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Joined: 12 Apr 2006
|Posted: Mon Dec 10, 2007 11:18 am Post subject: Musings on the Significance of Social Change, US Decline, an
|The election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 is a convenient signpost for the movement represented by the goons of our present times. The significance of Ronald Reagan is that he represented a conscious decision to embrace fantasy over reality, to celebrate ignorance over inconvenient reality, to use simplistic slogans over nuanced deliberations, and to engage in naked agression over the pretence of diplomacy. Reagan was not so much different from Jimmy Carter insofar as the outcomes were pretty much the same (see El Salvador for instance), but in the inane justifications, and the abusrd evidence he and his handlers would use as arguments for his destructive policies.
Ronald Reagan was an actor, and a simple-minded individual as well. He was therefore perfect in acting the role of a heroic American president, in a simple-minded fantasy just perfect for all the simpletons who had been mourning their lost privileges and shattered delusions since the 1960s.
By "simpletons" I mean the slow-witted authoritarian white males, as well as anyone who ever felt threatened by the social movements of the 1960s and 1970s. Minority civil rights, feminism, environmentalism, the peace movement, ... all these challenges to the bigoted status-quo of racism, sexism, destructive consumerism and plunder, militarism. Also, there was the gay rights movement, religious pluralism, and the intellectual challenges to entrenched capitalism spreading through academia. In short, a thorough, and long overdue challenge to the whole gamut of prejudices, delusions, superstitions, and cultural bullying of a large portion of society.
Reagan's victory came at a very significant point in his nation's and the world's history. The US empire was weakening for reasons unrelated to beginnings of democratic upsurge. An overvalued US dollar until Nixon abandoned the gold standard in 1973, had weakened US industry for years. Imperial overstretch, especially in Vietnam, where the nationalist resistance had the support and protection of both the relatively powerful Soviet Union and the Peoples Republic of China, had brought on a political-military crisis. The recovery of Cold War clients of Western Europe and Japan was a further challenge to US economic superiority. The "Third World" was feeling its strength in the surging world economy, demanding higher commodity prices and a better deal from the international economy overall. The best example of this "Third World" insurgency was the successful oil price revolution of the OPEC cartel. In the USA's "backyard" of Latin America, decades of repression and (inevitably) failed capitalist development schemes had produced a widespread insurgency, similar to what we're seeing now in the early-21st century.
Finally, and most traumatically for the American people, on top of all this, the people of Iran rose up against the brutal, corrupt, US puppet, the Shah, and Iranian university students invaded and occupied the American Embassy in Tehran in anger over their suspicions that the US government was continuing to plot with the Shah to destroy their revolution. Several US Embassy staff were taken hostage and the occupation lasted for months. During the crisis, the Carter Administration attempted a military rescue of the hostages which ended disastrously and seemed to be representative of then-current worries of the USA's "weakness."
This perception of "weakness" had stemmed from the USA's supposed "defeat" in Vietnam. (They had been unable to impose a puppet government against the will of the vast majority of the Vietnamese people and against an organized North Vietnamese military backed-by the two great communist military powers.) In the face of the obvious lies and incompetence of successive US governments on Vietnam, the American people were reluctant to endorse further military adventurism for years afterwards, compelling the Carter Administration to have to pursue diplomacy and negotiation with international adversaries, rather than instantly resorting to brute force. This brief period of sanity was referred to as "The Vietnam Syndrome."
The decline in US dominance was not due to "decadence" and "weakness," arising as some sort of unavoidable consequence of women getting decent pay, treating blacks as equals, driving smaller cars, or not sacrificing one's children to Moloch, but from real structural causes. In 1945, the United States of America was the world's creditor nation, the only economic great power with an intact industrial base, with by far the most powerful military capabilities the world had ever seen. The economy was humming along because of new-found consumer strength, because of postwar reconstruction, military Keynesianism, and other causes. But such an artificial position of total dominance could not last. When its rivals had recovered, when capitalism's enemies found new sources of strength, when the US began to be challenged as it moved into the former European empires after 1945, the image of pristine supremacy of 1945-50 could not be sustained.
But this was all too difficult for morons seeking scapegoats and easy answers. Just as Western civilization was getting smarter, Western imperialism was getting injured enough for the morons, thugs, imperialists, racists, assholes, weeping over their lost entitlements, to blame the good people for these geo-political developments. "Reaganism" was to be the antidote. Union-busting. Tax-cuts for the rich. Deregulation of the economy. Shredding of the welfare state (even the stunted US one). And unapologetic support for brutality, imperialism, and militarism worldwide.
A group of right-wing hacks and war-mongers calling themselves the Committee on the Present Danger had concocted a fraudulent analysis of Soviet military power (similar to Democratic Presidential candidate John F. Kennedy's fraudulent "missile gap" with the Soviets, and the recent fraudulent PNAC analysis) claiming that the USSR was overtaking the USA militarily. Obviously the thing to do was to rachet-up military spending enormously. (This last gasp of counter-cyclical military Keynesianism might have actually helped Reagan on the economic front. It certainly mitigated the high-interest rate recession which occured at the beginning of his first term.)
It has been downhill ever since. Reagan was allowed to say any fool-ugly thing that popped into his head. Trees caused pollution. The Nicarauguan Contra rebels, raping and murdering their way throughout that poor country were the moral equivalent of the US founding fathers. Libya was to be bombed. Tiny Grenada was invaded and treated as an example of US heroism. Black welfare queens were responsible for the deficits. And, in the Iran-Contra scandal, some of the most significant crimes of any US president were excused by their being carried-out by a confused, kindly grandfather and an allegedly telegenic US Marine colonel.
Neurotic, far-right whacko billionaires responded to the increased influence of sane people in the media and decided to meet the challenge by funding hack publishers and pro-business think-tank/propaganda mills. And they bought up geneuine media outlets and gave guaranteed careers to shameless professional liars, and denied access to the voices of reason. And certain sectors of the population, those who had been forced into some mild form of reticence about their love of war, injustice, bullying, and theft, lapped it all up. America was great. America was strong. The thing to do was to push all the feminist bitches, faggots, atheists, and darkies, back into the shadows, and let the upstanding white Christian [allegedly apparently] heterosexual men, those who had proven incapable of keeping up with the changing times, back in charge. We now have an entire network FOX news, and a culture of lies, swallowed up by deluded, ugly shits.
And of course, these morons, being morons, have fucked everything up. As their movement went from strength to strength, they gained in the self-confidence of their bankrupt ideas and their impunity at ever facing a reckoning for their corruption and brutality. But now their control over the system is at its peak, and their influence over the population is self-destructing. This article:
Does an admirable job of outlining their moral decline. And now, they have barfed up stammering moron bush II, and the "brains" behind their operation (the laughable Cheney and Rumsfeld) were allowed to pursue their hubris to its fullest extent, producing the greateset US foreign policy disaster in their nation's history. They have brought ruin to the economy, hollowing it out in their pursuit of maximum individual profit. And they have revealed the full extent of their sleazy hypocrisy with the implosions of various "Christian" movements ... Ralph Reed's cynical work for Jack Abramoff, and Falwell and Robertson's ghoulish blaming of the victims after 9-11. It's all gone wrong, because these people are wrong, stupid, losers.
We on the left, we in the reality-based community have to be poised to seize the moment.
Man! I hate them fancy-lads!