In the US the dream is explicitly articulated, and unashamedly defended. In Europe, the dream is told through our history and social class system: we tacitly learn our place in the social hierarchy, and how to move up it should we so wish. In Asia the media brazenly describes the dream through respect afforded to consumer products and wealth. Millions of people bombarded daily with the perfect smiles of those who have achieved the wealth dream.
Towing the line / conformity.
Education, we are told is the best way to achieve the dream. However, school is really tough in the early 21st Century. Competition is far greater than it ever was, standards are higher and examined expectations are now truly challenging.
However, kids from Shanghai to Seville to Seattle are told to buckle down, work harder and compete for those educational prizes if they are to achieve the dream. All this competition leads to conformity, doing as we’re told, not trying to be uniquely bold.
Or at least it seems that people are conformist whilst they still believe in the dream.
In The Wizard of Oz the Wizard is revealed as an ordinary old man with a loudspeaker. What if the dream of economic and social success was similarly revealed as a sham ?
What if all the kids who had worked so hard through school and college were told that there were no more glittering prizes, there are no jobs “sorry kids – we ran out of jellybeans !” ?
What if people who had worked hard all of their lives lost their jobs and houses through no fault of their own ? What if they had their hard earned prizes taken away from them by the actions of rich, removed politicians and bankers ?
Anomie…, what next ?
When the dream is shattered people have their core value system removed. This affects their sense of identity, their very purpose is drawn into question. They may start to undergo the stages of grieving, one of which is anger…,
Anomie is a state of normlessness , if people no longer have a dream to believe in they no longer have expected forms of behaviour – they are in anomie.
We have seen anomie before, we may be seeing it again in some societies around the world which are currently undergoing rapid change. If EU/IMF want to maintain social cohesion in W.Europe I suggest that they restore the old dream, or create a new one very rapidly.
but then, do they really want to maintain social cohesion ?