Recent American public discourse — strongly impacted by the 2008 economic collapse, the nation’s plodding recovery from it, and the Occupy Wall Street Movement’s popularization of a vision of a society divided by the class-based interests of the wildly affluent richest 1 percent of the population and those of everyone else — has evinced a dawning awareness of the ravages the neoliberal economic project has wrought domestically (if not abroad). The long-standing hegemonic American self-image construct Ȅ based on core notions of meritocracy, socio-economic self-determination, and social class fluidity — that has kept substantial segments of the population from apprehending the erosion of the more even wealth distribution of the immediate postwar decades and the rising tide of plutocracy seems to be breaking down, judging, for instance, from a Gallup World report picked up by numerous newspapers that shows a steep reduction in Americans’ ‘satisfaction with their freedom’ to set their life courses, seemingly due to pessimism about their economic outlooks and perceptions of government ‘corruption’ (Clifton). Or take the fact that even a relatively conservative publication like Forbes will publish an article, ‘The U.S. Middle Class is Turning Proletarian,’ arguing that ‘capitalism is becoming less democratic’ and one out of three people born into the American middle class will fall out of it when they enter into adulthood (Kotkin).
KeywordsFree Market Wealth Distribution Chicago School Wealth Inequality Narrative Fiction
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