FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Neoliberalism or Death!

by PEPE ESCOBAR

US President Barack Obama’s State of the Union (SOTU) address was a somewhat surrealist spectacle. Way beyond avalanches of PR spin, the US government for a long time has not exactly done wonders for the public good. So as it advertises itself in front of a dysfunctional US Congress dismissed as repellent by an overwhelming majority of Americans – including, and expanding, on those 76% who are living paycheck to paycheck – what’s left is a grand, old Hollywood production.

And Obama, of course, is a decent actor who can deliver a decent speech – certainly better than Ronnie Reagan, whom Gore Vidal used to describe as “the acting president”.

The key theme of SOTU 2014 was the appalling income inequality in the US. Call it an appendix of this past week at the World Economic Forum in Davos – that snowy Vegas for the 0.00001% – in which the Masters of the Universe finally “discovered” inequality. So much inequality, in fact, that 2014 was instantly tagged by the Masters – and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe – as the new 1914, all that furiously tweeted to all corporate boardrooms of the liquid modernity elite.

As Obama got into his groove, he proclaimed that Obamacare had won; that he would resort to ruling by executive order to get things done; and that a mixed salad of platitudes and vague proposals/generalities attested to the imminent success of his agenda of improving “opportunity” as the only answer to fighting inequality. Oh yes; and that the American Dream was not in a coma.

No word, of course, about the “gentle”, progressive dismantling of what’s left of US democracy, via the Orwellian/Panopticon complex, through which 0.00001% elite rule is painfully achieved in a sanitized Total Information Awareness (TIA) environment. With the US government in total control of the Internet, that once-upon-a-time dream – the revolution will be televised – won’t happen even on the web.

Neoliberalism or death

In the absence of the late, great Howard Zinn, Americans now have to put up with historic Clintonista Robert Reich. Reich may be correct on two of his reasons for the American malaise.

With the US working class paralyzed and fearful of losing their jobs (labor unions have been virtually destroyed), and with students mired in horrendous debt (even as the average starting salary for graduates has been dropping steadily), two key vectors of protest are neutralized.

But Reich is wrong on his third reason – that over 80% of US public opinion distrusts government so much that they have given up on any possibility of reform.

The key point would be to examine how American turbo-financial capitalism has been drifting since the mid-1970s. The point is not that a cabal of medievalist Republicans, evil corporate CEOs (and their handpicked pols), plus Wall Street is in charge. The point is to examine how demented financial asset speculation plus a demented inflation of dodgy financial securities have been the defining features of the US and global system.

This would imply a hardcore critique of advanced capitalism – which in fact is neither “advanced” nor really capitalism – that is absolute taboo in US corporate media. And the whole thing started even before the prophet Ronnie Reagan, then through Bubba Clinton and all the way to the Dubya/Obama continuum.

The latest graphic illustration is a system in which 85 people – packable in a London double-decker – own as much wealth as the bottom 50% of humanity. How’s that possible? A cursory examination of David Harvey’s groundbreaking A Brief History of Neoliberalism (Oxford University Press, 2005) would answer most questions – all related to such tricks as trickle-down economics, slashing taxes for the wealthy and corporations, the destruction of labor unions, lower real wages, job outsourcing, the disenfranchising of just about anyone who’s not part of the 0.00001%, and a free for all in the 0.00001% banking and finance casino. End result; a vortex of wealth concentration – which has absolutely nothing to do with democracy in a republic.

Good ol’ Uncle Marx would tell it for what it is: a class war. And the 0.00001% has won, hands down, fast and loose.

It’s easy to forget that Dubya inherited a sizable budget surplus. He then slashed taxes for the wealthy; presided over two horrendously expensive wars, one because he “had to bomb somebody” and the other a war of choice; and then he was the MC of the biggest Wall Street crash since the Great Depression.

And yes, it’s all about the Bush-Obama continuum. In Obama’s “recovery” era, asset values for the wealthiest 7% of Americans has shot up 28% while declining 4% for the rest.

At least 80% of US voters don’t want social programs to be cut so the budget can be balanced; they want more taxes on the wealthy and corporations. Obama instead cut from social security.

Then there’s the destruction of American cities; this study details how Detroit was screwed while the state of Michigan was spending a fortune on “business incentives”.

And to top it off, there’s the Jamie Dimon syndrome, as in the CEO of JP Morgan Chase, aka Obama’s “one of the smartest bankers we’ve got”. Even if the US’s number one bank has lost billions in dodgy toxic mortgage-backed securities, manipulated energy prices and even defrauded credit card customers, your CEO still gets a hefty bonus as the bank’s stock were up 21% in 2013.

