America, the world’s largest superpower in terms of economy and military might, has a growing divide in its economic and social classes that will shape the way politics is done, economics are reviewed, and the way the nation functions. Fiscal and foreign policy tomorrow will be reshaped by the economic crisis of today. With a declining middle class the nation may move back to a feudalistic like system similar to Europe before the French revolution, however, the American public will not admit to this.
They will continue to accept that they can be everything they could always dream of because that is the American way but the likely hood of those dreams coming true is decreasing every day to the point of it being an infinitesimal chance of someone being able to move up the ranks of society from the poverty level. Perhaps, though, this economic collapse could potentially yield great things for the people of the United States. Not in a physical materialistic sense but more of a spiritual, self actualization, sense. Maybe what is needed to improve the nation, and indeed the world because the world’s most powerful nation cannot undergo massive change without affecting the rest of the world is to simply lose everything they have. To remove themselves of their consumerist society will hopefully remove them of their own shackles of credit card debt, and mindless misinformation and perhaps maybe it will spill over to the rest of the world.
America in its current state of economic crises is not much different from that of the French revolution of 1789. With of course a few exceptions to compensate for the modern age, the countries are undergoing similar circumstances. Before the revolution took place, however, there was the enlightenment which caused people not only to rethink what they knew about the world and science, but also to think about the politics and social stances of the age. The third estate (the poorest class of people which also made up the majority of the population) realized that maybe they do not have to live as peasants and thus sparked the change that followed. Perhaps America is not far off from their own sort of revolution. Right now they seem to be in the midst of their own enlightenment. The occupy wall street protests are the beginning of what the French people did 222 years prior in a whole different continent. The French lost many jobs and they had food shortages from their economic crises like the United States but to a far worse degree. America is losing thousands of jobs with thousands unemployed or laid off work. They have difficulty feeding themselves or their families because they are either being hired at such a low wage or simply cannot find work. But this is mostly in the middle class which is a modern day third estate (but with much higher living standards). The occupy Wall Street protest is the American public questioning the leadership they are being guided under. Perhaps they are protesting the wrong people but regardless if they or are not they are making it publicly known that they cannot find work and they are wondering what their corporate and political leaders are doing. Their aim is not far off from who controls the country either.
It is not uncommon for politicians to be accused of backroom dealings with corporate heads and CEO’s. Just like the deal President Bush Jr. made with Enron to build oil lines through the Middle East. Perhaps the people protesting Wall Street will eventually overthrow the stockbrokers and businessmen just like the women’s bread march overthrew Louis and Marie Antoinette in the French Revolution. But what makes the situation so much worse are the cuts to public funding just like King Louis’ over taxation of the French people.
Services are being cut from the American public because most people in government have promised not to raise taxes (it is easy to get elected on a “don’t raise taxes” platform) or they know that if taxes are raised any higher then they will only bankrupt the middle class even further than it already is. Interest rates are lower than they have ever been before because people cannot afford to pay any more interest than 1%. Never has the interest rates on mortgages, loans, and credit been so low. This is because the common middle class working American has overused their credit cards to feed their consumerist, suburban, way of life. But because the government cannot raise taxes they cannot keep public services running. Police forces are being reduced, roads are returning to gravel, lights are being shut off, libraries are being closed, and health care is receiving less funding. This is the only way for the government to save money without over taxation. King Louis had the Idea to tax the French people and of course nobody could afford having 70% of their income going to the government. The similarity now is the American people are trying to pay off debts to banks and creditors with too much interest instead of paying too many taxes to the government. The banks have become King Louis. The banks gave out bad loans and bad mortgages similar to how Louis tried to reorganize the economic structure of France. Both the banks now and Louis then have tampered with the economic system and it has ended disastrously with people going hungry and losing their homes. Except what is different now is the American public will likely not revolt and will implement very little change. Most of the change in society will come from the rich and wealthy class.
The reason the United States is in the trouble it is in is because of the exploitation of its middle class. The bad loans given to people who should not have gotten them have resulted in massive foreclosures and claims of bankruptcy. The banks are not getting their money back and there is more debt than anyone can handle. The loss of the middle class seems inevitable. They have fallen into debt with the extra spending from their credit cards, student loans, business loans, and mortgages. The only people who do not have insurmountable debt is the people on Wall Street who are being protested against. They have no worries and because they have the money for backroom dealings they can, not completely but quite effectively, manipulate the political system. This will result in a behind-the-scenes aristocracy. They will return to a feudal type system except now there will not be a first estate of clergymen. Instead there will be only be the second estate of the nobility (the wealthy and politicians now) and third estate (what will be the former middle class and the current poor). No one will admit to it but that is effectively what they are becoming closer and closer to and one day it may actually happen. Instead of moving forward the rights of humanity, like the French revolution did, this economic collapse will move progress backwards and rights will be lost behind the scenes. No one will even know they have returned to an aristocracy. Voting will be done by the dollar and by whoever has the biggest pocket book. But there are good aspects to this economic collapse to be considered as well. Perhaps losing all their worldly possessions will remove this mental inertia that has rendered the public so ill-informed and maybe then humanity can move forward with an epoch of enlightenment after the collapse.
This age of consumerism has left people mentally lazy and they do not bother to read the news or stay informed. This is a fundamental difference from the French revolution in that the French were not distracted by IPods, cell phones, cottages, jet skis, boats, computers, and expensive cars. In an age where information can travel instantaneously and is quite literally unlimited people just do not seem to care because they are so distracted by their toys. This may be why the protests have not reached their full peak and perhaps another reason why this economic collapse is happening. If people were not so worried about getting the next generation of the iPod and buying it on credit cards then maybe there would not be so much personal debt. In the end there will not be a massive revolution for reform like the French revolution. There will instead simply be an acceptance of the new social order of rich and poor. But what happens afterwards could be anyone’s guess.
If everyone loses everything they have then they will not have so many distractions which may help to spur on social change and perhaps another enlightenment which would then lead to reform. So perhaps this loss of everything is not so bad. Once people get through the worst of their debts, if they get through the worst of their debts, and find a way to manage their money then there could potentially be a golden age of enlightenment. But that is yet to come.
The occupy Wall Street protest is the women’s bread march of today (with less violence so far), deep debts to the banks is the over taxation of the French revolution, and the bad mortgage and loan handouts are the tampering of the system Louis did that did not end well. People losing their homes and going hungry is a terrible thing but ultimately this could be the greatest release from their possessions. This could be the breaking of the chains that is needed to spur on the change the world has needed for so long.