Friday, June 19, 2015
A Nation in Decline?
You can usually tell when someone has given up. The house may be badly in need of a coat of paint. The garden is overrun with weeds. Maybe there's now cardboard where once there was glass.
How can you tell when a country has given up? Is it when a gaggle of misfits, lunatics and jesters seek to become president? Is it when the poor are reformulated to become destitute, their kids going hungry, while the wealth of the rich soars? Is it when a punk with an assault rifle lays waste to kids in an elementary school or some malignant shit cuts loose on a bible study group in a black church in South Carolina?
We hear a lot about the United States being in decline. It's being overtaken by China and, perhaps eventually, the whole BRIC gang. But America's decline isn't from the ascendancy of emerging economic superpowers. It's coming from the cancerous rot inside.
At times it seems that dysfunction has become the default operating system of the United States of America. Look at the Bush/Cheney days. Tax cuts followed by more tax cuts for the rich while the country waged two, trillion dollar wars financed by foreign borrowings. That was pretty nutty. How about cops killing unarmed black people from coast to coast? That's kind of fucked up. The dismantling of America's social safety net in the face of rising poverty and burgeoning inequality. The rise of corporatism and the mutation of what is now a "bought and paid for" Congress and a corporatist Supreme Court. That's institutional dysfunction at the highest levels. Major cable news outlets that quite deliberately churn out outright lies and confusion. The rise of the "permanent warfare state." Mass murder - in theaters, in schools, in churches. A people who have rejected knowledge in favour of belief. Declining standards of living and levels of education. A nation that exemplifies the chokehold of neoliberalism.
When it comes to decline, the United States needs no help from foreign rivals. It's already given up on itself. Isn't it about time that we, the branch plant to the north, figured this out?