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Have we relinquished any and all ability to effect changes in our social and political societies?
Some say yes!
The Pastoral Societies, which first emerged about 12,000 years ago, with the division of labors and the beginning of economic activities. Before this division of labor, all members of the clan or tribe shared in the daily responsibilities of maintaining the needs of said clan or tribe.
The Pastoral Society morphed into the Horticultural Society and with this change came more specialization leading to inequalities in wealth and power within the individual societies, clans or tribes. Chieftainships (leaders), usually hereditary, become prevalent. During this time economic and political systems are developed.
Agricultural Societies came into being around 8,500 years ago and with their advent came even greater degrees of social stratification. It was during this time that women became subordinate to men, farmers, craftsmen and others became subordinate to warriors and warriors became subordinate to "the nobility". This was the formalization of the "Haves" and the "Have Nots".
During the Feudal Societies of the 9th thru the 18th centuries, there were multigenerational caste systems of the Serfs or peasants being exploited by the Nobility, with the nobles being the landowners. In the latter time of the Feudal Period, Capitalism came into being and thus, the Serfs became Workers, i.e. The Working Class.
Industrial Societies followed giving us the "Capitalist Barons" like the rubber barons, railroad barons and the like. Class systems still exist between the uber-wealthy and the working class; accompanied with the inequitable division of rewards for each others contribution.
The transition from the Feudal Societies to the Industrial Society occurred from the mid eighteen hundreds to today, and with it came a much more divided culture. It was during this time that the rich became extremely more wealthy, while the under classes lost most of its' wealth. It was during this time that the culture in the United States of America became a Plutocracy with the very rich ruling over the working class, and most of the time, not to the benefit of or for the working class. The last financial melt down is a prime example of the rich manipulation of events to benefit themselves at the working classes expense. The Plutocracy of today have consolidated their power with the usurpation of the federal and state governments by fiat and rulings handed down by many of our Supreme Courts starting in the early eighteen hundreds to current times giving corporations the same constitutional rights as human beings; thus Corporate Personhood is now dominate in this Plutocratic Society.
Is there anything the "great unwashed" can do? There is, but first we have to understand that our plight is not of our making; rather it is the making of the "ruling class" and it is with the ruling class that we must deal.
Some futurists think that the playing field will level in the up-coming Post-Industrial Society with a decline in inequality because technical skills rather than property ownership will be the determining factor, and that society will become more concerned with the welfare of all members of this new society. The Plutocrats will not give up their power easily.
Thomas Jefferson said, " I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our monies corporations which dare already to challenge our government to a trial by strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country.”
And “I know of no safe depository of the ultimate powers of the society but the people themselves; and if we think them not enlightened enough to exercise their control with a wholesome discretion, the remedy is not to take it from them but to inform their discretion."
It is up to us to take control of this Society and make it work for us, not the Plutocrats.
We, the Human Citizens of the United States of America, must choose their enemies wisely.