Plutocrats are embodiments of psychopathology unchained. Plutocracy is in no way a recent phenomenon. The success of republics such as Sparta, Athens, Rome, was entirely caused by the ferocity with which they made plutocracy unconstitutional..
Similarly the beyond-Homeric war between the free poleis of Greece and fascist Persia, was fundamentally a war between democracy and plutocracy. The battle of Lepanto, between Western fleet of free men and the slaves of the Sultan, can also be viewed as a similar clash of civilization.
The Gracchi Brothers explained the problem thoroughly, and tried the radical remedies necessary against the fascist/plutocratic cancer that was devouring the Roman Republic. We have the same problem. And we have two major, civilization crushing examples of what will happen if we do not eliminate the criminality of hyper wealth: we will be poor, we will have to live on our knees, and our survival will be compromised.
Krugman ponders in Plutocrats Feeling Persecuted the psycho psychology of plutocrats. Well, as their name indicates, if some ought to be psycho, that would be them, plutocrats. Let me quote Krugman’s conclusion:
“Well, I have a theory. When you have that much money, what is it you’re trying to buy by making even more? You already have the multiple big houses, the servants, the private jet. What you really want now is adulation; you want the world to bow before your success. And so the thought that people in the media, in Congress and even in the White House are saying critical things about people like you drives you wild.
It is, of course, incredibly petty. But money brings power, and thanks to surging inequality, these petty people have a lot of money. So their whining, their anger that they don’t receive universal deference, can have real political consequences. Fear the wrath of the .01 percent!”
Although I respectfully salute Krugman’s effort, and I do agree with what he relates, let me help with an abstract of my own, much more general theory.
Christ said rich individuals would find it harder to get to heavens, than a camel through the eye of a needle. Why? Plutocrats put greed, for money and power, above all other human values. Thus, they belong to hell.
Let’s be a bit more explicit: human beings, even those most reviled, and most abandoned, are born out of love. Indeed, so fragile they are that, for many years, they are completely dependent upon caregivers. If one gives care, one gives love. Thus love, not hatred, is the most basic instinct. Hence the remorse pulling plutocratic minds asunder.
The Greek “Pluto” depicted a 2,000 year old psychological complex elucidated in Mesopotamia in the religion of Ahura Mazda (later boosted by the most ancient philosopher known, Zarathustra). The ancients understood the vast entanglement of obscurity, the underground, riches, invisibility, lying and dissembling, with all other horrors of the Dark Side.
The antidote to this hell was truth and light. That, too was in the old philosophy of Zarathustra.
For plutocrats, to pose as victims is essential. They want to be adulated. Adulation allows not just to satisfy their greed, and also to increase their power (and be called “philanthropists” and thus pay no tax).
But there is more. Adulation goes beyond vanity and greed. Plutocrats do need adulation, if they just want to be.
Plutocrats know, deep inside, that they are very bad people. Once again, it has to do with the fact that the first interaction with the other is love. Even the worse plutocrats, some day, have been babies and their emotional system’s dawn was called love. Adulation allows them to rekindle vaguely that basic emotion. Love is the ultimate judge, the ultimate god.
The adulation of others, that fake love, compensate that lack of love plutocrats have for themselves, deep inside, as they know all too well that they are the bottom of the barrel of humanity.
Adulation thus allows plutocrats to feel good enough to go on with their abysmal lives. When that adulation is refused to them, only the Will to Power, greed, viciousness, the values they thrive by, are left to inhabit the universe they know. Everything is pain, torture, gloom, dissembling, impossible to ascertain.
No wonder plutocrats hate those who deprive them of it.
But their wrath goes beyond this. Plutocrats are motivated by one of humanity’s oldest instinct, that of man as the greatest enemy of… man. Where did that come from? So it has been for many million years, ever since hominids became the greatest predators.
Then, when too many men exhausted too small an ecology, the only solution was war, and extermination. Even chimpanzees live by that feeling: they go on the war path, to eliminate the chimps in the valley next door, just to make sure.
Typically plutocracy rises when a society becomes too prosperous, too numerous, too undemocratic, wealth concentrates, and fascism starts to peak. Hence the causes of its rise bring further excess, and the need to diminish all this humanity that smothers the ecology (it was no accident that the Nazis were so ecological, and so obsessed by the Lebensraum).
Hence the more power plutocrats have, the more they will use it to satisfy that instinct of destruction. It has happened many times in history.
The longevity of the Roman Republic’s democratic system is entirely attributable to its anti-plutocratic laws, which imposed a limit on the wealth of individuals. The failure of those laws brought the Republic down at the time of the Gracchi brothers. (That was known, and made explicit at the time; there was a direct shock between those, such as the Gracchi brothers, who wanted to impose the existing laws and their spirit, and the plutocrats, who wanted adulation and ever more control.)
Interestingly, the USA’s first billionaire, Carnegie, wanted taxation rates of at least 50% on the wealthiest, and close to 100% on inheritance. Thus, during the first century of its existence, the republic of the Union of the States of America had no real plutocrats. (At least none in the sense of using wealth to deflect the policy of the republic.)
Later, Theodore Roosevelt took direct measures to limit the power of the wealth of individuals on the economy (with his anti-monopoly law.) American based plutocrats went around all this like their Roman predecessors, by going global (and Germany was the first, and most suitable, victim).
Reinstituting the Roman Republican laws limiting wealth would make the Republic viable again. And we would have to succeed where the Gracchi failed, by limiting wealth and power, globally.
Otherwise, it’s going to be all the way down, and, just as happened under the plutocracies that flourished under the Roman autocrats and in the Middle Ages. If we do not affect to love our oppressors, if we do not kneel and kiss their toes, we will feel their wrath.
Plutocracy, the rule of Pluto, is intrinsically, an insult. At some point, blossoming plutocracy makes it so that it comes to be called “aristocracy“, the rule of the best. Only then do plutocrats get the adulation they need.
There is plenty enough evidence of the sociopathy of adulation blossoming in the USA, and in Europe. The thriving austerity is not about prudent accounting: if we were truly prudent, we could easily avoid austerity by making the wealthy pay just part of the taxes they avoid.
Yet, that’s not even tried. Instead the poor and the public are made to pay for the crimes of the wealthy with austerity schemes. So what is austerity about? Unhinged hatred of the wealthy for commoners.
And this is just the beginning: in both Rome and the Middle Ages, extreme plutocracy ended with not just poverty and debasement, but also the death of most of the population, and direct causation can be demonstrated.