Friday 21 September 2012

Milch cow minorities


Perhaps the most vulnerable minorities to exploitation and extermination are 'milch cow minorities', hated groups who exist merely in order to be exploited, but who are themselves relatively economically successful.

This I get from the work of Thomas Sowell, who gives many historical and modern examples - he calls them 'middle men' - and cites the Jews in medieval Europe, Chinese in Malaysia, Indians in Uganda and others.


Such middling minorities benefit the community in economic terms, which is presumably why they are tolerated; yet their success compared to the average makes them the subject of envy and resentment, while their political weakness makes them vulnerable to the ruling class.

Typically, they are subject to arbitrary 'justice' in that for a minority citizen to be accused of a crime by a majority member is to be guilty - so they live at the whim of the majority, and must be submissive as a condition of survival. 


Often, the ruling class can - for some reason or just on whim - stoke-up and direct mass anger at middle minorities; and they are attacked, expelled, exterminated.

On average the community ends up worse-off, because they have killed the milch cow; nonetheless this has often happened in history and is happening now in Africa and the Middle East (for example), because some people can benefit in the short term from the opportunities for looting and the rest of it.


But all modern societies, at this stage of their development, are in economic terms milch cow exploiters: because all modern states are Leftist and depend almost entirely upon a shrinking minority of productive native men.

(The unique factor here is that the modern milch cow minority has been artifically created by the inverse mechanism of privileging all other groups to make a coalition united only by their economic interest in exploiting the milch cow. Such is the long-term logic of democracy.)

What are modern Leftist ideologies (socialism, liberalism, feminism, multiculturalism) but rationalizations for milch cow exploitation?


Any examples of continued economic success among any of the milch cow minority make the whole group subject to envy and resentment - this hatred then justifies further ratcheting of exploitation under guise of egalitarianism.

Such arrangements are brittle, unstable.

To attack (in some fashion) the productive minority upon whom your medium-term standard of living depends would seem to be self-destructive, is indeed destructive in the long term, yet it often has happened, is happening.

(After all, modern-style mass migration from third to first world is very obviously socially destructive, yet it proceeds apace.) 


Because few people are long-termist - fewer than used to be.

The secular Western ruling elites, in particular, have become extremely short-termist, with a time horizon of a couple of years max. They are also personally more selfish, dishonest and exploitative than for many decades.

Destructive things may happen when they benefit key individuals who have the ability to make them happen.

It makes little sense for a family to starve, mutilate, or slaughter and eat their milch cow: but nonetheless this can, does, and quite likely will happen.



stephens said...

"Often, the ruling class can - for some reason or just on whim - stoke-up and direct mass anger at middle minorities; and they are attacked, expelled, exterminated."

When Edward I banished the (mostly wealthy) Jews in 1290 the "whim" may have been that once they were banished their possessions became property of the crown.

Nowadays Politicians seem to be selling (via the Welfare State & Tax Credits) the wealth of a minority to buy the votes of many of the majority and therefore keep their own privileged positions.

The free money is an easy sell. You just have to convince those who benefit that the originators of the money/wealth did not deserve it.

Bruce Charlton said...

@s - indeed. So long as the confiscator does not keep *all* of the loot for his narrow gang, then he can masquerade as a benefactor, and the linking of later damage to the original destruction will always be a matter of inference and conjecture.

The clearest English example is Henry VIII and the looting of the monasteries, abbeys, priories etc. This pretty deeply damaged English schooling, hospitals, architecture, classical music and fine crafts.

This summer I looked at the ruins of a monastery I had previously never even heard of, Wenlock Priory - it was absolutely enormous (the floor area traced by the foundations looked about as big as Durham Cathedral) and would have been extraordinarily beautiful.

Looted, treasures melted, revenues appropriated for bribery and reward, and even its stones pillaged thanks to that 'jolly' monarch, Henry the Lad.

AlexT said...

Excellent post. I have a feeling that, long term, the western productive class will have to adapt in the same way that the chinese in indonesia have. Extended family living, a bloody minded refusal to capitulate, and extreme clanishness. In an evolutionary sense maybe this is how milch cow minorities are formed. A productive class that was so vilified that it had to put up informal barriers to the outside world. If this continues for a long enough time period, they become a distinct group.

Anonymous said...

Dr Charlton,

Are you familiar with Amy Chua's book 'World On Fire: How Exporting Free Market Democracy Breeds Ethnic Hatred and Global Instability'(2003)?

Ms Chua is latterly famous as the 'Tiger Mom' for the strict education she gave her daughters. 

She comes from a milch cow minority of the type you describe, the Chinese in the Philippines.  She opens her book with an account of the murder of her aunt by a Filipino gardner, who got away with the crime because the Manila police did not aggressively investigate it. 

Here in Texas and Latin America generally, but especially in Mexico we have the 'turcos'.  These are Lebanese and Syrian Christians who became successful in business and the professions in the 19th century; they were so called because when they first arrived they were subjects of the Ottoman Empire. Carlos Slim, the richest man in Mexico, is a late-arriving turco. They are a very low profile group and while there has been some prejudice against them, they have escaped serious persecution. I had several friends from this group in high school and here in San Antonio there are prominent politicians and businessmen of Lebanese descent, though many people are unaware of their ancestry and they don't emphasize it. 

The most tragic such minority I know of is the East Indians of Uganda, driven out by Idi Amin.