Best of the Week
Most Popular
1. Investing in a Bubble Mania Stock Market Trending Towards Financial Crisis 2.0 CRASH! - 9th Sep 21
2.Tech Stocks Bubble Valuations 2000 vs 2021 - 25th Sep 21
3.Stock Market FOMO Going into Crash Season - 8th Oct 21
4.Stock Market FOMO Hits September Brick Wall - Evergrande China's Lehman's Moment - 22nd Sep 21
5.Crypto Bubble BURSTS! BTC, ETH, XRP CRASH! NiceHash Seizes Funds on Account Halting ALL Withdrawals! - 19th May 21
6.How to Protect Your Self From a Stock Market CRASH / Bear Market? - 14th Oct 21
7.AI Stocks Portfolio Buying and Selling Levels Going Into Market Correction - 11th Oct 21
8.Why Silver Price Could Crash by 20%! - 5th Oct 21
9.Powell: Inflation Might Not Be Transitory, After All - 3rd Oct 21
10.Global Stock Markets Topped 60 Days Before the US Stocks Peaked - 23rd Sep 21
Last 7 days
CATHY WOOD ARK GARBAGE ARK Funds Heading for 90% STOCK CRASH! - 22nd Jan 22
Gold Is the Belle of the Ball. Will Its Dance Turn Bearish? - 22nd Jan 22
Best Neighborhoods to Buy Real Estate in San Diego - 22nd Jan 22
Stock Market January PANIC AI Tech Stocks Buying Opp - Trend Forecast 2022 - 21st Jan 21
How to Get Rich in the MetaVerse - 20th Jan 21
Should you Buy Payment Disruptor Stocks in 2022? - 20th Jan 21
2022 the Year of Smart devices, Electric Vehicles, and AI Startups - 20th Jan 21
Oil Markets More Animated by Geopolitics, Supply, and Demand - 20th Jan 21
WARNING - AI STOCK MARKET CRASH / BEAR SWITCH TRIGGERED! - 19th Jan 22
Fake It Till You Make It: Will Silver’s Motto Work on Gold? - 19th Jan 22
Crude Oil Smashing Stocks - 19th Jan 22
US Stagflation: The Global Risk of 2022 - 19th Jan 22
Stock Market Trend Forecast Early 2022 - Tech Growth Value Stocks Rotation - 18th Jan 22
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: Are We Setting Up For A 'Mini-Crash'? - 18th Jan 22
Mobile Sports Betting is on a rise: Here’s why - 18th Jan 22
Exponential AI Stocks Mega-trend - 17th Jan 22
THE NEXT BITCOIN - 17th Jan 22
Gold Price Predictions for 2022 - 17th Jan 22
How Do Debt Relief Services Work To Reduce The Amount You Owe? - 17th Jan 22
RIVIAN IPO Illustrates We are in the Mother of all Stock Market Bubbles - 16th Jan 22
All Market Eyes on Copper - 16th Jan 22
The US Dollar Had a Slip-Up, but Gold Turned a Blind Eye to It - 16th Jan 22
A Stock Market Top for the Ages - 16th Jan 22
FREETRADE - Stock Investing Platform, the Good, Bad and Ugly Review, Free Shares, Cancelled Orders - 15th Jan 22
WD 14tb My Book External Drive Unboxing, Testing and Benchmark Performance Amazon Buy Review - 15th Jan 22
Toyland Ferris Wheel Birthday Fun at Gulliver's Rother Valley UK Theme Park 2022 - 15th Jan 22
What You Should Know About a TailoredPay High Risk Merchant Account - 15th Jan 22
Best Metaverse Tech Stocks Investing for 2022 and Beyond - 14th Jan 22
Gold Price Lagging Inflation - 14th Jan 22
Get Your Startup Idea Up And Running With These 7 Tips - 14th Jan 22
What Happens When Your Flight Gets Cancelled in the UK? - 14th Jan 22
How to Profit from 2022’s Biggest Trend Reversal - 11th Jan 22
Stock Market Sentiment Speaks: Are We Ready To Drop To 4400SPX? - 11th Jan 22
What's the Role of an Affiliate Marketer? - 11th Jan 22
Essential Things To Know Before You Set Up A Limited Liability Company - 11th Jan 22
NVIDIA THE KING OF THE METAVERSE! - 10th Jan 22
Fiscal and Monetary Cliffs Have Arrived - 10th Jan 22
The Meteoric Rise of Investing in Trading Cards - 10th Jan 22
IBM The REAL Quantum Metaverse STOCK! - 9th Jan 22
WARNING Failing NVME2 M2 SSD Drives Can Prevent Systems From Booting - Corsair MP600 - 9th Jan 22
The Fed’s inflated cake and a ‘quant’ of history - 9th Jan 22
NVME M2 SSD FAILURE WARNING Signs - Corsair MP600 1tb Drive - 9th Jan 22
Meadowhall Sheffield Christmas Lights 2021 Shopping - Before the Switch on - 9th Jan 22
How Does Insurance Work In Europe? Find Out Here - 9th Jan 22
MATTERPORT (MTTR) - DIGITIZING THE REAL WORLD - METAVERSE INVESTING 2022 - 7th Jan 22
Effect of Deflation On The Gold Price - 7th Jan 22
Stock Market 2022 Requires Different Strategies For Traders/Investors - 7th Jan 22
Old Man Winter Will Stimulate Natural Gas and Heating Oil Demand - 7th Jan 22
Is The Lazy Stock Market Bull Strategy Worth Considering? - 7th Jan 22
METAVERSE - NEW LIFE FOR SONY AGEING GAMING GIANT? - 6th Jan 2022
What Elliott Waves Show for Asia Pacific Stock and Financial Markets 2022 - 6th Jan 2022
Why You Should Register Your Company - 6th Jan 2022
4 Ways to Invest in Silver for 2022 - 6th Jan 2022
UNITY (U) - Metaverse Stock Analysis Investing for 2022 and Beyond - 5th Jan 2022
Stock Market Staving Off Risk-Off - 5th Jan 2022
Gold and Silver Still Hungover After New Year’s Eve - 5th Jan 2022
S&P 500 In an Uncharted Territory, But Is Sky the Limit? - 5th Jan 2022

