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What is America good for?

by Frank Schnittger Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:55:36 AM EST

Sven Triloqvist:

It might be that the USA is lost. It might be that the USA should be sacrificed to save the planet. There is a lot to be said for saving the planet - I haven't heard too many reasons for saving the USA.

Would someone like to offer me some arguments as to why we NEED the USA? I have never heard any cogent arguments, except entitlement.

When one country - using 25% of the world's energy - the cuckoo in the nest - claims to be in trouble, I say "Are you worth saving? Give me some reasons that you should be helped!

The above comment on European Tribune - TIME Magazine: Oh, Come the fuck ON
could have provoked a lot of indignant defenses of the USA or tit-for-tat comments by US contributors querying what Europe is good for.  We could have had an orgy of mutual finger pointing to the tune of "my country is better than yours".  To ET's credit, this didn't happen, other than some mildly snarky repartee.

But Sven never got much of an answer to his question, and there may be those (not here, of course!)who revel in a certain Schadenfreude as the Neo-con "New American Century" bites the dust in a welter of military stalemate, financial meltdown, and the huge loss of political influence and prestige which has characterised the Bush Presidency.

Personally, I don't find such nationalistically framed arguments very helpful, but my attempt to frame the debate in a more global and historical context didn't provoke much debate even if it was kindly rated.  So I am repeating it here, below the fold, in the hope that we can arrive at a more systematic and deeper understanding of how the current global political system works - or doesn't - as the case may be.

Just what contribution has the US been making to the current world order, and how might that contribution be improved?


Prior to WW1 there was a multi-polar world order - made up of competing European based empires - Britain, France, Germany, Spain, Austria Hungary, Russia etc. - plus the US. This system was unstable because empires kept building alliances to try and defeat other empires.  WW1 was so horrible it was supposed to be the war to end all wars and the League of Nations was set up to end this system of imperial competition.

In practice the outcome of WW1 was to mutually impoverish the all the European based empires - with Britain/France as the nominal winners - but with the USA as the real winner by default.  Germany didn't  accept its planned impoverishment - and Japan wanted to get into the game - and so we had WW2.  The USA rather cleverly let the direct combatants exhaust each other somewhat before it came in and cleaned up the remainder.  The UN and the EU emerged to try and prevent a repeat.

The Soviet Union, having suffered horrendously at the hands of Nazism and fearful of invasion wasn't prepared to accept US hegemony, and so we had the Cold War -  effectively a bi-polar world order where all other nations had to choose which side they were on as more or less client states.  Governments which resisted incorporation into one empire or the other were subverted or toppled - by economic, clandestine, or overtly military leans - with major regional conflicts in Korea, and Vietnam.

Remarkably this arrangement proved reasonably stable at a global level: Nuclear war was averted and the conflict largely exported to third world theaters.  Europe and the US thrived, but the Soviet Union couldn't stand the strain of being the sole countervailing power.  So the Soviet Union collapsed and we had Pax Americana -  a Unipolar world order where the US was dominant militarily, economically, politically and culturally/ideologically.

Again a reasonably stable arrangement except that some in the US elite became increasingly arrogant.  The Neo-conservative "New American Century" project basically treated everyone else as a vassal state to be subordinated to US political, military and economic interests.  The end of the threat of socialist revolution meant that the ruling elites could abandon the social democratic/New Deal compromise with the middle/working classes which had provided the basis for post war stability within Europe and the USA. Raw capitalism, red in tooth and claw, once again became the order of the day.

The trouble was that it is very hard to maintain internal stability in an increasingly unequal society without some external bogeyman to scare the populace into conformity with ruling elite interests and norms.  Gorbachev famously commented that "We have taken your enemy away from you - what will you do now?"   So the war against communism was replaced by the war on terror, on drugs, on civil liberties, and on any convenient dictator who could be mustered up to play the bad guy.

Some, like Israel, and perhaps the UK and Saudi Arabia managed to secure a favoured place in this new dispensation - and were very happy to play along.  But others in Europe sought to create a countervailing force through the EU and some states like Russia, China, India, and Iran are beginning to challenge US hegemony.  The US is too thinly spread to control the entire global system on its own, but has been inept at creating alliances whereby other client states do much of the controlling work for it at a regional level.

So we are in danger of reverting to a multi-polar system with all the dangers of inter-imperial competition we had prior to WW1.  However much we might dislike many aspects of US hegemony, American dominance since WW2 has coincided with a period of RELATIVE peace and prosperity around the world (ok - the Vietnamese, Palestinians, Iraqis etc. might not agree).  However this phenomenon may not have all that much to do with American exceptionalism or any particular innate characteristic of the American people, and more to do with the characteristics of a Unipolar rather than a multi-polar world order.

We REALLY don't want to go back to a pre-WW1 type system of international relations with competing Empires creating alliances and waging war on each other. It is a pity the US (under Bush) hasn't shown more foresight and sought to build up the UN and other world organisations to create a system of genuine global governance which can more equally and fairly represent and express the differing interests  within that global world order.  

We need better systems to control war crimes, human rights, regional conflicts, local despots,  global warming, trade, currency exchange, financial services etc. - but having acquired a world empire, the US has been too unwilling to let go of some of that power and allow a more genuinely democratic and balanced world order to emerge.  Critical to the Neo-con project was the destruction of the UN and any attempts to develop a coherent and enforcible body of International Law to which all would be subject as equals.  Even the re-introduction of Government sponsored torture may have had more to do with undermining all international law and conventions than with gaining any actionable intelligence on the ground.

It was to be US rule and with everyone else having to play by the US rules.  Consequently the US is engaged in a series of wars to try and maintain this dominance - and is being weakened in the process.   China, India, Japan, the EU etc. - are not carrying much of the costs of these wars, and thus are growing more economically powerful vis a vis the US all the time.  Sooner or later the US elite need to learn that military/hard power on its own is costly and ineffectual, and that if it wants its values to prevail it will have to cede many of its imperial powers to genuinely global governance agencies.  The tragedy for the US is that Bush has wasted the last 8 years doing the exact opposite. In the meantime economic and political power is gradually slipping away from the US.

The 50 year era of US dominance post WW2 has been relatively peaceful and prosperous, and although obviously unjust in many ways, it is hardly comparable to the old Imperial looters and Hitler and Stalin in their rapaciousness and evil.  There is no guarantee the next 50 years are going to be as stable - especially if we have a serious of resource wars over diminishing oil, food, and water resources.

So we may yet come to appreciate the era of Pax Americana as a relatively benign era - not because the American people are innately morally superior, but because a Unipolar world order worked reasonably well for a time until the arrogance and hubris of the few destroyed it.

The real question is whether we can create a better, fairer and more stable world order as the American empire declines.  Smaller countries like Finland, and Ireland can have a role in this - as they are experienced in the diplomatic skills needed to survive in the shadow of imperial powers.  But the much bigger question is whether the emerging bigger powers can have the vision and leadership to cede enough power to Global bodies which makes a system of international law more robust and enforcible.

If it is to succeed all the major players have to be brought on board.  That is the vision and skill set the US has not, in recent times, demonstrated, even as the unipolar world order has become ever more unstable.  We can criticise the US for this failure, but we in Europe have little to be smug about either, and petty nationalistic finger pointing is hardly the way forward for any of us.

Display:
The US still provides hope to the oppressed. People are risking life and limb to get into the US, I don't think the same thing can be said of Russia.

The US still provides most of the leading edge technological innovation, although this is changing. Essentially all the important work in electronics, computers, the internet and communications has come out of the US or been based upon such original work.

Much biomedical research also has a US basis (or did until recently).

In addition "innovations" in finance and international trade have come out of the US. That things have been allowed to go too far is a weakness in governance, not innovation.

The premise of the US: "all men are created equal", is still unmatched by any other nation. Some have more compassionate social policies, but the idealism taught in civics classes is not as strong. The US is also the longest running democratic country even with its problems.

The trick is to make the ideal closer to reality. Some of us are trying...

Policies not Politics
---- Daily Landscape

by rdf (robert.feinman@gmail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 12:22:30 PM EST
rdf:
The US still provides hope to the oppressed. People are risking life and limb to get into the US, I don't think the same thing can be said of Russia.

I don't really want to get involved in a nationalist "my country is better than yours" type debate, but lets look at the evidence.

That the US remains an economic powerhouse, despite being in relative decline (share of world GDP), is not in dispute.  However the Bush regime has seen an almost unprecedented decline in US political prestige.  Despite such wealth, the US imprisons a larger proportion of its population than almost any other, there are huge and growing economic inequalities, poor public services, its "democracy" - with low voter participation rates, partisan control of the electoral system, dominance of big money commercial interests, politicisation of the judiciary etc.  are not seen as a model by many other democracies of equivalent wealth.

I suppose part of my thesis above is that whereas the US has been extraordinarily successful in many ways, it has seriously lost its way politically in recent years, so much so, that even its economic dominance is now under threat.

rdf:

The premise of the US: "all men are created equal", is still unmatched by any other nation

I think you need to get out of the US more!  I think you will find that in many ways the US is being left behind when it comes to equality of opportunity, social mobility, and educational attainment - even in countries still emerging from economic/political under-development...

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 12:55:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't really want to get involved in a nationalist "my country is better than yours" type debate

Then why on earth did you write such an inflamatory diary, singling out one country many ETers call home and asking what it is good for?  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 01:36:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Because the US is the 800 pound gorilla in the banana plantation?

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 01:46:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was asking him.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 01:51:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was Sven who asked the question - and I think it is a reasonable question to ask what role any nation - particularly the most powerful - plays in the international political system.

However my answer was not framed in terms of US exceptionalism, or claims to superior or inferior national virtue - but more in terms of the changing underlying structure of the Global world order - from multi-polar to Bipolar, to Unipolar - and suggesting that unless we build really strong global governance and International Law structures - we could be heading back to a world order structurally reminiscent of the multi-polar one we had prior to WW1.

That, in my view, is in no one's best interest.

My purpose in publishing this as a diary is to promote an analysis based on the structure of international relations rather than on comparisons of  ascribed or claimed national virtue, entitlement, morality, divine destiny or whatever.

Thus the claim that rdf:

The premise of the US: "all men are created equal", is still unmatched by any other nation.
is not only questionable, but it is beside the point.  Even if it were true, it does not change the fact that we seem to be moving away from a Unipolar back to a multy-polar world order - and that has proved extremely unstable in the past - even before Nuclear weapons.

If you do not believe a Unipolar world order is sustainable indefinitely, you have to make a case for a better alternative - and that in my view is a much more regulated international system of international treaties, conventions and organisations with much stronger law enforcement mechanisms.

I'm happy to consider any alternatives you or others might like to offer, but my point is that we don't want to slip back into a multi-polar world order without strong global governance mechanisms if we want to avoid ww3.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:18:05 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thanks for your repsonse.

We disgaree.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:50:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
OK, but what is your alternative?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:57:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Alternative to what?  Your one world government?  No, that sounds great.  Let me know how it works out.  

My original question/comment was: how can you ask what America is good for (anything?) and then say you want to avoid conflicts rooted in feelings of national inferiority or superiority.  Either you're being 1) insincere 2) utterly naive or 3) not up to the task you've assigned yourself.  It makes no sense to me.  

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:39:08 PM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless:
Alternative to what?  Your one world government?  No, that sounds great.  Let me know how it works out.  

My original question/comment was: how can you ask what America is good for (anything?) and then say you want to avoid conflicts rooted in feelings of national inferiority or superiority.  Either you're being 1) insincere 2) utterly naive or 3) not up to the task you've assigned yourself.  It makes no sense to me.  

There is a very big difference between an enforceable system of international law and a world Government, but I suspect you were just mocking me.

America was quite good at leading a Unipolar world order - it didn't impose a Stalinist/Nazi style dictatorship - but it has been less good at preparing itself and the world for an era in which unipolarity (or world dominance by one power) is no longer achievable and a system is required which can control the excesses of a number of major competing powers as we had prior to WW1 and WW2.

My whole thesis is that there are structural requirements to maintaining stability in such a complex system and that national feelings of superiority or inferiority are largely beside the point.

However I have the sense that we are talking past each other on this and so, if you don't mind, I will give our bilateral conversation on this a miss.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:34:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
it didn't impose a Stalinist/Nazi style dictatorship

No, it didn't, but it did impose a consumer-friendly corporate dictatorship where jackboots and military music were replaced by tinkly seductive advertising and endless reinforcement of the idea that eight hours of work a day, aren't just good for you, they're the law.

In smaller countries the US has been very good at imposing Stalinist-style dictatorships.

We've had a fine time in Europe, more or less, inside the Capital Curtain, but outside life has been rougher - much rougher. If there's one thing I'd take issue with in your diary it's that it's written from a Eurocentric view which doesn't acknowledge that.

I've said before that I don't think there's one US, and also that there's no point having a go at individual people from the US because they're not in much of a position to change anything - at least, not soon.

But politically it seems obvious the US is very much a traditional imperial aristocracy with token voting. The token voting makes it look like a democracy, but policy is set - rigidly - by a self-serving would-be aristocracy, and bottom-up basics like health care get the bare minimum of attention from the left and none at all from the right.

If you want democracy, look at Scandinavia. The politicians are mostly boring, but that's how it should be - if you're being ruled by crooks, spivs, perverts, clowns, freaks, and liars, you're not living in a democracy, no matter how often you vote.

At the same time people are far more timid about political assertion than they were a century ago. The US and European labour movements were tough - and there's nothing like them today, either in the US or in Europe.

This would be of abstract interest if the US didn't seem determined to take everyone down with it. If it was an internal problem we could look on in quiet horror. But it's our lunch that's being stolen, and that makes it personal - and hard to take when we're told that we should be grateful that we're being robbed.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:33:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
This is one of the great comments here.  Ask the "people" of Guatemala, or in Manilla.  Remember the outpourings of support after 11 September, but don't forget that no one complained during the first 11 September, in 1973, when the greatest democracy in the world killed the democratically elected President of Chile.

The early labor movements were rough, because it was war, and People who stood up against the mine owners were killed, violently.  Anyone want to discuss the real history of Colorado during the late 19th century?

I think we should all agree here that because of its position, and because of the blatancy of its actions, amurka is the most dangerous government to anyone who wants to till their own garden.  That there aren't millions of people in amurka who also want to till their own gardens GOES WITHOUT SAYING.

I miss my friends, i miss my fog, i miss my pretentious wine dinners, but i will not stop making sure that the people who control amurka have their day in the docks.  For what they do today, not for what they've done since they landed there.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:52:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...and your comment to TBG's great comment is also well said.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:19:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ThatBritGuy:

In smaller countries the US has been very good at imposing Stalinist-style dictatorships.

We've had a fine time in Europe, more or less, inside the Capital Curtain, but outside life has been rougher - much rougher. If there's one thing I'd take issue with in your diary it's that it's written from a Eurocentric view which doesn't acknowledge that.

Stalin killed c. 43M people.  Pinochet et al may have been bad but they simply weren't in the same league. I have several times acknowledged that Europe prospered under the US dispensation, whilst most overt conflict was pushed to the third world under both the Bipolar and Unipolar systems - Vietnam under the former, Iraq under the latter.  Horrible as these were are, they still don't quite compare with the world wars.

Enslaving people through consumerism and a marketing technology which insidiously makes them dependent on you may be bad - but again, it doesn't compare with the slavery of direct and brutal physical repression.  People can liberate themselves from the former through education and consciousness raising.  Under Stalin and Hitler any opponents - and many innocents - simply did not survive.

At the risk of being accused of being an America lover (sorry Poemless) I would argue that Pax Americana has been a good deal more benign than what preceded it, and what may yet succeed it.  I don't look forward to a world where China, India, Russia, Iran and a much weaker US are fighting increasingly extensive wars for control of remaining oil, food and water supplies...

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:08:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yes; Stalin killed 43 million people, plus half that amount who died fighting Hitler.

The US killed 2 or 3 million VietNamese, and the puppet game they played of Iraq and Iran since the 50s has killed several several million more, at least 2 million since the 90s. The American dead buried in Johnson's and Nixon's and Reagan's and Bush's graves total a lot fewer by bodycount, but by the count of industry and production that could have gone to creating a more perfect world, the count is metaphysically as high.

Not benign. Something, but not benign. That the US also produces things that do help make a more perfect world just mocks further their loss of soul when they allow their base instincts to be in control.

The worst part is the loss of what could have been, if the power and control had been used for less treacherous purposes.

Power and control are not bad things in and of themselves. But the power and control was used to do with refinement the same things as the pre-WW empire times, make money and empire, but decrease the losses of bodies at home and hide them abroad.

I write that loss of potential is the worst part, but my feelings are that it is the saddest part.

Animal House exposed Stalin (when it wasn't brilliant to do so.) It seems over the top to call out the US and its version of capitalism for the same errors.

There is a vacuum calling out for another Orwellian fairy tale to describe it in a way that exposes it.  Blogging doesn't do it.

Never underestimate their intelligence, always underestimate their knowledge.

Frank Delaney ~ Ireland

by siegestate (siegestate or beyondwarispeace.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:17:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great rally, guys!

well-provoked, sven, well-presented frank, fantastic discussion.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:06:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
siegestate:
The worst part is the loss of what could have been, if the power and control had been used for less treacherous purposes.

I agree, you can't really compare eras and leaders on the basis of raw body count.  The opportunity cost of what could have been - if all the innovations and technology we now have had been put to positive and productive use - is now greater than it has ever been.

In previous eras we didn't have the technology to end famine and disease - now we so, and we use it to wage war.

In purely moral terms, ours is probably the greatest failing.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:07:26 AM EST
[ Parent ]
[The US] did impose a consumer-friendly corporate dictatorship where jackboots and military music were replaced by tinkly seductive advertising...

... which was cheaper, but more damaging to resilience in the face of change.

Enslaving people through consumerism and a marketing technology which insidiously makes them dependent on you may be bad - but again, it doesn't compare with the slavery of direct and brutal physical repression.

That depends on the later outcome.
by Ralph on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 09:31:21 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I think Frank's writing was slightly positive toward the US.

Sven is a self-admitted provocateur, and the framing he used never leads to positive conversation, so I didn't bother replying when I saw that comment.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:01:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I didn't think it was inflammatory, honestly.  Frank's discussions are always in good faith.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:23:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:52:00 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US still provides hope to the oppressed. People are risking life and limb to get into the US, I don't think the same thing can be said of Russia.

Well, I think many countries provide hope to the oppressed.  Middle-Easterners and Africans aren't moving into Europe looking for a shittier life, after all.

But, yes, I'd agree that there are certainly people risking life and limb to get here.

The US still provides most of the leading edge technological innovation, although this is changing. Essentially all the important work in electronics, computers, the internet and communications has come out of the US or been based upon such original work.

I don't know the industry well enough to say, but that's my impression, too.  You're right that it's changing, though.  Certainly countries like Ireland and Israel are more than capable of playing ball these days.

Much biomedical research also has a US basis (or did until recently).

Yes, quite a bit.  Europe, too.

The premise of the US: "all men are created equal", is still unmatched by any other nation. Some have more compassionate social policies, but the idealism taught in civics classes is not as strong.

Um, "Liberté, Egalité, Fraternité"?  Right off the top of my head, I think you're shortchanging France there.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:30:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When you are unemployed and malnourished in an impoverished third world country - any reasonably advanced democracy (or even a more advanced dictatorship) is a big improvement.  But we are talking about raising our game here, not playing down to the lowest common denominator.  I know that universal health care is controversial in the US.  But what's wrong with a global universal healthcare/minimum food supply at a global level?  Is there a universal human right not to be left starving or dying of easily curable diseases?  When the markets do not provide, what do you do?  Tell them to starve and read Rand while they are at it?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:42:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank - you heretic! ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:58:21 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Playing down to the highest common denominator (even reducing it maybe), not the lowest.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi
by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:07:11 AM EST
[ Parent ]
rdf:

Essentially all the important work in electronics, computers, the internet and communications has come out of the US or been based upon such original work.

No, this is completely untrue. The US did some of the original work, but by no means all of it.

