I’ve been a science fiction nut for over 60 years now, ever since an aunt gave me a box containing 40-50 of her old SF paperbacks and pulp magazines. Science fiction has been my crutch for all those decades, propping up my relief that things were going to be a whole lot better in my future than they were in my past and that the 21st century was going to be when it all came together and we actually became the nation and the society that the founding fathers and the godfathers of capitalism claimed they were building for us. The dawning of not only a new century but a new millennium was going to be the time when we were finally going to come together as a people and reap the benefits of all the knowledge and enlightenment that we had worked so hard to bring to all of us through capitalism and the allegedly automatic rewards that would automatically befall anyone who was willing to work hard and do their share,.
Yeah right! What a fracking pantload that turned out to be, eh? Instead of a society in which an individual is rewarded according to his contribution to society and the nation as a whole we find ourselves in exactly the same boat our ancestors who fled the old world in huge numbers came here to escape. We face exactly the same future that those people were faced with 300-400 years ago and the ultimate irony is that those countries from which they fled have far outstripped us in terms of societal evolution. Today, we are the only “developed” nation that is actively trying to restore outright Feudalism as a foundation on which to build a society, probably because we are the only one not old enough to have taken a shot… or several shots… it over the past few thousand years
The fact that our founding fathers were one percenters from the get go was completely hidden for two and a half centuries beneath the mumbo-jumbo of our so called Bill of Rights and our constitution itself. Hell, even the people who got together wrote the constitution couldn’t tell an ordinary working stiff what they meant by what they wrote and one of the first things they did was put together a team… they’d be called consultants today… to write a series of essays explaining what it was that they and their peers hoped to bring about through the framing of the language in the constitution and other documents by which the republic was being established. These were called the Federalist Papers and were authored by a group consisting of Alexander Hamilton, John Jay and James Madison writing under the pseudonym Publius.
Like the constitution itself, these essays are open to interpretation based on the agenda and intent of the person doing the interpreting but one thing starts to emerge in even the most cursory glance, that being that the current arguments over Federalism versus State Sovereignty is nothing new and indeed has been ongoing since prior to the ratification of the Constitution itself. What also becomes readily apparent is that even at the time of the founding there were already those whose sole aim was to suborn the forcible takeover of the new world and the virtual genocide perpetrated on its native peoples to their own private agendas, agendas that were often in direct conflict with the commonly accepted… or at least commonly proffered… interpretations of the language in which the essays were written and that those same people have played a major part in every societal ill that has befallen this country since and some of those attempting to establish a system of corporate feudalism today are directly descended from those that would have reinstituted or maintained a system of European style feudalism then.
If the current attempts by the one percent are successful, the very best we’re going to be able to hope for in this country is a return to the basic societal structure of the Victorian Era England, which ran roughly from the late 1830s, during the latter stages of what has been termed the industrial revolution, to the turn of the twentieth century. It was a period in which the differences between the haves and the have nots grew ever more stark, differences that were exposed in some detail by Charles Dickens, who along with a handful of other writers of the mid portion of the era, attempted, to depict the reality of life in an urban/industrial feudal society which, in terms of the plight of the poor and otherwise unconnected, wasn’t a whole lot different from the rural forms of small fiefdoms and agrarian feudalism that had preceded it.
No, we won’t all become Tiny Tim or even Bob Cratchit overnight. We’ll still have our consumer products and our entertainments and all of the necessary distractions from those often more important things that we’ll be giving up in order to have them… at least for as long as we are willing to give those more important things up. They may cost more every year but they’ll still be there and the sheep that make up most of the population will continue to indulge themselves in them.
Those of us who do decide to drop out of the whole consumerist thing in order to provide the basic necessities such as food, housing, health care,education for our kids, etc., will find those basic requirements have also been turned into “industries” which is a polite euphemism for cash cows for Wall Street. One way or another, everything you make is going to be channeled upward into the pockets of those who occupy the highest levels of the food chain and those among the one percent willing to sell out the other 99% to get it there. We are a country that has long been based on extreme consumption… consumption of anything and everything that wasn’t nailed down, whether it belonged to us or not. You don’t whoa that up in a day or two but the signs and symptoms of a paradigm shift are definitely there if care to look for them as we’re attacked on several fronts. The emphasis has been shifting steadily from control of what might have been termed discretionary spending to that of the basic necessities of life such as food, water, shelter and health care. Once that happens… and of course in the case of health care and housing it already HAS happened… having the smartest phone on the block won’t accomplish diddly squat except tell them where they can collect you when they decide they don’t like you anymore.
So far from the turn of the 21st century being the dawning of a new age of enlightenment or whatever the hell those old time SF authors thought it was going to be, it turns out that the “darksiders” like Orwell were perhaps a tad more accurate in their extrapolations and that far from being on a path to some kind of world in which we accept that all human beings are truly equal and that we all live on the same planet and have a responsibility to each other to make it the best planet we can… the United States at least is hell bent on returning it’s people to the hardscrabble day to day existence that has been the lot of peasants and serfs since the down of recorded history and probably beyond. Call it capitalism or anything else you want to call it… the division of a population into the very few who have it all and the very many who have nothing at all is just another dose of the same old same old and we’re supposed to be farther up the evolutionary ladder than that by now.