Time for a digression, not something even remotely academic, but something I have often thought about, and something I’m pretty certain is true: aristocracy is inevitable.
So, yeah, in 1917 and the years immediately after, the Russian people rose against their rulers, killed the Czars, inspired the Anastasia conspiracy theories and installed a communist government.
Aristocracy, they told us, was dead.
A handful of years later, the party elite had their Black Sea dachas and were driven around in chauffeured cars while everyone else watched the carriages with undisguised resentment.
Exactly the same as in the pre-1917 era. The only thing the communist revolution managed was to industrialize the country and create a new royal family. (in their defense, they also defeated Hitler, but I’m not trying to make a different point here, not criticize communism per se).
China, another communist country, currently has 373 billionaires while a good billion people live the agrarian life of a Russian serf.
Another notable revolution that was supposed to get rid of the aristocracy was the French. France currently has 40 billionaires…
So, whether capitalist, socialist or communist, society naturally seems to stratify into classes. An upper class defined by either wealth (or in the case of communist Russia, by access), education or refinement springs up in every system.
Even the failed nations, the African warlord republics or Venezuela have a clear definition of haves and have-nots. In Venezuela, the dictator’s corrupt cronies live like kings, for example.
I think I know: people with talent and drive don’t want to be counted among the masses. They work hard to achieve status so that either they or–failing that, their descendants–can have an easy life and enjoy themselves. After all, enjoying yourself is much better than any of the alternatives.
Elon Musk worked to make his billions and now works just as hard at doing stuff he loves. His definition of enjoying himself might put mankind on Mars. Which means that, annoying as his electric cars might be, we’re all rooting for him.
And that’s the wonder of the modern world. You don’t need to be born a von-Anything to gain access to the world of the aristos. All you need to have is drive, brains and a modicum of luck and you will get there, eventually. Or be a really good soccer player. Or a brilliant neurosurgeon. Or guitar virtuoso. There are infinite roads, but all require talent and hard work.
Unless you live in a communist country. In that case, you will need political ability to enjoy the spoils. But the same principle applies: if you’re GOOD at it, you’ll make it.
So I generally oppose systems which pretend to make the world an equitable place. Evidence shows that the only way to enforce this is to give more and more power to the government, which just means a different subset of people fill the role of the aristocracy.
Since I generally respect talent and hard work more than I do political ability, I’ll probably always want the free-market people to win.
But whoever ends up in the drivers seat, know this: a talented group willing to put in the hours are going to have stuff the rest of the people don’t. All the current political divide is doing is trying to define which group that will be.
Me? I will stay on the sidelines wondering why it’s important for some politician on the left to have everything versus some dude who started a company. I don’t actually care who it is, but you’ll generally find me in free-market countries because my talent does NOT lie in political acumen.
Anyway, just some random thoughts to break up the reviews for once.
Gustavo Bondoni is an Argentine novelist and short story writer whose published work spans every genre from literary fiction to comic fantasy. His dark fantasy is collected in Pale Reflection. You can have a look here.