Posts Tagged ‘American Empire’

Jordan Peterson on the totalitarian temptation

June 25, 2018

One of Jordan Peterson’s core ideas is the human capacity for evil, and his great examples are the crimes of Nazi Germany, Soviet Russia and Communist China.

What’s notable about all three, he wrote, is not just the atrocities committed by the ruling party, but that the regimes were sustained by the consent of ordinary people.

Under certain circumstances, Peterson believes, almost all of us are potential secret police informers and concentration camp guards.

Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

His heroes are people such as Viktor Frankl, the Viennese psychiatrist who found a meaning in life to sustain him in a Nazi death camp; Vaclav Havel, who lived in truth despite his frequent imprisonments in Communist Czechoslovakia; and, above all, the great Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, who survived Soviet forced-labor camps and found a way to tell the world about them.

Havel condemned those who went along with the regime, such as the greengrocer who put up a sign saying “workers of the world, unite” because doing so is a path of least resistance.  Solzhenitsyn went so far as to blame himself for helping make the Gulag possible by failing to contract the Soviet regime’s lying propaganda.

So the choice is stark.  Either be willing to say “no,” no matter what the cost, or be a potential cog in a killing machine.

What is it today to which we need to say “no”?

It is whether to go along with unprovoked military aggression, assassinations, preventive detention, torture of suspects, warrantless surveillance and all the other practices of police states—all of which have come to be accepted as normal.

Ordinary Americans let themselves be led, step-by-step, to committing atrocities such as the My Lai massacre or the Abu Ghraib tortures.  Until more of us learn to say “no”, we will be just like ordinary Germans in the book Peterson discusses in the video above.

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Book note: The Making of Global Capitalism

May 30, 2017

International financial organizations such as the International Monetary Fund and the World Trade Organization have come to be a kind of world government, dictating policy to supposedly sovereign governments.

I recently read a book, The Making of Global Capitalism (2012) by two Canadian leftists named Leo Panitch and Sam Gindin, on how this came about.   I thank my friend Tim Mullins for recommending it.

It’s quite a story.  It is not well understood.

The first part of the story is the U.S. New Deal.   President Franklin Roosevelt and the Democratic Congress gave the U.S. Treasury Department and the Federal Reserve System the authority they needed to stabilize the crumbling U.S. financial and banking system.

The second part is the 30 years following World War Two.   Under the leadership of the U.S. Treasury and Federal Reserve, international financial institutions were created that duplicated the U.S. system.  They presided over the era of greatest peace and prosperity that North Americans and Europeans had ever since.

The third part is what happened after that.  The world’s financial system endures a series of ever-greater financial crises.   To deal with them, international financial  institutions demand the surrender of gains made by American and European workers and the middle class in the earlier era.

The irony is that a financial governing structure created by American power is now stronger than ever, while the actual American economy is rotting away beneath it.

Panitch and Gindin described in great detail how this happened, step-by-step,.

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The American empire and its colonies

July 8, 2014

The United States of America consists of more than just 50 states.   This video describes the complex web of US colonies, territories and dependencies, all subject to taxation without representation.

If I were a citizen of Puerto Rico or Guam, I don’t think I would want to declare independence from the USA, and I don’t expect the inhabitants of these dependencies to do so.  But in the unlikely event that this happened, I would not advocate putting down the rebellion by means of armed force.

Hat tip for the video to Jack Clontz and his friend Marty.

The futile quest for empire

January 2, 2012

We Americans would do better to strive for peace and prosperity than to be try to be the world’s top superpower.

Military strength is not real strength.  It is a projection of the strength that comes from a united society, a strong economy and an effective government.

Germany under the Kaiser and under Hitler tried to dominate Europe by military means.  On each try, the German nation wound up in ruins, and with less territory than before.  After 1945, Germans forsook military means and built up their society, economy and government, and became the dominant power in Europe.

Japan in the 1930s sought to dominate eastern Asia by military means, and would up in ruins and under military occupation.  After 1945, the Japanese concentrated on building up their strength at home, and became for a time the leader of a East Asia co-prosperity sphere.

China under Mao Tse-tung sought to foment world revolution.  Now the Chinese leaders are trying to build up their strength at home.  China is a more powerful and influential nation now than it was then.

We Americans have all the resources we need to be free and prosperous.  But we can’t be free and prosperous if we try to project military power into all parts of the world.  We can’t be free and prosperous so long as we consume more than we produce.  We can’t be free and prosperous if we have an economy based on finance instead of manufacturing.  We can’t be free and prosperous if our government and corporations are being milked by a wealthy elite for their own benefit.  And the United States won’t be the world’s supreme superpower under these conditions either.