[By Nic Lindh on Sunday, 15 May 2016]
The professor who taught the first political science class I took spent much of the semester on his pet theory about how people will tolerate a surprising amount of oppression, but there is a limit and once you get past it, boom.
This was a long time ago, so he used examples like the Iranian revolution, where the Shah created such a corrupt, horrific regime that finally the people had enough and went full medieval, instituting a theocracy that’s been a thorn in the west’s side ever since.
I’ve been thinking back to those lectures by that funny little man in his bow tie over the last few years—the Occupy movement, the Tea Party, Black Lives Matter, and the rise of Trump and Sanders seem powered by anger and frustration.
People are angry. Inequality is at the level of the robber barons, the middle class is under siege, rural America is wilting on the vine, and people of color are still dying at the hands of law enforcement.
At this point the anger is mostly constrained inside the political system, though it’s starting to leak out, like with the Bundy Ranch standoff and the Ferguson riots.
Obviously, the Occupy movement and the Bundy Ranch crew place the blame for their anger in different places, but both points of view feel in their bones that they are getting shafted. Shafted hard.
And it’s not getting better—the trend lines point to inequality increasing, for the downward spiral for rural people and the middle class to continue to accelerate.
And I think back to my old poli-sci professor and wonder where the limit is, at what point the levee breaks.