FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Dark Forebodings: America at the Cross-Roads

No, neither the Hebrew prophet Amos nor Priam’s daughter Cassandra inspires these thoughts, but the actual condition, ideological/psychological, of the contemporary American mindset, and its material foundations, an overly-ripened stage of capitalist development needing a constant infusion of power abroad, inner certitude at home, to maintain an acceptable rate of economic growth and the conviction that its military strength is sufficiently intimidating and in evidence as to provide for the unilateral determination of the global structure after its own wishes and image. Nothing short of that would satisfy, a nation running on (moral) empty, fear-ridden in extremis, unwilling and unable to adapt to the prevailing realities: its own deeds of commission, the principal war-maker, intervener, cause of human suffering, since World War II, which has in turn stimulated dislocations and engendered resistance, and the interrelated historical-political dynamics, partly in response, partly a function of independent industrial, technological, and scientific forces unstoppable as previously underdeveloped, exploited, countries, realizing their own potential and acting on it, demand a place for themselves and their people at the World Table. The US is no longer the sole determiner—if in fact it ever was, taking into account the incipient thirst for freedom of the persecuted and downtrodden which would eventually find expression—of human destiny. Time is not, and perhaps should not be, on America’s side, as it bullies all in its path whilst the international system exhibits gradual yet drastic and permanent change.

The notable change is a growing decentralization of world power, America’s holding action via counterrevolutionary policies which have thwarted Third World autonomy and fostered global armament races intended to keep its real and potential rivals in check no longer seems to work. As plainly seen, the Emperor wears no clothes, or rather is so sheathed in body armor as to be weighted down with Maginot-like walls of defensiveness inculcating a spirit of pervasive fear of the Stranger (this week the governor and attorney general of Texas tried to prevent a family of Syrian refugees, including six children, from settling there, on the ground that they and others might be suspected terrorists, part of a landslide sentiment opposing immigrant settlement). Trump, as we know, advocates for wholesale proscription of Muslims, and despite gestures from all sides of disagreement, it is obvious he has struck a sympathetic authoritarian chord in Americans’ minds, one inseparable from the nation’s championing of so-called gun-rights, an amalgam of rigidifying ideology synthesizing ethnocentrism and preternatural violence as the raw materials of proto-fascism. No question, that is the direction the country is heading, these eruptions of gun violence merely the surface twitches of a society denied its dream of conquest on the world scene.

We as Americans internalize the militarization of our value system, transmogrifying it from one that purports to be democratic, however dishonored in historical practice, to that of an assault on the rule of law as a solemn compact between government and people to ensure equality as a human birthright. Instead, billionaire is the new arithmetic of American capitalism, corporate mergers (today, pharmaceuticals, chemicals, tomorrow, who knows what’s next?), and further never-ceasing attempts at regime change accompanied by agreements integrating defense and trade into a geopolitical structure bent on rolling back the historical process to recapitulate the benefits of traditional imperialism, to which, in addition to market penetration and securing raw materials, we find in US-sponsored globalization a range of ambitions unknown to the late-19th century, its heyday, such as outsourcing industrial production and control of international finance. Globalization is merely America in macrocosm, or so it is hoped. Even Europe, its kept ally in all things commercial, financial, and military, is beginning to demure, as in looking fondly at China’s Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank. In fact, where the American Empire may find itself most vulnerable in the short run, its Achilles’ heel being exposed for the first time, is not the challenges mounted by China and Russia to its economic supremacy, but a disillusionment with America’s iron-clad determination to remain on top of the changing world system on the part of Britain, France, and Germany. The EU-NATO shield and spearhead for US control of the West, extending to the Russian border, is starting to crack, just as comparable plans for Asia are also, now with AIIB and firmer cohesion of the BRICS, ready for the ashcan.

But not without a fight. The US is tightening its hold on its own people, if not in preparation for Armageddon (the prominence of religious zealotry is surely a sign of contemporary amorphous fears increasingly pointed to the search for scapegoats), then at least a take-no-chances view of security as the new Absolute already previewed in NSA’s massive surveillance program of the American public, whose genesis lies in decades of pumped-up anticommunism to destroy the spirit of political and mental independence. It’s the season for Handel’s Messiah, in which we hear the echo of a more innocent and trusting time in the words, “We all like sheep have gone astray,” which thought now becomes mandate and license for reducing humans into sheep and penning them up, lest any go astray and seek social justice and international peace. Welcome, the 2016 presidential election, wherein we are “free” to choose from the likely candidates the Maximum Leader to take us down the path of a Vesuvius discharge of hatred toward whomever and whatever appears a denial of American Exceptionalism. Who needs a social safety net, save for the manifestly unfit; ditto, those who shy away from aggression and confrontation with America’s Enemies, to which, beyond unfitness, we must add the lack of patriotism. A boiling cauldron of ethnocentric withdrawal awaits the American future.

