The Fall of the Croesus Club (Sherlock Holmes in Silicon Valley)


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It is in this context that I have written this book. Roger Ekirch , clean water , double entry bookkeeping , joint-stock company , New Urbanism , Plutocrats , plutocrats , South Sea Bubble.


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We ignore the boatmen who are shouting for our custom and walk up the muddy steps onto London Bridge. With luck you may hear the lions roaring in the Tower of London. Looking through a gap in the houses on the bridge, you can see the merchant ships and lighters packed together waiting to unload at the Custom House [still there, on the north bank of the river].

Upstream of the bridge the river is covered by small passenger craft, with the occasional royal or plutocratic private barge, like a Rolls-Royce among minis.

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Despite the burgeoning prosperity of the west end, it was the City that still represented power. The poor are given only a walk-on part, if that, in descriptions of eighteenth-century London. I shall start with the poor, who left no diaries and wrote no letters and are rarely seen in pictures. Then the focus moves to the middling sort, from small tradesmen to prosperous merchants, including the professions. That leaves the gilded plutocrats and royalty for last. There was a system of welfare, administered by parishes. People were not left to starve in the streets, at least not often.

Two had already starved to death, the other three were only just alive. One of them had applied for parish relief, but had been turned away.

Tastes have certainly changed since his day, but to my eye his drawing room,6 which was a riot of gilt curlicues, looked as if a troupe of monkeys — French ones, of course, Lord Chesterfield being francophile — had run riot with pots of gold paint. I concede that the gilding was real gold leaf, and as elegant as it could be, but unlike Spencer House it looks overwhelming and — dare one say it?

His library was comfortably panelled and had direct access to that rarity, a water closet, which inevitably calls to mind his advice to his son: I knew a gentleman [himself?

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The Race to the Bottom Trump has made trade deals a signature issue for two reasons. Meanwhile, in North America and Europe, white workers grew progressively more pissed off at having their voices ignored. And that the economic precariousness that the union representative was speaking about, and the attacks on Indigenous land rights and on the earth itself that were referenced by Arthur Manuel who died suddenly at the start of , also flow from the same place: a corrosive values system that places profit above the well-being of people and the planet.

The same system has allowed the pursuit of money to so corrode the political process in the United States that a gang of scandal-plagued plutocrats could seize control of the White House. The connections between so many of the emergencies that compete for our time and care are clear.

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Glaring, even. The plutocratic McDuck had a large money bin full of gold coins, in which he and his three adopted nephews splashed around as if in a swimming pool. Money, for Uncle Scrooge and the young duck triplets, was not the root of all evil but a pleasurable plaything. Which of these views was correct? The Protestants continued to gain ground over the next two centuries, and by the nineteenth century, although the landbased English aristocracy still had much power, the merchants and industrialists were replacing them as the biggest plutocrats. How was wealth to be viewed?


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This was a debate that had been going on within and among various branches of the Christian faith for a long time. Populists also favored the expulsion of Chinese immigrants, whom businesses had imported to provide cheap labor on western farms and railroads. That was understandable, but their support for exclusion was often colored by racist rhetoric. Kansas populist leader Mary E. Their woefully underfunded presidential candidate received 8 percent of the vote and carried five states.

Then in , as Cleveland was taking office, an economic depression took hold, leaving a quarter of Americans unemployed and thousands of farmers bankrupt. Fuel hoses were attached to its wings and the tanks replenished with Jet A-1 that would steadily be burned over the African savannah. Passengers disembarked for whom this ordinary English morning would have a supernatural tinge.

Indeed, author and filmmaker Michael Moore has become a wealthy man by making outrageous and unsupportable claims about supposedly evil capitalists and by promoting socialism, and he is just one of many people spreading myths about capitalism. These myths are inflicting great costs on the American economy and society.

Congressman Ron Paul, Republican of Texas, is exactly right: Because of a widespread misunderstanding of what capitalism is, our leaders—and also much of the general public—incorrectly blame capitalism for any economic problems we face. The capitalist achievement does not typically consist in providing more silk stockings for queens but in bringing them within reach of factory girls. The consumers do that. If a businessman does not strictly obey the orders of the public as they are conveyed to him by the structure of market prices, he suffers losses, he goes bankrupt.

Other men who did better in satisfying the demand of the consumers replace him. Jim Taylor. Yes, America wanted change, particularly in the primary election. During the industrial era, words such as plutomania an obsessive lust for wealth , plutolatry the worship of wealth , and plutocrat someone who exercises power by virtue of wealth were commonly and angrily used.

By then, their families were assured of perpetual power and praiseworthy endowments to charitable foundations. Viewed in this light — and that of the more recent cycle of Wall Street profiteering and subsequent chaos — the grand corruption of Abacha and his venal predecessors is not so far removed from the Western capitalist tradition as it might appear. Home-grown plutocrats like the billionaire Aliko Dangote flourished, along with other merely well-off members of the sizeable business class, but there were scant signs of relief for the masses.

