2:14 PM EST, March 5, 2011
If you wanted a recipe for Marxist revolution, you could find no finer ingredients with which to cook one up than those presently floating around America's kitchen.
Need a cup of haves vs. have nots? Try these stats: According to Financial Times, the wealthiest 10 percent of Americans control nearly 75 percent of the nation's wealth. While the incomes of these top dogs has increased 300 percent in the last three decades, it has risen only 10 percent for 90 percent of American families, not enough to keep up with inflation.
A little class resentment to spice things up? Try a pinch of this: Mother Jones found that American CEOs make 185 times more than the average workers, another gap that has widened in the last three decades. These are people who are “lucky” enough to have jobs — many with limited or no benefits — as the unemployment rate has hovered near 10 percent for two years.
More tasty morsels? Currently, 6,736 households are in foreclosure in Connecticut; in some parts of the country, 1 out of every 84 houses is in foreclosure. Meanwhile, the sales of Rolls-Royces were up 171 percent last year, and someone called Richard Mille makes a wristwatch that costs $500,000 and can't keep up with demand. The tax rate on the top dogs in the U.S. is at its lowest level since 1945, and thanks to the craven bipartisan work of Congress, the Bush tax breaks, which funneled most of the nation's wealth to the top, are still in place.
The coup de (dis)grace? How about a massive right-wing corporatist conspiracy to destroy workers rights? This was encapsulated in the prank phone call between faux-David “Billionaire Plutocrat” Koch and his lapdog Gov. Scott Walker of Wisconsin. Walker gave the whole game away when he said, of the state senate minority leader, a Democrat, “He's not one of us.” By “us,” Walker apparently means the tiny group of chefs who cook up policy in the smokehouse out back of the various capitol buildings throughout the land. These legislative buildings are all apparently just facades now, because similar bills to destroy workers rights are being proposed in Ohio, Indiana and perhaps to a state near you soon.
Bon appetit, America.
There has always been an income gap in this country and the fact that poverty existed “in the richest country on earth” was a source of shame to some Americans, including members of Congress who once declared a war upon it. However, in past eras when the wealth gap was as dramatically severe as it is today, such as the Gilded Age, the Robber Barons at least built railroads, infrastructure, libraries, universities, etc. Today's robber barons use money to make more money, creating absolutely nothing in the process other than chaos in households across America as retirement funds and bank accounts are wiped out by investment scams gone wrong. The perpetrators of the scams then award themselves bonuses while their victims foot the bills.
For those inclined to investigate alternatives to this unholy feast, you could do worse for a menu than Terry Eagleton's new book, Why Marx Was Right, which makes the case for a reconsideration of what Karl Marx actually wrote, proposed and accurately predicted. Eagleton writes, “Marx was wrong on a number of counts. But he foresaw that capitalism would become a global system, and that its inequalities would deepen intolerably.”
An inherently unstable system, capitalism, at least as it's practiced now, is a failure. Or, as Eagleton writes, “Capitalism will behave antisocially if it is profitable for it to do so, and that can now mean human devastation on an unimaginable scale. … Spectacular inequalities of wealth and power, imperial warfare, intensified exploitation, an increasingly repressive state: If all these characterize today's world, they are also issues on which Marxism has acted and reflected for almost two centuries.”
“What if,” he asks, “it were not Marxism that is outdated but capitalism itself?”