The web was invented at CERN by an Englishman. Packet switching was invented in the UK. The original Turing description of state machines which is the basis of modern programming was invented in the UK. The first stored-program computer was built in either the UK or Germany, depending on who you ask. The idea of the integrated circuit was invented in the UK.

What the US had was the resources to develop and monetise these innovations and the evangelical marketing cadres to proselytise them to the rest of the world.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:41:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The web was invented at CERN by an Englishman.

Yes, but we're the ones who put porn on it.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:49:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm fairly the US also invented credit cards, without which none of this would be possible.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:08:40 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, it might be possible, but it wouldn't be as awesome.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:16:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Credit cards, I think they did (to start with it was just a dining card, valid only in restaurants).

But the chip card was invented in France, marketed in the US alas (the call of money was way too great for the inventor), but France was a much earlier adopter. Even today, there is far greater use of chip cards and contactless cards in France than in the US (Japan has more contactless though -they tend to lead the US and Europe by a few years rather than follow).

Similarly, Minitel was around in France years before the internet became public. Again, it's the lack of opportunity to monetise and impose a standard to the world that made it decay compared to US based alternatives.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:11:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Dixit Cyrille:
Similarly, Minitel was around in France years before the internet became public. Again, it's the lack of opportunity to monetise and impose a standard to the world that made it decay compared to US based alternatives.

Well, I tend to dissent. There was money and political interest enough, in a way even too much. There has been engaged research. What killed Europe's part in this story was the political clout of the PTTs, which envisioned a closed system – perhaps just for a lack of imagination and not out of outright monopolistic instincts :-)

(I remember, however, the German PTT (Post), obtaining an ordinance banning the use of (packet switched) networks at around the same time that the FCC in the US banned extra charges for the leased lines in such networks. Years later, when you wanted to connect a computer to the telephone network (via a modem), while AT&T send a leaflet with instructions for you, the German Post Office send you the police.)

Then the European Commission – in what appears to be a dry run for the Lisbon program – joined the PTTs in instigating the OSI effort. It apparently intended to obfuscate computer networking enough to confuse the Americans out of the market . . .

There is a funny vestige of this time in the OSI model. There one finds a presentation layer designed to accommodate various encodings. This works only as intended with pure character data, as in a terminal device. It is out of place in most  other situations (and awkward to implement). Amusingly this model has found much pedagogical use.

So, I'm afraid, the Minitel was down a blind alley (what it promised would later become the Web-Browser).
An American Minitel or IPhone would have failed as well, then. (Cf., for a discussion of the recent trend towards web-appliances the book The future of the Internet and how to stop it/ Jonathan Zittrain. New Haven, c2008. )

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 06:06:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, you're probably right, but my impression was that one reason they wanted to close the system because the alternative was USA reaping all the rewards without suffering any of the costs.

Now, indeed closing it was not going to give you a massive expansion such as the web saw, but it would be unfair to say that Minitel did not significantly contribute to the internet. It saw the creation of many online businesses, with a business model that was far more credible than a lot of the dot coms startups.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 03:55:36 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I also seem (belatedly) to detect a very nice and subtle irony in the "without which none of this would be possible".

Suffice to say it's probably not a compliment ;-)

Hint for those who truly need it: credit bubble anyone?

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:12:49 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Yep, but US companies registered all the domain names so that if a European Company wanted to go online it had to pay for the right to use its own name.  US Companies are also starting to patent the genome - something I would have thought was everyone's birthright.  US courts consistently support US companies against "foreign" interests.  Other national jurisdictions often do the same.  But being the dominant world power gives you the ability to create an uphill playing field for everyone else.  Much of the US economic dominance was predicated on military/political dominance.  "US" interests often being defined by US multi-nationals.

Now the energy situation is re-tilting the playing pitch in favour of net energy producers and you can hear the outrage of the neo-cons that they are having to pay what somebody else decides is a fair price.  Even military intervention isn't enough to maintain that dominance any more.  

The reality is the rules will increasingly be written by others.  This is a recipe for huge and sustained international conflict unless a system of global governance can be put in place which takes the interests of all the players into account.

The EU is a model of how that can be done at a regional level.  We probably need to do it at a global level if the post WW2 era of relative peace and prosperity is not going to break down irrevocably.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:54:24 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I'll second thatbritguy's comment. Though there's no question that US innovation has added much to today's existence, so have other regions, just as significantly.  Hell, even MP3 comes from Deutschland.

The framing around the discussion is not accurate, however.  US institutions themselves are in serious decline, as is the infrastructure.  Japan and Europe have far more advanced phone and mobile networks, and the regional grids are not decrepit. Rail innovation, so crucial to the next generation, is also far more developed.

The US democracy is so broken as to be a joke.  Voter fraud is the most sophisticated in the world, and has a history going back two centuries.  The influence of capital in the game has reached absurd levels.  The Fourth Estate has become the world's most sophisticated propaganda network.

Where other regions really shine is in current technological innovation.  The kind of innovation which matters to the next generation's survival.  Renewable technologies, for example, are a complete product of European innovation; now even including the commercial aspects globally.  Compare that to Detroit.  Even GE's US market leading wind turbine is German, and the leading German machine in the US, Siemens, is Danish.  The rest come from Japan, Spain, India and other European entries.  Even the most capitalized US startup uses technology from the Swedish wind program.

Same with solar.

I have direct personal experience with how US courts denied obvious prior art in European technology, while the US company that "won" was bankrupt within two years.  The technology is still withheld from the US, and it is the premier technology in my field.  Justice is available to corporations and the rich, and that's it.

There's no question there's still much innovation to come from amurka, but not likely until the beast is battered and the nation is digging out from its own financial meltdown.

Amurka is a dinosaur, but it still drives the world's condition, today mostly negatively.  

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:48:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Japan and Europe have far more advanced phone and mobile networks, and the regional grids are not decrepit.

The iPhone's cheaper here, though. :P

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:19:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Not if you count getting dropped off 3G far less often.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin
by Crazy Horse on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:24:38 PM EST
[ Parent ]
LINUX is not from the US. The internet runs on linux boxes by and large.
by irishhead on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 11:24:31 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Linux is not Linus Torvalds and thus Finnish. It is an international project, of which American developers play a large role.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 02:26:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's correct. And still they don't count more than the, say, Brazilians.

That's new, and satisfying.

by Humbug (mailklammeraffeschultedivisstrackepunktde) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:25:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The Linux kernel was written and named by Finn Torvalds (1991).The utilities and libraries were written by US hacker Richard Stallman by 1983,  for his GNU OS. Many nationalities have contributed to the development of Linux.

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 07:27:47 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"Just what contribution has the US been making to the current world order, and how might that contribution be improved?" and "The real question is whether we can create a better, fairer and more stable world order as the American empire declines."

I've lived the past 33 years in California; the first 23 years in upstate NY; 1.5 years in Anal-noise (poemless's neighborhood; a genuine pit).

Of what I have seen of the US first hand and through the media, the best thing the US can do is GO EXTINCT so that CA can become its own country unencumbered by the likes of Miss.,Ala, Tenn. etc.  Oregon, Wash, Hawaii ... they're cool.  ".. as the American empire declines." ... LOVE the sound of that.  Hurry up and let the door hit you in the ass on the way out!

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:31:14 PM EST
Anal-noise (poemless's neighborhood; a genuine pit).

Honestly, what has gotten into everyone?  I come to ET precisely to avoid this kind of commentary.

 

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:48:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, poemless, you must just be jealous that Illinois doesn't have a governor who can explain Bush administration policy in the original German. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:07:57 PM EST
[ Parent ]
That's pretty big talk on California considering your state is effectively bankrupt and being crushed by a housing bubble unlike anything we could have imagined out here in the sticks.

Yes, if only we filthy proles outside of Cali could replicate it.  I'll pass.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 02:54:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now, now children.  First you accuse me of being provocative and now you're throwing mud pies at each other! Let's all grow up and have a sensible adult discussion about this....

Let's start with the proposition that the US is the greatest nation of all time.  Now what do we do when it is challenged by other kids on the block (with nuclear weapons) who are becoming just as economically powerful (but who may not have e "western" concept of human rights etc.).

Now do you think that its a good idea to introduce some effective global governance (in preference to nuclear war) whilst you are still in a position to lay down many of the ground rules?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:07:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's tradition in America for their to be a love-hate relationship between Californians, New Yorkers and the rest of us.

And we throw apple pies, not mud pies, you communist. ;)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:11:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
for their to be

"...for there to be...."  Gah.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:12:56 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Happens everywhere - most nationalism is based on similar sentiments - but it gets dangerous when some participants start taking it very seriously - cf South Ossetia/Georgia.  It took a civil war to establish the primacy of the Fed Government to sort out inter-state disputes - and two world wars to establish structures to handle similar problems in Europe.  What's it going to take on a global level?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:20:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What's it going to take on a global level?

A survivable alien invasion that doesn't damage civilization beyond repair. No, I'm not kidding. It's the only kind of "us vs. them" narrative that can forge a human identity in a short period of time (short meaning less than several centuries). We've had very limited success creating meaningful movement beyond national identity, and the crisis we are facing today do not provide the "humans vs. external threat x" narrative we need to do so. They do almost the opposite - they are perfect for reinforcing national identity, and if there is a breakdown of civilization, identity will fracture back to smaller regional and local units.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:35:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The US has a serious invasion myth thing going. Whether it's BattleStar Galactica or V or 9/11 or any one of hundreds or other examples - there's almost no other culture in history with quite such a rich but oddly synonymous mythology of evil invaders (followed by a war of survival and independence) to choose from.

British fiction is full of despair and decaying motorways. The last time anyone tried to invade us they were martians and they had their gelatinous asses kicked by the Edwardian common cold.

Even in the run up to WWII, there was no serious invasion fiction to speak of.

Also Europe - really not invasion minded. There's probably a West German Cold War novel about life under after the Soviets languishing somewhere, but that never seems to figured as part of the quasi-superstate's psyche.

So what is with the US? You keep fighting the same wars over and over - sometimes in fiction, sometimes in reality.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:23:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's those bastards out West with their crazy alien shit they dream up 'cause they don't have water.  AT can tell you.

Look at John McCain and Peyote Bill.

