Exclusively in the new print issue of CounterPunch
FATTENING WALL STREET — Mike Whitney reports on the rapid metamorphosis of new Fed Chair Janet Yallin into a lackey for the bankers, bond traders and brokers. The New Religious Wars Over the Environment: Joyce Nelson charts the looming confrontation between the Catholic Church and fundamentalists over climate change, extinction and GMOs; A People’s History of Mexican Constitutions: Andrew Smolski on the 200 year-long struggle of Mexico’s peasants, indigenous people and workers to secure legal rights and liberties; Spying on Black Writers: Ron Jacobs uncovers the FBI’s 50 year-long obsession with black poets, novelists and essayists; O Elephant! JoAnn Wypijewski on the grim history of circus elephants; PLUS: Jeffrey St. Clair on birds and climate change; Chris Floyd on the US as nuclear bully; Seth Sandronsky on Van Jones’s blind spot; Lee Ballinger on musicians and the State Department; and Kim Nicolini on the films of JC Chandor.
They Knew Exactly What They Were Doing

The New World Disorder

by TARIQ ALI

Three decades ago, with the end of the Cold War and the dismantling of the South American dictatorships, many hoped that the much talked about ‘peace dividend’ promised by Bush senior and Thatcher would actually materialise. No such luck. Instead, we have experienced continuous wars, upheavals, intolerance and fundamentalisms of every sort – religious, ethnic and imperial. The exposure of the Western world’s surveillance networks has heightened the feeling that democratic institutions aren’t functioning as they should, that, like it or not, we are living in the twilight period of democracy itself.

The twilight began in the early 1990s with the implosion of the former Soviet Union and the takeover of Russia, Central Asia and much of Eastern Europe by visionless former Communist Party bureaucrats, many of whom rapidly became billionaires. The oligarchs who bought up some of the most expensive property in the world, including in London, may once have been members of the Communist Party, but they were also opportunists with no commitment to anything other than power and lining their own pockets. The vacuum created by the collapse of the party system has been filled by different things in different parts of the world, among them religion – and not just Islam. The statistics on the growth of religion in the Western world are dramatic – just look at France. And we have also seen the rise of a global empire of unprecedented power. The United States is now unchallengeable militarily and it dominates global politics, even the politics of the countries it treats as its enemies.

If you compare the recent demonisation of Putin to the way Yeltsin was treated at a time when he was committing many more shocking atrocities – destroying the entire city of Grozny, for example – you see that what is at stake is not principle, but the interests of the world’s predominant power. There hasn’t been such an empire before, and it’s unlikely that there will be one again. The United States is the site of the most remarkable economic development of recent times, the emergence on the West Coast of the IT revolution. Yet despite these advances in capitalist technology, the political structure of the United States has barely changed for a hundred and fifty years. It may be militarily, economically and even culturally in command – its soft power dominates the world – but there is as yet no sign of political change from within. Can this contradiction last?

There is ongoing debate around the world on the question of whether the American empire is in decline. And there is a vast literature of declinism, all arguing that this decline has begun and is irreversible. I see this as wishful thinking....

CounterPunch’s Top Stories
MIKE WHITNEY
“In order to survive and preserve its leading role on the international stage, the US desperately needs to...
BEN DEBNEY
Since 1971, the value of the US dollar, and with it the corporeal integrity of the US economy,...
BRIAN CLOUGHLEY
Voutenay sur Cure, France. The German city of Frankfurt is continental Europe’s largest financial center and host to the...
ELLEN BROWN
Wars over California’s limited water supply have been going on for at least a century. Water wars have...
ALEXANDER COCKBURN AND JEFFREY ST. CLAIR
First in a three-part series. Hillary Clinton has always been an old-style Midwestern Republican in the Illinois style; one...
PAUL STREET
At one point last year, United States President Barack Obama declared that he “believe[d] in American exceptionalism with...
MICHAEL HORTON
Not long before the founder of Saudi Arabia, King Abdulaziz Ibn Saud, died in 1953, he is purported...
MIKE WHITNEY
“The interventions of US imperialism, with the direct collaboration of the Saudi monarchy, have plunged the entire Middle...
DANIEL RAVENTÓS AND JULIE WARK
Barcelona. From Liberia, to Tokyo, to the Cherokee Nation and Old Europe, more and more people are talking about...
Visit our archives for even more interesting articles from past CounterPunch authors.