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PAST GLORY November 22, 2010

Posted by wmmbb in US Politics.

Could it be that the United States of America is not solely a failed state, but a rogue state?

Admittedly this is truly an alarmist proposition. So scepticism is order. Equally, it is important to consider the evidence, even if partial.

Firstly, it is very difficult to address structural political reform, especially when the template was set two hundred and thirty years ago.The Senate is not democratic in its composition, and does not have the saving virtue that proportional representation gives the Australian Senate, so that Florida has two senators and New England, with the same population, has twenty or so.Then, of course, the seats in the House of Representatives take on strange configurations to accommodate a predetermined outcome, so that incumbency is the best guide to success. Fixing the underlying structural problems is not on the agenda or part of the political consciousness.

The political system runs on money, largely because, as in other countries, campaign investments fund television and radio broadcasting. It would seem that the conservative agenda – whatever that means has access to the most money with the fundamental contradictory purpose of funding the wars, enriching the already super rich and almost impoverishing everybody else. A system based on violence is likely to generate violence.

Joe Brewer, writing for Cognitive Policy Works suggests, following the mid-term elections:

So now you’ve seen the power of conservative propaganda for setting America’s agenda. This week we saw the annihilation of progressive ideas by the most sophisticated, deeply funded, and precisely orchestrated public relations system ever concocted.

And they are preparing to take things up a notch now that they’ve won. The gears are well greased and the engine is humming. Prospects are slim for President Obama and the remaining progressives in Congress. If we don’t act now, 2012 will mark the end of the progressive rise to power in American politics.

Now is the time to respond with force.

We have to rally together and stop the message machine that aligns corporate wealth with the American story. The stakes are too high for us to ignore this threat any longer. Our enemy is not a party. It is a system designed to manipulate public perceptions about what it means to be American. And it is unraveling the tapestry of our culture and destroying our democracy.

I’ve watched the progressive leadership closely in the last five years as they have repeatedly underestimated this oppositional force and overlooked its fundamental threat to America’s future. They have invested nearly all their time and money in candidates and policies, naively thinking that rational discourse would save the day despite a mountain of evidence to the contrary. Very little has been done to build the 21st Century communication infrastructure we need to counter the vast network of think tanks, media outlets, and cultural myths that preserve the status quo.

Yet propaganda, not matter how sophisticated, is not as significant as cultural assumptions. Public Opinion, which seems almost totally irrelevant to the political decision making process – the invasion of Iraq the classic example – still seems at odds with the official political discourse. Attitudes persist despite the propaganda. As in other oppressive regimes, people seem to develop the capacity to deconstruct the stories they are told.

And then there is the economy, an important component in a global interconnected economy. Joe Brewer suggests that the Capitalist System, so beloved and worshiped by the Tea Party is pretty crook. He notes:

The current economy is designed to:

  • Encourage widespread home ownership, which straps people to a lifetime of mortgage debt;
  • Mandate that health care only be provided through employers, which enslaves people to meaningless jobs they don’t like;
  • Grow perpetually, which means that natural resources must be depleted to keep the gears turning;
  • Accumulate wealth in the hands of those who control capital, which drives a wedge between the haves and the have-nots;
  • Drive the creation of sweat shops all over the world that enslave billions in a cycle of perpetual poverty;
  • Allow corporations to co-opt our democracy, by granting them the rights of legal personhood and defining money as speech;
  • Ultimately destroy the foundations of human well-being, thus spiraling deregulated markets out of control.

As a result, we are seeing massive growth of public debt while a small portion of the population becomes more wealthy than the monarchs of past ages. These billionaires then build incredibly sophisticated propaganda machines to convince everyday citizens to support their exploitative system.

“And so it goes”. But it does not stop there. America has engaged in criminal wars, using criminal means including in Iraq and Afghanistan and the perpetrators have not been brought to justice. Take the case of former president, George W Bush:

So where to, from here? Onward and downward it seems. David Kaiser writes:

Now that the election is over we have to face the reality of what it means. Having spent the last two years pursuing maximum feasible obstruction, the Republicans in Congress now have the possibility of making things much worse. Early indications suggest that they will do so. Senator John Kyl of Arizona has suddenly decided to pull the plug on the START Treaty with Russia, which calls both for deep cuts and for inspections, claiming that the Obama Administration hasn’t shown enough commitment to modernization of our nuclear forces (on which the Administration is willing to spend $10 billion a year!) or to missile defense, one sacred Republican cow that the President has been willing at least to downgrade. This has brought outrage from older Republicans like Henry Kissinger, James Baker, Brent Scowcroft and Richard Lugar, but not, as far as I can see, from a single Republican Boomer politician. In fact this obviously seems to reflect the broader strategy, already enunciated by minority leader Mitch McConnell, of denying the President any successes at all in order to doom any hope of his re-election. As such it represents perhaps the most irresponsible foreign policy stance of my adult lifetime.

The odd contradiction it seems to me is that those who proper by public relations have no appreciation of soft power, even as hard power of bullying and murder seems despite the horrendous human cost to be falling over almost everywhere – perhaps with the exception of Honduras, which that sense an outstanding success, but not a democratic one.

Equally, if the cowboy economy was a real the rest of us would have not cause for concern other than for the unfortunate people live within the United States. And our concern is considerable, since we do not choose to give up on living and acting as human beings. Mahatma Gandhi said that it was not possible to be moral without courage, nor it is possible to be democracy without courage because it a system of government in which the citizens assume responsibility for outcomes, including the rule of law.



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