Thursday, October 24, 2013


  by Keith Shirey

In  the Los Angeles Times of  10/23, Doyle McManus has an Op-Ed  piece  entitled, Poof goes the middle class.”  In it he presents the thoughts of libertarian economist, Tyler Cowen.  Cowen has written a book entitled “Average Is Over.”  Cowen argues that our future is one of more wealthy people but more poor people.  Government will, through its policies allow the creation of a new underclass.   It will not counteract the forces of automation and outsourcing of jobs, and the inability of the educational system to create skilled workers that are needed. 

Cowen predicts the creation of a new underclass .  With their savings exhausted they will move to newly erected shantytowns lie the “dwellings you might find in  Rio de Janeiro., in low cost states like Texas.  But  there will be no revolution.  The underclass will console itself with online entertainment and scientifically improved narcotics to make life palatable.  That is a dystopian description of the future by  Huxley but it is lacks an  adequate frame work in which to understand potential revolution because as Andrew O’Hehir points out:

“America is partly a panopticon surveillance-and-security state, as in Orwell, partly an anesthetic and amoral consumer wonderland, as in Huxley, and partly a grand rhetorical delusion or “spectacle,” as in Dick or “The Matrix” or certain currents of French philosophy.”

It certainly seems that Cowen is correct, that a huge underclass will not make a revolution, non-violent or otherwise.   I would add to his thesis, that a narcotized populace will not revolt, by pointing out that finance capitalists seem to be able dig themselves out of any crisis—observe the recent Stock Market Crash and the terrible results.  In other words, no matter how corrupt and inefficient it is, capitalism will survive.

     Another factor is that military force is so powerful in the U.S. that it seems impossible to overthrow the government.   The police do not have “class consciousness” and  have show their willingness to brutalize and kill their own kind.  It isn’t just that the state has a monopoly on force and violence, it has federal and localized military power that is awesome.
. Too, it cannot be over looked that there are millions of Americans who are anti-feminist, virulently racist, anti-immigrant and religiously intolerant.  They comprise a modern Know-Nothing movement, one that is extremely mean-spirited and violent.  These  people are easily duped by neo-fascist demagogues who promote a “false consciousness" that is powerfully anti-revolutionary.

A combination of police-surveillance-security-state power, narcotic entertainment and drugs, the ability of the capitalists to somehow emerge from crisis, and the great power of  the counter-revolutionary Know Nothing movement, with its false counsciousness, means that there will be no American Revolution—violent or otherwise.