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If ever greater concentrations of wealth and power are the inescapable result of our economic system, then what future is there for ever achieving genuine democracy in place of an elite plutocracy? These matters and other systemic disorders usually are blamed on people, on human error or weakness, on the failure of schooling or the political system or society itself. " Many Americans no longer believe this. Skeptics are found especially among those who see the ongoing ecological destruction as the most critical contradiction overshadowing our prosperity.

The Federal Communications Commission was created as "public trustee" to protect the public's great common asset, the broadcasting airwaves, but it has evolved into a friendly auction house for the largest media conglomerates, assisting the further concentration of this valuable and limited resource. Labor laws enacted in the 1930s to protect workers' right to organize unions and bargain collectively for themselves are now a tool of management, routinely and systematically violated by corporations without legal consequences.

The authoriti es typically attribute these consequences to "market forces," an abstraction that sounds neutral and objective. But the outcome s also emanate, more concretely, from a top-heav y str~cture of command and control in which those down below have little or no capacity to appeal or resist. This feudal remnant helps to explain a lot about America n life.

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