by Ramin Mazaheri for the Saker Blog
In the United States questioning liberal economic ideology is not tolerated, so when the latest inevitable economic bust in capitalism occurs it is little wonder that their society talks about everything except economic ideology. They spend their time inventing and discussing non-economic solutions to economic catastrophes, which is precisely how their fundamental weaknesses and inequalities only get worse and worse.
Now we are talking about the murder of George Floyd, police brutality and White supremacy – these are old but still important issues, but they are also certainly issues which will not lead to systematically redistributing one cent towards governmentally-abandoned African-American areas.
The fall of the USSR and the triumphant parades led by banners bearing TINA – There Is No Alternative (to neoliberalism and neo-imperialism) – encouraged Americans to throw away their textbooks on the “dismal science” of economics. “Yeah,” they said, “Marx might have been interesting in his day, but it’s all over now – get with the times: it’s the economy, stupid! (whisper) But seriously – don’t openly question liberal economic ideology.”
For those of us following the data it has become quite clear: “Everything Bubble 2” is a great pica-saving handle to describe the 2020 Western economy, but it gives the wrong impression that what’s going on is just a repeat of 2008 (when Everything Bubble 1 popped) – it’s actually much worse. Nobody expected Everything Bubble 2 to be popped by something as economically-suicidal as a Great Lockdown, but we now have no choice but to add the effects of the two together, so… wow… we just cannot say that this is like 2008, or 2001, or 1929, or any other era.
But in the US you can’t say anything about ideological economic direction, of course. This leads us to two realisations about their society which are now obvious to all:
1) By abandoning economic ideological debate for three decades Americans can only politically snipe each other to death in 2020 because they simply cannot intelligently discuss economics, much to the glee of the 1%. 2) By censoring ideological debate the US is unable to devise new solutions to the latest capitalist bust, so in order to end this very atypical capitalist bust they are vainly reapplying previous solutions: hyper-partisanship, militarism and economic ideological totalitarianism.
Combine these two realisations and it’s clear that the American solution to their 2020 economic crisis is militarist in nature: Militarism against those who disagree with the Mainstream, militarism to guide the economic way out, and militarism towards the Covid-19 germ as well. As a result of the George Floyd murder we may even add a fourth militarism – though one which will surely end after the November presidential election – militarism against anti-Black racism.
Why would this “solution” of militarism be a surprise to anyone?
Removing economics from politics creates stupid politics, but also hyper-partisanship
Americans today have only one solution for domestic or international failure – declare war on the other guy, even if he is a fellow citizen.
This economic crisis is so bad for the already-weakened West that one would think the economic debate for its solutions would have never become partisan. (Considering that both mainstream parties agree on TINA – what was there to argue about economically, anyway?) Georgia, Florida and Texas have cities just as dense as Illinois, Michigan, California, New York and New Jersey, but it can’t be a coincidence that this latter camp of blue-states remain economically closed with a severity and duration seemingly unparalleled in the world.
It is as if working with the other side – even for the good of the nation – implies risking a deadly (moral) contagion? It’s as if doing a single thing Trump did, suggested or supported makes one an irredeemable “deplorable”? It’s as if losing an election this November is a bigger catastrophe in the minds of politically-involved Republican and Democrat citizens than the unprecedented capitalist catastrophe of having over 40 million unemployed people?
All I can say is: LOL you can’t possibly run a nation that way. I am as political as anybody, but if unemployment was 25% my primary motivation would not be getting credit at the polling booth!
So it’s an amazing proof of how undesirable the American cultural-political-economic model truly is when we observe how the re-opening of their economy has become such a politically-polarised issue.
That may or may not be old news to many, but here is something which is never discussed: This seeming “militarisation of political partisanship” is predicted on confining mainstream political discussion solely to exactly that – the alleged importance of political partisanship. Western culture’s proclamation of TINA, the chucking out of economic textbooks and censoring “time-wasting” economic debate has thus given two-party political affiliations an entirely outsized place in US culture.
And TINA was always going to be especially fatal for heterogenous Western societies: In a country like Iran, which is 90% Shia, or homogenous & self-segregated Japan it’s perhaps not necessarily economics which can hold the title of “champion of societal unification”, but in the very heterogeneous West economic class clearly provides the broadest basis for life-saving and nation-saving unity. (The West’s White supremacists will sputter that, “It didn’t used to be this way here!” Who cares? It is this way now for your children, and it was only ever not “this way” because of massive segregation.) National unification may be rejected by Trotskyists, but not everyone wants to see the nation founder in response to every serious crisis.
