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Tue Jun 4, 2013, 05:12 PM

In the Dead Zone of Capitalism: Lessons on the Violence of Inequality from Chicago

"I consider the survival of [fascism] within democracy to be potentially more menacing that the survival of fascist tendencies against democracy."
Theodor W. Adorno

Americans are confronted daily with the violence of inequality. The rich have longer life spans, better health care, access to better educational opportunities and an abundance of food. [1] Many live in palatial homes in gated communities and wield a disproportionate amount of control and power over the major social, cultural, and political apparatuses that shape everyday life.[2] Unlike most Americans, the extravagantly rich are protected from the massive degree of violence produced by poverty, poor health, joblessness, inadequate social provisions, decrepit housing, unsafe neighborhoods, and even environmental disasters. While the superrich also live in an age of precarity due to the free-market economic models they support, they largely escape its consequences through the obscene amount of wealth at their disposal that enables them to buy private solutions to public problems.[3] As Naomi Klein points out, such wealth offers more than economic advantages. It also creates a world in which the penthouse and mansion set
protect themselves from the less savory effects of the economic model that made them so wealthy. In the past six years, we have seen the emergence of private firefighters in the United States, hired by insurance companies to offer a ‘concierge’ service to their wealthier clients, as well as the short-lived ‘HelpJet’—a charter airline in Florida that offered five-star evacuation services from hurricane zones [whose ad shamelessly states]: ‘No standing in lines, no hassle with crowds, just a first class experience that turns a problem into a vacation. [4]


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