requiem for american dream

wikipedia small

Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power is a book by political activist and linguist Noam Chomsky.


It was created and edited by Peter Hutchinson, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott. It lays out Chomsky’s analysis of neoliberalism. It focuses on the concentration of wealth and power in United States over the past forty years, analyzing the phenomenon known as income inequality. The book was published by Seven Stories Press in 2017.

Chomsky is most interested in how the rise of financialization, which “is a process whereby financial markets, financial institutions, and financial elites gain greater influence over economic policy and economic outcomes,” and how it affects and shapes public life in America, leading to a concentration of wealth and power to elite persons and institutions. This has been shown to lead to phenomena like the richest people in the world having as much wealth as the bottom half of the world.

A documentary film of the same name, Requiem for the American Dream, featuring Noam Chomsky and directed by Peter D. Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott was released in 2015.


requiem: token of remembrance


adding page while watching doc.. again

notes/quotes from full doc []

filmed over 4 yrs

if you look at ineq.. it’s like the worst periods of american history

the ineq comes from the wealth of the 1%.. it mostly comes from super wealth.. the top 10% of the 1%

the very fact of ineq has a corrosive harmful effect on democracy

2 min – part of the american dream is class mobility.. you work hard you get rich – car house school.. it’s all collapsed

today we can.. and need to.. go beyond democracy and the american dream

3 min – imagine self in an outside position.. looking from mars.. what do you see

democracy means govt carries out acts determined by population..

one major reason non of this has ever worked.. public consensus always oppresses someone.. and today we have the means to listen to every voice.. making consensus irrelevant

4 min – it’s important to understand that privileged/powerful sectors have never liked democracy and for very good reasons.. democracy puts power into the hands of the general population and takes it away from them

not sure if that ever worked/works.. either way.. today we have the means to go deeper and put power into hands of every individual.. what we need most is the energy of 7b alive people.. and since we now have that means.. we can’t not

5 min – the 10 principles of concentration of wealth/power – concentration of wealth yields concentration of power.. ie: cost of elections to legislation that increases wealth.. et al.. vicious cycle.. so traditional that it was described by adam smith in 1776 (wealth of nations) .. masters of mankind.. all for selves and nothing for anyone else.. pursuing those policies

7 min – principle 1 – reduce democracy.. goes back to founding of country.. ie: madison .. main framer.. who was as much a believer in democracy as anyone in the world in that day.. nevertheless felt that the us system should be designed so that power in hands of wealthy.. because more responsible.. so structure of constitutional system placed most power in hands of senate.. not elected in those days.. selected from wealthy.. men as madison had put it – had sympathy for property owners and their rights

hardt & negri property law et al

8 min – madison: to protect minority of the opulent against the majority.. ie: if everyone a voice.. poor getting together to take from rich.. can’t have that.. so .. constitution set up to prevent democracy

again.. yay.. but we can go deeper than democracy even.. (assuming it would ever work anyway)

human\e constitution

9 min – goes back to first books on systems.. aristotle – best is democracy.. but then he points out exactly the flaw madison pointed out (poor getting together to take from rich).. same dilemma.. opposite solutions.. aristotle proposed what we would nowadays call a welfare state.. so same problem opp solutions 1\ reduce ineq  2\ reduce democracy

10 min – history of us is a constant struggle between these two tendencies

12 min – i did not anticipate the power of the reaction to the civilizing effects of the 60s.. the strength of the reaction to it.. the backlash..

13 min – principle 2 – shape ideology .. ie: enormous concentrated business offense in the 70s.. to try to beat back the egalitarian efforts that went right thru the nixon years.. because business losing control of society.. business used it’s control of resources to beat back democratizing wave

15 min – other side – were concerned an excess of democracy were developing – too much pressure on state.. so have to return to pacivipty .. esp w young people.. put it as failure on part of schools, churches.. ‘institutions of the indoctrination of the young’ their phrase.. not mine

16 min – major backlash.. parallel to this was just redesigning the econ – principle 3

since 70s.. increase rolls of institutions.. ie: banks.. by 2007 had 40% of profits.. far more than any in the past

17 min – in 50s  – us based on production.. manufacture.. fin institutions relatively small

20 min – by 70s.. ge could make more profit playing games w money than producing.. ge substantially a fin institution today.. makes 1/2 profits by moving money around.. w no value.. called fin of econ.. going along w that is the off shoring of production

21 min – trade system constructed.. putting people in competition all over world.. lowered wages worldwide.. except for highly paid professionals..

policy designed to increase insecurity.. ie: alan greenspan – control based on greater worker insecurity – they aren’t going to ask for better pay.. working conditions.. et al.. devastating to population

policy ness

23 min – clip from him young at mit.. getting involved in anti war activities.. leading activist to nam war

24 min – notion of anti american – in totalitarian.. vilified.. if criticize concentrated power.. you’re against the system.. quite striking that it’s used in the us.. only democratic society where it isn’t ridiculed

27 min – principle 4 – shift the burden

american dream partly symbolic but partly real.. ie: 50s-60s.. biggest growth in american econ history.. pretty egalitarian..  and some welfare state measures that improved life for many..

