US becoming like old Europe style class based society?
To quote Time Magazine, long a tribune of America’s establishment media, we now have “government for the few at the expense of the many.”
But let me call another witness from the pro-business and capitalist-friendly press. In the middle of the last decade – four years before the Great Collapse of 2008 – the editors of The Economist warned:
“A growing body of evidence suggests that the meritocratic ideal is in trouble in America. Income inequality is growing to levels not seen since the (first) Gilded Age. ….Everywhere you look in modern America you see elites mastering the art of perpetuating themselves. America is increasingly looking like imperial Britain, with dynastic ties proliferating, social circles interlocking, mechanisms of social exclusion strengthening, and a gap widening between the people who make decisions and shape the culture and the vast majority of working stiffs.”
Hear further the editors of The Economist: “The United States is on its way to becoming a European-style class-based society.”
And that was well before our financiers, drunk with greed and high on the illusions and conceits of laissez faire (“leave us alone”) fundamentalism, and humored by rented politicians who do their bidding, brought America to the edge of the abyss and our middle class to its knees.
And as Nobel Laureate Kenneth Arrow has written, “Vast inequalities of income weakens a society’s sense of mutual concern…The sense that we are all members of the social order is vital to the meaning of civilization.”
The historian Gordon Wood won the Pulitzer Prize for his book on The Radicalism of the American Revolution: Wood says that our nation discovered its greatness “by creating a prosperous free society belonging to obscure people with their workaday concerns and their pecuniary pursuits of happiness.” This democracy, he said, changed the lives “of hitherto neglected and despised masses of common laboring people.”
These days it’s every man for himself; may be the richest and most ruthless predators win!
But if the generations before us had given up, slaves would still be waiting on these tables, on Election Day women would still be turned away from the voting booths, and workers would still be committing a crime if they organized.
So once again: Take heart from the past and don’t ever count the people out.
[Excerpts of a speech by Bill Moyers, PBS]