|I'm wondering – Do they all have to wear the shirts?|
Society is always much more complex in all the dynamic processes and knit us all together, of course. But this question of distribution always comes up because of the disastrous results of extreme inequality. When so much of a civilization’s wealth is locked up and never returned to the market, there’s a mass slide into poverty.
When the bulk of a population slides into penury while a small elite become earthly gods from their extreme wealth, you have a potential revolution on your hands. Oligarchy’s survival mechanism is to bring all the counter-revolutionary powers of the state – both military and messaging – to bear.
The counter-revolutionary state is a fascist one, because its purpose is to suppress and deceive the desires of its people. That’s why such an important message in democratic organizing is “fight the real enemy.”
I was lecturing in my Business class today about how inadequate general measures of a country’s wealth – like Gross Domestic Product – are to understand how that economy actually functions. Pure aggregates of economic measurement collapse too many distinctions to make the world comprehensible. They measure nothing about how many people in that society are comfortable and who is not.
So what does the concept of prosperity as abundance show us? It does lead us, productively, to focus on the phenomenology of economic anxiety. Abundance is the image of the world’s perfection for the economically insecure.
It’s what you dream of as you weigh how much you can fill up your car today against how many groceries you can buy that week. Progressive political philosophy could use a few more phenomenological accounts of that state of consciousness.