Reconciling Arguments re: Inherited Wealth and Power as a Sign of Divine Favor v. Potential Tyranny - Politics | PoFo

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In traditional cultures, the possession of wealth or power (usually inherited) was viewed as a sign of divine favor, such as the favor of God in the west or as a symptom of good karma in the eastern Dharmic religions. This idea gave way over time to the philosophy of the "work ethic" which I believe is demonstrated not solely in communism but also in other more recent religions and philosophies, such as western Protestantism, the Samurai ethic in Japan etc. For background purposes regarding the argument I'm going to make here, I once wrote a post where I noticed how regions characterized by more "work ethic"-friendly philosophies generally have had fewer troubles with communism (comparing Protestant countries to Catholic and Orthodox Christian countries, or China to Japan) which I think validates that observation.

Let's clearly define the ideas to be discussed and notice how they progress:
(1) The idea that inheriting wealth or power is a sign of divine favor.
(2) Wealth or power can be acquired through force or effort; this is also a sign of divine favor.
(3) Salvation (or whichever term we might use here for the acquisition of a divine state) can only be obtained through "works" and not through "grace".

Now let's rephrase that in a somewhat different way: the spectrum is actually (1) destiny as sublime, then (2) the idea of destiny as active, then by the end with have (3) the rejection of destiny as a concept entirely; there is no destiny, only free will, power, animals getting lucky, whatever. Even though the progression is easily stated, these ideas are notoriously difficult to reconcile. In the Christian bible for example, at least two passages seem to recognize this debate by giving two versions of the same story. In one story Jesus is open to both "works" and "grace" as a path to salvation, in another version he seems to come down in favor of "works", yet these are two tellings of the same event so it obviously can't be both. I see some similarity there regarding what radical traditionalists call the "path of action" and the "path of contemplation", wherein the traditional world generally recognized two paths towards transcendence, often holding the presumption that those who possess grace by nature have gone extinct.

So, getting to how we might reconcile this idea of inherited wealth as a sign of divine favor vs. the issue of tyranny and "unfairness", those issues being what I believe the work ethic was meant to address. Although Calvanism may have reconciled these questions earlier with its concept of the "elect", which I interpreted as a convergence of the concepts of destiny and free will, that kind of philosophical solution does not seem to be interesting to people who are increasingly materialistic, so I might propose another argument for reconciliation.

The method I would propose is that, although a person might inherit wealth and power, their misuse of that wealth and power can ultimately bring bad times upon other people if not always themselves. One only has to take a communal view instead of an individualistic view to see how this could cause a "leveling" effect. Although the possession of wealth and power might indeed be viewed as a manifestation of divine favor, the bad times that follow are a sign of divine disfavor; this levels the scales. In this sense then, material boons are still considered to be relevant manifestations of a working cosmology but the need for things such as having a work ethic, or more generally, living up to one's responsibilities are not discarded, that potential abdication being an accusation that often gets made.

Although I've taken some heat for this in the past, I think that comic book writer Stan Lee of all people may have expressed this well: "with great power comes great responsibility." I think that power without responsibility is tyranny, responsibility without power is a form of torture. The argument of equality as a panacea for jealousy is really a surrender to jealousy, even so, no one likes someone else's tyranny by definition and the goal of equality is commonly accepted as the best solution. Yet having equality as a goal also opens the door to rampant jealousy, so that equality ultimately cannot resolve itself, not merely in a material sense but also in a philosophical or logical sense when one presumes that satisfying a desire is not a defeat of that desire.

Instead of seeking equality, I think seeking a balance between the responsibility and power that people have is a better ethical goal because it isn't as susceptible to jealousy; any time someone is granted a form of responsibility they would also need to be granted relevant power. I also believe that these ideas can reconcile the difficulty in understanding how a just and kind God could sometimes grant bad people wealth or power and so-on; the scales do get balanced, just not immediately. Of course, this argument would only work when there is a presumption of shared community which by now many people in the west have come to lack. In some ways this all might seem obvious but I somehow haven't seen it stated this way in western traditional thought; it's similar to the code or covenants in the bible but the previous covenants are no longer taken seriously by most people. Something more general may be needed and the closest thing I can recall might be the Chinese idea of the "mandate of heaven", so I thought I would write this up and throw some Stan Lee in there. Thanks for reading.
Suntzu wrote:Inherited wealth is evil.

It should be eliminated by 100% death tax.

In theory, wealth can only be inherited when traits that should be encouraged in a population are present. A suppression of inheritance could result in a suppression of said traits, ultimately undoing the civilization because no one is motivated to invest in the next generation.
The irony of civilisation is that in order to progress one must first conserve; conservatives are not just the true progressives but the only ones who can progress. Inheritance is part of that because it is the conservation of gains across generations which allows creating more and better gains on top of it over huge spans of time.

One can not build a civilisation by constantly tearing up the foundations.

Those that want to strip people of their gains at every opportunity are pursuing an unmistakably anti-human and anti-civilised agenda.
Last edited by SolarCross on 02 Jul 2018 19:10, edited 1 time in total.
SolarCross wrote:Those that want strip people of their gains at every opportunity are pursuing an unmistakable anti-human and anti-civilised agenda.

In a word:
SolarCross wrote:Ordinary human malevolence and spite is insufficient

Why do you think so? Just curious......(I am not discounting the Satanic influence BTW).
Victoribus Spolia wrote:Why do you think so? Just curious......(I am not discounting the Satanic influence BTW).

I am not sure I can articulate it right now and my suspicions about this will probably become an excessively long tangent for this thread to put them here; they'll want a thread of their own. Sorry if that seems evasive.
SolarCross wrote:I am not sure I can articulate it right now and my suspicions about this will probably become an excessively long tangent for this thread to put them here; they'll want a thread of their own. Sorry if that seems evasive.

Totally understandable.

I was just curious anyway, nothing to evade really. ;)
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