America for most of its history was built on the mythology of the Frontier: unexplored, harsh, and deadly, but offering promises of freedom and a fair return on hard labor.
Immigrants who came here, through the front door at Ellis Island, had heard that the “streets were paved with gold”, but none of them assumed that they would receive more of it than they put into it with their own blood sweat and tears.
No free lunch, in other words.
As a matter of fact, the immigrant mentality was one of pride: I understand from my own family history that the thought of accepting public assistance was anathema to immigrants; a shameful acquiescence to the insult of being rewarded for personal failure, essentially.
But not anymore, not in today’s America.
Today’s America is about state-organized and controlled redistribution of wealth from the productive and legal to the government-dependent class of those who are more than happy to take something for nothing. Liberal politicians, and especially extreme left-wing Marxists like Barack Obama, know this and push policies that will offer more and more free benefits to voters, and would-be voters (amnesty for illegals), who will reward them in national elections.
Not even a global financial crisis will stop such politicians and their craven desire for votes from throwing gasoline on the federal debt fire: Barack Obama’s socialist spending orgy has take federal debt from $10 trillion to $17 trillion in only five years.
And although it makes barely a dent in this fiscal hemorrhaging, Barack Obama has built a veritable slaughterhouse of the “wealthy” — Americans earning more than $250,000 per year.
I found a powerful statement in support of this thesis in an unexpected place: the Arts section of the New York Times, where Tony Scott, aka A. O. Scott (pretentious, no?), wrote an insightful review of the 2013 remake of The Great Gatsby (“Gatsby, and other Luxury Consumers“).
Tony’s overall insight was that modern America — the way we live now — has stripped itself of morality around the acquisition of wealth and that this sorry state of affairs has been making it into this year’s movies, including The Great Gatsby, Spring Breakers, and others.
Contrasting this year’s Gatsby with the book and with the 1970s version starring Robert Redford, Scott writes the following (emphasis added):
The 17th-century Puritan theologians debated whether prosperity was a visible sign of election, by which they meant predetermined salvation. Their modern-day descendants have no doubt: “If I deserve it, then the universe will serve it,” says Daniel Lugo, the ringleader of Mr. Bay’s Sun Gym gang. This blatant claim of entitlement may cause discomfort in some viewers, as will the buoyant, aggressive, nonjudgmental tone of this nasty comedy. Much as we may enjoy the spectacle of money, we usually prefer it to be accompanied by sentimental lessons about how there are more important things. We like cautionary tales about the dangers of greed and reassuring distinctions about the sources and uses of wealth. In Fitzgerald’s time, there was an imaginary line between old money and new, and another that separated legitimate fortunes from the kinds amassed by Gatsby and his criminal associates.
Every American must ask him or herself: Where is Fitzgerald’s imaginary line that separates legitimate wealth from the kind amassed by Barack Obama and his “criminal associates”?
Intentionally or not, Mr. Luhrmann stripped “The Great Gatsby” of the sentimentality that has always been part of its appeal, and in doing so updated it in a radical and troubling way. The result may be vulgar, but it is also an honest reflection of contemporary values — the same ones captured, with an equally shocking (and thrilling) refusal of moralism, by “Spring Breakers,” “Pain & Gain” and “The Bling Ring.” This is how we live: greedily, enviously, superficially, in a state of endless, self-justifying desire. This is the pursuit of happiness, mirrored in the pleasure these movies provide. But go ahead and cry.
Yes, exactly: a state of “endless, self-justifying desire”. And we should of course throw in “immediate gratification”. Our national mythology has changed, and Tony Scott has summed it up rather well, as have American filmmakers, if unintentionally.
And who better to play into this ethos than a Marxist Manchurian candidate?
The wealth and power of a nation follows naturally from its cultural archetypes, and these days those archetypes are the seven deadly sins.
The growing replacement of morality with amorality and immorality is making our nation so ripe for the God of Communism it astounds me, and there goes his lieutenant, in his second term, hammering the Pieta with vigor, faster, faster now.
Can we save ourselves?