What we call democracy is not what the Greek word literally means — ‘power of the people’. It is a system of voting that allows the general public to blow off steam periodically at the ballot box, instead of having to demonstrate in the streets with the possibility of physically ousting the government.
Although big business in advanced countries likes to demarcate the buying public into many different classes for marketing purposes — indeed, these days, even to individuals — as far as essentials go there are only two classes — the leaders and the led. Just as there always have been.
In the years before the industrial revolution, on the one hand we had the land-owning aristocracy who had all the political power as well as most of the wealth of the country and, on the other, most of the rest of the population, whether they were tenant farmers, farm labourers or a variety of small-time skilled business whose prospects of wealth and power were limited.
True, there was an intermediate class of agents and facilitators. A relatively small group of either radical individuals moving out of the old-fashioned ways of the aristocracy and, rising from below, a few exceptionally skilled individuals comprised a flexible marginal group of social mobility between the two that was able to adjust to circumstances.
Both the aristocrats and the rest were swept away by a massive expansion of the marginal class which responded to the commercial opportunities of automated cotton spinning and, two or three decades later, practical applications of various sciences that had previously been quietly developing for a couple of hundred years or more. This new social phenomenon then peeled away into its own two natural parts in the course of the 20th century — the leaders and the led. A brand new middle class and a brand new working class had emerged.
Today, in the 21st century it is already apparent that the most advanced countries –particularly those with sizeable populations — are already dividing into well-educated elites and the mis-educated masses whose jobs are being dumbed down by increasing automation. As for the previous brudge of agents and facilitators between the two there is very little left. In England and America, social mobility is lower now than it has ever been since the state takeover of education. Each of the parts is now largely self breeding..
When advanced governments get over their present fits of encouraging mass immigration to compensate for the ever-declining birth rates of the masses — which they are presently beginning to do in Europe and in America (with the threat of Donald Trump and Marine le Pen as leaders) — then the future decades of advanced countries will depend very much on whether the balance of trade earnings of their elites will pay for the increasing welfare of the masses whose balance of trade earnings with China and Vietnam and others are now increasingly in deficit .
If the elites can continue to afford to pay for the welfare state out of taxation it then the future 200 years — as the masses voluntarily go extinct — may not be so bad. However, changes from one jobs era to another are usually traumatic. Just as advanced countries adjusted only very stressfully from agriculture to factory manufacturing, the further transition of advanced countries to highly sophisticated service cultures is unlikely to be entirely peaceful.