Submitted by Basil in lobby

they could make enough concessions to the people that there's no real threat of revolution but no instead they choose the option that even gives them the option of being killed in a violent revolt. It just doesn't make sense to me. They could make people happier and improve people's lives but instead they choose to worsen lives while aggravating everyone.



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Ennui wrote

There's probably a good reason for it in economics. Capitalism's driving force is the tendency towards accumulation. The resources stolen in the process are reinvested in the system for future returns, but eventually the reinvestment of capital no longer has returns. The market is flooded with capital, causing mass devaluation and inflation. Marx calls this an over-accumulation crisis. A second characteristically Marxist crisis is the overproduction crisis, in which capitalists accumulate so much that they impoverish the population, producing a vast amount of goods for an increasingly small consumer base.

Reform has historically been used to either alleviate the effects of these crises or prevent one from occurring. One form of reform is just the forcible redistribution of capital from the wealthy to the poor (e.g. welfare), but numerous economists have shown that welfare creates its own crises within capitalism. Firstly, it cannot entirely stop the trend towards over-accumulation since doing so would destroy capitalism. Secondly, it can cause crises of under-accumulation, in which capitalists lack the necessary resources for investment. Thus, the welfare state is contingent upon being able to maintain accumulation in the short-term (e.g. by forcibly opening up new markets abroad, forcibly developing technology for the business sector with public funds, limiting the amount of competition in a given market so that capitalists feel less stress to reinvest, and much more).

There's a lot more to it than that (and many more types of crises), but the threat of widespread lower-class revolution only really comes up once a crisis of some form has occurred, and by that point it's safe to assume that the upper-classes no longer believe in the ability of reform to sedate the masses. In fact, what they often turn towards is an even more centrally managed economy: fascism, and its friend-ideologies.

I also think the mafia-state analogy is a decent explanation for why authoritarians don't back down. If people in power buckled down on making the world a better place, I doubt their subjects would allow them to stop. Likewise, if they weren't overly harsh towards anarchists, then there'd probably be many more of us.