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Are we satisfied Pigs or Fools, or dissatisfied Socrates?

What drives you in life? The same as everybody else, most assuredly. Desires and needs are varied across the board, but it can be generalised to a singular metric of happiness. Everyone seeks happiness in their life, in one manner or another. Those with higher faculties seek contentment in more grandiose designs, the less endowed settles for more humble ones. To some, happiness is the power that looks down from the barrel of a gun. To others, the endeavor to build their Babels. To others still, it is in service to fellow humans. There are of course, those who seek happiness in pleasures of the flesh.

This is a utilitarian way of looking at life, measured in happiness and lack of happiness, which is pain. If the spectrum of happiness is an imagined utility ladder, then everybody is constantly moving up the rungs to happiness or down to pain.

The industrial revolution stratified society into four groups of ruling class, elites, middle class and the underprivileged. Modern history has been a continuum of political jostling of these groups, often with disastrous consequences in human sufferings. In peace times, people go about their lives, unwary of insidious power maneuvering and palace intrigues. In war, people march against encroaching enemies, or forced-marched by draft to fight wars engineered by powers for causes eventually proven fraudulent. As Singaporeans, you fall into one of these classes. Are you satisfied, or dissatisfied in utilitarian terms of happiness.

Ruling Class

The ruling class has existed since time immemorable. There are those who inherited power, those elected to power, and those with power thrust upon them. Some govern with benevolence, others malevolence, but most somewhere in between. In every country, there exists a core of families that run the show. In some countries, the core changes as the ruler is replaced. In some, the core are families that earned their positions through centuries of leadership roles they played. This is the landed aristocratic class in Europe, notably in United Kingdom.

British historian Arnold Toynbee, whose book A Study of History influenced the students of the day in English universities. One such notable chap was a brilliant scholar Harry Lee. Toynbee had dealt extensively on the roles of a minority class, the landed English aristocracy, who put their personal interests aside to come together for country and King in times of crisis. This provides the continuity of leadership of their civilisation.

Lee Kuan Yew was concerned about this lack of political leadership for Singapore. In a lecture in 1971 he spoke about ” New countries do not have this continuing hard core of people to provide for continuity in political leadership………  these men have risen to the top by their own merit, hard work and high performance. Together they are a closely-knit and coordinated hard core. If all the 300 were to crash in one jumbo jet, then Singapore will disintegrate. That shows how small the base is for our leadership in politics, economics and security. We have to, and we will, enlarge this base ……”

That speech gave an insight into LKY’s earlier quiet political preoccupation of building the leadership base. The task continues. Unlike Toynbee’s leadership class of people whose families made great sacrifices over the centuries to lead, PAP co-opts from the talent pool of scholars. Today, Singapore’s answer to the English landed aristocratic class, is a networked and well connected group of insiders. Highly paid, access to vast opportunities to public projects, well supported by all sorts of incentive programmes, privy to national master plans, revolving doors to prestige appointments with pristine remuneration, a fall-back circled-wagons support when chips fall, all these and the price for happiness is loyalty to the brand.

The Elites

These are the economically successful citizens, the 10% who owns the 80% of the countries’ wealth. They are better known as the bourgeoisie. This group always goes with the flow, riding on the coattails of the ruling class. Not one to stir trouble nor controversy. Rare do they sacrifice for country and King. Rarer still do they throw up leaders to fight for social causes. Do you see anyone from this group speak up against the horrible CECA foreign labour policy? Or anyone lament on the hardship of an ever growing population of food delivery and grab driving Singaporeans who got displaced by cheaper foreign labour? Or rising healthcare costs? Or timing of the increase in GST? Where is Ong Beng Seng, the Queks, Jumabhoys, Goh Cheng Liang, the Khoos ……..

The relation of this group to the middle class and underprivileged is, in the best of times, mutual welfare, in other times, exploitation. Their relationship to the ruling class is money. In other countries, influence buying is standard fare. In corruption-free Singapore, they say this never happens, although sometimes they give discounts. In some countries, the elites jostle for political power. The billionaire elites in the western world today are all buying into the globalist march to a new world order under their control. This is never the case in Singapore where elites have political apathy, or bo-chup.

Once their wealth is threatened, elites turn on the ruling class. The true perfidious chameleons arise. But these are treacherous people who entertain no thoughts of taking on the King personally, no, not them.  With their wealth, they play both sides, the ruling and middle classes. The Rosenberg, Schwab families for example, aided Hitler when it was in their interest. The French Revolution of 1780s is classic illustration of the devious treachery of the bourgeois. Once Singapore Inc’s Keppel corruption case broke into an international affair, they threw some low level managers under the bus and the problem goes away.

The middle class

Division of tasks made possible by the industrial revolution gave rise to the massive middle class, where there was none before. The middle class form the biggest demographic in all countries. This is the mainstay of stability in any country. Where countries are run well the middle class is generally satisfied with their economic well being and there is political stability. Where social dissatisfaction explodes, this class is the hotbed of revolutions.

The tragedy of the middle class in social revolutions is their lack of leaders and ideologies. Their play gets hijacked by the elites. Sooner or later, the revolution always devours its own children.

