“Poverty is not an accident. Like slavery and apartheid, it is man-made and can be removed by the actions of human beings.” – Nelson Mandela
The cities of Zobeide and Moriana are reminiscent of any city in the United States today, where economic inequality has rendered the American dream a living nightmare. In Zobeide, Marco Polo reflects, "They tell this tale of its foundation: men of various nations had an identical dream". In reality, great cities usually have two distinct faces. In Moriana Marco Polo warns that, "You have only to walk a semi-circle and you will come into view of Moriana's hidden face, an expanse of rusting sheet metal, sackcloths, planks bristling with spikes, pipes black with soot, piles of tins, behind walls with fading signs, frames of staved-in straw chairs, ropes good only for hanging oneself from a rotten beam".
Political commentary like George Orwell's revolutionary 1945 book, Animal Farm highlights the disparity that can ensue from ideological extremes. The themes from Animal Farm remain relevant as greed is still the catalyst for cannibalistic capitalism. In our daily discourse the word 'socialist' is tantamount to profanity, and usually followed by 'propaganda' or 'agenda'. Our society is so far removed from the idea of empathy. We always put profits over people. Equality is empty rhetoric to the CEOs & policymakers of our land. Instead, industries like the pharmaceutical industry are modeled to keep sick people addicted instead of making them better.
According to the statistics in the video below the richest 1% of Americans own 40% of the wealth. How does a CEO make 380 times that of the average worker in their company? This is the new face of oppression. Working 80 hours per week doesn't even guarantee you a place in the middle class.
Our poorer classes are left in a cycle of perpetual debt to the advantage of Wall Street. This has become the norm rather than the exception. Education costs and student debt is skyrocketing and there is a growing distrust between the haves and the have nots.
Sadly, these are remnants of the plantocracy that have lingered on. Former Labor Secretary Robert Reich intones in his film Inequality for All, “Of all developed nations, the United States has the most unequal distribution of income." This kind of gross injustice must be condemned and eliminated with responsible humanity. We should take inspiration from Harriet Tubman, whose whisper became a groundswell because as Marx opined, the struggle between classes is inevitable until we establish a classless society.