Streams

Aspiration and Aggravation

Tuesday, June 08, 2004 - 04:30 PM

Here's a question that apparently occupies a lot of our listeners (and emailers): why has the United States never had a successful, durable of economic populist movement, similar to European socialism?

New York Times columnist David Brooks thinks he has the answer: the United States is an aspirational society, as exemplified by Architectural Digest magazine: "who can possibly live in any of those homes that people read about? They're so neat, it looks like people vacuum out the inside of their toasters."

Brooks was on the show today, officially to discuss his new book "On Paradise Drive", an exploration of suburbs and the American dream. But listeners were more vexed by the riddle of aspiration, and the absence of a popular working-class movement in the United States.

Listeners respond (via email):

The reality is that the American people are literally brainwashed into believing that they are better off than they really are - they are lulled into a false sense of security by the media-AR

to say there has never been an economic populist movent in this country reveals an astounding ignorance of american history, the wobblies, Huey Long, origins of the labour unions etc. on American marterialism, exept for the puritans, africans ans a tinyminority of immagrants, the only reason anyone came to this country was for material reasons, duh. -JS

The "down-trodden" class uprising hasn't happened because A: WE DON'T HAVE TIME (many cannot even get to the polls to vote because they have to work 16 hour days) and B: WE DO NOT HAVE THE MONEY TO BUY THE RIGHT TO ORGANIZE!-CLH

we all have expectations of becoming wealthy, so we don't really want to rock
the boat.

-JD

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