Bankers are All the Same

No one, to my knowledge, has remarked that the modern rhetoric about "capitalists" and "one-percenters" and "monopolists" and "big money" is remarkably similar to Medieval denunciations of the Jews - and for the same reason: people with the money inspire resentment, justified or unjustified.

Of course, I will not just leave that statement hanging there.  There are qualifications that must be made.  "Capitalists" are not widely regarded as guilty by association in the death of Christ.  (The death of Iraqi civilians, on the other hand...)  "Big money" is not disliked on racial grounds, mainly (though there are the wild ranters out there).

I suppose it is an improvement that we are lining up targets by class rather that race.  No one can change their genes, but class distinctions admit change and improvement with hard work.  On the other hand, many of the tomato-throwers would hastily mutter about "not fair" and "born to wealth", and propound theories about how the wealthy are lucky - so if they are right, there has actual not been any moral improvement in whom we choose to abuse.

It is certainly good that Wall Street bankers are not subject to exile by whim or having their gold teeth pulled, but the tax rates levied for daring to be wealthy are just as high now as then.  (Okay - probably not actually as high (though I do not have the knowledge to confirm this), but proportionally to the rest of the population, I'm sure they are comparable.)

You can draw from this comparison two possible morals.  On the first hand, you can say, "Huh", and possibly feel at least a little sympathy for the Medieval town's crowd of Jew-abusers.  Or if not sympathy, at least understand them better.  On the other hand, you can do your best to make sure the modern debate - and this is the far more important part - stays civil and lawful.  "Occupy Wall Street", however unsuccessful, made about as much sense as "Burn out the infidel bankers!" even if it was after all a bit less destructive (except, you know, in Oakland, where they managed to shut down the port briefly).

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