On the other hand, any palace conflict for control of a country always turns on the middle class. Destroy the middle class and the economy and social structure collapses. It is a tactic to break the tyranny of the majority. The middle class drops to the poor under-privileged class, totally dependent on government handouts. The new ruler steps in bearing gifts of promises of bread and butter. The poor will own no property and be poor but happy with socialist handouts. Dystopian rulers enter the palace with long knives to chop off the heads of the higher educated and intellectual folks amongst the middle class – the teachers, professionals, etc. Pol Pot chopped off a few million heads. As did Stalin. The Chinese, to their credit, sent folks to re-education camps.

Biden’s policies are working towards the collapse of the US middle class, this being as clear as daylight in the recruitment of 87,000 armed Inland Revenue agents. The subjugation of this class can then be followed by full scale socialism and totalitarian takeover.

Are we in Singapore also witnessing a planned collapse of the middle class? It sure looks like it. The public housing price levels and schematic of CPF paying off mortgage loans has been fine-tuned to the plimsoll line. It knocks off about 30% of median household income, living one with just about survival level, almost going underwater but just. The CECA policy of cheap foreign workforce disadvantaged Singaporean PMETs into the gig economy, forcing a wholesale restructuring of the labour market that is hollowing out the middle class. A swelling number now increasingly dependent on breadcrumbs from the government.

The under-privileged

In every society there exists the economists’ 30th percentile, a huge mass of the poor, under-privileged class. Some of these are physically or mentally impaired, some old and feebled, some retired and living off meagre pensions, some living through a bad patch in life and trying to make the best of it, some uneducated who simply have no chance of holding on to a good job, and some given to a hedonistic life sunk in indulgence of alcohol, gaming, drugs, and sex. Then there are the plain lazy buffs who just want to live off welfare. In India, there is the caste system with the ‘Untouchables’.

This is the class Henry Kissinger referred to as the ‘useless eaters’. Hillary Clinton calls them the ‘deplorables’. LKY preferred to use the Marxian term ‘lumpen mass’. To Hitler, these are the genocidal markers.

This is the class that most supports socialist promises of redistribution and handouts. Unable to help themselves, they are totally dependent on the government. Dystopian regimes love them for they are the easiest to control. It is the reason why western countries are currently pursuing policies that are engineered to collapse their middle class and cause a massive shift to the poorest class..

A Pig, a Fool and Socrates

John Stuart Mill, famous English philosopher, economist, and political thinker, wrote ‘Utilitarianism’ in 1863. The prefaced quote of this blog came from his book where he dispelled what he called the ‘swine doctrine’ against utilitarianism.

In the most basic terms, utilitarianism is a moral theory of looking at any action from the point of view of whether any utility, or gains, is derived. Utility is traditionally taken as pleasure and absence of pain. An action is considered morally right if it generates more pleasure and lesser pain compared to alternatives. Pleasure, or happiness, is taken in it’s most broadest sense. It could be intellectual, spiritual, physical, sensual, social, aesthetic, etc.

One objection to utilitarianism is a theory that recognizes no higher purpose to life than the mere pursuit of pleasure, is unfit for humans. Mill’s called this objection the ‘swine doctrine’. The reference to pigs seek nothing but to chomp all day long.

The reference to Socrates is of course about his quote ‘An unexamined life is not worth living’. One has to question and seek answers about life and the world around us.

The meaning to that quote of Mill is, should humans be like pigs, eternally hungry and simply be happy as long as they have something to eat, anything literally. Or should humans be fools living in ignorant bliss. In Singapore linggo, be KIASSU, KIASSI and BO CHUP (read my previous blog). The swines and fools don’t question nor seek the truth and are satisfied. Or should humans be like Socrates, lead an examined life and seek. Those that seek will be dissatisfied since not all answers in life will be revealed.

Should the ruling class, the PAP parliamentarians, be pigs and fools, questioning nothing and be satisfied?

- Like when Minister Khaw stood in parliament on 15 May 2013 and declared PAP owned the AIM consultancy company. That contravened The Societies Act, punishable with de-registration of a political party.
- Or don’t they ask what did Nancy Pelosi seek in private when she visited Singapore in August on her way to Taiwan. The question has pertinence now that it has come to light South Korea is shipping arms to US for Ukraine, shortly after Pelosi’s stopover in Seoul on her Taiwan trip.

- Or how about Temasek’s huge investment in the crypto exchange FTX, now that stories are breaking that indicate company founder, Samuel Bankman-Fried, funneled cryptos to Ukraine as aid and round-tripped it back as donation to the Democratic Party in US. There is also suspicion US aid money sent by Congress to Ukraine could also have been round-tripped back via FTX to fund Democrat midterms election.
- Or where’s the report on the KKK Hospital’s test on mRNA vaccines for children?
- Or MPs in your meet-the-people sessions. Don’t you see a rise in PMETs coming in for assistance and complaints of jobs lost?
- How about asking why is it HK MRT is able to subsidise fares, but SMRT is unable. Both operators are public listed companies.
- Most importantly, an existential issue. Surely you are well-read and have seen studies from all over the world of the rise in health issues relating to the genetic vaccines, more specifically rise in deaths, cancer, still births, blood clots, etc. What is the status quo for Singapore?

