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George Packer’s book The Last Best Hope

D.His book George Packer makes friends. As a journalist who has worked in New Yorker for a long time is now writing for the Atlantic, the United States is divided into four camps, each with its own ideology. There is “Free America”, which is committed to free thought, but equates unrestricted freedom with unrestricted freedom. There is an “smart America” of an urban educated elite that pays homage to merit and does everything to offer their own children their own privileges. There is the “real America” of rural and small town, which sticks to religion and nation because there is little more to it. Then there is “Just America”, which is anti-racist, but increasingly dictatorial. Each of these camps, according to Packer, was returned to its own world with self-righteousness – and none of them had any constructive suggestions on how to bring the country together.

Packer’s book is actually a long article. Against the background of the current social crisis and epidemic, he categorizes the social developments of the past decades and repeats the broad lines of American history. His starting point is the concern that social polarization threatens the policy of self-determination. According to Packer, the four Americans still have very little to unite. He finds the profound reason for the emergence of the camp in unequal living conditions, which made it difficult to meet at eye level.

Provincial views, masculine type

Packer is primarily concerned with economic inequality, which divides the country into winners and losers and leaves even many full-time employees in a precarious situation – without ever having the opportunity to create a secure existence. Packer’s thesis: “To save our democracy, we must rebuild our economy to make Americans equal.”


George Packer: “The Last Best Hope”. To the State of the United States.
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Image: Rowohlt Verlag


But in Packer’s view, none of the four Americas has yet tried to shape the economy in a social way. He is especially difficult for those who describe themselves as progressive. Among the representatives of “Smart America” ​​he sees those behind them the “new, hereditary class system” and he sees individual winners whose collective bodies, such as the unions, play no role. Workers are “embarrassed” by their political class for their “provincial perspectives and their masculine behavior”.

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