Noam Chomsky’s new documentary Requiem for the American Dream (produced and directed by Peter Hutchison, Kelly Nyks, and Jared P. Scot) premiers at the Tribeca Film Festival in New York. In the film, Chomsky states that “the effect of the concentration of wealth is to yield concentration of power….[as a result,] the very fact of inequality has a corrosive, harmful effect on democracy.”
To make his argument, Chomsky looks back to the conversations leading to US founding documents and principles. James Madison, one of the main framers of the Constitution, cautioned against huge gaps between rich and poor, Chomsky reminds viewers. During the Constitutional Convention, Madison emphasized that “the major concern of society has to be to protect the minority of the opulent against the majority.”
The present state of inequality in the US provides an environment for the wealthy to effectively disempower those not in the 1%. What can happen under these circumstances, in fact what has happened throughout American history and is happening again, is that the majority stands up for itself and takes its protests to the streets, to the media, to the voting booths.
Although Madison may have seen this as a threat lodged by the majority against the minority, therefore a “concern of society,” today’s 99% of the disenfranchised perceive, rightly so according to Chomsky, another threat: a move to create a government of the rich by the rich for the rich, an undemocratic consequence of today’s version of enforced, structural inequality.
Click here for a New York Times review of Requiem for the American Dream.
Click here for the documentary trailer.