And you can't tell me Cindy doesn't look a little out of this world.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:29:19 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In fairness, the US virtually invented aliens - as in Roswell.  They are a very important embodiment of the fear of otherness that drives US societal cohesion and conformity to dominant norms.  Hell those communists and now those terrorists just aren't up to the job of keeping  the country united against them.  No wonder there's talk of Californian secession.  Did Texas ever actually join the Union?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:44:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank was more or less asking what it would take to achieve world peace. In my opinion, that requires a human identity that supersedes all other identities.

If we had, say, another 25 generations in this current "want not" environment, I think it would be achievable. All the behaviors that were good for survival in a local, low energy, and short term context could be expunged - most forms of violence including sexual violence, wars of conquest, etc, etc, could be eliminated.

We don't have that much time, though - which is why I believe the only way to unite humanity in a short period of time is through an external threat. If you have an alternative, please present it, rather than going off on an unrelated tangent about what nutters "we" are.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:08:06 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't think twenty five generations would do it.

Rounding up every child who showed signs of excessive dysfunctional aggression or narcissism and seriously impoverishing the rich would do it. The rich do often seem to grow up with a sense of entitlement and disconnection from reality, so forcing them to live in that reality would create some changes.

It's not a practical answer either, but it's possibly more practical than aliens are.

My point about aliens was that all you'd get then is just another fantasy war scenario - it wouldn't be the human identity you were looking for, just a different enemy to hate and fear. I.e. business as usual.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:08:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It's not a practical answer either, but it's possibly more practical than aliens are.

I agree. A neonatal diagnostic test for narcissistic and borderline personality disorders is possible someday, though.

My point about aliens was that all you'd get then is just another fantasy war scenario - it wouldn't be the human identity you were looking for, just a different enemy to hate and fear. I.e. business as usual.

Ok, sorry for the overreaction then. I agree with your point.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 08:00:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MillMan:
I agree. A neonatal diagnostic test for narcissistic and borderline personality disorders is possible someday, though.

Or not.

What evidence do you have that these disorders are present at birth?

by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 06:35:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
None. I said "someday" because neuroscience is pointing us in that direction.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:04:27 PM EST
[ Parent ]
These are psychological groupings, which may or may not map consistently in terms of neurology (my bias being on the may not side). In either case, even if there is a good mapping, it does not need to be present at birth. It can be something that only materialises during growth.
by nanne (zwaerdenmaecker@gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:57:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
For any condition I'm assuming there is a continuum across the population from absolute genetic determination to zero genetic determination, with environment playing the odds for all the non-absolute cases. If true I have no guess as to what the distribution would look like.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:35:01 PM EST
[ Parent ]
From what I have read in the literature there may be some genetic predisposition that favors narcissistic and borderline conditions, but the predominant factors are environmental, especially the nature and quality of parenting.  There is a lot if indication that it takes both predisposition and bad parenting/bad environment to produce the more notable bad outcomes. And a lot of what may once have been considered genetic may well be epi-genetic environmental programming, including environmental toxins along with behavioral toxins.

As the Dutch said while fighting the Spanish: "It is not necessary to have hope in order to persevere."
by ARGeezer (ARGeezer a in a circle eurotrib daught com) on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 at 01:17:42 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Rounding up every child who showed signs of excessive dysfunctional aggression or narcissism and seriously impoverishing the rich would do it.

Wasn't that first bit an actual Labour proposal at some point?

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 10:37:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Dunno - but early diagnosis of childhood developmental conditions such as ADHT is always beneficial in therapeutic terms and cost effective in health care terms.  However I don't really see the relevance in terms of the structural political analysis I have been trying to conduct here - countries don't go to war because they fail to treat their narcissistic/dysfunctional children - they go to war because of a failure of leadership to provide appropriate structures to resolve conflicts of interest and the many other excuses that are trumped up to create casus belli.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 06:52:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Most leaders - and certainly all of the most dangerous and destructive ones - are clinical narcissists and/or sociopaths.

Further down the scale, the most 'successful' business and finance types are milder versions of the same syndrome. Wall St selects for them on the basis of being 'hungry' and aggressive enough to go after killer deals without any interest in the consequences for people whose lives are affected by them.

We really only have one planetary problem, and that's how to deal with these people to prevent them hurting themselves and others. Without this particular form of mental illness, politics and economics would be very much more straightforward. It would certainly be much easier to deal with almost every issue in a realistic way.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:01:54 AM EST
[ Parent ]
bingo cubed!

it's a mental/spiritual disease, stemming from not enough love and security.

all monsters are created this way.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:03:18 AM EST
[ Parent ]
countries don't go to war because they fail to treat their narcissistic/dysfunctional children

with all due respect frank, i think you are 180° wrong on this.

who teaches kids to hate and become narcissistic?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:39:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
melo:
who teaches kids to hate and become narcissistic?

Bad parents and teachers do.  However I have always been amazed at the resilience of kids in even the worst circumstances - kids whose parents were drug addicts, sociopaths, who were sexually abused, beaten, starved or who caught up in gangs.  Many are damaged for life but many also survive and grow into remarkable adults.  

I think we are in danger of a logical fallacy here.  Just because some kids are dysfunctional and some leaders are dysfunctional doesn't mean that one caused the other. We select/elect our leaders according to certain societal norms and with special interests trying to exert their influence.  But who, ultimately, is responsible for those that make it to the top?

We are.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:57:00 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However I have always been amazed at the resilience of kids in even the worst circumstances - kids whose parents were drug addicts, sociopaths, who were sexually abused, beaten, starved or who caught up in gangs.  Many are damaged for life but many also survive and grow into remarkable adults.

yup, you're right on that, however they are the exception, not the rule.

the other side of the coin is that many with this disease are hidden in plain sight, in niches where their pathology can run amok in many many tiny ways, utterly lacking the unsubtle grandiosity of the cartoon arch-villains we love to point to.

it's my contention that the accumulative effect of these petty barbarities constitutes hannah arendt's famous banality of evil, cutting in to the moral grain of society with a million daily cuts, each too small to grok... until you consider the effect en masse.

Bad parents and teachers do.

actually i feel that parents and teachers flail helplessly to mitigate socio-cultural currents of mad-ave, totally amoral, self-as-little-godling narcissism.

totally overwhelmed by the tsunami of media babble, peer pressure has become the only guiding light for many young people, haplessly devoid of any guidance or wisdom from their elders, who find themselves too morally rootless, flummoxed by the dizzy rate of change, to offer much in the way of advice.

it worked for great grandpa, and grandpa, started coming unglued for me, and as for you, son, well good luck to you making a life in the psychic rubble you've inherited from our colossally ignorant malfaisance.

oo, look what's on telly tonight!

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 02:19:10 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I must be really lucky.  My kids keep me on the straight and narrow.  Daaaaaaad  you've had enough wine!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 03:32:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MillMan:
If we had, say, another 25 generations in this current "want not" environment, I think it would be achievable.

First of all, we don't have a "want not" environment for the vast majority of people in the world, and are even less likely to have one in the future as the world population continues to expand.

Second - it is precisely the opposite - a badly wanting environment which leads to change - not a complacent self satisfaction that comes from having it all.

Thus what major changes in the global order we have seen - League of Nations, United Nations, Nuclear non-proliferation, World Trade Organisation, World Bank, World Health etc. etc. have become precisely because of terrible wars, famines, disease and deprivations or the threat of same.

If you want change, people have to be convinced that the status quo is no longer tenable - and they usually arrive at that conviction far too late to avoid the most terrible of events.

Yes, it probably will take a nuclear war to convince the world that we need much stronger global governance.  A few million dead here or there in Africa simply doesn't cut it.  Rwanda?  Where's that.  A little local difficulty.  Nothing to be too concerned about?  Zimbabwe - hardly worth a Security Council resolution.

This diary is predicated on the forlorn notion that it should take another world war, or climate collapse, or 100s of Millions of dead from starvation to convince people we need to progress the development of more cooperative and collegial law based global governance systems.

Unfortunately even here on ET such a notion seems to evoke little more than scorn and derision.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:24:02 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Thus what major changes in the global order we have seen - League of Nations, United Nations, Nuclear non-proliferation, World Trade Organisation, World Bank, World Health etc. etc. have become precisely because of terrible wars, famines, disease and deprivations or the threat of same.

I think you're taking the historian's view that change is caused by singular events. I believe singular events are only a catalyst.

The component of human behavior that is formed through the environment has a limit to how much it can change from generation to generation. The number of generations needed for a particular behavior to change can be very large, even when the environmental conditions that led to the original behavior are no longer present. Thus my "25 generations" comment.

This diary is predicated on the forlorn notion that it should take another world war, or climate collapse, or 100s of Millions of dead from starvation to convince people we need to progress the development of more cooperative and collegial law based global governance systems.

If you're referring to change that can happen within our lifetimes, then yes, shock therapy is our only hope. I think we obsess over that time frame more than we should.

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 04:09:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
takes my reeading back to the 80's

Watchmen - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

In a lengthy monologue, Adrian explains his early worship of Alexander the Great, which later turned to admiration of Rameses II (whose Greek name was Ozymandias); his realization that the current arms race and disregard for the environment would lead to cataclysm by the 1990s; his belief that someone must save the world, and that only he could do so; and finally, that the crux of his plan is to teleport a genetically-engineered telepathic monstrosity into New York City, a process that will kill the monster and cause it to emit a massive psychic shockwave that will kill half the city and drive many of the survivors insane. Adrian believes that America and Russia, perceiving an extraterrestrial threat, will abandon their arms race and unite in defense of their planet.


Any idiot can face a crisis - it's day to day living that wears you out.
by ceebs (ceebs (at) eurotrib (dot) com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 09:14:20 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Frank Schnittger:
...the US is the greatest nation of all time...

By what standards? When I look at their prisons, and their amount af money invested in armies and weapons, the USA is indeed the greatest of all times.

But then I go to read poemless' diary: I Don't Care Why. The USA lost every bit of credibility...

The struggle of man against tyranny is the struggle of memory against forgetting.(Kundera)

by Elco B (elcob at scarlet dot be) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:31:35 PM EST
[ Parent ]
What?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:39:50 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Let's start with the proposition that the US is the greatest nation of all time.

