Click amount to donate direct to CounterPunch
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $500
  • $other
  • use PayPal
Support Our Annual Fund Drive! CounterPunch is entirely supported by our readers. Your donations pay for our small staff, tiny office, writers, designers, techies, bandwidth and servers. We don’t owe anything to advertisers, foundations, one-percenters or political parties. You are our only safety net. Please make a tax-deductible donation today.
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Neoliberal American Capitalism Rocks On … But Does Anyone Hear Pope Francis?

by

Though not explicitly stated, America’s most powerful instrument of national power is Capitalism. The pistons that power Neoliberal American Capitalism are: Diplomacy, Information, Military, Economic, Financial, Law Enforcement, Intelligence and Human Capital/People. The clearest exposition of the instruments of national power on record can be found in the US Army’s 2008 Special Operations Forces Unconventional Warfare Manual.

No assessment of American political, economic, international, cultural or military strategy/action can be stamped “legitimate” without reference to and understanding of these Olympian tools of power that America’s leaders have at their disposal. Combined they are the elements that form the spear and its tip that is Neoliberal American Capitalism.

Iran’s recent agreement with the Capitalized world would not have been possible without US leadership: That unseen collective of America’s elite (representing all the interests of the instruments of national power) that seems to have finally understood how to calibrate America’s instruments of national power to secure the nation’s own interests and not those of Saudi Arabia and Israel.

More importantly, the Iran and Cuba deals represent only a small chunk of viral code in the larger American software program that seeks to undermine Russia’s regional power and China’s global designs. Neoliberal American Capitalism’s addiction for markets and profit, or simply the sport of destabilizing countries, needs a constant fix. Drama aside, the BRICS, and their bank pose an economic and financial threat to American national power.

With Iran (and Cuba) now willingly, and with a sense of urgency, opening their economies and cultures to Neoliberal American Capitalism, President Obama has, at last, a worthy legacy which consigns two of the remnants of American Cold War Capitalism to the grave and alters the geopolitical landscape in America’s favor.

How can one not applaud and give credit to Obama and his Secretary of State John Kerry?

And Obama has been gracious in his diplomatic victory. Russia’s role in facilitating the successful Iran agreement was acknowledged as critical despite the Pentagon’s saber rattling (score one for the civil in civil-military relations). According to NBC News, “President Barack Obama telephoned Russian President Vladimir Putin …to thank him for his part in the recent nuclear deal with Iran, the White House said. The President thanked President Putin for Russia’s important role in achieving this milestone, the culmination of nearly 20 months of intense negotiations, the White House said in a statement. It added that Obama and Putin agreed to remain in close touch as the Iran deal is implemented and would work together to reduce tensions in the Middle East, particularly in Syria. Russia was one of the six major powers that negotiated the deal reached with Iran on Tuesday in Vienna. The others were the United States, Germany, the European Union, China, Britain and France.”

Powerful forces in the USA/Israel and Iran would have gleefully sent generations of American and Iranian youth to their deaths had President Obama not “gone to the hoop” for an Iran deal. So now

it’s time for the knuckle-draggers in Iran, Israel and the USA to cause general nausea by appearing in print and electronic media drunk on the noxious brew that leads them to oppose Iran deal. They will be joined by conspiracy mongers at the ready to yell “False Flag Operation!” “The circus is in town folks! In this ring the presidential contenders. Over in that ring the knuckle-heads and the conspiracy loons.” The mainstream media will keep the circus alive until having run out of angles, it is forced to read sentences backwards.

Guns and Roses

So it has come to pass that Capitalism—the freedom to buy and sell goods, services, souls and the environment—was essentially the foundation upon which was built entryways for Iran and Cuba to become full members of globalized, networked world created largely by the United States after World War II.

What further can be written by the world’s social activists about the ruthlessness of the monster that is Capitalism? Certainly it must always be challenged and critiqued. And no one worth any intellectual salt doesn’t dream of developing an alternative that provides real life-security for all. But the world has to wonder if the human species is capable of creating an economic doctrine, a mystical religion, a science, or a secular philosophy that is not based on Capitalist motives and practice? Is Capitalism—whether American, Chinese, Russian, Brazilian, Turkish, et al, the only viable template for human existence? This is not to praise or bury Capitalism, or proclaim any historical end, but to coldly recognize that at the moment human interests seem best and precariously served by the constant near disasters that Capitalism engenders. And the odd fact is this: No one located at the high, medium or low points of society really knows what’s going on. The human species is a Doctor Jekyll and Mr. Hyde construct which appears to be why Capitalism seems the right fit for whatever personality is in charge.

