Concentration of wealth and power leads to the annihilation of everyone else.
The American Dream has withered away from what it once was thought to be in the Golden Age, or the 1950s and 60s. Before you get defensive please continue reading to learn about 10 reasons why it would be beneficial to wake up from this dream like state.
I recently watched Noam Chomsky’s documentary Requiem for the American Dream. I feel that sometimes information is lost to a hoard of our population because the difficulty in understanding politics and the big words associated alongside them. Those difficult to understand words are intentional and you’ll find out why if you continue to read.
- (especially in the Roman Catholic Church) a Mass for the repose of the souls of the dead.
- a musical composition setting parts of a requiem Mass, or of a similar character.
- an act or token of remembrance.
The insights Chomsky displays are certainly not new, not to him and not to activists.
- a person who campaigns to bring about political or social change.
It is hard to deny activism when these 10 things are happening not right under your nose but literally right in front of your eyes, as your ears listen to the words of the intent:
1. Reduce Democracy.
Chomsky finds this was in part by the very “founding fathers” of the United States, in the creation of the U.S. Senate, and in James Madison’s statement during debate over the U.S. Constitution that the new government would need to protect the wealthy from too much democracy. Did you know the senate was originally opted to be chosen by the wealthy, of the wealthy (for the wealthy)?Chomsky finds the same theme in Aristotle but with Aristotle proposing to reduce inequality, while Madison proposed to reduce democracy. The burst of activism and democracy in the United States in the 1960s scared the protectors of wealth and privilege so much that they began to lobby for reduction of regulations. Moreover, they went to business school and learned ways to ‘beat the system’ rather than be a part of the system. Chomsky admits that he did not anticipate the strength of the backlash through which we have been suffering; CEOS of corporations were once the engineers of the entire operation and if you look at the change you’ll find most money-making CEOS were business majors in college
2. Shape ideology
The egalitarian efforts that were in full force in the 1960s lead to a great backlash. There was an enormous coordinated effort to offset this. The Powell Memorandum was sent to the Chamber of Commerce by Supreme Court Justice warning that businesses were gaining control over society. My the right side, it was worded that we have to defend ourselves over outside power, but if you look at it it’s a call for business to control outside resources to beat back the over-democratizing wave. On the liberal side, the Trilateral Commission formulated the Crisis of Democracy; they were the people who staffed the Carter administration and were appalled by the democratizing tendencies of the 60s and thought they had to react to it. They were concerned that there was an ‘excess of democracy’ developing.
Previously passive and obedient parts of the population were sometimes referred to as special interest who were beginning to organize in the political arena. It puts too much pressure on the states and they must return to passivity as stated in the Crisis of Democracy.
They were especially concerned with young people and viewed it as a ‘failure by the institutions indoctrinate of the young.’ They never mentioned private businesses as a threat because they’re the national interest on the spectrum. They can have lobbyists but they thought the general population and special interest must be subdued.
Since the 1970s the shift in economy had two aims: to put the profits into financial institutions such as banks. Prior to this the U.S. was known as the great manufacturing center of the world. Financial institutions used to be a small part of the economy and their task was to hold a safe place for money but now enables loans and credit advances. During the period of regulation there were no financial crashed but by the 1970s this changed. Huge increase in speculative capital lead to Traditional banks changed to risky investments and money manipulations. In the US business isn’t production anymore, it’s business.
For example General Electric could make more money by moving money around in complicated ways rather than production. A phenomenon referred to as financialization of the economy which goes along with production offshoring. The trade system was redesigned to put working people in competition with each other all over the world. Worldwide an American is in competition with a super-exploited person elsewhere. Capitalists are protected from this and are free to watch with their hands folded back, praised. Policies are designed to increase insecurity in the workforce. Greater worker insecurity is the goal and worldwide, keep workers insecure, they’ll be under control. These lead to the concentration of wealth and power.
3. Redesign the Economy
In totalitarian states it’s referred to as Anti-American or Anti-Soviet but in a place like Italy, it would be laughable to refer to anyone as anti-Italian. In the United States, you can be vilified by people in a culture of state-corporate power then you’re viewed as against the people. It’s a sign of elements of the elite culture, which are quite ugly as we’re unable to deny.
4. Shift the Burden
The American Dream was partly symbolic but partly real. In the 1950s and 60s we had the largest growth period in history. The Golden Age was egalitarian and improving for much of the population in the upper and lower range of wealth, with thanks to welfare states and raise in salaries.
Taxes on the wealthy were far much higher at this time, during the Golden Age.
The tax system has been redesigned so that the very wealthy pay less taxes and the rest of the population face higher taxes.
The pretext says this increases investment and jobs but there is no proof in that. Give money to the poor who can use money to keep themselves afloat. These corporations have money flooding out of their pockets and pay no taxes.
The major American Corporations shifted the burden of sustaining the society on the rest of the population.
5. Attack Solidarity
Sympathy is a fundamental human trait but it is intended to be pushed out our heads. This is fine for the rich and wealthy but for poorer who rely on others, this is much harder. For example, the attack on social security. It’s based on a principle of solidarity, caring for others. It means I pay payroll taxes so the widow across town can get something to live on – FOR MUCH OF THE POPULATION THIS IS WHAT THEY SURVIVE ON. For the rich, this is not an issue and they are trying hard to defund it.
