March 2, 2024

George Packer's "The Last Best Hope"

George Packer’s “The Last Best Hope”

DrHis book is not a book that George Packer makes friends with. For a journalist who has worked with the New Yorker for a long time and now writes for The Atlantic, America is divided into four camps, each with its own ideology. There is “Free America,” which is committed to libertarian ideas, but erroneously equates freedom with unfettered freedom. There is a “smart America” ​​of the urban intellectual elite that salutes merit and does everything in its power to pass on its privileges to its children. There is the rural and small town of “Real America”, which clings to religion and nation because it has so little left. Then there is “Fair America,” which has committed itself to fighting racism, but has become increasingly authoritarian. Each of these camps, according to Packer, has rightly withdrawn into its own world – and none of them have any constructive suggestions on how to reunite the country.

Packer’s book is actually a long article. Against the background of the current social crisis and epidemic, he ranks the social developments of the past decades and repeatedly refers to the outlines of American history. Its starting point is the concern that social polarization threatens the principle of autonomy. According to Packer, there is not enough to connect the four peoples of the Americas. He sees the deeper reason for the camp’s formation in the unequal living conditions, which made it difficult to meet him at eye level.

Regional landscapes, hyper-masculine

Packer is primarily concerned with the economic inequality that divides the country into winners and losers, and even leaves many full-time employees in precarious conditions — without a chance to build a secure life. Packer’s thesis: “To save our democracy, we must rebuild our economy so that it makes us equal Americans.”

George Packer: “The last best hope.” to the United States.

Photo: Rowohlt Verlag

But this is exactly what none of the Four Americas is seeking, in Packer’s view, to shape the economy in a more social way. It is especially difficult for those who describe themselves as progressive. He sees in the representatives of “Smart America” ​​people with a “new hereditary class structure” behind them, individual winners for whom collective organizations such as labor unions have no role. The workers, with their “territorial views and hyper-masculine way”, are rather “embarrassed” to their political class.