But by rejecting discussion of economic unity (a.k.a. class warfare against the 1%) the West could only logically choose to emphasise other factors in its place, i.e. political, cultural, ethnic, sexual, gender and religious factors, all of which (for their heterogeneous societies) are inherently less unifying and even quite controversial. In a crisis this disunity is not just readily apparent but leads to tangible disaster – certainly the West is currently burning in crisis.
The problem goes deeper than their facile blaming of only the political and media classes: there are many everyday American citizens who clearly want to increase the stranglehold of this economic crisis in order to oust Trump or just their local incumbent. In 2020, because they are not in power, it’s logical to agree that Democrats are acting the most desperately and power-hungrily. However, it’s not as if Republicans are promoting consensus, unity and high ideals – of course they are using the economic crisis to achieve the neoliberal tenet of slashing government ranks down to just cops and fire departments.
It is not an exaggeration to say that by removing economics from the discussion US political culture has become not “militant” – which has positive connotations of ideological purity – but “militarist”: Democrats and Republicans are going on the war path to stoke problems instead of focusing on societal unity amid this unprecedented crisis.
You couldn’t honestly talk about imperialism with an American in 2019, and it’s not like they want to hear about it now; nor can you honestly talk about capitalism with an American despite its current epic fail; in June 2020 they want to talk only about how their political party is superior, and how corona is the new Black Plague, and now they’ve added a new problem they’ve recently discovered: police brutality against Blacks.
The problem of this faux-militancy, which has such a gaping intellectual void (the lack of an economic component), is similarly and glaring obvious in the centuries-old militarisation of imperialist US culture: War on Indians, war for/against slavery, war on socialism, war on Soviet-led communism, war on poverty, war on drugs, war on Muslims – the US solution of “war on corona” is thus not at all unique for them.
The new – and probably temporary – “war on police brutality” is certainly necessary but cannot possibly reach the halls of power nor the ears of the US vanguard party of bankers.
The solution in US corporate fascism is always war, but conquering corona yields no booty
The real economic ideology of the US is – of course – corporate fascism, which is why their military-industrial complex had a ready solution to the 2001 Y2K/dot.com bust via declaring war on the Muslim world. Very profitable indeed, and it allowed their Pentagon-planned economy (the Pentagon is the world’s largest employer) to continue organising the very unequal US economic redistribution.
There was no new war to be had in 2008 – Obama could only double down on the existing wars (after accepting his Nobel Peace Prize) and double down on the status quo economic ideology as well: QE dropped helicopter money at the problem and hoped the problem was resolved. It was resolved very satisfactorily indeed, but only for the 1% and their asset classes.
In 2020 Everything Bubble 2 was popped by the Great Lockdown and a new war was declared: against corona. As if Red men with tomahawks had amassed just outside the picket-topped fort, Americans threw themselves wholeheartedly into this battle for self-survival. Now, as the stock market has been boosted with taxpayer QE money back to pre-crisis levels, Americans are (kind of) throwing themselves into a battle against police brutality as well.
Declaring war is what American culture does, period.
What does war do? It rallies around the flag – for countries who were not inspired by 1917 it is truly the “champion of societal unification” – but there is no booty to be had this time: no new frontiers to provide cheap land; no new resources to allow Western manufactures to be made more cheaply; no oil; not even any way to use US taxpayer money to pay mercenaries in order to boost the stock prices of Pentagon-linked corporations.
Americans need to realise that “keep-capitalism-alive-through-jingoism” is a primary pillar of imperialism, and that true patriotism is never allowed in neoliberal capitalism – thus their hyper-partisanship today. War also provides a useful distraction from endemic economic inequality, which is why this “endless war” ruse has been going on across the anti-socialist West ever since WWI.
The West has thrown themselves into the war on the corona germ, but their lower classes are screaming that this war is economic suicide. Once the war on corona is over – even if the West extends past the “surge” this fall or even into 2021 – economic ideology will finally have to be discussed.
But the West doesn’t ever have to do that intelligently – they were the economic ideological winners, right?
Corona contrarianism? How about some corona common sense? Here is my list of articles published regarding the corona crisis.
