Wednesday, August 3, 2022

Off With Their Heads!

Kings are made - and destroyed - by the people, not the powers-that-be.

Throughout history you see a pattern of leaders being elevated above us through popular acclaim, and then, over time, they or their heirs are torn down by the same mob of people - who are angry this time.  Whether it is a King, a dictator, or an elected official - or a sports star or a rock star - we, the people, create these monsters, and we, the people, often bring them off their pedestals, often quite literally, as recent history has shown.

I noted before that it seems to be a part of our human nature to elevate one of us above us.  Kings and leaders didn't accumulate power simply though brute force, but because they had the support of the masses.  Lose that support, and you literally lose your head.  That is why, in part, the later emperors of Rome resorted to "Bread and Circuses" to keep the plebes content and keep them in line.

But sometimes, even that is not enough. When the economy goes South and a leader is perceived as ineffective, or worse yet - profiting from the misery of his subjects - the people revolt.  And throughout history, every empire has had this story arc - a beginning, a middle, and an end.  In the beginning there are charismatic leaders who are adored by the people.  And in the middle, pretty much the same.  But toward the end, the empire ends up with crass leaders who just want to loot the treasury so they can build yet another palace. The fall of Rome, or the French Revolution, it is the same thing.

And we may be living through one of these turning points in history right now.   Trump was elected because people adored him (yea, go figure - he's gross!) and pledged blind loyalty to him.  Some still do, but others are starting to feel cheated by the whole thing.   Only a few years ago, fanboys and simps crowded the Internet with their adulation of Musk, Bezos, and Zuckerberg.  Surely these new tech Gods would lead us to salvation - and colonies on Mars!

Then, well, it turned out they just wanted to accumulate power for their own ends.  Overnight, it seems, the world turned on its golden-boys.  "Billionaire" became a dirty word, overnight.

Granted, we are hardly feeling the economic stress that peasants in pre-revolutionary Russia were facing, or the privations of French citoyens were facing before their revolution.  But then again, Americans have always been spoiled - we revolted over a tax on tea.  What a raging injustice.

But it seems maybe we have reached a turning point.  The younger generation feels cheated by the older - handed a world on fire and in debt, with a few at the top making Billions while others struggle to make their rent payments - to those same Billionaires.  Something has to give.

I noted before that over the last 50 years, much has gotten better in this country - in terms of racial equality, gender equality, for example.  Not perfect, but better than the "good old days" of the 1950's.  But over that same period of time, it seems we have degraded our society in the name of "freedom" - freedom to ruin yourself, financially.  And many seem to cheer this on, like frat boys egging on a freshman to chug a quart of vodka and end up on life support.

Those that have, have been taking, taking, and taking.  It isn't enough to have a private jet, you have to have a bigger private jet than your neighbor in the gated community.   Such folks become so detached from reality that they don't see it as abnormal, but rather what they are entitled to.  Meanwhile, the dreams and aspirations of a younger generation are squashed - and they are blamed for not saving enough money to invest in a Billionaire's stock scam, or not having more children to supply the labor pool to work in a Billionaire's warehouse or restaurant chain.

That itself is an interesting indicia.  In Russia today they say the birth rate has dropped dramatically and the population has actually decreased.  Ditto for Japan and many Western countries - including parts of the United States.  I wonder whether this is a sign of economic distress - if you can't afford kids, you don't have them.  If you are depressed by your prospects in life, you don't feel like bringing more life into the world.

This is a huge problem only because human beings have yet to figure out a working economy that is not based on continual growth.  Anyone who understand basic mathematics realizes that indefinite growth isn't possible.  Yet one of the most influential conservative think-tanks (and lobbying groups) is called the "Club for Growth" - as if continual overpopulation of the planet is a good thing.  This not-having-babies thing is really pissing them off!  Keep up the good work, kids!

Of course, there are other ways to control population, and eating the rich is one sure way.....maybe bring back the guillotine?   Probably a bad idea, as those running it end up being used by it.

But maybe, we may be on the cusp of a great change.  Let's hope it's a good one.