Yellen...didn’t have anything to say about the economic opportunities that have allowed the gains of a tiny minority at the top to be captured in the first place. Top 1 percent incomes and corporate profits have to come from somewhere. They’re created during the course of producing goods and services—in the United States and around the world. But the workers who did all that producing only get to keep part of the value they create, in the form of wages and salaries; the rest—call it the surplus—is appropriated by their employers, who keep some in the form of corporate profits and then distribute the rest to their owners and top managers. [link added]Under capitalism, the "owners' of economic property use this surplus to buy up more economic property, which permits them to appropriate even more of the surplus. This virtuous circle for the "owning" class has been a vicious cycle for workers particularly given the fact that wealth translates into power. At this late stage of capitalism we see evidence everywhere of the concentrated power by the world's One Percent and the powerlessnesss of the rest of humanity. To the extent that this sense of powerlessness is lodged in our minds by capitalists who control all ideological institutions, perhaps the way out of this growing nightmarish dystopia is for us in the Ninety-Nine Percent to begin the hard work of establishing our own ideological institutions.
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