Slavery was pretty fucked up, so the men in suits designed a system far more palatable for the general population.
Now, there are all different shades of slavery, from work in the sweatshops to middle management.
We often gauge success and even intelligence from the pure speculation of how much money someone has. Billionaires are often falsely touted as geniuses instead of being exposed as the lucky cutthroats that they really are. There are plenty of geniuses out there that have and will continue to be dirt-poor.
To think that we've created a system that allows people to rise up from their station is a fantasy; it is the ultimate lottery. The bottom of the pyramid will always be there, no matter who climbs the ranks of the corporate ladder. There's also the issue of technically smart individuals having very poor networking skills. Very talented people get exploited via being forced to trade their time for money into a product that they will never see royalties on.
You know, some people are worried about those 17 odd billion animals we are torturing and killing in factory farms every year. However, what many fail to realize is that humans themselves are being farmed as well.
Billions of them. All of them running on their little hamster wheel trying to get ahead in a system that's been rigged since before they were born. How marvelous.
Enslaved by tribalism
This entire system makes everyone in it less than they could be. The billionaires look down from the top of the pyramid and think they've won the game. Everything is relative, so because the people at the top have more than the people farther down it's seen as some kind of victory. Metaphorically, we seem to be content making pyramids on the ground when we could be flying around in spaceships.
Humanity could be so much more. On the flip side, I think we have to acknowledge that without the system we've come up with (a few in charge of the many) we could be even worse off. No one can do anything alone. We all rely on this network for the most part. In the end it really comes down to governance. Are we on the verge of vastly upgrading the way citizens are controlled? There's certainly an argument to be made that our survival as a species depends on it.
People don't like being overtly controlled. The art of manipulating the general population without their knowledge or consent has become quite the art-form. Will humanity ever awaken to see the invisible chains they've been shackled by? Maybe... but it seems far more likely that the spectrums we're creating will just grow wider and become even more blurred.