Saturday, April 9, 2011
The American Dream as We Know it Is Obsolete
These seemingly universal desires define the post-WWII American Dream, and are still the reference point for both left and right. The “Golden Age of American Capitalism” from the mid-1940s to the early 1970s is commonly seen as the triumph of the middle class, a time when the fruits of a robust capitalist economy extended to tens of millions.
But today we are trapped in the fault lines of a violent global economy, and these dreams seem as archaic as waking up at dawn with the grandparents, children and cousins to milk cows, bake pies and plow fields.
However outdated the American Dream, organized labor and liberals desperately cling to it as they retreat in the face of the Republican and corporate blitzkrieg. In this war, the battlefield is social spending and the public sector, and for the losing side the situation is dire. (The critique that follows is not of the rank and file or all unions, but rather the dominant tendencies among many labor leaders and large national unions.)
In an era of insecurity, we all want security.