by Mike Meyer ~ Honolulu ~ January 9, 2020
The American population has become very casual about walking on the edge of national disaster over the last twenty years. The road to this state is long and winding over the previous sixty years from the civil rights conflicts of the late 1960s, the Vietnam loss in 1975, the OPEC oil crisis, and Watergate.
Ronnie Reagan had a critical role by putting much of the country to sleep playing a presidential version of the Old Ranger in Death Valley Days. That sedative hid the removal of the middle and working class future by destroying the democratic socialist legacy of the the ’40s and ’50s. Not to mention expanding the American Military Empire. Racism was the route to power to distract from slow middle class impoverishment used to fund the permanent, neo fascist oligarchy.
Racial hatred in America always beats sharing and collaboration. The North won the battles of the Civil War but lost the war itself and then went to sleep for one hundred years until Reagan let everyone know that racism was a right and the Republican Party was no longer the party of Lincoln. The ugliest form of capitalism was the American Way and human wellbeing was a communist plot. No notice was taken of the slow disappearance of services and increasing homelessness. The people that mattered were still ok.
The generation that had gone from the Great Depression to the 1960s with cars, houses, pensions, and raises every year assumed that the poorly paid black and brown class would be happy to remain in their place. They raised their Boomer kids with those expectations containing all the hidden prejudices. Perhaps they didn’t realize that this was a time bomb for the future that they would not be around to see explode. What, me worry? Many of their kids took that as a motto.
With Reagan’s help, the slow economic growth, inflation, and weak innovation to the 1990s the old John Birch oligarchy finally gained control with Wall Street as their casino. For the maturing Boomers it was finance as the golden ticket with the lure of becoming a Master of the Universe living in a $20,000 per month apartment. No one wanted to touch the working stuff and making a good living was for the privileged and definitely not a right.
If there weren’t any good jobs and education was becoming too expensive, you could go in the military. There was a good living to be made in controlling the American Empire and that was always a way to citizenship for non-whites. But there was no guarantee on that promise as racism never went away.
The collapse of the USSR, long a much weaker power than claimed due to bad management, and the reunification of Germany all made the US the winner in the 20th century competition. It was the end of history and the US was the final solution but that barely lasted ten years. It wasn’t a bipolar world anymore but the last stage of capitalist exploitation. China, somehow, was no longer poor and US science and engineering university programs were being filled by very smart young people from China, India, South America, and the Middle East.
But that was ok as all the free higher education and well funded public high schools of the 1950s and 1960s were being stripped of the money they no longer deserved. The oligarchy had what it needed and saw no reason to share. In America most people did not notice that the rest of the world was happier and just as well off as the US middle class. The rich were taking the biggest cut but, hey, the wealth would all tickle down. Except it didn’t. The political pawns of the corporate oligarchy learned that Americans no longer cared about truth and the continuous lies prevented anyone having to admit that down was not up.
All of the old problems that had been ignored or suppressed began to come back. But America was the final answer. Except that things were stagnant even though the economic indicators were loaded for the acceptable policies of predatory capitalism and total disregard for planetary sustainability and biological wellbeing.
Exploitation of the Middle East hit an angry generation there that had been educated and could see what was happening. The American imperial machinery was the center of the US economy and only the very wealthy had security while the military industrial complex made money with shoddy and outrageously overpriced weapon systems.
The warning signs were everywhere over the previous forty years but criticism of American Exceptionalism was not tolerated. Oh, it wasn’t so crude as totalitarian censorship but your profit margin could go to hell if the big government contracts didn’t come. Mergers and forced buyouts by those with hundreds of millions in credit line, took over those who‘s credit line was suddenly tenuous. The mainstream media was consumed by huge corporations who taught that there were always two sides to each story and no one could say who was correct so why not let profits decide?
The Democratic Party followed the oligarch’s line but didn’t want too many people suffering and though diversity was good and old fashioned American racism was unfortunate but ok, if you didn’t talk about it. The Republican Party steadily lost the pretense of anything except suppressing the lower classes, supporting white supremacy, and pumping greed as the only virtue. All the conservative policies had failed but who needs policies when you have power.
The century turned, the election was tipped to Bush who had no problem lying about what he would do, and the towers fell. The only answer was another war. Incompetence, war crimes, torture and more lies was the American Way. The economy was steadily subverted so only the most wealthy could win. The decades of stagnation needed to be countered with easy mortgages but the scams kept falling apart and the Great Recession came to pass.
Obama, with skills and eloquence, was a true believer in the American Experiment but his party was the only one even pretending to follow the rules. The neoliberal economics brought the planet together but gave the rewards to the oligarchs and ignored everyone else. They were better off than before so why should they complain? But the winners of the greed wars needed to lock down absolute power.
