"Liberty doesn't get more liberal, nor does life get more lively. But in the pursuit of Property, corporations and oligarchs would happily deprive others of both (by indebting and poisoning (polluting and corrupting the environment)) for their enrichment."
That's very powerful MM!
The fallacy that corporations and oligarchs blindly operate on is the belief that their wealth magically separates them from society or the environment. Insofar as they ruin society through policies like poverty wages and the environment through pollution, the bubble of security that their wealth/poverty provides is terribly limited to the point of being illusory. Yet do they choose to ignore this because they have small minds and are myopic? No, I believe they do this because they are human and afraid to change even when the preponderance of evidence shows them they must.
That doesn't let the rest of society off the hook. If there is something to be said about the average American letting the rich and powerful get away with every injustice (the greatest and most recent example being the lack of charges and convictions of Investment Bankers post 2008) it is that we are also caught up in the lie that pursuit of Money and Property solve our ills.
“Socialism never took root in America because the poor see themselves not as an exploited proletariat but as temporarily embarrassed millionaires.”
John Steinbecks famous quote kinda bookends the American myth popularized by books of Horatio Alger which illustrated how through luck, pluck, and hard work you can achieve anything you set your mind to. Somehow the truth that Alger wrote about always simply framed around just money and only applied to the individual and never explored in the context of the collective for social good which is why the truth is reduced to a mere platitude. Today we are still struggling to understand the truth of the message of what we can achieve through creative intent.
The reason, VV, TT, YT, why I do feel optimistic is because I don't fear suffering as much as i fear ignorance to the lessons that suffering is trying to teach. It is both a spiritual and scientific view to recognize that no leap in evolution ever took place without a reason or credible threat to remain within the status quo. Animals would never have crawled out of the relative womb of the aquatic life to take a painful gulp of air if the large inland seas weren't drying up. In this same way, the unions and organized labor would never have been necessary except that factories were terrible, unsafe working environments paying slave-wages. In every instance the threat to our safety and survival provided the impetus to leap into the next stage of our evolution.
That second example I provided (and every challenge we currently face) are first and foremost calling for an evolution of human thought. A change in consciousness and viewpoint. Doesn't seem that hard but it is. Throughout human history are peppered examples where people often chose death before they can change their minds to see the wider truth. For the rich it has to do with the human ego and the "small death" it goes through when faced with necessary change. One amusing story describing this is egoic death leading to transformation is in the book, "How Starbucks Saved My Life: A Son of Privilege Learns to Live Like Everyone Else," by Michael Gates Gill.
But equally true is the underdog who must realize and claim his place of dignity alongside others to "fight the good fight" without relying on some strongman to tell them who to blame so they can avoid the difficult struggle of growing in consciousness. Because nobody can expect to know good action until they can learn to discern for themselves what they need, why they need it, and how to get it while also considering their neighbors. Nobody can be trusted to act correctly if they don't have the courage or intelligence to follow The Golden Rule. You'd think that would be obvious but every one of our social, environmental challenges stem from a compromise of The Golden Rule by those who had the power to set policy. Which is why the power to decide policy is safer when it is in the hands of more and more people. But also why our society is being called to grow in consciousness and courage.
As a Progressive, I don't worry that poor, ignorant Conservative Christians will destroy America. I fear that poor CC's and poor Liberal Zealots will continue to fight each other, effectively handing over the wealth of America before both are conscious of the part their own fears play to furthering the hatred and division sowed by wealthy elites that have always, always cynically employed tactics of divide and conquer while they quietly broker back room deals with small-minded politicians to funnel more wealth/power to their pockets. But before the average American can start to understand what they share with their neighbors, they have to develop the courage to face/understand their own fears... The reasons why it is hard for them to follow the Golden Rule is the same reason why they are easily fooled to fight amongst themselves.
Because the basis of the challenge we are collectively facing requires greater self-knowledge, I suspect merely the redistribution of wealth will never work to bring peace and stability to society (sorry MM). Or probably more accurate to turn that around and say that redistribution of wealth in America (or the world) won't happen until the populace wakes up to their condition and without knowing the reasons why we deserve to fight for and keep something, we will always be susceptible and weak for being cheated of it in the future.
""Liberty doesn't get more liberal, nor does life get more lively," and yet it could be argued that our incessant pursuit of Property (and Money) is to make up for the lack of Life and Liberty in our hearts (considering the number of wealthy people who commit suicide because they still feel trapped by their "life circumstance"). Which is why I say part of the challenge we face is actually to embody our Life and our Liberty given that we can't make more of it. This is foremost a challenge of the heart: To Be is a matter of expanding our consciousness. That may be the hardest thing to do for some people but quite literally it takes no time at all.