Free-market capitalism has been used and is still being used to determine the wealth creation in a nation. It is the main determinant of democracy in politics and in various cultures. In his book titled “More Equal than others,” Godfrey Hodgson who is a renowned historian and journalist in Britain has taken a look at the political history of the US. In the book, he has looked back at twenty years a period he terms as “the conservative ascendancy” in the US signifying the manner in which the American politics was being dominated. While other authors and economic analysts denote that the rise in conservatism positively influenced the American people by spreading equality and immense wealth, Hodgson seems to disagree with their opinions. He believes that conservatism led to economically, socially, and culturally growth of inequality. Hodgson argues that the lifestyle that the Americans adopted caused them to abandon several past practices. His arguments are centered between wealth and income inequality which has become intense in the US. He has compared the Americans societies to that of the class-stratified societies experienced in Europe during the early twentieth-century. However, the book covers immense themes such as economy, racial inequality, immigration, capitalism, emerging feminism, and foreign policy which are analyzed below.
Summary of the book
Hodgson’s book is densely factual with explicit documentation of conformist counterrevolution within the US in the past centuries. He has elaborated on the manner in which free market tyranny has demoralized the US culture while installing a system where every individual, institution and every motive towards the American dream is regulated by the dollar.. Hodgson believes that the economic immobility among classes and races has been caused by the free-market capitalism. He uses this point to justify how capitalism is not real and shown how it has destroyed the economy of US.
Hodgson has addressed several issues in the ten chapters of the book. In the first four chapters of the book, the author has shown a contrast in the political sector especially the complacent in political rhetoric in the twentieth century creating a clear picture of what was happening in the economy, in politics, state of the Union, and in technology during that particular period of time (Hodgson 12). In chapter 4, the author has addressed the issues that are related to immigration. He explains how being an immigrant affects someone especially when it comes to social democracy, use of technology, and investment issues in the US. He goes further to examine the various changes that are caused or brought about by immigrants in the nation.
In chapter 6 and 7, Hodgson has addressed the issue concerning women and racism. He has shown the manner in which women have bred high hopes. He believes that the civil rights movement and women’s movement are frustrating the society through resistance. However, in chapter 8, Hodgson has gone further to make arguments regarding the achievements in the new society. He has stated that despite the fact that the world seems to have achieved much and several people are having pleasure, the pattern is intricate especially with suburb emergence, corporate power coronation, segregation by income, and the influence that media and advertising in the society.
The author has indicated in the book that the society is divided based on education, social and economic standards. America is highly segregated in terms of classes whereby the educated and the rich have more opportunities while the poor suffer or struggle to obtain jobs and make their daily living. Hodgson views these issues that are happening in the society today as a betrayal. Equality in mankind is not portrayed in America because the society has been developed in some way that there are some individuals who appear more equal more than others. The author believes that it will be hard to bridge the gap that exists between the poor and the rich in the society.
In chapter 9 of the book, Hodgson has addressed the issues experienced in the new world especially the manner in which Americans views the other parts of the world and also how the world views America. This chapter reveals through various survey data how there has been a confrontation in America among the current Republican conservative especially after the 9/11 event and the war that took place in Iraq. In the past, there was progression everywhere in the US, something that no longer exists right now as the nation has transformed into a guarantor and friendly conservative nation (Hodgson 251). Equality and progress is no longer a banner in the nation, with the only people who are left to profit from the nation’s wealth being the corporate business owners. Majority of the citizens are led by self-satisfaction and self-interest which has brought about inequality that is being experienced today.
In the last chapter, titled “The new century,” the author has also addressed issues regarding inequality having caused by a selfish nation. Nevertheless, the new world still experiences the same problems of inequality whereby only a small group of individual own wealth such as managers, tame ideologists, publicists and professionals have accumulated cultural power, financial status, own industry and controls the media. Hodgson claims that these rich people are blind; they are not able to see the current situation in the state and at the same time are in great denial regarding the fundamental facet of what is taking place in the nation and around them. He has stated in the book that these individuals regardless of the fact that they help build the economy of the US continue storing problems for the future and or other individuals such as the poor. The author argues that these kinds of individuals are not in any position to command any respect or affection from the world. They do not possess the elements of humanity such as generosity, equality and openness that the world experienced in the past decades. Hodgson blames the government for the loss of virtues in the society today.
Critical analysis of the themes
Hodgson has addressed several issues in the book that America is currently facing. Among the major themes in the book are: inequality, race, capitalism and immigration.
Hodgson has come up with various conclusions that are extremely depressing regarding the issues of inequality in America. He has disputed the thoughts regarding conservatism influencing the spread of equality in America. He views America as a nation that has been corrupted by conservatism which replaced liberal consensus. This has instead resulted in financial segregation with the wealthy people enjoying equality, but at the expense of other people. Hodgson’s views regarding financial segregation is right because, today there is a huge difference between the rich and the poor. While the poor continue getting poor, the rich are becoming richer at the expense of the poor by charging high prices for goods and services in their companies.
According to Hodgson, marketing taking place in the suburbia has highly stratified the interests and the wealth among people which has increased the class struggle among the Republicans in the suburbs and the Democrats in the cities. This data is correct because the level of wealth acquired by the rich in the suburb regions and the cities differs. It means that the author’s interpretation regarding equality among the poor and the rich are right based on what is being experienced in the world today. There are no groups of social class that are in the same level today whether it is the poor, the rich or the middle class groups.
