This book reflects on key questions raised by recent movements and statements about the status of American politics and polity—from the Tea Party to Occupy, from the 1% to the 47% to the 99% that is the rest of us. These questions have also been raised by previous generations of labor, farmer, socialist, anarchist, and populist protestors and critics: Who owns and rules America beyond the pretense of democratic popular governance? Why does it matter that the nation’s economy, society, culture, and politics are torn by stark class disparities and a concentration of wealth in the hands of a privileged few? What is the price of that savage inequality? And what can “we the people” do about it in defense of democracy, a livable natural environment, and the common good of all? Along the way, this book sharpens readers’ sense of who the US oligarchy are; how their fortunes have changed over the course of American history; how they live and think; and how to detect and de-cloak them. Paul Street is a master at revealing what lies beneath the surfaces of American politics and society and bringing his readers to the forefront of action.
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"In They Rule, Street's canvas is larger than those of his earlier books, which focused on Obama and on the Tea Party. Here, he takes a step back. Rather than documenting Obama's betrayals of liberal hopes or deconstructing the American right, he asks how the political system that produced both an Obama and a Tea Party came to be during four decades of neoliberal rule. To build his case, he marshals an impressive array of social science research and Marxist-influenced analysis."
“Paul Street is the most acute observer and insightful analyst of the 'Obama Phenomena.' This book gets beneath the political smoke and mirrors to reveal the pervasive rule of big money that drives the American Empire and global capitalist economy. Street’s courageous truth-telling is the pre-condition for a massive radical democratic movement.”
—Cornel West, Union Theological Seminary
“Powerful, provocative, serious--and also a good read! Paul Street moves the ball forcefully down the field in the direction of systemic change. A serious, useful, and well-written and well-researched guide to the challenges we face and the genuine options we have as American corporate capitalism and its politics continue to decay.”
—Gar Alperovitz, author of What Then Must We Do? Straight Talk about the Next American Revolution and Co-Founder of the Democracy Collaborative
“In They Rule, Paul Street faces up to the critical task of our times--showing people the reality of the world they live in. The US is a nation of historic myths and daily deceptions in the corporate media. In looking at elections, the media, and a whole host of issues, he demonstrates how Americans are repeatedly misled. We are told the government is doing one thing, when more often than not it is doing the opposite. We're going to war for democracy-- not for oil, resources, and global hegemony; ObamaCare is to provide healthcare for all--not ObamaCare massively subsidies insurance companies and leaves tens of millions without insurance and all but the wealthiest with inadequate insurance. These are two examples of many where Street lifts the veil so readers can see the truth.
After showing people reality, Street lays out an agenda for a democratized economy and participatory democracy that are the antidotes to concentrated wealth and elections managed by the wealthiest for Wall Street and other big business interests.
If you want to understand the world and what you can do about it, They Rule is a good place to start.”
—Kevin Zeese, Co-Director of Popular Resistance and an organizer of the Occupation of Washington, DC at Freedom Plaza
“Like the ‘magic sunglasses’ in John Carpenter’s ‘They Live,’ this important book reveals and decodes the profoundly undemocratic nature of our neoliberal capitalist system. They Rule not only documents how the wealthiest strata of society have effectively controlled the agenda of American politics but explains the myriad of ways in which that rule is reinforced through the institutions of daily life. Paul Street has written a compelling clarion call to readers –to the American people—to join the growing movement of democratic transformation.”
—Ted Morgan, Lehigh University
“Politics is at its most dangerous when it makes power invisible. They Rule is a brilliant analysis of how power works under neoliberal capitalism. It uncovers the multiple layers of repression and its machineries of economic and social death in the US and at the same time provides a discourse of resistance, hope, and possibility. If you are interested in what it means to understand not only the workings of totalitarianism, but the possibility of a radical democracy, this is the one book you should read immediately.”
—Henry A. Giroux, McMaster University
“Paul Street has delivered a timely, penetrating, and very much needed analysis of why American inequality became so extreme, and how the rich use political and economic power to keep it that way. It should be read by anyone who has children or grandchildren, or expects to, and wants to protect their future.”
—John C. Berg, Suffolk University
Introduction John Carpenter’s Magic Sunglasses and the Real Choice
Chapter 1 “They Own the Place”
Scenes from America’s Unelected Dictatorship, 2009–2013
Chapter 2 Richistan and the Rest of Us
The Second Gilded Age and Why It Matters
Chapter 3 Political Economy
How They Got So Rich
Chapter 4 Dismantling Domestic Development
The Global Age of Finance
Chapter 5 How They Rule
The Many Modes of Moneyed Class Power
Chapter 6 No Crystal Ball
On What Might and Must Be Done