Posted by: CS | December 27, 2013

Plutonomy: Lexical Camouflage for the Crimes of the Rich

Plutonomy is a neologism coined by a Citigroup global strategy group in 2005 to describe a country characterized by massive income and wealth inequality. According to these people, the U.S. is a plutonomy, along with the U.K., Canada and Australia.

But this is an absurd mis-coinage. Plutonomy has two Greek roots: Plutos, wealth, and nomos, rule, so the only logical meaning of the term plotonomy is rule by the rich, analogous to autonomy, meaning self-rule or independence.

But we already have the word plutocracy to describe rule by the rich. So what are these Citigroup bozos up to? If they’d wanted a word that honestly referred to the increasingly gross income inequality of the Western world they would have come up with a Greekified term describing an industrialized nation on track for economic convergence with the Third-World.

Instead they come up with a bogus word and then define it in terms that makes them look like benevolent improvers of the human condition.

Thus, according to Citigroup’s word-bending geniuses, plutonomy arises through technology-driven productivity gains, creative financial innovation, the rule of law, particularly patent law, globalization and mass immigration.

All good stuff, obviously, with an ever-increasing share of national income justly accumulating in the hands of the virtuous innovators and creators.

But here’s another way of describing what Citigroup’s global strategy group inanely refer to as a plutonomy:

Plutonomy, n.
A bum neologism denoting a plutocracy in which the means by which the plutocrats have enriched themselves at the expense of the vast majority are acknowledged only selectively. Most importantly, reference to plutonomy must exclude mention of global wage arbitrage involving the export of jobs and the import of cheap labor, the saving in wages thus achieved accruing to the owners of capital, i.e., the plutocracy.

Factory collapses are a recurring problem in Bangladesh, the latest claiming 1,127 lives. Image source.

Factory collapses are a recurring problem in Bangladesh, the latest claiming 1,127 lives. Image source.

Today, the plutonomocrats at Citigroup, the WSJ, the boring old Globe and Mail, Rupert the pornographer Murdoch’s, London Timesey, etc. have such sway that the deliberate impoverishment of your own compatriots by exporting their jobs to a collapsible garment factory in Bangladesh or an electronics assembly plant with nets to catch suicidal workers seems a completely natural and inevitable process that only a Luddite or a moron would question.

Yet it was only a generation ago that the states designated by the plutonomocrats as the prototypical plutonomies; namely, the US, Britain, Canada and Australia, were quite self-consciously democratic, and in such democratic states, the fact that something enriches the owners of capital is no justification for trashing the income or welfare of 99.99% of the population.

Foxconn factory with nets to catch suicidal workers. Image source.

Foxconn factory with nets to catch suicidal workers. Image source.

Astonishingly, to anyone with the slightest historical perspective, trashing the nation to enrich the O.01% is seen today not only as entirely natural, but even virtuous. And the proof of its virtue is the fact that it makes the rich richer. Oh, and supposedly it’s brings prosperity to the Third World, as if the people of the US, Britain, Canada and Australia elect governments to serve the interests of (a) the hyper-rich and (b) foreigners. (That is, in fact, what they do, but inadvertently.)

So in the transition to plutonomy, the Western states are experiencing not only a profound shift in the conditions of life of the vast majority of the people, but a shift in morality. Christianity is the work of the Devil. The new code is plutonomianism, the basic tenet of which is that whatever adds to the wealth and power of the already rich and powerful is good, whereas democracy, like Christianity, is the work of the Devil, driven by the greed of working people, their anti-immigrant racism, and their vile religious prejudice manifest by adherence to the faith of their fathers.

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