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The New, Deplorable American Order


#1

The New, Deplorable American Order

Tom Engelhardt

Have you ever undertaken some task you felt less than qualified for, but knew that someone needed to do? Consider this piece my version of that, and let me put what I do understand about it in a nutshell: based on developments in our post-9/11 world, we could be watching the birth of a new American political system and way of governing for which, as yet, we have no name.

And here’s what I find strange: the evidence of this, however inchoate, is all around us and yet it’s as if we can’t bear to take it in or make sense of it or even say that it might be so.


#2

I like Tom and most of the authors he hosts at TomDispatch. But like too many US "progressive" writers, Tom stops just short of exposing the geopolitical/economic backdrop to all of the domestic issues he so eloquently explains.

All of what he shows is in ultimate service of maintaining the corrupted and bankrupt Bretton Woods/IMF/WTO/World Bank/US$-reserve-currency system. This is in the face of a strengthening BRICS+ multi-currency project, which is beginning to challenge the US/NATO power to dictate terms to the world. The rest of the world is simply trying to minimize the US's ability to hurt them.

It is no coincidence that the US/NATO is focused on attacking Russia and China (or neigbouring/business partner allies) by economic, regime change and military means.

The US is in dire economic/monetary/financial straits if the US$-reserve-currency tap is shut off. The US depends on exporting its metastasizing deb/monetary polices via Quantitative Easing and other FED central banking manipulations.

The current QE-fueled Bubble is far larger than the SubPrime Scam Bubble that burst in 2008. The US (and the world economy) barely escaped a repeat of the Great Depression post-2008. But the lessons of post-1929 were not RElearned. A Super Glass-Steagal was not imposed to separate consumer/commercial banking from the investment/stock/bond/insurance casino.

Tom is correct, but in light of the imminent collapse of the Bretton Woods system, the US gov'ts incapacity to do anything other than spy, bomb and kill is frightening beyond anything since WW2. Be aware WW3 will not be only fought "over there".


#4

"The process of demobilizing the public certainly began with the military. It was initially a response to the disruptive and rebellious draftees of the Vietnam-era. In 1973, at the stroke of a presidential pen, the citizen’s army was declared no more, the raising of new recruits was turned over to advertising agencies (a preview of the privatization of the state to come), and the public was sent home, never again to meddle in military affairs."

And therein lies the rub, ",,,was sent home, never again to meddle in military affairs..." As the late Senator J. William Fulbright said in "The Pentagon Propaganda Machine,"

"There seems to be a lack of concern among too many people about the state of the nation, and a too easy acceptance of policies and actions of a kind that a generation ago would have appalled the citizenry. The apparent broad acceptance of the "volunteer army" idea comes to mind- a concept completely at variance with our historic development. Up to now, a blessing of our system has been that those who go into the military service, whether by enlistment or through the draft, could hardly wait to get out. But today, because of the exigencies of the times, there is a chance that we may turn our back on this fundamental principle: a large, standing professional army has no place in this Republic."

Bring back the draft.


#6

Mr. Engelhardt has penned a pretty good analysis, although there are a number of vital items missing from it.

Firstly, in comparing the prior robber-baron era with this one, the tell tale difference is not just the presence of a mass media, but the fact that its corporate owners have invested heavily in behavior modification and mind control.

The importation of Nazi scientists who had learned a great deal about the relationship between trauma (on mass as well as individual levels) and mind control was not lost on those with an interest in controlling population pools.

Also missing from the pervasive scope of mass media conditioning and the mesmerized states that simulate hypnotic trance is that Mr. Engelhardt looks for MASS movements and misses out on the fact that there are countless struggles. Each of them is very important to those engrossed in them.

There are struggles against Big Coal.
Struggles against Fracking.
Struggles against the closing of public schools, the abuse of standardized testing, and lopsided types of funding (too much going towards Charter Schools)
Struggles for fair wages
Struggles for women's reproductive rights and access
Struggles for Gay rights
Struggles for saner tuition for college students
Struggles to save the waters and all sorts of wildlife
Struggles against Monsanto and the gen tech corporate monsters
Struggles for Latino citizenship
Struggles against Big Oil on behalf of The Global Ecosystems

And so much else.

To miss the powerful impact that media has, especially since fascist states and other militaristic regimes rely so heavily ON propaganda, is the glaring flaw in Mr. Engelhardt's argument. It could also be said that there
is a glaring difference between an ordinary pistol or night stick and the TYPES of weapons used for crowd control today. This armor is intimidating... as it's intended to be.

