The Divide – American injustice in the age of the wealth gap – Matt Taibbi

The Divide

The Divide is one of the greatest & most salient books I have ever read! it’s also a book/subject that is screaming-out for documentary treatment, as really, everybody the world over needs this information in this kind of stark, veridical form with a cutting quality of certifiably overt-clarity, free from academic restraint or pretention.

The crux of the book is juxtaposition, between gigantic & rampant white collar-crime committed by the wealthy &, well, not so much committing crime as, quite literally, just living in poverty which is becoming, without exaggeration – an unofficial crime itself.

The preface of the book describes Taibbi’s ambition as thus – “some people go to jail, & others just don’t. & we all get it”  “I was originally attracted to this subject because, having spent years covering white-collar corruption for Rolling Stone, I was interested in the phenomenon of high-powered white-collar criminals completely avoiding individual punishment for what appeared to be very serious crimes. It’s become a cliché by now, but since 2008, no high-ranking executive from any financial institution has gone to jail, not one, for any of the systematic crimes that wiped out 40 percent of the world’s wealth.” “What deserves bigger punishment – someone with a college education that knowingly helps a gangster or a terrorist open a bank account? Or a high school dropout that falls asleep on the F-train? The new America says it’s the latter. It’s come around to that point of view at the end of a long evolutionary process, in which the rule of law has slowly been replaced by giant idiosyncratic bureaucracies that are designed to criminalize failure, poverty, & weakness on the one hand, & to immunize strength, wealth & success on the other. We still have real jury trials, honest judges, and free elections, all the superficial characteristics of a functional, free democracy. But underneath that surface is a florid & malevolent bureaucracy that mostly (not absolutely, but mostly) keeps the rich & the poor separate through thousands of tiny, scarcely visible inequities.”

So hunker down because the following 412 pages divulge in some of the most graphic, meticulous, trenchant & lucid/straight-talking detail the indescribable monstrosity & the results of it’s malignancy on millions.

There are many’ many things that make this book so extraordinary. The quality & extent of Taibii’s research is enormous & the expanse & sedulous scrutiny exacted in this book & it’s coherence is incredible (divided into 9 chapters all of which have a specific subject or case). I took notes from what must be literally every other page, the level of information & vital-analysis & explanation is stupendous. It’s also how it’s written, not desiccated in the dry third-person institutionalized drab that’s FUCKING everywhere with this kind of topic, but bullshit-void, pulling on the full-scope of humanistic-descriptives & language. His scathing translations, breakdowns & musings after the factual deluges are to me just as important as the accounts themselves, determined to underscore the full gravity of the incalculable corruption & it’s implications. This particular feature alone, beside the extent of research & detail, is why I put this guy so far ahead of his peers. Taibbi is also palpably more irate & invective than the other mildest in the face of such simony & perverse paradox/hyper-hypocrisy that the subject throws-up, & although clearly controlled & never intrusive or obstructing, this emotion colours a lot of his writing. The anger-deficiency from the majority of authors/economists/sociologists etc deeply irks me, with many other writers/orators on the subject seeming nowhere near outraged/offended enough by the beyond execrable anathema they are describing.

As well as cataloguing the endless rabid recidivism of “selective leniency, “too big to fail”, the endemic “revolving-door” (from legislator/regulator to share-holder/ceo/advisor & perhaps back again), endless exemptions for grandiloquent criminality & biblical venality/hyper corruption & amok white-collar crime contagion & banker-belligerence, The Divide also examines those on the other end of the legal system/income-chasm & how America has become an Orwellian police state & incarceration factory (“our prison population, in fact, is now the biggest in the history of human civilization. There are more people in the United States either on parole or in jail today (around 6 million in total) than there ever were at any time in Stalin’s gulags. For what it’s worth, there are also more black men in jail now than there were in slavery at its peak”) & how policing & prosecution has deformed into the kind of shit that used to be confined to dystopic sci-fi comics, where people are actually (yes, seriously) arrested for standing outside their own houses, snatched (literally) off the street or arrested whilst walking their dog (incorrectly?) & flushed into a mad-house of court-labyrinths by grotesque nebulous/all-purpose sub-laws like the ubiquitous “disorderly conduct”, “observational sale”, “obstructing pedestrian traffic” & other objectively ambiguous catch-all’s with the most pliable of definitions imaginable. You have to read it to believe it, but here it is, rendering life the most miserable & obscenely unjust hazard-course for millions who are just trying to exist.

Chapters 5-6 (Boarder Trouble parts 1 & 2) drag the depressingly diabolical subject of immigration under the lens, disclosing yet more unthinkable (this is actually legal? happening? default/wide-spread?) shock on a scale so seismic it could cause cardiac-arrest or death-by-indignance. What a fucking horror story, you can honestly barely believe it!

This book expertly lifts the floodgate on some of the most important reportage/investigation there is. When the Western machine opts to use it’s immense technology & financial expenditure to become a closet-dictator & put it’s majority peoples (& many others) through an unofficial abattoir of unthinkable horror & affliction, the scale of the humanitarian fiasco & civilizational perversion is epic. & here it is – detailed & documented fastidiously, crime by crime.

This shit, absolutely has to end. The first advance is understanding it & identifying the conductors & corroborators who are responsible & benefitting from this miasma. This book, will leave you in absolutely no doubt. If you are going to get one book on this subject, I recommend this above all the rest I have read so far.

A masterpiece of veracity.


Author-Matt Taibbi