A consistent theme in the fiction of Michel Houellebecq is that we in the West have done exactly that. Bourgeois individualism and materialism are and will be the death of us, he says.
When I first reported on child poverty in Britain, I was struck by the faces of children I spoke to, especially the eyes. They were different: watchful, fearful. What has not changed is that poverty is the result of a disease that is still virulent yet rarely spoken about – class.
This is like a global laboratory experiment testing the two opposite ideologies: libertarianism, which is against government regulation, versus socialism, which applies government regulation.
Much of the story of the first state-building civilizations, understanding that people are a resource when organized and put to work, is that some balance between slavery and half-freedom rests at its foundation.