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Entitlement: the highest stage of Liberalism

Updated: Nov 11, 2022

More than a century ago, VI Lenin published an epochal work called Imperialism: the highest form of Capitalism. He perhaps couldn't have seen that it wasn't, at least not in the sense he wrote about. Imperialism is not the highest form of capitalism; the early 21st century, led by financial behemoths like Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk, have shown us that exoimperialism is the highest, perhaps only the latest, version of capitalism. Like their imperial predecessors, the new breed of private sector space entrepreneurs have profit on their minds, and the grabbing of planets like the Moon and Mars for colonisation, occupation, exploitation and mining adventures.

It's the latest land-grab by those made rich, directly and indirectly, from the last ones. The neoimperialism of the late 20th century has been surpassed by what I shall call exoimperialism. I describe and define it like this:

the staking, claiming, acquiring,ownership, exploitation and, inevitably, destruction of physical land no longer confined to Earth, through technological domination and ideological hegemony, by a staggeringly wealthy White minority.

The phallic-shaped, hypermasculine world of exploration in general and space exploration in particular is now in the hands of the richest men in a world they have already colonized, brutalised and washed their hands of, their eyes turned skywards, away from the world they have boiled and drained and towards new worlds to repeat the process in pursuit of corporate profit, individual rights and ideological hubris. The next corporate Great Leap Forwards will be conducted between planets. This is the big picture for Business, if we accept in any way the proposition that resources are drying up on Earth, that they will dry up on Earth, and that accessing them as the the planet decays becomes less viable. Further, there will likely be far less oversight to hinder resource extraction off-world and fewer environmental and political regulations to accord with.

Jeff Bezos Blue Origin rocket lifting off the launch platform
Jeff Bezos' Blue Origin Rocket, phallic symbol writ large of masculine attitudes to all around itself.

Lenin's titular zenith is mirrored in Liberalism's journey. Liberalism is the overarching ideology behind democracy and capitalism. It consists of larger ideas about individuals and what happens when their rights are unconstrained, protected, advanced, idealized and lionized. This is Liberalism; the self-maximised man. It is gender dominant - the idea that a person should be what they can be extends much less to women, children and anyone else who deviates form the hypermasculine ideal. That pre-eminence has shaped history and shapes the future, but where has Liberalism brought us to-date? There's a clear answer to that, and it's tearing people and planet asunder: Entitlement. Centring the self to the exclusion, denial, rejection, exhaustion and desecration of all others, all beings and all things, prioritising the self, imagining being owed, and arming yourself with rights that enable and sanction this. This is Liberal entitlement, and it is a curse on our lives and times.

Entitlement refers to the belief that a person is inherently deserving of privilege, and to deserve without having earned. It is not a new or recent phenomenon. Elites throughout history have felt they are entitled either by might or divinity. However, that same level of entitlement without reciprocity is a higher level of self-centredness that has been extended to the general population, in a process nurtured by Right wing parties, people and beliefs.

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