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Is Revolution Brewing in the U.S.?

A protester at the Federal Communications Commission in Washington, D.C., where the FCC voted to repeal net neutrality on Thursday. (Carolyn Kaster / AP)

Get ready, America. According to a new study on inequality and revolutions throughout history, the United States soon may experience a profound paradigm shift, Inverse reports (with a hat tip to Lee Camp). A team of scientists at Washington State and 13 other institutions conducted the study, and their findings, published in the journal Nature, could have major implications for today’s world.

From the news release on the study:

The study gathered data from 63 archaeological sites or groups of sites. Comparing house sizes within each site, researchers assigned Gini coefficients, common measures of inequality developed more than a century ago by the Italian statistician and sociologist Corrado Gini. In theory, a country with complete wealth equality would have a Gini coefficient of 0, while a country with all the wealth concentrated in one household would get a 1.

The researchers found that hunter-gatherer societies typically had low wealth disparities, with a median Gini of .17. Their mobility would make it hard to accumulate wealth, let alone pass it on to subsequent generations. Horticulturalists—small-scale, low-intensity farmers—had a median Gini of .27. Larger scale agricultural societies had a media Gini of .35.

… The researchers’ models put the highest Ginis in the ancient Old World at .59, close to that of contemporary Greece’s .56 and Spain’s .58. It is well short of China’s .73 and the United States .80, a 2000 figure cited in the Nature paper. The 2016 Allianz Global Wealth Report puts the U.S. Gini at .81 and [Tim] Kohler [the study’s lead author] has seen the U.S. Gini pegged at .85, “which is probably the highest wealth inequality for any developed country right now.”

That means the United States “has one of the highest levels of inequality in the history of the world.” This fact worries Kohler, a professor of archaeology and evolutionary anthropology at Washington State.

“We could be concerned in the United States, that if Ginis get too high, we could be inviting revolution, or we could be inviting state collapse,” Kohler said a statement. “There’s only a few things that are going to decrease our Ginis dramatically.”

“The Great Leveler”
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According to “The Great Leveler,” a 2017 book by Walter Scheidel, a professor of ancient history at Stanford University, decreasing inequality is not easy and “usually comes about through plague, revolution, mass warfare or state collapse.”

Unrest in America is nothing new. In 1969, the country was raging with discontent. At the time, Gil Scott-Heron, the soul and jazz poet and author, was a student at Pennsylvania’s Lincoln University, the alma mater of famous poet and social activist Langston Hughes. There, Scott-Heron witnessed the struggle for equality and social change firsthand. His experience inspired him to write a poem called “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” in 1970.

You will not be able to stay home, brother.
You will not be able to plug in, turn on and cop out.
You will not be able to lose yourself on skag and
Skip out for beer during commercials,
Because the revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be televised.
The revolution will not be brought to you by Xerox
In 4 parts without commercial interruptions.
The revolution will not show you pictures of Nixon
blowing a bugle and leading a charge by John
Mitchell, General Abrams and Spiro Agnew to eat
hog maws confiscated from a Harlem sanctuary.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be brought to you by the
Schaefer Award Theatre and will not star Natalie
Woods and Steve McQueen or Bullwinkle and Julia.
The revolution will not give your mouth sex appeal.
The revolution will not get rid of the nubs.
The revolution will not make you look five pounds
thinner, because the revolution will not be televised, Brother.

There will be no pictures of you and Willie May
pushing that shopping cart down the block on the dead run,
or trying to slide that color television into a stolen ambulance.
NBC will not be able predict the winner at 8:32
or report from 29 districts.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of pigs shooting down
brothers in the instant replay.
There will be no pictures of Whitney Young being
run out of Harlem on a rail with a brand new process.
There will be no slow motion or still life of Roy
Wilkens strolling through Watts in a Red, Black and
Green liberation jumpsuit that he had been saving
For just the proper occasion.

Green Acres, The Beverly Hillbillies, and Hooterville
Junction will no longer be so damned relevant, and
women will not care if Dick finally gets down with
Jane on Search for Tomorrow because Black people
will be in the street looking for a brighter day.
The revolution will not be televised.

There will be no highlights on the eleven o’clock
news and no pictures of hairy armed women
liberationists and Jackie Onassis blowing her nose.
The theme song will not be written by Jim Webb,
Francis Scott Key, nor sung by Glen Campbell, Tom
Jones, Johnny Cash, Englebert Humperdink, or the Rare Earth.
The revolution will not be televised.

The revolution will not be right back after a message
’bout a white tornado, white lightning, or white people.
You will not have to worry about a dove in your
bedroom, a tiger in your tank, or the giant in your toilet bowl.
The revolution will not go better with Coke.
The revolution will not fight the germs that may cause bad breath.
The revolution will put you in the driver’s seat.

The revolution will not be televised, will not be televised,
will not be televised, will not be televised.
The revolution will be no re-run brothers;
The revolution will be live.

Scott-Heron turned the poem into a song.

Now it’s déjà vu all over again in America. The country has become a corporatocracy (see the FCC’s repeal of net neutrality) run by greedy oligarchs who love war (see the tax scam). If Americans want a more just and fair society, the people must take action. The revolution will not come to us. We must create the change we want to see.

Eric Ortiz
Managing Editor
Eric Ortiz is the managing editor of Truthdig. A journalist and innovator with two decades in digital media, Ortiz founded the mobile app startup Evrybit, a live storytelling and reporting tool, as a 2014 John…
Eric Ortiz

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