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But how long would it take to become a billionaire? Well, at that rate, it would take almost thirty-two years. It also highlights how odd it is for society to regard the accumulation and retention of such vast material wealth by one individual as an appropriate aspiration. It seems utterly appropriate, then, to use another man-made system of laws — the tax system — to ensure that the benefits are distributed much more widely, so that this vast inheritance ends up, not in the hands of a privileged few, but in the hands of many.

Equality of opportunity — a concept that is almost universally admired and celebrated — has sadly become more myth than reality in recent years. As it risks fading further into mythology, educational trust funds could put real heft behind the notion that society is a community and that all in the community should have a chance to live their dreams. But it could be China by When tech plutocrats invoke the concept of freedom, what do they mean? Martin Luther King Jr. I have no illusion that the existing business structures of cultural marketing will go away, but my hope is that we can build a parallel structure that will benefit all creators.

Google, Amazon, and Facebook may seem like benevolent plutocrats , but the time for plutocracy is over. Acknowledgments This book grew out of a speech I gave at the Aspen Ideas Festival in the summer of My agent, Simon Lipskar, encouraged me to make it into a book and introduced me to my editor, Vanessa Mobley at Little, Brown and Company. It is Vanessa who truly helped me realize the vision of the book, and for that I am ever grateful. Ottoman statesmen were unsettled and there would be a violent Muslim backlash but, after the Crimean War, the West had invested too much to leave Jerusalem alone.

In the last months of the Crimean War, Sir Moses Montefiore had bought the trains and rails of the Balaclava Railway, built specially for British troops in the Crimea, to create a line between Jaffa and Jerusalem. Now, endowed with all the prestige and power of a British plutocrat after the Crimean victory, he returned to the city, the harbinger of her future. James Finn, whose schemes to convert Jews he had repeatedly foiled, tried to undermine his reception but the liberal-minded governor, Kiamil Pasha, sent an honour guard to present arms.

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In Hebrew they were called Mishkenot Shaanim - the Dwellings of Delight - but initially they were preyed on by bandits and their inhabitants were so undelighted they used to creepback into the city to sleep. The windmill did at first produce cheap bread but it soon broke down due to the lack of Judaean wind and Kentish maintenance. Christian evangelists and Jewish rabbis alike dreamed of the Jewish return - and this was Montefiore's contribution.

The colossal wealth of the new Jewish plutocrats , especially the Rothschilds, encouraged the idea that, as Disraeli put it at just this time, the 'Hebrew capitalists' would buy Palestine. The Rothschilds, arbiters of international politics and finance at the height of their power, as influential in Paris and Vienna as they were in London, were unconvinced but they were happy to contribute money and helpto Montefiore whose 'constant dream' was that 'Jerusalem is destined to become the seat of a Jewish empire.

Perhaps in five years and certainly in fifty, everyone will know it. Herzl became a new species of politician and publicist, riding the new railways of Europe to canvass kings, ministers and press barons. His relentless energy aggravated, and defied, a weak heart, liable to kill him at any moment. Herzl believed in a Zionism, not built from the bottom by settlers, but granted by emperors and financed by plutocrats. The Rothschilds and Montefiores initially disdained Zionism but the earliest Zionist Congresses were ornamented by Sir Francis Montefiore, Moses' nephew, 'a rather footling English gentleman' who 'wore white gloves in the heat of the Swiss summer because he had to shake so many hands'.

However, Herzl needed a potentate to intervene with the sultan. He decided that his Jewish state should be German-speaking - and so he turned to the very model of a modern monarch, the German Kaiser. The Chinese people no longer want for food—the average citizen eats six times as much meat as in —but this is a ravenous era of a different kind, a period when people have awoken with a hunger for new sensations, ideas, and respect.

Some have been both. For most of the Chinese people, however, the boom has not produced vast wealth; it has permitted the first halting steps out of poverty. Now that the state was struggling to prevent people from speaking out, it would try to prevent them from repeating what they heard. In the short term, the Party could succeed at silencing its critics, but in the long term, that was less clear, especially if segments within the Party recalculated their own risks and rewards for loyalty and decided that they had more to gain by siding with the people.

China, once known for its conformity, was home to fiercely opposing forces: Western-style liberals against nationalist conservatives; incumbent apparatchiks against restless plutocrats ; Ant Tribes against Bobos; propagandists against cyber-utopians. The question was whether the tensions would be channeled outward, at the West, or inward, at the state. For the moment, it was difficult to envision a coherent challenge to the Party: though the Chinese middle class was galvanized by many of the issues that had animated its peers at the advent of democracy in Taiwan, the Philippines, and South Korea consumer rights, the environment, labor rights, housing prices, free speech , in China there were very few formal organizations in which people could assemble and produce a coordinated alternative to Party rule.

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The Fall of the Croesus Club (Sherlock Holmes in Silicon Valley) The Fall of the Croesus Club (Sherlock Holmes in Silicon Valley)
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The Fall of the Croesus Club (Sherlock Holmes in Silicon Valley) The Fall of the Croesus Club (Sherlock Holmes in Silicon Valley)
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The Fall of the Croesus Club (Sherlock Holmes in Silicon Valley)

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