Our present global economic and political system is concentrating wealth and slowly eliminating the middle class. Serfs don't act like bourgeoisie or yeomen. They don't care because a serf is all they'll ever be. The system which is bringing this about is touted as THE Christian system by the Christo-American intelligentsia, which is largely comprised of people within the middle class. The system has to be, because they have identified it as theologically orthodox. The irony is (I would argue) they have identified this position as Christian not due to exegesis, but because of social values stemming from their middle class status. And yet it is this system, this very economic model which has placed their social standing in jeopardy.It's as if they are tying their own hands, cutting their own throats. Capitalism is nothing more than the Biblical system of economics we have been told by many. These same folks reject with hostility what might be called Global Capitalism, or even domestic 'Crony' Capitalism, but the protestations are vain. Capitalism is never static, it must grow and advance or die. The idea that men, especially fallen ones are going to ever be content with the wealth and power they have is not a Christian understanding of humanity or economics. Men will always seek new avenues, new realms to conquer. When the local realm is not enough, they go national, and eventually and inevitably international.
Government and infrastructure are essential for a society to function. Is it any surprise the wealthy will find ways to profit from it? That they will find ways to make their profits essential to the maintenance of society? Greed knows no boundaries. The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil. Capitalism without some serious restraint is nothing more than the systemized vindication and institutionalization of the love of money. It devolves and degenerates into wealth for wealth's sake. And to survive it must defeat others, it must crush those underneath. It must exploit. Its apologists argue otherwise, but they live in an ivory-tower dream land. The facts, and history are very much against them.
Capitalism it is asserted, built the middle class. There is some truth to this, although other societies have also built a middling-class without this system. Even Feudalism was not so cut and dry as it often presented in text books. None of these systems are. With the rise of town economics, something like a middle class developed in the Middle Ages.
Capitalism in granting social transformative power to the entrepreneur, can provide a check to state power-acquisition. A lack of Capitalism it could be argued helped fuel the absolute monarchy you saw in places like Tsarist Russia. All these questions are complicated and each situation is different.The more I reflect on the American situation, the more I've come to realize the American golden economic age of the 1950's and 60's was unsustainable. It was destroyed by greed, both Corporate and Labour. But it also was a temporary situation. The war had destroyed global competition for a generation. It was only a matter of time. So while there is a historical precedent for some notion of a middling-class... the American middle class, its standard of living, and much else that has gone along with it, is really something fairly new and is potentially proving to be a short-lived construct. The divide is returning.
In Europe, the middle class has been in part engineered and institutionally secured. Now under the strain of austerity they will soon discover whether or not the collective has the strength to stand against the desires and wants of the individual, whether or not the still present inequities of their regulated Capitalism are too much to bear.Britain has never had quite the same scope of Middle Class as is found in America. There are other issues. One of them is space! Americans visiting England cannot but be shocked at the population density and the way people are packed into the urban areas. This has curtailed the extravagance found in American suburbia.
Britain has a middle class, but I guess I would try and argue it has always been a bit smaller, more constrained, and far less stable. The post-war social safety net has probably helped hold their society together in many ways. For some reason Americans will actually tolerate more wealth inequality. We are a nation of very rich people and very poor and in recent years the poor have grown much poorer. In most other western societies they would have taken to the streets long before now. The American Establishment has pulled off one of the greatest propaganda coups of all time...they convinced the masses to consistently vote against their own interests.
A healthy middle class makes for a stable and invested society. A non-integrated class will lead to social breakdown. They will either be viewed as being a drain on the system, or in some cases they can be exploited for cheap labour. Either way it helps to create certain conditions which are unhealthy and anytime there are bumps in the road for the middle class, they will look to the non-integrated segments as an outlet for anger and blame.