So, in reference to my immediately preceding Post, I want to put the key thoughts in short form.
The element of the Beltway elite comprised of officials and corporate elites have realized for quite some time – at least three decades – that the US could not retain its post-WW2 economic primacy (which stemmed from America’s highly Productive culture, its Abundance of resources and raw materials as well as Productive infrastructure, and the fact that in 1945 most of the developed world was suffering the huge effects of the war being fought on their turf). By 1970 the economies of the rest of the developed world were recovered enough to start competing again.
Nevertheless, political considerations starting in the late 1960s required the embrace of what I have always called the ‘Revolutions of the Identities’ which included both the positive intentions of replacing responsibilities with ‘rights’ and the negative strategy of ‘devalorizing’ the Productive culture as (pick one, several or all: white, male, bourgeois, working-class, conformist, oppressive, traditional).
The Corporate-Finance interests hit upon the general strategy of ‘supporting’ the many cultural changes and subsequent national legislation and policy because it reduced the influence and power of American organized labor; subsequently, as the Cold War started to wind down in the 1980s, they began outsourcing to foreign countries.
Starting in the late 1970s under Carter, efforts to keep up the appearances of a bustling economy and also reduce government spending, led to de-regulation of vital public utilities and services. This dynamic was continued under Reagan, who also began borrowing heavily against America’s world credit and its status as Victor of 1945, Leader of the ‘Free World’ (against the USSR), and owner of the world’s reserve currency – the dollar. On Reagan’s watch, the US slid from the world’s largest creditor nation to a debtor nation.
When the USSR collapsed, this actually accelerated the American loss of primacy because not only large swaths of the Cold-War ‘West’ but also Central European ‘East bloc’ countries opened up outsourcing and investment opportunities; equally, numerous Pacific-Asian nations, not only freed from a sense of impending Communist subversion but also benefitting from major advances in the ease of exchanging information, shipping goods, and moving investment capital around the planet, made their non-unionized low-wage labor forces hugely attractive to Western capital investment and corporations.
Thus in the 1990s, under Clinton, not only outsourcing but off-shoring became the elite plan embraced by both the Corporate and Left-Progressive elites. This kept up the appearance that the US economy was vigorous and growing; but the Productive infrastructure – facilities and culture – were being greedily and hastily dismantled. In its place, for primarily political purposes, it was confidently asserted by Progressive-Liberal elites that a ‘Knowledge and Service’ economy could simply and easily replace the old (sweaty, masculine, bourgeois) Industrial Production economy.
No consideration was given to either a) the overall credibility tof the presumption that finance, insurance, real estate, human services and entertainment could of themselves sustain a major world economy; nor b) the strong possibility that such an economy would lethally skew the demographics of the Citizenry into a hugely remunerated wealthy class with an ancillary ‘elite’ Knowledge class, a horribly shrunken middle-class, and a hugely expanded low-paid servant class.
Throughout all of this era (1970-late 1990s) a continually developing neo-conservative, patriotistic (as opposed to genuinely patriotic) New Right sought to continue the growth of what was slowly becoming the nation’s only remaining major Producer: the ‘defense’ and weapons industry. This dovetailed with an effort to continually re-assert American military prowess as a way of maintaining – by military force rather than Productive competence and economic vitality – American control of ‘the Free World’ and the Developing and Third World.
With the fall of the USSR, the New Right exploded into a phantasmagorical frenzy of hyper-hegemonism: the US had ‘won’ the Cold War and now was not simply Leader of a Free World (that no longer actually existed since its Evil Twin – the Soviet slave world – had now ceased to exist) but also Leader of the World in general.
‘Democracy’ was now touted as absolutely vital and a ‘right’ of all of the world’s nations.
And this dovetailed nicely with the sense that had been building to a very sharp point from the 1970s and throughout the post-USSR 1990s: that this country could no longer sustain itself on the basis of Productivity (and the Knowledge and Service economy ‘replacement’ was proving itself – who knew? – utterly incapable of performing the magic it was invented to perform).
The solution that began to take shape in the 1990s was: to use ‘humanitarian intervention’ as a pretext for intervening militarily and thereby securing ‘position’ in parts of the world’s resource-rich or strategically-located lands.
When 9-11 – that egregious and incomprehensible result of what appeared to be the most profound and widespread government bumbling and incompetence – happened, the Right-neocon elements of the Beltway elites instantly used it as a pretext to invade Iraq, a former US ally from the Cold War 1980s that happened to be both strategically located and “sitting upon a sea of oil”, a vital and finite resource necessary to many of the world’s growing economies (the US no longer gets most of its oil from the Persian Gulf region), control of which would keep the US in a powerful position in the Great Game of world politics. It also invaded Afghanistan, another former US ally from the Cold War 1980s, which is even more strategically located and possessed of never-exploited mineral resources that the great and growing economies of China, Russia, and India might get their hands on.
The truly amazing burst of home-computers that sparked the American dotcom revolution of the early 80s was genuine. But it masked the loss of the genuinely Productive industrial infrastructure, both physical and cultural. Reagan’s continuation of de-regulation into the ominously engorging F.I.R.E. (finance, insurance, real estate) sector of the economy – especially as it related to the equally ominous introduction of the role of banks as entrepreneurial profit-centers rather than as solid and stabilizing cash-management institutions – resulted in the Savings&Loan scandal of the mid-80s.
When the dotcom revolution – which had turned into a ‘bubble’ by the 1990s - finally burst in 2000, and under the impetus of Bush 2’s eagerness to distract the country with even more easy credit (fantasy ‘wealth’ to replace actual solid assets), what then resulted was the elite-managed creation of Bubble after Bubble, under-regulated by a government that was now as indentured to the F.I.R.E sector for even the appearance of economic productivity as it was indentured to the assorted Identity-Politics ‘bases’ and ‘advocates’ on the Left and the responsive ‘Fox’ bases on the Right for whatever electoral reliability could be managed.
