Robb has been posting a lot this month, with the Snowden disclosures. He shares my view that the nation state, while weakening, is entering a regime of “positive control” of the population that is roughly equivalent to neo-feudalism, a view I first expressed in 2009 in “On the coming neo-feudalism,” linked to by Yves at www.nakedcapitalism.com.
Start with http://globalguerrillas.typepad.com/globalguerrillas/2013/06/the-nsa-story-and-the-negative-security-it-delivers-to-everyone.html and follow the forward links to get John’s take on things. I have added him back to my list of blogs I follow.
Here is my current “big picture”:
Unless the corporations, which are the dominant form of social organization on the planet, naturally adapt according to the principles suggested by Wilkinson et al.’s findings, i.e., that it will be optimal for them to flatten the income distribution within their structures as it will lead to lower health care costs as well as productivity improvements—if there is no natural countervailing movement toward greater equality of outcomes (and I am assuming here that the rich continue to “own” the politicians, so that no reform via taxation is possible), then we have the following probable sequence: neo-feudalism + “free market” capitalism + bought-and-paid-for government by the 1% + insatiable greed triggered by great wealth => immiseration of the proletariat and Marx’s revolution—with either true social reform following or a very bloody suppression indeed by the forces of “positive control” with a rinse and repeat cycle.
There certainly is the possibility of a dystopian future ahead. The passivity, and—I will say it—the lazy stupidity of the American people make it much more probable to happen. What can you do, if demonstrating in the streets is likely to get you sent to jail and the unemployment lines? Give money to progressive organizations that are reputable. Support local efforts to expose corrupt politicians.
The only person offering a solution to the larger “bootstrapping problem” of reforming American democracy that I can see is Lawrence Lessig, whose “money bomb” idea is as follows: raise X hundreds of millions of dollars from billionaires who are committed to reform and use it to secure the election of reformers to the House and Senate, whose charge is to push through legislation to get the money out of politics, or to vastly reduce its power. See Lessig with Bill Moyers.
Former Republican presidential candidate John Huntsman referred to the American campaign finance system as “an abomination.”