Thursday, September 2, 2010

Letter To Richard Wolffe

Dear Mr. Wolffe,

Where we fit in the social evolution of the species Homo Sapiens Sapiens is discussed in detain in “Universal Isocracy: The Religion” [] but we are now in the sub-pattern that we can identify as the “Industrial Revolution” dating from the 1500s. This is an effort to get back to the egalitarianism of the Paleolithic (50,000 bce to 8,000 bce) after the autocratic period of the post-agricultural Neolithic (8,000 bce to 1500 ce).

The characteristic of the Neolithic has been described by Arnold Toynbee, where the fall of a particular civilization is marked by the decadence of the ruling elite and the religiosity of the non-elite. This was modified slightly during the Industrial Revolution in that the sub-periods were marked by the upward mobility of the lower “middle” class to elite status by the exploitation of some form of technology. This was clearly demonstrated by the movement of social strata in North America.

The first layer were the traders and bankers who used the technology of the ocean going ship to get wealthy: the traders got tchotchkes from distant countries and the bankers exchanged and stored forms of wealth. Calvin invented a new form of aristocracy, the Elect, that was appointed by God and whose sign was wealth.

The Planters stayed in the colonies using the technology of the slave-powered farm or Plantation. They became the elite in North America and used the American Revolution to disestablish the european elite. The response of the american non-elite is identified as the first religious “great Awakening” of the 1730s to 1740s. The Planters, like Washington and Jefferson, maintained their elite status until the 1860s.

The Industrial Entrepreneurs brought mechanical technology from northern Europe and became wealthy but they were blocked from becoming elite by the planters. Their religious movement was the second “Great Awakening” (1800-1840) that led to the abolition movement and the downfall of the Planter Class by the elimination of slavery as a consequence of the American Civil War.

The Industrial Entrepreneurs demonstrated their decadence by building castles in Newport, Rhode Island, and leaving the operation of their factories to the clerks and mechanics. The religious movement in their period (1880 to 1910) is called the Third Great Awakening, and was characterized by the social gospel, i.e., upward mobility for the lower class. It corresponded to the “Managerial Revolution” identified by Fortune Magazine, in which the clerks and mechanics became the elite bureaucrats: the government bureaucrats being represented by the Democratic Party and the corporate bureaucrats being represented by the Republican Party. They became the elite during the two World Wars and the Great Depression. In the post-war period they passed the “G. I. Bill” which diluted the status of a college education. When these ex-GIs absorbed the Republican beliefs they became “Reagan Democrats” and put the Republicans in power until that caused the depression of 2008. The Democrats are trying to get out of that situation without losing power.

There is a movement that can be called the “Fourth Great Awakening” that includes things like the “Tea Party” movement and Glen Beck’s revivalist movement. The Republicans are trying to use this movement to counter the attractiveness of the Democrats to voters of color and in the lower class. It is not clear (because we are in it) just how much of that movements is spontaneous and how much is rigged by the corporate elite. In either case the sensible thing is for the Democrats to stir up the fervor in their non-elite supporters, but the Democratic elite will be afraid they can’t control them. In either case the revivalism is another symptom of social change from a system controlled by a bureaucratic elite.

What happens next is anybody’s guess. One of the possibilities is a Crusade against Islam (which would be a crusade for oil and against Obama). The democratic elite would like to keep the status quo without stirring up too much fuss, but the left wing is more activist. The Republican elite would also like to keep the status quo, but their activist fringe is out of control. The election of 2010 should give some solid indication as to how soon we can expect the “Decline and Fall of Western Civilization”.

In any case it is interesting that Glenn Beck has seen the opportunity of getting on the revivalist bandwagon.