Wednesday, February 24, 2016
That Same Old Song
I haven't been posting much lately. I'm still scouring the same diverse sources for information every day - mainly international news services, progressive web sites, tech and science agencies and think tanks. There's a massive amount of information to be had, a lot of it devoid of political content or slant.
I've also been exploring the scourge of neoliberalism, free market fundamentalism, globalism/globalization and free trade. Oh boy did we ever miss the ball on that stuff and, barring some radical change soon, we'll be paying for our gullibility for decades to come. It's not until you discover the shackles on your ankles that you even notice the guy holding the key.
Going "to hell in a handbasket." If there was ever a phrase to stand the test of time, that's it. Our world appears to be coming apart at the seams - politically, globally, socially, economically and, of course, environmentally. It reminds me of onion skin paper, the really thin stuff. Every week there's another layer of onion skin added to the pile. Hardly enough to notice but only for a while. Like anything else, it adds up.
Boy, are we screw-ups. Look at Afghanistan. Sure it's beset by the Taliban and, more recently, ISIS fighters but they're not the immediate threat to that country. What may take Afghanistan down is the government that we bequeathed the Afghans when we drove the Talibs and al Qaeda into the hills of Tora Bora.
I can recall the accounts of the brave US Senate staffer who testified that there's never been a successful Muslim country that didn't first overcome the dual challenges of tribalism and warlordism. So what did we do with that sage advice? As soon as the warlords raised a stink we folded and allowed them into government. And we threw ourselves into raising a functioning Afghan National Army as though any army can remain viable without a functioning government.
Oh well, we've swept Afghanistan under the carpet and now we're going to fix Iraq and Syria - as if. Ordinarily a nation and its people go through some process of catharsis when they lose a war. That's a healthy thing. We don't do that any more. We just migrate to the next fiasco. I find that more than strange.
Neoliberalism. Boy, did we ever get hoodwinked. Seriously, we've been had going back to the days of Reagan, Thatcher and Mulroney who sold us on the promise of free market fundamentalism, a power sharing construct between commerce and government.
We were sold a bill of goods. They told us what they expected to happen. That didn't happen. They never had any honest belief that it would. Instead of that they had faith and, on their empty faith, they sold us an ideology, a religion with promises of a future to rival the afterlife that serves as the hook for other religions.
If you don't believe we've been had, read John Ralston Saul's 2005 book, "The Collapse of Globalism." A decade ago Ralston Saul proclaimed globalism a dead, failed religion and today he says we're floundering, waiting for the next great thing. In chapter 5, "A Short History of Economics Becoming Religion" he writes:
There was little hint until the mid-nineteenth century that economics might be transformed into the source of civilizational truth. Only when God was said to have died did various leaders, professions and sectors risk pushing themselves forward as successors.
And they did and they have and it worked. I don't consider myself a stupid man, easily tricked, and yet I fell for it. Accepting the truth of globalism/neoliberalism/free market fundamentalism was almost as effortless as the consensus of public opinion was powerful. The Masters of the Universe had unlocked all the secrets and we could leave all to them while we focused on our own lives and careers. We were had.
James K. Galbraith eviscerates globalism in "The Predator State, How Conservatives Abandoned the Free Market and Why Liberals Should Too." The Conservatives who launched free market fundamentalism ran their experiment for more than two decades only to discover it consistently failed to produce the promised outcomes.
The silver lining to the failed religion of globalism was that, while it might be enormously destructive to society as a whole, particularly the blue and white collar working classes, it was immensely advantageous to a very small segment of society who happened to carry enormous clout with those holding the levers of power. What ensued was the "political capture" of government, especially the Congress of the United States of America, who effected the transformation of the Republic into Galbraith's "Predator State."
Legislation floated on the promise of a "trickle down" effect masked what was actually a trickle up effect which, through a network of trade and tax provisions, facilitated the impoverishment of the many to the narrow but massive enrichment of the select few, the group Galbraith came to define as the "Looter Class."
Despite all its failed promises, the Church of the Free Market remains almost as powerful as ever. The public can be conditioned to accept almost anything these days and their elected representatives are, quite inexcusably, hardly any better. Time and again we've sat by as our legislators yielded vital aspects of national sovereignty on nothing more than the sculpted lie that it's always in our best interests. Success (for some) builds upon success and now it's the TPP, the Trans-Pacific Partnership. That's the shackle being clamped around your ankles. Look around you and see who's holding the key.