Diamond Shaped Society

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The diamond shaped society is a term coined by Charles Wright Mills and revived by David Brin for majority middle-class societies in the first world. Libertarianism, being conservative and aristocratic, is harmful to the diamond shaped society.

The diamond shaped society is a term coined by David Brin for majority middle-class societies in the first world. The diamond represents the distribution of wealth: a few rich at the top point, the abjectly poor at the bottom point, and a large middle class. Brin emphasizes that the diamond shaped society is new and rare: all prior societies and all other present societies are pyramid shaped, with a broad base of abjectly poor.

The diamond shaped society is the most productive form of society ever known because it invests most broadly in the personal capital of the most individuals. The abjectly poor are also poor producers because they suffer from poor health, little education and poor access to productive resources.

The diamond shaped society is not a normal society; pyramid shaped societies are the "natural" norm. It is a product of progressive liberal government responding to progressive social movements. Key factors that created a broad middle class include:

  • widespread or universal education
  • equal rights
  • land redistribution and progressive taxation
  • markets
  • abolition of aristocracy
  • unions
  • abolition of slavery, child labor, and female emancipation from male domination
  • protection from cyclic causes of poverty (depressions, predation, etc.)

The diamond shaped society is fragile: it is the result of a virtuous circle of progressive populist forces. It is under constant attack by aristocratic forces for the simple reason that any concentration of wealth is a target for those who covet it. The broader the distribution of wealth, the easier it is to attack the divided defenses.

Conservatism and libertarianism seek aristocracy and thus oppose most of the government efforts to support the essential factors that create and preserve the diamond shaped society. While individual conservatives and libertarians might legitimately protest that they prize the diamond shaped society, it is undeniable that their movements oppose:

  • the public funding essential to universal education
  • land redistribution and progressive taxation
  • unions
  • abolition of child labor
  • protection from cyclic causes of poverty (depressions, predation, etc.)

Claims that these are not essential to the diamond shaped society are wishful thinking.

Paul Krugman calls the creation of the diamond shaped society the "Great Compression".

Links

Class War and the Lessons of History [More...]
David Brin points out that class war has always been occurring according to Adam Smith, and that the founders of the US were levelers, creating institutions that broke up concentrations of wealth. Progressive leveling can work again.
Rewriting the Rules of the American Economy: An Agenda for Growth and Shared Prosperity (book)
How the current economic system privileges the upper class (which libertarians support, though they claim not to), and how to reform it to foster the middle class with recommendations that libertarians oppose.
The Other Foe of Free Enterprise [More...]
David Brin points out that the true common foe of our diamond shaped society is aristocracy. Part 4/4 of Political Totemism and the Danger of Metaphors.

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