Why should we?  That's ludicrous, and polarizing.  Let's start with the fact that the US is big, huge, has lots of people, lots of money, lots of bombs, more of all of those things than a lot of the other countries, except the other global hobgoblins like China, Russia.  Like those countries, we win a lot of Olympic medals, as we're crazy competitive and proud.  So we have a lot of tangible and intangible resources for controlling the game.  The idea that America is exceptional is part myth (embraced around the world) and part just plain default.  As much as you call us names, it's not going to change.

Fortunately, our policy for letting other people get in on the action is one of the best in the world.  You can even wear a headscarf.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:55:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless:
The idea that America is exceptional is part myth (embraced around the world) and part just plain default.  As much as you call us names, it's not going to change.
sigh.  First you knock me for criticising the US. Now you knock me for praising it.  I just don't seem to be able to get it right!  

I think the idea that America is exceptional is dying fast around the world.  Bush killed it. Opinion polls around the world have shown many regard the US as a greater danger to peace than ANYONE else.  You are in danger of believing your own propaganda.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:53:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am?  Are you joking?

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:54:18 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I am knocking you for dealing in connotations and ideas and myths and judgements and VAST generalizations and good v. bad, and not in facts.  There's nothing constructive in this line of argument.  Nada.  You're just completely missing my point.  Every time you base arguments on these things, you're perpetuating the very faulty thinking you accuse America of.  Except, you think, since you are not American you can't be implicated.  It's sheer perversity.  No wonder this never gets anywhere.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:58:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You are getting down the the real problem here...

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:03:42 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Any Diary which attempts to summarise the development of the world political system over the past century in a thousand words is going to be a gross oversimplification.  However you haven't even attempted an alternative analysis.  You are right - I haven't seen any point or consistent line of argument in what you have written here - thankfully not a characteristic of your writing elsewhere.  Neither do I think you have grasped the argument I am trying to make in this diary - perhaps because I haven't made it very well.  Either way I think its best to leave our discussion at that before the insults get even more personal.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:54:23 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Now now, what other state could this song apply to?  NEBRASKA?!



The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:33:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And lest we forget:

SO THERE!  HAH!

The good news ... it's only a life sentence. You eventually leave this planet of idiots.

by THE Twank (yatta blah blah @ blah.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:38:54 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well, I'd first say that REM is from Georgia, not California.  Not sure where you see references to California.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:47:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Bush is not in the same league with the big name dictators. My feeling is that he is a run of the mill type dictator in a political system that still manages to place some limits on him.

On an abstract basis, the US has a rather mediocre government - there are a whole lot of worse dictators and countries, and a whole lot of better countries. What makes the US important is its financial wealth. What makes it interesting is it's apparent fall - economically, and from grace.

When we say "What is America good for?" I think that this is what is being looked at. The US is able to engage in a rather lot of harm because of it's financial wealth and huge emphasis on military. It isn't doing as bad as other dictators have done - but it's bad enough.

I think that what is being longed for is a limitation of power instead of its concentration. That the US is somehow the worst country in the world is immediately dismissable; rather it is the fantasy of the removal of US influence from the world stage. It is that influence that is currently unrivaled.

Oh, poemless, you must just be jealous that Illinois doesn't have a governor who can explain Bush administration policy in the original German. ;)

The US has become larger than life. It has become a symbol of itself - a stand in for all that is evil.

WWI is not the only danger. The other danger is that we can assume that the banality of evil that is consuming the US is somehow not part of all other countries.

We can criticize the US for this failure, but we in Europe have little to be smug about either, and petty nationalistic finger pointing is hardly the way forward for any of us.

Substitute Europe with "all other counties" and I'll agree with that.


aspiring to genteel poverty

by edwin (eeeeeeee222222rrrrreeeeeaaaaadddddd@@@@yyyyaaaaaaa) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:32:15 PM EST
a stand in for all that is evil.

Yep.  I'm sorry, but if it was wrong that we did that with Russia, it's wrong when we do it with America.  I have a dangerously low tolerance for either.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 03:43:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Oh, I'm with you on that -or possibly the other way round.

I have the feeling that a lot of ET writers are so keen to appear unswayable by big money marketing that they are far, far too apologetic about Russia.

Yes western media sometimes blames Russia for things that are done in the West. But when you are someone who has been complaining about your own country's faults in that respect, why pretend that there is nothing wrong when it's done tenfold by Putin or his friends?

I have a lot of grief with USA, especially over the past 30 years. But I never forget that some of the people who had the greatest influence over me (Dylan, Baez, Rawls, Chomsky, Krugman...) dwell or dwelt (in the case of Rawls) there.
I'm not ready to call for an undiscriminate loss of USA as a whole.

Earth provides enough to satisfy every man's need, but not every man's greed. Gandhi

by Cyrille (cyrillev domain yahoo.fr) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:26:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I suppose it hasn't yet been done tenfold outside of Russia. So far I see Russia as a mafia country, not an Imperial country. That gives it a certain set of values - most obviously a dangerous sensitivity to loss of face - which are awkward, but internally oriented rather than externally acquisitive.

The hysteria over at dKos makes it look as if everyone there thinks Russia is still Soviet Russia, and nothing at all has changed over the last twenty years. This seems nuts to me.

I don't expect the Russians to be nice, or disinterested in atrocity. But I do expect them to be rather predictable, if sharp, criminals - and criminals are much less dangerous than the talentless would-be Napoleons who infest Washington.

Russia seems to be at the internal loot and plunder stage which every empire goes through. It could turn into an aggressive expansionist empire in a generation or so, when the oligarchs produce a crop of kids with the usual aristocratic pretensions and entitlement issues. But I don't think it's there yet.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 09:32:26 PM EST
[ Parent ]
If the world is to be spared nuclear barbarism, y'all are gonna need the working folk of the United States--the same folk who created International Women's Day and May Day.  The giant is now quiescent, but when it wakes it may be quite grumpy and take the Misleaders for a lesson behind the woodshed.

Regards, Hal C.

by Hal C on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:09:16 PM EST
May Day was first created in Australia.
by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:25:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
MAY DAY-THE AUSTRALIAN CONNECTION

In 1884, the 1st of May 1886 had been chosen as the day the Federation of Organised Trade and Labour Unions of the United States and Canada [at its convention in Chicago] had earmarked  "as the date from and after which eight hours shall constitute a legal days labour". On the 1st May 1886, Australia's first anarchist organisation was formed - The Melbourne Anarchist Club.

From 1887 to 1889 the 1st May was remembered and celebrated in Australia only by anarchists associated with the Melbourne Anarchist Club. In 1890 May Day celebrations were held in the office of Dr. Maloney MP in Melbourne, Chummy Fleming, a well known Melbourne anarchist, attended these celebrations. Demonstrations and celebrations were held in Ipswich and Barcoldine on the 1st May 1891 during the Shearers Strike, over 1,000 men took part in the Barcoldine march, 600 mounted on horseback.

Melbourne held its first public May Day celebration on the 1st of May 1892.
link

The Australians did agitate for an eight hour day starting in 1856 on April 21 that continued yearly until 1951.
Hal C.

by Hal C on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:22:20 PM EST
[ Parent ]
1856 was when the idea of May Day was first mooted. There was general agreement among various Internationals that May Day should become an officially memorable day after 1889. That was partly because of specific US labour actions, and partly because it was a damn fine idea.

I suspect the founders would think that the idea of the most capitalist country in the world trying to claim that it founded an international symbol of worker solidarity on its own was more than a little ironic.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:42:46 PM EST
[ Parent ]
It was established to commemorate the Haymarket riots in Chicago.  It was esablished in solidarity with the laborers of the most capitalist country in the world.

I'm sure it sickens you to imagine the great workers of Europe might have felt solidarity with Americans, but, it was in fact the case.  

You'd do well to learn from their example.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.

by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:50:44 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Possibly not quite getting the meaning of 'International' there, perhaps.

But never mind.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:08:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
May day has also a longer history as a market day in Europe (and very possibly in countries settled by europeans), possibly going back to pagan roots. (The last day of april is traditionally celebrated with bonfires in Sweden.)

Everything colluding to make it a damn fine idea.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 10:55:45 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Y'all and your sodding history.

(Did I use "sodding" right?)

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.

by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:02:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Quite good- Although the first time I used it in connection with a TV football match in about 1953, I got a clip round the lughole from my Pater.....

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:09:15 PM EST
[ Parent ]
The warm beer and pork scratchings are in the mail.

(Did I say 'mail' right?)

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:18:41 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi,
The Australians deserve credit for creating a yearly celebration of labor, but what I do not understand is how 3 holidays, April 21 and May 1 and the official gov't sanctioned Labor Days, all coexisted throughout much of the 20th century.  The summary I presented above was from an anarchist publication so I assume that May 1 became the holiday of militant labor, but who celebrated April 21 and the gov't sanctioned Labor Days, (the latter occurs on different days depending on the part of Australia I gather)?
Hal C.
by Hal C on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:09:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Hal C:
Australia's first anarchist organisation

Isn't an anarchist organisation an oxymoron?

Trust the bloody Australians.....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:22:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
An organisation without leaders? No, not an oxymoron (unless you do not believe it can exist).

An organisation that does not believe in hierarchial structuring? Still, not an oxymoron.

It is only a oxymoron if you use the organisations enemies understanding of its terminology. You get similar results if you ask any of the cold war warriors about democratic socialism.

A vote for PES is a vote for EPP! A vote for EPP is a vote for PES! Support the coalition, vote EPP-PES in 2009!

by A swedish kind of death on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 10:55:41 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, there apparently are unwritten rules against saying ANYTHING positive about America here.  They just need a place to get their anger on.  If you are so angry with America that you refuse to recognize it has anything to offer the world, you can join in the fun, but please don't ruin their party.

"Pretending that you already know the answer when you don't is not actually very helpful." ~Migeru.
by poemless on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:54:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Again, Poemless - please describe what America (USA) has to offer the world. We all know history - but from here on.

Just a short list would do.....

I know - you have fuck all, except memories...

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:12:34 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When the US sets itself a positive goal it can mobilise itself to a degree Europeans can only dream of.  For instance if Obama takes the Gore plan on board, the US could be energy independent long before the EU.

