You’re going to have to bear with me on this one, because these are thoughts I’ve had for a while but never tried to organize into any sort of coherence.
So, one of those thoughts: For a society to be healthy and continue to function you need a certain fairly high percentage of the population to live the status quo. You need people who are happy to live in one place and be garbage collectors and fast-food and retail workers or lawyers or doctors or consultants or whatever your society is built upon. And for our society now that also includes people who marry and have kids and raise them to be that next generation to conform.
Another thought: For a society to be healthy it also needs to change and evolve over time. That comes from the fringes. From the minorities and the outcasts and the ones that don’t live by the status quo. The ones who think that “this” is not enough. The ones who can see a different choice. Or who make a different choice for themselves.
A third thought: Often change first appears through creative outlets such as music, art, TV, movies, plays, and writing.
A fourth thought: But there is a hostility from the core of a society who are comfortable with how things are or who even want to go back a bit to those who are pushing the boundaries of society. Hence bans on certain types of expression that threaten the core status quo and a general disdain for many creatives and their choices.
A fifth thought: AI is a way to flood the field with the status quo at the expense of future change. (I saw a tweet yesterday where an AI advocate said that AI doesn’t have to make better content than humans, they just need to make so much content that it drowns out the human-created content.)
A sixth thought: There is an intense motivation by those who benefit the most from the current system to try to keep it from changing. So there is a direct motivation for them to not compensate creatives fairly and make it as hard as they can for creatives to make a living (see the WGA strike right now) so that they can exert those pressures towards the status quo either by only having the privileged create or by being able to exercise control over what is created.
A seventh thought: Everyone talks about how hard it is for disadvantaged communities to participate in our organized creative enterprises, but that’s because those communities are the ones that are most likely to bring change that the money people at the top don’t support. So of course it’s in the money people’s interests to discourage that to the extent they can get away with it.
An eighth thought: Many of our societal problems come from inequalities and insufficient resources in our poorer communities. This could easily be fixed by taxation or other policies that eliminate the billionaire class and redistribute that wealth to create a healthier society.
A subthought: (Too often the changes that are proposed are things like “pay people’s rent” when rents are seen to be too high as opposed to “tax the shit out of excessive rents” or “impose a hefty tax on those who own more than one property in X area”. The changes we often propose actually just feed into that subclass becoming wealthier off of the backs of that community, one they often aren’t even a part of instead of stopping or reversing their actions to acquire more wealth.)
A ninth thought: There is an extremely strong pressure to glorify excessive wealth to help support the status quo especially when most of the communication sources (the news, TV, movies) are controlled by the wealthy.
A tenth thought: Climate change is going to be bad. And there is a subset of wealthy individuals who see the warnings about climate change and have decided it’s time to take the gloves off and suck as many resources as possible up for themselves while they still have time to do so.
An eleventh thought: That strategy will work in the short-term while things are still stumbling along (even though it accelerates things), but not in the long-term because most of what these people are sucking up won’t continue to have value in a failed society (currency, gold, etc.) and what they do have that has value (land, supplies) will be overwhelmed by the sheer number of people desperate to survive. You can’t control eight properties around the world in an unstable society.
(I should note this is one I’m thinking is true, but could be disproven by history.)
A twelfth thought: Religion and societal norms are forms of control over the populace. I think there’s a reason, for example, that suicide is so taboo. Because if you abuse workers to the point they don’t see the point in continuing and they actually remove themselves from the labor force (or from life) you lose the benefit of leveraging their work, so religious and social norms are there to force them to continue despite their instincts that make them want to escape.
A thirteenth thought: No one at the top of the wealth scale is there from their own effort. Yes, they may have had an idea that propelled them to that level and they even may have started the company to implement that idea, but it was usually the work of thousands or hundreds of thousands that was funneled up to them to give them that wealth.
A fourteenth thought: They make attending a top university and qualifying as a lawyer or doctor or consultant or whatever and then working as one hard so that people in those positions believe they are where they are because they earned it. The absolute top of the wealth scale are too few to protect themselves. They depend on the upper middle class and upper class to see themselves as hard workers who deserve their rewards in order to protect them.
A fifteenth thought: Most of that system (top law firms, top consulting firms, medical practice) don’t care if they chew up and spit out a certain percentage of the people who get there because (a) they get the benefit of that labor while they’re doing so for five or ten or fifteen or twenty years and (b) it makes those who survive the gauntlet and achieve that upper class level of wealth support it even more strongly.
A sixteenth thought: And they make those professions put in so much of their time (60-100 hours a week) and isolate them among their peers so that they never stop to question any of it. So they don’t see that others work just as hard at their jobs (teacher, farmworker, etc) but don’t receive those same financial rewards. Animosity to the “uneducated” or poor or “manual workers” is central to the continuation of that system.
A final thought: Knowing this doesn’t change anything or make life better in any way, but it does make it harder to be a part of that system and be rewarded by it. (Assuming you have a conscience, of course, which not all people do. Although I think far more people are simply oblivious because they’re struggling to live in a system that’s deliberately designed to be a struggle at almost all levels.)