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Oligarchy? Or Kleptocracy? You decide! (2)

Go read Glenn immediately, who argues that we're not going down the path of Japan, but Russia and Argentina; classic Shock Doctrine analysis (which Japan, I now see, did not employ. Maybe that's why our famously free press holds them up as the example not to follow.*) He concludes:

So our political class cheers on treasury-draining wars, allows financial elites to rob and pillage, witnesses huge transfers of wealth to the richest, and then when the whole thing explodes, the "real fiscal answer" is for ordinary Americans to have their Medicare benefits "slashed" and Social Security benefits reduced.

Again, read the whole thing. A lot of dots connected.

Now, I, for one, regard ending up as Argentina as a positive, compared to either going the way of Russia (shudder) or returning the, say, 2006. Argentina did, after all, ultimately resist Shock Doctrine tactics, and succcessfully. See Davidson, and Geneo's cautionary comment. I'd like to see more posting from Davidson on Argentina. Stories, concrete detail.

NOTE * Therefore, Krugman's "Geithner-san" riff is wrong. It's not the Japan that's the worst case scenario, it's Russia (horrible Shock Doctrine outcome) or Argentina (Shock Doctrine resistance). Much as I respect Krugman, I think he's got the political economy wrong on the role of the elites, here.)

NOTE Via Yves.

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rrot's picture
Submitted by rrot on

imputing malicious motives to decision makers.

He'd always rather call them dumb or mistaken than call them evil.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I've met enough congress critters and potential congress critters to know that though many are bright many avoid deep thoughts on policy. In fact, our VME* seems to discourage deep, independent thinking.

* VME = MCM + proggers

vastleft's picture
Submitted by vastleft on

I'm quite sure that phenomenon was a huge reason why many un-insane congress-critters went along with the AUMF. To vote against it was to acknowledge that the people pushing the war were callous in the extreme.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Argentinians, just a generation removed from the Dirty War, marched openly in the streets in spite of a national order not to do so. They fought back like hell and were successful in removing their version of a Treasury Secretary and their president, while the Russians have largely remained ineffective or even passive (perhaps due to many having been apoliticial in Soviet times), with a good portion of their youth embracing ultra-nationalist and other extremist positions that only benefit those in power. Of course, Argentina hasn't experienced true reform yet and there continues to be much suffering, but the fact people rallied against the so-called government, in spite of the "law" and murderous police, and they had long realized the bankster government was a parasite feasting on the people was telling (Also telling: Argentinians continue to demand the prosecution of those involved in the Dirty War in spite of past "amnesties," while such an idea would be laughable in Russia) . It may not be sufficient to reclaim a country, but it is necessary: to have a middle class that is educated, politically aware, and refuses to allow the continued hijacking and looting of their nation, taking their demands to the streets through non-violent protests.

I keep wondering if (former and current) superpower status, and the "Might is right" culture necessary to prop up such an imperial force, is why I don't see either Russians or Americans successfully fighting back. Just look at how we let our political leaders discuss our people, our purpose: "America is the best country in the world! We're the saviors! We will kill those who try to question our Supreme Awesomeness 'freedoms!'" If you grow up in a nation whose people either pride themselves in belonging to the most powerful, hyper-militarized nation in the world or allow such nonsense to be spewed by their political leadership, how can you be someone who truly questions and challenges power? You don't. You internalize that anti-democratic culture (e.g., riots instead of protests, refusing to force Washington's hand in prosecuting Bush & Co., glorification of presidents as imperial figures, implicit trust of those in power, hosting 25% of the world's prisoners, acceptance of guns as a sanctified right that cannot and should not be questioned, open celebration of misogynistic violence, etc.).

As for details about Argentina, I honestly fear I don't have much relevant information to offer. As I said, it's my father's family that lived there (Now, it's just my stubborn grandparents and some of their siblings, since everyone else has fled). I grew up here and in Chile. All I know of Argentina is from my family and the papers. I don't know what more I can say about my involvement in the December 19-20 protests. The documentary I linked to in that comment of mine is a far superior to any comment I could provide. It goes into detail as to how Argentina has been financially battered and looted by England and other imperial financial powers for centuries.

Submitted by jawbone on

pretty solid. And, yes, there may be riots, and not huge protests where sheer numbers provide some protection from the violence of the state's authorities. Riots will initially reinforce the power of the state.

Fits with Simon Johnson noting the US may not go down the Japanification route, but the Russian or Argentinian. I'm beginning to think much more power than we realize even now has already accrued to the uberwealthy, the klepto oligarchs.

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

Look at what guns, especially Bush (and now Obama) letting the assault weapon ban drop, did to the Mexican drug war. Nothing terrifies me more about the coming years than having this hijacking and looting happen to a nation whose men have been raised in a violent, gun culture. Adding guns to the mix in any crisis is in itself disastrous, but our hyper-violent culture could easily make it explosive. Switzerland, for example, has a relatively high access to guns (for a developed, non-US country) and yet they don't have the level of gun violence that we do.

And, yes, I agree that those in power have had their grip on Washington for quite some time now. Reagan was their messiah. This past generation of financial parasites have radicalized politics in a way previously unimaginable.

Submitted by lambert on

I think our civic culture is more resilient than Russias, and if I had to pick an empire to live in, or raise children in, I'd pick ours. No matter the evil we've done, we have nothing like the gulag in scale and duration and normalization, though the innate tendency toward human evil is omnipresent.

So I suppose that makes me a Polyanna. I agree with the dangers mentioned above, but also, sometimes, "the best way to predict the future is to invent it."

Davidson's picture
Submitted by Davidson on

I just think if we had to pick between Argentina or Russia to serve as a most basic model which the US is most likely to follow, I'd pick the latter for the reasons I stated above. American civic culture is stronger than Russia's, but I fear it's not nearly as strong as it needs to be to withstand the assault and fight back effectively. I hope I'm desperately wrong.

As for what GQM wrote below: my concern is what happens when those elections fail to produce the results the voters wanted? What are people going to do about it? The entire political system is horribly corrupt, including the media establishment. The people are going to have to do much more than just vote. They may want a radical break, but unless they fight for it they won't get it.

gqmartinez's picture
Submitted by gqmartinez on

I'm somewhat optimistic as well, for reasons you mention. But also because I probably trust the people more than most folks, perhaps an advantage of not being part of the "intelligentsia". People of this country have a high tolerance for absurdity, but generally bounce back. I take the 2006 and 2008 elections as evidence since it was a complete rejection of everything bush/the GOP stood for. Sure its looking more and more likely that Dems are just a very close continuation, but the spirit of the 2006 and 2008 elections are strong evidence that the country wanted a complete break from Bush/conservative governance.

Since I think people, when provided with the facts, will eventually chose the better path I get extremely frustrated with the Obama "64-dimensional chess" brigade that allows no critical discussion of Obama's policies; that Obama criticisms come from nothing but hate/racism/"alibis".