Class War: The Big Picture

You want to WHAT? Ride me? Screw that.
You want to WHAT? Ride me? Screw that.

Is a society rigidly divided into grossly unequal classes a natural phenomenon, just part of the human condition? After all, it has been around for a long time. The ancient Greeks and Romans, over whom we westerners fawn as the cradle of civilization, displayed such class divisions. Plato, sort of a brilliant one-man think tank for the upper class, sought to justify the divisions in his Republic, which he wrote in 500 BC.

According to Plato, the philosopher-kings should rule, the warriors should protect them and everybody else should shut up and work already. In addition, Plato had a scheme for the line breeding of humans, strictly within their class. Of course, history and philosophy were written by those who had the leisure to study and publish and they had that leisure because slaves were doing all the heavy lifting.

Well, if this goes back to 500 BC it must be natural and inevitable, you might say. But humans (who were fully human) had much different societies for much longer, let’s say 100,000 years before Plato, just to use a round number. These societies were egalitarian and cooperative within the tribe. While elders might mediate disputes, everyone sitting around the campfire had a voice and greedy elders (greed was universally condemned) lost the respect of the tribe and their position of even limited authority.

Besides the fact that (time-wise) participatory democracy is the “natural” human condition, even during the rise of the Roman Empire, as reported by Tacitus, Germanic tribes were living in decentralized villages with much more equality than the centralized empires. The tribes also had much more respect for women, whom the Greeks considered to be a punishment from the gods and the Romans considered to be mere appendages of the man of the house. That is one reason the Germanic tribes were labeled “barbarians.” The other reason was that everyone not Greek or Roman was automatically a barbarian.

In fact, if you took a snapshot of the whole world in 500 BC, most humans were still living in smaller egalitarian groups. Alas, many of them were soon to be overrun by the centralized powers military might and exploited.

Why we valorize the violent exploiters (Alexander the Great and the Glory that was Rome) and not the egalitarian villagers is an interesting question. Could it be an extended case of Stockholm Syndrome? Falling in love with our kidnappers? Could it be that our kidnappers were the only ones with the leisure to publish anything since they were living parasitically off those they conquered? Could it be a little of both?

I doubt that we humans will ever get over the participatory democracy we enjoyed for so long. We will keep pushing for something like it, all over the world. I am sure that a few humans, infected with powerlust, will continue conspiring to dominate the rest. We cannot long survive as decentralized, egalitarian villages-though deep in our hearts this is what we long for. History shows, with monotonous regularity, that the most organized wins.

Class war is simply the struggle between the egalitarians and the dominators. Perhaps we can achieve a balance; it will necessarily be a shifting balance. Right now, in the USA and perhaps world-wide, the balance has shifted to the dominators. They are uneasy, they sense the restlessness below. They do the only thing they know to do, punish their subjects and beef up their means of force.

But the dominators have a blind spot. They think all people are just like themselves, greedy, violent cut-throat competitors. When the people unite, cooperate and resist with new, creative, non-violent means the balance will shift back to the egalitarians.




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