If Obama appoints someone like Samantha Power as National Security adviser, there will be no more torture, no more ignoring of situations like Zimbabwe and no invasion/bombing of Iran.

The US is still the ONLY power that could lead a truly major development of International Law and Governance - the EU can barely get its internal act together.

If we hold the US to a higher standard than say China, Russia, or an inchoate EU, it is because it still has the potential to accomplish so much more.  

For how much longer, I do not know.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:29:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I agree. But is a rapacious pack of attentive wolves better than a herd of condescending and contented EU cows? Methane producers all?

I don't know - but the EU seems to me to be more malleable IF we get down to work. I see a greater chance in changing the EU than changing the US.

Change is the key - where is our most productive focus?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:43:30 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Pay attention here, poemless, i think we now have evidence of what this diary is about.  "mobilize itself to a degree Europeans can only dream of."  That's really the point isn't it, that in our world today, without amurka's drive and "can-do" whatever, regarding a sane future, it ain't gonna happen.

Me suppose there's a small chance the rest of the world could overcome amurka's inertia, but without amurka changing direction, i doubt it.

"Life shrinks or expands in proportion to one's courage." - Anaïs Nin

by Crazy Horse on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:06:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Visiting the US again recently reminded me why I am optimistic for the future.

If ever there were a "sleeping giant" it's the US.

Once the US at large wakes up to the fact that there is a greater purpose to life than profit, and the people shake off their chains of fool's gold, the rest will be easy.

It was the direct connections of the Internet which led me to Seattle, and it will be these same direct connections which enable the "bottom up" peaceful revolution that is already unstoppable.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:47:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
There is deep anger, even rage, building in the US.  Up to this point the ruling scum have managed to contain it with their old divide-and-rule tactics. The one aspect of the Obama phenomena that should scare them is the chance a goodly percentage of the US population is going to wake the fuck up and realize they don't have to take this crap no more.  

Skepticism is the first step on the road to truth. -- Denis Diderot
by ATinNM on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 08:28:11 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sorry, there apparently are unwritten rules against saying ANYTHING positive about America here.  They just need a place to get their anger on.  If you are so angry with America that you refuse to recognize it has anything to offer the world, you can join in the fun, but please don't ruin their party.

It's A COUNTRY ferchrissake, y'all!  - there are around 190 of 'em as-per UN and the U-sacred-S-of-Sacred-A is just ONE of 'em, OK???  

'Course the US of A has "something to offer" the world - no-more-and-no-less than all the rest, Russia India China France Germany Palau Nepal Puerto Rico UK Italy Brazil Romania Czech-Republic NZ AUS Chile Iran Lebanon Serbia etcetc whatever-whoever, OK???  The place you-all live in/were born in/naturalised to is - afaik - a COUNTRY, OK??? A biggish one, a rich one, a powerful one - but neither a universal religion nor a universal template nor a universal ideology.

So - advice to USans (NOT "Americans" puhleeease as Chileans and Mexicans and Paraguayans and Argentinians and Brazilians and Colombians and Venezuelans and etcetc have the right to call themselves "Americans" no less than Texans and New Yorkers and Californians and Virginians and etcetc) is either start to "get it" (i.e. the USA = a fine nation out of some 193-and-counting fine nations, ALL unique and "special" )... or get over "it"... meaning assorted exceptionalist-ideologisms and relative hissy-fits. And about time too. * sigh *

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 09:53:39 PM EST
[ Parent ]
In principle I agree, it's never a good idea to become too precious about your home country when it comes to political analysis.  However I do actually believe that the USA has a lot more to offer the world than any other country - if only for its size, variety, and traditions.  My problem is that it has been playing way below its own potential in recent years.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 06:57:25 AM EST
[ Parent ]
However I do actually believe that the USA has a lot more to offer the world than any other country - if only for its size, variety, and traditions.

i think common use of english is primary driver...

it was during the us empire years that english bloomed as global linglua franca.

that was cognitively interesting...using an italian expression about past french historical diplomatic dominance, about a third language, english, which as a language is least likely to win prizes for frankness...

the best language to lie in?

in a diary (very well-)written by an irish frank with a german surname.

is this what convergence looks like? or are we just globalising?

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:01:05 AM EST
[ Parent ]
"However I do actually believe that the USA has a lot more to offer the world than any other country - if only for its size, variety, and traditions."

That might be a tough argument to justify. The US is a huge single market, but the EU is larger and is rapidly moving towards a single set of regulations. The US as a "melting pot" may have a lot of historical variety, but as soon as a new generation of immigrants is born, they join the homogeneous mass of average American consumers. The children of the terrifying Latino undocumented immigrants speak English and eat at McDonalds, for example. Our fundamental underlying Enlightenment-based constitution is so completely misintepreted now that it's not obvious that it's any better than the unwritten British version or the annually-amended European national versions or even the massive proposed EU version.

Much of the strength of the US in the 20th century was a result of our huge resources, our low population density, our good English legal system, and our large hard-working German immigrant population. It's not so obvious to me that there is something inherently better about our political or economic systems--and there are plenty of examples that indicate that our system is seriously problematic.

by asdf on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 10:19:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
poemless:
Sorry, there apparently are unwritten rules against saying ANYTHING positive about America here.  They just need a place to get their anger on.  If you are so angry with America that you refuse to recognize it has anything to offer the world, you can join in the fun, but please don't ruin their party.
You clearly haven't read or understood the diary.  Which part of the following to you not understand?European Tribune - What is America good for?

The 50 year era of US dominance post WW2 has been relatively peaceful and prosperous, and although obviously unjust in many ways, it is hardly comparable to the old Imperial looters and Hitler and Stalin in their rapaciousness and evil.  There is no guarantee the next 50 years are going to be as stable - especially if we have a serious of resource wars over diminishing oil, food, and water resources.

So we may yet come to appreciate the era of Pax Americana as a relatively benign era - not because the American people are innately morally superior, but because a Unipolar world order worked reasonably well for a time until the arrogance and hubris of the few destroyed it

If there is criticism of the US here, it is clearly aimed at the hubris of the neocon "New American Century" project and the failure of the Bush regime to engage positively with emerging world powers and create a stronger system of international law and governance to prevent a lethal return to a pre-WW1 style multi-polar world order without any such safeguards.

You can disagree with that thesis if you want, but if you think it is anti-American or that this diary is predicated on some hatred towards America you clearly haven'y understood a word I have written.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:12:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
...but because a Unipolar world order worked reasonably well for a time until the arrogance and hubris of the few destroyed it

Excuse me - but afaik that so-called "world order" was in fact bipolar...+ assorted nonaligneds??? And it subjected most of the planet, one way or another, to military occupation + ideological/political vassalage + threat of eternal destruction amidst unthinkable suffering if at some point the 2 main "big guys" flipped into ballistic mode in the course of their imperial pissing-match... preferably on others' soil?

The 1989-to-2001 decade was at least as brutal and nasty as the era that preceded it and in any case behind the blahblah-screen it too was "unipolar" solely in name, i.e. in the sense that the temporarily-wingclipped chose to bide their time, quietly prepare their comeback .. main feature being that the many-poor got duly-poorer while the few-rich got duly-snottier and the hatreds rose.  

It was also the era in which waging small wars was sold once again as an idealistic "duty" thereby temporarily-restoring their international-imperial "respectability".

'Course those who wish to wallow in nostalgia are welcome to do so... do excuse me for preferring to spit on the floor while making the evil-eye sign to ward off a recurrence.

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami

by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 11:23:09 PM EST
[ Parent ]
eternalcityblues:
The 1989-to-2001 decade was at least as brutal and nasty as the era that preceded it and in any case behind the blahblah-screen it too was "unipolar" solely in name, i.e. in the sense that the temporarily-wingclipped chose to bide their time, quietly prepare their comeback .. main feature being that the many-poor got duly-poorer while the few-rich got duly-snottier and the hatreds rose.  

Can't agree.  No world wars.  No threat of Nuclear Armageddons.  No major Vietnam scale prolonged regional wars - the Iran-Iraq war was probably the worst but was relatively short. End of Apartheid.  Improvements in human rights in lots of Latin American countries.  Unprecedented growth in world economy. End of Iron curtain and enlargement of EU. Lots of local despots and wars and famines of course - buts that's par for the course in any era in history - the background noise if you like.  Sure, the rich got richer.  What's new?  

And if it was bipolar, who was holding up the other pole?  Russia - broken. Arguably even the Soviet Union was never truly competitive with the US in anything but large nuclear warheads.  The EU - give me a break.  China - their economy - at that time - was smaller than a large European state.  There was NO COMPETITION to the US at strategic, military, economic and political terms.

This is not nostalgia - its a hard headed analysis.  Every generation thinks that their problems are the worst but there was a period after the Cold War when many of the most intractable problems in world politics - and even some in terms of economic development were being resolved.  There used to be mega famines in India and China.  Eastern Europe was severely underdeveloped.  There were even some hopeful signs in Palestine Israel.  And of course Saddam invaded Kuwait - a matter that would not have been of even passing interest to the West had there not been a lot of Oil and business interests involved.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:18:35 AM EST
[ Parent ]
too bad poemless and you both rose to each others' bait...

from where i stand the diary was written in good faith, tho' perhaps instrumentalising sven's comment a bit.

america's gifts to the planet are legion, as are her curses.

how is anyone going to come to some kind of tidy summation in one diary of all that?

nice try though!

fwiw, everyone here had valid points, the friction was redundant.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:52:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
great to see you back ecb!

bin lurkin' here?


"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:29:01 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Hi Melo!  Yeah I've been lurking faithfully in the foliage as usual.. reading the economic info and learning, reading the environmental info and learning - but again as usual given my passionately war-nerdish nature, it's taken yet another serious dose of mega-mayhem in the offing to get me fired up enough to actually start typing... even off-topic. :-(

"Ignoring moralities is always undesirable, but doing so systematically is really worrisome." Mohammed Khatami
by eternalcityblues (parvati_roma aaaat libero.it) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:35:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
i'm happy to break those rules when i feel to, but there's also the issue that paying compliments to america feeds you guys' collective ego, which is way too big for its boots already!

you don't need more compliments, especially when they're taken as a granted given.... yeah, yeah, we know, we're the bestest/baddest, god's gift to democracy bla bla.

course now the wheels are wobbling, there's the corresponding self hatred to balance the overweening, where americans get real prickly because they know they fell in the empire trap, and what goes up must come down.

too full on the way up, too self-pitying on the way down...

growing up in england in the 50's, i saw the same thing happening, and here in italy it's slammed in your face every day by the ruins, how the once-mighty have fallen.

just to name two of so many...

