN Staff

source:  oftwominds

April 8, 2024

If the leadership chooses happy-story PR and toothless reforms for show in the hopes it will all blow over, these subterfuges have the potential to push dissatisfaction beyond the point of control.

Whatever else we might say or think about the leadership class, they tend to have a keen sense of self-preservation. The ability to issue optimistic visions of sunshine and unicorns with a straight face is valuable, to be sure, but so is the ability to sense that the BS is no longer working and something must be done to stave off a potentially career-ending collapse of confidence.

As a general rule, the ability to maintain a delusional confidence that it’s all going to work out just fine tends to end very poorly for the leadership class. However sincerely it may be uttered, let them eat brioche doesn’t resolve the extreme asymmetries that generate revolutionary disorder. Something more is required, something that either reduces the asymmetries of wealth and power or gives the appearance of doing so.

Staving off revolution requires some action that benefits those for whom the status quo is no longer working. While borrowing and distributing “free money” works for awhile, this profligacy generates its own destabilizing dynamics, and so eventually reducing the asymmetries of wealth and power requires the leadership to take a chunk out of the perquisites and spoils of the financial elite.

Since the leadership class is either beholden to the financial elite or has dual membership in both clubs, the leaders are quickly declared “traitors to their class” even as they are acting to stave off the overthrow of the predatory financial elite that pushed asymmetries to destabilizing extremes.

In other words, the leaders saving the financial elite from the consequences of their own rapacity will get no credit from those they’re saving. Rather than grasping that giving up 10% of their gains will preserve the remaining 90%, the infinite greed and hubris of the financial elite locks their minds in a delusional fantasy that their wealth and power are “deserved” and therefore untouchable.

That the system is rigged so that every pitch is a gentle toss and every base hit becomes a home run is conveniently ignored.

That doing nothing could lead to a one-way ticket to Devil’s Island issued by a revolutionary government doesn’t compute. That they could soon be fighting over the MREs occasionally flung from aircraft doesn’t penetrate their hubris-soaked echo chamber of entitlement. The task of saving their own class falls thanklessly to the leadership.

Policies that would have been rejected out of hand as politically impossible become normalized as leaders rush to stave off revolution. The historical path from complacency to denial to policy extremes is well-worn: first the leadership tries the sunshine and unicorns cover story. When this fails to satisfy the disenfranchised mob, the leaders issue grand sounding edicts that suggest “hope and change” is right around the corner.

Once this well-used ploy fails to quench the social distemper, then the leaders accept that “when things get serious, you have to lie,” and so they lie, at first to cool the ugly sentiment and then to buy time.

Eventually, some real action has to be taken, and then it gets dicey. There are mistakes to be made in any policy choice: doing nothing can trigger disaster, but so can doing too little or too much. The luxury of calibrating a response is no longer available, and so extreme policies are thrown at the wall until something sticks.

Those who counseled caution are cashiered, for their advice led to the current crisis. Those who counseled radical responses are elevated and freed to unleash whatever they claim will work like magic.

But alas, by this late stage, magic is in short supply, and extreme policies set off second-order consequences no one anticipated, except perhaps those overly cautious voices who did not understand that the option of good choices had long since dissipated, and the only options left were bad or possibly worse than merely bad.

The extremes of wealth-power asymmetries that generated the crisis are eventually matched by equally extreme policies designed to stave off the overthrow of the ruling elites. If these actually rebalance what was allowed to drift out of balance, order and stability can slowly be restored.

If the leadership chooses happy-story PR and toothless reforms for show in the hopes it will all blow over, these subterfuges have the potential to push dissatisfaction beyond the point of control, and predictions about the next stage of events become folly: beyond this event horizon, anything becomes possible.