We’ve lived so long under the spell of hierarchy—from god-kings to feudal lords to party bosses—that only recently have we awakened to see not only that “regular” citizens have the capacity for self-governance, but that without their engagement our huge global crises cannot be addressed. The changes needed for human society simply to survive, let alone thrive, are so profound that the only way we will move toward them is if we ourselves, regular citizens, feel meaningful ownership of solutions through direct engagement. Our problems are too big, interrelated, and pervasive to yield to directives from on high.
—Frances Moore Lappé, excerpt from Time for Progressives to Grow Up

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Uninspired Gifts of the Rich and Disinterested

by Jamie Johnson from Vanity Fair

On this Christmas day let us pay a visit to the One Percent who shape so much of our experience in capitalist America. Let us see how they, who have so much and can get anything they want, give each other gifts. It would seem to be quite a challenge. Jamie Johnson, heir of the Johnson & Johnson pharmaceutical fortune, will guide us. (Be sure to see his wonderful film entitled, "The One Percent".)
For all of its familiar drawbacks, Christmas, remains an exceptionally satisfying holiday. For one thing, it’s one of the very best times of year for embedded voyeurs like me to watch immensely rich patrician families display their signature idiosyncratic behavior and commitment to awkward traditions. Never are these peculiar habits presented better than during formal Christmas gift exchanges.