“In America you have the right to be stupid,” US Secretary of State John Kerry announced to the world. He could have added: Americans exercise this right more than any other. The book’s provocative title echoes Pericles’ idiotes, addressing his fellow citizens who cared for nothing but only their own well-being. Americans of our time, trading liberty for the freedom to ignore civic duty, are going down the same path. Complacency explains the self-destructive impetus of degenerating democracies. Nadin’s book frames America’s current predicament: In the high profit transaction economy, of induced dependencies of all kind, production is replaced by speculation. Stupidity is an unavoidable outcome of the system.
The USA, where the word “socialism” is blasphemy, socialized both poverty and profit-making. Established as an economy, not as a country, the USA became the most successful embodiment of capitalism. Married to change, the land of opportunity outpaced the world. Progress (and profit) at any price—corresponding to brutal industrial capitalism—became America’s credo. Today’s post-industrial transaction economy thrives on addictive consumption at the expense of the rest of the world.
More than its enemies ever could, America is tearing herself apart. After never-ending wars, self-induced financial crises, and failed policies, America owes more than it is worth. Seventeen trillion dollars were spent on the War on Poverty, with the result that more Americans than ever depend on welfare. Neither medical care, nor education, not to mention social security meet the requirements of these challenging times. There is less and less productive work to be had, but ever higher expectations to be satisfied. The chasm between rich and poor widens continuously. Tram-pling on the rights of ordinary Americans is the rule, not the exception. The parties are in a contin-uous power struggle. As corrupted economic agents, pursuing their own business goals, they ceased to be political entities. The government is theirs. Those few who voted them into power live the illusion of democracy.
Ever faster succeeding breakdowns, often affecting the rest of the world, are met by reactive policies, similar to what caused the Soviet Union’s implosion. Reaction never substitutes for lack of vision. There is no future in the rear-mirror image of an idealized past.
Revolutions cannot be simply called up. A second Constitutional Convention, representative of all the people, not just the few men who called themselves “We the People” could save America from herself. “An America worth having” has to be an America worth fighting for.