Capitalist-imperialist West stays home over corona – they grew a conscience? – March 22, 2020
Corona meds in every pot & a People’s QE: the Trumpian populism they hoped for? – March 23, 2020
A day’s diary from a US CEO during the Corona crisis (satire) March 23, 2020
MSNBC: Chicago price gouging up 9,000% & the sports-journalization of US media – March 25, 2020
Tough times need vanguard parties – are ‘social media users’ the West’s? – March 26, 2020
If Germany rejects Corona bonds they must quit the Eurozone – March 30, 2020
Landlord class: Waive or donate rent-profits now or fear the Cultural Revolution – March 31, 2020
Corona repeating 9/11 & Y2K hysterias? Both saw huge economic overreactions – April 1, 2020
(A Soviet?) Superman: Red Son – the new socialist film to watch on lockdown – April 2, 2020
Corona rewrites capitalist bust-chronology & proves: It’s the nation-state, stupid – April 3, 2020
Condensing the data leaves no doubt: Fear corona-economy more than the virus – April 5, 2020
‘We’re Going Wrong’: The West’s middling, middle-class corona response – April 10, 2020
Why does the UK have an ‘army’ of volunteers but the US has a shortage? – April 12, 2020
No buybacks allowed or dared? Then wave goodbye to Western stock market gains – April 13, 2020
Pity post-corona Millennials… if they don’t openly push socialism – April 14, 2020
No, the dollar will only strengthen post-corona, as usual: it’s a crisis, after all – April 16, 2020
Same 2008 QE playbook, but the Eurozone will kick off Western chaos not the US – April 18, 2020
We’re giving up our civil liberties. Fine, but to which type of state? – April 20,
Coronavirus – Macron’s savior. A ‘united Europe’ – France’s murderer – April 22, 2020
Iran’s ‘resistance economy’: the post-corona wish of the West’s silent majority (1/2) – April 23, 2020
The same 12-year itch: Will banks loan down QE money this time? – April 26,
The end of globalisation won’t be televised, despite the hopes of the Western 99% (2/2) – April 27, 2020
What would it take for proponents to say: ‘The Great Lockdown was wrong’? – April 28, 2020
ZeroHedge, a response to Mr. Littlejohn & the future of dollar dominance – April 30, 2020
Given Western history, is it the ‘Great Segregation’ and not the ‘Great Lockdown’? – May 2, 2020
The Western 1% colluded to start WWI – is the Great Lockdown also a conspiracy? – May 4, 2020
May 17: The date the Great Lockdown must end or Everything Bubble 2 pops – May 6, 2020
Reading Piketty: Does corona delay the Greens’ fake-leftist, sure-to-fail victory? – May 8, 2020
Picturing the media campaign needed to get the US back to work – May 11, 2020
Scarce jobs + revenue desperation = sure Western stagflation post-corona – May 13, 2020
France’s nurses march – are they now deplorable Michiganders to fake-leftists? – May 15, 2020
Why haven’t we called it ‘QE 5’ yet? And why we must call it ‘QE 2.1’ instead – May 16, 2020
‘Take your stinking paws off me, you damned, dirty public servant!’ That’s Orwell? – May 17, 2021
The Great Lockdown: The political apex of US single Moms & Western matriarchy? May 21, 2021
I was wrong on corona – by not pushing for a US Cultural Revolution immediately – May 25, 2021
August 1: when the unemployment runs out and a new era of US labor battles begin – May 28, 2021
Corona proving the loser of the Cold War was both the USSR & the USA – May 30, 2021
Rebellions across the US: Why worry? Just ask Dr. Fauci to tell us what to do – June 2, 2021
Protesting, corona-conscience, a good dole: the US is doing things it can’t & it’s chaos – June 3, 2021
Why do Westerners assume all African-Americans are leftists? – June 5, 2020
The US as Sal’s Pizzeria: When to ‘Do The Right Thing’ is looting – June 6, 2020
The problem with the various ‘Fiat is all the problem!’ (FIATP) crowds – June 9, 2020
Ramin Mazaheri is the chief correspondent in Paris for Press TV and has lived in France since 2009. He has been a daily newspaper reporter in the US, and has reported from Iran, Cuba, Egypt, Tunisia, South Korea and elsewhere. He is the author of the books ‘I’ll Ruin Everything You Are: Ending Western Propaganda on Red China’ and the NEW ‘Socialism’s Ignored Success: Iranian Islamic Socialism’.
“Politicisation of Great Lockdown result of ‘TINA’ economic ignorance/censorship”
What, exactly does ‘TINA’ Mean?
It was in there:
“The fall of the USSR and the triumphant parades led by banners bearing TINA – There Is No Alternative (to neoliberalism and neo-imperialism) – encouraged Americans to throw away their textbooks on the “dismal science” of economics.”
Ramin adds on the part in parentheses, but it’s a common acronym.
You know Americans don’t know jack about economics when Bernie Sanders is seen as an honest-to-goodness socialist.
There is no alternative, from Thatcher I believe.
Did you ever read the book “The true believer” by Eric Hoffer. We now have a systemic mass movement against the corona virus requiring the adherents to wear face masks and to socially distance themselves. As well as another mass movement supporting Black Lives Matter requiring the adherents to protest and tear down monuments. It was Hoffer’s opinion that people join such movements when they feel a sense of hopelessness because their lives are no longer meaningful.
It seems that the elite have succeeded in “Dumbing Down” the population to the extent that they now wish to destroy society instead of promote it. There does not appear to be an easy way out of this mess.
“The True Believer” by Eric Hoffer is indeed excellent as are his other books. Incisive, penetrating, succinct. And short.
Brother Blue Iconoclast
Thanks for another thoughtful essay, Ramin. That Americans cannot fathom the role of the political-economic consensus plays in their own immiseration is beyond doubt. The anglo-american media ensures that only surface issues that facilitate the divide and rule agenda of elites is available for discussion. But, I wonder if the lockdown policy is evidence that even elites fail to understand economics. The policy seems to have been initiated in the US with little awareness of what would happen to both the state and local tax base and to the debt-fueled economy of huge swaths of the service sector were essentially destroyed by the creation of a plague-panic. As the economic depression and panic-induced hysteria drags on well past the “reopening” of local economies, social infrastructure will have to be axed at an alarming rate, furthering the economic immiseration of the masses. I don’t think divide and rule will be as effective at that point, since then even the well-heeled and pampered academics who produce the foot soldiers of divide and rule will be out of work. Will that be enough then learn anew political ideologies other than neoliberalism? Time will tell.
Yes … very clear and true words.
Americans today have only one solution for domestic or international failure – declare war on the other guy, even if he is a fellow citizen.
Caitlin Johnstone calls it “America’s war with itself”.
All too true. Their lizard brains are terrified of being victims of FBI terrorism. They know but need to act as if they don’t know. It is a form of basic animal intelligence which does call for some respectful understanding. The average American has no idea how to advocate for solutions advocated by Ramin, – and survive. They are victims of intense and incessant multi-dimensional terrorism. Until they can figure out how to uphold Ramin style wisdom and survive it is folly to expect more. But then it is hardly better in the rest of the English speaking world and Europe. “Hell, if they can kill the president and Malcolm X they can surely get me without breaking a sweat.” Is this not the patriarchal legacy of ancient Rome? Why was Julius Caesar really killed?
Gaius was killed because he made a few reforms that helped ordinary Roman proletariat, especially the Veterans. He was a Populares:
The Populares were a political faction in the late Roman Republic who favoured the cause of the plebeians. The Populares emerged as a political group with the reforms of the Gracchi brothers, who were tribunes of the plebs between 133 and 121 BC.Wikipedia
Main leaders:Tiberius Gracchus, Gaius Gracchus, Gaius Marius, Lucius Cornelius Cinna, Lucius Appuleius Saturninus, Marcus Aemilius Lepidus, Publius Clodius Pulcher, Julius Caesar, Mark Antony, Octavian”
It goes very deep. It is the war on truth. Even deeper, is the war on life.
Kenneth: Your brief comment reveals wisdom. Going deep is the key to the solution to this riddle.
‘Don’t mind the expensive cigar smoke Joe have another shot of malt whisky’,said Donald. Yes’, replied Joe. ‘We are the old-money boys. Ha, ha what of the stupidity of our naive followers’, replied Donald, ‘but who can blame them? Here’s to Chuck, Nancy and Wall Street.’
‘Joe, the Lockdown is a cover for the reset of the economy, to make the poor poorer. That will mean the elimination of millions of superfluous Americans by suicide, alcoholism and drug addiction. Then we can get back to selling, fuel, armaments and hate. What fun?’
“You couldn’t honestly talk about imperialism with an American in 2019, and it’s not like they want to hear about it now”
It’s easy to miss the subtle keyword in the quote: honestly. Of course, if imperialism is described as some ugly malfeasance practised by the Axis-of-Evil, then the average Pindo will be elated to promote the “anti-imperialist crusade”. It’s obvious that Pindos perceive any honest as well as intelligent discussions as pure anathema.
“But the West doesn’t ever have to do that intelligently — they were the economic ideological winners, right?”
For self-obsessed people intelligent behaviour is not primarily a matter of mental faculties but of ego. If in doubt, just ask BHL.
And in America Ego is the reigning god. Which is precisely where all the trouble is coming from. Egoism has a totalitarian internal structure. It enforces its own version of “freedom” against all real life. The socialist code word for this egoism is “bourgeois.” One can find this in Marx.
I will try to leave a comment.
Include in topics needing discussion: The human Immune System for Dummies and How to Optimize It without going to a Doctor. Two physicians who have opened the door into the discussion did post articles in mid-March. Their names are Tom Frieden and John C Umhau.
Funny that this article was just published on ZeroHedge that just started to tow the government line in censoring and banning its users for wrong think.