“Why the middle class is being destroyed”


That’s the title of an article at American Greatness.  I don’t necessarily agree with all the author’s arguments, but he makes an intriguing case that deserves our attention.  Here’s an excerpt.

The emergence of a cognitive elite, and, for the first time in history, the almost total convergence of intellectuals with the financial elite explains the coming extinction of the middle class.

. . .

The elitist argument for destroying the middle class is simple. If everyone on earth used as much energy as Americans use, global energy production would have to more than quadruple. That fact roughly applies to all natural resources. We might argue—and we should argue—that innovation can deliver a middle-class lifestyle to 8 billion people without catastrophically depleting critical natural resources or causing unacceptable harm to the earth’s biosphere, but apparently that’s not a choice the elites want to make. And they don’t have to.

Explaining this refers to another development … which is how artificial intelligence and other technological innovations will make the existence of a middle class unnecessary. 

In their book, Herrnstein and Murray ask, “what is the minimum level of cognitive resources necessary to sustain a community at any given level of social and economic complexity?” By implication, they suggest that if the average IQ of a population is low or in decline, that jeopardizes the potential of the population to advance or even maintain their standard of living. But the consensus among today’s elites is that broadly distributed intelligence in a population is no longer necessary.

The logic for this is sound, even though it dismisses the aspirations of billions of people. People in jobs of moderate responsibility, or less, won’t need to know as much or think as much as they once did. Even doctors and airline pilots will rely increasingly on algorithms to make their diagnoses and fly their planes. If the plane crashes, as we saw a few years ago with two grisly 737 incidents, that is an inevitable byproduct of working out the bugs in the software. If a cyber attack systematically crashes the entire civilization, the elites will be in their bunkers, sandboxed away from the ensuing mayhem.

What is coming is a ruthless meritocracy that will admit only those individuals with the skills to do work that can’t be replaced by algorithms and robots. There won’t be many openings. In most professions and trades, to the extent human involvement is still necessary, competence will be secondary to affirmative action because automated procedures and artificial intelligence prompts will tell workers what to do.

By blending and flattening the population of the world’s cognitively normal, the cognitive elite will be able to pacify and manage them, distance themselves, and have exclusive access to whatever property and privileges they consider not sustainable or desirable for everyone to enjoy. 

. . .

The controversy over one chapter in Herrnstein and Murray’s book should not diminish the fact that, way back in 1994, their work anticipated two of the most decisive trends in the world today: The emergence of a cognitive elite, and, for the first time in history, the almost total convergence of intellectuals with the financial elite. The consequence, an apparent consensus among the two groups to destroy the middle class to protect their own interests while claiming they’re saving the planet and promoting “equity,” should surprise nobody.

There’s more at the link, and it’s well worth reading.

There’s plenty of supporting evidence for the author’s argument.  To take just one example, a few weeks ago we discussed “A deliberate plan to cull the human population?“.  We’ve also mentioned the ideas of Israeli technocrat Yuval Noah Harari, who’s on record as saying:

“… we just don’t need the vast majority of the population, because the future is about developing more and more sophisticated technology, like artificial intelligence [and] bioengineering, Most people don’t contribute anything to that, except perhaps for their data, and whatever people are still doing which is useful, these technologies increasingly will make redundant and will make it possible to replace the people.”

I’m sure that makes you feel just as comfortable as it does me . . .

I daresay I won’t live long enough to see how this works itself out.  However, those of you with children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren have a personal stake in seeing to it that their lives are not circumscribed and neutered by such elitist grandiloquence.  I can only suggest that you read the article above in full, and then conduct wider research . . . and then act on it, in whatever way you can.

Throw some sand and grit in the progressive gearbox.  It’s fun!



  1. Throughout time, there are those who think as if they have a firm grasp on the future.
    If only they knew history as well.

  2. It's not a meritocracy in the usual sense; it's more of a club with tightly restricted membership, and the existing members get to decide who has enough of the right sort of "merit" to join. So, pretty much a new aristocracy. Membership is automatic for children of existing members; new peerages (whether life or hereditary) are created through an process that's thoroughly opaque to outsiders but must surely be virtuous.
    In terms of actual meritocracy, my prediction for some years now has been that (1) current AI work will never get anywhere near producing true artificial intelligence, but (2) development of expert systems and suchlike will soon lead to a situation in which computers can perform the skilled trades (physician, airline pilot, and so on) better than all but the best human, at which point no human will have the ability to practice those trades in order to become the best. Hence, human progress will stagnate, skills will be lost, and the next Carrington Event will return us to the Stone Age minus the aeons of accumulated skills needed by ordinary Stone Age humans.
    (For a fine example of the effect, see AF447. The pilots had lots of seat hours, but hadn't built the skills to be at the top of their trade, and when the computer suddenly gave up in despair they couldn't cope.)

  3. For a cognitive elite, they sure are stupid. Educated, yes, but education does not gift intelligence. I have talked to some of these folks, and found them lacking in all but arrogance. Admittedly I'm well on the right side of the curve, but still… Compared to our Founding Fathers, the current crop of VIPs are dunces.

    As for the average intelligence needed for an advanced civilization no longer being necessary, it looks like the US is already dipping below that level and suffering accordingly. There are too many things that cannot be half-assed and still work. Even if built properly, maintenance has to be performed. How many bridges and dams are in trouble due to neglect? In many cases, the money was 'redirected' by this cognitive elite.

    Expert systems and self-learning systems only are as good as their programming. It's the difference between learning on the job and learning how everything works. OJT teaches you how to handle the normal, day-to-day routine, but when things break, you need to have a comprehensive knowledge in order to handle the problem with minimal issues. These systems only get that when catastrophic failure occurs, and so cannot learn from it.

    1. Exactly; they are expecting to rely on systems that are not as mature and capable as the (the systems) are thought to be.
      The elites are also ignoring lots of second and third order effects that can and will kill them.

  4. The middle-class are typically those who assume more-than-average responsibility for their own lives, welfare and income.
    They know the value of good decisions, without being so insulated by their wealth that personal decisions matter less…. or so “connected” that ditto.

  5. when a twit like harari says 'we don't need', who are the 'we'?
    we do not 'need' them either
    the egotism and psychopathy of that lot, who are certainly not elite, is mind bogglingly vast

  6. Harari is a freak, a severely damaged person who has never been sane. Quintessential kid who gets beaten up daily in school, lunch money stolen, stuffed into lockers. That's why WEF chose him to be a megaphone for their agenda, giving him influence to "get back" at normal people beyond his wildest imagination.

    For contrast, check out this talk with Yoram Hazony (also Israeli), Yaron Brook and Lex Fridman. They don't agree with each other on everything and obviously neither do I. But what a breath of fresh air and sanity.


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