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<nettime> What-If (fwd)
{ brad brace } on Fri, 26 Oct 2007 00:20:42 +0200 (CEST)

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<nettime> What-If (fwd)

What If the Rich Never Stopped Getting Richer and Everyone
Else Continued to Tread Water?

By Sam Pizzigati, Too Much: A Commentary on Excess and

Who can help us best understand what happens to deeply
unequal societies that let wealth concentrate, beyond all
reason, at the top of the economic ladder? Economists?
Sociologists? Over a century ago, back in the original
Gilded Age, Americans looked to a different source for
wisdom on inequality. They looked to novelists. In books
like Looking Backward, a fabulously popular 1888 novel that
imagined an America gone egalitarian, our forebears found
the inspiration they needed to challenge robber baron
fortune and power.

Looking Backward would eventually sell, after Uncle Tom's
Cabin, more copies than any secular book in the entire 19th
century. The book's impact crossed class lines. Nationalist
Clubs" espousing the principles of Looking Backward sprouted
up in genteel middle class communities. In the South,
organizers of dirt-poor farmers handed out Looking Backward
as a membership premium for joining the insurgent agrarian
advocacy group that would evolve into the Populist Party.

Edward Bellamy, the frail New Englander who authored Looking
Backward, revolved his story around an affluent Bostonian
who slips off to sleep in 1887 and awakes in the year 2000
to discover an America that had been totally -- and happily
-- transformed. No one lacks an adequate income. No grand
stashes of wealth allow some to dominate over others. An
equal America. A better America.

In short, not our America today. Not our America tomorrow
either, suggests veteran novelist David Lozell Martin in his
remarkable new book, Our American King.

No one will ever will ever confuse Martin, a former
open-hearth furnace steelworker in Southern Illinois, for a
frail New Englander. And no one will ever confuse the future
America that Martin imagines in Our American King with the
better America Edward Bellamy envisioned.

In Martin's post-apocalyptic America, set in our near
future, the super-rich play golf in fortified gated
communities while, outside the walls, packs of
machete-wielding adolescents in wedding gowns -- "with no
more than curiosity showing on their young faces" -- slice
off the arms of starving suburban matrons...


"Nothing can be said about the sea."
-- Mr Selvam, Akkrapattai, India 2004

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