The verse from George Packer’s latest book, The Resurrection of America, tells. It paints a pitch-black picture of a country torn apart by bone, but despite this it has no subtitle of ‘America’s Disappointment’ (the title of one of his earlier books), but the opposite. Optimism, in addition to pragmatism, is part of the nation’s essential DNA, so Packer opens and closes his book: ‘I’m an American’. This is a personal book, written after the Capitol invasion on January 6, 2021 and in the midst of the Corona epidemic.
Central, Packer is in the chapter that divides his country into four divisions, which are in the process of conflict, the outcome of which is very uncertain. Because of this democracy is not really in danger, it is not the view of miserable people (m / f) inside and outside the United States, but like this Newspaper displayed, A realistic view.
Packer is an experienced journalist, well known for progressive journalism Atlantic Inside New Yorker. It is, therefore, surprising that he equates his concern for the state of the country with his critique of the Four Americas across a wide range of ‘stories’. First, he calls the “free America” simulated by Ronald Reagan, “free thought is mounted on the powerful machine of consumer capitalism. […] Personal freedom without caring about others – the negative freedom of “Do not step on me”.
‘Real America’, first uttered by Sarah Paul, only seemed to gain real weight in the mid-1910s when Donald Trump announced his candidacy for the presidency. The dazzling folly of these real Americans could not be proved better than the most beautiful quote in this book, in the words of a tea party supporter: ‘Keep your government’s feet in my medical insurance!’
But Packer did not come from the left because he distinguishes “smart America” from the deserving ones around computers and the Internet, and despises the obese and stupid class among them. ‘They get married, prepare organic food, study for their children every night’, and so on.
Then, a little surprisingly, there is ‘Just America’ drawn by the #MeToo and Black Lives Matter movements, meanwhile, according to Packer, tone-deafness and intolerance on various levels and the fact that Americans are somewhat ready for conversation. An activity based on unity is needed, not Cancel.
These four Americans, or the stories that Packer calls, have fewer and fewer people living in one country, and he concludes, ‘I do not care about living in the Republic in one of these four stories.’
In the final chapter Packer justifies the belief of his verse, where he briefly lists some measures that can save the country from civil war or other catastrophe. The first is to restore the safety net so that ’employees and their families do not continue to run the risk of falling to the ground’. Extension of FDR’s new agreement. Labor law reform makes it easier to organize workers, including the post-industrial economy. Inheritance taxes and other measures to reduce the property gap.
The media is also to blame
Naturally, as the man of the written word, Packer blames the omnipotence of the ever-growing monopolies, the catastrophic recession of parliament, the climate crisis, but, to a large extent, the media or, conversely, the disappearance. Its. “In the first twenty years of this century, more than 2,000 local newspapers and half the newspaper jobs in the United States have disappeared, leaving an army of highly educated unemployed and uninformed, unrelated civilians.” If those viewers get all its information from anywhere other than the echo chambers of Twitter and the Internet, it will be available from media such as Fox News and right-wing radio talk shows.
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Inspired, instructive, but frightening book. Packer sometimes expresses his feelings about “everyday smut in Washington” through his “incompetent slimballs,” which he blames the Trump presidency for “populist rhetoric on every continent getting its air.” That factor seems a bit exaggerated: at most you might say that populists like Patet and Orban are as intuitive as Trump.
Packer lists the reasons that led to the current situation, but finally summarizes it in one sentence: “Inequality shattered the general belief that Americans should build a successful, multi-all democracy.”
George Packer: Last recovery. On the Resurrection of America. (Last hope for the best) Translate by Jeske Nelisen and Fanny Steinhuis. Spectrum, 216 pages. 22.99