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Bob Null
Bob Null
5 months ago

But at least you could make a compelling argument that it was a good idea to get rid of Trump.” Most certainly! Look at how much better things are in America now that Joe Biden is President. (Note for the sarcasm-impaired: this is a sarcastic comment.)

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
5 months ago
Reply to  Bob Null

LOL. And remember the apoplexy exhibited over the “power” and influence that the Koch Brothers had at once time? They are now mere pikers in this billionaire’s game. Oh, the hypocrisy of it all!

Lynne LeBlanc
Lynne LeBlanc
5 months ago

I’m not sure of the rationale behind supporting big tech and billionaire money to get rid of a problem one agrees with (i.e. “get rid of Trump”) yet decry everything else. This highlights the impossibility of our current dilemma: “get rid of Trump” even if it is done by illegal means. It just doesn’t work that way. Selling one’s soul for one thing keeps it in a cage for everything else to be bought (for the right price).

Ray Zacek
Ray Zacek
5 months ago
Reply to  Lynne LeBlanc

The Vietnamese vilage analogy: Destroying democracy in order to save it. From Trumpian toxicity which is not limited to Trump. They really wish for all those proles in the hinterlands to shut up, comply, and drink Victory Gin.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
5 months ago

“Bill Gates and his now-discarded wife, Melinda French Gates” Um – she discarded him because he’s a sleazy little pervert. He was using her to play the “good husband & father” for the public. He’s a creep.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Being a creep doesn’t matter when you are worth that much money. The starry-eyed receivers of all that cash are complete and utter hypocrites.

Last edited 5 months ago by Warren T
Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Like Democrat politicians Spitzer & Cuomo as well – both of whom cheated on lovely women for side dishes…

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
5 months ago

“the real danger may be confiscation, as people recognise the enormous gap between oligarchic posturing and the reality of class relations.”
It’s impossible to maintain a stable society with the level of income inequality we currently have (at least in the USA).
If the wealthy oligarchs want to preserve their own freedom, they need to advocate for living wages, affordable housing, and universal health care.
Otherwise, they will have to live behind iron gates in constant fear of the kinds of violent overthrows that have occurred in the past.
It is in the best interests of the oligarchs to redistribute enough wealth that people are not so enraged that they “burn it all down.”
The best way to save capitalism is to put a floor underneath how desperately poor the population can become.

Julian Farrows
Julian Farrows
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I don’t care about people being much richer than myself. What I do care about is how the wealthy use their money to buy politicians.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

What are talking about? Many of them already live behind iron gates and weaponized security guards. It was a good laugh several years ago when Nancy Pelosi advocated for no walls on the southern border as pictures of her walled residential compound circulated online.

Jim R
Jim R
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

Equating “income” with wealth as you have done is actually one of the best scams the elites ever came up with. An entrepreneur or professional who takes on enormous debt and has a negative net worth but finally achieves a high income will give up most of that money to taxes. In Canada I pay 54% of my income in taxes, plus another 13% of nearly everything I spend. But the truly wealthy only pay tax on their “income”, and their accountants have figured out how to ensure that they don’t book their income in any jurisdiction that will tax them. As the cry for more wealth redistribution grows louder and louder, watch what happens – as always it will be income and not wealth that gets targeted. Thus ensuring that the rich get richer and no one can claw their way up. Meritocracy has all but given way to nepotism and the new feudalism.

polidori redux
polidori redux
5 months ago

If you wish to preserve your wealth and influence, go unnoticed. That is what I do.

Penny Adrian
Penny Adrian
5 months ago
Reply to  polidori redux

I hope you lose both. Be careful.

polidori redux
polidori redux
5 months ago
Reply to  Penny Adrian

I was joking. I done never had any of either.

George McLellan
George McLellan
5 months ago

Was it Lenin who said “when it comes time to hang the capitalists, they will vie with each other for the rope contract”?

SIMON WOLF
SIMON WOLF
5 months ago

Lenin was asked how did 11000 Russian communists conquer Russia and he replied ‘because the educated left were a bunch of useful idiots’.
Instead of class based marxism we now have green and race based marxism and both have the same bunch of ‘useful idiots’ supporting them without ever asking themselves would happen if BLM or XR actually became their govt

E. L. Herndon
E. L. Herndon
5 months ago

A very good analogy, and enjoyable to read. The sort of writing I look for on Unherd. As missionaries led to old style colonization, I fear we are seeing a merely updated version of the cross and the sword, the recolonization of the world by the self-anointed multi-national “great and good” under the banner of the Green (quite primitive and totemistic, really) Religion. They require a staggering degree of suspension of disbelief and individual discretion, in exchange for promises of survival, in a condition of increasing bondage.

