Is This the End of the Second Guilded Age?

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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Cheshire Cat
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26 February 2020 17:34
 

That’s the question posed in this article by Anand Giridharadas, from the Time website.

I think the term, “Second Guilded Age,” is an accurate depiction of the times we live in. It is a time when America has become a plutocracy, when big money interests through campaign contributions, dark money and armies of lobbyists have bought our government to serve their needs. And I think people are getting fed up with it.

The mercy of all this elite failure and backlash is this: the ongoing collapse of any pretense of selflessness among the winners of our new Gilded Age.

If a single cultural idea has upheld the disproportionate power of this class, it has been the idea of the “win-win.” They could get rich and then “give back” to you: win-win. They could run a fund that made them sizable returns and offered you social returns too: win-win. They could sell sugary drinks to children in schools and work on public-private partnerships to improve children’s health: win-win. They could build cutthroat technology monopolies and get credit for serving to connect humanity and foster community: win-win.

As this seductive idea fizzles out, it raises the possibility that this age of capital, in which money was the ultimate organizing principle of American life, could actually end. Something could actually replace it. After all, a century ago, America was firmly planted in the first Gilded Age—and then it found its way into the Progressive Era and the New Deal, an era of great public ambition. Business didn’t go away; it wasn’t abolished; capitalists didn’t go into gulags. It was just that the emphasis of the society shifted. Money was no longer the lodestar of all pursuits.

The choice facing Americans is whether we want to be a society organized around money’s thirsts, a playground for the whims of billionaires, or whether we wish to be a democracy. The second Gilded Age will end at some point. The question is what comes next: What Trump offers is tribal nationalism, strongman politics and plutocrat–friendly policy greased by populist rhetoric. The other possibility is that, as occurred a century ago, a gilded age collapses into an age of reform: an era defined culturally by renewed public purpose and politically by the restoration of the state in areas where people are too powerless to solve problems of their own—defined by the use of shared institutions to solve shared problems. You can already see glimpses of how an age of reform is being dreamed up. Higher taxes on the very fortunate, to be sure; more regulation and worker protections and the like. An attack on climate change almost as dramatic as climate change itself. Programs to give workers greater security. It would be an age in which it was cooler, more thrilling, more admired, more viable to change the world democratically.

https://time.com/5735384/capitalism-reckoning-elitism-in-america-2019/

 
 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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26 February 2020 22:03
 

My understanding of the first Gilded Age is weak.  How did the reformers gain power?

 
MARTIN_UK
 
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MARTIN_UK
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26 February 2020 23:24
 

I think the current epoch is still in a state of growth. In the US and UK it’s very visible, with the Trumpy Boris Johnsony era of acting like a buffoon in the face of the public being seen as charming and acceptable, along with the dodgy deals and arm twisting of anyone who threatens them in the background.
It seems to work for them. Sad but true.

 
Cheshire Cat
 
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29 February 2020 16:08
 
Skipshot - 26 February 2020 10:03 PM

My understanding of the first Gilded Age is weak.  How did the reformers gain power?

The Guilded age was very similar to our era. Great economic growth lead to great wealth disparity between the rich and poor. And, like our age, political corruption was running rampant. People had enough of it, and the Guilded Age was followed by the Progressive Era.

In United States history, the Gilded Age was an era that occurred during the late 19th century, from the 1870s to about 1900.

The “Gilded Age” term came into use in the 1920s and 1930s and was derived from writer Mark Twain’s and Charles Dudley Warner’s 1873 novel The Gilded Age: A Tale of Today, which satirized an era of serious social problems masked by a thin gold gilding. The early half of the Gilded Age roughly coincided with the mid-Victorian era in Britain and the Belle Époque in France. Its beginning, in the years after the American Civil War, overlaps the Reconstruction Era (which ended in 1877).[3] It was followed in the 1890s by the Progressive Era.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gilded_Age

The Progressive Era was a period of widespread social activism and political reform across the United States, from the 1890s to 1920s. The main objective of the Progressive movement was eliminating corruption in government. The movement primarily targeted political machines and their bosses. By taking down these corrupt representatives in office, a further means of direct democracy would be established. They also sought regulation of monopolies (“trust-busting”) and corporations through antitrust laws. These antitrust laws were seen as a way to promote equal competition for the advantage of legitimate competitors. The main statutes are the Sherman Act of 1890, the Clayton Act of 1914, and the Federal Trade Commission Act of 1914.

https://tinyurl.com/y7ho8u6v

I think we are ready for a new Progressive Age, in my opinion.

 

 
 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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01 March 2020 00:08
 

I think we are in a State of Transformation - and it’s going to be a perpetual one.
Different countries and communities move at different speeds, yet are all interconnected. It will be extremely difficult to find an overarching attribute for the current age beyond “in flux”.

 
 
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01 March 2020 11:10
 
Twissel - 01 March 2020 12:08 AM

I think we are in a State of Transformation - and it’s going to be a perpetual one.
Different countries and communities move at different speeds, yet are all interconnected. It will be extremely difficult to find an overarching attribute for the current age beyond “in flux”.

True. But things flow in cycles also.

I think we’re hitting an extreme point at the moment. The Citizens United Supreme Court decision, Buckley v. Valeo, as well as other rulings, have ushered in an era of political corruption in this country. Legalized bribery by corporations is labeled “free speech.” Corporations have the same rights as people. Dark money flows secretly as a corrupting force below the radar funded by millionaires and billionaires.

We will either turn this around, as they did in the Progressive Era a hundred years ago, or the rich and corporate interests will gain a stranglehold on the government making our political system a permanent plutocracy.