The philosophical discussion of plutocracy’s principle is said by some to amount to nothing more than “idle abstraction.” The demand from one corner is for facts, facts, facts.
They can be found here.*
Now then, it is curious to me that discovering this principle should be thought so idle and so abstract. To me this principle has factual character that is very much concrete. My attempt below, which may well have failed, was to use a snippet of famous Greek philosophy to illustrate a very real and concrete fact about our political circumstances.
That fact is that materialism with a defiantly amoral twist is coextensive or at least highly correlated with plutocratic forms and innovations. This mercenary aspect, combined with the thrill at outdoing and conquering, is evident it every narrative about finance capitalism over the past 40 years. It is not always (as I have pointed out in the past) simple avarice that drives this usury machine. It is a broader seduction of excellence and ambition. The flow of talented minds from academia to Wall Street is decades-long trend.
This seduction of excellence by power is clearly materialist and even progressive, on my reading. They’re not saying, come to Wall Street to save your soul, or come to Wall Street to immense yourself in the glorious past.
It begins by reducing the world to a narrow band of matter and sensation; next is the denial that there is anything more real than interest and desire. It reaches out to the strong — and strength in our age is largely mental — and offers wealth and influence unfettered by the antiquities of the benighted past. It requires extraordinary proficiency in certain endeavors, but its appeal to society is very broad. We’re not talking about some WASP elite here. It reaches middle class Italian kids from the mail rooms, bridge-playing salesmen, shy math geeks, in addition to the hard-bitten dealmaker and businessman. Plutocracy has a palpable meritocratic aspect.
But more importantly, plutocracy is driven by amoral materialism. It cares as little for spiritual matters as it does for ethical matters or patriotic matters. Nor is it troubled by any abstract notion of free enterprise or size of government; it will as easily avail itself of the instruments of the state, and the emollients of the welfare state, as any public sector union organizer. Philosophy, theology, ethics, justice — all these and more are but the mummery of deluded fools.
This is why I say that for plutocracy what’s real is advantage. Think of it as an aristocracy of sophisters, economists and calculators.
* And here. And also here. It turns out there are ways of collating such assays of the facts about usury, plutocracy, and finance capitalism, as have appeared at What’s Wrong with the World.