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The Parasite Class
I am such a bloody hypocrite.
I go on about the “othering” of people, decrying the accusatory “objectivisation” of social groups; I deplore the fascistic blame game, so often used to divert attention from the real issue or problem; I rail against the divisions, deliberately created to divide and rule us and then I go and call the billionaire oligarchs and their political, academic and scientific establishment “the parasite class.”
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What a numpty!
As pointed out by one of my funniest and most constructive critics, it looks like I’m projecting. I am guilty of “othering.” I blame and objectify a social group for the ills of the world. I have perched myself arrogantly on my own ridiculous, moral podium, he warns.
I fear he may be right.
So, being an arrogant, moralising hypocrite, I have explored my logic and have concluded that I was right after all. Although I would, wouldn’t I?
Nonetheless, oligarchs are the “parasite class.”
Let me explain.
Introducing Elite Theory
The common term we are given to refer to these bastards---I use the term both inaccurately and advisedly---is “the elite.” If that isn’t social engineering, I don’t know what is.
This all stems from “elite theory”: a branch of political science that sprang up in the late 19th and early 20th century. Elite theory tries to explain why society is divided between the broad mass of the people and a ruling minority who always hold power.
Elite theory supposedly provides a scientific rationale to explain why, no matter where or when we look, a tiny clique controls nearly all the resources and possesses overwhelming financial, economic and political authority, which they then use to rule. Sometimes acknowledged and understood by the public and sometimes not.
Broadly speaking, elite theory has rehashed ideas that are thousands of years old, without discovering anything new at all. Although it often reinforces many of the canards we are expected to swallow.
It reveals that all the forms of government are essentially oligarchies. A current internet search on the term “oligarchy” will repeatedly try to convince you that oligarchy relates specifically to Russia. This is complete rubbish.
An oligarch is someone who has amassed immense wealth and converted it into political authority. That is what an oligarch has always been, ever since humanity started calling them “oligarchs.” Russia is an oligarchy but, as revealed by almost all elite theory, and the thousands of years of political philosophy, science and history it reiterates, so is every other nation-state.
In elite theory the the word “elite” is a polysemic term that can mean “aristocracy,” in the classical sense. It comes from the French “aristocracie,” meaning "government by those who are the best citizens.” This is derived from the Greek ”aristokratia,” meaning “government or rule of [by] the best.”
In order to avoid eulogising oligarchs too much, “elite” is used by others to denote a “ruling class,” absent the “aristokratia” inference. The etymology of the word “elite” is formed from the French “élite” meaning "pick out, choose," derived from the Latin eligere, meaning “choose."
Elite theory alternately perceives “the elite” as the best among us who lead by merit or as the ruling or “political class” we sometimes choose. The political class interpretation stems from the work of Gaetano Mosca (1858 – 1941) who noted that oligarchs often gained power using coercion and violence but were particularly well organised and thus, with control of nearly all resources, ruled.
Either way, there is a suggestion that oligarchs benefit from some kind of meritocracy. Use of “meritocracy” can be traced back to Plato (c. 424/423 – 348/347 BCE)—more on him shortly—and is now used to denote, according the OED, “a ruling or influential class of educated or able people” or “government or the holding of power by people selected according to merit.” The oligarch is either the best among us or powerful and part of a well organised clique. According to elite theorists.
In modern use, the word “meritocracy” was popularised by the sociologist Michael Dunlop Young (1915-2002). He used it as a ironic spoof, warning people that selecting “leaders,” based upon their social status and formal educational qualifications, was a sure-fire way of ending up with completely crap government. That “meritocracy” has come to mean something “good” disappointed him until his dying day.
The problem with the conman acceptance of the word “elite,” based upon “elite theory,” is that it suggests an inevitability. As if being ordered around by a gaggle of black nobs, oiligarchs, stakeholder capitalist and banksters is just the way it is. It is as it always has been, so get used to it. Resistance is futile!
Vilfredo Pareto (1848 – 1923) has been credited with coining the term “the elite.” He offered his “circulation of the elite” theory which posited that conflict between “elites” often sees one group supplant another at the top of the hierarchical social structure. The other aspect of “circulation” was that individuals move in and out of elite circles.
Pareto noted that the elite were human beings capable of doing good but also of committing great evil. Although he maintained that they ruled as a result of their distinguished abilities and exceptional virtues.
Wikipedia, which is useful for names, dates and official histories but little else, the effective Goebles’ compendium for any self respecting researcher, claims that the American philosopher C. Wright Mills (1916 – 1962), who spoke about the “power elite,” is the right guy to go to if you want to understand all there is to know about the elite. Being Wikipedia, that opinion, offered as some sort of fact, is wrong.