Market Oracle FREE Newsletter

How to Protect your Wealth by Investing in AI Tech Stocks

The Bourgeoisie's Favorite Forms of Socialism

Politics / Social Issues Jan 18, 2011 - 11:10 AM GMT

By: MISES

Politics

Best Financial Markets Analysis ArticleThe mindset of the middle class is off-putting — to the heterodox, to the sovereign, and to the individualist. The mindset is a dull recital on the virtues of moderation and proscription: don't stay up too late; don't drink too much; don't exercise too hard; don't risk too much; don't challenge authority; don't question orthodoxy. By all means exist, just do so on an even, bovine keel.


Moderation is myatonia — a flabbiness, a lassitude. Moderation is a blob. A summer day at the beach reveals the adult middle-class body nourished by the moderate, FDA-approved diet and exercised moderately — a walk (which isn't exercise), a treadmill, a recumbent bike. The middle-class body is a unisex, lust-tempering, pyriform lump. At least the obese and the emaciated are objects of niche desires; no one fantasizes over rounded shoulders, a protruding stomach, and an extra 25 pounds. Perhaps that's the virtuous puritanical goal; and if it is, mission accomplished.

A formless body is understandable if formlessness is the opportunity cost of dynamic mental activity. It's a dubious crutch for the middle class, whose overarching focus is conformity and security; hence the gullibility toward any theory that further paves the road to easedom, the bedrock of socialism — for instance, the "neighborhood effect." We all benefit, so we should all pay. We all impart costs, so we should all pay. We all incur costs, so we should all be compensated.

