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Can Oligarchy Prevail?

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Naomi Klein continues to target the 1 percent. In this essay she observes that we live in the "age of the pampered Princeling".

I think she's right, but I also find it distracting to describe these pampered oligarchs solely from the point of view of their wealth and bad intentions. It creates the impression that unless we the people stop them, they can get away with whatever they like. Apparently this might well involve their attempting to exterminate huge demographics of color clamoring to survive in a world in which global warming dramatically shrinks their habitats. If the Princelings get away with it we might wind up with a kind of ugly social stability wherein some of the masses survive well enough at the expense of the many -- as in science fiction speculations about the future such as The Hunger Games. If one is likely to qualify for membership among the privileged few, no matter how thoroughly one detests the Princelings, this fact alone must affect how far one is willing to go in order to resist current trends. While many scholars are aware that those defined as "inconvenient" now finally possess powerful strategies and instruments of mutually assured destruction, the average citizen still assumes that the Princelings are competent to prevail in the kind of warfare they seem bent not simply upon maintaining, but ratcheting up.

But do the Princelings possess such competence? The answer to this question will shape the kind of activism people create and commit to. Since our survival as a nation and world may well depend upon the quick evolution of a fully rational activism, surely it is time to discuss this issue in a far more serious way than can be embraced by constantly describing the Princelings' narcissism, degeneracy and ruthlessness. Unless people perceive that they are also utterly incompetent to sustain their goals, the Princelings will not be strongly enough opposed until too late for opposition to make a difference.

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David Weiner received his doctorate in sociology from the University of Texas at Austin in 1964 and subsequently taught at SUNY/Buffalo and The University of Houston, where he received a Teaching Award. He currently teaches community college (more...)

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