Mills argued that the “power elite” just happen. They are an inevitable consequence of modern bureaucratic and technological society. This necessarily places authority in the hands of those who lead its institutions. If the elite, with their control of resources, didn’t lead these institutions, he claimed that they wouldn’t function.
Mills rejected Mosca’s concept of the “politicqal class.” Instead “the elite” ciculated, as Valfredo suggested, and rose out of the corporate organisations that dominated the US economy to become the “corporate rich.”
Mills suggested a “tripartate” model of US society, broadly split into the “power elite,” the “opinion leaders” and the public. This came as a bit of a shock to 1950’s Americans who viewed the US as an “egalitarian meritocracy.”.
He said that government, local leaders and interest groups formed the “opinion leaders” and the public were powerless, clueless proles who, unwittingly, were completely reliant upon the power elite for their economic survival. The public wrongly imagined that the opinion leaders made the decisions. Whereas, as Mills demonstrated, the “power elite” pervaded the institutions of the economy (corporations), the military and the government. They shared a common perspective and were actually the decision makers.
But to Mills’ mind there was no “conspiracy” to see. The power elite controlled the resources, the economy and the lives of the little people. He acknowledged that they could make both beneficial and disastrous decisions, but this was just a necessary and unavoidable function of a hierarchical society he said.
In short, Mills’ take on “elite theory” was in keeping with its general trajectory. It is consistently favourable to those who like to be thought of as “the elite,” even when it criticises them. Someone’s got to be in charge and, according nearly all elite theorists, it’s “the elite.”
The Iron Law of Oligarchy
Roberto Michels’ (1876 - 1936) “Iron law of oligarchy” appeared to demonstrate that modern society, replete with it bureaucratic institutions, division of labour and hierarchical control of resources, inevitably (again) leads to an oligarch caste.
Michels said that the technical demands of society made oligarch leadership indefensible to the survival of an organisation. Like Mills, Mosca and Pareto, etc. Michels believed that oligarchs achieved their status because they possessed superior knowledge, skills, and wealth. Michels added that this enabled them, not only to control their own compliant networks but also dissenting groups.
While Mosca viewed the elite’s organisational skills as a tool that enabled them to form the “political class,” Michels identified the same abilities as key to transforming the political structure into an oligarchy. Essentially, political parties were ruled by oligarchs who held all the power and shaped all the policies. This left the membership and the “grass roots” party activists flounder around imagining they had some sort of say over the direction of the party.
The “elite theory,” that a society is best managed by a small subset of its constituent members and that somehow this alleged inevitability is evidence of meritocracy, can all be traced back to the “Guardians” of Plato‘s “Republic.”
Plato believed there were three aspects to the nature of man: appetite, spirit and reason.
These elements of the “soul” or “psyche” are in constant flux within us all and are either dominant of subservient. Therefore, Plato thought, human society was split into a “tripartate” structure: the Artisans (producers), the Auxiliaries (military) and the Guardians (rulers).
Thus ordered, we can all shut up, work until we drop, die in wars or, in the case of the rulers, tell people to work until they drop and die in wars.
Plato, who was an aristocrat from an extremely wealthy and powerful family of rulers (Guardians), thought that the Guardians (rulers) were so special---gifted in wisdom, intellect and moral virtue---that they needed to receive the best education, immense advantage and plenty of time to become the philosopher rulers. Just like Plato and his mates.
While 19th and early 20th century elite theorists considered ruling oligarchies in nation-states, we now live in a globalised world (apparently) and global governance is very much on the cards. The oligarch has gone international. They always were, but that’s a topic for another time.
David Rothkopf, a member of the Council on Foreign Relations, so no conflict of interest there, wrote a whole book about the global parasite class (oligarchs) but called them, unsurprisingly, the Superclass. His opinion was very much in keeping with “elite theory.”
The "Superclass" can move billions and shape global markets, they own the lobby industry and are the patrons of political careers the world over, easily able to "influence" and control government and intergovernmental policy. But, once again, the so-called Superclass are the inescapable product of meritocracy.
These extremely motivated and knowledgeable people---according to Rothkopf---perhaps numbering no more than 6,000 - 7,000, possess real global power. Although they often act in concert, they are “global leaders” because they just happen to be the global leaders. There’s no need for conspiratorial thinking he said. It seems there never is.
If Plato’s theory had any merit, you might expect roughly a third of the population to be rulers. Yet, despite the fact that elite theory essentially added nothing to Plato’s ideas, according to David Rothkopf, only about 0.000000875% of us end up being philosopher “Guardian” kings.