This convenient economic theorem has infected the middle-class neighborhood like a Spanish flu pandemic, and no more so than in education. The argument for compulsory learning is so seductive because it is so appealing to unrefined sensibilities. Even the middle class's favorite free-market economist, Milton Friedman, would get loopy and socialist when pondering the education neighborhood effect:

A stable and democratic society is impossible without widespread acceptance of some common set of values and without a minimum degree of literacy and knowledge on the part of most citizens. Education contributes to both. In consequence, the gain from the education of a child accrues not only to the child or to his parents but to other members of the society; the education of my child contributes to other people's welfare by promoting a stable and democratic society. Yet it is not feasible to identify the particular individuals (or families) benefited or the money value of the benefit and so to charge for the services rendered. There is therefore a significant "neighborhood effect."

Persuasive to the egalitarian, but not to the individualist. What is and who defines "minimum"? Who is so endowed as to define the opaque, nebulous notion of "stable and democratic" and "common set of values"? Has everyone forgotten that slavery was once a common value? What can't be presented as a neighborhood effect?

Mr. Friedman preferred choice in education, but government delivery is what we got; and now government-delivered education has become so unquestioningly accepted and inculcated to become impenetrable. Yet the middle class wants no part of it, because education requires thought and effort. So the middle class long ago kicked the can to government, which delivered a colossal, reductive, stultifying, homogeneous education costing hundreds of billions of dollars per annum, and primarily serving the needs of the bureaucrats who administer it.

Does the middle class object? To the contrary, the middle class fights any attempt to reform the education leviathan. Worse, the middle class further entrenches the leviathan at every election; rarely is a ballot initiative to provide more funds for education rejected. The middle class is the most sycophantic of teacher's pets.

The relationship is symbiotic. The middle class wants the illusion of exceptionalism; the education bureaucrat wants control. The bureaucrat asks that the middle class not concern itself with the curriculum, and, because concern induces stress, the middle class obliges; hence the unspoken quid pro quo: the bureaucrat teaches a curriculum that promotes her prejudices, the student delivers a report card limned with A's and accolades. It's hardly a fair swap, but the education the bureaucrat delivers ensures the middle class remains clueless.

Director's Law states that the bulk of public programs — financed by all classes — are designed to benefit the middle class. Based on the size of its population and its aggregate wealth, the middle class will always be the dominant interest group in a modern democracy. As such, the middle class will strive to maximize state benefits and minimize its portion of state costs.

In addition to education, Medicaid, Medicare, and Social Security are all outgrowths of the rapacious middle-class desire to maximize benefits and minimize costs. It's a fool's errand and a Faustian bargain spooled into one. The very beneficiaries pay for what they are getting — in taxes, debt, inflation — and they pay the cost of administrating the collection and distribution of the largess. Pay a hundred dollars, receive fifty in ill-fitting benefits.

This willingness to accept lopsided exchanges is an outgrowth of middle-class fear — fear coupled with greed (defined by theft, fraud, and coercion, to differentiate it from ambition). The middle class owns just enough wealth to be irrationally fearful of poverty. This fear can only be quenched by the greedy promise of the delivery of someone else's property — confiscated and distributed via theft, fraud, and coercion under the guise of democracy and representative republicanism.

Aristotle saw the middle class coming, and got it half right:

The most perfect political community must be amongst those who are in the middle rank, and those states are best instituted wherein these are a larger and more respectable part, if possible, than both the other; or, if that cannot be, at least than either of them separate.

Yes, perfect, if the goal is to a create a middling, egalitarian society; imperfect if the goal is to promote individuality and liberty. Democracy is particularly appealing to the middle class because it appeals to a faux sense of empowerment. Laws are passed by 51 percent of the voting public to the detriment of the 49 percent and the nonvoting public, who simply couldn't care less about the wasteful election process. We have tyranny of the voting majority, who are really a citizen minority.

But all this doesn't matter, because there is no empowerment. The middle class can only tolerate annoying Fabian incrementalism. As the political punditry note, politics is played within the 40-yard lines — and nothing significant happens within the 40-yard lines. Still, it pays politically to foment the possibility that the opponent will hurl the long ball.

