Sunday, November 8, 2020

Review of Social Inequality, Economic Decline, and Plutocracy: An American Crisis by Dale L. Johnson

This review is written by Eugene Kernes

Book can be found in:
Genre = Sociology

Elaborate Description

The pages of Inequality Social Inequality, Economic Decline, And Plutocracy: An American Crisis are filled with dialect views on the state of America. A very deep dive in the social structure of America. Dale Johnson claims are frank and without care of insult, expressing the situation from a very critical vantage point. The author points of how American society is being driven to be more and more dichotomous as the treatment between different class, race, and gender become more pronounced. Social Darwinism becoming the norm.

What is making America so socially contentious? Inappropriate wealth distribution. Expropriation of wealth form the many and given to the few. The structure of the political system contributes heavily to the problem. Laws created by the plutocracy favor the wealthy class. Before the Great Recession, close to half Representatives, and the majority of Senators were millionaires. Unlike most of America, Representatives and Senators wealth increased by 11%, and this excludes the received lobbying payments.

Part of the lobbying comes from the financial industry. The economy is becoming more financialized. That means more of the economy is not producing wealth, just transferring the wealth. This makes the financiers behave like rentiers, diverting the surplus to them. The problem is further exacerbated with the types of investments that are made. The author described what he calls degenerative development, which are investment in wasteful and socially destructive activities. Should the financial sector continue to appropriate surplus, the economy will continue to be dysfunctional. Although, should the financial sector facilitate the production of wealth, the economic system will function properly.

Financial sector is just part of the problem. Money yields privilege, creating the power to change the legal system to their view. The ruling class has turned the system of law into their instrument. Both major political parties take heavy fire for both become subservient to the plutocracy. Neither party is vilified as both are responsible for leading the country astray. The problem with the parties is endemic. The legal system becomes repressive. This causes friction within the class structure creating a need to repress the resistance.

In the past, when certain groups formed to resist or protest policies, they were allowed to come back to society when they were ready. Now, as Johnson claims, that is far more difficult to do. Reintegrating with society becomes near impossible while the national, state, and city police arm themselves with heavy riot control gear. Weapons made for war are becoming the norm in the fight against riots. The police become oppressors, dressing in heavy gear to taught and provoke a response from the crowd to be able to take action against them.

Nationally, the security of the nation is looking more insecure, but it is far worse internationally. The numerous agencies that are meant to protect the nation with various goals, makes America what Johnson calls the State of National Insecurity. American interventions abroad for corporate goals of profit that provides stimulus to the war machine. With the American sanction, the military actions are not recognized as terrorism, but the author points to the various actions as acts of official terrorism of the Super Rogue State. The perceived threat to the status quo is being targeted with military action. The wars try to solve a problem, but end up making the situation even worse. The wars we now fight, such as drugs and terrorism, have a huge cost with little benefit while costs keep escalating. The better solution to the problems would be to end official terrorism, which would diminish and prevent many treats.

With its plutocracy and military action, the author starts to parallel America with the Nazi. The way America set up its oppressive armed forces, the Nazi’s operated in a similar way. There are even a few pages devoted to showing the Nazi officer and the American counterpart. Many war crimes that the Nazi were shamed and put to prison for, while their American counterparts are given even higher offices and are honored within the system.

What can be done against the plutocracy, degenerative development, and oppressive military force, and what is preventing the possible solutions? In this situation, the media plays a huge part of the problem. The author claims that the media are uncritical and provide doctored news. It creates a diversion from social and economic realities, produces a culture of fear, and continues scapegoating. Allowing for the dissenters to be heard without the threat of official terrorism and quitting blaming the problems on others is the first set in the right direction. The antipode of degenerative development is sustainable development which requires enhancing labor, producing wealth rather than just transfers, and respecting the environment.

With all that, Johnson does a really good job at expressing his views. The economic foundation is based on Marxian thought which supports the crises theory of under-consumption (overproduction). Every section is presented with different statistic and history. When expressing military campaigns, various regions of the world are provided with a deep understanding of the reason for the war.

The problems with the book has is being inconsistent in two areas: economics and military. The first is with regard to Marxian thought, there is a confusion when describing productive and unproductive activities. The author may use them in the classical tradition, such as productive being producing wealth and unproductive being socially required by not producing wealth, or the use may be wealth increasing/decreasing respectfully. Services are given as unproductive in the book, although some service do just transfer wealth, other service produce use value which is wealth. The second with regard to the military oppression, there is a bit too much victimization. Trying to be consistent within this regard, the author makes the claim that Russia is the victim in the Crimea dispute. If America is the oppressor as it wages war for its own purposes, then same logic should apply to Russian wars. The book’s focus is on America, but that does not mean other countries cannot use this experience to prevent the same problems.

In summary, America is forcing antagonism between the classes, races, and genders. Funding for inappropriate investments create a degenerative development problem. The leaders are subservient to the plutocracy. Militarily, America has become a State of Nation Insecurity, creating more problems when trying to solve a particular issue. Oppression and Social Darwinism is more the norm the ever. Knowing the problems and their history, is the first step to trying to solve them and create a better future.

Book Details

Edition ISBN:  9783319490427
Pages to read:   155
Publication:     2017
1st Edition:      2017
Format:            Hardcover

Ratings out of 5:
Readability    3
Content          4
Overall           4