Originally published at http://www.commondreams.org/views/2020/06/10/united-states-obituary
a fair summary for such a big picture analysis. The overextension of our empire, infrastructure neglect, racism issues, vast economic inequality, prevalence of guns and gun violence, are all daunting and lurking climate change, and even the still ongoing virus are further challenges.
But that said, it may be a mistake to underestimate the resilience of American capitalsim. It produced the progressive era and the New Deal when needed. My father told me in the 1930s many thought the US was done for, then at the start of the war when we were quite unprepared, the same thing, but the US mobilized. I remember in the 1960s upheavals some thought the end was nigh too. But we did abolish Jim Crow, pass a lot of environmental laws, and finally leave Viet Nam.
The streets have been full of Americans who want something better. So maybe “obituary” is premature.
During the 1840s (sea-to-shining-sea) manifest destiny became the US’s highest priority.
Manifest destiny made a major leap forward during the 1850s when California and Oregon became states.
As soon as President-elect Lincoln got word that California might join the confederacy, thereby derailing the US’ manifest destiny gig, he decided he could not endorse the Confederate states leaving the US…hence the Civil War.
Isn’t it time we let the confederate states secede, or let the west coast states secede and let the heartland heave…just break the north america nut house up ?
“the best of our early unifying values: hard work, thrift, generosity, fairness, honesty, ingenuity, and mutual respect” - really???
We also need to deal with global corporations and their power to control other countries. Plus ALEC and its clones, where billionaires play with real money and real lives, not caring who they harm as long as they’re in power(cf the Koch Brothers’ Mackinac Center telling Rick Snyder to take over the government of Flint and to poison the water supply. OK, hyperbole here, but boiled down to its basics)
Lots of balls in play, from China on the global political stage to corporations taking over from nation states, as nation states took over from city states. Sixth Great Extinction, climate change, looming food shortages…and using war to divert attention away from our civil and social issues. Man, I’m glad I’m on the downward slide of life, because the children of today may end up being the Seventh Generation.
I hope I can get back to Oregon before that happens. I want to be there - again
THAT has been the fantasy
The USA has reached its terminal phase. It is on hospice now. I usually like what Heinberg writes and says, but his nonsense about the best of our early unifying values: hard work, thrift, generosity, fairness, honesty, ingenuity, and mutual respect… What a crock. Tell that to the native Americans and slaves brought over from Africa. There is NOTHING unifying this country. It is coming apart at the seams and it will end in utter collapse and ruin. And the world will be better off.
From the article:
“Bush’s successor, Barack Obama, was charged with cleaning up the mess. Obama was intelligent, articulate, and empathetic.”
Yes he was/is intelligent and articulate. I would not add empathetic to the list of his character traits.
“Obama chose to allow the CIA, a secretive entity with a long history of unjust killings, to carry out strikes; he chose to keep the very fact of drone killings classified, deliberately invoking the state-secrets privilege in a way guaranteed to stymie oversight, public debate, and legal accountability; and he chose to permit killings outside the greater Afghanistan war zone, in countries with which the U.S. was not at war. Those choices made more unjust killings predictable and inevitable.”
And there is a reason some call him Fur-ack Obama
These behaviors indicate that empathy was not the driving force behind his actions.
To the contrary.
If Obama was capable of genuine empathy these actions would not have taken place.
Or . . . he would be exhibiting signs of making amends and showing remorse.
If he has been making amends and showing signs of remorse, self refection, I’ve missed them.
From the article:
“Obama was unable or unwilling to break with the status quo”
Could part of the reason he was unable or unwilling to do so was because he lacks empathy?
Capital, its collection, how it’s spent, who skims off the top and who works like a dog paycheck to paycheck, those questions are impossible to find answers in most argument in its defense. It will cost too much to save the planet from the world’s industrial impact. Don’t invest in “driverless” car, truck, delivery drone nonsense. Divest Daimler for their energy hog truck plot to waste resources. Question: Should we direct battery (and charging) resources to “ONE” EV Freight Truck or as many as 500 households with an PHEV in the garage emergency back up power?
The Old Confederacy stood for free market fundamentalism, property rights fundamentalism, or what today we might call extreme neoliberalism. The US Civil War was fought over the issue of whether property rights fundamentalism should be the core guiding principle of governance. The Confederacy fought for property rights supremacy; in an important sense (though not purely), the Northern States fought for human rights supremacy. It appears that the Old Confederacy has won the US Civil War, in the long run. It appears today that property rights fundamentalism is the core guiding principle of US federal governance, and governance of nearly all nations in the world. Human rights are rapidly being eroded everywhere.
Perhaps it is indeed time for US states, and nations and states around the world, to join together in a fundamental reassertion of human rights; a reassertion of humanity over property; and a renewed, worker-powered assertion of majority rights to control the production and distribution of essential goods and services. Perhaps it is time for the Peoples of Earth to unite in favor of economic democracy and the end of capitalism, the end of predatory corporations, the end of ruling classes. If the USA is dissolved for the sake of human rights, biosphere rights, and ecological-economic democracy, this would be a great accomplishment. In that case, a birth notice would be more appropriate than an obituary.
richard heinberg says “it’s not too soon to start”. my fear is that it may already be too late. having joe biden as an alternative to donald trump still means that we’re kicking the can further down the road regarding starting any worthwhile change.
we need to stop rewarding the democratic party establishment for its continued worshiping at the altar of the corporate oligarchs. and while trump is an unfortunate evil foisted on the american public for the democratic party’s selling out, the only way REAL change that benefits this country and the world is going to occur is when we elect democratic politicians that do not attack the green new deal, universal healthcare, affordable education, meaningful reform of the criminal system and the banking system in much the same way that their republican counterparts across the aisle do…
Obama was unable or unwilling to break with the status quo.
