“All men are created equal.”
This is probably the most famous line in all of “Enlightenment” thought. It is not only contained within the US Declaration of Independence, but was written in many other forms by many other “Enlightenment” authors well before that document was ever published. Most “Enlightenment” authors also agreed that the newly-discovered America was to be the place where it was to be first put into action.
It should be known straight away that at no time in American history was “all men are created equal” ever actually achieved. However, for most of American history, despite the broken and ultimately unfulfillable promise of “true equality”, most Americans were willing to be pacified by the fact that the United States had at least created a free ticket into the middle class which was given to the great majority of them throughout most of American history.
In the 18th and 19th centuries, this free ticket took the form of land giveaways (through the various Homestead Acts and numerous other programs), as being a small freeholding farmer was considered middle class at that time. In the 20th century, when America’s vast reserves of unclaimed land were running out and the frontier was being closed, Franklin Roosevelt flew to the rescue with his New Deal, which reinvented the free tickets in a different form by practically guaranteeing that anyone with nothing but a high school diploma could get an assembly line (or similar) job paying a middle class wage
However, now those days are dead and gone.
The Millennial Generation is the first American demographic to feel the effects of the fact that the free ticket into the middle class no longer exists, for the historical forces which permitted it have gone and are not to return. In 2008, when the free ticket’s disappearance had become unignorable, they cried out for a savior to reinvent it once again, as FDR had successfully done in 1933-45. For the ticket’s disappearance, they blamed the usual scapegoats which are always trotted out whenever the American Experiment goes wrong, those being “racists”, “fascists”, and “greedy rich people”. Barack Obama was to be this “savior” who was to ride forth and defeat these bogeymen and restore the free ticket into the middle class that had always been central to the American social contract.
But, alas, for them it was not bogeymen who had taken the free ticket, but unchangeable historical forces. For the forces that FDR and his successors had benefited from (low debt at the time, low structural deficits, the “postwar boom”, etc.), Obama was not to benefit from, and Obama was thus to fail in his efforts to recreate the free ticket. As a result of this failure, the Millennials are being referred to as the first American generation that will be worse off than their parents, which is indeed true for most (although not all) of them.
Now that the pacifying factor of the free ticket into the middle class is irretrievably out of the American equation, the American revolution is going to start resembling much more closely its fellow “Enlightenment” counterparts in France and Russia, with the mobs openly demanding the blood of various scapegoat groups. To a certain extent this has already begun happening.
The result is going to be a contest of sheer endurance between the system and its opponents (us and others like us). The question that will define the 21st century is can we hang on long enough to survive the “Enlightenment’s” final process of self-destruction, or will its Red Guards succeed in dragging us down with the sinking ship?