We Are Going To Fix That

President Obama said that about Voter Suppression. Issues of immediate concern seemed to matter in the 2012 election, though obviously some mattered more than others to different groups, and most mattered not at all to the GOP challengers:

  • Everyone’s access to affordable health care.
  • Wealthier Americans responsibility to pay their share of taxes.
  • Women’s right to choose abortion whether the rape was “legitimate” or not.
  • LGBT’s right to marry, and presumably divorce, just like straight people.
  • Undocumented but established immigrant’s ability to live here, attend school and get in line for citizenship.
  • Everyone’s right to use marijuana.

But long range issues were hardly mentioned by either party:

  • Climate Change
  • Energy Depletion
  • Environmental Ravages
  • Infrastructure

In, The Post-American Future, John Michael Greer doesn’t think much will be fixed:

… Here in America, we’ve just spent a year seeing which of two interchangeable candidates will take the presidential oath of office this coming January. Those of my readers who are Republicans, and downcast by Obama’s victory last night, should take heart; the policies we’ll see for the next four years will be exactly the same as the ones that we would have had if your candidate had won, and now you have the freedom to criticize them, while the Democrats have to put up with another four years of pretending that the man they helped put into office isn’t betraying every principle they claim their party stands for. The blustering and violent pursuit of the same failed foreign policy, the eager pursuit of national bankruptcy in the name of global security, the tacit refusal to prosecute even the most egregious financial crimes, the whittling away of civil liberties, the gargantuan giveaways to corrupt but influential industries, and the rest of it:  the whole package that’s been welded in place since the days of George W. Bush was guaranteed to continue whoever won.

Greer has just finished a five part post, How It Could Happen, about a future dissolution of the USA, which makes for a decent political novella.

Some of my readers will doubtless be objecting by this point that it would have been just as possible for me to put together a different set of historical analogies and tell a different story of the way that America’s global empire, and America itself, went to pieces. That’s exactly the point I hoped to make. The narrative presented in October’s posts, as I explained at the time, is not my idea of the way that the American empire will fall; it’s simply an account of one way that the American empire could fall, and its details were chosen to outline some of the most serious fault lines running through that empire and the society that the empire supports. …

The one thing that isn’t an option at this point, I would argue, is a continuation of American global dominance for more than a short time to come.  Like the British empire a century ago, the American empire is visibly cracking at the seams as the costs of maintaining a global imperial presence soar and the profits of the imperial wealth pump slump.

Greer’s scenario seems awfully quick to me. I’d expect a series of reversals rather than one bad war. But things do fall apart, and as evidenced by the havoc wreaked by a large hurricane, we aren’t planning for the future as if anything could actually go seriously wrong. We just aren’t used to it.


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3 responses to “We Are Going To Fix That”

  1. remoat says :

    Things could always fall apart quickly.

    In talking about these things, there always seems to be a gap between the problems various systems create for themselves and the interaction of all the other systems in the cage match of life playing out in real time. It is like the difference between genetics and ecology.

    As you suggest (or at least what I think you are suggesting), there is a discrepancy between Greer taking a point of view that doesn’t require him knowing the details of how dissolution will play out and proclaiming that the end is near. This discrepancy conditions his remarks about failed empires. For instance, the dissolution of the British Empire was not just a matter of the limits of its structure but the power and good fortune of other contenders for its monopolization of resources.

    The form that monopolization takes may change, speeding some things up and slowing other things down.


    • Donal says :

      As an example, I do wonder if China will ever have the blue water navy required for Greer’s war scenario to play out. A coalition between Russia and China, however, would be more formidable.


      • remoat says :

        Yes, alliances could be formed that could change the balance of military power.
        By saying some things would slow down, I meant to say that a key element Greer doesn’t account for is the existence of money. Even during the darkest days of WW2, the Germans had purchasing power on the international market through their connection with Switzerland.

        Today, China and the U.S. are deeply entangled through their economic ties and shared debt. Since any serious military engagement would bring those “arrangements” to an end, war might as well be declared by defaulting on promissory notes rather than shooting people or blowing stuff up.


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