The contention that wealth, “in the form of physical resources,” is losing
its power as an organizing principle of societies, or as a motivator of
individual action, will certainly come as a surprise to most people, both the
wealthy and the poor. Like so much else in this “Magna Carta,” this argument
is not only false, but a smokescreen to conceal the emergent power of
individuals and corporations using new technologies to create new forms of
domination. No one should fall for the idea that wealth and power no longer
matter; no one is pursuing “knowledge” for its own sake, like some character
out of Sartre. What continues to motivate the successful in our society, and
in most others, is wealth, power, and status, typically expressed as power
over others. Bill Gates doesn’t do what he does for the pleasures of
knowledge, but so he can build a fortune and spend tens of millions of
dollars on “things,” like his famously elephantine house or his collection of
Da Vinci artifacts. Even Alvin Toffler and George Gilder, two of the
“authors” of the “Magna Carta,” derive their influence not from the power of
their ideas or from their example of pure and blissful contemplation, but
from the fact that they speak primarily to the members of the ruling class,
such as corporate executives, who are willing to pay them outrageous sums of
money for the privilege of hearing empty nostrums about how they’re building
a “new civilization.” This is prostrate flackery at its worst, but already in
full display in Toffler’s and Gilder’s previous work, in which they’ve
described the creations of high tech executives as something resembling the
divine work of God, an attitude reminiscent of those noxious courtiers of the
absolutist period who constantly came up with new reasons why kings were
kings not because they were egomaniacs but because they were anointed and
chosen by God to lead the civilized world.


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