There was once a time when the American middle class stood for and represented something that did not include profligate conspicuous consumption, moral and spiritual degeneracy, and intellectual dullness and sloth. There was a time when being middle class meant that one worked hard; saved diligently for a better future, but also against the prospect of a lesser one; treated others with respect and dignity; and participated in the life of the nation in a respectful and intelligent manner.
Was this ever the complete and true reality, or the product of another national myth? Probably there was a grain of truth to it, but doubtful that everything in the past was as rose-colored as it seems from this place in the cold and distant future, where the great and gleaming cities of the imagined tomorrow that existed in the minds of the inhabitants of that lost era have long been rescinded to the wilderness of a hundred blocks of wild green untamed nature where orderly civilization had once stood place. But it is certainly apparent that social mores have decayed since that time. After all, our ancestors did not have credit cards, or fiat money, to play with.
The most vile and repulsive attitudes among men today toward their fellow brethren are often held by that same American middle class that once solidly renounced war as a means of foreign policy; that once cared enough about their fellow man to understand that free enterprise was the only real workable system mankind had ever devised that would even come close to satisfying all his needs, much less work to eliminate want and nakedness; that once came close to understanding the warp and loom of history and that not knowing the past dooms one to repeat it. Of course the precise opposites of each above statement are the common run of the middle class intellectual consensus today.
The fascist leadership cult has done much to promote this state of affairs. However, it seems to me that allegedly educated people should know better. At some point native intelligence is being trumped by a form of doublethink, deliberately turning the mind away from critically important truths which demand attention - such as one million Iraqi dead due to our leadership's foreign policy turns, and all that.
The contract to join the ranks of the modern bourgeoisie is simple: Play the game according to the manner in which the system is set up, and we, the magnanimous leadership, will provide in turn. Help us achieve our goals in a small way, and we will take care of you a little better. Actively aid and abet our hearts' desires, and we will set you up for life. Like a credit card agreement composed by one party - by the power elites who determine who gets in and who stays out (consult your dictionary for the definition of the word "credential") - only one party (you guessed it) gets to modify it, and certainly it is in the power of that same party to cancel it outright if their whim decides it so.
So it is that the middle class motto today has largely become "go along to get along" if not by choice then by necessity of survival. That wellspring of old fashioned American inventiveness and ingenuity has now been conscripted into the service of their State backed masters, who dictate what gets invented and what groundbreaking concepts which might slightly threaten their power grip stay repressed. (There were supposed to be flying cars by now, as I recall, but the government's monopolistic regulation of air transport just might be a tad threatened there.)
Witness the attitude of the middle class toward their 'inferiors.' They have adopted the mannerisms of their elite masters to whom they have sold their souls. In the past the attitude of the average American to poverty and disappointment in their midst was "There but for the grace of God goes I." Now they take one look at life's legitimate failures, those who have tried their best and still fallen short, and instead of charitably lending a hand, they will blithely state to you, "Yeah, man, things are baaad, everywhere (as Mr. Professional looks on waywardly with his bloated, well fed gut sticking out). Well, someone's got to clean the toilets, man. Down the street there, man, there's a day labor office, they got work over there, go now before I call the cops on you for harassing me to death." Translation: I've got mine, so go f**k yourself. Depressing.
The American professional middle class, which regards itself as so smugly superior and hard working, for the most part no longer produces anything of tangible value, as in physical assets -- such as an automobile or a ton of steel. (Not to be said for many of their working class brothers in labor.) They have become a corps of paper pushers - an endless pit of TPS reports, pointless meetings, conference calls where nothing gets decided, forms and documents to be filled out and signed - in short, very similar to a State bureaucracy.
But there are compensations, of course, thanks to our benighted leadership and the magic of the government's printing press* - they get paid well enough to afford that $3000 flat screen plasma 'TV' (hard to believe it's something as mundane as that) and that $40,000 Escalade that they just had to have. So it's worth it for them, I suppose. Goodies like those can easily assuage the yuppie guilt of a clearly wasted, pointless, colorless middle class life.
Materialism is just stupid. Plain stupid. There are far more valuable things in life - such as the beauty of a summer sunset, or the pleasure of actually enjoying what you do for a living, or the love, respect, and attentions of an attractive and charming woman.
I am not saying by extension that poverty is virtuous. Poverty sucks, and a number of poor people have their own character issues to face.
The pursuit of a comfortable, privileged existence is the be-all and end-all of the modern professional middle class. (But a lot of young and soon to be economically superflous up-and-coming wannabe professional dickheads are going to be greatly disappointed in the coming years.) No deep thought into what causes the world's problems, or how to put the vast numbers of un(der)employed and talented people which populate our urban wastelands to productive and gainful activity, or what we can do to arrest the trend of increasingly bizarre State interventions in our lives. Our wise and noble leaders will surely come up with answers to all these problems. They can do no wrong, of course!
The answer to all this, of course, is freedom.
*Yes, that is the real web address of the US Bureau of Engraving and Printing. The frank honesty of it shocked me also. Makes my point quite succinctly, I might add.