Imagine that you go to play roulette in a casino, and the house wins unusually frequently. For example, every time. So you go the the caisse and say, “have you noticed that…?”
You go back over to watch a few more rounds and the house loses the next three rolls. The pit boss is watching you closely. After a while, he shrugs and the house goes back to winning every time, again. As you walk toward the pit boss, he raises a finger and 4 large men grab you, drag you out into an alley, and expertly kidney-punch you for a while. During that process, you realize that there’s a meta-level: not only does the house win an unusual number of throws, but the entire regulatory structure is rigged so the house wins. When you regain consciousness in the hospital, you call the gaming commission and tell them what happened and a voice says “stay on the line, please” and a sleepy-eyed guy wearing a raincoat lets himself apologetically into the room and shows you the Stryker saw he has in his briefcase. That’s when you realize that the house has been ahead of everyone, for a very long time, and the entire system is nothing but “the house wins.” It’s rigged at every level.
Here is an idea to remember: we would expect the system to be constructed in such a way that it cannot be reformed without destroying it; that’s another aspect of how it’s rigged – that’s the “too big to fail” gambit. And here’s how you can prove it to yourself:
- In capitalist societies, the wealthy will always be a minority of the population. (in the US, 1% hold 38% of the wealth)
- In a democracy, 1% cannot legitimately control the political process – the other 99% would just vote over them.
- Capitalism is anti-democratic.
- If it’s a capitalist society, the democratic process (such as there is) will be rigged at every level.
Please convince me I’m wrong.
Obviously, the whole balance of disempowerment is going to be more complicated than I made it out to be. There’s the problem of money influence in politics; perhaps the democracy isn’t entirely fake, it’s just corrupted by money to the point where it makes no difference. But in that situation I would expect the system to be rigged at every level – just in case the people rise up and unify, it’s good to have a hedge in place to make sure that doesn’t happen. Besides, there’s always a military coup as an option waiting in the wings.
This is one of those things like debating global warming: you’re not arguing that global warming is real because you want it to be real. In fact, you’d be thrilled if someone pulled out a destroying argument that convinces you that the situation is not what you think it is.
The first version of my meme was “What if I told you that you’re going to get ‘wealth redistribution’ no matter which pill you take?”