There’s something tragic about a great power in decline. Many on the left today take it for granted that America should serve as their political punch bag. But the US was once a landmass upon which great political dreams were projected. A new land – a wealthy and prosperous land, with a solid democratic, anti-imperialist tradition.
One can barely imagine this today. Forty years ago, it was clear that the American dream was drowning in a sea of stagflation, unemployment, scandal and… eh… Jimmy Carter – whatever the hell THAT was!
Rewind thirty years and we see gathering the nightmare that was coming – Ronald ‘The-Cowboy-Movie-Cliche’ Reagan was at the helm, preaching the grace of God, while steering the US people into the fires of hell.
Twenty years ago, the cynical Bill ‘If-It-Wasn’t-Me-It-Would-Have-Been-Someone-Far-Worse’ Clinton was presiding over an America whose economic growth was moderate, whose lunatics had been pushed to the sidelines and, well, let’s be honest, whose main cultural production was the TV show ‘Friends’ – in other words, it was tolerable; a little dull, slightly plastic and funny in a way that doesn’t make you want to laugh.
At the beginning of our present century, the bad dream was to become a veritable attack of night-terrors – George ‘What’s-a-President?’ Dubya and his Neo-Con buddies were busy trying to lay the groundwork for a doomed-from-the-beginning New World Order.
And today? More light blue mediocrity from an emasculated Democratic administration, I’m afraid. Unfortunately, we’ve come to realise something that we didn’t really notice while Slick Willy was charming us all with his tepid New Economy growth, craazay frat-boy antics and his big horn – er, saxophone. We’ve come to notice just how deeply reliant we all are on the US economy, not to mention her financial system – and just how troubled this economy is.
As anyone who does me the good grace of reading my blog from time to time will know, I recently gave a brief overview of the political situation in the US. What I didn’t write about – but which most informed readers should already know – is that in the US there is a war underway; a misguided, phony war being fought against the grim specter, nay, rather friendly ghost, of the budget deficit (that sounds familiar…). Flying the red and blue is… well… the Republicans and the Democrats, respectively – the rest of the population, with little other choice, hunker down, grab the scraps that remain of the stars-and-stripes and wave the white-flag in terror.
This is a war alright – a war waged by the elites against the unfortunate American people. Why is this a war ? Because if the deficit is cut, the threads upon which the US economy is hanging will snap and it will begin it’s gradual – but terminal – decline; taking the rest of us with it on this downward spiral. I’m not exaggerating. Without a strong, well-directed stimulus (no more tax-breaks, lads – give us some public works, for Godsake!) the American economy will continue to decline.
The US has reached a certain point in history – it has reached its nadir as THE world economic power. Just like Britain and Holland before her, this historical crest was surfed by extending the country’s financial sphere – to the point of absurdity (I’ll do a post on this important topic soon, I promise). But unlike, say Britain at the turn of the twentieth century, there is no other big power waiting in the wings to step in to pick up the gauntlet. China?… pssshhh! Maybe someday, but for the moment it’s a second-rate power. All that talk you hear? that’s just businessmen and economists projecting what people have always projected onto the East – their fantasies.
This is worrying – very worrying. If the US doesn’t decline with grace and dignity as she sings her swansong, all of us are for the vultures. Yet, within the US the very idea of another stimulus – particularly one that moves away from pro-business, anti-economic growth tactics and toward public investment – is a pipe dream. The arguments against another, proper stimulus – so pertinently summed-up and demolished by James Kwak over at Baseline Scenario today – are garbage. But hey! these arguments are being launched by the same people who gave you such world historical events as: the Iraq war, the Afghanistan war and Gitmo! so what do you expect?
George ‘The-Big-Guy-Told-Me-To-Do-It’ Dubya once said, “One of the great things about this country is a lot of people pray.” Well, thank God for that!