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 at 03:43:52 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The key to the imperial, or even neo-colonial mindset is that they think its all about them - whether good, bad, or indifferent - as in history is written by the winners.

The larger reality is that it is also about the loser - the people crushed and vanquished along the way.  

South Ossetia should be about South Ossetians - not about Bush, McCain, Russia, or Georgia.  Everyone else is just using their lives as pawns in a larger game - and doing so incredibly immorally.  How many lives is a one point jump in the polls worth to McCain?

It's time I got out of this game....

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 at 07:48:58 AM EST
[ Parent ]
It's time I got out of this game....

you keep saying that... is that a new sig?

maybe you need a holiday! that cartoon of the poor blogger mashing his keyboard was a bit worrying.

"We can all be prosperous but we can't all be rich." Ian Welsh

by melo (melometa4(at)gmail.com) on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 at 12:55:52 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Yea - its my sig until I think of something better.  Some things  - like McCain's machinations around South Ossetia are just so immoral I can't believe there isn't widespread outrage in the states.  He's actually gaining in the polls.  I wonder why I bother writing this stuff sometimes - it feels like shouting in an empty room...

It's time I got out of this game....
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Sat Aug 16th, 2008 at 09:02:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Of course, as Marek said, I am a provocateur. My living depends on me being a heretic. People pay me to see through their bullshit - because they rarely get an interesting answer from within their organization of yesmen and yeswomen.

But I also make big mistakes. Such is the life on the edge.

My original question was based on the fact that I had sat through several hour meeting (the same day) with a 'Windchaser' - a company that is dedicated (among other things) to interface with wind energy to provide the systems for load management. IE fast start up, low offline cost energy back up.

Our 3 hr meeting was a litany of US insanity. A description of their experiences in the US. These facts were bizarre. They were describing another reality. This is what got me thinking whether the US 'could be saved' and whether it was 'worth saving'.

To me, the whole point of ET is to attack the status quo. Accept nothing- question everything. There are enough experts here to demolish dilettantes like me, but are there enough experts here to rethink everything (or almost everything?)

Only by questioning can we destroy the clichés. I am fine with being the fall guy for cliché questioning gone wrong. But if no-one asks the question.....?

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 04:53:55 PM EST
I can live with that.

Be nice to America. Or we'll bring democracy to your country.
by Drew J Jones (pedobear@pennstatefootball.com) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 05:35:55 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Sven Triloqvist:
Only by questioning can we destroy the clichés. I am fine with being the fall guy for cliché questioning gone wrong. But if no-one asks the question.....?

"Reality is defined by the questions we put to it".

J A Wheeler

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:19:43 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Well,I guess it is always good to be in the company of people smarter than oneself ;-)

You can't be me, I'm taken
by Sven Triloqvist on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 06:23:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
To me, the whole point of ET is to attack the status quo.

Invective doesn't challenge the status quo. The comment below is sloppy non-rhetoric not even worthy of dkos. You write a lot of good stuff - where did this standard issue internet trolling come form?

It might be that the USA is lost. It might be that the USA should be sacrificed to save the planet. There is a lot to be said for saving the planet - I haven't heard too many reasons for saving the USA.

Then:

Our 3 hr meeting was a litany of US insanity. A description of their experiences in the US. These facts were bizarre. They were describing another reality. This is what got me thinking whether the US 'could be saved' and whether it was 'worth saving'.

Why don't you write about this? Off the top of my head, a "nutty" place like Texas rivals all countries save Denmark and maybe Spain in wind generation capacity per capita - perhaps France, lagging behind Texas in wind generation, should be sacrificed for the good of the planet, so that more forward thinking countries can use the resources France would have otherwise used to build nuclear plants?

you are the media you consume.

by MillMan (millguy at gmail) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 03:26:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Many thanks to those who have read, commented on, or recommended this diary. I'm going to let it lie now, having said my piece, several times.

To conclude, and for the record, I consider myself to be quite pro-American.  The problem is that I don't see the currently unipolar world order - one dominated by America acting largely in its own interests - as being sustainable in the long term.

This diary attempts to argue that we will need much stronger systems for global governance to maintain peace and stability as the USA becomes less dominant in the world order.  Unfortunately the destruction of the UN, international organisations and conventions has been a large part of the neocon project.

This will make it much more difficult to maintain peace and stability as a more multi-polar world order develops - with Russia, China, India and Iran becoming increasingly powerful.

This is not because these countries are intrinsically more warlike than the US, but because a system made up of a number of strong actors is a lot more potentially unstable - as demonstrated prior to WW1.

Thus the relative decline of the US may also result in a new world war - not because the US has become less powerful, but because we didn't put in place much stronger systems for arms reduction and world governance whilst we still could.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Tue Aug 12th, 2008 at 07:59:07 PM EST
I think a factor you missed out in your description of the tensions of the multipolar world is that we are becoming energy poor. Long range proxy wars and international conflicts are luxuries of the 21st century. As even the US is finding out in Iraq, waging war is cripplingly expensive. In fact Iraq has bankrupted the USA as the next few years will demonstrate. Their companies ae now foreign owned, their production capacity is either foreign owned or even sited in foreign lands.

The only thing they have is a military, and it's too expensive to wage the sort of 20th cnetury wars that appeal to US politicians.

So, I think that good relations will be the cheapest option available.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:01:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Wars have nearly always been about resources - Empires, minerals, gold, booty, Lebensraum etc.  The reason why I am so concerned that we might be heading back towards a multi-polar world order without strong global governance and international law enforcement is that I foresee huge pressures for a whole new range of resource wars for diminishing oil, land, food, and water resources.  Perhaps this comes out more in the comments than in the Diary itself.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:16:04 AM EST
[ Parent ]
ie you fear the Shell

Scenario

of a resource "Scramble".

Whereas I tend towards their "Blueprint" scenario - but not exactly using their assumptions....

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:22:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Either way it makes sense to build governance structures that can handle the worst case scenarios...

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:37:09 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I thought at the time that the Iraq war was the "War to end Wars" due to the sheer disparity between the US military machine's capability and everyone else's.

That's what everyone else thought at the time. So the Libyans caved in, and so did the Iranians - who offered everything and more the US are now asking for.

But in their Hubris the victors in Iraq thought that Real Men go to Teheran. And of course we now see the continuing US Nemesis of their total Iraq fuck up.....

The financial "expense" of wars has never been an issue. There never was a war that was not fought because the would-be participants' bean counters first did a cost/benefit analysis.

Exhaustion of resources, on the other hand, is another issue, and here I think the energy expenditure necessary to maintain US hegemony over competitors has now passed the energy gains to be made.

Of course, this calculation would not apply if the US were able to use "Full Spectrum Dominance" and apply a unilateral nuclear threat.

That is why I say I never thought I would be glad the Russians kept a meaningful nuclear deterrent.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:36:12 AM EST
[ Parent ]
The concept of the "War to end Wars" is the most specious of all.  It leads to the peace of the graveyard for all accept the dominant victors who become intoxicated with their own power.  The defeat of the Soviet Union led directly to the Anglo disease in economics (abandonment of New Deal/social democratic compact between ruling/middle/working classes and widening income disparities)  and the hubris of the neo-imperialist neo conservative movement.

That is not to say that the defeat of the Soviet Union wasn't a good thing in itself - just that it had negative as well as positive consequences.  Now we need to move beyond the negatives.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:46:48 AM EST
[ Parent ]

The concept of the "War to end Wars" is the most specious of all.

Of course it is - and I guess that's because a "War to End Wars" incorporates an implicit statement of intention, which you rightly reject.

That was not my point, which was that maybe in retrospect we will see that the Iraq War was the "War that Ended Wars" for both reasons of:

(a) power disparity between the US and the rest; and

(b) energy exhaustion.

"The future is already here -- it's just not very evenly distributed" William Gibson

by ChrisCook (cojockathotmaildotcom) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 11:54:33 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Certainly in the days of satellites. GPS drones, missiles, smart bombs etc., the notion of conventional wars on conventional battlefields is long gone.  Unfortunately this also means there will be a lot more "collateral damage" amongst civilian populations.

What scares conventional strategists about terrorism is that it largely neutralises the power advantage that the US has in every other MO.

Just as the bean counters were never consulted prior to wars, I doubt whether energy consultants will hold much sway either!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 01:55:16 PM EST
[ Parent ]
"the notion of conventional wars on conventional battlefields is long gone"

Doesn't the Georgian example show that conventional wars are still with us? If the U.S. had wanted to stop the Russians, where would the army come from to do so? We have gone so far in the direction of training our military do police and social work that they no longer have the ability to push bayonets into the other guys--which is what war is fundamentally about.

by asdf on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 10:25:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're right, "the financial "expense" of wars has never been an issue".

However, I think that is a luxury that is past us. Elective resource wars such as Iraq tell us that a population has the ability to not just resist occupation, but prevent access to the very resource fought over. Bean counters didn't think to stop Iraq, but reality may intrude on such adventurism when it's realised that blowing shit up is fun, but the payback sucks.

you can afford such wars when you pay for them yourself, but not when you borow money from the Saudis and the Chinese, cos they end up owning your arse, your foreign policy and half of Wall St. not good for the ego of the average politician

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 09:51:13 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I fear this discussion has degenrated into bad feelings because, for better or worse, not only was the title inflammatory, but the framing of your essay was provocative.

Like you, I am well disposed to wards the USA, I am of that generation that was brought up to admire the USA, its ideals and its Constitution. So, if I sound vexed and critical these days, it is exasperation at how it has been brought low. And by the extent of the willingness of many american people to follow and justify that path.

