I keep thinking about what Hayes calls the Brazilian Model. The idea that high taxes and robust social services create and sustain an activist working class that is conscious its survival depends on this deliberate redistribution of wealth. What frustrates, or possibly confuses me, is the deterministic way he mentions this. Its a bit chicken and egg, isn’t it?
If you don’t have an activist working class, who insists on the redistribution of wealth?
He hints that it is the upper middle class in the U.S., who through the housing bubble are experiencing some of the disillusionment with the American Dream that the poor have always been aware of, who will inevitably chafe at the corruption and ineptitude of the 1% and hopefully see, with his help, that it is the elitism and vast inequality inherent in meritocracy that must be abandoned, for a more equitable Brazilian Model (which is never once called socialism).
That’s stealthily vanguardist, isn’t it? Maybe he’s right. It appears human society has two modes, Dignified and Equitable, or Barbaric and Helpless. An elite class shocks and tears and stretches at the fabric of society until its helpless and self-defeating servants volunteer to finish the job. Or you’re simply decent, and the favor is returned soberly and as a matter of course.
(Who wants that?)
Are there other institutions, other modes of redistribution that might step in should the benevolent upper middle class fail to overthrow the Meritocracy? If theocrats manage to privatize everything in the south, middle, and west of the country, would church charities ever manage to do the leveling themselves? It would be interesting to watch liberation theology pop up in the midwest. There would always be some tension there right? Between the starvation insisted upon by apocalyptic capitalists like Glenn Beck and the people within the communities who must constantly see the poor and hear the words of Jesus fall like dull stones on a day to day basis. Surely, they would do something?
I just remembered mega-churches. If you keep the religious institutions gigantic, or televised, or even online, you might never have to see your neighbor starve to death.
It’s up to unions and students, like always. Just thinking out loud.
I do highly recommend this book:
Twilight of the Elites by Christopher Hayes.