This, we are told, is just the inevitable consequence of meritocracy.
Understanding The Parasite Class
If we really want to understand the parasite class then we can start by going back more than two and a half thousand years to the Greek philosopher and polymath, Aristotle (c. 384–322 BCE).
Aristotle, Plato’s pupil, described the “true” forms of government as “monarchy” (the rule of one), “aristocracy” (the rule of the few) and “polity” (the rule of the many). Each could govern effectively in the “common interest” he said. He also stated that each could be “perverted” by “private interest.”
A monarchy could be perverted into a “tyranny,” which Aristotle considered the worst possible form of government, an aristocracy could degenerate into an “oligarchy” (oligarchia) and the polity could be sufficiently corrupted to devolve into a “democracy.”
Aristotle suggested that government was commonly perverted by “private interest.” As such, it was likely to be either an oligarchy or a democracy.
The distribution of wealth, and more importantly the political power it could buy, was key to Aristotle’s concept on oligarchies and democracies:
The real difference between democracy and oligarchy is poverty and wealth. Wherever men rule by reason of their wealth, whether they be few or many, that is an oligarchy, and where the poor rule, that is a democracy.
Oligarchy is when men of property have government in their hands; democracy is the opposite, when the indigent, and not the men of property, are the rulers
Aristotle’s apparent notion of “democracy,” admittedly cobbled together from the remnants of his work on the Athenian Constitution, wasn’t democracy at all. It was something closer to “representative democracy,” which is more like mob rule.
Even without the influence of “oligarchs,” mob rule is precisely what we get from our modern delusions about “democracy.” When a big enough bunch of us “elect” our favourite gang they make the law. Allegedly they do so on behalf of the ruling throng. They then enforce “the will of the people” with threats of violence levelled against anyone who doesn’t comply.
To grasp what real “democracy” is, as averse to the Aristotelian misinterpretation we imagine it to be, we need to go back more than 150 years prior to Aristotle to the Greek political reformist Cleisthenes (c. 570 – 508 BCE), who established genuine “demokratia.”
Democracy (demokratia), unlike “representative democracy,” means government by trial by jury, where randomly selected juries of the people are both the supreme legislature and the final arbiter of justice (Natural law). Not politician’s, judges or “oligarchs,” but genuinely “the people.”
I digress, but the point is, while Aristotle made many telling observations about political systems, he was critiquing a similar kind of “democracy” to the one that we have to endure today. Not “true” demokratia.
Winding forward a century or so from Aristotle to the Greek historian Polybius (c. 200 – 118 BCE), who wrestled with the contradictions in Aristotle’s “Politics,” we get a very dim view of the exercise of power. Polybius stated that the power afforded by wealth corrupts all political systems. Rather like Valfredo’s circulation theory, this leads to the revolution of political structures.
Monarchies become tyrannies that rule by force and not reason. This leads aristocracies to seize power which are then corrupted and become unjust. Thus democracies rise, but they too are perverted by wealth and become “extreme democracies” led by demagogues. Ultimately creating a new kind of monarchy. The Third Reich, for example.
Political history, elite theory and political science revelas that oligarchs rule us. We don’t “elect” any of them, we never have and the idea that any of us have ever lived in a real democracy is a fiction.
More than 2,500 years ago the question was asked: should the power of a privileged group of people far exceed their size as a percentage of the population? The more or less immediate answer, from Plato et al., was a definitive “yes.” Since then, according to “mainstream” academia and a brew of specially selected commentators, with the exception of the Marxists and the anarchists, the question has never really been asked again.
Marxism and particularly anarchism are taboo (there’s a reason for that), so what we are left with has moved beyond normative assertions to empirical arguments. All based on the fundamental presumption that hierarchical structures are an unavoidable necessity of human society and that these must “inevitably” lead to oligarchies.
None of this is unassailable fact. It is all just opinion which, coincidentally, serves the interests of the oligarchs who have been bankrolling academia for millennia.
Etienne de La Boétie (1530 – 1563) pointed out that political power is not the product of meritocracy but usually the result of a conquest of some kind. Either at the hands of a foreign power, an internal coup, or through the use of political “emergency measures,” in response to some perceived crisis. Force is consistently used and it invariably results in the centralisation of power in a select group or “leader.”
We accept this despotism, not because we don’t like the idea of liberty, but because we have become accustomed to being ruled and expect it. There are only two certainties in life, right?
Death an taxes.
Except one of them isn’t a certainty at all. We just believe that it is because the people who have always taxed us have taught us to believe it. La Boétie pointed out that they have engineered our consent.
This obedience enables our rulers to more easily deploy rhetoric to convince us to accept all manner of travesties. Etienne de La Boétie observed:
Rulers [. . .] never undertake an unjust policy, even one of some importance, without prefacing it with some pretty speech concerning public welfare and common good.
The French economist Claude-Frédéric Bastiat (1801 - 1850) wondered if the suggested social order was any kind of order at all, asking “is it not true that what is most notable in society is the absence of all order?”
Currently the oligarchs’ pharmaceutical corporations, promoted by government to allegedly “fix” the crisis that the oligarchs’ academic institutions declared, have all been found guilty of medical, scientific and financial fraud. Rulings that had no impact upon them whatsoever.
The international monetary and financial system is overseen by a bank that is acknowledged to have laundered Nazi gold stolen from the Jews during the Holocaust. War criminals, who lied to deceive both the public and legislatures to support illegal wars that killed millions, are delivering well received speeches at gala events and are frequently feted by the mainstream media as they continue to give us their “advice.”
The oligarchs, who lead this global system, start wars, loan the money they conjured up from nowhere to the combatant nations, then swoop upon the aftermath, with their banking corporations and their “debt restructuring plans,” to hoover up all the remaining assets for pennies. They then force the same countries to spend the money they lent them on ludicrously expensive reconstruction contracts, thus enabling their engineering corporations to profit from rebuilding the nation that they destroyed with their armaments corporations.
What sort of order is that? Where is the rule of law?
Aristotle considered a rule of law to be a “virtue.” For it to have value he thought that it must be moral, capable of administering fair justice to all. It should also be flexible and able to adapt to changing circumstances:
There are two parts of good government; one is the actual obedience of citizens to the laws, the other part is the goodness of the laws which they obey.
Like Aristotle, Bastiat recognised that the law means more than just words written on bits of paper. He questioned the assumption that, without the law of government, humanity would start raping, pillaging and killing each other with abandon:
Resistance to such acts would manifest itself in fact even if specific laws against them were lacking, [. . .] this resistance is a general law of humanity. [. . .] It is a far cry from a social order founded on the general laws of humanity to an artificial, contrived, and invented order that does not take these laws into account or denies them or scorns them—an order, in a word, such as some of our modern schools of thought would, it seems, impose upon us.
These “general laws of humanity” form the basis for our social interactions. This is the Natural Law that we all innately obey regardless of the additional laws written by governments on behalf of oligarchs.
Lysander Spooner (1808 – 1887) explained why Natural Law is all we need to live in peace:
Through all time, so far as history informs us, wherever mankind have attempted to live in peace with each other, both the natural instincts, and the collective wisdom of the human race, have acknowledged and prescribed, as an indispensable condition, obedience to this one only universal obligation: viz., that each should live honestly towards every other. The ancient maxim makes the sum of a man’s legal duty to his fellow men to be simply this: “To live honestly, to hurt no one, to give to every one his due.” This entire maxim is really expressed in the single words, to live honestly; since to live honestly is to hurt no one, and give to every one his due.
We only need look at world events to appreciate that the rule of oligarchs doesn’t deliver either peace or justice. It is a worthless “social order” that, if it exists at all, no one needs.
We can also study the principles of Natural Law to realise that the written laws of government, that form the so-called “legal system,” do not concern themselves with moral justice. They merely protect the interests of the oligarchs and are used to subjugate us. But we have Natural Law and no need of these “rules.”
We also know that the thing we call “democracy” is not demokratia. It is perfectly possible for us to create a “social order” which has a real rule of Natural Law, administered by us, using trial by jury as required.
So where is the claimed necessity for the rule of oligarchs? The elite theorists allege that large scale organisations won’t function unless the resources they need aren’t meted out by the oligarchs. This is complete nonsense.
The Scottish Natural Law philosopher Adam Smith (1723 – 1790), in “The Wealth of Nations,” explained how the human desire to serve their own self-interest, in the face of competition from others, led to an economic structure that didn’t need any order imposed upon it. Human nature was the “invisible hand” that created spontaneous order in free markets.
Smith’s fellow philosopher of the Scottish Enlightenment, Adam Ferguson (1723 – 1816), noted that spontaneous order was “the result of human action but not of human design.” Later the economist Friedrich Hayek (F. A Hayak 1899 - 1992), building on the idea of spontaneous order, explored pricing in a competitive free market is a means of communication.
Price “signalled,” to both the producer and the consumer, the shifting underlying costs of materials and production. Left unfettered by interfering oligarchs, this enabled human beings to cooperate, producing the highly complex systems we are familiar with today, without any control from a superfluous oligarchy.