Hodgson has noted that the growing inequality is the most prominent social fact regarding the conservative ascendancy among the Americans. However, in this case, the readers may ask themselves whether this was a strategy that the conservatives had already applied. This is because the conservative mechanisms which the readers expected to increase the rate of inequality are not mentioned much in the book. It makes the readers to question whether this information provided by Hodgson is right or not. However, in order to determine the level of inequality in the nation, conservative mechanisms are crucial. This is because conservatives are individuals who are highly doubtful of power and human desire to utilize it. These types of individuals believe that power corrupts humans even those individuals who are free. It is the reason why inequality has negative impacts in the world (Chafe, Gerstle, Gordon and Zelizer 146).
The author has also noted in the book that the emergence of internet in the world which has made entrepreneurship work easy has not changed the rate of inequality in the US. Hodgson has demonstrated the manner in which inequality has continued to grow sharply and has been marginalized politically. In the chapter titled “New Economics,” the author has explained how free market capitalism transformed the economic theory into a shaped culture. He compared America to the old European society where there was strict class-structure. The author has looked into the case of Los Angeles and New York City together with the rural Missouri where the rate of inequality is high particularly in the work place. Hodgson has also mentioned how Alan Greenspan contributed the economic change in what is experienced today in America especially among the Democrats and the Republicans. Nevertheless, he has failed to mention in the book how Greenspan transformed the mind of Bill Clinton who was then the president of US. The main transformation that was experienced in the economy was the cut in taxation within the middle class group.
Hodgson did not only mention the issue of inequality in regards to economics, but also socially and culturally. He has explained in the book how racial segregation in America has undermined the people of color. The author has explained how regardless of the prosperity that the Americans were facing, there were particular group of individuals who were left out. It looked like the economy had overcome its hurdles and was prospering with Clinton claiming that the nation under his government had acquired economic growth at a fast rate, something that had not been experienced in the US for over 30years.
In reality, during the Clinton administration, the US as a nation had progressed economically and there was an increase in the rate of job creating with more than 20 million people acquiring jobs during that year (Hodgson 95). Nevertheless, it was controversial that not everyone enjoyed the economic progress because a larger majority of the poor individuals experienced the lowest rate of employment. Hodgson has, however, failed to mention the reason that led to the poor people not being employment. The main reason could have been due to lack of enough education to enable them reach the next level in business. He has mentioned that more African Americans together with the Hispanics were not employed. It clearly shows how race played an important part in the level of job acquisition in the nation.
On the other hand, the author has mentioned the issue of race in leadership whereby the feminine puts a blame on the men for antagonizing conservative, something that has given room for the middle class acquire a chance within the economic movement formed by the women themselves. He looks at the case of the white leaders who controls the black leadership giving room for conservative women within a specific culture to take control of everything. However, based on what is happening in the US today, Hodgson’s views on racism in leadership are questionable. Yes, there are cases whereby a specific group has been preferred over another, but today, the government has stood firm on issues regarding racism making it hard to disqualify a person based on their culture or race.
It is not easy to understand America in regards to the manner in which it is stimulated by immigration. Nevertheless, immigrants have not had much impact on the nation because they choose to cling to their cultural lifestyle. However, with time, they begin to change their views and transform more to American culture. They began to learn new languages, but they are not in a position to meet their dreams in the nation despite their attempts to adjust to the American lifestyle. Hodgson has explained in the book how majority of the immigrants in America find themselves wondering from one place to another because they have failed to acquire paradise that they thought of getting in the nation.
In the chapter titled “New Economics,” the author has addressed the manner in which free market capitalism changed the economy of the nation because of class structures. This is contrary to what was viewed in the past when capitalism was a tool used for democracy. Today, corporate propaganda is what is considered as true democracy because it is controlled by the elite and the working class families. The nation has transformed in such a way that any person such as journalists who earns few dollars monthly are considered poor and economic oppressors while the rich who earns hundreds of millions are praised for improving the economy (Bigsby 156).
Hodgson considers America a nation that is still young in regards to revolution thus should not be overweighed by their memories and dreams. He claims that if this will be the case, there will be no growth that will be experienced in the nation. However, Hodgson has failed to elaborate on this issue making the readers to wonder how overweighed memories will prevent America from growing. This is because several Americans are seeking the American dream, something that has motivated them to work hard which in turn has helped transform their economy.
In conclusion, Hodgson has opened the reader’s eyes regarding important issues that people are facing in America. He has addressed the way in which wealth and income inequality has affected the nation with several citizens forced to adopt or abandon particular lifestyle in order to survive in the nation. The main themes covered in the book are inequality in regards to economics and feminism, capitalism, immigration, and foreign policies. All these issues addressed by the author can enable the readers to understand that sometimes it is not good to judge something based on what you see on the surface. Some of the things and issues that I have learnt from Hodgson reading are how capitalism can be utilized in the free market to determine the wealth creation in a specific nation. Through the reading, I have also learnt that there are some individuals who are equal than others something which Hodgson has considered to be lack of democracy. Lastly have learnt that in order for the economy to progress well, equality is mandatory at all levels.