The natives are restless:
Sometimes simple and bold ideas help us see more clearly a complex reality that requires nuanced approaches. I have an “impossibility theorem” for the global economy that is like that. It says that democracy, national sovereignty and global economic integration are mutually incompatible: we can combine any two of the three, but never have all three simultaneously and in full. —Dani Rodrik
In this sense, the crisis of capitalism has turned into a crisis of democracy. Many feel that their countries are no longer being governed by parliaments and legislatures, but by bank lobbyists, which apply the logic of suicide bombers to secure their privileges: Either they are rescued or they drag the entire sector to its death. —Der Spiegel
Despite philosophers of “universal harmonies” such as Francis Fukuyama, Timothy Garton Ash, Vaclav Havel, Bernard Henry Lévy and scores of international “economic advisors” to Boris Yeltsin, who all fantasized about democracy and prosperity, neither really arrived for most people in eastern Europe and the former Soviet Union. —Branko Milanovic – The Globalist
We are now in the midst of commemorating the 25th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin wall, which was followed in short order by the collapse of the Soviet Union and its entire international system.
I say “commemorate,” but when it comes to the collapse of the wall and enormous Soviet system, the word most people use is “celebrate.” But here I would interject an ancient Spanish folk proverb which goes, “when you see your neighbor’s beard on fire, put your beard to soak;” or the not so ancient but equally valid American saying, “what goes around, comes around.”
In my opinion the most unbiased, irrefutable, undeniable take-away from the collapse of the USSR and its entire ideological superstructure is that huge, powerful, complex and historically successful systems, which have embodied the hopes and dreams of several generations of people all around the world, can just up and die with little or no warning … Soon to be playing in theaters near you.
Why is it so difficult to realize anything so perfectly obvious?
It is very difficult to see this glaring reality because of an enormous think tank and media industry with scores of attending lobbies that was built up during the Cold War (but which still flourishes) to “win friends and influence people” for our system. This was in most every way a mirror of the Soviet “propaganda” machine.
In the English language the word propaganda fell out of favor during World War I and was replaced by Freud’s nephew Edward Bernays with more euphonious terms such as “public relations” and “marketing.”
If we observe that our system has been sold to the world, and more importantly even to ourselves, in exactly the same way as a soft drink, lets look at Coke’s slogans over the years. What if instead of: “the pause that refreshes,” “things go better with Coke” or, “it’s the real thing,” they had said the plain truth?
Imagine instead, “Coke tastes really good, it’s fantastic with rum in fact, but if you drink enough of it to keep our shareholders happy you will surely become grotesquely obese and you will probably develop diabetes and end up having your legs amputated” … send that up the flag pole and see who salutes.
With Coca Cola’s “propaganda” as your model, compare, “With Liberty and Justice for all” or “All men are created equal” or how about “government of the people, by the people, for the people, shall not perish from the earth,” with the Supreme Court decisions, “Buckley v. Valeo”and “Citizens United v. the Federal Electoral Commission” which have turned the United States into the political equivalent of a fat, diabetic, legless, wreck …
As a master analyst writes:
The dominating significance of the mid-term American legislative elections just finished has been the occasion’s dramatic confirmation of the corruption of the American electoral system. This has two elements, the first being its money corruption, unprecedented in American history, and without parallel in the history of major modern western democracies. How can Americans get out of this terrible situation, which threatens to become the permanent condition of American electoral politics?
The second significance of this election has been the debasement of debate to a level of vulgarity, misinformation and ignorance that while not unprecedented in American political history, certainly attained new depths and extent. […] The result of these developments during the past forty years has been the transformation of the United States into a plutocracy, which is to say a state governed by its wealthiest class. No one in America today doubts it. —William Pfaff
Most people thought Zhou was joking, but there was much rather Taoist wisdom in his words. Both the Russian and American revolutions are daughters of the French enlightenment that gave birth to the French revolution; all three propose a “universal” system of values by which all humanity is to achieve happiness. The French version led to Napoleon and Waterloo. This past weekend we celebrated the end of Russia’s attempt at making everyone, everywhere, happy.
25 years ago, when the wall went down it looked like the American dream of turning the world into a universal sea of American values was going to come true: World Bank, IMF, WTO, NAFTA, enlarging NATO … An American directed “New World Order” had dawned … That sounds a bit stale by now doesn’t it? The Chinese sure aren’t buying, neither is Russia … I wouldn’t count on India either … not to mention Latin America.
Reading the quote from William Pfaff above it would seem that the USA, like the USSR before it, would do well to clean up its own mess at home instead of trying to arrange the world’s affairs.
Cross posted from David Seaton’s News Links.
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