Spontaneous order is a reality, as exemplified in the wonderful 1958 essay “I Pencil” by Leonard E. Read (1898 – 1983). Later extoled by the economist Milton Friedman (1912 – 2006).
In “I Pencil,” Read examined how the humble pencil is made. The manufacturing process requires a vast global network. Yet nowhere, in this sprawling international supply chain, is anyone compelled to do anything.
From the first person perspective of the pencil, Read wrote:
Neither the worker in the oil field nor the chemist nor the digger of graphite or clay nor any who mans or makes the ships or trains or trucks nor the one who runs the machine that does the knurling on my bit of metal nor the president of the company performs his singular task because he wants me. [. . .] Their motivation is other than me. Perhaps it is something like this: Each of these millions sees that he can thus exchange his tiny know-how for the goods and services he needs or wants. [. . .] There is a fact still more astounding: The absence of a master mind, of anyone dictating or forcibly directing these countless actions which bring me into being. No trace of such a person can be found. Instead, we find the Invisible Hand at work.
This is how most of our “global economy” functions. To those, like the elite theorists and the oligarchs, who say that spontaneous order is impossible, we can safely say: we know it work because we use it every day. It is how most human interactions already operate.
So what is this ridiculous idea that we need a bunch of violent robber barons to horde all the resources so that they can control when and where we are allowed to use them? On what planet is it “inevitable” that a tiny clique of entirely self-appointed rulers simply has to command, not only the planet’s economy and its monetary system, but its distribution networks and political processes too?
Imagine the explosion in technological innovation if research and development wasn’t controlled by oligarchs. Think about the genuine advances in medicine and healthcare if they didn’t own the whole sector and weren’t running it for their own profit. Consider the solutions we would find to the many problems we face if academics, scientists, engineers, philosophers, builders, teachers, journalists and everyone else in society was free to explore their interests, their passions and talents without having to work towards an artificial agenda created to serve the ambitions of eugenicists.
Despite everything they have done to us, and continue to do, we have no right to harm the oligarchs. Where crimes have been committed they should face justice, just like the rest of us. But that justice needs to be better than any justice we could every expect from them. Otherwise what have we achieved?
The biggest lie we have swallowed is that the oligarch is “special.” They are not, they are just human beings exactly the same as the rest of us, with all the same qualities and failings.
While they cooperate and steer agendas to suit their overarching objectives, oligarchs are not all of one mind and don’t always agree. History, especially political history, is largely a record of the conflicts between them as much as it is a chronicle of our struggle.
Oligarchs aren’t uniquely evil, or virtuous. They don’t possess extraordinary ability, but aren’t unusually inept either. They are the same as the rest of us. As the philosophers of the Scottish Enlightenment and many others have observed, we are all just acting in our own self-interest.
Aristotle and Polybius understood that the problem is, and has always been, that great wealth empowers people politically. When immeasurably wealthy people act in their own self interests what is their purpose? It cannot be simply to accrue more wealth. Why do you want more of something you already have in excessive abundance.
The oligarchs self-interest is served by extending their power. This isn’t an argument against wealth, it is an argument against a political system led by those whose primary goal is more power.
Collectively, we are equally responsible for our oppression at the hands of oligarchs. We have passively allowed them to rule from behind the curtain while knowing they were there.
We cannot absolve ourselves of our responsibility for what they have done. Nor can we avoid the responsibility to end this pernicious system, any more than we can exonerate ourselves from our responsibility to construct a better one.
The rule of oligarchs contributes absolutely nothing to society. They simply exploit us for their own ends and restrict human social, economic and political development. The parts of elite theory that claims to “scientifically” explain the inevitability of oligarchs is pap.
The definition of a parasite is:
An organism that lives on or in another and derives its nourishment therefrom
The definition of social class is:
A group of people within a society who possess the same socioeconomic status.
An oligarch’s only socioeconomic peer is another oligarch. Their collective effect upon global society is parasitic.
All the institutions of state are aligned to encourage us to call oligarchs “the elite.” We are now told that to speak of them in disparaging terms constitutes a “hate crime.” Yet to speak of them with unbridled reverence is perfectly acceptable.
The whole point of the censorship and the threats is to socially engineer and control us. We are told to respect oligarchs and if we don’t we can expect to be punished. Unless we break free from the linguistic chains that bind our thoughts and control how we discuss our social problems, which oligarch rule most certainly is, we’re screwed.
I oppose, on moral grounds, causing anyone harm. I want to see justice prevail. But I will not be forced by anyone to refer to people who pose a threat to me and my loved ones with unreserved respect.
Oligarchs are the “parasite class.”
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