Lastly, on the subject of Mind control and its link to trauma: the assassinations of JFK, Bobby Kennedy, Dr. King, Malcolm X, Medgar Evans, and later, Paul Wellstone and no doubt others definitely traumatize a population. That things this public take place without proper redress--enabling covert elements to seize control of a government in coup fashion--lead people to that sort of quiet desperation that might be taken for quiescence.

I call it "Gradual Accommodation," and in the past used as Exhibit A--the fine film, "Cabaret." It shows that Nazis initially thrown out of the Cabaret gradually become accepted as its patrons. In other words, a militarized society creeps up over a people. It only has to knock down a percentage of doors before a population, as a group, will succumb to Big Muscle/Brute Force/Uniformed gun-men... or Mars rules.


#8

A lot of events starting with the inception of the NSA and its license to kill paved the way for today's Fascism. Obama is the last in a chain of puppets who answer to covert powers, a/k/a The Deep State.


#10

It is a real shame that if we are to have a dynastic bent to the presidency that we couldn't come up with another Roosevelt. Sadly the families that have floated to the top are orders below that benchmark.
It is too bad that the article simply states the problems facing our democracy without suggesting causes and solutions. This is not easy as some of the problems are caused by the same things and what originally began this slide toward a corporatocracy is not particularly clear.
We can agree that income inequality is a growing threat, as is our acquiescence to campaign contributions which are thinly disguised payments to insure a political posture. Which caused the other is difficult to determine but this is likely the sides of the same coin. I would suggest this to be the root cause of our decay and a two headed hydra that is the first thing that must be destroyed before we can hope for any form of normalcy to enter our social situation. All the major problems can be traced back to these two strongly related issues.


#11

It is interesting how the "thinkers" in this thread, typically, feel the need for an almost obligatory shot that they must take at the very article that aroused their discussion.

They don't seem to like anybody very much.

I guess they want to show us that they have "critical" minds, but in fact their criticism is superficial and unjust.

For example, there is a guy elsewhere here who doesn't like Tom Englehardt because he reveals problems but then doesn't solve them.

So Tom could correctly point out that bridges are falling down all over the United States but that doesn't matter unless Tom personally fixes every single one of them all by himself.


#13

Oh, but it does have a name neoliberal shamocracy. One of the biggest lies in the media-politico matrix is that the U.S. is a "democracy" The U.S. nation-state is a “shamocracy”: something that is not what it purports to be; a spurious imitation; fraud or hoax. More accurately, the U.S. is a neoliberal shamocracy. Neoliberal here defined as the use of traditional liberal terms, such as “democracy” to promote neo-fascism: the merger of corporate-financial-oligarchic and state power.


#14

We're dealing with a truckload of complex, inter-related issues. I'll limit my comment to "right here, right now." We have a poverty crisis in the US, and with very rare exception, the voices of the poor have effectively been blocked out. We need to find an inclusive way to address the reality that the US has been sinking. This is about our survival as a nation. Something we need to think about can be addressed this way: When Reagan was first elected, launching the long campaign against our poor, the overall quality of life in the US was rated at #1. By the time Obama became president, this had already plunged to #43. As a matter of policy, this generation chose an agenda that directly violates the UDHR, and reversed decades of progress. Liberal media have powerfully been used (esp. since the Clinton admin.) to block out all examination of this agenda, replacing it with what amounts to being a mere pep rally for the better off -- middle class consumers and campaign donors. This has created a (fragile) culture of middle class elitism that serves to block us from actually discussing the mess we're in.

We're stuck with reality. In reality, not everyone can work (health, etc.),and there aren't jobs for all who urgently need one. The US shipped out a huge number of jobs since the 1980s, ended actual welfare aid in the 1990s, and the impact has rippled through every aspect of American life. The result: Our poverty crisis. When we're incapable of having any measure of connection/empathy with our own fellow citizens, how can we possible deal with the international community?

Tom Engelhardt is right. All of these "strings," these issues, have become a knotted tangle around our throats, and we're in too much of a panic to stop and think rationally.


#15

What I am worried about is when Economy keeps going down...there is a large possibility of WWIII...