Whether Obama played ball – small or otherwise – at the SOTU is irrelevant. Apart from flagrant absurdities on Iran, Syria and Israel-Palestine, and not a word on Russia and China, no wonder the climatic Hollywood tear-jerker sequence involved an Army Ranger almost killed by an improvized explosive device in Afghanistan. He was Obama’s living metaphor of “Yes We Can”, the 2014 remix.

Curiously, just before SOTU, the US government and the Pentagon leaked to the New York Times that if “a small number” (Obama) of US troops actually remain in Afghanistan, the CIA will continue to drone the tribal areas of Pakistan to oblivion, and will continue to use Afghan bases to spy on Pakistan.

So it’s all about the CIA’s dirty wars. Obviously none of the AfPak components want this state of affairs – so it looks like Obama’s heroes will have to beat the hell out of Dodge for good. Good for them, as they will be exchanging lethal IEDs for a new shot at the ultimate land of “opportunity.” Is that a fact? Yes, because POTUS said so.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007) and Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge. His new book, just out, is Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009). He may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com

This column originally appeared on Asia Times.

Pepe Escobar is the author of Globalistan: How the Globalized World is Dissolving into Liquid War (Nimble Books, 2007), Red Zone Blues: a snapshot of Baghdad during the surge and Obama does Globalistan (Nimble Books, 2009).  His latest book is Empire of ChaosHe may be reached at pepeasia@yahoo.com.

More articles by:

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

zen economics

Weekend Edition
December 09, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Nasty As They Wanna Be
Henry Giroux
Trump’s Second Gilded Age: Overcoming the Rule of Billionaires and Militarists
Andrew Levine
Trump’s Chumps: Victims of the Old Bait and Switch
Chris Welzenbach
The Forgotten Sneak Attack
Lewis Lapham
Hostile Takeover
Joshua Frank
This Week at CounterPunch: More Hollow Smears and Baseless Accusations
Paul Street
The Democrats Do Their Job, Again
Vijay Prashad
The Cuban Revolution: Defying Imperialism From Its Backyard
Michael Hudson - Sharmini Peries
Orwellian Economics
Mark Ames
The Anonymous Blacklist Promoted by the Washington Post Has Apparent Ties to Ukrainian Fascism and CIA Spying
Erin McCarley
American Nazis and the Fight for US History
Yoav Litvin
Resist or Conform: Lessons in Fortitude and Weakness From the Israeli Left
Conn Hallinan
India & Pakistan: the Unthinkable
Andrew Smolski
Third Coast Pillory: Nativism on the Left – A Realer Smith
Joshua Sperber
Trump in the Age of Identity Politics
Brandy Baker
Jill Stein Sees Russia From Her House
Katheryne Schulz
Report from Santiago de Cuba: Celebrating Fidel’s Rebellious Life
Nelson Valdes
Fidel and the Good People
Norman Solomon
McCarthy’s Smiling Ghost: Democrats Point the Finger at Russia
Renee Parsons
The Snowflake Nation and Trump on Immigration
Margaret Kimberley
Black Fear of Trump
Michael J. Sainato
A Pruitt Running Through It: Trump Kills Nearly Useless EPA With Nomination of Oil Industry Hack
Ron Jacobs
Surviving Hate and Death—The AIDS Crisis in 1980s USA
David Swanson
Virginia’s Constitution Needs Improving
Louis Proyect
Narcos and the Story of Colombia’s Unhappiness
Paul Atwood
War Has Been, is, and Will be the American Way of Life…Unless?
John Wight
Syria and the Bodyguard of Lies
Richard Hardigan
Anti-Semitism Awareness Act: Senate Bill Criminalizes Criticism of Israel
Kathy Kelly
See How We Live
David Macaray
Trump Picks his Secretary of Labor. Ho-Hum.
Howard Lisnoff
Interview with a Political Organizer
Yves Engler
BDS and Anti-Semitism
Adam Parsons
Home Truths About the Climate Emergency
Brian Cloughley
The Decline and Fall of Britain
Eamonn Fingleton
U.S. China Policy: Is Obama Schizoid?
Graham Peebles
Worldwide Air Pollution is Making us Ill
Joseph Natoli
Fake News is Subjective?
Andre Vltchek
Tough-Talking Philippine President Duterte
Binoy Kampmark
Total Surveillance: Snooping in the United Kingdom
Guillermo R. Gil
Vivirse la película: Willful Opposition to the Fiscal Control Board in Puerto Rico
Patrick Bond
South Africa’s Junk Credit Rating was Avoided, But at the Cost of Junk Analysis
Clancy Sigal
Investigate the Protesters! A Trial Balloon Filled With Poison Gas
Pierre Labossiere – Margaret Prescod
Human Rights and Alternative Media Delegation Report on Haiti’s Elections
Charles R. Larson
Review:  Helon Habila’s The Chibok Girls: the Boko Haram Kidnappings and Islamist Militancy in Nigeria
David Yearsley
Brahms and the Tears of Britain’s Oppressed
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail