My last post noted leaders on both the left and the right tell whoppers, but only the right punishes. The left not only stands fast behind their lies but actively works to suppress embarrassing facts. What accounts for this disparity? The answer may reside in society’s historical makeup.
My series on “The Long Journey To More” stated there were only three ways to gain”More,” take it from somebody else, trade, or innovate. Before the 15th century, the first two were prevalent. Innovation was a slow and uneven process. The wheeled axle took many thousands of years to develop. The idea only made it to the new world after Columbus.
As people became agrarian and settled out of necessity, humankind across the world formed stratified societies. The lack of materials limited the ability to read, write and use numbers to less than 10% of any population. Because they knew the literate dominated.
The educated group was mostly hereditary and governed, ran the military, and performed religious functions. As a result, most of the good things in life accrued to them. The rest of humanity led near-subsistence lives.
The exceptions to this elite-peasant split were artisans and traders. Reading, writing, and arithmetic likely started with these people. The necessity to record and total transactions or make measurements demanded a specific literacy.
Change threatens the stability of privileged positions; it enhances the prospects of others. Of course, this meant tension between the relatively comfortable elite and those striving to do things better and more profitable. Accommodations between these classes were constant to reduce friction. Still, the two made up the literate one in ten.
This balance came to an end in the 15th century. The printing press broke the knowledge monopoly while innovation exploded the sources, movement, and cargo size of trade gods. Today, less than 10% are illiterate—quite a change.
Now, government, academia, and media elites attempt to reimpose a dominant privileged class. As in the past, their narratives are in line with their power. Elites put narrative over facts, while those judged by results use facts and data to form their portrayals. Those in the real world deal with what works. If they screw up, they pay the price. Just ask Southwest Airlines.
China is critical in understanding this clash of classes. At the beginning of the 15th century, that empire appeared far ahead of anything in Christian Europe. Their fleets traveled to Eastern Africa before Portugal progressed on that continent’s Western side. However, elites in Ming China found the expanded trade disruptive and disbanded the voyages. The Confucian-trained upper class prized stability over change.
Before the end of the century, the Portuguese rounded the Cape Good Hope, and Spain found a new world. Even though its rulers thought themselves superior, China underwent a centuries-long decline.
Xi is supposed to be a great student of history, but he seems to have learned the wrong lessons, or he puts the power over progress. Today China’s controlling elite, the communist party, is going down the same path and suppressing its innovators while trying to control everyone and everything. This mindset will result in repeating the 15th-century size errors.
Why talk about China? Bureaucrats and the government dependent have been the same throughout history and the world. Xi’s country is the most prominent example. That our elites mirror his party’s lust for power should surprise no one. It’s in their nature.
This conflict concerns whether humankind continues the enormous progress registered since 1400 or declines into the totalitarian states described in George Orwell’s 1984. Cuba and Venezuela show us how that regression looks.
A significant problem for Government dominant parties is the ruling elites no longer have a near monopoly of knowledge. The world literacy rate stands at 87%. In developed nations, it’s 99%. Close to 40% of Americans have graduated college. Knowledge has never been so widespread, and the internet makes it readily available.
There is no need for elites to dictate to peasants. People can make their own decisions based on the available facts and data. Only by curtailing information can a ruling class maintain its position.
Taking this path can only be maintained with ever-increasing repression. People either knuckle under or leave if they can. Is anybody looking to move to Cuba, Venezuela, and China? On the other hand, people risk their lives every day to leave.
Here too, people with equal or better knowledge challenged the government-centered elites and found their views suppressed. Only by limiting opposing views can these elites force their agenda. This situation explains the suppression of counter-views on the Russian collusion hoax, covid policy, global warming, and the Hunter Biden laptop, among other things.
Calamities can call for government expansion, enhancing the elite’s position. Prominent Democrat Rahm Emanuel famously advised, ” You never let a crisis go to waste.” No crisis is available; invent one.
In 1968 biologist Paul R. Erhlich published his mega best-seller “The Population Bomb.” He claimed we would run out of vital resources due to the rapidly rising population. Only massive government intervention could save us from disaster. Widely advocated, in 1980, China even imposed its “one-child policy” to reduce its population growth.
Economist Julian Simon wasn’t amused. In challenging Erhlich to a bet, he let Erhlich choose ten essential commodities, which, if he were correct, would surely rise in real-term price due to scarcity. Simon asserted ingenuity would more than offset population pressure, and the costs would be lower. At the end of the agreed test period, all ten commodities had lower prices. Simon easily won the bet.
Why bring this up now? Because we are spending a fortune on a new “crisis” that gained its impetuous from Al Gore’s book “Earth in the Balance.” Published after his passing, Julian Simon’s rebuttal, “Hoodwinking the Nation,” demolished virtually every part of Gore’s tome.
Erhlich is still well thought of on campuses, and Gore is a saint to many. Until I mentioned him, did you know who Julian Simon was? The fact that he is correct and the other two not so much finds no place among the elite-controlled media and academia. The former Vice-President went on to produce an even more error-filled book and movie, “An Inconvenient Truth.”
I bring this up to show that suppression didn’t start yesterday. It has deep roots and is growing. Just a change of administration won’t eradicate it. Trump found that out much to his misfortune. We can only eliminate this evil if all branches work together with the utmost energy. Remember, for most of us, government and its power are only part of our lives. For the elites, it is their lives. They won’t go away without a huge fight.
A challenge system like the one I offered to Musk’s Twitter (Elon is Right, We Need a Town Square 11/23/22) would go a long way to showing all positions on issues. Data clearly showed school closures weren’t necessary and would cause significant harm. Wouldn’t it be better to have these things widely known at the time? Maybe we wouldn’t have disasters like China’s “one-child Policy.” Let all sides have their say, and we’ll have better decisions.