A 2014 report, part-funded by NASA, states that in unequal societies, “collapse is difficult to avoid…. Elites grow and consume too much, resulting in a famine among Commoners that eventually causes the collapse of society.” and “economic inequality, can independently lead to a societal collapse. This is shown in the Type-L collapse scenario in the paper, where an otherwise sustainable society that even seems to be on a sustainable path for a long time can collapse due to introducing a small seed of Elite population into the system with a high level of inequality.”
One of the questions that I want this website to explore is a potential link between the growth of pro Elite public relations and lobbying with increased inequality. Does it follow that as the Elites take more wealth away from the Commoners, the Elites defend themselves by manufacturing and amplifying more pro Elite stories and ideas?
If you can supply, or point me towards, some UK / USA data or evidence about this issue,
please get in touch.
Does it follow that as the Elites take more wealth away from the Commoners, the Elites defend themselves by manufacturing and amplifying more pro Elite stories and ideas?
Yes, according to Peter Goodman, the author of Davos Man: How the Billionaires Devoured the World. It’s why Davos exists.
“It’s not an accident,” he tells me, “that our economies have concentrated greater wealth in fewer hands. Quite simply, wealthy people have used their wealth to purchase democracy, to warp democracy in their own interests. They’ve done that through a global template that involves lowering taxes, privatising formerly public attempts to deal with common problems, liquidating the spending that went into things like social services, and then putting that money into their own pockets.”
“The main power of the billionaire class, Goodman says, is in their creation of values, not value, that maintain a friendly political climate. Davos, he says, is “a prophylactic against change, an elaborate reinforcement of the status quo served up as the pursuit of human progress”.
“But the disparities are becoming too stark for these branding efforts to work as well as they used to. Even rightwing politicians are beginning to point out that the promise of social mobility no longer has purchase.”
“Davos Men strategically adopt philanthropy, public relations and other tactics to ensure that the full scope of their negative influence is not understood by the public.”
One impact of public funds being funnelled away from public services such as education, to the wealthy:
Only the wealthy can afford to become storytellers, which means alternative perspectives are lost.
“Creative occupations are amongst the most elite in the economy,” Heather Carey, co-author of the Screened Out report and director of Work Advance, told VICE. “Key creative roles are now more dominated by people from privileged backgrounds than doctors, judges, management consultants or stockbrokers.”
“Not only does this mean that what art gets made is decided by the elite; it works against social mobility more broadly, keeping those with privilege centre-stage while denying those without it a platform. “The point is not that the next Gary Oldman might be working at Sports Direct,” wrote critic Danny Leigh in 2018. “The point is he or she could be there forever.””
This matters for many reasons, including: artists are society’s early warning system, according to Kurt Vonnegut:
“I sometimes wondered what the use of any of the arts was. The best thing I could come up with was what I call the ‘canary in the coal mine theory’… This theory says that artists are useful to society because they are so sensitive. They are super-sensitive. They keel over like canaries in poison coal mines long before more robust types realize that there is any danger whatsoever.”