America is moving toward an oligarchical socialism, by Joel Kotkin.
Before they can seize power from the president and his now subservient party, the Democrats need to agree on what will replace Trumpism.
Conventional wisdom implies an endless battle between pragmatic, corporate Clintonites on one side, and Democratic socialists of the Bernie brand. Yet this conflict could resolve itself in a new, innovative approach that could be best described as oligarchal socialism.
Big government and big tech in partnership, elite feudal lords over a tribal landscape of identity groups. Can’t wait.
Oligarchal socialism allows for the current, ever-growing concentration of wealth and power in a few hands — notably tech and financial moguls — while seeking ways to ameliorate the reality of growing poverty, slowing social mobility and indebtedness. This will be achieved not by breaking up or targeting the oligarchs, which they would fight to the bitter end, but through the massive increase in state taxpayer support. …
Greg Fehrenstein, who interviewed 147 digital company founders, says most believe that “an increasingly greater share of economic wealth will be generated by a smaller slice of very talented or original people. Everyone else will increasingly subsist on some combination of part-time entrepreneurial ’gig work‘ and government aid.”
Numerous oligarchs — Mark Zuckerberg, Pierre Omidyar, founder of eBay, Elon Musk and Sam Altman, founder of the Y Combinator — have embraced this vision including a “guaranteed wage,” usually $500 or a $1,000 monthly. Our new economic overlords are not typical anti-tax billionaires in the traditional mode; they see government spending as a means of keeping the populist pitchforks away. This may be the only politically sustainable way to expand “the gig economy,” which grew to 7 million workers this year, 26 percent above the year before.
Handouts, including housing subsidies, could guarantee for the next generation a future not of owned houses, but rented small, modest apartments. Unable to grow into property-owning adults, they will subsist while playing with their phones, video games and virtual reality in what Google calls “immersive computing.”
Particularly since Donald Trump’s election, the leaders of corporate America — especially in tech and finance — have merged with the Democrats. They appeal to progressives by advocating politically correct views on immigration, gender rights and climate change, while muzzling conservatives both inside and outside their companies. …
There’s surely a compelling logic for oligarchic socialism. The tech moguls get to remain wealthy beyond the most extreme dreams of avarice, while their allies in progressive circles and the media, which they increasingly own, continue to hector everyone else about giving up their own aspirations. All the middle and upwardly mobile working class gets is the right to pay ever more taxes, while they watch many of their children devolve into serfs, dependent on alms and subsidies for their survival.
Scary stuff, but it is the direction we are currently heading in.
hat-tip Scott of the Pacific