As I watched the Trump of Trump Towers ascend the Star Spangled Throne I found myself pondering something I had written a quarter of a century ago about the ideas of two very insightful men and then I remembered why I had begun this blog in the first place.
You see, once upon a time (1986-1991) I wrote a weekly newspaper column called Down Paradox Lane which wandered from subjects such as backyard coons and squirrels to more mundane affairs such as political folly and general idiocy. So as a blogger, I said to myself why not take a look at some of that old stuff and see if what bugged me, amused me, challenged me at that time, is still around today? If it is, then what might that say about the evolution or otherwise of our society?
Well, I don’t know about amusement these days but there’s certainly lots of challenge. And I’m not too sure about the evolution of society. A self-centered billionaire celebrity has adopted the paradoxical role of champion of the impoverished masses? What madness is this? Will the inevitable turmoil of the Trump Era result in social revolution or regressive change?
For perspective, lets stroll back down the lane to the early days of the Great Recession of the 1990s. I wrote the following at that time:
Chaos to revolution?
Are you aware of a certain amount of political confusion and chaos these days in both Canada and the US? Take heart, it may be inevitable and may simply mean that we’re on our way to a revolution!
A theory that’s been around for some time (developed by a man named P.R.Sarkar suggests that we North Americans are just at the end of an era. Sarkar’s “law of social cycles” states that in the development of every civilization, ancient or modern, Oriental or Occidental, there is an “era of Laborers followed by the era of Warriors, the era of Warriors by the era of Intellectuals, and the era of Intellectuals by the era of Acquisitors culminating in a social revolution.”
We are in that final Era of the Acquisitors now, and have been ever since the mid-1800s.
Acquisitors don’t like central authority because it has the power to force wealth redistribution. Acquisitors like to deregulate everything. (Sound familiar?)
The Acquisitive mentality infects all sections of society and everything is commercialized, including music, art, literature and sport. (Sound familiar?)
The Acquisitive Era is always associated with an increase in general crime, dishonesty, and greed. (Sound familiar?)
Apparently the revolution that does in the Acquisitors is always brought about by the other three classes ganging up during a period of chaos. They gang up, so the theory goes, because the Acquisitors eventually reduce them all to poverty, creating only two classes — Acquisitors and Labourers.
For awhile the amalgamated labouring class retains a decent standard of living by providing services for the rich. (Does the term “service industries” sound familiar?) But the decline to poverty is inevitable. (Does the call to compete with Mexico’s 60 cents-an-hour wage strike a chord?)
Sarkar’s theory holds that the cycles can’t be changed. ♠
Reading that now in 2017 and seeing the Trump of Trump Towers in the presidential catbird seat I ask myself if this is just another great surge in the Acquisitor Era? Or is it indeed the beginning of the social Revolution?
Fortunately, in the same item, I went on to report on the ideas of an American economist, Ravi Batra, expressed in his fascinating book, The Great Depression of 1990 (published in 1987!). In that book Batra, a colleague of Sarkar, presented a formula for actions to soften the chaos of revolution that must follow Sarkar’s Era of the Acquisitors. I described that formula:
The primary change is to restrain the tendency for accumulation of wealth in the hands of a few.
The Minimum Wage should adequately reflect the requirements for a family to maintain a dignified life. But there should also be a Maximum Wage, possibly no more than ten times the Minimum.
There should be an inheritance tax to prevent the accumulation of wealth. It should be related in some way to the Minimum Wage.
Defence and Law Enforcement each have a threefold purpose — protection of life, liberty, and property. Batra suggests that property (including stocks, bonds, commercial real estate, etc.) should pay it’s own third of the cost.
A majority of company shares should be owned by white-and-blue collar workers whose representatives would manage the company affairs. In time of recession no one would be laid off but everyone would have working hours reduced, thus spreading the burden. Unemployment payments would not be needed.
Industries providing essential items such as oil, coal, and steel should be divided into small competing units so that monopolies can’t blackmail the consumer.
Banks should not be permitted to finance speculative takeovers. (Nor, presumably, should Trusts or Loan companies.)
Private initiative and investment should be limited to small corporations and proprietorships.
Having established these parameters, says Batra, government then should attempt to keep out of the economy. ♠
Now, as we enter the Era of the 45th Presidency of the United States, if we see adaptations of Ravi Batra’s ideas actually being put into effect by any government anywhere we will know that the Revolution Era has indeed arrived. If not, then it would appear that we are still entrenched in Sarkar’s Acquisitive Era and can look forward to more disparity, more chaos and more towers of accumulated wealth.
Wouldn’t it be marvellous if the unpredictable 45th President actually confounded us all and, instead of protectionism and radical nationalism, adopted the principles of Ravi Batra’s formula? Surely that would drain a vast swamp.
Are you holding your breath?
♠ DOWN PARADOX LANE
Item: Chaos to revolution?
For: Lindsay This Week, October 10, 1990
Copyright (c) Munroe Scott