Over at Time Magazine online's Ideas section I've been reading Shamus Khan's Have We Become Too Obsessed with the Rich? and this was my response.
Shamus try this for a thought experiment.
Imagine everyone from the middleclass downwards sets aside provisions for growing their own food and maintaining basic water supplies then simply withdraws from society as it presently stands.
What'll happen if they keep this up for a few months or even a few weeks?
The first thing that'll happen is they won't be paying any taxes so all those state subsidies so much of industry relies on'll stop.
The banks won't be able to turn to government for bailouts so they'll crash.
Quantative Easy ie printing of money'll be pointless because no one'll be using banks or indeed have any use for money to buy what're ultimately unnecessary material goods.
So manufacturers won't be able to manufacture unless they're fully automatic but even if they are and they can somehow provide themselves with a power supply all the retailers will've gone to the wall and there won't be any consumers anyway.
All the burger bars and coffee joints'll close down because no one's buying their products and anyway no one's available to run them.
All the investment banker types'll have nothing to gamble on and anyway manoeuvres like hypothetication dealing in bonds etc'll be impossible because money'll be worthless.
The rich won't be able to act like they own the world anymore because all their theoretical wealth will be revealed to be worthless paper or electronic signals that stop blinking on computers screens the moment the computers running the system run out of juice.
And where before they could spend their day flying round the world buying fleets of solid gold Rolls Royces encrusted with diamonds now they'll be lucky to be able to get hold of puncture repair kits for repairing bicycle tyres or indeed anyone to do that repairing for them.
If they've got gold or silver or gems to bargain with they'll still need to convince people to take them off their hands in exchange for water and food which no one can afford to spare especially for goods no longer viewed as precious.
When they turn to the police for protection of their property there won't be any but even if a dutiful few still remain they'll simply say not only won't we protect you or your property but we're claiming your mansions and estates as bases for us to to attempt to create and maintain law and order.
In other words we've been hypnotized into believing we depend on the rich when in fact it's the rich who not only depend on everyone else but who extract enormously more benefit from society as it presently stands while actually contributing the least.
Nor's Communism the answer because that just creates new elites who live off the hard work and suffering of whoever gets designated as the new lower orders [at the onset of Communism in China for instance it was the former super rich as so vividly depicted in the movie The Last Emperor].
The answer is just as the likes of Global Warming scream at us we're all utterly dependent on and at the mercy of the totality of things including climate we all need to come to an understanding of just how much we depend on the totality of society for who we are and what we've got.
Including if not especially the rich.
Remember social security wasn't invented by some pinko leftwing liberal.
It was invented by Bismarck the Iron Chancellor who foresaw 19th Century Germany would come apart at the seams if some sort of accountability to the poor wasn't forced on the likes of the callously autocratic Junkers.