“Requiem for the American Dream: The 10 Principles of Concentration of Wealth & Power” is a documentary by political activist and linguist Noam Chomsky. It was directed by Peter D. Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scott and was released in 2015. It lays out Chomsky’s analysis of neoliberalism. It focuses on the concentration of wealth and power in United States over the past forty years, analyzing the phenomenon known as income inequality.
Summary of the ten principles:
Chomsky starts by observing that concentration of wealth yields concentration of power, particularly so as the cost of elections skyrockets, which forces the political parties into the pockets of major corporations. This political power then quickly translates into legislation that increases the concentration of wealth. Hence, fiscal policy like tax policy, deregulation, rules of corporate governance and a whole variety of political measures increase the concentration of wealth and power which, in turn, yields more political power to the rich. The film is organized around what Chomsky argues are the 10 principles which lead to this concentration of wealth and power.
THE TEN PRINCIPLES:
1- Reduce Democracy: James Madison, one of the founding fathers of the United States constitution pointed out that with more democracy, the poor could be able to join forces and take away the property of the rich, in his own words “the major concern of society has to be to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority”. Aristotle’s Politics points out the same dilemma but proposes a different solution, instead of ‘reducing democracy’ he suggests to reduce inequalities with what we nowadays call a welfare state. The United States has seen an ongoing clash between pressure for more freedom and democracy (coming from below) and elite control (coming from above). For instance, the 1960s were a period of significant democratization during which consciousness about minority rights, women’s rights, the environment and warfare shifted.
2 – Shape Ideology: This period of democratization was followed by a backlash from multinational corporations and financial institutions in the 1970s. On the right side, the Powell Memorandum warned that business was losing control of society and that something had to be done to control these forces. On the liberal side, similar ideas arose. The first major report of the Trilateral Commission warns about ‘the crisis of democracy’, more precisely an ‘excess of democracy’. In this report, liberals were particularly concerned with was happening to young people “the young people are getting too free and independent” and the schools and the universities are responsible for the “indoctrination of the young”. Interestingly, this report never mentions private business. This omission can be interpreted as private business being de facto the national interest.
3 – Redesign the Economy
4 – Shift the Burden
5 – Attack Solidarity
6 – Run the Regulators
7 – Engineer Elections
8 – Keep the Rabble in Line
9 – Manufacture Consent
10 – Marginalize the Population