More articles by:

Norman Pollack Ph.D. Harvard, Guggenheim Fellow, early writings on American Populism as a radical movement, prof., activist.. His interests are social theory and the structural analysis of capitalism and fascism. He can be reached at pollackn@msu.edu.

bernie-the-sandernistas-cover-344x550

June 18, 2019
John McMurtry
Koch-Oil Big Lies and Ecocide Writ Large in Canada
Robert Fisk
Trump’s Evidence About Iran is “Dodgy” at Best
Yoav Litvin
Catch 2020 – Trump’s Authoritarian Endgame
Thomas Knapp
Opposition Research: It’s Not Trump’s Fault That Politics is a “Dirty” Game
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
U.S. Sanctions: Economic Sabotage that is Deadly, Illegal and Ineffective
Gary Leupp
Marx and Walking Zen
Thomas Hon Wing Polin
Color Revolution In Hong Kong: Usa Vs. China
Howard Lisnoff
The False Prophets Cometh
Michael T. Klare
Bolton Wants to Fight Iran, But the Pentagon Has Its Sights on China
Steve Early
The Global Movement Against Gentrification
Dean Baker
The Wall Street Journal Doesn’t Like Rent Control
Tom Engelhardt
If Trump’s the Symptom, Then What’s the Disease?
June 17, 2019
Patrick Cockburn
The Dark Side of Brexit: Britain’s Ethnic Minorities Are Facing More and More Violence
Linn Washington Jr.
Remember the Vincennes? The US’s Long History of Provoking Iran
Geoff Dutton
Where the Wild Things Were: Abbey’s Road Revisited
Nick Licata
Did a Coverup of Who Caused Flint Michigan’s Contaminated Water Continue During Its Investigation? 
Binoy Kampmark
Julian Assange and the Scales of Justice: Exceptions, Extraditions and Politics
John Feffer
Democracy Faces a Global Crisis
Louisa Willcox
Revamping Grizzly Bear Recovery
Stephen Cooper
“Wheel! Of! Fortune!” (A Vegas Story)
Daniel Warner
Let Us Laugh Together, On Principle
Brian Cloughley
Trump Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Weekend Edition
June 14, 2019
Friday - Sunday
Michael Hudson
Trump’s Trade Threats are Really Cold War 2.0
Bruce E. Levine
Tom Paine, Christianity, and Modern Psychiatry
Jason Hirthler
Mainstream 101: Supporting Imperialism, Suppressing Socialism
T.J. Coles
How Much Do Humans Pollute? A Breakdown of Industrial, Vehicular and Household C02 Emissions
Andrew Levine
Whither The Trump Paradox?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of 10,000 Talkers, All With Broken Tongues
Pete Dolack
Look to U.S. Executive Suites, Not Beijing, For Why Production is Moved
Paul Street
It Can’t Happen Here: From Buzz Windrip and Doremus Jessup to Donald Trump and MSNBC
Rob Urie
Capitalism Versus Democracy
Richard Moser
The Climate Counter-Offensive: Secrecy, Deception and Disarming the Green New Deal
Naman Habtom-Desta
Up in the Air: the Fallacy of Aerial Campaigns
Ramzy Baroud
Kushner as a Colonial Administrator: Let’s Talk About the ‘Israeli Model’
Mark Hand
Residents of Toxic W.Va. Town Keep Hope Alive
John Kendall Hawkins
Alias Anything You Please: a Lifetime of Dylan
Linn Washington Jr.
Bigots in Blue: Philadelphia Police Department is a Home For Hate
David Macaray
UAW Faces Its Moment of Truth
Brian Cloughley
Trump’s Washington Detests the Belt and Road Initiative
Horace G. Campbell
Edward Seaga and the Institutionalization of Thuggery, Violence and Dehumanization in Jamaica
Graham Peebles
Zero Waste: The Global Plastics Crisis
Michael Schwalbe
Oppose Inequality, Not Cops
Ron Jacobs
Scott Noble’s History of Resistance
Olivia Alperstein
The Climate Crisis is Also a Health Emergency
David Rosen
Time to Break Up the 21st Century Tech Trusts
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail