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Requiem for the American Dream

A Report on Documentary of ‘Requiem for the American Dream’: Does Concentration of Wealth Yields Concentration of Power?

    The documentary which is called as “Requiem for the American Dream” featuring by Noam Chomsky who is widely regarded as the most influential intellectual of contemporary times enlightens 10 principles of concentration of wealth and power that led to unprecedented inequality and the collapse of the American middle class. In this sense, during the Great Depression even if the situation seems bad enough there was still a strong hopefulness that things were going to get better which is unfortunately not evident today as the American dream collapsed at all. Even if the total inequality in the US which comes from the extreme wealth of tiny sector, top one percent of the population has been reached its worst rates in the history, there is still a recommended solution to this deadlock which will be revealed at the end of the report when the all principles emphasized one by one. 

    Extreme inequality and unsteady distribution of wealth had caused many negative consequences on society as a whole such as causing corrosive and harmful effects on democracy, and regarding to the first five principle, reducing democracy, shaping ideology, resigning the economy, shifting the burden and to attack on solidarity; Chomsky expressed that throughout the history pressure for more freedom and rights has been come from the below and efforts about elite control and domination come from above. Accordingly, James Madison who was the fourth president of the United States and known as the main framer and the ‘founding father’ of the US constitution, “power should be in the hands of wealthy”, because they are the most responsible set of men among whom the members of Senate were elected by and as he put in words that “The major concern of the society has to be to protect the minority of the opulent against majority.” Also, it is stated that there has been an enormous concentration of business offensive starting from the 1970s in order to beat back the egalitarian efforts which went right through the Nixon years. In accordance with, when the “Powell Memorandum” warned that business is losing control over the society, in order to counter, solution is seen as defending the business sector against an outside power. 

    In this perspective, they worry about developing an “excess of democracy” in which young people has become too much free and independent. So, kind of an ideological backlash prevailed around the idea of “The institutions are responsible for the indoctrination of the young!” However, the major backlash was to redesigning the economy in the sense of reducing manufacturing and dramatically increasing the finance which has been the primary business over the US. Furthermore, as the financialization of economy has become a phenomenon, offshoring productions boosted and trade system was reconstructed with a very accurate design of putting working people in competition with one another all over the world which led to reduction in the share of income of workers on the surface and the vicious cycle of concentration of power and wealth in the roots. So, in a policy which is designed to increase insecurity of working people within the international plutonomy system in order to keep them under control while the capital is free to move, ironically precarious proletariat and labor cannot! Moreover, social security which is based on an understanding of solidarity, caring for other is attacked on by defunding it. For instance, public schools from kindergarten to higher education has not been supported by the state as it was in the past.

    Going into more detail, remaining essential principles can be said as under the manufacture consent, “fabricating consumers” via using the advertising industry and mass media; marginalizing the population by making people hate and fear each other and look out only for themselves without caring anyone else as sympathy, solidarity and mutual support is driven out from the society parallel with Adam Smith’s “vile maxim” understanding; keeping the rabble in line which means that preventing labor unions and organizations that protect and protest for worker rights and popular rights and also, serving as a barrier to tyranny such as Organized Labor association. In this sense, as Chomsky argued that the US has never ratified the basic principle of International Labor Organization; the right of free association which means to right to form unions. So, a global society based on these principles is going sharply towards its massive destruction, but with an exception that organizing a counter struggle for the rights and freedoms by people against the unmoral order which requires a participatory democratic control on the state basis.

    In conclusion, when the concentration of wealth yields concentration of power such as in the case of the United States which has been much away from its dream days, the corruption and inequality among the population become inevitable. In addition, if the society is controlled by the private wealth owners, it will directly reflect the general values that unending greed and desire to maximize personal gain at the expense of others. However, there is always a way to overcome all the obstacles such as in the US situation the possible remedy stands out within the participatory democratic control in the state level. Just as the social activist and American historian Howard Zinn said that “What matters is the countless small deeds of unknown people who lay the basis for the significant events that enter history.”

Müleyke Nurefşan İkbal Yılmaz

İstanbul 29 Mayıs Üniversitesinde Siyaset Bilimi ve Uluslararası İlişkiler bölümü 4. sınıf öğrencisiyim. Üniversitemin sunduğu imkanlar doğrultusunda, bilinçli olarak Ortadoğu modülünü tercih ettim ve seçmeli alan derslerime ek olarak. bölüm dili olan İngilizcenin yanı sıra Arapça dil eğitimimi sürdürmekteyim. Küresel Siyaset ve özellikle Ortadoğu üzerine makale ve çalışmalarıma devam etmekteyim.

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