This Dark Age

A manual for life in the modern world.

By Daniel Schwindt

This Dark Age is now available in paperback on Amazon. The print version is MUCH cleaner than this online version, which is largely unedited and has fallen by the wayside as the project has grown. If you’ve appreciated my writing, please consider leaving a review on the relevant paperback volumes. The print edition also includes new sections (Military History, War Psychology, Dogmatic Theology).

Volume 1 | Volume 2 | Volume 3| Volume 4 | Volume 5 | Volume 6

Technique versus form

Those who refuse to admit that America is a plutocracy are confusing the technique of government with its form. The technique of American government has always been to appeal to the people, and in that sense America is popular and even democratic, but in terms of what actually gets done, what power drives what gets done, who drives it, and who it benefits, the United States government is undeniably plutocratic. It requires almost no effort to illustrate this. We need only point out that every four years, the people are invited to choose their favorite presidential candidate, but the choice is always between one millionaire and another millionaire. Thus, the technique involves ‘the people’ but their involvement does not affect the form, which revolves around the wealthy class.

To clarify, we can ask what defines a plutocracy. Is a plutocracy merely a situation where those who have the most money are the rulers? Of course not, because, as a rule, those who rule always have the most money. The real difference between a plutocracy and any other form of government is that the money makes the ruler. In other words, the rulers always have money, but do they have money because they are the rulers, or do the rule because they have money by virtue of this fact alone? If the former, you may have any number of arrangements from functionalism to aristocracy to monarchy to socialism. If the latter, you have a plutocracy.

The argument that America is ‘popular’ does nothing to change this. Power in society is always popular in the sense that it is legitimized in some way by some generally respected social principle. Sometimes that principle is force itself. Sometimes it is religion. Sometimes it is class and nobility. The point is that this principle, whatever it is, is the real ‘absolute’ behind power, and it is this absolute that justifies the exercise of absolute power, which acts as its executor, and this executive power, insofar as it (supposedly) embodies the absolute, is answerable to nothing but itself.

Only in the case of theocracy is there a power beyond the power, an authority beyond the temporal government, one which even the government must answer to, but with all other power principles, the temporal power is absolute and not responsible to anyone who is not one of its representatives. Thus, a power based on nobility will not be answerable to anyone but the nobility for the exercise of this power. In America, the power principle may have begun in a kind of intellectual elitism, this ‘spiritual aristocracy’ making the rules and holding itself accountable, but these men were mortal and after a generation ‘spiritual aristocracy’ became an aristocracy of financiers, and today money is the sole power principle in America.

Again, it is important to understand that this is qualitatively different than the traditional situation in which the lords held the gold, but the gold did not make the lord. The barbarian warlords of old were sometimes wealthy, but they were wealthy because they were the most powerful warriors, and they were not the most powerful warriors simply because they were wealthy. Money was drawn to those in possession of a skill or virtue: in a plutocracy, power gravitates to money itself.

With American plutocracy money is at the top and those who rule, rule because they have money, and this is why we say that wealth in America is situated in a unique position by being answerable to no other power principle than itself. Wealth answers only to wealth, and wealth is absolute. Remember, however, that for this to happen, this principle—wealth—must be socially respected on a general level as absolute, as a kind of legitimate determinant of who should rule.

Finally, a remark on how America could become so thoroughly plutocratic, and in such a short amount of time. All other power principles except money require some kind of pre-existing tradition, and they justify themselves with reference to this tradition. For example, both aristocracy and monarchy are sustained by tradition, as is any priestly power, and so on. In America there was no tradition. When Americans try to think of tradition they think of the Constitution, which for them is the beginning of all things. Compared to European civilization, the United States was founded in a cultural void. Only in this fertile and unplanted cultural soil could an individualistic, non-historical, and private power principle grow up and thrive, and in this case, the principle was money.

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