I was thinking about dignity and honor and pride one day and started considering history and the creation of the world we live in today. I was also thinking about aristocrats and how they are considered as having honor and pride. Taking aristocracy to be “rule of the best qualified” and considering best qualified to be people who are the ideal type of Greek virtuous person, or something along those lines, I began to wonder if our current world was not created by merchants who wanted to have more pride in themselves but do not understand what they are actually looking for and thought that honor came from the status, not the person.
Yes, I know not all European aristocrats were particularly good people, I am not disregarding the actual history, it is a general theory, one I think worth considering and at least somewhat interesting. It also provides another critique of materialism and our modern world, which is one of my favorite dead horses to beat.
So, below is the thought process of this theory of history and the economy.
Merchants are considered higher because they bought royal, or aristocratic, status from the aristocracy who found selling and working below their dignity. As such, they did not focus on making money allowing the merchants, who did not mind working, to be able to buy the aristocrats out. The merchants though, bought the aristocratic status for various reasons, one of which was to gain dignity, honor or a different sense of pride.
It is impossible to buy what these merchants were looking for though and some of the true aristocrats understood this while the merchant class did not. So, as the aristocrats faded away or lost their status to money the merchants came to power. These merchants though simply cannot understand how to get the dignity that they want, they do not understand what it means to actually be an aristocrat. They always hope that it is the next paycheck or thing or status symbol that will turn the merchants into a proper aristocrat.
This leads to the development of an economic system that needs constant growth and wealth (how else to buy those status symbols to become an aristocrat?). The constant growth does work for some, insofar as they have more money and can buy more things and raise their status, but money cannot turn an individual into an actual aristocrat.