The Pyramid Power Illusion
It is a well known concept–the architectural analogy for the totalitarian state guiding all of society.
The few at the top guide the rest beneath them.
But the power of the image relies on a hidden reversal. The pyramid is supposed to represent a stable society in which the top directs the rest.
But where does the stability of the pyramid come from? It comes from the distribution of weight on the wider layers of brick.
If the concept of elite management were to be accurately represented by the pyramid, it should picture the structure standing on its point.
The pyramid is wrongly used as a metaphor to promote what is really an upside down pyramid.
The Federal Reserve, for example, is supposed to promote growth and prevent recessions or depressions, or at least mitigate them. So what does it do? We now know it rolls up and suppresses all the possible small disturbances in the country and mashes them together into a massive economic meltdown that occurs at the end of a generation that is entirely unfamiliar with economic hardship.
What if, instead of expecting the Fed to “take care of” the economy and provide high growth (that turns out to be actually undermining the economy), the American population expected “hard times” to be a regular feature in normal life? What would they do?
Wouldn’t they make sure they saved a lot of money during the good times? Wouldn’ millions of families with stores of cash itself help the economy remain stable?
The welfare state is another example. Awhile back on my personal blog I asked what kind of society will be able to help those in need. I answered:
I’m not capable of listing every quality of such a society. But I do know one prerequisite:
Each individual must, all things being equal, believe it is a duty, privilege, and/or virtue to produce more than he/she consumes.
Is there any chance at all that such a society can continue to exist under the rule of a welfare state? When politicians forcefully take from some and give to others (in the hopes of their continued support in voting and propaganda) what kind of society is formed?
Not the kind that will actually support the needy.
Here again, the point is that the pyramid illustration hides what is really going on. A free and un-managed society with an understood code of conduct is more like a pyramid in which every brick is able to bear proper weight and keep the structure balanced.
Of course, sometimes the “bricks” are weak and then some kind of central power might try to fix it. But that will always be second best to a society that functions with free people who cooperate by internalized ethics.
Solomon gives us the two options.
Go to the ant, O sluggard;
consider her ways, and be wise.
Without having any chief,
officer, or ruler,
she prepares her bread in summer
and gathers her food in harvest (Proverbs 6.6-8).
The hand of the diligent will rule,
while the slothful will be put to forced labor (Proverbs 12.24).
So free people work themselves. Otherwise, someone else will work them.