Friday, February 19, 2016

Plutonomy: Lexical Camouflage for the Crimes of the Rich

Plutonomy is a neologism coined by a Citigroup global strategy group in 2005 to describe a country characterized by massive income and wealth inequality. According to these people, the U.S. is a plutonomy, along with the U.K., Canada and Australia.

But this is an absurd mis-coinage. Plutonomy has two Greek roots: Plutos, wealth, and nomos, rule, so the only logical meaning of the term plotonomy is rule by the rich, analogous to autonomy, meaning self-rule or independence.

But we already have the word plutocracy to describe rule by the rich. So what are these Citigroup bozos up to? If they’d wanted a word that honestly referred to the increasingly gross income inequality of the Western world they would have come up with a Greekified term describing an industrialized nation on track for economic convergence with the Third-World.

Instead they come up with a bogus word and then define it in terms that makes them look like benevolent improvers of the human condition.

Thus, according to Citigroup’s word-bending geniuses, plutonomy arises through technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, the rule of law, particularly patent law, globalization and mass immigration.

All good stuff, obviously, with an ever-increasing share of national income justly accumulating in the hands of the virtuous innovators and creators.

But here’s another way of describing what Citigroup’s global strategy group inanely refer to as a plutonomy:

Plutonomy, n.

A bum neologism denoting a plutocracy in which the means by which the plutocrats have enriched themselves at the expense of the vast majority are acknowledged only selectively. Most importantly, reference to plutonomy must exclude mention of global wage arbitrage involving the export of jobs and the import of cheap labor, the saving in wages thus achieved accruing to the owners of capital, i.e., the plutocracy.

Factory collapses are a recurring problem in
Bangladesh, the latest claiming 1,127 lives. 
Image source
Today, the plutonomocrats at Citigroup, the WSJ, the boring old Globe and Mail, Rupert the pornographerMurdoch’s, London Timesey, etc. have such sway that the deliberate impoverishment of your own compatriots by exporting their jobs to a collapsible garment factory in Bangladesh or an electronics assembly plant with nets to catch suicidal workers seems a completely natural and inevitable process that only a Luddite or a moron would question.

Yet it was only a generation ago that the states designated by the plutonomocrats as the prototypical plutonomies; namely, the US, Britain, Canada and Australia, were quite self-consciously democratic, and in such democratic states, the fact that something enriches the owners of capital is no justification for trashing the income or welfare of 99.99% of the population.
Foxconn factory with nets to catch suicidal workers.Image source.

Astonishingly, to anyone with the slightest historical perspective, trashing the nation to enrich the O.01% is seen today not only as entirely natural, but even virtuous. And the proof of its virtue is the fact that it makes the rich richer. Oh, and supposedly it’s brings prosperity to the Third World, as if the people of the US, Britain, Canada and Australia elect governments to serve the interests of (a) the hyper-rich and (b) foreigners. (That is, in fact, what they do, but inadvertently.)

So in the transition to plutonomy, the Western states are experiencing not only a profound shift in the conditions of life of the vast majority of the people, but a shift in morality. Christianity is the work of the Devil. The new code is plutonomianism, the basic tenet of which is that whatever adds to the wealth and power of the already rich and powerful is good, whereas democracy, like Christianity, is the work of the Devil, driven by the greed of working people, their anti-immigrant racism, and their vile religious prejudice manifest by adherence to the faith of their fathers

First posted on December 27, 2013. 


  1. What would be interesting is some sort of historical analysis that compares the current situation with historical regimes that also conned their populaces into thinking democracy exists. Many people keep asking me what I'm planning on doing for 2016-- and I don't really know how to answer that question. The rich win no matter what.

    Maybe I'll do it one of these days. I'm thinking of the transition from Roman Republic to Roman Empire.

    1. In which connection, beside Niccolo Machiavelli's Discourses on the First Ten Books of Titus Livius, and Gibbons Decline and Fall, you might find Carroll Quigley's Evolution of Civilizations worth trying. It's rather challenging in part, but there are some nice ideas there about the emergence of useful institutions and what happens when social institutions become corrupt. And if you've not done so already, you have to read Francis Fukuyama, the Origin of Political Order, which is excellent.

  2. I'm 26 years old, and I'm at the point where I'm starting to invest my time in activities that develop skills or traditions that I can pass onto the next generation.

    Christianity is one such activity. I wasn't born Christian, and haven't been baptized, but I've found that at least some churches remain effective and organized vessels for transmitting traditional gender roles, morality, and overall compassion within a communal setting.

    The reality is that people reading this blog may not live to see the end of this madness. But perhaps our kids will.

    1. Good luck: which I say sincerely, not ironically.

      It is a huge challenge to make Christianity relevant in a secular age, where science is the authority on almost everything. Yet the ethics that derive from Christianity have shaped Western civilization, the greatest civilization the World has known, so in the story about Jesus, there is surely something vital that can be salvaged and made relevant to people of the Third Millenium.

    2. Thanks. I think I'll just start with creating a Christian household and social circle. What the rest of society does is not something I'm going to spend time on just yet. Anyways, I've met the kind of guys that grew up in these households and I was actually a bit envious of them when I was younger. So much time not wasted.

      I definitely do not intend on replacing science-- and by "science" I mean empirical analysis" with Christianity. That would be impossible and it overlooks all of the other benefits of belonging to a church anyways. Things like community, ethnic identity, public service, sacrifice, and the mental benefits of prayer are things that are universally needed across all cultures. Have you read Happiness Hypothesis by Jonathan Haidt? The key is to have one singular place that will check all of the boxes.

  3. Potential Research Topic: Why does the mainstream media get away with calling American christians stupid? Are they actually stupid? Is their IQ lower? Why are "smarter" and more 'analytical" high-IQ types more susceptible to multiculturalism and mainstream social mores? To be continued...

  4. The objectives of the MSM are threefold. First, to get eyeballs, which is why the most popular news and entertainment media verge on soft-core porn. The first objective enables the second, which is to get advertising revenue. The third objective is to sway public opinion in whatever way suits the owners of the media.

    In the US, the media are largely owned by just six giant corporations, all of which profit from globalization, the advancement of which necessitates the destruction of the democratic, sovereign, nation state. Religion is one of the underpinnings of the nation state. Naturally, therefore, the media seek to undermine religious faith and, as I've discussed elsewhere, replace it with political correctness, which demonizes loyalty to the nation as a racial community and a cultural tradition. So the media calling Christians dummies, is about what you'd expect.

    In fact, at least some Christian groups seem to be quite a bit smarter than average, which is not really surprising.

  5. Not to be too nit-picky, but I think what you're referring to is "globalism" rather than "globalization". See more here:

    Now that I think about it, I really hate globalism. I hate what it represents, the people that benefit from it are complete scumbags, and it requires you to sell your soul to make any money. I first encountered it in college-- there were many ethnicities and nations represented, but they all had the same stench of soulless globalism. They had nothing to do with the citizens of their own countries.

    Also, globalism should not be confused with true cosmopolitanism, which I view as a virtue. These days, a truly cosmopolitan person can have a truly refined conversation and also communicate with the proletariat. I've only met 2-3 people in my entire life that fit this mold (not including myself.)

  6. Re: "globalism" rather than "globalization."

    I think I meant "globalization." The money power gathers windfall profits as a result of the process of globalization, i.e., an increase in globalism.

    The late David Lasch's 1995 collection of essays The Revolt of the Elites pithily exposes the moral rot at the heart of Western civilization.