Thursday, November 04, 2004

Beneath the Glittering City on the Hill

I was a wee bit upset yesterday. After drinking myself silly last night, I've calmed down. I'm no longer swinging back and forth between anger and despair, but am settling nicely into smouldering cynicism.

To cheer me up, my friend Evviva sent me this article from the Asia Times:

China is rising, economically, diplomatically and militarily, to threaten a displacement of the United States as the dominant power in Southeast Asia. Europe is increasingly choosing the course of independence from the US: it currently rivals US gross domestic product (GDP) and is making joint economic and strategic diplomatic agreements with US competitors Russia, China, India, Iran and others, while the US looks on warily.

South Korea is increasingly irritated with the US military presence and diplomatic posture on the Peninsula and is looking ahead to a settlement of the Korean crisis that could significantly lessen, if not eliminate, US presence and influence. Japan likewise is displaying increasing irritation with the US diplomatic posture and military presence in the region and is moving rapidly in the direction of remilitarization, independence and self-assertion, making its own energy-security deals with Iran and Russia over US objections. Taiwan is also becoming more assertive, risking a conflagration with China, and obliging the US to make diplomatic moves toward China, away from longtime ally Taiwan, in an effort to avoid the conflagration, in which the US would most likely be the prime geopolitical loser.

Russia, in the face of proliferating US military presence throughout the traditional Russian sphere of influence, is becoming much more assertive, charting a course often directly opposed to the US. Russia is making strategic economic (oil/gas) agreements and conducting weapons sales in every strategic region of the world, while the US looks on guardedly at Russian political and diplomatic influence on the rise.

The majority of the oil states of the Middle East have adopted a decidedly anti-American stance in the aftermath of the Iraq invasion, and consequently, US influence in the region is suffering a very significant setback. In the past year collective international opposition to the US has been consolidating at the United Nations and within its Security Council, marginalizing and isolating the US internationally. The continuing trends are mostly against the US and are even picking up steam in that direction.

In the face of all these regional and global developments, can the United States maintain its current position of global dominance?

Given the rate that Americans are outsourcing jobs to other countries, undermining education, replacing science with fairy tales, stifling research by foreign nationals in our country and outlawing the importation of foreign research, it's a wonder our country hasn't become a second rate tourist trap. But we're just passing the nadir of Empire, not yet into the downward spiral. Just wait four years, though and the US will be a full blown Banana republic, importing all its critical services and exporting only tchotchkas and bad movies.

Then what will the world look like? It's always hard to predict the future and given my stellar record of prediction this week, I'm not feeling comfortable making anay concrete statements. One thing I am certain of, is that by the middle of the century, the US will bare more resemblance to the shanty town at the bottom of the hill, rather than the glittering city on top of it. And what will we have to blame for our woes? Eight years (at minimum) of Voodoo Economics dressed up like a Rober Baron, swaggering in its snake skin boots and smoking cheep cigars. I'm talking about The Ownership Society. This was the newfangled bit of PR that the GOP unveiled at the convention this year. But what exactly is it? No one seems to know. But if you ask any Konservative Koolaide Drinker, they'll blather on about how it's going to save the economy, and make us all (and by us all, I mean, upper class white males who already have an investment in the power infrastructure) rich! You may even be dazzled by the prospect of owning your very own genuine piece of Society. In fact, most Americans seem to have been so dazzled by the rhetoric, that they never noticed that no one ever really defined what the bloody blue hell this Ownership Society really is. That is, of course, on purpose. The Republicans don't want you to look too closely, because what Bush means when he says "Ownership Society" is really Anarcho-Capitalism:

...a view that regards all forms of the state as unnecessary and harmful, particularly in matters of justice and self-defense, while being highly supportive of private property. It synthesizes certain ideas from the tradition of classical liberalism (see libertarianism) and arguably from individualist anarchism as well. It opposes "traditional" anarchism on the issue of private property; while anarchists such as libertarian socialists and individualist anarchists reject all property beyond personal possessions as a form of authority, anarcho-capitalism embraces the established forms of property as an element of liberty.

Anarcho-capitalists promote individual property rights and free markets (in the sense of freedom from government interference) as the most just and effective way to organize all services.

So the next time you hear Bush or some pointy headed Think Tanker blathering on about the Ownership Society, keep in mind, what they're saying is, "We own your body and your job and we'll send either wherever it makes us the most money, be that to a tech services facility in India or a bunker in Iran."

And it will make them money, for a time. But ultimately, once the means of production have all been moved overseas, the US will be at the mercy of every other country in the world, who sells us our shit. Once they realise this (and, according to the Asia Times article, they already have) they'll figure out that we'll have to play by their rules. Because, however wrong Marx was about everything else, he was right about one thing: whomever controls the means of production, controls the world. And if the factories are in Singapore, India and Bangladesh, it doesn't matter where the CEO sits. Because as long as it isn't in the same room as the machinery that he feeds on, he'll be starving, real quick.

Welcome to the new world, folks. Better start learning Chinese.

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