The American Dream is based upon a core set of values with a philosophy that basically equates to: Work hard and play by the rules and you can succeed. Mainstream American values encompass such ones as equality, community, freedom, and democracy that reinforce the consciousness driving the American Dream. Despite the promises inherent in the philosophy behind the American Dream, the increasing dominance of capitalism and growing rationalization make achieving those promises impossible.
The increasing dominance of the wealthy class that owns the means of production in American society has created a nation of class division. Such divisions continue to grow more distinct and far apart, between haves and have-nots, rich and poor, employers and laborers, and minorities and whites. Marx warned against the dangers of capitalismÆs potential to create such unjust class divisions in the Communist Manifesto. In this work Marx (1963) maintains that ôthe history of all human society, past and present, has been the history of class strugglesö in which antagonism between oppressing and oppressed classes is the fundamental relationship in society, (25).
Weber aggress with Marx that the structure of industrial and bureaucratic societies tends to alienate the individual, but Marx focused purely on economic influences while Weber argues that cultural and social influences also play a role. The increasing dominance of bureaucracies leads to the phenomenon which Weber called the ôiron cageö, a cage in which workers typically must labor to maintain control over any leisure time. However, the nature of capitalist relationships between workers and employers means that those who own the modes of production increasingly exploit the means of production to maintain power and advantage over lower classes. These individuals form, maintain, and dominate social institutions. Weber maintains that in such a bureaucratically dominated s