Life in the 21st Century is a reader-supported publication. Please become a paid subscriber. For many years, I thought with all the patriotic bluster of Americans, they would not let their great experiment in democracy simply decline and disappear. At some point they'd stand up and declare “enough” and at least attempt reform. Over time, I’ve become more and more skeptical of seeing it. At this point, the idea of democracy is so little understood, a general consensus on its meaning so lacking, as a political term it is empty as an advertisement promoting sex, riches, self-satisfaction through the purchase of a car, toothpaste, or phone.
Witness the almost complete disappearance of the family farm and the brutal consequences that has had for both animals and humans.
I don't know the statistics offhand but certainly everything I see from my green and animal groups indicates that big agra has completely crushed small family farms. And yet the quaint picture of the small family farm is used to crush animal rights legislation.
By now it is mostly brutal cafos with badly treated, poorly paid workers.
Great essay. I've read The Populist Moment more than once. Many liberal academic historians write off or minimize Populism after they ferret out some hint of racism. This reflects the contempt modern liberals have for the working class and especially rural workers from the South and Midwest. Jill Lepore takes Populists to task for not attacking Jim Crow, but Thomas Frank, in his book on Populism quotes MLK as saying that Jim Crow was a reaction of the southern elites to black and white workers organizing in the Populist movement. I look forward to your next post.