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The means of the extravagant rentier diminish daily in inverse proportion to the growing possibilities and temptations of pleasure. He must, therefore, either consume his capital himself, and in so doing bring about his own ruin, or become an industrial capitalist.

—Karl Marx, Economic & Philosophic Manuscripts

The seeds of the fiasco of an election in November 2016 in the United States, where the less affluent of European descent, including more than half of the women of this group, found their tribune in a vulgar billionaire, has roots in the cross-class coalition that spearheaded colonial settlement in the seventeenth century at the expense of the indigenous and enslaved Africans.

—Gerald Horne, The Apocalypse of Settler Colonialism: The Roots of Slavery, White Supremacy, and Capitalism in Seventeenth-Century North America and the Caribbean

For the past fifty years, the neoliberal reassertion of elite power has triumphed around the world. A new aristocracy concentrates “masters of the universe” wealth and power, even amidst weak economic growth. Upwards of half of the world’s population, meanwhile, has “dropped out of history . . . written off as hopeless or terminal cases.” And the once stable middle class faces fearsome insecurity and downward mobility. Students of these globe-changing processes emphasize structural factors, a point corroborated by neoliberalism’s own prescriptions and structural adjustment programs (SAPs). David Harvey, for instance, describes neoliberalism as a “political project . . . to restore the power of economic elites.” Neoliberalism restructures social institutions to funnel wealth from the poor to the rich, justified as supply-side economics.

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This document was originally published in Totality Inside Out: Rethinking Crisis and Conflict Under Capital by Fordham University Press. Copyright restrictions may apply.

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