Structural Elite

In this week of the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Critical Thinking discussed terminology to describe those that rule the world.

Hitherto, we've referred to them as the Ruling Clique (RC) - this is regarded by some as pejorative and risks painting the ruling elite into a corner. In Sun Tzu's Art of War, he says: "Build your opponent a golden bridge to retreat across."

For the time being, we'll refer to the ruling elite as the Structural Elite (SE) because while some of their ancestors may be the original architects of the political economy, which has since evolved for their increasing benefit, many inherited their position - they are products of the system and their world view has been crafted to convince them of their right to rule.

Thus scions of political, banking and industrial dynasties and European royalty are in some senses victims, as well as beneficiaries, of the political economy. They think the way they do because they've been brainwashed from birth with a sense of entitlement, superiority and responsibility - they perceive it as their duty to rule. Their numbers are augmented by members of the military industrial – media academic complex (MIMAC), political and economic predators and the super-rich, all of whom have successfully exploited the system to arrive "at the top table".

There is evidence to suggest many of the SE have psychopathic tendencies but irrespective, they have insufficient empathy with the billions of who suffer the consequences of their geopolitical machinations to stop. Their lack of empathy is a product of their world view.

Rationally, seeking to punish the SE is counter-productive - if transition to an alternative political economy requires retribution for their crimes, they will resist such a transformation using all the levers of power at their disposal. The challenge is to demonstrate how they benefit from relinquishing their power.

The SE have their own fears which relate to their loss of power and wealth. In a competitive world of scarcity such fears are wholly rational and justified. In a co-operative world of abundance, such fears will evaporate.

We need to choose, retribution or truth and reconciliation.


0 #2 Clive Menzies 2015-01-26 16:48
Quoting James Dunne:
I think it's questionable as to whether psychopathy is the product of worldview. That would be to suggest that psychopathy can be cured since world views can be changed, but I believe the evidence is against psychopathy being curable.
Thanks James, I don't think the piece claims psychopathy is a product of someone's world view but lack of empathy certainly is (among non psychopaths).

I suspect psychopathy covers a spectrum from mild to acute. The point is the system rewards psychopathic behaviour irrespective of whether those in power are themselves psychopaths.

I watched The Corporation last night (highly recommended) which analyses Corporations as a person (Corporations are granted person-hood in the US). On every measure, global corporations are psychopaths although the senior executives may not be.

Pschopathy may not be curable but we need to create a system where it isn't rewarded.
0 #1 James Dunne 2015-01-26 16:15
Chomsky has described himself as a structuralist and it is arguably the reason Chomsky thought that the assassination of JFK and 9/ll were unlikely to be conspiracies other than as presented, and the reason he thought that even if true, they would be pretty unimportant.

The predominance of viewing blind replication of structure as preeminent over human agency within sociology is a byproduct of Marzist thinking which views all ideology as a byproduct (superstructure )of material conditions. This in turn is something of an outgrowth of materialist philosophy which views mind as an epiphenomenon of matter and free will as ultimately an illusion. Conspiratorial thinking has thus come to be seen as an aberration, out of all proportion to the facts.

Michael Parenti has written
"As I pointed out in published exchanges with Cockburn and Chomsky (neither of whom responded to the argument), conspiracy and structure are not mutually exclusive dynamics. A structural analysis that a priori rules out conspiracy runs the risk of not looking at the whole picture."

Further on he writes
"A structuralist position should not discount the role of human agency in history. Institutions are not self-generating reified forces. The “great continuities of corporate and class interest” (Cockburn’s phrase) are not disembodied things that just happen of their own accord. Neither empires nor national security institutions come into existence in a fit of absent-mindedne ss. They are actualized not only by broad conditional causes but by the conscious efforts of live people."

This is worth reading:

You may recall this quote by a 'Bush aide' to a NYT journalist, attributed to Karl Rove. For me it encapsulates the element of agency gone rogue, above and beyond mere class interests.
"We're an empire now, and when we act, we create our own reality. And while you're studying that reality, judiciously, - as you will— we'll act again, creating other new realities, which you can study too, and that's how things will sort out. We're history's actors…and you, all of you, will be left to just study what we do."

They don't talk about blowing up skyscrapers at Harvard do they?

Lastly I think it's questionable as to whether psychopathy is the product of worldview. That would be to suggest that psychopathy can be cured since world views can be changed, but I believe the evidence is against psychopathy being curable.

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