Obama knew what his role was and accepted it. That’s why they chose him. To coin a phrase I heard a while back…“The Empire needed a face lift.”
The question really should be “Why did so many people fall for it…and still do?”
Sadly, I think you are right. The divisions that exist between right and left (or more accurately, between those who worship at the altar of capitalism and those of us who are open to a more socialist-leaning system) are too deep and too wide to bridge. There will never be a meeting of the minds. The hardcore capitalists see anything and everything that relates to the public good as nanny-state socialism and thereby inherently “evil” and will never give an inch toward the kind of reforms that are needed. They would rather die than go left. Or more accurately they would kill us progressives first, and do so enthusiastically.
A heavy dose of socialist policies, investing in the public good, is the only thing that has a snowball’s chance in hell of saving us from our eminent collapse. But those reforms are never going to happen because too much of the population has been thoroughly brainwashed to think that capitalism in any form, even this winner-take-all brand of it that exists now, is better than any form or degree of socialism. It is the collective stupidity and arrogance of the capitalist worshiping, imperialist masses and their stranglehold on our government that is going to be our final undoing. The coming crash of this stinking empire of greed, global genocide, and environmental destruction is inevitable.
We all grew up being told (and believing) that democracy was the cure-all. Unfortunately, it was never tested, since we’ve never had an actual democracy. So we have no idea whether a real democracy might prove able to overcome the big problems that humans face. We do know (we have seen this) that a corporate oligarchy cannot deal with big problems, but that is what we have. World War Two was not a test of ‘democracy vs totalitarianism’, rather it was something much less significant, just a territorial struggle between two alliances which the ‘better funded’ one won. So we are back where we’ve been ever since Plato was scratching his head and penning his ‘Republic’.
The only thing that seems to be clear now is that there is no hope unless we can find our way to a sustainable economy, one with 100% recycling and with hollistic accounting. That would be quite an undertaking in a world where people don’t give a damn about the future and are pretty anti-social in their habits. This is a world-wide problem. The virus is nothing compared to climate change which is already upon us and will be multiplying in its effects year by year. The coming climate refugees and loss of asset value of shoreline establishments will be every bit as disrupting as a somewhat smaller asteroid that hit 65 million years ago. So we are totally off balance as it is, now worrying about trying to revive an economy that was (and is) out of alignment with nature.
One doesn’t sense any consensus among the experts. Will Biden (should he win) put his weight behind a crash program of a massive transforming Green New Deal without trying to cut it to size? Will he lead a global environmental alliance and get Russia, China, India, and all on board? Can America free itself of the likes of the Mitch McConnells?
The moral degeneracy that people like McConnell and all the thousands of others like him represent is breathtaking. One wonders where does it come from? Or is it simply a sign of a mature, over-aged system? The amazing part of it is that they have not done anything criminal so far, yet they have wrecked the moral fibre of the country.
We are a nation that was pulled from the brink of collapse by the redistribution of wealth through a progressive tax system. It worked quite well, and transformed a mostly hodgepodge country of regional and local economies into a veritable powerhouse. Redistribution brought more real equality and a true " level playing field " than any other tool in the tool box. It can do so, again. And, actually create and include many more citizens, in the doing, too.
Progressive taxation, and an open transparency in the day-to-day operations of our government, still hold the key to renewal, rejuvenation and revitalization in this seemingly discombobulated present. The solutions lie in continuity and consitency in enforcement of agreed upon goals in these ongoing " remodeling " projects.
The solutions do require money. The power of money reguires strong and clear regulation. The wealthiest and least taxed (1%er ) types have proven they are not up to these basic tasks and goals, and thus they must be watched and monitored. That, too, can be done through a truly progressive taxation system and open, clearly spelled out wealth redistribution schemes.
America doesn’t need to reinvent the wheel, so much as it needs to create contact, to reconnect all our wheels with the road that lies before us, all of us.
Sterling piece of work. Thanks to the author and CD.
Heinberg is one of my favorite writers.
Perhaps it is time for all those things, for himan rights to be a world priority. But we, in the USA, will have little to say about any of that, as we are no longer world leaders in any sense of the word. Other countries have been only too happy to fill the void left by the Trump Regime. Even IF we were to come to our senses about rampant capitalism vs. human rights & equality (don’t hold your breath on that!), we are now the poster child country for what NOT TO DO. Covid-19 only made it more obvious, and still there are plenty who will deny that severe lack of leadership had anything to do with it. Hell, lies are so commonplace now that there are people who truly believe that the death numbers are inflated & virus is “not so bad”! Truth has been destroyed by constant (18,000+) lies by the so-called president & his GOP supporters, that no one knows what/who to believe anymore! And that’s just what this regime wants ~ makes it much easier to take over democracy with authoritarian rule, which is orgasmic to those hungry for even more power…power, but not the responsibility that goes along with it.
Indeed - if Obama’s most progressive act was ACA (AKA Romney Care, AKA Heritage Foundation Care), it’s obvious he was Republican-Lite from the beginning. What’s truly stupid is the DNC thinking that the racism of the GOP would ever accept a black president, DESPITE the non-stop capitulation to the right.
Remember, Obama deported more non-nationals than all the previous presidents combined. It was Obama who assassinated US citizens with drones abroad.