In the mid-eighteenth century, bands of British colonials — distraught from years of monetary subjugation and provoked to the edge of rebellion — renounced their loyalty to the empire. What inspired this conflict was capital extortion, a form of which millions of modern Americans are experiencing everyday.
Ironically, it took only two and a half centuries for that new nation of free rebels to become an incarnation of the empire it disavowed. After the steady, genocidal obliteration of millions of indigenous Americans — who, arguably, maintained one of the last, truly free societies on Earth — this new empire’s reign stretched west to the Pacific and south halfway to Panama, and it turned to a new form of control to maintain supremacy over its vast population, which persists to this day.
Wealth — or lack thereof — now dictates the lives of nearly 320 million people in the United States alone.
It is believed that a caste system doesn’t exist in this “empire of liberty,” a term coined by Thomas Jefferson, because equality is a fundamental tenant to a free society. The truth is that there is a class stratification well established now in the 21st century constructed of wealth brackets.
Upward mobility within this class system is upsettingly low, approaching zero, according to Thomas Khuels, professor of political science at Weber State University and Johns Hopkins University alum. The class into which one is born, except in rare instances, is often inescapable.
In my late teens and early 20s, despite coming from a middle class family, I witnessed first-hand the distressing conditions incurred by the lower strata of this system as I endured menial labour in factories. I learned one lessons during these years: slavery, like imperialism, was not eradicated; it merely evolved — wage slavery.
Industry captains exploit these lower classes, preying on their economic hopelessness. They understand that individuals within these strata have no other option but economic conscription. Work hours are extended to exhausting periods while wages are constricted, providing only enough trafficable wealth to endure until the next paycheck.
Those who control wages control survival because only capital may be exchanged for sustenance, shelter and all else that sustains life. In times of economic crisis, hundreds of thousands desperately compete to labour and serve. People are no longer martially forced into slavery, but rather, they are presented with an ultimatum: work or die. Such a paradigm has created a new manifestation of feudalism wherein vassals beg for their own servitude.
How hopeless must conditions become before any true change may occur? Just how thoroughly can propaganda blind the population into believing in the American Dream? In the words of the comedic philosopher George Carlin, “They call it the American Dream because you have to be asleep to believe it.”