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Requiem for the American Dream is an intense and insightful documentary with Noam Chomsky, the narrator of the film, who elucidates the fundamental flaws of our political system that detract from democracy. Noam Chomsky discusses ten principles in which he refers to them as “The Ten Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power”. These ten principles focus on the ideals by the wealthy and the United States government, including the controversial issues regarding the corruption and usage of power for the past 250 years.
The first principle of Chomsky’s “The Ten Principles of Concentration of Wealth and Power” is called “Reduced Democracy.” The problem that this principle presents is that the U.S. government is acting on ways to minimize democracy for the benefit of the rich. Most of the wealthy profoundly dislike democracy because they want to ensure that the poor are powerless and the rich become richer. As Chomsky explains, “Right through American history, there has been an ongoing clash between pressure for more freedom and democracy coming from below and efforts of control and domination coming from above”.
This principle has affected the lives of people in America today because it has been a constant issue. Wealthier individuals strongly believe that the poor should not be entitled to have power or rights, such as voting or moving up social classes. The rich want power and domination all for themselves and do this by exploiting the working class. Chomsky specified that sectors of the population have become more active in society and fought for rights such as minority rights, women rights, and environmental change that transformed consciousness but caused great fear for the government and wealthier individuals.
The possible consequences of this principle on an individual level are the difficulties for the lower class to move above the hierarchy. Individuals could lose confidence, motivation, or even their well being if this principle were enforced. Consequences on a societal level could lead to riots and total destruction within the society. If the government decides to reduce democracy, people in the society of the lower and middle class will strongly fight for their rights. It could lead to more distrust towards the U.S. government and more hatred between the divisions of the population. Reducing democracy would cause the society to lose control. To decrease its influence, it is important that the government ensures fairness and equality beyond all levels of the society. Therefore, the U.S. government should invest more in education, increase minimum wage, and provide more opportunities for the lower and middle class in order to establish a sense of hope and increase the well being of others.
The problem that the fourth principle presents is the unfairness of “shifting the burden” of the economy towards the lower and middle class because the rich and corporations want to pay fewer taxes. Morally, the U.S. government taxes those who have a higher income in order to maintain the economy. However the U.S. tax system is still deemed unfair due to the top 0.1% of the population that are able to increase their wealth more, resulting at a disadvantage for the lower class. Wages were stagnant for a long period and corporations refused to pay their taxes due to their selfish reasoning of wanting to keep the profits.
The fourth principle affects the people in America today because even though the rich are being taxed much more, the burden is still being brought upon the working class. For instance, wages are still being taxed and prices of education and health care are still beyond our reach. It is still difficult for the working class to pay for these expenses while trying to build a promising future. The U.S. tax system is still unacceptable and unfair to the society.
The consequences that it could lead to an individual level are particularly towards the concern of individuals in the working class. It is more difficult to maintain a living while being taxed so extensively. It is also difficult to pay for expenses such as college and health care. With this being said, individuals striving to pursue a dream could lose motivation and determination. The consequences that it could occur on a societal level are class warfare. The different classes in our society could lead to war due to the inequality this principle conveys. To decrease its influence, it is important for the wealthy and business corporations to solely understand the importance of being taxed more for the benefit of the society. They would need to completely change their outlook and have more empathy towards the working class.
Chomsky’s eighth principle is called “Keep the Rabble in Line” that presents the problem of the wealthy wanting to prevent the working class from fighting for their any rights. As Chomsky states in the documentary, “There is one organized force which has traditionally been in the forefront of efforts to improve the lives of the general population. That’s organized labor. It’s also a barrier to corporate tyranny,” meaning that working class plays a significant role for the improvement of the society.
The eighth principle affects the lives of the people in America today by preventing the working class from gaining any new rights or to seek improvement in the workplace. This principle also psychosocially affects the lives of the people because it oppresses individuals from having a voice and from trying to build a better future.
The consequences that it could result to an individual level are loss of motivation and willpower in reaching career and personal goals. The eighth principle could cause individuals to feel discouraged from having any viewpoints towards the inequality and injustice that our society consists of. The consequences that it could lead on a societal level are violence, warfare between classes, riots, and more organized strikes and demands for rights. To decrease its influence, it is important to continue to allow individuals to speak openly for what they believe in.
The last and tenth principle is called “Marginalize the Population.” The problem that this principle presents is towards the population, which could be the cause of destruct and hate towards each other. Activists and organizations could perhaps be the reason of anger and animosity in the society. The tenth principle affects the lives of people in America today by causing individuals to become more selfish and only care for their own self-interests. This will lead to “an extremely ugly society,” which was based on Adam Smith’s vile maxim “all for myself, nothing for anyone else”.
The consequences of the tenth principle on an individual level could result in frustration, selfishness, and greed for wealth rather than focusing on morale and values. On a societal level, consequences could result with a population resenting institutions and destructive actions such as violence between classes. With a selfish society, individuals will become narrow-minded and eventually the society will be diminished. To decrease its influence, Chomsky stated it is essential for a society to reflect on its values as a whole rather than concentrating on greed or how to maximize monetary gain. Individuals within the society should come together as one and reestablish a society that consists of “normal human instincts and emotion of sympathy, solidarity, and mutual support”.
Noam Chomsky’s exposition of how power and regulations of the U.S. government came to be was truly an eye-opening experience for many individuals. The exposure of how our society is structured, and the destruction it continues to cause on an individual and societal level exemplifies the vicious life cycle of wealth and power in the United States.
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