What’s the world coming to? A rant

Things are getting worse faster.  Some French movie director once said: Have the courage to believe what you know.  I keep hoping that what I know—what I think I know—won’t prove to be the case.

U.S. domestic policy is steered by a selfish financial oligarchy, which we can call the neoliberals.

U.S. foreign policy is steered by a murderous national security establishment, which we can call the neoconservatives.

Civilization faces two threats, nuclear war and global climate change.

Neoliberals and neoconservatives are making both worse.  Because of them, the U.S. has restarted the nuclear arms race and is stepping up fossil fuel production.

They also are soaking up resources needed to provide basic public services, maintain infrastructure and provide a social safety net.  Manufacturing capability and governmental capability are being hollowed out because of failures to invest.

The neoliberal and neoconservative elite maintain their power by corrupting the democratic process.  One way is by creating a dependence on big donors to conduct political campaigns.  Another is through gerrymandering, voter registration purges, creating artificial difficulties in voting and using hackable electronic voting machines.

This year the USA faces a near-perfect storm— (1) a pandemic that nobody really understands, (2) unemployment exceeding Great Depression levels and (3) the likelihood of more floods, storms, fires and other weather- and climate-related disasters.

The powers that be give us only two choices – (1) shut everything down and deprive millions of people of their livelihoods or (2) open everything up knowing that hundreds of thousands of people may die.

It’s possible that the coronavirus pandemic will ease off sooner than predicted, but it won’t be the last pandemic and may not be the worst.

We’re headed toward an election in which, as in 1876, there may be a dispute as to who really won.  I don’t expect a new civil war, but then the historic Civil War came as a surprise.

The Bernie Sanders campaign showed the near-impossibility of bringing about meaningful political change within an existing political party.

The Greens, Libertarians and other small parties have virtually no chance of coming to power, and probably wouldn’t know what to do with power if they got it.

Maybe a national reform movement can be created through grass-roots organizing, but this could take decades—barring a societal collapse, which is more likely to bring to power demagogues and dictators than new FDRs.

I’ve pushed back against those who say Donald Trump is a new Hitler.  It is not just that he doesn’t have the political acumen or sense of purpose of a Hitler.  The Trump-as-Hitler meme ignores the degree to which the USA of 2016 had already adopted Nazi-like practices—unprovoked military aggression, contempt for international law, assassinations, torture, detention without trial.

Once it was a scandal that the CIA engaged in assassinations.  Now assassinations are carried out in broad daylight.  As you said, we have had movies and TV shows in which torturers and interrogators are the heroes.

The two foundations of U.S. power are the power of the dollar and the world’s largest nuclear arsenal. Because of the role of the dollar in international commerce, the U.S. has the power to enforce economic sanctions not only against individuals and nations designated as enemies, but against any third parties who trade with those individuals and nations.

Barring a change in direction in U.S. policy, I think a revolt against the dollar is inevitable.  I think that once it gets underway, once one of the mice bells the cat and get away with it, the flight from the dollar will be fast and furious.

When that happens, U.S. power will depend on its nuclear arsenal.  The leaders of a collapsing USA will be in a position to engage in mass killing on a scale greater than Hitler, Stalin or Mao.  That will be the moment of maximum danger not only for the United States, but for the world.

The coming crisis, like the Great Depression of the 1930s, could cause such a breakdown that radical change will become possible, but radical change can be for the worse as well as for the better.

Mao Zedong said political power comes out of the barrel of a gun.  In the USA, there is a hard core of activists who have guns and the will to use them.  They do not represent the majority of the public, but they have more sympathizers in the police and military than people like me have.  Who knows what they could become in a crisis?

I focus on my own country because it is mine and because it has such a great impact on the world.  But none of the things that are wrong with the USA are unique to the USA.  It is not as if the USA was the one bad nation in a world of holy and good nations.

I’ve long been worried about the future of my country and of the world.  I had the selfish hope that the crisis would not come until I am safely dead.  I no longer think that hope is realistic.

But then again, the future is unknowable.  And despair is a self-fulfilling prophecy,

Update 5/29/2020.  A wandering Australian who calls himself Nikolai Vladivostok wrote a rebuttal to this post.  Click on Every little thing gonna be alright to read it.


6 Responses to “What’s the world coming to? A rant”

  1. Nicky D Says:

    A rant is good for the soul.


  2. Mark Says:

    An opinion about the “two choices”.
    #1 doesn’t do anything to reduce the death rate unless some “cure” appears. If there is no cure, once the shutdown ends any person with COVID-19 can start the spread again and the deaths resume.
    #2 can be structured more like Sweden where the mandatory parts of shutdown were limited. I would continue the strong protection many places have put in place for nursing homes or other elder care facilities – I believe that is one place that Sweden failed to effectively implement. I would also extend bans of massive groups.

    At this point I’ve seen estimates of roughly 2000 deaths per day as a steady state upper limit on deaths for the next few months by doing #2. That gets us to some level of herd immunity which can be a long term solution independent of a cure. This recognizes we don’t have ANY real vaccine for coronaviruses (like a common cold).


  3. Matk Says:

    Here’s another one – from “The Spectator”, a UK publication that has a US version as well.

    It talks about an alternative that if Sweden was hit first by the virus and not China, we may have had a completely different approach to the response.
    I think we can make a similar case about how early infections in states like Washington, New York, & Colorado, drove decisions by other states in their response.


  4. Nikolai Vladivostok Says:

    I wrote a response post to this article, arguing the optimistic view. It will go up on Friday.


  5. Every little thing gonna be alright | SovietMen Says:

    […] favourite leftie blogger, the venerable Phil Ebersole, had a rant in which he bemoaned the state of the world.  At our senior, he has every right to do that.  In fact, it’s his […]


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