Andrew McDonald
Andrew McDonald
5 months ago
Reply to  E. L. Herndon

Explain ‘..quite primitive and totemistic..’ as epithets for what you call the ‘Green Religion’ – most advocates of climate-friendly policies base their views on widely accepted scientific studies that have been subjected to quite fierce review. Or do you just mean to criticise the wealthy but hypocritical?

Bernard Hill
Bernard Hill
5 months ago

…fierce review ? You’ve got to be joking Andrew. Any one who applies normal scientific skepticism to claims of climate catastrophe is immediately cancelled. “Widely accepted” means nought. Galileo was the exception to the widely accepted, but he was right.

Jim R
Jim R
5 months ago

Plato recognized that nepotism was one of the greatest threats to any meritocratic society. His radical solution in The Republic – the only way to avoid the wealthy using their power to tip the scales to give their (often less able) offspring unfair advantage – was to take children from their parents at birth and have them raised in institutions. Everyone starts at zero but gets the full enjoyment of the fruits of their own talent and effort during their lifetime, amassing whatever fortune they can. But no one gets to inherit anything – no one gets a leg up or to live off the success of another. I wouldn’t go as far as Plato proposed, but I would start taxing inheritance much more than income – to better incentivize productive activity and penalize sloth. Somehow we got it exactly backwards – taxing income and not wealth. It’s almost like the wealthy elites make the rules.

Saul Sorenti
Saul Sorenti
5 months ago

will simony ever be sinful to the woke ‘church’?
I have a dream that one day hipsters will consider the neo-liberalising of their souls as cringe, and all will live happily ever after

Brian Kullman
Brian Kullman
5 months ago

Philanthropy in the 19th and early 20th century provided goods and services to low income members of our society. Those roles have since been taken over by government, whose resources dwarf those of philanthropists. Philanthropy thus has redirected its energy and money into influencing government rather than to direct action to aid the poor.

Andrew Wise
Andrew Wise
5 months ago

I appreciate this article is about America not the UK – but there is an interesting comparison between your view and the philanthropy of the rich & successful in victorian times that build many of the great cities in the UK.
Of course names like Colston built grand architecture and donated to local organisations to engender their own power and influence – but in those times government was smaller and taxed less, leaving the space for philanthropy.
Not for profit was largely beneficial in that era.
And now we are tearing down his name & image because posthumously we have taken a dislike to the way he made his money (and many like him, he’s merely an example here)

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
5 months ago

I doubt any of these elites could identify any plant or animal – they don’t really know any about Mother Earth at all…

Neil Hollingsworth
Neil Hollingsworth
5 months ago

How can any conspiracy behind the scenes be good in any democratic nation? You have been listening too much to Sam Harris and his bad ideas about Trump and elections.

Brian Villanueva
Brian Villanueva
5 months ago

the new rich embrace a racial, gender and environmental agenda that, while undermining merit and economic growth, still leaves them on top of the heap.”

The culture wart makes a lot more sense once you realize it’s just the same old class war wrapped up in fancy clothes.

Russ W
Russ W
5 months ago

Sorry to fawn, but this is an excellent piece. Nice research and reporting of a dismal trend.

Russ W
Russ W
5 months ago

Sorry to fawn, but this is an excellent piece! Thank you, Joel.
I have been following this dismal trend and recording the instances I found but this lays it out in all of its grotesque reality. Marked up and saved.

Rhys Jaggar
Rhys Jaggar
5 months ago

You need to be aware that the rich are becoming richer under the New Normal rules, so they have not jettisoned the concept of their own wealth, merely jettisoned the concept that their wealth is aided by the prosperity of many others.

Russ W
Russ W
5 months ago

Thank you Joel for this excellent reporting.

Richard Barrett
Richard Barrett
5 months ago

I have 2 words for Mr Kotkin: Koch Brothers.

Warren Trees
Warren Trees
5 months ago

Seriously? They are no more than flies on an elephant’s bum, for heaven’s sake, compared to the level of wealth named above. Shall there be zero defenders of freedom in your world?

Cathy Carron
Cathy Carron
5 months ago

Koch stayed married to a lovely woman for 25 years until he died (no talk of cheating either)…he did wonders for NYC – gave millions to the Metropolitan Museum to rebuild their front fountains & galleries and to numerous other NY groups as well..great guy…