Kaye has written a thoughtful article, but I think he is missing the real point. And that point is much more sinister than Kaye was able to recognize. As a mouthpiece for the 1%, Brooks is well aware of the work of Freud’s son-in-law Edward Bernays & his book Propaganda, where he laid out his guide for how the 1% can subtly control the 99%. But he is also painfully aware that the masses are showing signs that the game is up. So what is he really saying? In Rick Pearlstein’s trilogy on Goldwater, Nixon & Reagan, he cites an advisor who claimed that their route to victory was to sell a false danger to the public as their ‘real’ problem, then create an in invisible bridge to help them cross over that bridge and past that problem. And of course, meanwhile the 1% would be taking full advantage of the distraction. Brooks is saying that the old propaganda themes are no longer working, & it is time for social scientists & thinkers tied to the 1%, like himself, to start coming up with new phantoms they can sell to the 99%, followed by new invisible bridges to cross them with, in order to preserve the rule of the 1%.
It has been a quite a few decades since Michael Harrington made all aware about poverty in America. It looks like Brooks has been working so hard on his columns, books, and given interviews that he has lost sight of the other America out there. The Great Society programs created a safety net which has become quite frayed. In a society with an economic system dominated by capitalism, such as here in the US, there is obviously going to be economic stratification. But for quite awhile now it has been pointed out that it has gotten too extreme, reaching the point that the middle class, which needs to very large for social stability, is shrinking. If the middle class disappeared you would wind up with nothing but the rich and the poor, which is what characterized England back in the 19th century during the early period of industrialization and many societies in Latin America. The usual answer would be better education to lift those up on or near the bottom, but recently the value of education is being questioned. If better education doesn’t work what will? I don’t think we have the answers other than to make the tax system fairer. Certainly the upper tax bracket should be raised considerably and capital gains should be taxed at a higher rate. Making the tax system fairer won’t solve all the problems but it would be a start and could be done quickly.
“Look no further” than Madison Avenue.
Everything we need to know about marketing politicians and other products in Murka and much of the rest of the world is found in Joe McGinniss’ 1968 SELLING OF THE PRESIDENT.
The first rule of marketing is expanding name recognition…the more the better. Most primary voters marking the box for Hillary are marking that box because they purchase other products based on name recognition and most never heard of Sanders a year ago.
Trump benefits even more from name recognition than Clinton. Trump has even more name recognition than Ronald Reagan did at this stage of the 1980 campaign.
The radical action needed is to convince enough voters that Sanders’ platform is not radical, and is very similar to FDR’s, JFK’s and LBJ’s platform, all of whom were considered centrists.
Solidarity overcoming a divided, distracted, mind controlled population is always the base and source of any serious social change. This was FDRs power base. The Polish “solidarity” movement, combined with mass meetings at East German churches began the unravelling of the old USSR. A tipping point happened when too many people just decided that the system was not working and they stopped playing the game. Workers, teachers, police, military, local business, students, woke up and realized their common interests. I have learned from people who were there, in many parts of the old USSR, that this shift happened almost immediately, spontaneously and literally overnight. The millions of people coming out for the Trump and Sanders rallies shows the energy is there. Maybe these same people would come out for regular weekly and/or special “Occupy” type events at some local church, for example and see what happens.
Yes,if by ‘social stability’ you mean a nice ‘aspirational’ protective barrier between the masses and the elites which maintains the system, its status quo, and stops radical change from ever taking place. Personally, I’ve had enough of that ‘stablility’ for the last 3 hundred years, Now the middle class are being treated how they’ve treated the working class themselves since then and suddenly they scream social injustice. Also, the industrial revolution in England began in the 18th century and there was a middle class there even back then. You’d have to go back to feudal times for a division similar to the one you describe.
No, that’s not what Americans want. Liberals since the 1990s restricted the “inequality” discussion to the gap between the better off and the very rich. The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s. The last I heard, there are 7 jobs for every 10 people who still have the means to pursue one (can’t get a job once you no longer have a home address, phone, bus fare). Have you ever wondered what happens to those who are left out?
We actually have a hell of a poverty crisis. I personally don’t know where the country can go from here. We’ve been deeply divided and subdivided, middle class vs. the poor, the poor pitted against each other by race. We haven’t even begun the discussion necessary to change course. The rich and powerful can rest easy.
Liberals and Democrats have worked for years to promote middle class solidarity (later with a pat on the head to low wage workers). The situation here is very different from that of Poland. The US shipped out a huge share of our jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare in the 1990s, creating a poverty crisis. Not everyone can work, and there aren’t jobs for all. What do you think happens to those who are left out?
Think of this way: If we had a revolution, who would fight whom? We’re rich vs. middle class vs. poor. How many workers can risk losing their jobs by “rising up?” We have an abundant surplus of job-ready people who are desperate for any job at any wage – there’s nothing to fall back on. They are grateful for the chance to replace you at a fraction of what you’re paid. After all, there’s nothing to fall back on.
Did you know that what came to be called AFDC was actually first included in FDR’s Social Security Act (New Deal)? LBJ’s Great Society agenda was built directly on the New Deal, carrying through with plans formulated during the JFK/LBJ administration. Bill Clinton got rid of that, and had just enough time to begin “reforming” Social Security directly, targeting the disabled.
Most recently, Democrats in Congress kicked off 2015 by agreeing to virtually end food stamps to the elderly poor and the disabled (monthly benefits cut from $115 down to $10). Did you hear the outrage of the American masses as the platform of FDR/JFK/LBJ has been getting shredded? Right.
Stop shopping at Big Box stores–Go Local.
Stop Banking at big banks- GO Credit Unions.
We must Re-Localize to build Self-Sufficiency…
It’s rather obvious that the therapy this nation needs is radical action.
David Brooks is a champion of meritocracy. He really does believe that our inherently unequal system elevates the best and brightest into positions of power. For Brooks graduating from a good school is evidence of superiority and the right to lead. He does not consider all of the inequalities that lead to the children of the wealthy getting into those schools in the first place whether they “deserve” it or not. Nor does Brooks consider the many, many failures of the meritocrats that he loves so much.
It comes as no surprise that his solution is little more than suggesting that the meritocrats step out of their offices and feeling the pain of everyone else for a few minutes.