The attack on public schools are also based on the principle of solidarity. I happily pay taxes for the children next door to go to school yet we are driving out of the heads that this shouldn’t be my burden. Education is a jewel of American society and is under severe attack.
The great growth period was thanks to free education, for example the GI Bill of Rights after World War II. Mass public education was on the rise during this time on every level.
Now more than half the states, most of funding come from tuition not on the state.This is a terrible burden for students, if they don’t come from wealthy families, they are trapped in debts, and that’s the goal of the corporate America we live in today.
Now an even richer society, claims we don’t have the resources for public schooling; the basis of prosperity and health of this society.
6. Run the Regulators
Regulatory capture, the business being regulated is in fact, running the regulators. Bank lobbyists are writing the laws for financial regulation and all the way to our food system. Richard Nixon was the last new deal president and this was regarded as class treachery. We had safety and health regulations in the workforce, EPA, etc soon followed by a coordinated effort to overcome this.
The New Deal was still enforced but was dismantled under business and political pressure lead to more crashes. Reagan ended his term with one of the biggest bailouts in the world. From commercial banks to investment banks, Carter, Bush and Obama bailed out Chrysler, savings and loan bailout bills, Fannie Mae, etc. We’re now building up for the next one. The people picked to fix the crisis are the people who created it. Many economists do not agree with this but were never asked.
One set of rules for the rich, another set for the poor. If the population allows this to proceed, it will continue to go on. Credit agencies expect another crash and are preparing for this already. This is what happens when you put power into a narrow sector of wealth which are dedicated with putting more power and money into that sector.
7. Engineer Elections
Money now talks in our society. Concentration of wealth yields concentration of political power, especially as prices of elections increase. Citizens United was an important decision in the Supreme Courts decision. The intent in the 14th amendment was to protect slaves rights but corporations gradually became persons under the law and now their rights can’t be infringed upon. Corporations now have the same rights as people. If you take the amendment literally then no undocumented aliens can even have their rights taken away, yet they aren’t persons, but General Electric is an immortal super-human. In 1970s the courts decided money is a form of speech. Citizens United has a right of free speech and can’t be curtailed. They are now free to buy elections without any constraints. This is a tremendous attack on democracy.
The argument in the court decision was that CBS is given freedom of speech but they are providing a public service, so General Electric has those same rights and is helping few people.
8. Keep the rabble in line
The US has a long and very violent labor history. Guns, teargas, clubs, and fists. By the mid 30s it began to reconstruct. FDR was sympathetic to progressive legislation, and said “Force me to do it”, which meant go out, protest and put forth the labor movement. With that pressure, you can’t deny. By the mid 30s their were industrial actions and sit down strikes. Business offensive began in force after WWI. The Taft-Hartley Act and Reagan threatened that the jobs would be terminated. By now less than 7% of sectors have unions. The effect is the usual counter-force, and the highly class conscious business class has dissolved but again is on the rise. Wage labor is very similar to slavery; this was a slogan at that time. In the interest of power and privilege, it’s good to drive these out of peoples’ heads. The notion of class is nuanced.
9. Manufacture Consent
Too much freedom has come about so other means of controlling came into play. My beliefs and attitudes; the best way to do this is by fabricating consumers. Obsessive consumers are not born, they’re molded by advertising. The goal of directing people to superficial consumption as a means of keeping people in their place was explicit and has been reached. In a market economy, Chomsky says, informative advertisements would result in rational decisions. But actual advertisements provide no information and promote irrational choices. Here Chomsky is talking about, not just ads for automobiles and soap, but also election campaigns for candidates.
10. Marginalize the Population
The relation between public attitude and public policy and what he found out 70% of the population have no way of influencing policies. This has lead to people who are angry and hate institutions and lack of constructive activism. Unfocused anger has lead to wanting to tax one another. The point is to make people hate each other and not want them to help one another. April 15 is a measure of how democratic a society is. If a society were democratic it would be a day of celebration, when policies are agreed upon and money goes into what we support yet it’s a day of mourning and some alien power comes down to steal your hard earned money. This is the extent in popular consciousness of how the society is functioning. Not a very attractive picture.
All for myself, nothing for anyone else will be the society that we are permanently in if change doesn’t happen on a large scale. Solidarity and mutual support will be driven out. That’s a society so ugly I don’t even know who would want to live in, let alone have children in. A global society based on that is headed for massive destruction.
John Dewey, the leading social philosopher of the late 20th century argued that until all institutions, commerce, institutions, production media are under participatory democratic control we will not have a functioning democratic society.
Activists are the people who have created the rights we enjoy. You try to do things, you learn. We have huge opportunities, this is the freest society in the world still. There is no mechanism to coerce us if we continue to struggle for our rights as we have done in the past. There can be many victories.
What matters are the countless small deeds by unknown people who lay the basis for significant events in history. They’re the ones who have done it in the past; they are the ones who will have to do it in the future.