FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Unplugging Americans From The Matrix

Americans, the British, and Western Europeans are accustomed to thinking of themselves as the representatives of freedom, democracy, and morality in the world. The West passes judgment on the rest of the world as if the West is God and the rest of the world are barbarians in need of chastisement, invasion, and occupation.  As readers know, from time to time I raise questions about the validity of the West’s extreme hubris.

China is often a country about which Washington’s moralists get on their high horse.

However,  China’s “authoritarian” government is actually more responsive to its people than America’s “elected democratic” government.  Moreover, however incomplete on paper the civil liberties of China’s people, the Chinese government has not declared that it can violate with impunity whatever rights Chinese citizens have.  And it is not China that is running torture prisons all over the globe.

For some time I have had in mind a realistic comparison of the two countries instead of the standard propagandistic comparison, but Ron Unz has beat me to the task twice).  Unz provides a chance for an education.  Don’t miss it.

Unz has done an excellent job. Moreover, he cleverly understates the case for China and overstates the case for America so as not to unduly arouse the flag-wavers.  Nevertheless, the conclusion is clear:  The Chinese are less threatened by their “extractive elites” than Americans are by their counterparts.

Moreover, it is America’s, not China’s, extractive elites who are bombing, occupying, and droning other countries.  As the bumper sticker says, “Be nice to America or we will bring democracy to your country.”

As for economic management, there is no comparison.  Unz reports that during the past three decades China has achieved the most rapid rate of economic development in human history. Moreover, most of the new income has flowed into the pockets of Chinese workers, not to the one percent. While American real median incomes have been stagnant for decades,  incomes for Chinese workers have doubled every decade for three decades. A recent World Bank report attributes more than 100 percent of the drop in global poverty rates to China’s rise.

In the last decade China’s industrial output quadrupled.  China now produces more automobiles than America and Japan combined and accounted for 85 percent of the increase in the world’s production of cars in the past decade.

In 1978 the American economy was 15 times larger than China’s. In the next few years China’s GDP is expected to exceed that of the US.

This is heady stuff providing astonishing details of how poorly Americans are served by their elites.

America has failed, because political elites represent only the powerful special interests that write the country’s laws in exchange for funding the political campaigns of “lawmakers.” To divert attention from their failures, American elites point fingers at external scapegoats.  China, for example, is accused of manipulating its currency. As Unz says, the scapegoating is political theater designed for the ignorant and gullible.

America’s economists, or most of them, have so prostituted themselves that propaganda has become wisdom.  Most Americans believe that if China would simply let the value of its currency rise more rapidly relative to the dollar, America’s economic woes would be at an end. It is beyond belief that any economist could think that Americans with stagnant and declining incomes would be made better off by a sharp rise in the prices of goods manufactured in China on which Americans are dependent,  or that the US dollar’s role as reserve currency, the main source of American power, could survive such a manifestation of Chinese economic superiority.

Americans associate lawlessness with unaccountable governments and view China’s government as unaccountable.  However, Unz points out that it is the Bush/Obama Regime that has declared itself to be unaccountable to both US and international law.

The demise of the War Powers Act and the Geneva Conventions, and the asserted power of the executive to imprison without trial or charges or to assassinate any American whom the executive thinks might be a “national-security threat” are indicative of a total police state masquerading as an accountable democracy.  In America six-year old little girls who misbehave in school are handcuffed, jailed, and charged with felonies.  Not even Hitler and Stalin went this far.

Americans have lost control of the government, and governments that are not controlled by the people are not democracies.  In America today, Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, and the entire social safety net are threatened by the vociferous desire for war profits by armament plutocrats and by financial institutions determined that ordinary citizens bear the cost of the banksters incompetence and fraud.

Unz’s comparison of how the Chinese media and government handled the melamine or infant formula scandal and how the American media and government handled Merck’s Vioxx scandal is especially damning.  It was China’s  controlled media and unaccountable government that punished the infant formula wrongdoers, while America’s free press and accountable government allowed Merck to walk.

Unz’s conclusion is that it is in America, not China, where life is regarded as cheap.

Ron Unz is an American hero, and a very courageous one.

It is an even more courageous act when no one wants to hear the truth.  As Frantz Fanon said, “Sometimes people hold a core belief that is very strong. When they are presented with evidence that works against that belief, the new evidence cannot be accepted. It would create a feeling that is extremely uncomfortable, called cognitive dissonance. And because it is so important to protect the core belief, they will rationalize, ignore and even deny anything that doesn’t fit in with the core belief.”