Perhaps Capitalism is “all we’ve got.” It seems to have not reached its zenith particularly with the USA firmly at the helm of the good ship Capital and regaining speed. And what American–even the most vociferous anti-Capitalist really wants to see her country’s instruments of national power eroded? No American honestly seeks second place just as no Russian, Chinese or Vietnamese chooses, when cornered, to dismiss his own nation’s national interests. Pride and Capitalism are borne of the same substance.

As the kick-ass rock group Guns and Roses once sang, “Where do we go now?”

Scarface Returns to Cuba

The normalization of relations with Cuba was really a classic no-brainer. The US and Cuba have a long history. Thomas Jefferson, commenting in 1820, thought that the absorption of Cuba by the USA would be a “most interesting” addition.

Losing market share and political influence to the emergent BRICS is no laughing matter. With few markets left on the planet to target and exploit, every billion US dollars count. So Cuba’s lousy economic performance can be ignored, and is. According to Reuters, China and Cuba’s trade accounted for $1.4 billion in 2014. Russia TV reports that Russia’s Rosneft energy concern is working with a Cuban oil company to seek out what is believed to be 20 billion barrels of oil of Cuba’s coast. In 2013 Brazil and Cuba’s trade was estimated at $625 million and, more significantly, Brazil is funding and constructing a deep water port at Mariel, Cuba which will be the key port of import/export of goods—and tourists–from Capitalists the world over, according to the Los Angeles Times.

Established in 1994 the US-Cuba Trade and Economic Council described the Cuban market this way: “The “…the Republic of Cuba, 93 miles south of the United States, a nation of 11 million consumers, which would rank it the 7th largest state if the country were a part of the United States…” That’s big money if one can get in on it quick.

Heed the Pope’s Warning

Amidst the wonders and miracles of Neoliberal American Capitalism that proponents never tire of proclaiming, there is the disease of constant crisis that plagues the market. Capitalists, of course, know that people and the ecological system (the planet) are the source of this disease. The brightest Capitalist would sooner cull the population through war and austerity rather than plant capital back into enterprises that create life-security, particularly for the young of this world.

There is only one global leader on this planet who knows this reality and actually has the guts to say it out loud in speeches in front of vast crowds and in quieter places like the Vatican website.

That guy is Pope Francis, the famed Jesuit and former bouncer, who serves as the world’s “warning label” for the dangerous medicine that is Capitalism. He is encouraging young people the world over to “change the system” not unlike Malcolm X did in a speech at the Oxford Union in 1964.

We ignore Pope Francis at our own peril. It is worth reading, again, some excerpts from the pontiff’s concerns about the planet. The Pope’s thoughts match up nicely with those in the Pale Blue Dot by Carl Sagan.

“Nowadays, for example, we are conscious of the disproportionate and unruly growth of many cities, which have become unhealthy to live in, not only because of pollution caused by toxic emissions but also as a result of urban chaos, poor transportation, and visual pollution and noise. Many cities are huge, inefficient structures, excessively wasteful of energy and water. Neighborhoods, even those recently built, are congested, chaotic and lacking in sufficient green space. We were not meant to be inundated by cement, asphalt, glass and metal, and deprived of physical contact with nature. In some places, rural and urban alike, the privatization of certain spaces has restricted people’s access to places of particular beauty. In others, “ecological” neighborhoods have been created which are closed to outsiders in order to ensure an artificial tranquility. Frequently, we find beautiful and carefully manicured green spaces in so-called “safer” areas of cities, but not in the more hidden areas where the disposable of society live.

The social dimensions of global change include the effects of technological innovations on employment, social exclusion, an inequitable distribution and consumption of energy and other services, social breakdown, increased violence and a rise in new forms of social aggression, drug trafficking, growing drug use by young people, and the loss of identity. These are signs that the growth of the past two centuries has not always led to an integral development and an improvement in the quality of life. Some of these signs are also symptomatic of real social decline, the silent rupture of the bonds of integration and social cohesion. Furthermore, when media and the digital world become omnipresent, their influence can stop people from learning how to live wisely, to think deeply and to love generously. In this context, the great sages of the past run the risk of going unheard amid the noise and distractions of an information overload. Efforts need to be made to help these media become sources of new cultural progress for humanity and not a threat to our deepest riches. True wisdom, as the fruit of self-examination, dialogue and generous encounter between persons, is not acquired by a mere accumulation of data which eventually leads to overload and confusion, a sort of mental pollution. Real relationships with others, with all the challenges they entail, now tend to be replaced by a type of internet communication which enables us to choose or eliminate relationships at whim, thus giving rise to a new type of contrived emotion which has more to do with devices and displays than with other people and with nature. Today’s media do enable us to communicate and to share our knowledge and affections. Yet at times they also shield us from direct contact with the pain, the fears and the joys of others and the complexity of their personal experiences. For this reason, we should be concerned that, alongside the exciting possibilities offered by these media, a deep and melancholic dissatisfaction with interpersonal relations, or a harmful sense of isolation, can also arise.”

