Uncommon Sense

December 21, 2019

Think About It

I used to say that if rich people didn’t exist then we wouldn’t have all of the gorgeous architecture (mansions, castles, cathedrals, etc.) and whatnot to observe while we were on vacation. I don’t say this any more.

Having a small amount of time with nothing to do I watched part of the first episode of “Monty Don’s French Gardens” which bore the subtitle of “Gardens of Power and Passion.”

The first garden the host gushed over was built by a king’s mistress. He waxed poetic over the design of the garden (It was quite lovely.) and mused glowingly on the royal ladies walking the promenade in their gowns under their parasols. He bragged that the garden was so expensive to build that a special tax was imposed to pay to have it built.

This is the point when I turned off the program. This was partly because of the tone of the presenter who gloried in the “accomplishments” of these people. As I said, even I recognized that only rich people built glorious buildings and lush, exotic gardens. (I have toured a great many of these.)

Now, however, I understand all of this differently.

I now understand that “civilization” was built upon coerced labor. When we were hunter-gatherers life was difficult but it was less difficult than the agricultural lifestyles imposed by “civilization.” The argument is simple: in order for there to be elites, there had to be additional labor to make up for the labor the elites were not doing. (They were doing things, just not making shelters and finding and cooking food, etc.) Agriculture of grains was almost required for this as only grains could be dried and stored (and taxed/confiscated). Making labor-heavy grain meant there was little time to forage and gather other items for their diets. A grain heavy diet made people more susceptible to disease and less healthy overall. (The archaeological record shows that successive generations of human beings became smaller under agriculture and more disease ridden, and. . . .)

So, this shift in human culture allowed for the elites to do what they were doing because the “masses” were supporting them by doing extra work. Since a great many “ordinary” citizens did not want to work that hard, they disappeared into the night, so slave raids were employed to replace the lost labor. And so on and so on.

And I had always wondered why we ended up with kings and their ilk and bowed down to them, and held them to be above us. This apparently is just a matter of leverage. A single elite who can coerce the labor of tens of others, can expand his/her “empire” by coercing the labor of those who coerce the labor of the masses. Just like in multi-level marketing schemes, you can’t do it all yourself, so you need underlings, people who will do it for you. Those people couldn’t help but recognize the strategy was a winning one and they created another level of coercers below them and on and on. All of this worked because the ones at the top of the pyramid got a “taste” of everything below, which meant it was in the best interests of the higher ups to support the lower downs. So, they invented “titles” to represent their positions in the pyramid scheme.

So, back to the French Gardens. How is it possible that a monarch can provide the resources and power for a concubine to create a garden that took four years to build? Where did those resources come from? Clearly, the “money” or “goods” in these schemes flows upward. If it stops flowing upward (e.g. because of a peasant revolt) then the troops are sent in to set things back into place. The troops, of course, are paid for out of the coerced labor of the masses. (An estimate I read was that in the year 1800 half of all human beings were in some form of slavery (peasant tied to the land, serf, indentured servant, chattel slaves, etc.).)

Now, in a utopia, I think it might be possible for the elites to see themselves as public servants of the citizens and that much of their work would go to organizing the collective efforts of “the people” to defend themselves from outsiders, feed themselves, provide medicine when needed, etc. Such a state, were there a political will, might build a lavish garden for all to enjoy and that the “masses” might be willing to “pay” for that effort. But this was not the case.

How do I know this was not the case?

How many peasants were allowed to walk in the royal garden described above? (If you come up with a number other than zero, you are deluded.) And, as the rich fail in their ability to hang onto the ownership of their gardens, they become public property, then and only then do the hoi polloi get welcomed to tour the grounds (often for a fee, of course).

At that realization, I lost my curiosity regarding the beautiful gardens of France. They now appear to be, like holocaust museums, an admonition to “never again” do those things.

And, there are modern lessons here. We are allowing very wealthy people to manipulate our politics so they can get even more wealthy, filthy rich even. Many of these “billionaires” create works that they consider part of their legacy, just like the French Gardens. But who makes the decisions over what gets built? It is the filthy rich, the people who acquired way too much wealth than is healthy for a democracy to allow.


  1. I find one is best off if one compartmentalizes. Otherwise even a trip to the supermarket can become a guilt ridden nightmare. Much if not most of the world, including roads and railways, was the result of exploitation and suffering.


    Comment by The Pink Agendist — December 21, 2019 @ 12:22 pm | Reply

    • Yeah, but … of course, you are right. I am not advocating plowing up French gardens because they were built from exploited labor. I guess I am just trying really hard not to forget. It is easy to let the rich bribe us.

      Happy holidays, my friend. I hope a glorious year in France is to be yours! (Including health for both of you and all of your “little ones”).

      On Sat, Dec 21, 2019 at 12:22 PM Class Warfare Blog wrote:


      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — December 21, 2019 @ 12:33 pm | Reply

    • Was just about to send you a message about this.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by john zande — December 22, 2019 @ 9:53 am | Reply

  2. Interesting view! 🤔


    Comment by Human Performance Psychology — December 22, 2019 @ 3:41 am | Reply

  3. That’s why the best vacations are in the woods.


    Comment by silverapplequeen — December 22, 2019 @ 4:24 am | Reply

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