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Can Americans pull together? If not, why not?

29 August 2008

Here is some speculation for your enlightenment.  This post discusses the fragmenting of America, the causes of our inability to see our common needs and act together for the common benefit.

Future generations will see things clearly that we cannot. For example, can we perceive what is happening in the souls of the common people, and in particular of the lower classes?. Their education and way of life open to them insights on human affairs which, peculiar to them, remain close to us.

It is worse for our ruling elites. When the rich man and the poor man no longer have any shared interest, any shared grievances, any shared business, the shadows which conceral the mind of the one from the other become unfathomable. They can live side by side (as in Manhattan) without any contact between them.

Although the fate of the upper and middle classes has diverged, they resemble one another in one respect: the middle class lives as cut off from the lower class as the rich. The middle class has run away from contact their the lower classes and their wretched state in the inner cities. Instead of uniting closely with them to engage in a common struggle against a shared inequality, we seek only to create new injustices for our own purposes (so that the laws and taxes better meet our needs).

The middle class as enthusiastically obtained tax exemptions (e.g., mortgages, retirement plans) as the rich. The lower classes from which most of us emerged as immigrants have not only become strangers but are largely unknown to us.

When the middle class has become isolated from the rich and the lower class from both, a similar fragmenting acts at the heart of of each class itself small groups form in the center of each. We divide by race, by ideology, by special interests (e.g., greens, pro-life, animal rights) — becoming almost as isolated from each other as the three classes are between themselves. Then the nation becomes a mass whose parts no longer link together. Nothing hinders the government — now the largest entity — any more than anything supports it. This creates the risk of the whole structure collapsing together at once, as the society, its foundation, weakens.

If only these were my words!  This is an excerpt, lightly paraphrased, from Alex de Tocqueville’s The Ancien Regime and the Revolution.  However descriptive of modern America, it describes the doomed regime of French Monarchy in its last generation of life.

Please share your comments by posting below (brief and relevant, please), or email me at fabmaximus at hotmail dot com (note the spam-protected spelling).

Other posts in this series about America, how we got here and how we can recover it

  1. Forecast: Death of the American Constitution, 4 July 2006
  2. Diagnosing the Eagle, Chapter III – reclaiming the Constitution, 3 January 2008
  3. A report card for the Republic: are we still capable of self-government?, 3 July 2008
  4. Americans, now a subservient people (listen to the Founders sigh in disappointment), 20 July 2008
  5. de Tocqueville warns us not to become weak and servile, 21 July 2008
  6. A soft despotism for America?, 22 July 2008
  7. The American spirit speaks: “Baa, Baa, Baa”, 5 August 2008
  8. We’re Americans, hear us yell: “baa, baa, baa”, 6 August 2008
  9. Obama describes the first step to America’s renewal, 8 August 2008
  10. Let’s look at America in the mirror, the first step to reform, 14 August 2008
  11. Fixing America: elections, revolt, or passivity?, 16 August 2008
  12. Fixing American: taking responsibility is the first step, 17 August 2008
  13. Fixing America: solutions — elections, revolt, passivity, 18 August 2008
  14. The intelligentsia takes easy steps to abandoning America, 19 August 2008 

For all posts on this subject see America – how can we reform it?.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. 29 August 2008 2:45 am

    Great note!

    But in America, the rich talk about the poor all the time. The big Dem vision is ‘health care for all’ — for the poor. Unfortunately, the contact is with a mythical poor person in the abstract, not the real poor people who are both victims of a bad situation, but also victims of their own poor decisions.

    ‘I love mankind! It’s people I can’t stand’ (not my own sentiment!)

    Like

  2. houswife permalink
    29 August 2008 10:31 am

    Marcia Pally(http://www.marciapally.com/) a sociologist(NYU) is also looking for the root cause.

    [The Religion, Values and Foreign Policy of the Country with the Biggest Guns]

    Parthas Verlag, 2008, 272 pages, ISBN: 978-3-86601-601-9
    by Marcia Pally

    The first rule of elections is that it makes a difference who wins. We expect the next president to get us out of the hole Bush dug. He or she will return the country to its true self, meaning that Bush’s foreign policy is “untrue” and that some other approach is the American norm–the approach in postwar Europe, perhaps. Yet should the next US president return America to some pre-Bush policy, how much “better” it will be depends on how good it was in the first place. And it was exactly as good as America’s fundamental interests and approaches allowed it to be. Bush’s foreign policy unexceptionally falls within these interests and approaches. The wiggle room of any candidate is constrained by them as well. They would be a far better basis for our expectations than idealized pasts or campaign hoopla.

    Warnung vor dem Freunde(beware your friend): Tradition und Zukunft amerikanischer Aussenpolitik investigates the deep structure of US foreign policy and the influence of evangelicalism on it, throughout US history, regardless of the president or party in power.

    Like

  3. 29 August 2008 1:57 pm

    Fabius,
    I would guess that this probably will not rank over time as one of your more important posts, but it should. Directly effects who gets involved and how we make decisions in crisis. More later.

    To “housewife” most intriguing post. I could only find German version on quick look at the site. Is the book available in English version? Help

    Like

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