What drives the super-rich?

I’ve been reading Herve Kempf (Le Monde’s environment editor) How the Rich Are Destroying the Planet. His environmental wrap-up isn’t particularly new – in fact it surprises and rather worries me that for the French audience for which this was originally written he felt the need to run through the basics of ecological catastrophe – but I’m finding his political side interesting and different.

This is his take on the super-rich class, what we he calls today’s oligarchy, after he’s run through a detailed account of how it spends its money on who-can-build-the-biggest-yacht competitions and such like (p. 58)…

“It bears no plan, is animated by no ideal, delivers no promise. The aristocracy of the Middle Ages was not an exploitative caste only; it dreamed of building a transcendent order, dreams to which Gothic cathedrals splendidly bear witness. The nineteenth-century bourgeoisie that Karl Marx described as a revolutionary class exploited the proletariat but also felt it was propagating progress and humanist ideals. The ruling classes of the Cold War were borne along by the will to defend democracy and freedoms in the face of a totalitarian counterexample. But today, after triumphing over Sovietism, capitalism doesn’t know how to do anything but celebrate itself.”


  • Nigel in Stretford
    May 14, 2011 - 6:58 pm | Permalink

    can’t argue with that. Although the Cold War was used as a cover for imperialism. They were never bothered about “democracy” – that was a convenient fiction.

  • cynicalHighlander
    May 14, 2011 - 7:29 pm | Permalink

    Power and greed using debt by controlling the money supply.


  • March 7, 2012 - 1:52 am | Permalink

    The rich are as varied as the poor.What drives the rich?Many do because they can,and get rich as a result.For many,it would be a means to a way of life.They work where they get the most satisfaction and a good return.Money is important to them because it allows them to buy privacy,peace and quiet to enjoy when they want to,or at least some of the time.As a common person myself,I know how obnoxious many people can be to their neighbours,which,in many cases,are the 5,7,9 or more people you share a room with.Let’s face it,if you’re cultured,civilized even,and sensitive,intelligent and talented,or at least wanting to get on in life,do you want to put up with the awfulness that most working class and new middle class people are dishing out to each other every day and most of the night as well?I’m 60,if I had my life over again,getting rich,or at least very well off,would be my first objective,along with looking after my health.

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