Why was the first Gilded Age a time of sometimes violent resistance, while ours is an age of acquiescence? Steve Fraser's answer is twofold: capitalism has changed, and so has the social imaginary that enfolds it.
As a kid I loved to play Monopoly. Loved it. Friends and I would have marathon games, fighting over close readings of the rules, bargaining for half an hour while the dice and younger siblings sat idle, the whole deal. My sisters still talk about the time I prematurely ended a game I was losing by flipping the board over and scattering the pieces everywhere.
Two similar pieces are getting a lot of play this week: James Whittaker’s blog post about why he left Google and Greg Smith’s op-ed about why he left Goldman Sachs. Both
talk of their high level of company loyalty and enthusiasm in the past.
Both bemoan the changes in their respective corporate cultures that led
them to leave. Neither seems all that hopeful about his company’s
What neither of them does, however, is demonstrate that
the problem is that Google/Goldman Sachs used to care about more than
just making money but doesn’t anymore.
What motivates so many evangelicals—with their preference for heavenly
treasure and their devotion to the Bible, a book full of diatribes
against wealth—to support an economic agenda of free-market
fundamentalism and less progressive tax policy?
Peter Sedgwick has provided a fine service in reviewing a vast number of sources related to economic life today, though the title of his book should have been Consumption, Work and Human Identity: A Treatise in Christian Anthropology.
In the decade following World War I, Americans confronted a rapidly changing cultural context. Prohibition took effect in 1919 and gave birth to an era characterized by the frustrations of law enforcement and a booming business for “bootlegging” and organized crime. Throughout the decade, the Century underestimated the strength of voices opposing prohibition.