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.

Weekend Edition
June 22, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Karl Grossman
Star Wars Redux: Trump’s Space Force
Andrew Levine
Strange Bedfellows
Jeffrey St. Clair
Intolerable Opinions in an Intolerant Time
Paul Street
None of Us are Free, One of Us is Chained
Edward Curtin
Slow Suicide and the Abandonment of the World
Celina Stien-della Croce
The ‘Soft Coup’ and the Attack on the Brazilian People 
James Bovard
Pro-War Media Deserve Slamming, Not Sainthood
Louisa Willcox
My Friend Margot Kidder: Sharing a Love of Dogs, the Wild, and Speaking Truth to Power
David Rosen
Trump’s War on Sex
Mir Alikhan
Trump, North Korea, and the Death of IR Theory
Christopher Jones
Neoliberalism, Pipelines, and Canadian Political Economy
Barbara Nimri Aziz
Why is Tariq Ramadan Imprisoned?
Robert Fantina
MAGA, Trump Style
Linn Washington Jr.
Justice System Abuses Mothers with No Apologies
Martha Rosenberg
Questions About a Popular Antibiotic Class
Ida Audeh
A Watershed Moment in Palestinian History: Interview with Jamal Juma’
Edward Hunt
The Afghan War is Killing More People Than Ever
Geoff Dutton
Electrocuting Oral Tradition
Don Fitz
When Cuban Polyclinics Were Born
Ramzy Baroud
End the Wars to Halt the Refugee Crisis
Ralph Nader
The Unsurpassed Power trip by an Insuperable Control Freak
Lara Merling
The Pain of Puerto Ricans is a Profit Source for Creditors
James Jordan
Struggle and Defiance at Colombia’s Feast of Pestilence
Tamara Pearson
Indifference to a Hellish World
Kathy Kelly
Hungering for Nuclear Disarmament
Jessicah Pierre
Celebrating the End of Slavery, With One Big Asterisk
Rohullah Naderi
The Ever-Shrinking Space for Hazara Ethnic Group
Binoy Kampmark
Leaving the UN Human Rights Council
Nomi Prins 
How Trump’s Trade Wars Could Lead to a Great Depression
Robert Fisk
Can Former Lebanese MP Mustafa Alloush Turn Even the Coldest of Middle Eastern Sceptics into an Optimist?
Franklin Lamb
Could “Tough Love” Salvage Lebanon?
George Ochenski
Why Wild Horse Island is still wild
Ann Garrison
Nikki Haley: Damn the UNHRC and the Rest of You Too
Jonah Raskin
What’s Hippie Food? A Culinary Quest for the Real Deal
Raouf Halaby
Give It Up, Ya Mahmoud
Brian Wakamo
We Subsidize the Wrong Kind of Agriculture
Patrick Higgins
Children in Cages Create Glimmers of the Moral Reserve
Patrick Bobilin
What Does Optimism Look Like Now?
Don Qaswa
A Reduction of Economic Warfare and Bombing Might Help 
Robin Carver
Why We Still Need Pride Parades
Jill Richardson
Immigrant Kids are Suffering From Trauma That Will Last for Years
Thomas Mountain
USA’s “Soft” Coup in Ethiopia?
Jim Hightower
Big Oil’s Man in Foreign Policy
Louis Proyect
Civilization and Its Absence
Robert Koehler
The Nuclear Status Quo
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail