FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail

Our Race to the Bottom

With our daily news running to atrocity after tragedy, Americans are frightened and angry. Some are resonating with hate talk radio hosts like Rush Limbaugh or quintessentially enraged TV bloviators like Bill O’Reilly.

This gets them pushed toward candidates who use the same or similar self-righteous militarized rhetoric. It paints Americans as victims, the system as rigged against us, and the world full of ungrateful evil misfits who unjustly hate and attack us.

This strand of candidate sees its exemplar in Donald Trump, of course, but the angry white man rhetoric runs like a bright red thread throughout the entire rightwing side of the American political landscape. The risible reaction from Paul Ryan to overt racism, when he builds at least a good portion of his career and base on covert, dog-whistle structural racism, should tell us something.

But can we imagine a solution that does not involve even more hypermilitarization than we already see, with the US attacking in at least eight countries around the world, against whomever it likes, at will? Can we foresee a day when our paychecks are not shredded by Pentagon expenses that gobble up half our tax dollars every year?

In my field of Conflict Transformation we can envision a conversion to that world, that structure, that social civilization that spends its resources on life-affirming goods and services, that has a robust safety net for all, and that draws no hatred from those who live in other places of the world. That vision is only a fantasy unless we offer realistic steps to achieve it, of course, so that is what we study, research, and teach. Frankly, we are barreling down the tracks on a runaway militarized train of hatred and fear right now, so our first baby steps are needed to slow, stop, and ultimately change course onto a much better track, the track of peace and justice.

To begin, we might do best by taking these measures:

-Increasing funding and emphasis on research to determine both anecdotally and empirically the salient characteristics of a society that has strong indictors of social justice, civil discourse, peaceful relations with others, prosperity for most, and citizen satisfaction.

-Begin pilot projects that experiment with incorporating the findings of such research into portions of our American culture.

-Begin decreasing our heavy dependence on global military dominance and start shifting to projects that feature collaboration rather than fierce and forceful competition.

None of these changes are major and all could inform us about the possibilities. The good news is that research already exists that can help us take these steps with confidence and success. Then, as we see the relative benefits and low comparative costs, we can make additional informed decisions.

Right now, sadly, we are racing to the bottom. Before we hit it, and please understand that the bottom is the use of nuclear weapons by a US President acting while full of irrational blind hatred, can we access our big human brains that know how to imagine, to dream, to create workable new paths to peace and prosperity? It is truly up to us.

More articles by:

Tom H. Hastings is core faculty in the Conflict Resolution Department at Portland State University and founding director of PeaceVoice

July 16, 2018
Sheldon Richman
Trump Turns to Gaza as Middle East Deal of the Century Collapses
Charles Pierson
Kirstjen Nielsen Just Wants to Protect You
Brett Wilkins
The Lydda Death March and the Israeli State of Denial
Patrick Cockburn
Trump Knows That the US Can Exercise More Power in a UK Weakened by Brexit
Robert Fisk
The Fisherman of Sarajevo Told Tales Past Wars and Wars to Come
Gary Leupp
When Did Russia Become an Adversary?
Uri Avnery
“Not Enough!”
Dave Lindorff
Undermining Trump-Putin Summit Means Promoting War
Manuel E. Yepe
World Trade War Has Begun
Binoy Kampmark
Trump Stomps Britain
Wim Laven
The Best Deals are the Deals that Develop Peace
Kary Love
Can We Learn from Heinrich Himmler’s Daughter? Should We?
Jeffrey St. Clair
Franklin Lamb, Requiescat in Pace
Weekend Edition
July 13, 2018
Friday - Sunday
Brian Cloughley
Lessons That Should Have Been Learned From NATO’s Destruction of Libya
Paul Street
Time to Stop Playing “Simon Says” with James Madison and Alexander Hamilton
Jeffrey St. Clair
Roaming Charges: In the Land of Formula and Honey
Aidan O'Brien
Ireland’s Intellectuals Bow to the Queen of Chaos 
Michael Collins
The Affirmative Action Silo
Andrew Levine
Tipping Points
Geoff Dutton
Fair and Balanced Opinion at the New York Times
Ajamu Baraka
Cultural and Ideological Struggle in the US: a Final Comment on Ocasio-Cortez
David Rosen
The New McCarthyism: Is the Electric Chair Next for the Left?
Ken Levy
The McConnell Rule: Nasty, Brutish, and Unconstitutional
George Wuerthner
The Awful Truth About the Hammonds
Robert Fisk
Will Those Killed by NATO 19 Years Ago in Serbia Ever Get Justice?
Robert Hunziker
Three Climatic Monsters with Asteroid Impact
Ramzy Baroud
Europe’s Iron Curtain: The Refugee Crisis is about to Worsen
Nick Pemberton
A Letter For Scarlett JoManDaughter
Marilyn Garson
Netanyahu’s War on Transcendence 
Patrick Cockburn
Is ISIS About to Lose Its Last Stronghold in Syria?
Joseph Grosso
The Invisible Class: Workers in America
Kim Ives
Haiti’s Popular Uprising Calls for President Jovenel Moïse’s Removal
John Carroll Md
Dispatch From Haiti: Trump and Breastfeeding
Alycee Lane
On Heat Waves and Climate Resistance
Ed Meek
Dershowitz the Sophist
Howard Lisnoff
Liberal Massachusetts and Recreational Marijuana
Ike Nahem
Trump, Trade Wars, and the Class Struggle
Olivia Alperstein
Kavanaugh and the Supremes: It’s About Much More Than Abortion
Manuel E. Yepe
Korea After the Handshake
Robert Kosuth
Militarized Nationalism: Pernicious and Pervasive
Binoy Kampmark
Soft Brexits and Hard Realities: The Tory Revolt
Helena Norberg-Hodge
Localization: a Strategic Alternative to Globalized Authoritarianism
Kevin Zeese - Nils McCune
Correcting The Record: What Is Really Happening In Nicaragua?
Chris Wright
The American Oligarchy: A Review
Kweli Nzito
Imperial Gangster Nations: Peddling “Democracy” and Other Goodies to the Untutored
FacebookTwitterGoogle+RedditEmail