Monday, July 03, 2006

The US: Just like we were, but vulgar

The population of Bush's only real ally in Iraq, Britain, is mighty unhappy with the behaviour of the nouveau riche empire,
Most Britons see America as a cruel, vulgar, arrogant society, riven by class and racism, crime-ridden, obsessed with money and led by an incompetent hypocrite.
I can't disagree with any of that, but this opinion is a kicker coming from the British:
More than two-thirds who offered an opinion said America is essentially an imperial power seeking world domination.
Well, duh! And?

The overall opinion strikes me thusly:
America: just like we were once, only vulgar. Sure we were cruel, heartless and racist. But when we ran the world's empire, by jove, we carried the proper feature of civilisation to all the corners of the globe: tea time. Do you think Americans will impart any such civility upon the savage masses?
[apologies to my British blogmates, but I couldn't resist.]


Blogger Kel said...

Amen to that Bhc!

One of the things I find most extraordinary about the American "empire" such as it is, is that it gives the counry's it invades so very bloody little.

The Romans brought with them sanitation and roads. The British brought what they, at the time, thought was civilisation, i.e. religion and education.

But more importantly, both brought with them the protection of their empires. Once the Brits took India, Indians enjoyed the protection of the empire, just as the English enjoyed all the same protection against invasion from others as any member of the Roman Empire.

When I look at Afghanistan and Iraq it would appear that Bush is exporting chaos. It is unthinkable that either the Roman or the British Empire would have allowed this level of chaos to continue for so long. What use is any Empire if it cannot establish order? That's simply a prerequisite for governing. In that primary task, the US empire has failed.

There's a wonderful book by Emmanual Todd called, "After the Empire" in which he argues that the American Empire isn't a real empire in the sense that the Roman and British empires were.

Unfortunately for Americans, Mr Todd - the only person to succesfully predict the collapse of the Soviet Union - makes a similar argument concerning the US. He thinks your power is waning, which is why you fight such pathetic enemies as Iraq, and that eventually the US will simply sink into insignifigance.

To back this he argues that post WWII the US produced 50% of all the world's production. It now has a trade deficit with almost every country in the world and remains useful only as a consumer of other people's goods.

Once that use has gone, and with China and India rising that's only a matter of time, then the US - as a world power - simply ceases to be.

It's controversial stuff, but when Bush and Co behave the way they do, many in the world begin to hold it as a fervent hope.

9:11 AM  
Blogger theBhc said...


I certainly would agree that the US has not behaved as traditional empires have, though I am not entirely convinced that this is considered a failing on the part of the (at the momnent) American dominated corporatocracy. Multi-national corporations, which are really the driver of US hegemony around the globe, never suffer the ills delivered upon the local populations by the chaos rendered there.

As we have seen in Iraq, the multi-nationals have done nothing but prosper; they have been delivered huge sums of US taxpayer money. Halliburton's federal contracts are up 600% under the Bush administration. Big Oil is now the most profitable industry on the planet. Private security firms are reaping whirlwind profits where there were none before.

Yes, the nationalistic US empire maybe doomed, but corporations are and have been oozing into new "markets" around the world. Look at the current push into China and India. They see the writing on the wall and are positioning themselves to dump the US when it no longer serves them. Once the manufacturing based is cleared out, once the tech industry has been decimated, the US, burdened with debt and no way to produce much of anything, will be finally reduced to a second world debtor nation.

This will be resisted, of course. Nationalism will drive more military excursions and more weapons will spill out of the only manufacturing base the US has left, feeding the national will to demonstrate the might of America. This will be resisted by China, Russia, possibly India. I suspect the nuclear deal with that country is meant to curtail resistance to future American military nonsense, and it was certainly meant to do that in the current Iran/US confrontation. But, ultimately, any more ill-advised military adventurism are simply manifestations an increaasingly doomed effort to maintain control over a world that has moved past the age of American empire.

By that time, though, corporations will have shifted most operations overseas, as they are doing now. That is a fairly grim view of the US destiny, but what else explains what we are witnessing right now?

I genuinely feel sorrow at watching this pathetic spectacle. I truly hope common sense can retake hold here and re-establish some normative behaviour, behaviour that the Constitution was meant to ensure would persist. I fear the drive for profit may yet prove too strong.

11:24 AM  
Blogger Kel said...

Brilliant analysis as always, Bhc.

One of the things that Todd predicts is further US military adventures to try to hide the fact that it no longer sits on top of the world.

8:11 AM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...

Perhaps America can be seen as a mad scientist's lab for creating massive monsters of corporate despotism. These monsters will roam the world as mobile sovereign nation-states whose only laws are consumption and destruction. Nationalism in America will necessarily increase to satisfy the military needs of its created monsters. The result will be a more robotic American psyche, a psyche rife with cognitive dissonance (doublethink.) The American soul will decline into absolute irrelevancy. There will be no tipping point, no backlash. When the monsters get desperate for more military might but find no nationalistic support for its perpetuation, the monsters will simply go supernova out of spite, destroying everything it can in its death throes, the effect being, well, universal chaos.

6:42 PM  
Blogger theBhc said...

Wow. That is a grim view, though hard to argue against given what we have seen of late.

Try to get some sleep. I know, its hard.

7:41 PM  
Blogger Musclemouth said...

A point very well taken, I must admit. *snore*

7:48 PM  

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