I could go on. Perhaps a million dollar pay cheque keeps one satisfied quite easily.

As for the elites class, you big tycoons, CEOs and chairmen, surely you are smart enough to see a structural change going on in the labour market. Surely you see our local talent pool being hollowed out. Surely you understand the long term implications for the nation. You are the folks with visions and world views and understand a few steps ahead of the ordinary folks. You are no pigs nor fools, but the impossible satisfied Socrates as long as a pool of cheaper labour is made available to you. Your happiness lies in the kachang of your cash registers.

As for the middle class, if kiassu, kiassi and bo-chup are your food of love, enjoy biting into the negativities and be satisfied. The middle class is the most powerful in the land. All rules, policies, and objectives must be for the benefit of the majority, subject to rights of the minorities never be trodden. That is the social contract of a democratic society. I am not preaching any social activism, neither do I see a government in degradation. The Singapore government is primarily doing great, when we see in perspective to what’s going on around the world. But there are certain areas of governance where concern is justified.

To a query by opposition leader Pritam in parliament recently, Minister Indranee retorted “It won’t be helpful or meaningful to” provide the breakdown of the development cost of HDB flats. This is on a level similar to Hillary Clinton’s exclamation “What difference at this point does it make!”in the Congressional hearing on the US embassy in Benghazi incident. Both seem innocuous but they are reflective of the dismissive arrogance of power who has forgotten they are representatives of the people.

Society must remain vigilant to a dystopian creep when truth or quest for truth, is dismissed. There is no one coming to help us and so social participation is an obligation. Ignorant fools live in temporary bliss on borrowed times of their children. Pigs live in ignorant bliss on the swill because beyond gorging, they understand nothing else. Socrates is dissatisfied with not having all his queries answered but he is happy in having stood up and asked.

Cogito, ergo sum, I think, therefore I am.

 

Pat Low

 * The author blogs at Down The Rabbit Hole.

 

 

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READER COMMENTS BELOW

8 Responses to “Are we satisfied Pigs or Fools, or dissatisfied Socrates?”

  • Common prosperity:

    Always good to see that most if not all Citizen has a decent quality of life .
    That is the basic responsibility of any Government.
    There should be common prosperity and not too big gap between the top and bottom of society.
    Also basic freedom for all.
    Anyway will be a tough next year with the world in a mess…

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  • only stupid people vote pap:

    when pap folks say they need to pay each other S$m pa and legislated the ownself pay ownself S$m pa process and yet the country’s median wage is S$3,500pm shows the heart of the matter.

    what is it?

    pap Ljs and pap Cbs are a clan of heartless liars caring only for its clan’s comfort and wealth and nothing else.

    worse, when times are challenging, these pap Ljs and pap Cbs have the heartless heart to say GST needs to increase.

    sinkies who vote pap are truly the stupidestest humans on earth.

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Watch this Tik Tok on Russia bomb direct hitting base of America and British base -”https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSRoUHLgf/”

    Russia is not joking ,so don’t play play with Russia.America soldiers got killed ,don’t know will be striking back at Russia soon or not ?Lee Hsien Loong recent Tik Tok seem to be very worried !

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  • Red●:

    We are just daft.
    We are bochup till our own backsides get whacked.
    But maybe we have turned into sheep.
    We are so bogged down trying to produce cotton?
    How ah?

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  • Soccerbetting2:

    Watch this tik tok on police corruption in Singapore.-”https://vt.tiktok.com/ZSRoWhNKD/”

    Are we stupid pigs not to realize that Singappre Police force is a corruption force .

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  • NoRest:

    We are an outcome or by-product of consumption. Rulers to bottom ranked commoners are consumers of their protracted egos, delusionary importance, beguiling lusts and paralysing insecurities. The intellectual consumers frolic with academics and political,philosophical and spiritual ideology. The vast majority seeks pleasures and happiness through their bellies and many others venture into damning hedonistic extravagance.Collectively they are ppssessed swines heading over the cliff which account for the rise and fall of nations throughout history.

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  • xoxo:

    So,this is why we need forums like TREMERITUS to wake more sgs up.
    Actually,we are a pathetic lot because even the more educated young who lost their PME jobs to FTs unfairly seem happy to chase imaginery rainbows on their bikes.
    The few who ask get POFMA.
    Or,are told their queries are meaningless.
    Guess we can only baa like sheep.
    When told to produce cotton,we keep quiet thinking we are useless since we are not sheep that can produce cotton.
    Maybe our $cholar who are cleverer sheep can show us how to?

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  • Kiasi Kiasu Paokaliaow:

    “The feeling of right or wrong is the beginning of wisdom. A man must not be without shame, for the shamefulness of being without shame is shamelessness indeed… Treat others as you would be treated. Devote yourself to this, for there is no more direct approach to Humanity than that. Sincerity is the Way to Heaven.”

    - Mencius the Sage

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