A threat Marx downplayed has accelerated the concentration of wealth among the very richest. As Michael Hudson has noted, Marx recognized the destructive potential of financial capitalism, but thought it was inconceivable that it would become dominant. He believed the industrialists would succeed in keeping the bankers in check. They have not.
As income disparity has widened enormously and class mobility has eroded, Marx's idea of class warfare seems particularly apt. But as long as there is a sufficiently large remnant of the American middle class, still socialized to identify with the established order, no matter how beleaguered they are, it's hard to see how any organized, large scale uprising could occur. (Source.)
I think this is right. Resistance in the early stages of the Industrial Revolution wasn't driven so much by people who were already desperate and immiserated--they were largely broken-spirited and complacent. Resistance was driven mainly by those who had something in the pre capitalist order to lose--the artisans, tradesman, home weavers and spinners. They saw rightly that the new industrial system was destroying what was for them a decent way of life.
Neoliberalism might be destroying the American middle class, but it's doing it slowly, and it's not been that disruptive of the older way of life. Not at least in a way that has come close to reaching a critical mass. And anyway, it doesn't feel like something new. If anything, as the Tea Party folks point out, I think rightly, it draws on a deeply entrenched American mythos and retrieves the spirit of classic 19th century liberalism and its self-reliance ethos. It's the familiarity and comfort so many people feel with it that makes it so hard to fight. It's what made America great, right?
People resist new things, not old, familiar things. The early 19th Century peasants and brigands in Italy fought against the liberal bourgeois republicans for King and Church despite their immiseration by the latter. In the old mythos, King and Pope were benevolent patrons who would succor them if only they could. (In fact there was more mercy in the old customary system than there would be in the new one ruled by a stark bourgeois utilitarianism, but they didn't know that yet.)
I think for Americans now, there's a similar attitude toward free-market capitalism. You stick with what you're used to, and central to the capitalist mythos is that opportunity and good fortune are there for everyone who works for it. I might be poor now, but with some hard work and a little luck, I don't have to be. And even if I fail, there's always hope for my kids. No matter how little factual support there is for this mythos, it feels right, it feels noble and morally sound, and in contrast abstract notions of fairness and equality seem like justifications for parasitism. That's not who we are.
It will take a generation or two before people lose faith in this mythos.
The Tea Party types insist they aren't racists because at the heart of their criticism of black and brown people is I think the correct perception that many black and brown people do not believe this mythos--they've lived with it for more than a generation or two. They see its reality more clearly and understand that the game is rigged, but that's beside the point for people who still believe in it. If you don't embrace the get-ahead, capitalist American mythos, you remain unassimilated and un-American. Enoch Powell made the same argument in the sixties as Britain was absorbing some of its decolonized masses--it's not about skin color, but about culture. These people do not understand our ways; they threaten to undermine everything that has made us great.
America as land of opportunity provides a very strong ethos frame that will resist facts to the contrary for a long time to come, and nothing changes until that frame gets crashed and another replaces it. I don't see that happening any time soon. In the meanwhile, it's interesting to note that important factions within this broad traditional ethos have always hated the banks and later Wall Street. Maybe that's the place to organize around.