#16

The main thing I found missing in Tom's analysis is the influence of the consolidation of media corporations and the immense spike in their profits from advertising revenue, mainly on TV, from 24/7 saturation coverage of politics, sports, celebrities, crime, and general distraction. Off-the-charts advertising revenue has been the tail that wags the dog in the ever-more-protracted length of and money spent on election campaigns, increasing numbers and repetitions of commercials (now including pitching hard liquor ads to the youth market), and overkill coverage of sports, resulting in hundred-million dollar salaries for pro athletes and total corruption of college sports. (I just heard that "March Madness" generates a billion dollars in TV revenue.)

Naturally, this issue has been disgracefully underreported not only in the mainstream media (hey, forget about coverage of campaign finance reform) but in progressive media and politics. Robert McChesney and John Nichols have been among the few voices insisting on the prime role of the media in the plutocratic ascendancy.


#17

Please! why does everyone refuse to see the wood in the trees?
There is one, and only one, cause of all our economic and governance woes. During the early 1900's our stupid/corrupt politicians signed away our Sovereign "rights" , that allowed us to print and issue our own interest free, debt free money; and since then we have all become "debt slaves". Our rights to print and issue our own money out of thin air were ceded to private banking Corporations, thus now, we borrow all our money from them, and they simply print it out of thin air, and charge us interest for the privilege. Given the nature of our economic cycles, the booms and busts, it is virtually impossible for us ever to repay all such debts, especially since, when they print our borrowings, they do not also print the money to cover the interest repayments. This particular economic consequence was recorded centuries ago in the well known fable about the boy who possessed a goose that laid "golden" eggs; he sold the goose for a paltry sum and forever thereafter he was destitute.

The remedy for our problems is simple; we abrogate any agreement previously made, reclaim our Sovereign "rights" to print and issue our own debt free interest free money.

This will enable us to stop income-taxing of individuals; we may pay everyone that needs it a social wage, based on a break even computation, this will eliminate poverty and deprivation; those in receipt of the Social wage will be encouraged into employment, without loss of this Social wage, and to work for any employer for additional income, mutually agreed between them. this gives control of work and income to the "workman". Employers will gain a workforce of people willing to accept much lower wages than previously paid, thus making the employer production cost significantly lower; plus, the employer no longer collects taxes for the Government. The employer Corporation/business will pay tax annually as usual. The collection of V.A.T. or G.S.T., consumer taxes will cease.

All Government expenditures will be provided by the planned issue of our own debt free interest free money using legislation approved by Parliament. Health, Education, University courses, Infrastructure of all kinds, etc. etc.

Provided that all of these expenditures are actually "spent" into circulation they will not create inflation; inflation will occur, for instance, when too much money chases too few "goods". The Government must own and run it's own Bank, just like the original Commonwealth Bank. No Private Bank or Corporation will be permitted to create money, under any guise; our financial system will revert to one of "sound " money. Sound money is that which turns around sound borrowing and lending, controlled by being liquid cash, backed by the ownership of assets, and strict criteria keeping them in balance; borrowing and lending outside of these criteria, characterised as "high risk", will be permitted between parties willing to accept such risk, and then, only when it involves their own wholly owned assets.

Interest rates in the private sector will be set by the private sector. The floating exchange rate will be converted into "fixed" rates decided by Government, and as decided between Sovereign Nations and embodied in trade agreements. Our currency will not be traded on "Exchanges", our Nation will be immunised against the manipulated predations of the "Market".

The foregoing explains the broad brush strokes involved, but in summary we would have a Nation with little or no foreign debt, a Nation whose domestic economy sits on a solid unshakeable base, a Nation better able to compete in the wider World, a Nation without poverty whose peoples are empowered to think and work for themselves, a Nation rescued from the avarice of the "Money Lenders", and above all, a Government able to be free and Independent, instead of being owned by Corporate money and influence. This is named "The Universal Economy" because it will operate anywhere.

For those who doubt the efficacy of this proposal, I suggest they study the United States example. The clever banking Corporations engineered the U.S. dollar to be the Worlds reserve currency. Ever since the U.S. has been printing money out of thin air, the only Nation to do so, now they have military bases in more than one hundred and seven Nations, they have engineered regime change and wars in countless Nations, and recently have printed trillions of dollars, called quantitative easing, and poured it into foreign banks and financial Institutions trying to prevent the next meltdown; but it is not working because their printed money was not spent into circulation, instead it inflated the prices of shares and real estate, the bust cometh.


