Introducing the Great Divergence
By Timothy Noah
In a survey of 27 nations conducted from 1998 to 2001, the country where the highest proportion agreed with the statement "people are rewarded for intelligence and skill" was, of course, the United States. (69 percent). But when it comes to real as opposed to imagined social mobility, surveys find less in the United States than in much of (what we consider) the class-bound Old World.
Was Robin Hood the first socialist? (Or was it Jesus?) I can just see Limbaugh, Beck, Palin, et al. rooting for the Sheriff of Nottingham against poor Robin. "Kill that liberal socialist bastard, Sheriff! He's probably a Kenyan and a Muslim, too!"
This would make a great question in the next presidential debate. It would totally throw the candidates and their prepared talking points.
Robin Hood: the first socialist Muslim terrorist, but not the last.
Great heroes in conservative literature: Pontius Pilate, the Sheriff of Nottingham, Cardinal Richelieu (The Three Musketeers), John Wayne's characters in Westerns, John Galt (Atlas Shrugged), Big Brother (1984), Lex Luthor, Scrooge McDuck, Dr. Doom, Goldfinger, Thurston Howell III, Khan (Star Trek), J.R. Ewing, Gordon Gecko, Montgomery Burns (The Simpsons).
What it means
These people embody the free-market faith of today's conservatives. In other words, an unlimited quest for wealth and power. These people want to eliminate constraints (laws and regulations) so the rich and powerful can grow richer and more powerful. They've made it clear they'd like to do away with government altogether, which would give them a license to cheat, steal, conquer, and kill.
We could trace a direct line from the Tea Party billionaires to robber barons such as the Rockefellers to the rich aristocracies of Europe. You know, the people who authorized and financed expeditions to invade and colonize foreign lands? Most of the conservative "heroes" above would've agreed that America was "free" for the taking.
Nor is this ancient history, as the Belo Monte Dam proves. Once again, rich corporate interests (mining, timber, agribusiness) are putting their profits ahead of people. Once again, Natives will suffer because capitalism means the strong crushing the weak.
For more on the subject, see Corporate Culture: Rotten to the Core and Libertarianism = Anarchy.
Below: Capitalism at a glance.