This was the decade America’s self-serving myths fell apart
December 30, 2019 at 1:44 PM - Views: 62 #244345
- Total Posts: 4,606
If you grew up in the US in the late 20th century, you would have imbibed a familiar account of the country. This was the idea that the US, from its founding, had always been committed to principles of universal equality, self-government and personal liberty. For starters, this consensus assumed that those in the US with wealth and power generally deserved it because they were the best and brightest. And such faith in meritocracy meant that even people on the centre left embraced American-style capitalism and the idea that the US constitution – along with the federal judges who presided over it – produced a near-ideal realisation of democracy. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, it became a truism that victory in the cold war had vanquished all ideological competitors – proof that the country had the best and only viable means of running an economy and political system. The US was a beacon on the international stage, justly exercising power as global policeman. America’s principles, coupled with cold war triumphalism, also suggested that the political change was only ever a story of improvement. As Barack Obama declared in 2008, the country was nothing less than “an improbable experiment in democracy”, one steadily being “perfected”, “generation after generation”.
But as the decade began, the country was facing a series of rolling crises that challenged all of these assumptions: failing overseas wars started on false grounds; financial near-collapse; the social blights of mass incarceration and worsening inequality. Each problem was the product of a policymaking approach rooted in the governing mythology. Yet political elites responded by essentially doubling down on the conventional wisdom. The Obama administration’s strategic choices were guided by the same philosophy that had long informed American politics, above all, placing faith in markets and in national security experts (despite the recent and catastrophic failures of both). And, in the end, the policies were simply not up to the challenges of the times.
Moreover, what the centre right and centre left could not make sense of – given their overall vision – was the extent to which the US had succumbed to deep and structural decay; a fact that both Occupy Wall Street and Black Lives Matter activists highlighted. This decay was perhaps epitomised by the profoundly anti-democratic nature of the American constitutional system itself. This system had long been characterised by the proliferation of corporate money and by checks on popular authority – from the Senate and the disproportionate power it gave to small population centres, to gerrymandering in the House of Representatives, and from widespread practices of voter disenfranchisement to an unelected federal judiciary serving for life. And, as politicians faced overwhelming problems, such constraints only reinforced the sense of paralysis. They made it increasingly apparent that, rather than reflecting actual mass sentiment, politics was now controlled by a wealthy and white minority coalition within the Republican party – which enjoyed a veto power that was well beyond its actual public support.
The human race has few (if any) problems that couldn’t be solved by massive wealth. And we’re literally surrounded by it, like a fly in amber. Now if we only had brains… —Ben Bova
December 30, 2019 at 3:02 PM #244369
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For some of us past a certain age, we have come to realize that America is dead. The America we were taught in school civics classes, the America our parents worked in to provide a home, food and clothes, the America that supposedly represented truth and justice. With each passing year and accelerating day-by-day, the lie that was that America is becoming clearer.
Just in 2019 we learned that the Afgan war was and is a complete lie, the FBI conflated and misrepresented information to secure fraudulent warrants and then spied on American citizens, the corporate controlled media pedaled propaganda for three years which then fell apart as their star witness testified in public, the wealth gap between the poor and ultra-rich continued to grow and the coup de grace of Climate Change is deliberately ignored so Oligarchs, Corporations and Banks can blithely continue their planet raping ways.
Between a failed judiciary system, deliberately lying media, an out of touch ruling class, unbounded wars and our environment failing lay the lives and tatters of lives we are to believe is normal. Sooner rather than later, the center will implode and with it the illusions and lies some still cling to. And with that death, ever more Americans will have to come to terms with both their delusions and a sobering reality – its finally over since there is nothing left but a tattered cloth.
"Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable."
- John F. Kennedy
"In a Time of Universal Deceit - Telling the Truth Is a Revolutionary Act."
- George Orwell
"They must find it difficult ... Those who have taken authority as the truth,
Rather than truth as the authority."
- Gerald Massey
"It is no measure of health to be well adjusted to a profoundly sick society."
- Jiddu Krishnamurti
December 30, 2019 at 3:03 PM #244370
- Total Posts: 1,074
What we’re seeing now is a struggle between those are clinging to those myths with everything they have and those who are demanding that people face up to things and act accordingly.
December 30, 2019 at 3:21 PM #244375
- Total Posts: 267
Very true. If there is anything positive to come out of the Trump excuse for a presidency, it is that he has–albeit inadvertently–peeled off the drywall so we can all see the termite damage, mold, dry rot, and rodent droppings that infest our “house”.
(I can carry this metaphor a long way…I have DVDs of all five seasons of Holmes on Homes.)
Slavery was the legal fiction that people can be property.
Corporatism is the legal fiction that property can be people.
"If you believe in god, I'm probably smarter than you." -- Tom Leykis
December 30, 2019 at 3:57 PM #244384
David the GnomeMember@davidthegnome
- Total Posts: 1,650
I think there will be (and of course, are now) millions who cannot or will not accept these realities. The only way to awaken them is if their fears are actually realized.
A breakdown of the system. Food, supplies, medicine and so on. All of these are not generally available in large amounts nearby. If we want something, we go to a grocery store, a gas station, a pharmacy. Maybe we order it online.
It is widely known that our infrastructure is poor and that our power grid is very vulnerable. Sooner or later (assuming nothing worse happens first) someone is going to use that knowledge to break us.
Could be a foreign power, could be a corporation, could be our own government. My money would be on the government – if I had any money. A (another) deliberately manufactured crisis, perhaps.
It will be blamed on who ever the next military target is. These days, in order to motivate us for war, it would truly have to be devastating. A disaster, or crisis of sorts, that dwarfs any others in our history.
Either way… that catalyst will come eventually. Could be a computer virus, a type of mass cyber attack, could be a biological virus that leads to a pandemic (manufactured or otherwise), a large scale EMP, or a nuke.
If none of those fears are realized, our economy is still heading straight for a massive depression. Then of course, we have climate change – and the global shortage of everything that will result.
I know people today – rational, intelligent, educated people, who are putting together “bugout” plans, becoming survivalists, investing all of their assets into farms – and/or defensive structures.
Shit, I’m more surprised these days by anyone who does not think that the shit is going to hit the fan.
Sooner or later, this supposedly civilized society will break – and break hard. When that happens, I expect several short-term fascistic, perhaps even practically feudalistic governments to replace our mockery of a democratic republic.
No zombies, no Russian microwave beams, alien invasions and whatnot… simply a matter of practicality, of logic. It is too late to save most of what we have built.
Perhaps future generations will learn from our mistakes.
December 30, 2019 at 7:41 PM #244450
- Total Posts: 1,074
From the early seventies on—basically around 1972,just in time for the election that year—it became more and more obvious that the myths weren’t holding up,that America needed a complete change of direction.This meant that most people’s assumptions would have to change—McGovern outlined what some of that change was all about—and people couldn’t face it.They voted for Nixon,and then for Reagan,who told them they would never have to change.
Ever since then,the public has liked politicians like Bill who would not give them too much reality.
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