Throughout the last half-century, the grand strategy of the aristocracy – not just American, but from every country capable of supporting even a small super-wealthy class – has been to maintain their position through what Kipling called “The Peace of Dives”: interdependence for the rich, and complete dependence for everyone else. “Globalism” is part of this pattern, devoting whole countries to single industries so as to make them dependent on other countries for everything else they need, let alone want. Meanwhile, the aristocracy – the “one percent” – take care to own and control as many various industries, and lands, as possible; “diversification” they call it, a means of guaranteeing their own continued wealth and safety no matter what catastrophe strikes anywhere else. The problem is keeping the peasants at home from getting out from under proper control, which they have a lamentable tendency to do, especially in America.
When you start with a culture that emphasizes the value of the individual -- and individual competence, self-reliance, and responsibility -- and a government structured as a democratic republic, a would-be aristocracy has an uphill fight to establish or even maintain its power. Suborning the national and local governments isn’t enough, because ultimately the politicians must keep the goodwill of the people at large in order to keep their jobs. Even appointed or hired bureaucrats can be displaced – or even hauled into court – if they mistreat the citizens enough. This limits how blatantly the aristocracy can use the government to loot the peasants. Throwing the occasional politician or bureaucrat to the wolves of outraged citizenry is only a stopgap measure, because the peasants will notice, soon enough, that nothing about their condition has really changed.
Likewise, dominating the economy and weakening labor unions isn’t enough, because – despite lots of cunning government regulations designed to hamper small businesses (while being barely a sneeze to big ones) – the citizens still insist on creating small businesses of their own. An independent businessman may work harder, at longer hours and with more responsibility than a hireling, and may be constantly at the mercy of the current market, but he’s still not dependent on any particular boss. He doesn’t have to vote, speak, worship or think the way his boss wishes. He’s in the position of the old English yeoman-farmer, or the Russian kulak – which is precisely why the British aristocracy and Russia’s Stalin made such efforts to wipe them out. The American aristocracy may have severely weakened the middle-class, but they can’t eliminate it entirely.
Besides, those pesky mini-entrepreneurs are constantly finding new products, new services, new tactics, and new ways of getting in on the ground floor of new industries. It won’t help to ruin your mini-rival’s credit if he can get funds by crowd-sourcing. You may stop him from advertising his product through the mail or the news-media, but how do you keep him off the Internet? You can price him out of manufacturing his product in a big standard factory, but you can’t keep him from 3-D printing. Worst of all, you can’t keep him from learning these tricks by censoring the schools, because there are always libraries and the Internet. You can try to censor the local Internet servers, but there are always hackers and pirates willing and able to dodge around you. You can’t censor the phone system, because you need its capacities for yourself. You can’t even starve an area into compliance if its people have learned the tricks of urban mini-farming and aquaponics. So long as that enterprising and libertarian spirit is common among the citizens, you can’t quash them completely.
All you can do is remain alert for particularly successful up-and-coming rivals, and stomp them individually. For example, take the case of Changing World Technologies – which came up with the Thermal Depolymerization process for converting any carbon-bearing garbage to its essential minerals and light crude oil. It set up its first factory next to a turkey and chicken processing plant in Carthage, Missouri, and began churning out 500 barrels of diesel fuel per day. Certain residents promptly sued the company for creating bad smells (as if the poultry slaughterhouse hadn’t been doing that already for decades), and forced the company to shut down. Also, some other company (which kept its actions and name remarkably secret) offered to handle the poultry waste at a better price. The result was forcing Changing World Technologies into bankruptcy. Its resources, including the conversion technology, were bought up by a Canadian company called Ridgeline Energy Services – about which very little is known. So much for that rival.
Still, there’s no way to stop the proliferation of very small businesses, not with modern communications. The “buy locally” movement is quietly growing, and attempts to quash it – especially with government intervention -- are met with surprising resistance. Note the nationwide uproar (perpetrated through the Internet) that resulted when the FDA attacked dairy farmers selling “raw” milk, or the kids who sold homemade lemonade off a table in their own front yard. There’s also a growing revolt against copyright law being used to prevent home repairs of computerized machinery, as in the case of the farmers versus John Deere and the Digital Millennium Copyright Act of 1998. And all the hasty laws against 3-D printing didn’t stop the creation of the Liberator II printed pistol. The supposedly ultimate power of money, including the push toward abolishing cash in favor of more readily controlled electronic cards, has already engendered BitCoin and the expansion of barter – both online and face-to-face
And of course there’s the proliferation of urban farming, homeschooling, and home energy production. These are usually denounced by the media as politically motivated, and of course the politics are branded fascistic – regardless of what the practitioners actually believe; it’s in the interest of the aristocracy to persuade the populace that the government (and its professional cohorts) is always benign, and no one but an outlaw of some sort or another would even want to be independent of the proper rulers. Still, the citizens don’t always believe what they’re told. A concerted propaganda campaign during the ‘90s managed to discredit the name “survivalist”, but the survivalists themselves cleverly changed their names to “preppers” and their image to suburban white-collar, and have continued as before.
American culture has always held that the basic unit of society is not the tribe, the household, or even the family, but the individual – which means that the individual must contain within him/herself the skills to survive if not succeed. This takes broad and practical education, which the public schools are notoriously poor at providing, but the Internet makes this readily and cheaply available. Anyone with intelligence and will can get it. As for the unintelligent and apathetic, well, sheep have always been shorn.
So it all comes back to competence and self-reliance, the ground and root for independence. The cultural tendency to be competent and self-reliant is too strong and too widespread to be stamped out, so the grassroots rebellion continues to spread, and the aristocracy can’t stop it.
How will this end? There are three scenarios, but they all conclude – sooner or later – with the fall of the aristocracy, as such have always eventually fallen. The first, the peaceful change, would come if the increasingly disgruntled populace elects a smart and libertarian collection of politicians who legally dismantle the structure of laws, policies, and bureaucracies which maintain the status quo, and the aristocracy will have the sense to cut their losses and run, keeping their comfortable living – and their heads, literally.
The second is that some catastrophe will cripple and preoccupy all governments simultaneously, leaving the people to slip out from under control and run their societies themselves without interference, until they have the capability to shed their former masters. The third is that the citizens don’t wait for a distracting catastrophe, but begin sliding out-from-under by themselves. In scenarios #2 and #3, the actual liberating will be only a matter of strategy and tactics, which competent and self-reliant people can readily choose for themselves.
It’s anyone’s guess which of the three is most probable.