Vratké společenské smlouvy

LONDÝN – „Obohaťte se,“ prohlásil čínský vůdce Teng Siao-pching, když začal rozkládat neúspěšný socialistický model Mao Ce-tunga. Elity všude na světě se tímto krédem řídily vždy a obyčejným lidem to příliš nevadí za předpokladu, že elity plní svou část dohody: chrání zemi před nepřáteli a zlepšují životní podmínky. Právě tuto nepsanou společenskou smlouvu však nyní ohrožuje hospodářský kolaps.

Podmínky této smlouvy se samozřejmě liší podle místa a doby. V Evropě devatenáctého století se od bohatých očekávala střídmost. Okázalé spotřebě se každý vyhýbal. Bohatí měli dávat velkou část svých příjmů na úspory, neboť ty představovaly zdroj investic a současně i morální ctnost. V dobách před sociálním státem se navíc očekávalo, že bohatí lidé budou filantropy.

Naproti tomu v oportunistické kultuře Spojených států se okázalá spotřeba tolerovala více. Vysoké výdaje byly známkou úspěchu: tím, co Američané od svých boháčů očekávali, byla okázalá podnikavost.

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