But, hiding under the distractions of the consequences sparked by 9-11 and the increasing derangement of the economy by the wars’ monstrous cost, was the fact that the F.I.R.E. sector, aided by the repeal of Glass-Steagall and with the help of such odious panderers as Phil Gramm in the Senate, was now pretty much calling the economic shots. Unsupervised by a now helpless government, the super-executives who had been nurtured by the Gordon-Gekko ‘Greed is good’ creed of the early 1980s, maniacally inflated the Bubble(s) until the whole shebang blew up in 2008, though there had been warning tremors as early as mid-2005 (or 1971, if you want to take the long view). Corporate elites were enticed by the chance of enhancing profits by controlling the vital oil supplies of the growing competitor economies and of hugely increasing the assets of American petroleum-related and weapons-related industries.
Increasingly, as the Iraq and Afghanistan gambits ran into hardly-unpredictable military failure, the New Left and Progressive elites – worried that their agitations and ‘reforms’ were losing steam in this country – were invited to the party: their agendas of various ‘rights’ and requirements for deep cultural changes, all in the name of ‘humanitarian liberation’ and ‘rights’, would provide a marvelous pretext and ‘front’ for the new US stance to the world: Go Out and Grab. (Or ‘GOAG’, pronounced GO-agg).
Thus Libya: possessed of excellent location and large oil reserves as well as 150 tons of pure gold in its Central Bank; having recently been agitating to dethrone the US dollar (and petrodollar) as the reserve currency for oil-rich nations conducting their trade; and happily led by a quirky and indubitable dictator who could be – with every pretext of decency and ‘concern’ – overthrown so that his people could be liberated (with the help, no doubt, of a permanent US presence not far from the seat of government).
And this was under a Democratic president who, as a black male, was originally spun as the Summum Bonum of the civil-rights and multicultural revolutions of almost half a century before. And who has proven to be incapable, on the basis of those ‘qualifications’, of stopping either the Beltway indenture to corporate wealth or the Beltway indenture to military over-extension in the service of GOAG.*
And therefore, the Question facing this democracy of Ours – facing The People, facing Us – is: Do We agree with and allow Our government to GOAG (used here as a verb) on Our behalf?
Or perhaps at least using Us as a pretext (i.e: it’s in ‘the vital national interest’ that the government GOAGs), whereas really most of the swag is going to go to the Corporate and Very Rich; the now greatly-reduced drones (i.e. The People, most of Us) getting hardly a dribble to hold together and sustain whatever lives that We can manage.
Naturally, GOAG is going to generate a whole lotta resistance from the ‘new natives’ who are actually the old 19th century colonial natives – especially in resource-rich Africa – of the Bad Old Days of Colonialism.
But for the US, and a bunch of other ‘over-mature’ Western economies such as the UK and France, such ‘blowback’ is actually welcome and indeed necessary: the old Israeli excuse against the local Arab populations can be deployed (they hate us for what we are or for what we have achieved), while such counter-violence as those Grabbed natives inflict can quickly be termed ‘terrorism’, the pieties of 9-11 solemnly invoked, and the drones (having replaced your grandfather’s ‘Marines’) can be sent in.
This is what the new Age of GOAG is going to be. And while arrayed in the sheep’s clothing of ‘humanitarian liberation’ and ‘progressive reform’ and simultaneously in the patriotistic armor of American righteousness and might, it will remain the old Great Game.
Only this time the US isn’t going to be getting involved because it’s young, up-and-coming, and flush with vitality and energy, but rather because it is now an aging boss-ape that must become a predator against all the world’s vulnerable peoples in order to keep itself going in the manner to which it has become accustomed.
The world, ironically under America’s ‘leadership’, is sliding back into the 19th century Great Game. Such progress. Who knew?
This is not a happy picture. Especially in regard to what this country is now well on the way to becoming and in regard to what most of the world’s vulnerable peoples (not militarily strong enough to repel intervention or offers of ‘aid’) think of us: as one German soldier unhappily and ominously wrote home after the initial whizz-bang success on the Eastern Front had stopped being military fun and started to reveal the whole invasion’s lethal fallacies, “They know now what we really bring”. And ‘they’ were starting to blow up supply trains, ambush troops, and in myriad ways to resist the Grab.
This is not a happy picture. We are becoming a predator-state, a predator ‘superpower’ increasingly driven not by arrogance but desperation. A National Nanny State combined with a National Security State that has to Grab or Fade: the National Grab State.
Nor can We avoid looking at it and deliberating as to what We, The People, want to do about it.
*Thought should perhaps be given to judging candidates for major political office not on whether they fulfill some vision of a 'revolution' half a century ago - he's black, she's a woman, s/he's 'young' - but rather primarily on some level of maturity, character and pure guts. Yes, competence is important but almost the entire sitting political class is now indentured to and habituated to the politics of 'the deal': go along to get along and keep using the taxpayer's money to reward your friends and your 'bases'.
Congress has been doing this for half a century now, and with increasing intensity: letting the Executive and the Supreme Court do the heavy-lifting while the Honorable Members did their 'deals', collected their swag, and shuffled off to Honorable Retirement.
Congress is the core piece in the operating mechanism of the Constitution (notice how big Article I is compared to Articles II and III); but it has long given itself over to the plague of 'deal politics' - in no small part as a result of the torturous fracturing introduced by Identity Politics and a concomitant dumbing-down of the political competence of the Citizenry and The People in the past several decades.
In regard to Congress, consider the bad old days of the Civil War when one Union Senator said of a dilatory Union general: "I intend to make him either fight or throw up". The Citizenry need to make Congress either do its job or throw up.