#18

The same is true of almost every society that has economically succeeded in the modern world. . The Depression and the War especially taught the world’s real leaders something about public banking as the only thing that works for real social development. Germany in peace, China, India, Japan in their most prosperous periods have all relied on public investment banking in some form. But the Wall Street counter-revolution happened invisibly in 1974 by Bank of International Settlements policy to stop governments from lending their own money for their public investments – the BIS being a coterie of bank heads meeting in Switzerland led by Wall Street bankers and with no accountability to any public interest or body. On the contrary, against their constitutional rights, all governments have been made accountable to the Wall Street system which runs the US Treasury and the IMF by the revolving door method. This silent BIS policy destroyed public investment free of the self-multiplying debt charges now eating away at every level of the Western economy including sovereign public investment. Ukraine, with few noticing, has just been privatized at the bank debt and investment level by the US-led coup state. Its arrangements with the IMF now loaning money on Wall Street permanent debt-servicing terms have replaced the $20 billion it had from Russia on payable public terms along with 30% cut-rate oil and gas.


#19

I think one sign of the devaluation of the presidency has been the absence of Oval Office addresses. This pattern began under George W. Bush and has continued (with one very early exception, I believe) under President Obama. Strangely -- assuming the media will still allow them! -- even the attempt to establish this historical presidential connection with the American people has, apparently, been completely abandoned. Yes, there are the weekly web addresses. But they command nowhere near the same attention and level of public interest.


#20

The same is true of almost every society that has economically succeeded in the modern world. . The Depression and the War especially taught the world’s real leaders something about public banking as the only thing that works for real social development. Germany in peace, China, India, Japan in their most prosperous periods have all relied on public investment banking in some form. But the Wall Street counter-revolution happened invisibly in 1974 by Bank of International Settlements policy to stop governments from lending their own money for their public investments – the BIS being a coterie of bank heads meeting in Switzerland led by Wall Street bankers and with no accountability to any public interest or body. On the contrary, against their constitutional rights, all governments have been made accountable to the Wall Street system which runs the US Treasury and the IMF by the revolving door method. This silent BIS policy destroyed public investment free of the self-multiplying debt charges now eating away at every level of the Western economy including sovereign public investment. Ukraine, with few noticing, has just been privatized at the bank debt and investment level by the US-led coup state. Its arrangements with the IMF now loaning money on Wall Street permanent debt-servicing terms have replaced the $20 billion it had from Russia on payable public terms along with 30% cut-rate oil and gas.

This most far-reaching change of all has been erased from view by the official story – the delivery of Ukraine by the US-led coup into the ever-devouring funnels of the Wall-Street-and-company private banking system. With all the permanent new debt servicing of an already broken country spending its future debt on fighting a US-manufactured civil war fueled by neo-Nazi war thugs, Ukraine will be bled dry. A revealing example of how IMF debt bondage leverages transnational corporate control of Ukraine’s greatest resources is the new IMF $17 billion loan on the condition that Ukraine opens up its peerless vast stretches of black soil and fertile lands to the biotech cycles of Monsanto, Dupont, Deere and factory looting of the earth. Similar plans are also in motion for Big Oil racking of Ukraine’s large newly discovered gas deposits (fracking is prohibited in Russia).


#21

The Bretton Woods system was a bankster con game from the start. By persistently overplaying it with their manipulations of greed, the beneficiaries have forced wide recognition of the con game among their victims, who are moving to counter and terminate it.


#22

And look at the kinds of shows that dominate the big TV networks! 'Police procedural' or national security-themed shows fill our national nightly lineup to an unprecedented degree. Stating the obvious, I believe this new media reality has to be understood as one of the unmistakable legacies of the 9/11 terror attacks.


#23

President Obama has become almost completely identified with "the politics of the middle class." Democrats used to talk much more about poor people. In fact, the only time I can recall President Obama mentioning the poor was immediately after he had met with Pope Francis. He soon reverted to form.


#24

So Register Green, Vote Jill Stein, Run Green (the voice of the one percent).


#25

To approximately quote George Kennan, "The US is 6% of the world population controlling 60% of the world's wealth and the goal of US Foreign Policy should be to keep it that way." 1947? The National Security State was then formed to keep it that way and it showed its hand in the Vision 2020 statement of the US Space Command: "to Dominate the Military Aspects of Space to protect US Interests and Investments world wide" Zeig Heil!