Poor (but greedy) America
People are left to presume that there is no alternative to some malign economic force beyond human control. The truth is that penury and greed are political choices, not economic destiny: we can be Nordic, not American, and we can be John Lewis, not Gate Gourmet, employers if we choose.Ah yes… those quintessentially American "choices" of penury and greed. Best, however, not to look too closely at where the impoverished US ranks in the UN’s quality of life list, or at how much those greedy Americans are giving away to the rest of the world every year.
Best also not to contemplate too much about what Toynbee is actually saying, lest the power of her point be lost in a swamp of incoherence. You might be forced to see that penury and greed are not, in fact, “political choices” made by society at all, but that they are conditions of the individual to which a given society may respond with various policy choices. No society “chooses” either, and the existence of each certainly is more akin to destiny than to a choice, greed being an inherent characteristic of human nature (a fact of which leftists have always been in denial) and poverty, particularly when defined in relative terms as leftists are wont to do, being ubiquitous throughout human existence.
As usual, the force of Toynbee’s column is best felt by those who don’t spend too much time thinking about it.