Steve Fraser is the author of several books, including “Every Man a Speculator: A History of Wall Street in American Life,” “Labor Will Rule: Sidney Hillman and the Rise of American Labor” and, most recently, “Wall Street: America’s Dream Palace,” published by Yale University Press.
On Jan. 16, Martin Luther King Day, citizens from around the country should gather at the New York Stock Exchange on Wall Street. Let’s call this macabre gathering—with luck and even worse times, it should be mammoth—“We Surrender” or “Restore Debtor’s Prisons” or “De-Fault Is Ours” or “Collateralize Us.” And plan on a mirthful day of mourning.
Three moments—1911, 1964, now—coming together compelled me to think about when and why people resist power, why they acquiesce, and why, sometimes, they may believe they are resisting when they are in truth acquiescing.
Does the prospect of deepening economic meltdown and political disarray raise the specter of a social upheaval and, perhaps, the collapse of capitalism, the likes of which we haven’t seen since the Great Depression?