John Stanton is a Virginia based writer. Reach him at captainkong22@gmail.com

More articles by:

2016 Fund Drive
Smart. Fierce. Uncompromised. Support CounterPunch Now!

  • cp-store
  • donate paypal

CounterPunch Magazine

minimag-edit

Weekend Edition
September 30, 2016
Friday - Sunday
Henry Giroux
Thinking Dangerously in the Age of Normalized Ignorance
Stanley L. Cohen
Israel and Academic Freedom: a Closed Book
Paul Craig Roberts – Michael Hudson
Can Russia Learn From Brazil’s Fate? 
Andrew Levine
A Putrid Election: the Horserace as Farce
Mike Whitney
The Biggest Heist in Human History
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: the Sick Blue Line
Rob Urie
The Twilight of the Leisure Class
Vijay Prashad
In a Hall of Mirrors: Fear and Dislike at the Polls
Alexander Cockburn
The Man Who Built Clinton World
John Wight
Who Will Save Us From America?
Pepe Escobar
Afghanistan; It’s the Heroin, Stupid
W. T. Whitney
When Women’s Lives Don’t Matter
Julian Vigo
“Ooops, I Did It Again”: How the BBC Funnels Stories for Financial Gain
Howard Lisnoff
What was Missing From The Nation’s Interview with Bernie Sanders
Jeremy Brecher
Dakota Access Pipeline and the Future of American Labor
Binoy Kampmark
Pictures Left Incomplete: MH17 and the Joint Investigation Team
Andrew Kahn
Nader Gave Us Bush? Hillary Could Give Us Trump
Steve Horn
Obama Weakens Endangered Species Act
Dave Lindorff
US Propaganda Campaign to Demonize Russia in Full Gear over One-Sided Dutch/Aussie Report on Flight 17 Downing
John W. Whitehead
Uncomfortable Truths You Won’t Hear From the Presidential Candidates
Ramzy Baroud
Shimon Peres: Israel’s Nuclear Man
Brandon Jordan
The Battle for Mercosur
Murray Dobbin
A Globalization Wake-Up Call
Jesse Ventura
Corrupted Science: the DEA and Marijuana
Richard W. Behan
Installing a President by Force: Hillary Clinton and Our Moribund Democracy
Andrew Stewart
The Democratic Plot to Privatize Social Security
Daniel Borgstrom
On the Streets of Oakland, Expressing Solidarity with Charlotte
Marjorie Cohn
President Obama: ‘Patron’ of the Israeli Occupation
Norman Pollack
The “Self-Hating” Jew: A Critique
David Rosen
The Living Body & the Ecological Crisis
Joseph Natoli
Thoughtcrimes and Stupidspeak: Our Assault Against Words
Ron Jacobs
A Cycle of Death Underscored by Greed and a Lust for Power
Uri Avnery
Abu Mazen’s Balance Sheet
Kim Nicolini
Long Drive Home
Louisa Willcox
Tribes Make History with Signing of Grizzly Bear Treaty
Art Martin
The Matrix Around the Next Bend: Facebook, Augmented Reality and the Podification of the Populace
Andre Vltchek
Failures of the Western Left
Ishmael Reed
Millennialism or Extinctionism?
Frances Madeson
Why It’s Time to Create a Cabinet-Level Dept. of Native Affairs
Laura Finley
Presidential Debate Recommendations
José Negroni
Mass Firings on Broadway Lead Singers to Push Back
Leticia Cortez
Entering the Historical Dissonance Surrounding Desafinados
Robert J. Burrowes
Gandhi: ‘My Life is My Message’
Charles R. Larson
Queen Lear? Deborah Levy’s “Hot Milk”
David Yearsley
Bring on the Nibelungen: If Wagner Scored the Debates
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail
[i]
[i]
[i]
[i]