The oligarchic elite could remove or ignore borders to move their revenue flows but people could not. Cheap labor was important for cash flow and the workers had no rights to access the market so they could be kept cheap. If they weren’t lucky and living in some form of socialist democracy they could lose everything with their government corrupted and scamming all they could get from the oligarch’s contracts for services.
The massive asset distortions, climate change and general incompetence marking the decline of the old nation state model, destabilized the Middle East, that was none too stable from decades of resource exploitation and corruption, the same in Central America forcing populations into motion for survival. But none of those people were white so they had no right to demand a place to live.
We are now devoid of any pretense with the ignorant and racist population on a rampage. That rampage is miserable and absurd and has no answers for the planetary problems we face except the suicidal urge to white supremacy as climate disasters grow. That is exactly what it seems to be, greed and hatred because Western Civilization has accepted the single goal of predatory capitalism, success is to win at any cost.
This is a far larger moral failure than most people can easily grasp. The result is stress and exhaustion at the greed and willful ignorance of those corrupted by this world we have created. Our only hope is to fight against these forces, a minority of the population, until their own refusal to see presents them with inescapable disasters. Sadly, we will all pay the same price until all patience is lost and we become as bad as the worst among us.
But all is not lost. The darkest hour is before the dawn and that is still true. We are seeing the paradigmatic changes that are shifting the way we see, understand, and manage our societies and planet. These are best understood from three perspectives: 1) Technology and social media is, still, democratic empowerment, 2) Our youth are fed up and are smarter and better equipped than the aging losers who are blocking action, 3) People are choosing to achieve carbon reduction despite failing governments.
The age of direct democracy is here. This has never been possible before so it is hard for people to understand as anything other than some distant goal. Amazingly we are seeing how this will work in the midst of the worst criminal actions by the US government and others. Without any understanding Trump tweets wildly everyday. His mindless assassination of the top Iranian general set the stage for war. But the Iranians, understanding Trump’s limitations and the communication tools that we have, used Twitter to manage an incredibly dangerous situation.
By announcing a direct response to the illegal assassination of Qassem Soleimani, launching precision missiles against unmanned military targets in Iraq, and then announcing completion of the action on Twitter, the Iranians took Trump’s game away from him and slapped him in the face with it. While the assumption is that things are not finished, the formal ‘show’ is over and a clear Iranian win.
The emerging tragedy of the Ukraine flight apparently downed by an Iranian anti aircraft missile, if actually inadvertent, will come to be seen as the responsibility of the US and Trump as the instigator of this disaster. Layers of tragic responsibility for no good reason but potential positives exist based on Iran’s careful management of the Trump situation.
But the bigger issue is that high stakes conflict can be openly and instantaneously negotiated. That will be recognized as a major change in how we manage our conflicts. At a more mundane level it shows that open, online discussion is the future of government. We’ve long known that secrecy is a disease and feeds brutal authoritarians. Dangerous leaders can be controlled by forcing open information flow and public response. Misinformation is being quickly identified as sourced from fake accounts and bot systems and that begins to limit its effect.
The Time Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg, has continued to deftly destroy the deniers by simply stating the science is what matters. That will become a growing point in the battle of our youth for their future. Science is the foundation of our future and must be kept above politics and misinformation. Most people know this and those that done’t are being quickly identified by our younger generations who know they don’t have time for this.
The US had begun to reduce carbon emissions, estimated to be 11% lower in 2017 than in 2005, but the Trump disaster produced a 3.4% spike in 2018. This illustrates the speed with which dangerous results follow rogue political regimes. But positives are possible and fossil fuels are being reduced. These must be eliminated and it will be painful but we are closer to a majority of our population realizing what must be done.
That is a positive but, still, a very small one. People dedicated to misinformation and dangerous actions will need to be identified and removed from positions of any authority. Hopefully that can be done by public force. But that is one of the things that is beginning to happen.
Is something larger visible in this dance toward the cliff of disaster? Governments of very large nation states are increasingly dangerous. Trump is a symptom of ignorance and delusional impulsivity now being recognized as a planetary problem. But he is not alone. The sycophants and wannabes emulating Trump shows how dangerous these positions can be be when filled by incompetents, the mentally unstable, and criminals.
No one should be able to start wars on a whim. We monitor people constantly now for security. People in very powerful positions should be constrained and monitored by everyone. They cannot be allowed to hide and scheme.
Perhaps complete public visibility is an answer for part of this. Perhaps AI monitoring for irrational and illogical acts is another part.
We need to soon decide and act on what is needed to survive.