29 min – in plutonomy (wealth to small %) concerns aren’t for population because they aren’t going to be buying your products.. term coming into being for them.. the precariat – precarious proletariat.. the working people of the world who live increasingly precarious lives..  and it’s related to the attitude toward the country taxes redesigned.. reduced for wealthy.. increased for rest

31 min – reasoning is that it increases production.. but it doesn’t.. if you want to stimulate production give money to poor

32 min – principle 5 – attack solidarity – which is quite dangerous to the masters.. just take care of self.. quite diff from their heroes ie: adam smith.. who said sympathy is fundamental human trait.. but has to be driven out of people’s heads

it’s taken a lot of effort to drive these basic human emotions out of people’s heads

based on solidarity ie: soc security; public schools (one of the jewels of american society);


35 min – a lot of success of 50s 60s was based on free public ed

look where it got is..? how can you be so manufacturing consent and not see the poison in ed (to be fair he’s mostly talking about it being free.. but still the institution of ed is at the heart of what he claims is wrong)

37 min – principle 6 – run the regulators – history of regulation (ie: railroad).. either initiated/supported by fin institutions.. they now.. sooner/later they can take over the regulators..  business being regulated is in fact running the regulators.. natural tendency when look at distribution of power

inspectors of inspectors et al

39 min – de regulation begins under business/political pressure.. and get more and more crashes.. begins 70s.. 80s really takes off.. quite safe as along as you know govt is going to come to your rescue.. ie: reagan and continental il).. 1999 regulation dismantled from banks.. then bush/obama bail outs.. and they’re building up the next one

each time.. taxpayers called out to bail out the ones that made the problem.. called .. too big to fail.. people picked to fix the crisis are the ones who created it

42 min – one set of rules for rich.. other for poor.. and if population allows it to proceed.. will go on and on to next crash.. so much that banks taking account for future crashes when take money.. that’s what happens when you put those in power that want to maintain power/wealth to self.. just as you’d expect

44 min  – 2009 – citizens united .. has a history 14 amendment – rights can’t be infringed w/o due process of law.. .. i don’t think it was ever used for freed slaves (who it was written for).. but now institutions/businesses using it

45 min – corporations are state created legal fictions.. maybe good/bad.. but to call them persons is outrageous.. extended thru 20th cent.. corps got rights way beyond what individuals had..  if take 14th amendment literally then no undocumented alien can be deprived of rights.. if they’re persons.. the ones living here building your buildings and cleaning your lawns.. they’re not persons.. but corps are.. this perversion of elementary morality is quite incredible

46 min – money is a form of speech decided in 70 – so corps et al.. can use money freely.. tremendous attack on the residue of democracy.. business power greatly extended.. that vicious cycle

free speech et al

48 min – principle 8 – keep the rabble in line – one org’d force w plenty of flaws.. but in forefront of efforts to improve lives.. org’d labor.. it’s also a barrier to tyranny.. the one barrier to this vicious cycle..

49 min – major reason for attack on unions.. they are a democratizing force.. anti-union sentiment in us is so strong that fundamental core of labor rights.. is the right of free association.. ie: right to form unions.. us has never ratified.. considered so far out of spectrum of us politics.. never considered..

roosevelt encouraging unions ‘i prefer that broader defn of liberty’  – 30s..  to reagan saying.. in violation of law.. will lose their jobs..  to less than 7% private sectors workers have unions.. counter force (to high class) dissolved

54 min – class: who gives orders and who follows..

principle 9 – manufacture consent – pr/ad – too much freedom if just control by force.. so had to have other means.. had to control by beliefs/attitudes..aka: fabricating consumers

manufacturing consent

56 min – fabricate once.. then trapped into becoming consumers.. fashionable consumption will keep them out of our hair.. ‘public put in place so responsible ones can make decisions’ .. ad industry explodes w this goal

decision making

58 min – turn society into perfect pair – you and tv/internet – measure of a decent life

59 min – create uniformed consumers who will make irrational choices.. that what consumerism.. and elections.. are about

1:01 – principle 10 – marginalize the population – ‘70% of population has no way of influencing policy’.. led to a population that’s angry.. hates institutions.. not acting constructively to try to respond to this.. unfocused anger.. attacks on one another.. it is corrosive of social relations.. but that’s the point.. to make people hate/fear each other .. and look out only for themselves..t

thurman interconnectedness law

1:03 – april 15 is a measure of how democratic a society is.. if really democratic.. would be a day of celebration.. in us.. it’s a day of mourning.. not a very attractive pic

unless this all reversed.. going to be a really ugly society.. so ugly i wouldn’t want to live in it.. i wouldn’t want my children to

this was released before 2015

1:04 – (from many years earlier talk) – any society based on that can survive.. it’s ugly but it can survive.. but if globally.. headed for mass destruction

1:05 – i don’t think we’re smart enough to design in detail what any free/just society would be like.. we can give guidelines. and ask how we can progress in that direction

2 convers as infra

wish so much we could talk

1:06 – where there are structure of authority/hierarchy.. they have to justify themselves.. have a burden of proof to meet.. if you look closely.. find they can’t justify selves.. and if they can’t .. we ought to be dismantling them

1:07 – where change happens is where people are working at it.. take freedom of speech.. not in constitution et al.. but in 60s.. many working to change that

1:08 – the activists are the people who have created the rights that we have enjoyed..  you try to do things.. you learn.. you learn things.. feeds back to how to go on.. there’s huge opps..

we need to do that daily.. and the opp tech brings in is exponentially diff than ever before..

my close friend zinn: ‘what matters is the countless small deeds of unknown people who lay the basis’

zinn: what we need most: the energy of 7bn alive people

fittingness matters.. so mech/means to listen to every voice (not reps of every voice) everyday .. matters.. ie: tech as it could be..