Not just the dumb repug "America, F"ck yea !!!" people, but even senior democrats. If Bush cannot be impeached, then surely neither could Nixon. And if Bush isn't impeached, I'm not sure what democracy you have left. If there are no plans to completely change the personnel and papointments system at the DoJ, I'm not sure there is a legal system in the US. And there are several more I could mention. Government has been compromised and desecreated, it hasn't just been drowned in a bathtub, it has risen again like a zombie bent to foul purpose.

If these things aren't fixed, america can't be saved. I genuinely fear what it might become. Not just for us, but for most of its citizens. But your question asked should America be saved ? Only Americans can save america. And there is no inevitability of any group arising to take the reins and reverse the current inertia towards dissolution. Like Rome, its own mythologies are destroying it.

keep to the Fen Causeway

by Helen (lareinagal at yahoo dot co dot uk) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:13:39 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Helen:
I fear this discussion has degenrated into bad feelings because, for better or worse, not only was the title inflammatory, but the framing of your essay was provocative.

I accept it was provocative - but was emboldened to publish it because even Sven's framing (which I do think was prov0ocative) didn't provoke a flame war and I was trying to re-frame it in terms of multi-, bi-, and uni- polar world orders which I don't think is particularly inflammatory, provocative, or even controversial.  Interestingly the same diary has been  recommended on Booman, but there has been no discussion whatsoever.

I think what misunderstanding there was was restricted to Poemless and myself, and I hope we'll get over that.  Otherwise I think the discussion was first class and I thank all who contributed.  I write diaries like this because - whilst I have some ideas/theories - I don't have all the answers and I like to test them with an informed readership in order to learn whether they stand up or not.  I've learned a lot from the conversation, and I hope others feel likewise.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:33:28 AM EST
[ Parent ]
My original comments were inspired by a business meeting I had earlier that day. Unfortunately I cannot reveal any details. I probably, as usual, expressed my comments in unsubtle soundbites - something that I have to do every day.

But I am very glad you took that splashed out set of comments and used them to create a diary and produce a very interesting discussion. Really good points were made. Thanks for saving my ass.

You can't be me, I'm taken

by Sven Triloqvist on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 12:18:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You're well capable of saving your own ass.  As it happens, I seem to have gotten into more trouble than you did. C'est la vie!

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."
by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 01:56:51 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So the Soviet Union collapsed and we had Pax Americana -  a Unipolar world order where the US was dominant militarily, economically, politically and culturally/ideologically.

Again a reasonably stable arrangement except that some in the US elite became increasingly arrogant.  The Neo-conservative "New American Century" project basically treated everyone else as a vassal state to be subordinated to US political, military and economic interests.  The end of the threat of socialist revolution meant that the ruling elites could abandon the social democratic/New Deal compromise with the middle/working classes which had provided the basis for post war stability within Europe and the USA. Raw capitalism, red in tooth and claw, once again became the order of the day.

A succinct history, 1991-2007. Well done.

But I don't think Pax Americana could ever have been stable, even without the Neocon beasts. The Cold War powers balanced each other out. The current situation lacks symmetry -- leading, of course, to "asymmetrical warfare." Barbarians at the gates. Decline and Fall on a compressed timeline.

by Ralph on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:58:40 AM EST
No system is stable indefinitely, but the best way of stabilizing a system is to codify norms and institutionalize relationships so that there are agreed mechanisms and processes in place to deal with conflicts as they arise - e.g. a strong World Court, binding arbitration mechanisms, a strengthen UN with weighted majority voting (rather than unanimity) on the Security Council.

The neo-con project is predicated on the notion that the US need be answerable to nothing and nobody - that it can weaken the UN, ignore Treaty obligations, not recognise the International Court of Justice, and torture in breech of the Geneva Conventions it signed up to.  

But this cuts two ways.   What recourse does the US now have if (say) Russia captures the US base in Georgia and tortures US soldiers on the grounds that they supported a "terrorist" action in South Ossetia?  Russia wouldn't be so stupid, of course.  However if Cuba captured Guantanamo and released the inmates, what support could the US expect?

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 03:57:13 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I was born and raised in California, and lived six years (2001-07) in Washington State. In neither place was it clear to me that the USA needed to continue to exist for my security, freedom, prosperity, and equality.

Take California in particular. We have been a "donor state" to the US government, giving more in tax dollars than we receive, for several decades now. More significantly, as California lacks control over its fiscal and trade policies, we lack the necessary tools to manage a 21st century economy, one of the largest economies in the world.

I don't know that independence would solve our problems. It might not. But for me, the USA is no longer an entity to which I feel I owe any allegiance. And as the American Empire enters its terminal phase, I'm even more interested in getting California out of the USA so as to try and avoid the inevitable revanchism and angry politics of blame that tend to characterize declining empires.

And the world will live as one

by Montereyan (robert at calitics dot com) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 04:10:50 PM EST
I'm not convinced that the break up o the USA would make the management of a stable global order any easier - whatever it might do for individual wealthier states like California.

On the other hand I sometimes feel that the reason the USA always seems to need to have an external bogeyman - and be fighting a war against someone or something - is because that it is the only way it can maintain a semblance of cohesion and conformity to elite interests at home.  Enemies abroad as the price of unity at home.

So perhaps a break-up into more manageable and cohesive units could be beneficial in reducing the requirement for anger management of the US abroad.

On balance however, I think such a break up would create more problems than it would solve - certainly for Americans themselves.  The unity taht was so painfully created through the civil war (and two World Wars in the case of the EU) should not e given up lightly.  There is enough dividing people without creating even more national boundaries.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 05:50:14 PM EST
[ Parent ]
You have a very Asimovian vision of the world...

"Dieu se rit des hommes qui se plaignent des conséquences alors qu'ils en chérissent les causes" Jacques-Bénigne Bossuet
by Melanchthon on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 07:49:53 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I don't know about Asimov, but I have been fascinated by how groups, religions, and nations often define themselves in contradistinction to the Other.  It's so hard to define yourself as good if you can't find some other group/nation to play the bad guy role.

It follows that, as globalisation proceeds, you are trying to accommodate an every wider range of nations into one collaborative system.  How are you going to define some as the bad guys without dividing/disrupting or repolarising the system?  Who is going to play the bad guy role that we can all unite against?

Certain global challenges - like global warming, peak oil, nuclear proliferation, trade, development, terrorism, famine, drought, disease and war can create a common interest to encourage collaboration on a global scale - provided they aren't defied in terms that deliberately disadvantage some groups against others or used as a pretext for another agenda.

But some groups seem to have a need to polarise situations - to redefine complex situations into black and white terms -so that they ca play the good guys.  Witness current attempts in the US to redefine Russia/Putin as the old Soviet Union/Stalin empire of evil.  Bad politics often works that way.  How do you energise a crowd without inventing a demon to scare them into following you?

The ability to handle complexity - at an individual and societal level is a skill/capability that has to be learned/developed.  The temptation for demagogues is always to try to reduce this to old certainties of good and bad.  The central insight of Eastern (as opposed to Western) philospohy/religion is perhaps that both are part of the same whole and you can't have one without the other.

I don't know whether this is what Asimov was also about.

"It's a mystery to me - the game commences, For the usual fee - plus expenses, Confidential information - it's in my diary..."

by Frank Schnittger (mail Frankschnittger at hot male dotty communists) on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 06:51:40 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Now it's my turn to sigh, with regard to this diary, and suggest that many of you are neglecting historical perspective, here.

I'm about to state the obvious, but I hope you will follow me, anyway.

Human tribal relations have always been tumultuous, from the beginning of recorded history. And I think it's safe to assume that tribal competition and conflict predate recorded accounts. Some societies learned that looking to what were considered wise elders amongst them was effective in matters of conflict resolution.

Those societies that indulged in self-reflection and evaluation of broader, inter-communal intrests managed to live in relative peace, for varied periods of time. Others, acting largely out of self-interest, may have prospered, but lost vital energy and means through conflict.

What we refer to today as 'globalisation' began at the latest in the 15th century, when entire armadas set out from Europe, financed by wealth accumulated through local feudal labor, to seek out new sources of wealth on distant 'land formations'. Suddenly undreamed of riches began pouring into the European continent, creating in the wake an ever more powerful ruling class.

The 15th century was clearly a turning point in societal evolution, away from traditional continental trade towards overseas acquisitions. It's also no wonder that, consequent to the influx of masses of wealth, new means of wealth management were invented. Banks, currencies, markets, speculation, etc.

Fast-forward to the 19th century, with the discovery that hydrocarbon-based energy possessed the capacity to replace human caloric expenditure. Elbow grease, in other words. -- All that accumulated wealth, funded by feudally acquired 'seed money', and enhanced by colonial pillage, then became 'leveragable', thanks to the capacity oil possessed to replace manual labor.

The discovery of oil and recognition of its usefulness might well have ushered in a new era of prosperity for humanity, but the means that had been acquired through labor replacement managed to work its way into the hands of the powerful few, thanks to new 'wealth management' strategies.

Here, we find ourselves, today, many of us wage slaves, of a sort, laboring to increase the fortunes of the very families that benefited from and monoplised hydrocarbon-enhanced labor, the direct result of colonial acquisitions.

It isn't difficult, from there, to imagine that elaborate systems of protection, spying and surveillance technologies might be envisaged to protect a wealthy core from the ire of an increasingly empoverished work force.

But even in the best of assessments, this is not good management. Capitalism is in the process of devouring itself, a prediction that was made decades ago.

The urgent question we need to be asking ourselves is not whether the US is worth anything to anyone, but how we are to resolve the persistent and seemingly intractible race towards wealth accumulation and 'growth', which obviously is unsustainable.  

Blaming the US for the world's problems is to neglect the long history of connivance between the Federal Reserve, Bank of England, and subsequently the BIS, in the instigation of world wars and the establishment of anti-social, anti-labor policies designed to perpetuate the quasi-feudalism under which we live today.

The grave problems the world faces today are all too conveniently attributed to the the US and the Bush administration, when in fact they need to be seen through the lens of centuries' long history of global wealth acquisition and usurpation.

The question remains, as ever, what we, who amount to the power behind the construct, are willing to do to change matters.

by Loefing on Wed Aug 13th, 2008 at 08:57:11 PM EST
and Coach handbags.
by redstar on Thu Aug 14th, 2008 at 05:06:13 AM EST


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