A Review of The Coming Aristocracy: Education and the Future of Freedom
Review by K. Deva
I procured a copy of this book out of curiosity in regards to the books title – who and what was this new aristocracy of which the author was speaking? Was it to be a beacon of light in the bottomless dark cesspit of modern politics, or rather a murky conception that would send us plummeting deeper into the oubliette?
The name of the book was not as promising as I had at first hoped and the title itself is somewhat misleading. The main concept of the book is to warn Americans that a new plutocracy (which the author DeMille incorrectly identifies as an aristocracy) is going to arise and challenge democracy. DeMille is essentially correct in identifying the fact that American politics is under threat of corporate reign – however I have some points here in regards to his book that I would like to make. Firstly, I disagree with the terminology deployed by DeMille who refers to American Plutocracy as an ‘aristocracy’. Given the word means ‘Aristos’ + ‘kratia’ = Rule of the Best, I take issue with this term simply because I do not believe that wealth, finance and industry are the defining points of what is ‘Best’ in humanity. In fact, I associate them with some of the basest and lowest elements of human nature. Under a real and natural aristocracy, such people would never have been allowed entry into positions of authority.
Secondly the problem is that DeMilles warning has already come too late. America is already under corporate rule by big business, and the electoral system is structured in such a way that it impossible to release democracy from plutocratic control. As such, I would say that the ‘aristocracy’ as DeMille calls plutocracy, is already here and been in full control since the early 1980s. Democracy itself only lived a little past the Founding Fathers, before falling prey to corruption. Freedom, born from their ideal, was buried in the 21st Century.
The premises which DeMille erroneously attaches to an ‘Aristocratic Party’ include such things as being “International, Capitialistic, Corporate and Pro Technology at any cost” – all of which are values that are the total antithesis of Aristokratia. If anything, I see these values as the symptoms of the current political system.
Therefore my main criticism of the book is the author’s erroneous use of the word aristocracy to denote a system of financial rule based on wealth which is clearly a plutocracy. The book, however, if one translates the authors use for aristocracy to plutocracy, does make sense, and like the real aristos, DeMille too is against the continued rise and promulgation of the pseudo-aristoi plutocratic elite.
Moving along to other topics, DeMille offers a few good pointers. One of his proposed solutions is the concept of self-reliant ‘mini factories’ which enable one to produce goods at home. With the new technology of 3D printing, this could be a possibility and it would have an impact on a number of the corporations who currently control more than they should via over-priced industry monopoly. Where possible, the author also advocates keeping the distribution of wealth small and within the community via the patronage of local business and products instead of mass produced content.
The book is also clearly directed at an American readership, as we see in the title of the chapter “A New American Strategy’. This identifies that a schism is building in America with the use of technology to gather data and prevent attacks on its civilians, and the need for privacy for the vast majority of citizens who are no threat. It is a schism because information always has the capacity for misuse or misinterpretation. Whilst it should be the concern of a government to protect its civilians, this law also has to extend to ensuring that the civilians private information is kept safe and is not in any way misused. As with most political issues, it is a delicate one which upsets the public whom often find their need for privacy to be more of a concern than their physical safety. Perhaps the only solution is to create a ‘transparency policy’ in America to regain public trust.
The other issue I found of interest raised in this book is the clash between Tribal and National culture – the author does not allege that either is superior, but instead mentions points where one could learn from the other, for as much as civilizations have grown as Nations, they have also become very distant from the real ethnos or socio-biological unit – tribal societies, even in our own cultures, were the foundations and primary building blocks of Nations. As much as we have progressed in technology, we have also regressed in terms culture. Tribal people would benefit from some of the technology we have today,and the nations could also benefit from learning how to fit in and adapt to the natural environment, rather than rigidly and dogmatically imposing the fallacious doctrine of ‘progress at all costs’ onto the world around them.
In summary, although I vehemently disagree with the author’s use of the term aristocracy in this manner, I do agree with him on the premise that what he is describing is wrong, corrupt and unnatural. I also disagree that this new plutocracy is yet to come – instead I believe it is already here.
If this book had been written two decades earlier, it would be revolutionary, but instead the problem of plutocracy has been revealed at point where the knowledge of corruption is widespread through the mainstream, as we saw with the short lived success of the ‘Occupy Wall Street Movement’. Nonetheless, the author does rise a few interesting suggestions in regards to problems with the rule of a financial elite in the United States.