Or as it is explained to Neo in the film, “The Matrix is a system, Neo. That system is our enemy. But when you’re inside, you look around, what do you see? Businessmen, teachers, lawyers, carpenters. The very minds of the people we are trying to save. But until we do, these people are still a part of that system, and that makes them our enemy. You have to understand, most of these people are not ready to be unplugged. And many of them are so inured, so hopelessly dependent on the system, that they will fight to protect it.”

Most of the people I know personally are not willing to be unplugged.  I assume my readers are, so seize the opportunity to be further unplugged and read Ron Unz’s comparison of America and China.

Then do what you can to unplug others.

PAUL CRAIG ROBERTS was an editor of the Wall Street Journal and an Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Treasury.  His latest book, HOW THE ECONOMY WAS LOST, has just been published by CounterPunch/AK Press. He can be reached through his website 

More articles by:

Paul Craig Roberts is a former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury and Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal. Roberts’ How the Economy Was Lost is now available from CounterPunch in electronic format. His latest book is The Neoconservative Threat to World Order.

December 18, 2018
Charles Pierson
Where No Corn Has Grown Before: Better Living Through Climate Change?
Evaggelos Vallianatos
The Waters of American Democracy
Patrick Cockburn
Will Anger in Washington Over the Murder of Khashoggi End the War in Yemen?
George Ochenski
Trump is on the Ropes, But the Pillage of Natural Resources Continues
Farzana Versey
Tribals, Missionaries and Hindutva
Robert Hunziker
Is COP24 One More Big Bust?
David Macaray
The Truth About Nursing Homes
Nino Pagliccia
Have the Russian Military Aircrafts in Venezuela Breached the Door to “America’s Backyard”?
Paul Edwards
Make America Grate Again
David Rosnick
The Impact of OPEC on Climate Change
Binoy Kampmark
The Kosovo Blunder: Moving Towards a Standing Army
Andrew Stewart
Shine a Light for Immigration Rights in Providence
December 17, 2018
Susan Abulhawa
Marc Lamont Hill’s Detractors are the True Anti-Semites
Jake Palmer
Viktor Orban, Trump and the Populist Battle Over Public Space
Martha Rosenberg
Big Pharma Fights Proposal to Keep It From Looting Medicare
David Rosen
December 17th: International Day to End Violence against Sex Workers
Binoy Kampmark
The Case that Dare Not Speak Its Name: the Conviction of Cardinal Pell
Dave Lindorff
Making Trump and Other Climate Criminals Pay
Bill Martin
Seeing Yellow
Julian Vigo
The World Google Controls and Surveillance Capitalism
ANIS SHIVANI
What is Neoliberalism?
James Haught
Evangelicals Vote, “Nones” Falter
Vacy Vlanza
The Australian Prime Minister’s Rapture for Jerusalem
Martin Billheimer
Late Year’s Hits for the Hanging Sock
Weekend Edition
December 14, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Andrew Levine
A Tale of Two Cities
Peter Linebaugh
The Significance of The Common Wind
Bruce E. Levine
The Ketamine Chorus: NYT Trumpets New Anti-Suicide Drug
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: Fathers and Sons, Bushes and Bin Ladens
Kathy Deacon
Coffee, Social Stratification and the Retail Sector in a Small Maritime Village
Nick Pemberton
Praise For America’s Second Leading Intellectual
Robert Hunziker
The Yellow Vest Insurgency – What’s Next?
Patrick Cockburn
The Yemeni Dead: Six Times Higher Than Previously Reported
Nick Alexandrov
George H. W. Bush: Another Eulogy
Brian Cloughley
Principles and Morality Versus Cash and Profit? No Contest
Michael F. Duggan
Climate Change and the Limits of Reason
Victor Grossman
Sighs of Relief in Germany
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Robert Fantina
What Does Beto Have Against the Palestinians?
Richard Falk – Daniel Falcone
Sartre, Said, Chomsky and the Meaning of the Public Intellectual
Andrew Glikson
Crimes Against the Earth
Robert Fisk
The Parasitic Relationship Between Power and the American Media
Stephen Cooper
When Will Journalism Grapple With the Ethics of Interviewing Mentally Ill Arrestees?
Jill Richardson
A War on Science, Morals and Law
Ron Jacobs
A Propagandist of Privatization
Evaggelos Vallianatos
It’s Not Easy Being Greek
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail