Tue, Nov 14 at 10:47 AM
THE US HAS LOST ITS HEGEMONY OF INTERPRETATION
Marc Batko <email@example.com>
With the advent of the Internet, the US has lost its hegemony of interpretation.
Our allegiance is to the constitution, not to an unaccountable plutocracy or oligarchy with a history of colonialism and imperialism.
In our economy of indebtedness and enrichment. the wrong buildings are built by the wrong people. We are an untied and divided republic with 10% owning 70% of the wealth and the bottom 50% only 2%.
The American Century is over. Under the Washington Consensus, deregulation, privatization and liberalized markets were dysfunctional dogmas. Countries in Latin America, the Caribbean and Africa were devastated. Under the Investor-State Tribunal agreements of NAFTA and the IMF, corporations like Metalclad could sue states for lost profits while states could not sue corporations. In around 1999, Metalclad sued Mexico when the incinerator contract was cancelled after the population rose up because of the expected air pollution and health injuries. Incidentally, Metalclad had never operated an incinerator before!
The times are changing! China has built 600 schools in Iraq and airports in Africa!
As China has now surpassed the US in gross domestic product (GDP), BRICS (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) has passed the G7 in GDP. Countries can no longer be forced to grow tulips and strawberries for Miami but can grow rice and beans for their own people.
Violence is not only military but also structural, systemic, economic and informational.
The US economy became dysfunctional when speculative investment superseded productive investments, when economic power became unaccountable political power, when the myths of the self-healing market and financial markets returning to equilibrium were made sacrosanct truths and when the Fed injected trillions to keep Wall Street banks alive. The people are too big to fail, not the banks!
Taxation, affordable housing and bank stability were the first pillars of neoliberalism to collapse (cf. Colin Crouch, “The Surprising Non-death of Neoliberalism”). Most large multinational firms shift their profits to tax havens like the Cayman Islands, Switzerland, Lichtenstein, Delaware and Wyoming. Universities contribute to neoliberal dominance by repressing discussion of financial markets, financial products and the tax avoidance industry.
It is difficult to remember what has never been learned. As Noam Chomsky and Edward Herrman explained, filters in the corporate media and politics created “manufactured consent.” Citizens are deluged with stock market reports and business news without any labor news. Only business-friendly news is emphasized –
alongside celebrity news and weather updates! Structural or systemic analysis of alternatives, market failure or state failure are taboo. Financial markets are depicted as super-sensitive deer that would race away with truthful reporting!
Tax havens, the tax avoidance industry, stock buybacks (in the double-digit trillions!), micro-second betting (the casino economy) and insider trading are market distortions used by corporations and the super-rich. Another pernicious myth is that money is a private matter, not a public necessity. With the three Trump appointees, the US Supreme Court reinforced the “Central Bank economy” by declaring money is speech and corporations are persons (cf. Citizens United decision in 2010).
This world has long been threatened from within by authoritarianism, alienation, false needs and false consciousness (cf. Herbert Marcuse, The One-dimensional Man, 1964). The one-dimensional society, he warned, is a society of fear and surveillance. Neither luxury consumption nor security guards bumping into one another are signs of a future-friendly sustainable society!
How do we become subjects? What do spirituality and liberation mean in hyper-materialistic and hyper-individualistic societies? Can we learn from the 26 community centers in Vancouver B.C. that could b e a third way beyond the state and the market? Can we imitate the 4-day work week from Japan and Portugal? Can we replicate the 3-year rent freeze proposal from the German SPD party? Can we initiate a Marshall Plan for journalism (organized by progressive
foundations and philanthropists, not the state) so the young generation can have creative life-affirming work opportunities and aren’t forced to choose between the Amazon assembly line and being Uber-drivers?
Exceptionalism, a corrosive myth contradicting the history of the rise and fall of behemoth empires, turns out to be a blindness so we hardly learn from or applaud other countries. In the glorified car-tastrophe (cf. Scoop Nisker on KFOG in SF), the car is more than an efficient box but a whole glittering worldview encouraging us to become myopic, xenophobic, ahistorical and apolitical! Glorify and trust the Everlasting Creator out of nothing, not the penultimate smiling empire supposedly intent on freedom and democracy!
Economics should be a part of life, not a steamroller crushing creativity and self-determination. As the writer Felix Feistel explained in “The Work Fetish,” Germany (and the US) have enough cars and tablets. Work should be reduced and shared but continues as a fetish and source of identity. Education is the great transformer, said the iconoclast economist and Harvard professor John Kenneth Galbraith.
Time for new economic paradigms with qualitative growth, eco-social transformation and reduced working hours .Qualitative growth means turning from quantitative growth and extraction to expanding education with adult classes, community centers, counseling, intercultural learning and Internet-friendly expansion of journalism.
Concentration of wealth has led to a narrowing of discourse and discussion. Foreign news agencies have been closed. The young generation has been consistently ignored as profit maximization has encouraged outsourcing and uncontrolled CEO salaries and bonuses. The dominant neoliberal myth has insisted CEOs are job creators while workers are only cost-factors. More jobs were eliminated by robots, computerization and artificial intelligence than were created. On the quiet, social services were first severely cut in developing countries and
then in advanced countries like the US and Germany.
The state is not a business or a Swabian housewife but can become indebted to aid present and future generations. The state should be an active, caring and empowering state, not an activating and punishing state only serving capital. Social security and Medicare are jewels and progressive achievements that are now irrationally threatened by mean, irresponsible and spiritless Republicans. In truth, the welfare state is not Bolshevism but a human future. The state should be measured by how it treats the poorest of the poor. From the ashes of anti-social
greed, selfishness and prejudice, we can create a new world and rejoin the world of nations as a partner, not as a bully!
Imagine an economy for all the people, not only for CEOs and the top 1%! Profit-making is different than profit-maximizing (cf. Ulrich Thielemann). Profit-maximizing often becomes an idol that nullifies stakeholders, nature and future generations. In neoliberalism, profit is the priority while investment falls and public investment disappears or is privatized! What results is dystopia, mass homelessness (600,000 in the US in November 2023, ghost hotels, ghost condos, and ghost cities!
The people are too big to fail, not the banks! The state that made itself poor by giving hundreds of billions every month since 2000 to Wall Street banks now seems inert and inept in facing the new challenges and transitions! The homeless are made invisible. The state steals away from feeding and housing its people while corporations steal away from paying their fair taxes!
Time to learn about community centers, computer-operated light-rail and affordable health care from O Canada, O Japan, O Portugal and O Germany!