In the aftermath of the Second World War, America experienced an economic boom that created the largest middle class on Earth. The problem, of course, was this prosperity did not extend to everyone. An immense underclass existed, especially for minority populations; the 1960s became a revolutionary era of expanding economic and political freedom — one with its own excesses and unintended consequences. In its wake, the American investor class exploited the resentment and malaise of whites to pursue its own oligarchic agenda. Today, the fear- and bigotry-based politics of Lee Atwater take full and hideous flower in the form of a tea party.
It had long been realized that the only secure basis for oligarchy was corporatism. Wealth and privilege are most easily-defended when they are possessed jointly. The so-called “deregulation of private industry” which took place in the later years of the 20th century meant, in effect, the concentration of wealth in far fewer hands than before; but with this difference, that the new owners were organized.
In the years following the Reagan Revolution the investor class was able to step into this commanding position almost unopposed, because the whole process was framed as an expansion of freedom. The doctrine of Laffer curves said that if capital were set free of taxation, prosperity would inevitably follow; and unquestionably capital investment was encouraged this way, but not so for prosperity. Factories, mines, oil wells, mortgages, finance — everything has been deregulated, and since these things are no longer responsible to the public it follows that public properties must be privatized, too.
The tea party, which is essentially a new brand-name for the conservative movement and has inherited its phraseology, has in fact carried out the main item in the deconstructionists’ program, with the result, foreseen and intended beforehand, that joblessness and economic inequality made enormous by conservative economic theology threaten to become permanent.
If the previous three paragraphs seem familiar, it is because I have adapted them from George Orwell’s 1984. Big Brother has long been a favorite bludgeon for conservatives, who relate it to “Big Government” very closely in a bid to strike fear into listeners’ hearts. Having read and reread the novel several times, I am convinced most of those who respond to this line have never actually read the book, and so do not recognize that they are responding to the very style of propaganda Orwell deconstructed.
Do read the whole thing. Matt is brilliant, as usual. The last 60 years we have fought for and claimed only the right to be equally miserable. Every step of the way government has been blamed. But in the end, it's the top of the American heap that has raked in the spoils.
We are the most productive country on Earth, in the history of Earth. And yet the benefit has gone only to the top, while we're told a rising tide lift all boats while we drown in the ocean.
And now the job is almost done.