Is the oligarchy suicidal?

Political cartoonist and essayist Ted Rall wonders why, in the face of ever-increasing anger about the growing inequality in the US and other developed countries, the ruling class does not do what it used to do in the past to quell popular unrest.

During the 1930s and 1960s liberal leaders ended street protests by promising change. Why not now? Why isn’t anyone promising to address income inequality? They could lie and break their promises later.

He examines possible reasons for this inaction and concludes that the oligarchy has deluded itself into thinking that this time around they can insulate themselves from the consequences of their actions.

[T]here has always been a division within the elites between enlightened liberals and hardass thieves. The liberals don’t like us; they fear us. So they try to keep us satisfied enough not to revolt. The thieves count on brute force—cops, pepper spray, camps—to keep the barbarians at bay. The balance of power has shifted decisively to the thieves—which is why figures like Obama can’t even pretend to care about the issues most important to the great majority of people.