Saturday, February 14, 2009
photo by Brett Kaffee for MRzine, 2005
During the Bush regime, we were under constant assault by the NeoCons whose world-view and principal interest was frankly imperialist, corporatist, and warmongering. The United States was attacked by shadowy forces, whether domestic or foreign (ie: the Anthrax Attack was almost certainly domestic, and from within the government itself, no less; the whole question of what really happened on 9/11 is so filled with murk and mystery, we'll probably never know, any more than we "know" the full story behind the assassination of President Kennedy.) The United States thence entered into an overt imperialist phase, which strangely and strongly resembled the nation's late 19th Century imperialist adventure, including mindless torture and slaughter of Natives, mass detention camps, and the overthrow by force of foreign governments.
Corporations thrived as never before; the stock market soared, no-bid contracts to service the various wars ensured favored companies enormous profits, and pallets of $100 bills were flown around and handed out with abandon, the fabled "Money for Nothing."
Back home, American households seemed to do relatively well, though not quite as well as during the Clinton Era, but much of the seeming prosperity at home was driven by two things: immense government deficit spending on war and security, and an almost unprecedented housing bubble that enabled millions of people to either purchase homes (that subsequently they found out couldn't be paid for), or to take out equity that had built up in their homes as prices rose to help them afford to maintain a "decent" lifestyle.
Interest rates were low, unemployment was relatively low, wages were pretty much static, inflation stayed low (except for a number of energy price spikes that foretold what was to come), taxes were cut again and again, the defict ballooned, the wars were far away and plasma teevees kept the masses entertained and passive.
Economic trouble was on the horizon. Many observers in and out of the dismal profession of economics issued dire warnings, but few were listening, and even those that did listen were trying to cash in before the crash.
And now the crash has come.
We're in the opening scene of what looks to be a very long play. Where's Eugene O'Neill when you need him?
Neocons managed to get us into imperialist wars, and for all practical purposes, they succeeded in changing our form of government to an Autocracy with dependent though ostensibly co-equal legislative and judicial branches.
Now that we're well into the crash, however, the Neoliberals are on the rise, and just as the Neocons got away with murder, so will the Neoliberals attempt to.
And so far, they're doing just fine.
Rather than having me go into a long dissertation on the Neoliberal transformation of the United States, I'll let some others explain it better than I can.
The picture above is from a 2005 article that describes how the defeat of the Sandanistas in Nicaragua enabled the imposition of Neoliberal economic "restructuring" which led to the delightful scene above. It's well worth reading to brush up on Neoliberal practices in the Americas that caused so much disress and fostered so much evil in the name of "freedom," until the People had had enough and mostly threw off the shackles of privatization and reclaimed the social good.
To follow on, watch or listen to this Democracy Now! segment from Friday, February 13, 2009, featuring Robert Kuttner and Michael Hudson discussing how the United States' "financial recovery" really depends on the institution of Neoliberal economics, and how at root, it is all completely fraudulent.
And then, take some time -- quite a bit of time -- and digest this long article by Michael Hudson in Counterpunch, from February 12, 2009, that very clearly describes how we got here, who many of the players were, what is planned for "recovery," and what will really be necessary to revive and stablize the economy.
We're in a fine pickle.