"Social Security reform will hurt the middle class." "Educational reform will hurt the middle class." "Tax reform will hurt the middle class." "We are losing the middle class." These odes to conformity are incredibly durable. Listen to any presidential candidate speech over the past 50 years; if the odes aren't repeated verbatim, they are repeated in close paraphrase.

We are fortunate that our politicians are as moderate in their ambitions as the middle class they serve. The truly ambitious politician can mix the promise of Cockaigne and the threat of a bogeyman preventing Cockaigne together to great effect. Joseph Goebbels sneeringly observed,

Our movement took a grip on cowardly Marxism and from it extracted the meaning of socialism. It also took from the cowardly middle-class parties their nationalism. Throwing both into the cauldron of our way of life there emerged, as clear as a crystal, the synthesis — German National Socialism.

"The middle class is Aristotle's perfect political community for thugs, prevaricators, meddlers, and tyrants."

From the seeds of middle-class nationalism blooms the false flowers of sacrifice and the greater cause — mostly war. Insecurity is cloaked in patriotism, jingoism, and recitals on liberty and freedom, which the middle class is too timid to embrace. Thousands are killed. The bodies return in flag-draped coffins. The coffins are treated with pomp and circumstance and a smattering of fanfare. The bodies are buried and forgotten by all except the immediate family, who dull their grief in the belief in the fictitious greater cause.

The searing truth is that past wars are buried in history with the bodies; the causes are forgotten, and so are the memories of the military men who died for the causes. Their lives, in short, were wasted, but few in the middle class protest.

Today's generation of soldiers forfeit their freedom and risk life and limb of their own volition, but in previous wars conscription was the law. As Russian marshal Georgy Zhukov noted, "In the Red Army it takes a very brave man to be a coward."

It also takes a brave man to repel middle-class morality. Conscripts fleeing to Canada during the Vietnam War were branded as cowards. The characterization was not only wrong but grossly offensive. The expatriates were brave and endured great sacrifice. They abandoned comfortable lives, their families were sent to Coventry, they risked incarceration — all for what mattered most, liberty and life.

Meanwhile, the "brave" soldier who acquiesced to authority and allowed himself to be sent to the other side of the world did so as passively as a lamb entering an abattoir, and for nothing more than the good thoughts of those whose thoughts don't matter and the causes of the potentates Étienne de La Boétie so completely eviscerated:

Too frequently this same little man [political leader] is the most cowardly and effeminate in the nation, a stranger to the powder of battle and hesitant on the sands of the tournament; not only without energy to direct men by force, but with hardly enough virility to bed with a common woman.

The middle class is the human equivalent of an animal herd, because it never learns the concepts of unintended consequences, moral hazards, and opportunity costs. Such concepts are never taught, for obvious reasons, in its government-run education system. That the middle class pretends to understand the concepts of freedom and liberty makes it even more contemptible. Threaten the middle class's government-sponsored rice bowl with the specifics of liberty and it reflexively reacts with the brand of opprobrium: radical.

We don't get the government or the life we deserve; we get the government and the life the middle class wants. The middle class is Aristotle's perfect political community for thugs, prevaricators, meddlers, and tyrants.

Stephen Mauzy is a CFA charterholder, a financial writer, and principal of S.P. Mauzy & Associates. Send him mail. See Stephen Mauzy's article archives.

© 2011 Copyright Ludwig von Mises - All Rights Reserved Disclaimer: The above is a matter of opinion provided for general information purposes only and is not intended as investment advice. Information and analysis above are derived from sources and utilising methods believed to be reliable, but we cannot accept responsibility for any losses you may incur as a result of this analysis. Individuals should consult with their personal financial advisors.


© 2005-2019 http://www.MarketOracle.co.uk - The Market Oracle is a FREE Daily Financial Markets Analysis & Forecasting online publication.


Post Comment

Only logged in users are allowed to post comments. Register/ Log in