Sunday, January 08, 2012

Economic Inequality Then and Now

Just finished Louis Adamic's 1934 classic on class violence in America, Dynamite: The Story of Class Violence In America, and was struck by the relevance of his observations made almost 80 years ago:
"The humanistic or social interests of the country have been fighting a feud with Big Business for seven or eight decades.Occasionally the social will gets worked up and acting through political parties and the Government, imposes itself upon business and makes it behave, or tries to make it behave, at least for a little while, until business , with its single minded purpose, finds a way to rid itself of social control..... Society must always compel business to function for the social good, and not only for the social good but for the good of business itself. Business would have ruined itself and the country long ago , were it not for occasional spurts of social action to curb it."
This could have just as easily been written anytime in the past 4 or forty years. It also sheds some light on the origins of anti government rhetoric so popular on the Right and emanating from Corporate sources. Even in 1934 Adamic recognized the potential for catastrophe Corporate interests represented:
"They control, it is safe to say, every important process of the country's economic activity and, therby, directly or indirectly influence every other phase of our national life. Indeed, every now and then they threaten, with their enormous money power , to gain full sway over the Government and overcome the social will."
Very insightful reading considering it predates rampant globalization, the rise of the transnational Corporate entity, media concentration, the Koch brothers, Citizens United, and all the other more modern aspects of unrestrained capitalism.

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