If the choice comes down to tyrant or oligarch, we must choose the latter. But our democracy would still be in peril
Make no mistake: the frustrations and insecurities that fueled Trump’s rise – and are still the basis of his support – have their origin in this power shift, which has left most Americans with a small slice of the nation’s prosperity and almost no voice in its politics.
A half-century ago, when America had a large and growing middle class, those on the left wanted stronger social safety nets and more public investment in schools, roads and research. Those on the right sought greater reliance on the free market.
But as power and wealth have moved to the top, everyone else – whether on the old right or the old left – has become disempowered and less secure. Today the great divide is not between left and right. It’s between democracy and oligarchy.
Bloomberg is indubitably part of that oligarchy. That should not automatically disqualify him but it should set off alarms. If the only way we can get rid of the sociopathic tyrant named Trump is with an oligarch named Bloomberg, we will have to choose the oligarch. Yet I hope it doesn’t come to that. Oligarchy is better than tyranny. But neither is as good as democracy.
It’s not that. And I felt this way in the Age of Obama too.
People like to take a word with a particular set of associations and apply it to a different concept in order to stink it up with those associations. I understand the motivations behind it, but language and to an extent, thought are the casualties of it.
For a different example, we can use the phrase ‘white supremacy’ to mean both Bull Connor’s hoses and the wrong choice of words from a well meaning middle-aged white woman, but it seems there really is a useful distinction between those two things and maybe our language ought to be able to capture it.
Another recent casualty is ‘mass incarceration’. It used to mean incarcerating groups of people wholesale, without even charging or trying them individually. Now it means ‘having too many people in jail’, regardless of the process that got them there. There is no longer a succinct phrase to describe the former. Our language is diminished for it.
Posts: 32091 | Location: On the Hudson | Registered: 20 April 2005
Guess my definition of oligarch is broader than jon's.
More like what's described in this Wiki article.
The modern United States has also been described as an oligarchy because economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while average citizens and mass-based interest groups have little or no independent influence.
By that definition, the US has always been an oligarchy and we can drop the term "modern." I can't think of any major international power today that is NOT an oligarchy by that over-broad "definition."
With a definition that broad, the term simply becomes a tool to express your dislike of someone. It isn't a meaningful way to draw distinctions that need to be drawn.
Posts: 9098 | Location: Williamsburg, VA | Registered: 19 July 2005