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I find it interesting to consider what the authors mean by "democracy", in articles like this one. Call me a cynic, but it seems apparent to me, and certainly in America's case, that what we live in is anything but democratic. In terms of living standards and social mobility, things have been in free fall since at least the crisis of 2008, if not far longer, and our freedoms have been increasingly eroded with the rise of the Internet panopticon, under a climate of post 9/11 hysteria.
Instead, "democracy" seems to stand in as an entirely nebulous but fundamental, catch all term for a certain set of relatively liberal, ostensibly meritocratic, and most importantly of all, economically free market values. When they say "democracy", it means the political consensus of The West running the world, of "nice" politicians like Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, of being The Good Guys. There's a lot of worry about the "squeezed middle" in American discourse, because they're the people who "played by the rules", they did as they were told and they feel short changed that they're not getting what they were promised; but there's rarely acknowledgement of the lower rungs of society for whom the game has been rigged for decades. The bit that's going to be particularly hard to swallow for those people is when they find themselves part of the same underclass.
>the economic legacy of the last decade is 'excessive corporate consolidation, a massive transfer of wealth to the top one per cent from the middle class.
is almost on the money, although I suspect not for the reasons it thinks. Within a handful of generations I feel we will have reached a situation where the idea of middle class as we know it, a lifestyle of relative security that is at least obtainable to your average pleb with enough hard work, will be unattainable. Obsolete. Surplus to requirement. Instead, to be middle class will be more like just the lower ranks of the elite- The outer party, if you're fond of the Orwell comparisons, while the vast majority of everyone else is a prole. The irony, of course, is that so many those turkeys applauded every step of the road that brought them to thanksgiving dinner.
In general though I agree we are at an immensely rare crossroads in history. There are a lot of technological, social, and political trends all mixing together in a very volatile pot, stoked by the impact of a global pandemic. The trouble is I don't see any of it going especially well for your average person.