The Shining City Upon a Hill
I see our present, consumption induced, crisis as yet another symptom of economic disparity in this country, where wage earners are bombarded, virtually 24x7, with images of thin, rich, beautiful, charming and successful people – the “upper”, the “successful”, the “American Dream” class.
In other words, our consumer centric economy, through advertising and media in general, trains its lens primarily at the top of the capitalist pyramid, then replays those images to exploit the lower classes, inspiring meaningless consumption in a fallacious quest for “wealth,” as seen on TV, in magazines and real life.
When, instead, we consumers could do better by ourselves and our system by simply admitting that the very nature of “capitalism” requires a rigid class hierarchy.
Unfortunately, it seems the necessity to accept this hierarchy has been forestalled in post World War II generations by the myth of an American Dream which presupposes a lie over capitalist reality – of boundless and unlimited opportunity – available to anyone willing to assume ever higher risk in reaching for it.
Thus the underlying problem, leading to our present economic crisis/collapse of over-lending and over-borrowing – i.e. of over-risk – is that a majority of Americans have not yet resolved basic emotional and class conflicts inherent in their economic system, instead substituting a “Dream” to fill the void. But unless these conflicts are resolved, then over-reach and over-risk are destined to recur as consumer underlings resume their statistically improbable quest to get, or at least to feel, rich!
Traditionally, our churches have at least fostered class acceptance – e.g. “render unto Caesar…” and “be in the world, but not of the world”, etc. But in America today, the “Dream” has displaced religious based class humility, leading directly to a confused, chaotic and arguably collapsing version of capitalism.
Thus, our “crisis” highlights a critical need – for a vast majority of Americans to stop deluding themselves and ultimately to choose between the Capitalism outside their front doors (and stability) or the fake American Dream (and its inevitable overreaching collapse) throbbing inside their heads.
It’s really a Hobson's choice, however, as it seems historically obvious that we are incapable of a degree of love and egalitarianism necessary to implement any alternative, arguably more highly evolved, humanistic system, of the kind espoused by thought leaders like Marx, Voltaire, Rousseau, Rimbaud, Pound, et al.
Thus my simple advice for my country is this: Let’s get to the business of accepting the limitations of ourselves and our dominant economic system. Because the false hope of American Dream consumerism has become a too destructive religion leading to excessive risk and economic instability.
Because let's face it, after thirty years of Ronald Reagan’s trickle down, dimwit optimist capitalism, our “shining city upon a hill” is owned by one percent of us. The rest of us just work there.
So it's time for America to either vote to change that – or at least get used to it. Because the present culturally-divided, lowest-common-denominator, "American Dream" consumer limbo is wrecking a fairly decent country!