Billy Joe Mills’ column entitled “What defines our generation” speaks quite highly of our American way of life. Our way of life is not simply superior to any other, it has actually triumphed! We have arrived at the height of what humanity is capable of as society! We have finally become capable of McDonald’s, Scary Movie 3, and Cosmopolitan Magazine—a legacy we can leave for our children, the way our ancestors left us the Great Depression and Black Lung!
Mr. Mills wrongly suggests that the only threats we face are physical, that no ideology can possibly threaten the way of life that has proven itself clearly superior to all others. I must disagree and point out that the ideology that most threatens us is our own. What defines our generation? Self-absorption and self-service. While I applaud your high idealism in suggesting that we, as hegemonic stewards, throw our wealth like a big warm blanket over the world to protect everyone from suffering the way we’ve insulated ourselves, I am obligated to point out that we have only become what we are because of our failure, at every turn, to do exactly that. The generations who went before us and fought hard for their own well-being and to be able to provide their children with better lives did exactly that. It is in our nature to take care of our own; we save what we have today so that our children, when we have them, can eat, or go to college, or retire early. We don’t give what we have so that those who are hungry or uneducated or tired today can eat, learn, and rest. The result is a generation of people who have not had to struggle to have our needs met, and cannot comprehend sacrifice. We consume voraciously and are utterly ignorant to the suffering and need in the rest of the world. This is the American way, now. The most natural of drives is that of self-preservation, and those who have power in our “democracy” derive it not from those they govern but from those who pay them. The corporations derive their power from their consumers, who coincidentally learn what to crave from those who sell it.
Conservative means will never lead to liberal ends. So long as our politicians work for corporations, and defend the ability of the rich to deprive the poor, our government will never be able to ensure justice or peace. While capitalism might be the most viable economic system, the existence of the corporation will continue to exploit that system until it collapses the way communism did. The downfall of communism, as we often hear, was in its application, not its inherent viability. Power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely, and it was only a matter of time until the communist leaders succumbed. In the last century, we have seen the rise of corporations as the leaders in our idyllic capitalist democracy. They have gained absolute power. Is now really time to start a victory party and invite the world’s poor to feast with us?