Thursday, September 19, 2013

Why Do the Petite Bourgeoisie Like Strongmen?

The small business class is famously the most conservative in society.  They are the backbone of anti-democratic movements, and the supporters of dictators.  Even in very democratic societies, they like leaders who act, and regard political negotiation as weakness.

One of the solid findings of happiness research is that we hate loss more than we like an equivalent gain. We continue to be anxious about possible losses, but quickly get used to sizable gains.

I believe the petite bourgeoisie favors the strongman because their own economic position feels perpetually precarious.  They have a little and hate to lose it.  They fear the poor - whom they tend to regard as lazy, dependent, and undeserving - as coming for their stuff.  Democratic politics, which tends to give something to every group of potential voters, is dangerous because it enables and encourages the poor.  Strongmen are better because they don't have to give any group anything.

Once again, fear appears to be the great solvent of a happy, trusting society.

7 comments:

ceemac said...

Do you remember the "Ross for Boss" bumper stickers back when Ross Perot was running for president?

gruntled said...

Indeed. I think this is also why we have the incongruous spectacle of right-wing pundits praising Vladimir Putin for being strong, and out-flanking Pres. Obama.

Fran Jourganson said...

It's just politics. You haven't forgotten what you liberals said about George Bush? Or have you.

gruntled said...

I don't recall liberals criticizing George W. Bush for not being a strong leader. They criticized him for many things, but that was not usually their gripe.

Fran Jourganson said...

That's because Bush was a strong leader. Obama isn't. There is equal nastiness on both sides. Some people don't see that because of their own prejudices.

Anonymous said...

The petite bourgeoisie favors the non-populist strongman because their own economic position IS perpetually precarious. They have a little and hate to lose it. They fear the unworking poor who are not making any effort to do more than survive off the largesse of the government. A democratic political system, which tends to give the poor a much larger voice because of sheer numbers, is dangerous because it enables and encourages the poor to vote for the politicians who promise them better and better benefits without any requirement that they in turn give benefit back to society in any manner. This has to be supported by someone paying taxes and the small businessman paying more and more of his gross income as taxes becomes more likely to fail thus tending to add to the number of poor and require even more taxes to support ever more poor. Non-populist strongmen are seen as better because they are perceived not to be required to give the poor anything and therefore they increase the small businessman's chances of continuing in his business.

Can you tell me why this is not a rational position? What does a small businessman gain from the rise of a populist democracy with social welfare systems?

gruntled said...

My point is not about 'nastiness.' Rather, the issue is what quality different classes most want in a leader. The educated classes want an intelligent leader; their criticism of Pres. Bush was that he was stupid. The petite bourgeois want a strong leader; their criticism of Pres. Obama is that he is weak.