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The Elite are Not Good at Strategic and Long-Term Thinking: 2

August 18, 2012 11 comments

In the previous part of this series, I wrote about how the so-called intelligent and long-term thinking elite are neither. Their modus operandi and attitudes are far closer to parasites, tumors and cancers than anything that is vaguely beneficial to the society in which they exist. While the previous part highlighted the role of randomness and human gullibility in the rise of “elites”, this post will concentrate on another how their short-term world view guarantees their long-term fall. As I have noted in many previous posts, people who become “elites” through some combination of luck and scam are very status conscious.

They are obsessed with maintaining and increasing their relative status to the point that every action and event in their lives is seen through the lens of status.

This is the reason “elite’ patronize art that they are not enthusiastic about, attend the “right” schools and universities, read books they have no particular liking for or buy yachts and airplanes they seldom enjoy. The same obsession explains why they buy, sell and remodel luxurious houses they seldom live in. It is not about enjoying money, but about showing others you have it- overtly or discreetly.

The need to secure as much status as possible (with the minimum effort) also leads them to devote the majority of their mental energy to making other people poorer and more miserable than themselves. That is why billionaires complain about “high” corporate taxes and regulations while trying to pay their workers as little as they can get away with. The same applies to “millionaires” who abuse their employees and domestic staff even though doing so does not increase their ability to enjoy life. Even relatively average people who make good money such as physicians, professors, middle-level managers, HR shysters etc exhibit the same behavioral patterns.

Such an eternal status-seeking mindset does however have a non-obvious but uniformly fatal flaw. The flaw I am going to talk about is usually ignored because most people, including the “high IQ elite”cannot think beyond a few steps. Furthermore, the “elite” mindset is built around and shaped to ignore such ego-deflating flaws.

The status seeking mindset of “elite” will always amplify the destabilizing effects of external shock to the system.

To understand this problem, let us start with a society in some sort of dynamic equilibrium. Whether they are experiencing growth or simple stagnation, most societies can maintain functional integrity even if they are very unequal and shitty places to live in. Therefore a society will remain reasonably stable and predictable even if most people in it are barely scraping out a mediocre living. The problem I am referring to arises when such a society experiences an external challenge- be it natural events like drought, floods, earthquakes and epidemics to man-made events such as wars, invasions or economic problems caused by external actors. It is important to note that the size of the initial external challenge is not important, as otherwise unremarkable events have a way of magnifying themselves.

Societies usually depend on its “elite” to formulate and coordinate a response to external threat or disruption. They do so because the “elite” portray themselves as especially intelligent and competent. However their hard-wired motivations, mental filters and mindset are geared towards increasing their status- both with respect to the people under them and their peers. Therefore almost all their actions and responses are consciously and unconscionably guided by whether a given path of action, plan or strategy increases their status. This obsession with maintaining and increasing status overrides all other such considerations such as the survival of the society they pretend to lead or their eventual fate.

Therefore almost all of their choices and actions end up making things worse for everybody else in that particular society. Whether this happens on the conscious, or unconscious, level is irrelevant to the effect of such actions which causes a further deterioration in the condition of people in that society. The worsening of conditions for average people in any society damages whatever is left of social cohesion which then feeds back into a further worsening of the overall situation resulting in even more status-driven bad decision by the “elite”. At some stage the forces which hold the stressed society together are overwhelmed by those caused by cascading events caused by the unnecessary suffering of the average people in the system. The people abruptly lose their faith in the “elite” and all institutions associated with them or their apologists, creating a power vacuum that is inevitably filled by some other faction or group.

While those who fill such a power vacuum might not be much better than the old “elite”, they do represent a change from the disastrous policies and institutions which drove that society to implode in the first place. However such large-scale changes cannot occur through democratic elections, as another political party or faction is essentially identical to the one it replaced. It is about the system and institutions, not the party or leaders.

What do you think? Comments?