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Thursday, June 29, 2017

Proximity Is Destiny In America's Pay-To-Play Democracy

Privilege is unearned proximity to power in all its manifestations.

My friend G.F.B. recently coined an insightful maxim: Proximity Is Destiny. The power of this concept lies in its unification of physical proximity and abstract proximity.

We all understand physical proximity can be consequential. As the Titanic settled lower in the ice-cold Atlantic, those close enough to the lifeboats to secure a seat (mostly the first and second class passengers) lived and those who were not died.

College graduates seek internships at the most successful companies because they know the connections they make by working within the headquarters might lead to a job offer: physical proximity to movers and shakers (and those with the power to hire) is destiny.

But proximity to abstract manifestations of power is even more consequential in an economy/society in which wealth and power are predominantly abstract. For example, getting an internship in the Federal Reserve doesn't mean you can obtain proximity to the Fed's money/credit spigot as a result of your physical proximity to the building or staff: the really powerful proximity--being close to the Fed's money/credit spigot--is entirely abstract.

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3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Or the banks deeming areas with minorities in them as "undesirable" back in the day. There's some proximity for you.

Anonymous said...

beautiful example of "gobbledegook".

Anonymous said...

It didn't work out completely as planned for some, as in Hillary, who surrounded herself with movers and shakers, but wasn't actually one herself, although she pretended really hard to be.